Sunday, 27 March 2011

Respect to those with sore feet

The usual stupid arguments about numbers featured in the Media Reporting of yesterday’s TUC March for The Alternative.  The Police say 250,000, The TUC 500,000 and given that the March was still going five hours after it started the probability is that the real figure was in excess of 600,000.  All part of the general plan to distract everyone from discussing the reason and issues behind the March.  

The same distraction tag can be applied to the activities of the hard core anarchists.  A minority indeed, and predictable, and the fact that groups were able to execute their plans suggest that either Police intelligence is poor, or that a conscious decision was made to allow the attacks on property to go ahead.   One fears it was the later. 

And should we be so surprised that some young people should feel so alienated from the political process  that they are attracted to direct action?   I think not. 

That said the Demonstration, billed as the start of the fight back, was a huge manifestation of “the peoples” political will. 

Everyone accepts that something needs to be done to balance the National deficit, and to reform our Public Services, but the approach of the Coalition has been completely wrong, and of course the motivating factor has not been “Reform” but quite simply a perceived requirement to cut National Expenditure.   

Reform should not be driven by financial consideration alone, and this is the huge trap that The Lib Dems have fallen into and will no doubt be sacrificed on the altar of the electorate at all elections until the Coalition is destroyed.  One wonders for just how long Liberals will allow their Party to be tarnished and it’s philosophy destroyed by the short term glamour of Government. 

For sure, The Mashers, will be singing out their slogans, however out dated it might seem to be, and the reason is that the message about the total mess this Government is going to get us into needs to be got out there.  

And make no mistake, The Mashers don’t promote any one Political Party, we are not saying Labour Good, Tory Bad.   We have serious problems with both, but with the lack of anyone brave enough to take on the Establishment in the main stream Ed offers just about the better option, given that we have seen the true colours of The Liberals. 

Make no mistake, the next two years or so will be a battle to the end.  If you don’t believe me then you need to listen to the ravings of Kalvin McKenzie.  OK he’s a rent a mouth these days, but a very dangerous one, his message of setting employed against unemployed, Private Sector worker against Public Sector worker, old against young, the healthy against the unhealthy is one that needs to be challenged at every level, and the Liberals really need to think about who they have got into bed with and their philosophy. 

So we make no apologies for our ranting.   The argument for the alternative can be found on the Acoustic Rotherham News Page as a PDF HERE

And the Mashers were out this week. 

On Sunday we made our way to The Commercial, Chapletown for the Vernal Equinox Celebration as part of the Darnall Datallers Writers Club & Myke Barritt Music Trust Spring Festival.  And what a splendid evening it was to, with the members of The Wandering Minstrels Club turning out in force.  

And we were being filmed………………..   oh dear.   It’s part of a media project for a person close to Phoebe.   Besides the recording of performances, we are all to be interviewed as well about our music…………..  that should be interesting. 

And of course there was the mystery of the broken hand.  Poor Welsh Geoff and Matt Hegarty appear to have been jumped on by the Banjo Player Stamper of Old Sheffield Town.  Poor lads – and not fun either, but I think they did brilliantly with their unaccompanied songs.
Photographs from the event can be found HERE

And on Thursday we headed out for the Thursday Session at The Bridge. Another event which was part of the Spring Festival.  It was to have an Irish theme, and the Mashers are rather short on Irish material these days.  But hey we did our bit.  As did the brilliant Tina McKevitt who stunned a noisy room into silence with the sheer joy of her voice.  Well done Tina. 

It’s no secret that the Thursday session is not one of my favourite gatherings for many reasons, and it’s sort of sad to relate that on this experience very little has changed.  It’s where it all started for The Mashers, and there is something to be said for the old saying about “not going back”.   But we’re proud to say that we did our bit.   Pictures currently showing HERE  

There’s lots more to come with the Spring Festival.  Check out all the dates HERE

Coming up this Thursday, The Masher will be helping an ailing Welsh Geoff out at The Princess Royal, again as part of The Spring Festival.  

The Masher Zone is nearly complete on the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site, and attention is currently being given to MBMT Zone as work on the upgrade continues. 

I’d just draw your attention to the Mashers Influences Page.   If for no other reason than the fantastic range of classic Folk tracks you’ll find on the page it’s worth a visit.  Currently there are 38 tracks from Trad to contemporary, tears to laughter, and this time the links all work and I’ve packaged the tracks into small downloads should you wish to add the songs to your collection of MP3s.   It’s all HERE

While on Internet and networking matters, The Mashers are now on Soundcloud, HERE and we seem to have gathered in a number of plays in a very short period of time, so if some of you are looking for an out for your music it might be a site worth checking out.  GO HERE

Song writers might like to check out Song Writers Radio HERE, it’s another great place to get your music heard.  

You will have noticed that Reviews about Hearts of Steel have been published as a Blog, thanks to Phoebe and Sue and Barry for their efforts on that one.  You can get to it HERE if you’ve missed it so far. 

And so with April approaching fast there’s plenty of live music going on.   You can find most of the Gigs on the Diary Pages – along with the Shout Box facility if your event is not listed HERE 
Whatever you’re doing this week have fun and keep it live.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Hearts Of Steel - The Reviews

You may recall that I made a big thing of previewing The Hearts of Steel DVD launch Presentation - well here are two Reviews. 

The Show was performed twice in the day, both to very different sorts of audiences, hence the two reviews.

Phoebe and Sylvia report on the afternoon performance :

Hearts of Steel – Monday 14th March 2011 afternoon
By Phoebe Taylor-Thorpe & Sylvia May

It may seem a strange concept to some of us that the steelworks of Rotherham and Sheffield
are now ‘history’. We grew up with the likes of Brown Bayleys, and Steel, Peech and Tozer
ever-present in the background. It’s odd to think that they no longer exist.

We now know Templeborough – the gateway between Sheffield and Rotherham - as a place of
high-tech development, and the home of Magna – now a museum, reminding us of our past.
But what about all that ‘history’ we’ve left behind?

Well, what better way to celebrate the history of the Rotherham steelworks, than by the
production of a DVD, supported by many local organisations, including Magna (now part of
what was previously Templeborough Works) showing historical footage of the works, narrated
by the people who were there, and who remember how it was when the steelworks were in
their hey-day. And the poems and songs, written and performed by local writers, are the icing
on the cake (or is that the slag on the molten steel; the crozzle on the wall……..I digress…).

Monday afternoon, 14th March, was the first of two performances heralding the launch of
‘Hearts of Steel’, a film made by Mat Fleming, and others. Ray Hearne introduced an hour of
entertainment, including some of the writers themselves, performing their own songs,
interspersed with excerpts from the film.

Ray kicked off with a wonderful song artfully including the many children in the audience who
joined in with the chorus, and celebrating the rich Rotherham accent. It was written by Ray,
Karen Mulcahey and the Dalton Youth Service, and was inspired by a lady who used to say,
“Air’s no good unless tha can see it”…..
John Heaps, dressed up in Steel-worker’s garb, told some amusing tales of the old days in the
steel works, including one about black bogies (yes, the nose variety) and a practical joke
involving basic toilets, newspaper set alight, and burnt bums!
Among the quality performances of the afternoon were Mike Lally, who gave us a rendition of
his song, ‘City of the Big Steel Boom’, and Steve Gascoigne, who sang his composition, ’Rise

Roy Blackman, one of our local Treasures, is famous for his songs and poems about the local
area, often inspired by his time spent in the steelworks. ‘Pot of Golden Tea’ is one such song,
which describes the pouring of the molten steel from the crucible. It was particularly delightful
and very touching to hear his words being sung with great enthusiasm by the latest generation.

A most enjoyable afternoon, and one which I, and I hope, the children, will always remember,
as it is their history.

And Sue and Barry Sutherland checked out the evening performance:

Heart’s of Steel. Black Bogies and Burn’t Bum’s.

On Monday , 14th March, at Rotherham’s Civic Theatre the ‘ Heart’s of Steel’ show
was performed. A shorter version was performed especially for school children during
the afternoon. The children loved the stories of black bogies!

The evening began with Rotherham’s own bard, Ray Hearne introducing the event as

The Mayoress of Rotherham thanked all concerned.

The background to the show had begun two years earlier during the Rotherham Art
Festival when a writer’s session was held in the Spiegel Tent in All Saint’s Square.
People were invited to write poems, recall memories or write songs. Some people
brought along already completed material regarding Rotherham’s Iron and Steel

Ray Hearne ran this session and Karen Mulcahey joined him with young people from
Dalton. These sessions produced a greater awareness of the lost heritage of the steel
industry and produced a new song…Air’s No Good Unless Tha Can See It!
Ray lead us through a wonderful evening of performers, some of whom had never
performed on stage never mined in front of a large audience. The backdrop was
archive pictures of Rotherham’s glorious age of Steel making, interjected with clips
from a new DVD/ CD depicting life in the steel works and the surrounding area( Only
£6.00 on the night…What a bargain!!!)

Each of the cast performed their poems, memories and songs, accompanied or
unaccompanied. They captivated and touched the hearts and souls of everyone in the
audience. They were all amazing and in particlar Roy Blackman’s rendition of ‘ode to
a sky lark’ was gob smacking!. It was also heart-warming to see and hear Mick Shaw
singing his song…My Final Day… . MORE PLEASE.

The Kimberworth Male Voice Choir were sensational as ever.

The evening concluded with the whole cast , DVD/CD producers, Karen Mulcahey
and choir on stage. Ray Hearne told us yet again about the bargain DVD. We all sang
Ray’s song in progress and raised the roof… yet to be completed.

Everyone that I spoke to at the end of the evening was full of praise and had
obviously had a great evening.

For me personally the whole evening made me realise just what a fantastic place
Rotherham was and just how gigantic the Steel Industry had been. It brought back
memories of my life in Templeborough aged 19 and the vast amount of people
employed there. The No.69 bus queue’s both in Bridegate and Sheffield Road .

I feel proud to be a Rotherham lass, Bloody good night, Bloody well done, Ordinary
working people doing extra ordinary feats.

Thank you for a wonderful evening

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It's War!! Sorry - it's a No Fly Zone, All the AR / MBMT / Masher News from the week and more

It’s been a bit of a bitty week. 

Everywhere we turned it seemed to be gloom, especially on the News front.  More bad news on the Economy in the form of a 17 year high set of Unemployment Figures, with our young people again taking the main hit.  I was interested to hear that the over 65s are doing OK, with record numbers finding jobs.   Now just what is that saying about Pensions?

The full horror of the after effects of the Japanese Earth Quake started to sink into the consciousness, with a death toll that is rising daily, and of course the drama still being played out around the nuclear power stations. 

And currently the News Channels are blanket covering our involvement in the Air Exclusion Zone over Libya.  Yet another adventure into the Middle East that one feels has other underlying reasons besides trying to save the Libyan people from a Madman. 

To me Libya is just the tip of the Iceberg , the whole Gulf Region is a powder keg just waiting for a detonator.  Hardly surprising in a Region where the extremes of decadence and poverty are so clearly seen.   

And of course the West cannot wash their hands of the role they have played in all of this, so greedy for the oil, and to recoup those dollars and pounds by trading services, mainly armaments, while closing our eyes to the lack of human rights that most Gulf States Governments give to their people. 

Whatever, it gave Dave his big chance to make to make that now compulsorily Statement that modern Prime Ministers seem to crave for, to announce that our servicemen have gone into action in a Theatre of War, on the steps of Number 10.  

But is there anyone out there like me find the whole thing sickening?  Was this the same Cameron who just three weeks or so ago was belting around the Middle East with a plane load of arms dealers trying to sell guns and CS Gas to these Governments? 

And if we sell these folks guns, should we be so shocked that these Governments or dictators should decide to use them to protect their interests?

And of course he will be so busy making sure “our boys”  are OK and well supplied that he will not be able to take seriously the Million or so people who will Marching through London next weekend.  Will the Police join in on this one?  Just as he probably had nothing to do with the cover up of the Customer Satisfaction Survey that showed everything was fine and not in need of the major changes that he is proposing! 

There are hundreds of coaches running down to London next weekend from the Rotherham area, many free as Trade Unions are meeting the costs.  Contact your Union if you want to go and have not yet made travel arrangements.  

Unfortunately I shall not be able to make the trip myself, but to all the Comrades going, please keep yourselves safe, and try not to lynch too many Liberal MPs.  

Full details and the alternative strategy to the Coalition Cuts can be found on the Acoustic Rotherham News page HERE

Those who have been keeping up with the Updates this week will know that a start has been made on lightening up the Web Site.  Not an easy task, if we’re to keep things up to date.  So please be patient.  In particular Navigation around the site will be very difficult.  I’ve so far upgraded all the main Home Pages and a few of the most popular sub-pages.  If you’ve not taken a look now’s your chance. 

You should find pages quicker to load and if you are one of those irritated by the music then you’ll find the player easier to use / switch off. 

The main NEW FEATURE is the re-emergence of the “Shout Box”.  I’ve put this on the Diary Pages.  So all you have to do to bring your Event / Gig to the attention of folks is to type it into the box.  That’s because I’ve been accused of overlooking certain events.  I do try my best to keep up but it’s not always possible.  Check it out HERE

Incidentally I’ve posted three new Reviews onto the David Kidman page HERE

You Song Writers out there might be interested in a Radio Station I’ve come across “Song Writer Radio”, broadcasting to the Internet from Bakewell.  Check it out HERE our friend Dave Paskell recently has had his worked played and done a feature Interview.

The Darnall Datallers Writers Club & Myke Barritt Music Trust Spring Festival is underway.  I’ve had great reports from the Hearts Of Steel opening event, a review should appear on the MBMT Pages soon. 

But it was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Doreen, soon after the event. 
Doreen and Roy had been constants at Music and Writing events throughout South Yorkshire, I admired their energy at getting to so many events.  They were also keen followers of The Mashers and did much to encourage us when we first set out on our musical adventure.  Sue Sutherland has very kindly put together an Obituary to Doreen which you can find HERE along with a couple of rare recordings of Doreen reciting her greatest hits poems.
Details of the Spring Festival can be found HERE

First Reports of the Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival, the first at Magna suggest it should be a record year in terms of numbers, apparently 10,000+ entered the event over the four day period Wednesday to Saturday, 4,600 on the Saturday alone.  A record amount is expected to be paid to the designated Charities.  The Mashers are proud to be associated with the event.

On Saturday I was able to catch a few tunes from Dead Man’s Finger at The Bridge.  A super sound, and the acoustic set was fantastic and shows conservable development.   Then it was off to Rawmarsh Trades and Labour to give a shout for View From S62.  Always great to see the local lads in the Club doing their thing.  

The week ahead will find The Masher playing at The Commercial Chapeltown tonight and on Thursday at The Bridge as part of the MBMT Spring Festival. 

There’s plenty else going on so head to the Diary Page for full details. HERE

And that’s it for this week.  Whatever you’re doing in the week ahead have fun and above all keep that music live.

Friday, 18 March 2011

OBITUARY: DOREEN BOTTOMLEY 27/11/1925 -14/03/2011

It was with great sadness that I lean't of the death of Doreen on Monday night.  She and Roy had been out to the Civic Theatre, Rotherham to take part in the "Hearts Of Steel" DVD launch. 

It had been a fantastic trip down memory lane for Doreen, who always enjoyed getting out and about to the various Folk and Writting Groups with Roy.

I didn't know Doreen well personally, and so Sue Sutherland has put together with Roy a short account of Doreen's life for the Acoustic Rotherham Blog and Web Site.

You will be able to find two tracks of Doreen reciting a couple of her well known poems on the Acoustci Rotherham News Page HERE

Doreen Bottomley…… A Life’s Story.

Doreen was born Iris Doreen Coney on the 27th of November 1925.

Her father was called Friend Coney, which was a recognised Christian name in those days. Her mother was Miss Alt and we think her Christian name was Susan and she lived in Rawmarsh. 

Her sister Joyce (Wells) lives in Folkstone aged 89 and Joyce’s  husband was head gardener  for the Fitzwilliam’s at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Their birth-place was High Green in Sheffield . They both grew up at Newton Chamber’s houses at Brookhill in the Chapletown area. Both of them were lucky to have been born, as Friend sustained a bullet wound through his head in the first world war and covered up for dead in 1918. He twitched and they uncovered him and sent him off to the hospital.  

They moved to Thorpe Hesley where she went to Primary School and won a scholarship to the Girls High School in Rotherham. Following this Doreen attended the Rotherham Technical College to study a course of shorthand and typing. She was appointed to the R.B.C. Youth Employment Bureau. 

She was married twice. Her first marriage 1948 was fraught with difficulties but however they had a son David Powell. She divorced him and brought up her son alone. She later married Terry Bottomley whom Doreen described as ‘ A loveley man’. He suffered a stroke after only three months of marriage and died after nine long years of caring by Doreen.

Her son David Powell was born in 1952 he is disabled and married is to Kathleen. 

Doreen and Roy have had many special occasions with them and more recently celebrated their 84th and 75 th birthdays at the Gardener’s Rest  at Neepsend.

Doreen and Roy met through performing poetry at the Red Deer Public House, Pitt Street Sheffield in 1993. They also went to the Rotherham Metro writer’s group at Nellie Dene’s and the Last Mountain Writer’s Group at Crystal Peaks plus numerous folk music events but only became an item in 2003/4.

Doreen’s poetry performances were second to none and she will be loved and remembered for this by so many people. She made us all laugh and reflect on how we view others.

Her last attendance was ‘Hearts of Steel’ at the Civic on Monday night and she had really loved the whole day. Of course she wondered where Roy was but then that’s what we all wonder.  Ray Hearne’s last image of her is of Doreen being helped by Barrie into Sue and Barrie’s car at 10.30 at night and Roy doing his walk about as usual.

She died overnight and Roy woke up thinking she looked peaceful at 12 ‘o clock lunchtime Tuesday thinking it was eight in the morning it being a dark dismal day.

Her next engagement would have been on  her birthday November 2011 when she planned to marry Roy Blackman in a civil ceremony at a registry office somewhere.

Her poetry and prose will live on forever. God Bless Her.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

It's Just One Big Mess, disaster after disaster

Horrifying reminders this week of “man’s” helplessness in the face of the full force of Mother Nature.  The pictures of the Earth Quake and tsunami in Japan will haunt us for many years.
Acoustic Rotherham and The Mashers have many Myspace friends in Japan, and I hope that they are safe and sound.  Are thoughts are with you.

But when one see’s the destruction and loss of life around the Miyagi Region and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations leaves one with a total sense of helplessness.  

The dust is still settling, and the full extent of the disaster has yet to be assessed, the loss of life to be totalled, and all of it just looks completely unbelievable.

I’m sure in time the Rotherham Music Community will come together to do their bit to help Japan start to repair the wounds. 

Once again I do wonder about our media coverage of these sorts of events.  This morning I heard a radio reporter complaining that the Japanese were refusing to allow them petrol rations, reserving the petrol for “locals”.  

But the most crass bit of reporting for me was the picture of the tsunami hitting Sendal, the wave washing through the City, and in You’ve Been Framed style commentary we’re told to watch the cars trying to out run the wave, “then just when they thought they were safe” said the reporter, and we watched as the cars were washed over the side and into the water.  One assumes the drivers did not survive.  Should we really be watching what potentially was thousands of people losing their lives in this way?  I wonder.

More bad news came on Tuesday when I was told of the death of the long time Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club Secretary, Paul Stead after a comparatively short illness, and still relatively young.  Our deepest sympathies to his family.

I had a lot of respect for Paul, who took on the challenges faced by the WMC movement head on and kept the Rawmarsh Club ahead of the game, indeed even today the price of pint still reflects the traditional Club reduced price.  He also maintained a weekend programme of entertainment that has the Club packed out most Saturday and Sunday nights.  

Best of all Paul did encourage local acts as much as he could, even going as far as to book the Rawmarsh Mashers for a Sunday night session.  But many others were given an opportunity to do their thing, indeed next week will see View From S62 Party Saturday night away. 

The Funeral will be held on Thursday 17th March at Rotherham Crematorium at 10:20am, with a Wake back at Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club to follow. 

After the activities of the past few weeks, we enter a quiet period for The Mashers.  So this week was given over to preparing a complete overhaul of the Web Site.  I’m sure that regular users of the site have found it mind boggling as more and more information has been loaded onto it and making it quite heavy for even Broadband connections to handle – indeed the build programme now finds it very difficult to handle what is over a hundred and ten pages now.  It’s too much. 

Fortunately I have good analytics and I can see what pages get the most hits and I shall be cutting everything back to the bits that Acoustic Rotherham users find most useful and of interest. 

The Masher is out next on 24th March at The Bridge for the Special Irish Night when the weekly Thursday Session meets up with The MBMT Wandering Minstrels Club come together for an evening that will also include Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty.

I hope that you had a chance to read the Hearts of Steel special News Blog I put up in mid-week.  The production runs for one night only at The Civic Theatre, Rotherham on the 14th March (tomorrow Monday).  A full review will be in next week’s News Blog.   You can find the Preview HERE

An advanced warning of excellent Gig coming to The Bridge, Rotherham on a non-traditional music night, Wednesday 4th May, when German performer Kurt Sawalies will be in residence as part of his 2011 UK Tour that takes in the Loch Lomond Festival.  Free entry – and he’ll be performing a mix of music, from Folk to Rock - his Cat Stevens has to be heard to be believed, simply brilliant.  You can hear Kurt in action HERE and there is a three track demo download on the Demo Page HERE

I was glad to see that Oxford has sorted something for what was their Festival Weekend, a series of events and you can find details HERE

The Official figure for the number of demonstrators out and about in Sheffield on Saturday (yesterday) to give Mr Clegg a warm welcome to his Conference, was 5,000.  Experience tells me that one should add at least another 50% for a more realistic figure.  Don’t forget that the main Demonstration is in London on 26th March, there’s loads of coaches going down.  Anyone wanting further details should contact Martin Hickman via his Facebook page HERE 

Wherever we turn in the News it’s bad news.  Locally fifteen Youth Centres are to close in Rotherham.  Young people seem to be the open goal losers of this round of cuts, along with the Professionals whose skill provided them with the knowledge and support they need to kick off their adult lives these days.  

It’s so short sighted.   Yet another generation of our young being thrown into the wilderness, and just as we were beginning to get it as right as we can in our messed up Society. 
What surprises me so much is that Labour Councils appear so eager to play the Con/Dem game, and fall into all the traps laid by the Government.  

What’s worse, instead of looking for positive alternatives our local community Leaders fall so easily into the blame game, Councils blame the Government, The Government blame the Brown Government for not regulating the Banks (at least they are getting that bit right now) and of course Labour blames the Banks, which is where the blame should rest. 

If you really want to depress yourselves further, I would suggest heading for the pages of Private Eye, here every two weeks you can cry as you read of the various major Banks and Companies that are evading paying tax and all the tricks they get up to keep them only just on the side of the angels.  It certainly gets my blood boiling. 

And this week, only twenty four hours after we heard of the obscene bonuses being paid to Barclay Bank Executives we learn of huge pay cuts being planned to cut the Police Budget!! 
To make my grumpy week complete, petrol hit £1.30 per Ltr in Rotherham.  Not good.  I’m close to giving up on it all let alone our young people.  That’s 4p on a litre in two weeks, and we’re promised more to come.

On the other hand, I have had to smile at the way Cameron and Hague have been treated like Political light weights by the rest of the World as they try to make sense of the contradictory relationship we share with Middle Eastern Countries and Libya in particular.  Who to back boys?  As we have to keep onside so as to stabilise oil supplies and of course get them to spend their oil revenues on our goods and services.  

So escape to the World of music, and there’s plenty going on, so check out the listings HERE
And whatever you’re doing this week, have fun, smile and keep it live.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Hearts Of Steel Special

Now here’s unusual, a News Blog Special from The Rawmarsh Mashers / Myke Barritt Music Trust and Acoustic Rotherham.  And why might this be the case?  Answer, there’s an event this coming Monday Night that I think deserves a very special mention, a live performance, to launch the DVD and CD entitled “Hearts Of Steel”. 

As we all know, Steel Production has been as much at the heart of Rotherham as Coal, and indeed long after the pits (the exception being Maltby)have closed, Rotherham continues to be at the heart of the Rotherham economy, not as much as many would like, but it’s still here and living with us now. 

The ‘Songs of Steel’ community project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund was initiated by Rotherham Community Arts and Archives and Local Studies in 2009. The project's aim was to collect the memories and stories of people in Rotherham who worked within the steel industry and to celebrate Rotherham’s industrial heritage and create a legacy for future generations.
There’s a wealth of information and specially written music, from trad to Rap and verse to be found by exploring the excellent Songs Of Steel Web Site, you can find a link on the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site or go straight to it HERE

The live performance on Monday, shows at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, has Ray Hearne introducing an exceptional range of talent performing their songs, Mr Rotherham Blues, Steve Gasgoine, Folk and poet Roy Blackman, The Kimberworth Male Voice Choir, Sandra Lint, Christine  May Turner, Mick Shaw and many more.  Tickets are only £7, a charge that I'm told that has to be made as the Council cannot afford to allow the group to use the Civic Theatre for free.

There is DVD costing £10 that will be available from Magna and the Museum, with the CD and more Teaching aids to come. 

This is a fantastic bit of Oral History, a collection of recollections and art, all to celebrate the importance of Steel to the development of Rotherham.

While you’ll be able to enjoy the DVD for years to come, the Show is on for only one day, so make that special effort to get yourself to the Civic Theatre, Rotherham this coming Monday.  I know that you will not be disappointed.

I’m told that there may well be a number of smaller events depending upon demand in the months ahead and we’ll make sure that Acoustic Rotherham readers / Myke Barritt Music Trust supporters get to know what is happening.   Keep a check on the News Page HERE

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Drowning in Beer...............

A slightly surreal week for The Mashers.  I suppose it all started last Sunday when I started to work on the set list we were to play through at the Beer Festival.  

Putting thirty songs together was no problem, yet when I had finished compiling the list of what I took for granted to be a classic Masher collection of songs I realised that poor Keith, who was standing in as wing man for the Gigs, would know no more than three of the songs.

It certainly demonstrates just how an act develops.  Was it just five years ago that Keith and I would sit in The Monkwood on a Monday night playing through classics from The Spinners / Dubliners /
What I now take for granted to be Masher set songs has moved considerably from those days, and I think demonstrates all too clearly the artistic input that Myke had in the development of The Mashers.   The strange thing is that the change happened almost seamlessly and certainly without conscious thought.  

So Monday night found Keith and myself once again playing together, but this time, in the small upstairs room of The Bridge.  A strange experience and one I certainly thought would never happen again.

Keith has not been in the best of health of late, and in fact has not played for well over a year, so it was really big of him to stand in at very late notice to play alongside me at The Rotherham Real Ale Festival. 

In the few hours we had available we ran through as many of the songs on the Play List as we could, bringing him up to date with the arrangements of the songs he was familiar with and introducing the songs he had never heard let alone played before. 

It was of course a Nellie Folk night on Monday.  My apologies to those who may have felt that Keith and I were ignoring you, but to get the work done we had to use the maximum amount of time available.  

And so to Magna and The Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival.

First impression of Magna as a venue, it’s huge.    The eight minute walk from main entrance to Main Hall testifies to that.   Worse, on getting there we discovered that the stage we were to play on had been decided against, and so we had to walk nearly all the way back again to find the Kelham Island Café Bar, which as it turned out was to be our home for the next two evenings.
It’s an artist thing.  We like to know what we are doing.  But unfortunately circumstances were such that, with cancelled acts and Stage changes, timings and etc. were all over the place.   So working on first in first up The Mashers kicked off the entertainment in the Kelham Island Café Bar.  

Despite our lack of practice time together I think we carried off a fair opening set to get the evenings music underway. 

Joining us on the Café stage were Eskimo Kissed! (Julie and Richard) who produced a fine set of their own songs intermixed with a few well arranged covers.  This is an act which gets stronger every time I get to see them, and there is a bounce and an energy to their performance which sells their songs to an audience brilliantly.  They’ve just released a Demo EP of three tracks which you can find on the Acoustic Rotherham pages HERE

Also due to appear was Florin.  Apparently there had been some sort of administrative misunderstanding and Florin turned out to be Bob Humphries doing a solo spot, which he performed brilliantly, of course.  A better technical singer and performer would be hard to find anywhere. 

And yes, having kicked it all off, The Mashers wound it all up for the day. 

I did catch a bit of Brothers of The Nghit in what I called the lobby Hall stage, who seemed to be in great form, the only trouble was that it was really very cold making standing around for any length of time uncomfortable.

The Café Bar was not too bad because of the heat coming from the fryers and Coffee dispensers, but it was still uncomfortable for people wanting to sit and listen for an entire set.
It was though fantastic to put some flesh to some of the faces of people who follow us or our mutual friends on Myspace or Facebook.  It’s nice when people take the trouble to introduce themselves and make themselves known. 

Keith and I were also overwhelmed by the very kind comments that were made about our performances on both days.  But great thanks has to go to Dave Homer for producing some fantastic sound in a  very difficult venue.  Well done Dave, I know I’m speaking for all the acts on Wednesday and Thursday when I say that your efforts were very much appreciated. 

On the Thursday we joined in the Café Bar by Bob Humphries, once again who produced two of his outstanding sets – or was Keith right, was the second set basically the same as the first?  Who cares, it sounded great.  

Working audiences that are migratory, e.g. on the move from one Brewer to another is never very easy, and for solo acts in particular where one can be a statue making noise it can often be very soul destroying, even for duos it can be hard.  Yet on Thursday, the key performer of the evening Ray Hearne gave us a Master Class in how to demand attention from your audience.  Producing one of the best sets I’ve seen Ray perform, and using his amazing voice and knowledge of the Steel Industry which he has put into song and verse, he captured the audience brilliantly.  

Ray has been a part of the Community Project that has produced a DVD called “Hearts Of Steel”.  The full launch is on Monday 14th March at The Civic Theatre.  I hope to be able to bring you more about this event during the week, may be in a separate News Blog Special.  Link to ticket booking and a bit of information can be found on the Diary Page HERE

Oh – the Mashers opened and closed the entertainment in the Bar once again.  Enjoyable stuff.

On the lobby stage I caught a set from Treebeard.  An amazing show they put on, with Chris changing hats at regular intervals adding a bit of colour, if it were really needed to this high energy band. 

It’s easy to see why Treebeard are so popular on the Festival circuit with their contemporary, traditional sounding songs, and musicianship.  Brilliant stuff.

Before leaving the Beer Festival entirely.  I think Rudi and Joe need a big vote of thanks for the work they put in to getting the entertainment together for the Festival.  I know exactly how difficult putting on these events can be, and I’ve not had to worry about getting four or five piece Bands on let alone get the staging and sound sorted.  Despite the panic they must have been feeling inside they both were as laid back and charming as can be, despite provocation and being let down by some acts.  Well done lads you did a fine job. 

I’m sure the mixture of music and the standard of performance has added to what the Organisers are saying has been a record year for attendance at the Beer Festival.
If the same level of planning goes into the Yorkshire Blues Festival, also at Magna, a three day event starting 30th April then punters and acts will be in for a treat.   You can find full details of the Blues Festival by following the link on our Home Page HERE    I’m told early ticket sales have been brisk, so fingers crossed that this will be another success for Rudi and Joe. 

Photographs from the Real Ale and Music Festival, mainly The Mashers and Treebeard (courtesy of  Paul Pearson)in action can be found HERE

A mention for my Saturday night trawl of the live music venues, and of course yet another headline night at The Bridge.  There was a good crowd in once again, despite Papa Legbus playing at the Beer Festival where many regulars had clearly gone.  

Headlining were Black Toad, fronted by Mick and Lyn, playing their rocking blues.  Lyn’s voice always sends a tingle down my spine, it’s so right for the songs they perform, and the band are clearly well practiced and together.  If you get a chance to see them don’t miss out.  

And a word for support act Will Padfield.  One of those rare acoustic solo artists who can make the sound of a band.   I hope Will will be putting himself out there a little bit more, he deserves wider recognition for both his own songs and his performance levels.   We hope to be able to feature a number of demo tracks for down load from Will very soon.

I also put my head around the corner of The Trades Club.  Oh dear.   Please explain to me why a band made up of Lead and Bass guitar + attractive female singer drums requires backing tracks.  It’s all just so obvious and well, to be quite honest the Lass could have performed just as well on her own.  Clue or tip of the week…………….  If you need to fill out sound with backing tracks then invest in a keyboard player, at least it’s not so obvious.  Well that’s my view.  I’m sure they will go down very well on the holiday coast though…… so who am I to criticise them eh?

And so The Masher comes to the end of his busy little period.  The diary lays strangely empty.   This was a trial little run for me to see if I really could start to enjoy myself again, and yes, I’ve had a great time playing gigs local and out and around Yorkshire.  So perhaps it’s time to once again to look to fill the diary up a bit more.  

I doubt that Keith will be joining me on a permanent basis.  As previously stated he’s not a well chap and the stress that inadvertently comes with a busy diary may be just a little too much for him, so I shall in the main be remaining solo unless someone approaches me who is serious about helping to develop The Mashers further.  

So if you’ve got a slot somewhere in your Club / Session Diary and you fancy a bit of flash slash folk from The Masher (it ain’t pretty) with a slight political edge here and there give me a call or send an Email.  You can find out how HERE

The Web Site, despite it’s rather ropey condition in some areas is still pulling in more and more viewers.  It’s not really working as a commercial vehicle in terms of CD sales though, we would need many more hits for that to happen.  However, the overall project is worth developing further and I shall be concentrating efforts on improving the bits of the site that people use most often, like the Free Demo section. 

Other things coming up.  Full details of the Darnall Datallers Writer’s Club in Association with the Myke Barritt Music Trust, Spring Festival can be found HERE   It really is a full and varied programme of activities and well worth checking out.  It runs from 14th March until 5th April. 

As I’ve given Ray a big write up this week I suppose brother Mark Hearne should also be given a special mention as we near his long awaited St Patrick’s tour of Wentworth.  On the 17th March, the day itself Mark will be performing at an open event at The George and Dragon, always a popular night, so get in early.  You will be treated to his now famous mix of traditional Irish songs interspersed with more popular contemporary numbers. 

For those who don’t like free, then you have a second chance of catching Mark’s show at The Rockingham the following night, where he will be performing at a special Irish Dinner .  Ticket information can be found on the Diary Page HERE

Finally I send out the plea.  If you’re a Facebook friend then please head to our Band Page HERE and click on the LIKE Button it does make a huge difference to our general standings and it would be much appreciated.  And I’m still finding one or two of you on Reverbnation HERE, so why not become a friend of The Mashers there to.

Whatever you’re doing this week then please have fun and keep it live.