Tuesday, 1 February 2011

All The Chat from Acoustic Rotherham 10 + The Masher Out and About!!! Read On

What a fantastic week I’ve had, musically speaking that is. 

It’s been great fun.

But first let’s look at the Parish Notices.  

A mention for the Howden Jones Concert at The Little Theatre, Doncaster on 4th February, well worth checking out along with some other excellent music coming up in February.   Check it all out with Links to all the details HERE on our listings page. 

And lest we forget, have you got your tickets for the Thornberry Benefit Concert being held on the 11th February.  Tickets are………….   Selling…………   and quite fast, much to my amazement.  Those who know The Bridge will be aware that space will make it quite cosy, so be sure of your spot and to save £1 on the “On The Door Price” buy or reserve your ticket NOW.   Check out the full details HERE

After that The Rawmarsh Masher is heading to Hull to educate the good folks in The Wellington.  Having a steady diet of Cracktown, they are somewhat short on a bit of culture.  That’s the 17th and on the 18th The Masher will again be in action, this time as the token Folk Act, on a Political Anti Cuts  Benefit Bill at The Star, Rawmarsh.  Also check out the Rawfusion Festival being arranged by Rotherham’s Dicken’s Bar which is featuring acts at The Star, and People’s Centre Rawmarsh as well as at their Town Centre home base.  See the Mashers News Page HERE or the Diary page HERE for full details.

And of course there’s all the regular stuff going on as well.
Just one change to the Web Site this week.  The Rawmarsh Mashers Influences page has undergone a big face lift.  For those who enjoy vintage Folk you’ll find a load of interesting tracks to listen to, well worth having a play around in the Page.  It’s HERE

So to the past week.
The monthly Nellie Folk get together at The Bridge was as usual fun packed.  I have to admit to being a little confused, not difficult, as it seems that The Red Choir were having an extended session down stairs while the Nellie Folk were meeting upstairs.   Good to see all the usual suspects out plus a few visitors from the North of the County, including good friend of Acoustic Rotherham, David Kidman.  There was a strong Scottish theme to the evening given the proximity to Burns Night. 

On Burns Night itself the Tuesday it was off to the depths of Sheffield, according to the way that the Sat Nav took me, and the Red House for the Myke Barritt Music Trust Meeting of the Roving Minstrels.  A Folk Club that meets monthly in a different venue. 

A splendid evening of music, and a super attendance.  In fact attendances in 2011 have generally been up wherever I’ve gone, nothing to do with The Masher, everything to do with the snow in December having sent everyone stir crazy I think.  And good to see some new faces.
One again Scottish songs dominated the evening with a couple of oddities coming from The Masher and even our Barry contributed a few poems.  All great stuff, and all in a spirit that I know that Myke would whole heartedly be at one with.  

If you’ve not experienced the Wandering Minstrels yet, check out The Cross keys gathering on the 15th February.  

Having had a relaxed Wednesday evening, a rather nervous Rawmarsh Masher set off for Henry Boon’s, Wakefield, for an Acoustic Evening hosted good friends in music the fantastic Troubadors.  

Why nervous?  Well this was my first outing as a solo act outside of my normal comfort zone.  And even the drive to the venue was just a little strange with only the Sat Nav for company.  If it were just those two factors alone, that might have been OK, but to be sharing the evening with three other super Yorkshire Bands made it all just a little more knee trembling, The Troubadors hosting, The Backyard Buskers and Garron Frith.

Of course it was my job to kick the evening off and without the aid of beer, having very cleverly left my wallet at home, I launched into my set with The Gates of Hell.  

Confidence was not at it’s highest as the song ended, having missed the first four B Minor chords (those that know me will be aware that it is not one of my favourite chords) and the rather incredulous looks from the audience as the last chord rang out.  It got better though, well  it could only get better from that start, with My Old Guitar and Rich Man’s Paradise bringing the audience on side.  The set was completed with, Three Nights, Dance On The Grave Of Mrs Thatcher, Ordinary Man and of course Bloody Rotten Audience.  

In fact by the end of the set, along with the banter / chat, I was quietly pleased with myself.   So we head into the February rush of spots high on confidence.  

It was good to have a chat with The Backyard Buskers, and like a bolt of lightning the conversation gave me the inkling of an idea for changes to the way that I’ve been operating the Acoustic Rotherham events.  A bit more thought, and I think we might have a goer.

And Garron Firth!!  Not seen him yet?  Well, take my advice and if he’s playing near you make the time to go and have a listen.  A little in the James Blunt mould, his songs are crafted masterly, and each one sounds different, a bonus I find when listening to some singer song writers. 

The Backyard Buskers are always good value with their roots harmonies and super range of instruments.  They’ve added some new songs to the rep since I last saw them in action, and it all made for an entertaining half an hour. 

And The Troubadors, I hear you cry!!  Simply brilliant.  Here’s a Band that works exceptionally hard, playing many places simply for the fun of it.  These guys love playing, and very loudly.  Hat’s off to Steve and the boys, my sort of Band.

And so to the event of the week – Acoustic Rotherham 10. 

A Slideshow of photographs from the event can be found HERE

The Acoustic Rotherham events never cease to amaze me for the sheer depth of the talent in the Yorkshire Region, nor the distance people are prepared to travel to play 25 minutes at The Queens, Rawmarsh.  

This Quarter we had artists from as far afield as Peterborough, via Birmingham, to the South and Scarborough to the North and all points between. 

It’s a pity that the audience numbers, especially for the start of the events appear to have vanished, filling up for a few hours between 2:30 and 5:00pm, only to dwindle away again. 
Two things are going on.  First of course travelling artists are arriving and leaving according to the distances they need to travel, indeed some even manage to fit in other playing commitments.  The listening audience tend to go into music overload.   

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m really seriously considering cutting back on the time so that it runs from 2:00pm until 6:00pm maximum, which means of course that we will only be able to give time to eight acts rather than the twelve plus we tend to currently squeeze into the afternoon.  
At this point it’s worth re-stating that while the events carry the words “Hiring Fair” in the title, as far as attendance is concerned they are words that are a little of an exaggeration.  But let me remind you exactly what happens.   

First of course there is the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site, which is still generating around 1,000 hits per week, around 200 being New visitors.  People are currently driven there via this News Blog and the regular News Emails sent out twice a week, along with other more general references on various National and International sites.  We currently hit 200 + via the Fanreach facility and now that they have linked into Myspace a further 3,000 + (I’ve noticed significant increases in activity since the Myspace link has been active).

In addition to this the local media is circulated with E Packs – basically all the information contained on the Web Page and a Pack of tracks relevant to that Quarters performers.  Now the local media other than The South Yorkshire Times, has not been supportive of the Acoustic Rotherham events, mainly because they are under the miss-understanding that we are making money!!!!!

Finally, 45 local Theatrical Agents are circulated with the packs.  Unfortunately acoustic music, no matter how fantastic the standard is not really their thing.  Apparently, and I have this from some of them, the sound is simply not big enough for the shows they put on or the venues that they work with.   What a load of b*******  that is!!!   But hey, their closed minds are simply another challenge we all face. 

But the most important part of an Acoustic Rotherham afternoon is of course the Networking that goes on between artists, many of whom run their own Clubs or sessions.  And for the acts prepared to work the room, if you know what I mean, benefits can be had. 
But – perhaps the time has come, before we go the way of the Loftus Hiring Fair, to re-focus the Acoustic Rotherham events.   

The cuts being made by National Government and being passed onto Local Government are beginning to take effect.  Organisations working with specialist groups like, animals, or those people with learning difficulties, or young people in general are finding that their budgets are being cut wholesale.  Cuts as deep as 50% or more are not uncommon for the fiscal year 2011 – 12.  

Already this year I’ve been asked to play at or organise several Benefit / fund raising events, and I think before the year is out many other such invitations will be made. 

It’s no accident perhaps, that the most successful Acoustic Rotherham in terms of publicity was the one that followed Myke’s and I run in with the BNP, therefore we might do acts even more justice if we focus our events upon a deserving cause.  Thank you to Jane of The Backyard Buskers for sowing the seed in my mind. 

As yet I’m not sure how it would all work, but we might for example look for a minimum donation from the non - playing audience and invite the receiving Organisation to sell their T shirts etc….. .  The knock on affect  might be that we get a wider audience for our artists by involving a third Party in the general publicity of Acoustic Rotherham events. 

At the moment I do not see many draw backs to this slightly new approach, but I’m sure you have, so let me know what you think, after all many of you (100+ now) have experienced an Acoustic Rotherham.   

And so to Acoustic Rotherham 10.

Started of course with The Masher warm up played out to the hardy souls who turned in early for the event.   Dare I say that they missed a treat?   Yes!!

Phil Sinclaire was the first the main core of acts to perform.  Never an easy slot, but I thought he did an excellent job with his self-penned songs demonstrating the fantastic talent.  Keep up the good work Phil and we hope to see you again in the future.  It’s well worth checking out Phil’s tunes on his various Web Sites from Myspace to Reverbnation. 

Next up was Glenn Coggin, all the way from Scarborough.  The Mashers had the pleasure of hearing Glenn on one of trips to Loftus, and it was great to meet up again.  Glenn is very popular on the Scarborough and North Eastern music scene and it’s easy to see why, with the gentle stylish delivery of his well-crafted songs. 
Glenn is looking to set up a tour for himself in June of this year so if there is anyone out there who would fancy having Glenn along to their Folk Club then please contact him direct via his Web Site.  

Steve Hicks and Lynn Goldbourn then delighted us with what was universally accepted by everyone at Acoustic Rotherham 10 as being one of the stand out sets of the afternoon.  Lynn’s brilliant vocals being superbly complimented by the masterful guitar technique of Steve.  And the craft does not end with the delivery, as the rep ranged from traditional Folk to more contemporary numbers, all set by an amazing instrumental from Steve entitled Stairway To Mozart.  

Steve is a clever chap not only playing a range of instruments, but also building the guitars himself. 

They too are looking to play the South Yorkshire area more – and I’m sure that with performances like that the invitations will not be long in pouring in. 

Making a return to Acoustic Rotherham came The Troubadors, and despite the limitations of The Mashers sound system they turned on another of their high octane performances.  “Their loud” said one regular, his foot tapping away to the music that just makes you want to dance.   I’ve a lot of time this ensemble, for not are they very together when it comes to the delivery of the music, but they are prepared to work hard, as I said earlier in this Blog.  So well done lads and you’re always welcome at Acoustic Rotherham. 

And what a contrast, for after the heavy beats of the Troubadors came the soft gentle sounds of singer song writer  Holly Taymar, accompanied by Chris on Glockenspiel and banjo.  Another of the stand out sets for me this, with Holly’s wonderful voice fitting her songs so well.  Here’s another artist working very hard to make her mark on the Regional music scene.  If you’ve not had her at your Club yet then go on, make contact. 

Then, a real treat for everyone.  Acoustic Rotherham tries to encourage young musicians whenever it can so when Jill Brierley contacted me and asked if her son Dylan could play for us we were than happy to let him come and show off his music.  

 Dylan Brierley produced an outstanding mature set, comprising mostly of his own songs, punctuated with the odd cover.  Song writing of such maturity from one so long is rare, and fairly made those of us with limited talent and at the wrong end of the age range fell very sorry for ourselves.  

Without a doubt Dylan is going to go far, especially with his amazing support team, and it was good to see that he knew exactly how to work the room and make a lot of new friends. 

Another familiar face followed.  Kev out of The Rogues, and solo as Short Supply - but this time with his new musical collaboration with Laura, collectively known as Meadowland.   Their set was a collection of harmonic roots covers, and harmony was the key word their voices interacting together wonderfully.   We’ll be watching the development of this duo and wish them both every success.   And I know there are some self-penned songs in the offing very soon, keep an eye on their Myspace / Reverbnation page. 

Ask anyone in the know and they will tell you that some of the most difficult songs to play and sing are those written by the comic genius Jake Thackray.  And if they don’t I will as I have tried on several occasions to include Jake Songs in Masher sets in the past. 
 John Watterson, otherwise known as The Fake Jake, certainly has it cracked though.  He has somehow managed to master Jake’s very individual guitar technique and the reproduction of the voice superb.   

Fantastic to hear the songs again, along with a couple that I don’t think I had heard before. 
John is another hard worker, in fact squeezing two sets into the afternoon with a Gig in his home City of York before heading down the A1 to Rawmarsh.   

From Peterborough, via Birmingham came Andrew Cream, another song writer demonstrating fantastic promise.   He describes himself as being sort of Acoustic Punk – but personally I felt that his songs were a little more cultured than that description might suggest.   A super set delivered at not the best of the time slots.  So a big thank you Andrew for taking the time to come to Rawmarsh. 

Cultured voice, cultured guitar playing marked another of the stand out sets of the afternoon, this one from Ian Roberts.  I’ve seen Ian in action once before where he held The Bridge Spring Festival in awe of his musical craftsmanship, and his performance on Sunday afternoon did not disappoint.  This is a guy who should be seen more in the Clubs and Festivals of South Yorkshire.  

And only just making it, having spent the weekend in Church, he said, rather than the Fleshpots of Robin Hood Bay, came the Misk Hills Mountain Rambler with his unique well observed songs.   It’s always good to see Al making his way down from Mansfield and he’ll always be welcome at Acoustic Rotherham events. 

And that was our afternoon.  A cracker I think. All the pictures on a slowshow HERE

And that was the Masher’s week. 

Just a reminder that it’s Play On at the Fat Cat this coming Friday the 4th February, while I’ve completely updated the South Yorkshire Folk Page HERE with his fantastic Spring Programme at the Princess Alexander.  

With that I shall now pass out.


  1. Thanks for your kind review Richard and for all your effort in bringing things together. Enjoyed the day. Best wishes Ian (Roberts)

  2. Thanks Dickie, It's always a pleasure to play to an appreciative audience.You're doing a great job organising such events like Acoustic Rotherham, and please dont loose heart. It's people like you, who 'can' be bothered, that'can' make all the difference. Hope to see you again soon. All the best. Paul Walker-Green. (The Troubadors)

  3. Hi Richard - thanks for your comments on the Wakefield gig; it was good to see you again. Paul of the Troubadours is right when he points out that we need to appreciate and support folks like you who work so hard to create opportunities for acoustic performers. (It is not often that Paul is right...tee-hee). the Backyard Buskers hope to work again with you, in whatever direction AR goes in. Best wishes BYB