Monday, 30 May 2011

Keeping in Contact + All the usual News from Acoustic Rotherham

I look from my window this Bank Holiday Sunday and my heart goes out to all you Festival Campers out there, be you at Whitby, Cleethorpes, Chester or any of the many gatherings of musicians around the Country. Wind, rain and temperatures just a little light of Mediterranean. As far as I’m concerned you’re all heroes.

My moan of the week is, why on earth do people make the investment in time and money to create a Web Site and then, having put it on air, 1. Tell no one it exists and 2) fail to keep it updated? A Web Site is a method of communication, not a status symbol, content needs to be relevant and up to date even in it’s most basic form.

Now, I have a secret tool that lets me see the performance of Web Sites, along with other information, so I know just how poorly so many sites perform. From my experience with the Acoustic Rotherham site I also know just what has to be done to get even minimal interest in the content. One has to be constantly working, tweaking, updating.

So if I’m looking at an artist Web Site what do I want to know? Well something about the artist, a photograph, something about the music they play, even perhaps a track or two; do they have any CDs for sale, where can I see the act live; and perhaps a few bits about where they have played in the past, their favourite venues, most challenging Gig, etc. and most important of all up to date contact information, even if it’s only an Email address.

What I don’t want, and this is a personal preference, is a site with a picture that says this is the site of “X” Buy my CD, (which is not the current CD), and a list of Gigs the latest of which is 2009. Such sites are useless and if the artist cannot be bothered to keep it updated then it should be taken off air as it gives people seeking information a bad impression. It does not take a lot to delete a site.

More and more the first point of reference made by Promoters of Festivals / Concerts and Folk Clubs is the Internet, therefore it could be argued that no matter what level one is performing at your Web Site is your shop window.
So if you have a Web Site, check it out, ask yourself if you were looking at it for the first time would it work for you, does it get the message across, does it reflect your personality and your act?

Or have you forgotten that you have a Web Site? Google yourself and see what comes up. If you’ve got dead sites on line then try to remember how you put it up and head for the delete button. And yes I know artists with multiple dead sites.
I know it can all be so time consuming. All too much hassle when all one might want to do is practice and head out to the next Folk Club or Festival, but these days, even if you are only semi-serious about your musical profile, as there are many services available at a very low cost – all you have to do is let your administrator know the changes you wish to make and they are done. They are well worth checking out.

You know who you are…………………….

AND IF YOU’VE GOT A WEB SITE TELL PEOPLE – OFTEN. You can have the best Web Site in the World but if no one visits it, it becomes a total waste of time.

This week the Masher escaped for a few hours and headed to Nellie Folk at the Bridge, Rotherham. A very pleasant evening spent with some good friends, if a small gathering this month. Well, the last time the place was so full it was very late into the evening before everyone got a turn, this time, guided by Rob, we managed two circuits of the track.

As for the Masher, one of the new songs got an outing, and falling back on Bloody Rotten Audience to finish the evening in respect to Myke.

Question of the night was where was Mr Blackman, missing his very first Nellies, which he normally crawled to whatever his condition, we hope there is nothing wrong with him.

I had hoped to make it over to the Cleethorpes this weekend for the celebration of Folk and Cider, (I think this is what remains of the Cleethorpes Festival) but an errant pupil put pay to that one and I had to work instead. But here was another classic example of finding something by accident. On checking I found that only three of the artists appearing had bothered to update their Gig list and considering that I like to think that I’m in the general loop of things discovered the Web Site as a status update on Facebook.

One hopes that next year the publicity might be better and I can plan my visit in good time.

Sunday night I was allowed out, but only on a leash, attached firmly to Mrs Masher. So it was Club Land time.

We were treated to the two extremes of Club Land performers. At Rotherham Trades, billed as a “Personality Singer” was Claire Miller who is clearly at the start of her Club Land career, and learning the ropes. I’ve got to be honest, I have a sneaky admiration for performers at this level, it takes real guts to get on stage and run through a fairly standard set list of girly songs supported only by some pretty weak backing tracks. What I find difficult to believe is that their Agents are not giving better advice about the material and general performance craft. Here the poor girl set herself out to dry with songs beyond her current vocal range with the resultant bum notes, wrong key starts and weak phases.

I’m sure she will learn, but she should be given experienced advice.

Contrast with the performer Lauren Fay Moss at The Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club. Amazing backing tracks used to their full potential by a singer who knew how to use her voice, body and microphone to the best effect, as well putting together a set list of current and classic songs guaranteed to please any Club audience. It was slick and highly professional. So it was no surprise to learn at the end that Lauren was off to join the ranks of Universal’s singers in Miami for eight months. I’m sure she will do very well.

But it’s so hard doing this sort of act on a wet Bank Holiday Sunday night to a three quarter empty Club.

Last Sunday Myke Masher’s singing partner from way back “Maca” dropped a cassette tape through my door which I’ve now had the pleasure of playing through, digitalising and cutting into bits. There’s some interesting material which is believed to be the early work of Myke’s Folk Opera. Maca is currently going through the tracks to try and work out what they relate to, and I hope to be able to post them on the Web Site very soon. Obviously the sound quality is not fantastic but it might provide us with a taste of what might have been.

Loads going off in the week ahead. Wednesday new breath is being pumped into the Folk Session at the Three Horseshoes, Doncaster. Friday, at The Princess Royal one of my favourite duos Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty will be supporting Soupstone Dragon, while the Play On Club will be doing it’s thing at The Rutland Arms in Sheffield. Saturday and it’s The Domino, Kimberworth Park for the all-day Charity Session (just turn up and you’ll get a chance to play or jam). You can find it all HERE

You’ll also find that the July Diary page is now live on the Web Site HERE please check to make sure that your regular entries are correct and if you’ve special events Email HERE

South Yorkshire Pete is putting on a couple of special Americano Nights at the Princess Royal on the 1st and 15th of July. He’s inviting acts to offer their services, so get in touch with him HERE if you’d like to take part.

The Mashers have always enjoyed a day out, and Wirksworth, in Derbyshire has over the years been one of our regular haunts for the September Street Music Festival. However they have events running throughout the year, from Farmers Markets to one of Village Shows, all feature music of some description. To stay in touch with the opportunities for acts get in touch with Dave Smith who is the chief co-ordinator of the Street Music. HERE I promise you there’s nothing better than singing in this Village, especially when the sun shines.

Yet more “friends” of Acoustic Rotherham et. Al. have joined Reverbnation, you can find all our friends links HERE Check out the great music. There’s new tracks being added all the time by these artists.

And don’t forget the Resource page HERE with links to all sorts of services from singing and music lessons to Web Design or poster / flier design. Check it out, it might help and most of the services come courtesy of Acoustic Rotherham performers, so they know what they are doing………………… I think.

And that’s it for another week, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something…………………….. only one or two spaces left for Acoustic Rotherham 12, if you fancy a spot check out the details and contact me HERE

Whatever you’re doing this week, have fun and keep it LIVE.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Dirty Tricks / Doncaster Festival and alot more.

I was fascinated this week by a post on Facebook from the Folk legend that is Ray Padgett.  He announced that the Fred Jordan, Unaccompanied Singer Contest to be sung out at the Saltburn Festival in August was now open to entries, and that he had the Application forms, and RULES
Now, why should nice Folkie types need RULES to sing a song?  The brain was a whirlwind full of evil tricks that singers may be tempted to try.   

Could it be that nasty folkies go around sticking chewing gum in pitch pipes, thus rendering a singer keyless?  Or perhaps it was to prevent singers from embarking upon an eighty verse marathon, sometimes witnessed in the Folk Clubs?  Or could it be the dreaded bootlace trick, tied together causing the unsuspecting singer to go head over heels as they march towards the stage area?  Could that firm handshake conceal enough super glue to firmly fix a singers hand to the ear? Perhaps the rules are to prevent that slightly out of key cough at the vital moment?  Or do they warn against criminal harmonies in choruses, where the singer might feel they are singing a completely different song?  

Being completely naïve about these things I really don't know but you might well have your own thoughts. 

But what about extra prizes.  Best beard (Oh that’s a naughty cliché) or best ear hold, best singing pose with a pint ; best singing lean on fire  place mantle; most Ambitious Harmony?
Yes, we could go on taking the Michael for ages.  


But seriously to you heroes of the unaccompanied song interested in taking part in this year’s Competition head off to Ray’s  Facebook page and send him a message.  HERE and he’ll send you all the details.

This week I was lucky enough to be taken off to the opening Concert of the 2011 Doncaster Folk Festival.  

I went in disguise, no hat, yet despite this effort several people approached to say, “You are The Rawmarsh Masher and I claim my prize”.  I had to tell them that the CD had sold out……….. so disappointment all round I’m afraid. 

But let’s get the negative stuff out of the way.  Who on earth planned the Festival for the weekend which also boasted the relatively local and established Festival at Shepley?  

If my memory serves me right the Doncaster Festival had normally run in April. 

And why was it that my Google search engine could only find details of the 2010 Festival?  Other than, of course, the reference in the Acoustic Rotherham site.  

If these Festivals are going to succeed Publicity, especially on the Web is crucial, as is some would argue, a fixed weekend in the year.  However, there may have been unseen factors at work or funding issues, the later being an issue that so many of the smaller Festivals are having to overcome.

The Opening Concert though was great fun, played out unfortunately to a sparse yet enthusiastic audience (the important people were there, as Paul Pearson observed) at a new to me venue, yet one with great potential, The Doncaster Ukrainian Centre. 

Kicking off the Festival was Welsh Geoff who gave us a truly entertaining set of his works, both old and new.  His songs about Saints, Kings and Mythical events are fantastic stories set to music, and full of his cheeky humour.   And how does Geoff deliver such complicated lyrics with so much smoothness and so quickly?  It left me breathless for sure. 

It was also good to hear so many people singing along to the song choruses. 

Bringing glamour to the evening’s concert was Zoe Bottomley, ably accompanied by Dad Dave.  (I bet she’s fed up with that sort of observation)

Somehow Zoe and The Mashers have contrived to avoid each other over the years we’ve been about, so this was a set that I was especially interested in listening to.  And I wasn’t disappointed for here’s a young lady that sings from the heart and completely naturally, there’s none of the “girly” type singing voice, nor an attempt at what some consider to be an “earthy” folky voice.  

Her set was refreshing, ranging from traditional folk to Tom Watts.  Super stuff.

Next came The Steel City Troubadour,  Mr Paul Pearson.  Now, I’ve seen Paul perform in all types of settings, from small Folk Clubs to Festival stages.  How will I ever forget how he shared what turned out to be the final performance of Myke at The Butchers Arms.   

Paul has been around far longer than The Mashers, yet the improvement in his performance over the time we’ve been active on the scene has been extraordinary.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself, as he seems to hypnotise the audience into the warmth of his voice and the soft delivery of his songs mostly taken from Ron Trueman-Boarder  of whom Paul is great fan.
Paul is a stalwart of the local Folk scene and in my view deserves a lot more recognition than he gets, and you would just not believe the nerves and arthritic pain he often has to overcome to give a performance.   

Paul’s Friday night set was right up there with the very best.

Topping the Bill was that “old” rogue of the East Yorkshire Folk scene, Mick McGarry.   This is the first time that I had seen Mick in solo mode, previously he’s been joined by his mates in Owd Chivers.  How can anyone be disappointed listening to such a fantastic voice, and it was the unaccompanied numbers that were the standout moments of his set.   

For me he sings as he looks, rich and smoky, a true character of the Folk scene.  

I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure if it was the PA or the his guitar, but the guitar backed songs didn’t work quite so well, but who cares, the entertaining introductions and general good humour of Mick simply carries one away into the World of good Folk song. 

As I said before a super night that demonstrated the full range of song and music that falls within the Folk genre. 

And let this be a lesson to other Festival Organisers.  You don’t have to always seek a “name” to create a fantastic Concert, here were four acts drawn from the local Yorkshire Folk circuit, more than capable of drawing an audience, if the publicity had been right.   

Congratulations to all.   

And if I needed more to make my evening even better, I got my hands on a copy of the String Theory CD “Watery Gravey”.   String Theory are the main stays of the Barnsley Folk Club, comprising of Sarah Greenwood, David Bottomley and John Platt. 
To get your hands on a copy of the twelve track CD you can grab one at any of their Gigs or look up Sarah Greenwood on Facebook HERE 

My initial listen to the CD suggests you won’t be disappointed. 

Finally, thanks to Sue and Barry, for picking me up and delivering me safely back home, your kindness is much appreciated. 

Just a word for Mick who having done an exhausting hour headed off to Shipley to join up with his Owd Chivers friends to prepare for one or two sets they had been booked in for there.

There is a wicked rumour going around that the Government cuts are not having any affect at all.  So here’s how it is already affecting my business.  Three months ago two weeks to turn around a Provisional License,  now TWO MONTHS and getting worse.  Also wait for me to see someone about my condition, eight weeks.  So not only will we feel that we’re paying more, but the service we receive is going to get worse and worse.  This Government will take us back two decades if we are not careful.

Onto the week ahead.

A reminder that Monday is Nellie Folk night at The Bridge in Rotherham.   Somehow I’ve contrived to miss the last two so I’m quite looking forward to this one.  And who knows I might launch a new rep. song or two. 

May 30th, that’s a Bank Holiday, (that will make a change won’t it?) there’s the all-day Charity Festival at The Bridge, Rotherham with Papa Legbas and many more.  I’ve no idea how the slots are being filled, but if your band fancies a spot then grab Ben at The Bridge and I’m sure he’ll tell you exactly what the situation is. 

Major Festivals in Bath and Chester and some stand out Gigs with Garforth and Myers and Jack’s Rake in action.   Full details can be found on the links on the Diary Page HERE

Heads Up into June.  Saturday the 4th at The Domino, Kimberworth Park, Rotherham there’s to be an all-day session from around 12:00 in aid of Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice, from what I can see it’s a turn up and play event.   

11th June, Ray Hearne at the Royal Oak, Deepcar, Sheffield Details on the Diary pages.

The Acoustic Rotherham 12 slots are filling – if you fancy a place get in quick, Email me HERE also if I’ve promised you a place and your name isn’t on the list HERE then use the Email link above to give me an ear bashing.

On the Web Site, the additions were made to Demo page with tracks from Florin and Dylan Brierley available.  HERE

A number of people have asked about the Kurt Sawalies Gig at The Bridge, which they missed, you’ll  find a Demo pack from Kurt on the same page. 

More friends have been added on the Friends Page – remember if you’ve a Reverbnation page and cannot be found just add yourself as a friend of the Mashers HERE

I’ve kept the links to the “Folk’s Not Dead” Film HERE   Poor old Bob Humphries with typical foot in mouth managed to create quite a thread on my Facebook Page by suggesting that Folk was not dead but just needed the “kiss of life”, and so started an interesting exchange of views.  HERE

You’ll also notice a couple of additions to The Mashers Gig List, as per usual they’re a little sandwiched up.

We could still do with more of you Acoustic Rotherham / Myke Barritt Music Trust and Masher followers hitting the FACEBOOK LIKE BUTTONS that you’ll find on all the pages of the Web Site.  Honest folks it does help to raise the profile of the site, but more importantly to raise the profile of local grassroots music at it’s very best and artists who go to make it up.   So please give them a click.  Thank you.

And so whatever you’re doing this week have great fun and keep it LIVE.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Folk's Not Dead - A short film + All the Latest News from Acoustic Rotherham

The first full week we’ve all worked in some time has been safely negotiated, and a bit of a breather too for South Yorkshire folkies after two fun packed weekends, first at Wath and then last week at Holmfirth. 

Personally I couldn’t get across to Holmfirth, but Sue Sutherland has very kindly done a short review of her and Barry’s day out in Holmfirth which you can find in the next Blog down.   Just a note to say thank you to Ian Burdon for not kicking up a fuss ‘cos I nicked his pictures.

It’s amazing to reflect that the 16th May marks the first anniversary of Myke’s death.   To say that he is missed as a Masher would be an understatement, to say that he is missed as a good friend simply does not say enough.   Yet it would be fair to say the Mashers have held their end up during the year, with three stand in Mashers taking to the stage and a host of solo appearances having kept me on my toes.   You can check out who came on board to help me out HERE

I’m still looking for someone to become a permanent Masher – there’s a load of stuff coming up in the not too distant future and it would be great if someone could come on board offering something  new to the mix.  Don’t be shy.  Email HERE

But let’s look to the future.  

This Thursday, the 19th May my old mate Phillip Hartley will be performing his last Gig for a bit at Le Foret in Leopold Square, Sheffield.  Get yourselves down there to give him a cheer or two, perhaps even buy him a pint.  It seems that the stress of so many Gigs on his extensive tour of Sheffield has at last taken it’s toll and he is going to take a well-earned rest.   And so say all of us.  But if I know Phill he’ll be filling up the old Reverbnation player with new songs before too long so tune in and check him out HERE

Don’t forget it’s the Doncaster Folk Festival this coming weekend – details on the May Diary Page HERE

The Bridge is to once again hold an all day Festival on the Spring Bank Holiday 30th May, with Papa Legbas and Searching for Sylvia heading up what will be a great day of music, if last year’s event is anything to go by.    I’m told that there will be an Acoustic Corner.  Details of the organisation of the event are a bit sparse at the moment, however, if you fancy playing either in the Acoustic Corner or on the Big Stage make your initial enquiry of Ben at The Bridge.  Facebook connection HERE

Another “heads up”.  Saturday the 11th June at The Royal Oak, Deepcar, Sheffield, Ray Hearne is the main name at a fund raising Concert.  The Concert has been arranged to raise funds for a young man seeking to make it in the World of Figure Skating.  Head to the Acoustic Rotherham News Page for full details about the young man and how you can get your hands on the limited tickets.  HERE

Other events have been added to the Listings page, so check out the full details HERE

The next Acoustic Rotherham (it’s number 12) is on 31st July at The Queens.  The good news is that I still have some spaces for this one, so if you would like to perform a set or know of a Band that would like to do a set then please get them to contact me or go HERE to see who is already signed up for the event. 

Those of you who part of the MBMT Spring Festival may be interested to learn that the short film that was shot by Zaneta Ernesto Stepien, is now available for viewing.  It’s entitled “Folk’s Not Dead” and features the mugs of many well known faces from around the Sheffield/ Rotherham Folk scene.  Links have been posted on the Acoustic Rotherham News Page HERE

The “Friends Page” has also had a number of additions as more acts find Reverbnation as Myspace falls even further into disrepute.   Make sure you’re on the page by going HERE and if you’re missing then find Rawmarsh Mashers (leave “The” out) and become a fan (I hate that word).  The rest will be done for you. 

I’d also draw your attention to The Recourse Page HERE, where you’ll find useful links to Web Sites and Artist services.  

 I was going through my archive of music the other day and found a couple of packages that should be added to the demo page, and these will be making an appearance this week at some point.  If you’ve not found the Demo page yet then head HERE

And if you have a Demo CD or something else that you would like added to this page then Email the tracks to me HERE

I think that the updating of the site is all but complete.  All that remains is the CD Shop.  We’ll be working on that very soon. 

I’m still getting the odd report from one or two people that the site is still crashing on loading.  I’ve tested and tested and there is absolutely no reason why this should happen in the design code.  There are two main reasons why the site might crash.  The first is that software on people’s machines is not up to date, either Windows or Adobe Flash Player  or both.   The second is that Firewall settings are set far too high and that the third Party Sites used by the site are seen as an attack.  So please check these out if you are experiencing a problem.   Thanks. 

I promise you, the site has been lightened up, and even the Picture rich pages should load as quickly as your internet service allows.   HONEST!!!!

As I said in my last UPDATE Email, I might not be on the scene as much as I have been for a few months.  Nothing over serious, however, past efforts at resting the brain etc.  have not exactly worked out as they should have done and the brain needs a bit of a rest.  The Mashers are committed to things later in the year and we’ll be keeping these appointments, but up to then it’s expect us if you see us.   Hopefully it will give me a chance to bash these new songs into some sort of Mashing shape. 

It means that I’m reliant upon you good folks to keep me up-to-date with all the gossip and news, so keep sending it in by Emailing me HERE please. 

And that’s it for this week – whatever you are doing this week have great fun and keep it LIVE.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Holmfirth Folk Festival 2011 Reviewed By Sue Sutherland

Holmfirth Folk Festival : 6th – 8th May, 2011-05-09

Editors Note:  Make no mistake, The Holmfirth Folk Festival is one of the best local music Festivals, being truely grounded in "the people".  The Village is always bustling, there is always a great atmosphere no matter what the weather, and it seems that no matter what time of day you visit there's always someone singing or playing an instrument.  

It's a Festival that The Mashers have never played at any level, the reason being that the one occassion that Myke and I went across we just got caught up in the whole scene and soaked ourselves in the music making of other people.  

This year I was unable to make it so I asked my Folkie spy Sue Sutherland to write a flavour of this years event.  So thanks to Sue for what follows.


Well we were unable to go to the whole weekend due to other commitments but on Sunday morning we set off to sample what was left of the festival. 

We arrived in a sleepy Holmfirth at around 10.30 am where the odd jaded looking folky was sitting around in the lovely morning sunlight. 

Apparently it has been quiet a wet Saturday evening with torrential rain and thunderstorms. Passing ‘The Nook’ brought back memories of another wild and wet night when the Masher’s performed to an audience of very few!  (surely not ed.)

We decided to have breakfast at Sid’s café passing numerous small venues on the way advertising workshops and small gatherings. 

Everything was well signed and The Sheffield Giants were poised ready to perform out side the Parish Church.

The first person we saw was Roy Blackman who joined us for breakfast and regaled us with his impression of the week- end so far. He had had a wonderful time, thought funding was less than previous years but thought the whole event was better off for it as it had been a real festival of folk. He was very impressed with the Maltby Sword Dancing Team and all the other street dancers.

We wandered around the centre of Holmfirth which had quite a buzz with numerous street entertainment including belly dancers, morris dancers and buskers. 

We went to a concert in the Parish Church which was free. Wendy Arrowsmith was just finishing her set and the ‘Young Un’s from Hartlepool followed.  Three fine young men who sing in harmony and they are worth seeing, put in your must do list.

Finally we went to The Old Bridge Inn to a Folk Club sessions run by Fyrish. It was a lovely session with sets from experienced performing artists as well as giving time to some excellent floor singers plus some poetry.

In conclusion I think the six or seven hours there transported us from anything else happening in the world to a day of sheer pleasure. 

The people who organise this event should give themselves a big pat on the back because it was truly a wonderful event.  Well done.

Sue Sutherland

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Ups and Downs of a Musical and Political Week

An interesting week, I think, in so many ways. 

So we voted “NO” to any changes in the way we elect our MPs.   It was quite a big rejection of change, as well, which took me a bit by surprise as many young’uns had suggested they wanted change, and the “YES” People had such a positive start to their Campaign.  

I’m afraid I was one of those who voted NO, I simply could not get my head around people who voted for extremist Parties like the BNP having their vote counted two or even in some cases four times.  

Don’t get me wrong, if people want to vote for the BNP they can, but I’m sorry I don’t see how democracy is served by then allowing their second, third or fourth choice to then be given their vote.  
Of course some say that the First Past The Post system allows someone to be elected with only a third of the vote, and that can’t be democratic, but it is at least a system we all understand.

And if we need any warning about Coalition Governments then our current one should shine out like a beacon.  Here is a Government with absolutely no mandate what so ever for their political programme.  Both the Tories and the Lib / Dems have torn up their manifestoes and appear to be making it up as they go along.  Perhaps we should have been having a Referendum on the Coalition Programme rather than AV?  

It seems the electorate know exactly who to blame.  The Lib Dems!!!   It might surprise many of you that I find the demise of the Liberals to be very sad, but it’s the price a Party pays for ignoring their root support, especially in the North of England.  It took the Liberals decades to build that support in the Urban North, making themselves attractive to many Labour supporters who were disenchanted with the New Labour Project.  I think it fair to say that at one point it could have been argued that their programme was far more left leaning and radical than Labour.
For the troops on the ground who worked so hard to build the Party in the North to see it all stripped away in one night must have been soul destroying.  A feeling we in Labour know only too well, particularly in the South. 

Listening to the Liberal Leaders handle the wipe out was interesting.  The initial response was to hide behind the Coalition and the suggestion that the Party would sink further to the right.  The more recent statements seem to suggest real problems in the future for the Government as they say they will be more forceful in pulling back the excesses of the Tories. 

My own view is that the formal Coalition was a huge mistake for the Liberals.  OK, the temptation of taking power, over one’s Party principles may have been too great.  On reflection they may feel that the sop of being offered the AV Referendum was not worth what happened to them on Thursday.  Perhaps the better plan might have been to let the Tories run on a minority basis, and that way of course would have meant that Cameron would have had to work with all the Parties.   I don’t think that an early election would have been a bad thing once we all got to find out the truth of what the Tories had planned for us.

It wasn’t a great night for Labour either.   The easy pickings from the Liberals in the North not being reflected by similar gains from the Tories in the South which means that we, on the Left need to get our message across more forcefully.  

And well done the Scots Nats – they have an excellent election machine now, as the SLP found out to their cost, but there was dancing in the streets of Cardiff for Milliband. 

Of course the week started with the demise of the World’s most wanted man Bin Ladin.  The Boggy Man is dead, long live the Boggy Man.   Anyway our Cousins in the USA seem over the moon.   My only response is that those who live by the sword are highly likely to die by it.   That applies to Terrorists and authentic Leaders alike.

It’s also sad to reflect that two of my boyhood sporting heroes have passed on.  “Our ‘enry” Cooper, “splash it all over”.  One of my fondest memories was sitting with my Dad in our dining room listening to Coopers fights, against the likes of Jack London, and finally Joe Bugnar.  Good times.  And of course Sevy.  I remember watching some of his golf shots with complete wonder.  Great characters, and just nice people, no matter what their politics were.

And of course we’re all lucky to be to talk and write about such things as no Super Injunction has been placed on any of the above.  Yet.

Judging by the turn out for the Kurt Sawalies Concert at the Bridge at the Bridge on Wednesday night one might have thought that a Super Injunction had been placed on the event by one of our caring Judges.  I think two Bank Holiday weekends with so much music available had taken their toll and being sandwiched between two local Festivals probably didn’t help. Kurt was on his way up to Scotland for a short tour and to play at the Loch Lomond Festival, along with his bass player Barney, who was visiting the UK for the first time.  

Musically it was a super evening, a super class in entertaining music with songs ranging from soft rock through to his self-penned songs.  Brilliant stuff.  Those who did turn out soon became firm friends of Kurt and hopefully we’ll be able to sort out something just a little more rewarding  for him next year.

It’s an end to an era.   Currently all, yes that’s ALL the pubs in Parkgate on Rawmarsh Hill are closed.  When I first moved into the area this was a flourishing drinking spot, we had The Commercial, The Alex, The Sportsman, The Travellers, and The Pakgate Inn, in addition to two WM Clubs.  The Commercial was the first to go some years back now, the Sportsman about three years ago was next and now within about a month the remaining three have closed their doors.  The WM Clubs went many moons ago. 

The Pubs might make a comeback if someone can be found to invest, but in these hard times for the Trade it might well be sometime.   Only a nutter is going to buy or invest in a Pub these days. 

Sad times.

But let’s look at some positives.   Wath Folk Festival is reported to have been a success.  Certainly all the main stage Concerts were near sell outs, with the Sunday Concert which featured The Tannerhill Weavers a complete sell out.

The atmosphere, aided by some fantastic weather,  over the Saturday Festivities of Bun throwing and multi cultured Parades was, I’m informed, simply brilliant.  Well done to all those involved.  

Congratulations to to Luke Hirst and Sarah Smout who won the Young Musician Award, a Norfolk based vocal/ guitar and cello duo, with Joby Hardwick and someone well known to Acoustic Rotherham Phil Sinclair coming in as the runners up.  The Competition that attracted entries from all round the Country was sponsored by Charlie Barker’s Company, The Partnership. 

And I can’t comment further.  I did make a flying visit to Wath on the Sunday afternoon, but it seemed everyone was sleeping off Sunday lunch………………..   and there hangs a few thoughts about how things might be livened up throughout the whole weekend. 
In your face……………….  All around Rawmarsh you’ll find the Star Jam Night being heralded on posters.  It’s every Monday night and caters for all tastes of music, from Blues and Rock to Acoustic.  I might well have to pop along and test the theory out one Monday……….   Well The Mashers Test anyone’s staying power. 

As for The Masher he quite enjoyed his run out on Wednesday night supporting Kurt, but he was clearly completely under rehearsed and it showed.  More discipline is needed.  I’m still looking for a stable person to join me and thanks to Kurt, I have a number of new entertaining songs to add to the mix.  With a number of Festivals coming up in early July it would be good to have someone to play with – almost any instrument will do, so if you fancy having ago send me an Email or give me a call. 

The June Diary Page is now live, and you can find discover where to find the music this week on the…………..  yes, you’ve guessed it, the May page HERE

The main picture page is I think up to date now.  I didn’t realise that the Mashers had got around quite so much.  While the pictures track the Mashers journey through music land you’re bound to spot people you know, in some cases The Mashers don’t even feature in a slide show……………  go HERE   

Myspace is becoming a real problem.  However, unlike many who have given up on it and transferred their allegiance completely to Facebook The Rawmarsh Mashers intend to hang about to see what happens.  We’ve got many friends on Myspace, some of whom have not yet found us on Facebook.  Facebook is also a bit awkward, with it’s insistence upon categorising pages, while our Friends on my personal page have hit well over 600, our Band page is running very low ebb, so if you’ve not popped across to our Band Page yet please do so and give it a click on the “LIKE” button HERE and we’d still like you to click the “LIKE” buttons you’ll find on each page of the Web Site.  Our thanks in anticipation.  It's not just for The Mashers, it helps all our friends who have played Acoustic Rotherham events and of course The Myke Barritt Music Trust. 

Right that’s it for this week.  Whatever you’re doing this week have fun and of course, KEEP IT LIVE.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Kung Foo Fighting - Festival Lessons - Upcoming News and Gossip

A strange surreal sort of week for me.  Hard to tell when one holiday ended and the next started, and of course my busiest day of work turned out to be Wednesday which meant that there was no Masher presence at Nellie’s on Wednesday evening as I was exhausted.   
We all knew the silly season had kicked in when the arrest of a singer on the Isle of Wight for singing Kung Foo Fighting hit the front pages of The Sun.   Having laughed through the initial impact of the story, the implications for what happened are quite serious.  The experienced bar singer was arrested for Aggravated Racial Discrimination, having been reported to the authorities by a passing Chinaman, who just happened along as the Chop Sticks opening of the song was being played. 
While we would all agree that the Police must investigate such matters properly, an hour and a half interview in addition to the initial conversation with the singer, to investigate a matter that took him no longer than ten minutes to describe on Radio 5 seems just a little excessive, as does the taking of his DNA and finger prints, especially when no charge was eventually made against him.  Basic Story HERE

More worryingly is the thought that one can get involved with something like this simply by singing an established song in one’s repertoire a very scary thought for The Mashers!!  And just where do you draw the line?   For example Mrs Masher has a deep dislike for Abba songs, can she now report anyone who sings an Abba song for violating her right to drink Abba free?   

Could Pocketful O’ Now’t be done for their one swear word song “Fuck”.   How about the slightly softer Mashers version of Allan Moorhouse’s Fat People In Love or John McCullagh’s Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher, all songs that could cause more than a little offence to some people, and in some cases, dare I say, are meant to.   

Our common sense says of course not.  But then who would have thought a standard like Kung Foo Fighting would get someone into so much unprovoked aggro?   And the singer was shaken.  Interviewed on Radio 5 on Monday he was fairly chirpy about it all, but on Thursday following his interview with the Police you could tell that he was seriously shaken, even though no charge was brought against him.  

The implications for comedians could be even greater.  Watch out Dom Collins.   Lol.
So just perhaps it wasn’t the silly season after all.

But then………………….   One can’t say that one is not displeased to see the Coalition pulling itself apart, well let’s just say pulling the seams of, their previously United front over AV.  From what I can see a move to AV will achieve very little except to give minority Political Parties two votes, against those voting for main stream Parties one vote.  In what way this is supposed to improve democracy I’m not sure.  All I see is an over complicated counts to achieve exactly the same result at the end of the day.

The argument that it gives the smaller Parties a better chance does not hold up, the only winner would be The Liberals mainly at the expense of the Tories.  My own view is do we really want more Coalitions?  Especially if this one is an example of what would happen.  It’s not just what they have done, it’s that’s they did it without a Mandate as both Parties simply ripped up everything they said during the election and have gone off on a path that no one, least of all me voted for!!

One also wonders just what the effect of a NO vote will have upon the storability of the Government.

I’ve received a number of Emails concerning the cancellation of the Yorkshire Blues Festival, that was due to take place this weekend.  

Acoustic Rotherham supports all live music in the South Yorkshire area and beyond, so while we promoted the event as much as we could WE WERE NOT INVOLVED in any way in the actual Promotion of the event, or lack of it. 

There are, I hope, a number of lessons to be learnt from the failure of this event.  First, if you’re going to put a show of this ambition and size on, it takes more than just a few months to put together.   Secondly, if you’re relying upon Sponsorship, Concessions and Grants to finance the event then you have to have the main chunk of the money in place or committed well before you start to put the show together.   Thirdly, you need a name act, something to get people talking about the event, very few people I spoke to were aware of the event, let alone talking about it in any positive sense.  And of course one needs to be getting stories out there at regular intervals to help promote the event.   

Yes, these things take time to put together, especially the first one. 
It’s a pity that it didn’t work this time, as Magna really is a promising venue, as The Beer Festival demonstrated so well.  But putting on what is a traditional local event is so different to Promoting a Regional event like a major Blues Festival.

Let’s hope that next time, and I really hope there is a next time, that they get the general Management of the event right.  Enthusiasm alone is not enough – as Acoustic Rotherham and The Mashers know only too well.

So it was good to get some positive feedback from one of the new Festivals that went ahead last week.  David Kidman tells me that the Shanty Festival at Ellesmere Port was a great success for a first time event.  So congratulations to all involved. 

The tentacles of Acoustic Rotherham wind their way far and wide and it intrigues me how poorly many of the Festivals use the Social Networking Sites and the Internet.  Many create some absolutely wonderful Web Sites, yet unless one deliberately  Google’s for a Festival then one would not know that the site existed.  When one then looks at the sites rating it’s clear that hardly anyone looks at the Web Site – it’s such a pity.  Of course it’s just being lazy.  There is a tendency to think that just putting a Web Site is enough, far from it, indeed most people Browse the Internet no further than Facebook, the number two site in the World, the art is in driving people away from Facebook to “your” site.  And it’s not easy – the message needs to be repeated time and again, and the goodwill of supporters and friends is needed.   There’s one other technical thing I would mention to.  The Meta Tags attached to Web Sites need to be written in, to leave them blank or not bother because it’s too much effort once again leads to the site never being found, even by Google. 

I know this because of the work that has gone into building the presence of the Acoustic Rotherham in the World Wide Web.  And I could do so much more but just don’t have the time, but what time I do have is put into fine tweaking how to get the word out there, we currently stand within the top 600,000 World Wide Sites and the top 20,000 in the UK, which for a Regional based site is quite good when compared to many of the perhaps more well-known Folk Music based sites that that rate to my surprise at well over a million and sometimes two million.   Boasting again.  Yes.  But it does show what can be done if some of these Festivals, especially the ones that moan about falling attendances simply understood how to use the Internet for marketing purposes.  

One final comment I would make.  Some of the Festival Sites tend to put a lot of faith in On Line Booking.  The fact is that unless you are an established household name the chances of getting people to buy on line are minimal.  Make sure you offer a Telephone Booking Office and a postal snail mail method.  People are rightly suspicious of On Line payment, and given the hacking of Sony over the last couple of weeks, rightly so.  

OK two other Web Site moans.  Artists who do not update their Gig listings, thus failing to promote their appearances, especially at some of the smaller Folk Clubs or venues and Venues who cannot be bothered to keep their Web Sites up to date, especially where the music is concerned. 

Right.  Onwards. 

And it’s great to tell you that Holly Taymar has had a feature on BBC Radio 2.  Super recognition for this brilliant song writer and singer, who incidentally recently played at Acoustic Rotherham 10. Steve Lamacq's not only played a track from Holly’s CD but also gave her the chance to do an introduction.  CD sales by the million assured, we hope. 

Also so pleased to see that Pocketful O’ Now’t, who were at Acoustic Rotherham 11 made an impact at the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in Barnsley, yet their experience on reaching the Wath Festival was much as The Mashers last year.  But I suspect more on the Wath Festival next week.  

One would have hoped that with so much happening this past two weekends that the dedicated South Yorkshire Folkies would be able to rest this coming week.  No chance!!  For next weekend it’s the Holmfirth Festival, a true people’s and singers Festival, with sessions going on throughout the weekend, plus some great Concerts.  You’ll need to book spots at some of the sessions so head to the Web Site to get the full low down on what is becoming a highlight of the local Folk Calendar.  You can find the link on the listings page HERE

If the pocket is feeling the pinch though, don’t forget that Kurt Sawalies, Nukurt is appearing at The Bridge this coming Wednesday 4th May, for free………………….  Kurt is on his way to do a tour up in Scotland where he has been booked into several venues and to play a couple of Folk Festivals.  You’ll love his sound and mix of music, so if you’ve got the energy he’s well worth spending some time with.   There is support from The Masher, but try not to let this put you off.

Myke Barritt Music Trust Annual Birthday Bash is planned for the 27th July at The Bridge in Rotherham.  Another full day of music is promised in the session mode that Myke enjoyed so much.  Secretary Jane wants your ideas and thoughts on how to make the event better, particularly the introduction of a break and or buffet.  Head to the MBMT Page for details and how to contact Jane HERE I’ve also put up an experimental survey – not done one before – just to see how it works, initially it only allows for one option so I might have to change that.   You’ll also find pictures from the Five Weirs Walk.

On the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site pages, you’ll soon be able to find the June Diary page and the Picture Page is slowly developing further with more pictures from the archive finding their way onto the site HERE  If you’re worried about loading the page, don’t.  I’ve done away with the Flash Galleries all loading at the same time, instead all you have to do is select the picture Gallery you would like to view and only that one will load.  Honest.  Please let me know if you have any problems. 

Finally on the subject of the Web Site, as you work through the pages you’ll find Facebook LIKE buttons on each page, please, please click on them, it really does help to get the word out there and improve the profile of the site in general, especially in it’s new slicker format.
And that my friend is enough navel gazing for another week.  So, whatever you are doing this week have fun and keep it LIVE.  


Phoebe has just Emailed to inform us that the interviews many local musicians gave a couple of weeks back have bourne some fruit.  Phoebe says -
"Just a quick note to let you know that the film Zaneta has produced for her University project, including some of the footage and interviews she did with us during the Spring Festival, will be shown as part of the students' film-show premiere next Thursday, 5th May 2011 at 8.30pm. It will take place at :

The School of Oriental and African Studies,
Thornaugh Street
Russell Square
I'm sure we all wish Zaneta luck with her showing.  I'm told that the film is only twelve minutes long which means that an awful lot of information has had to be cut.  I'm sure we are all hoping that the film and the perhaps the out takes will be made available to share with everyone.