Sunday, 20 February 2011

Taking The Gospel to Hull and ummmm Rawmarsh!

What a lovely week The Masher has had.  

The week started with that lovely feeling one gets when an unexpected booking comes in.  In this particular case two for the price of one, and for an event that I had thought had once again ignored The Mashers application, The Rotherham Beer and Music Festival, which this year, for the first time, is to be held at Magna.  Dates 2nd to 5th March.   The Mashers are playing a Main Hall stage on 2nd and the more intimate CafĂ© stage on the 3rd.   Details HERE
He says the Mashers, it’s more likely going to have to be The Masher, as poor Phill is working late and Southern Masher Gary cannot organise a two day break at such short notice.
I’m sure I’ll sort something out for two entertaining evenings though. 

Of course these types of Gigs where the bigger sound would be an advantage highlight the need to try and find that second Masher.  So if you know of primarily an instrumentalist who might enjoy playing my sort of material then please send them in my direction. 

Thursday found me heading down a very slow M18 towards Hull.  It may have been slow going but well worth the trip.  The event was the Stripped@The Wellington evening, a twice monthly gathering of consulting acoustic musicians.  

Joining me on the Bill for the evening were The Devil Valley Lodge and old friends in music Cracktown.  

It was, to say the least, an outrageously mad line up…………… 
Not heard of The Devil Valley Lodge?  A duo made up of banjo (JP) and his happy bass player.   They are very much in what I would call the Cracktown mould, in that their lyrics are brilliant, and in fact one might say it’s performance poetry with a musical accompaniment.   They are fairly new to the scene and are still working very hard on the instrumentalisation so don’t expect too much on that level, but you’ll just love the outright full on lyrics.  I’ve taken the liberty of putting their three track demo disc onto the Acoustic Rotherham FREE download page HERE – there’s a sample there as well if you can’t be bothered to download the full three tracks.

But it was good to see Silver Fox and The King Rat in their own Hull environment, and they were in brilliant form to, an hour flew by – Silver Fox’s off the wall rants complimented by some completely off the wall songs, or is it suppose to be the other way around.   More Cracktown HERE

And The Masher set was well received to, even if he says so himself.   

Seriously, the audience were just fantastic, attentive and receptive, and the atmosphere in The Wellington, a Real Ale Pub was simply brilliant. 

So guys, The Masher had a brilliant time and hopes to be asked back again at sometime in the future. 

Photographs from the night can be found HERE

Friday brought something completely different.  Kids Not Cuts Music at The Star on the home territory of Rawmarsh.  

A strange sort of evening this as it was hard to establish exactly how many people were in for the music.  

Unfortunately there had been a Wake in the Pub on the afternoon, and many of the mourners were making a full day of it, while there was of course the usual Friday night revellers out and about.  And then of course there were a few in just for the music, making for a strange sort of atmosphere and collection of people. 

The purpose of the event was to try and highlight the effects of the Coalition’s austerity cuts will have and is already having upon our young people.  Unfortunately the speakers fought against the odds to get their messages across – but hey – someone might have been listening. 

But this was the Big Society in action, ironically against the Big Society. 

Setting the ball rolling was Little Robots, a super ukulele based acoustic trio although I believe there is more of them singing and playing their own blues sounding songs.   Brilliant sound, brilliant musicianship.  You can check them out HERE on their Myspace page.   Note to self, must invite them to do an Acoustic Rotherham event. 

The amplifiers were nicely warmed up by Creaking Bones, a local band playing some super rock covers.  

Into the acoustic hour with The Masher and Kev Cadman (The Rogues) thrashing out their totally different sort of music.   But at this stage the audience were all looking a little mystified.
On a personal level the set simply amplified the difference one finds in the types of audience. 

I’ve been lucky this year with some fantastic audiences all responding positively to The Masher songs, so it’s useful every now again to face total indifference…………..   the politico’s in the audience seemed to enjoy it, but overall I think indifference was the word.  

But even the more accomplished Kev had the same problem –  and even playing The Mashers guitar did not seem to break through the general turn off to the acoustic sound. 

The big sound of Highway Child soon filled The Star with noise again.  Brilliant stuff, although I had to miss a bit of their set.  But nice sound boys, you can check them out HERE

Playing their own stuff came Chinatown.  A Band of youngsters, and it was good to listen to some original stuff.  Well done lads.  They are into the next round of the Unsigned Competition and one could see why.  Instrumentally very much together, and at times brilliant vocals, although it would be fair to say that as the singer matures it’s going to sound even better.  Go HERE to find out more, give them a listen and a vote. 

Wrapping the night up and in superb  form were View From S62, Rawmarsh’s own.    Brilliant set, performed in difficult circumstances, cramped to an audience that were surprised in many cases to see them on.  I have to say that in this pub environment there are Bands around that generate such a charged atmosphere.  What’s more they were really enjoying themselves.   You can find out more HERE.   They’ve Gigs coming up at The Queens and The Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club over March so make the effort to check them out. 

So well done Martin Hickman for organising the event.   Pictures can be found HERE

If one or two people were touched by the message of the evening then fantastic – however one feels that much more has to be done.  The attack on especially our young people by this Government appears to be relentless.  

Don’t forget the big March on 26th March – this marks, I’m told the start of the fight back.  Let’s hope it has as much affect as the Egyptian demonstration, although this week’s Private Eye stand out stat says a lot – “250,000 the number of Egyptians that brought down a Government  /  1,000,000 the number who marched against the War in London which Blair completely ignored.  Says a lot about our democracy. 

Of course our democracy is all up for grabs as the Coalition showed it’s clear divisions as the AV Referendum debate kicked off.  It’s going to be a rough ride folks so hold onto your hats on that one. 

And back to the music.  It’s sad to have to report yet another Folk Festival closing it’s doors because of lack of funds.  The Oxford Festival has cancelled out.  Details HERE.   

Once again I voice my feeling that this is yet another Festival that has simply got too big for it’s own good and become over ambitious to the detriment of the local Folk Music scene.  I’m sure that they could have put something on using local artists, but no, the whole thing has to go because the big ego names could not be featured as advanced ticket sales were so poor. 

Let’s be clear.  With so many Folk Festivals, and with almost the same names featuring, people are going to be selective, what’s more with the uncertain economic climate people are not going to commit sometimes hundreds of pounds in advance.    

I really hope that Folkies of Oxford will sort something out and take the music to the people – maybe for free.

There’s loads going on this week………………..  you can find all the listings HERE
I’ll be trying to pop across to Barnsley on Monday night to see Acoustica, looking forward to that one.  

Incidentally, Acoustica’s new CD Here We Are is reviewed by David Kidman on his pages, and as we’re talking Barnsley, you’ll also find new to the Review page a super review of Ray Padgett’s double CD English Traditionalist Songs.   HERE

The good news is that viewing of the Web Site has generally gone up as I’ve sorted out the problems caused when Myspace changed all their RSS settings – or rather stripped them out.   We’re still well within the top million Worldwide Web Sites views, which incidentally is well ahead of most Festival and other music sites.  So thanks. 

If you’ve got your own Web Site or News Letter please give a mention.

You’ll also find a new link added to the News page within the Diary Box.  It’s a useful site that provides local traffic reports which you might find handy when planning your trips to Festivals or visiting Folk Clubs outside of your immediate locality.   You can check it out direct HERE   The link has also been added to the Driving School page.

It’s mid February and my general cry for Driving School pupils goes out.  A run of Winter Test passes + the loss of students due to hour reductions at work or loss of job entirely means that I’m running short of pupils, so if you know of anyone in the Rotherham / east Sheffield / Dearne Valley area wanting driving lessons please pass on my number  07507588964.   Thanks.  The Driving School page is HERE

That’s it for this week folks.  Whatever you’re doing this week keep it “gangster” as Cracktown would say, or more normally, have fun and keep it live.

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