Sunday, 24 July 2011

Test Match Special + the busy week ahead.

On Friday afternoon I listened to Lily Allen being interviewed by Jonathon Agnew during the tea interval of The Lords Test Match, a talented song writer and performer clearly at one with herself, with a hint of conservatism, especially where cricket is concerned.  Knitting, embroidery, baking and sandwich making for the local Cricket Club’s teas all featured heavily during the interview, as well as the work she is doing writing a musical. 

Contrast with the appalling news on Saturday of the death of Amy Winehouse.  Another great singing and writing talent who never really balanced the rock and roll life style with her personality, if she ever discovered it.  Here was a person clearly in crisis yet her Management Company decided to virtually throw her to the Wolves by sending her off on a World Tour that predictably failed at the first hurdle.

All one can really say of Amy is that it is so sad that the World has been robbed of her vibrant creativity and performance so prematurely.  I disagree with those who say that she lived life to the full and reaped the reward, as a life dominated by drugs and alcohol suggests more negativity than positivity, but her talent cannot be questioned.    What’s more, at her best, she was one the best on stage performers of her generation.   

As if further contrast were needed Jonathon Agnew interviewed a seventy year old Roy Harper during Saturday’s lunch interval, someone who somehow survived  the rock and roll life style of the sixties, where he played his full part.   Dear old Roy, fine musician and song writer he is, but certainly no cricket commentator.

 Rock on Test  Match Special.

One cannot move on without mentioning the madness that took place in Norway.  Yet more lives wasted on the altar of extreme Political Ideology an Ideology I fear that might well be attractive to Right Wing Organisations across Europe.  I refrain from using the word “Extreme” for it’s an unfortunate fact of life that there will be many who will sympathise with the anti-Muslim sentiments expressed in his Rants.  

It shows how those of us who hold Liberal Multi Cultural  views need to be on our guard, and pray that not more of these nutters decide to let rip on their own to make their Nationalist points.   

And meanwhile the News International scandal begins to take on only sideshow significance.   It was interesting watching Cameron in action on Wednesday as he sought to explain his appointment of Coulston, all the time he was allowed to make his prepared statement he came across as being in charge, yet the moment he came under pressure from questioning  his replies took on a near recklessness.  Indeed, I did not find his personalised attacks on Ed very edifying at all.  It demonstrates just how nasty the next election might become. 

Of course Mr Murdock’s appearance at Parliament was great fun, featuring even custard pie throwing.  Very little was achieved from the event other than a chance for certain MPs to give the Murdocks a good verbal kicking, one sensed a bit of revenge taking.   Even Rebecca Brookes found herself tied by the threat of a Criminal Trial, so her answers were just a little threadbare as well.  

Meanwhile the Met appears to be losing it’s Commanders hand over fist, while Boris, demonstrating a grasp of the seriousness of the situation still views it as a not important matter.
But with Parliament now stood down for the Summer, bring on the silly season for real. 

Yet more thanks to those of you who have bought  music books from the Web Site, it’s certainly helping me through this barren period until the mountain of forms have been completed  and on their way to the various Government Departments.   There are still one or two real gems left and a few bargains to.  So if you’ve not taken a look please do so, before they head off to Ebay in a few days’ time.   HERE

This mid term sick business is taking some getting use to, but I’m sure I’ll eventually adapt, and of course it’s going to be strange not having a car for a bit.   

We appear to be getting more and more hits onto the Web Site, so the revamp completed earlier this year appears to have done the job.  It’s also good to report that switching off the instant music has not seriously affected the number of plays for either the Acoustic Rotherham player or the Masher Player.  

It’s also good to see that there appears to be a growth in the number of people returning to the Site on a regular basis.  

We would really love to see people exploring the site more.   There’s a wealth of information in terms of Links to other sites or instant downloads available if you look around as well as some great packaged music.    Check out the full index in the drop down menu for each section.  HERE

Busy week coming up.  It’s Nellie Folk on Monday at The Bridge, or for those in other parts you’ll be able to find Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty over at the Stockport Arts Gallery, but you’ll have to be quick for that as even though it’s a FREE event, you still need to have a ticket. 
Wednesday we have Myke’s Birthday Bash, all proceeds to the Myke Barritt Music Trust.   For those who don’t know, when Myke was amongst us he would celebrate his birthday each year by having a big Party, often all day, when musicians and singers from all over would gather together for a massive session.   After his death, the Trust set up in his name to propagate and support the local music scene decided to keep the Birthday Bash going if for no other reason than having a huge music session. 

Once again there will be appearances from Myke Bands, The Rawmarsh Mashers, Tyburn and Earthtales, with support from David Kidman, Sue Barrie and Jane, Sylvia, David Kidman, Welsh Geoff and Paul Pearson.   That all starts around six, while the event kicks off at 2:00pm with a Singaround session directed by David Kidman

Here's a picture of Happy Trust members at work on the Rotherham Market this week

We also intend to announce the first project to benefit from the Trust Fund.

Details HERE

The weekends with Acoustic Rotherham 12.  Another great line up with ItsAcoustica, Julie and Tim Cole, David Kidman, Tina McKevitt, local legend Scottish John Nicholson, Stompin On Spiders or Gaz, VanrayUK (Pete Long), and Gary Parker + or -.  It all starts around 1:30pm, with the Rawmarsh Masher testing the equipment. 

A good mix of genre and styles so a brilliant afternoon is well in store.   Details HERE

Further afield, Wednesday sees the start of the Staithes Singaround Five Day Festival, based at The Captain Cooke.   Camping still available.   The two biggie Festivals at Cambridge (you can get a live video stream of the main stage for free if you go to their Web Site HERE) and Sidmouth get underway at the weekend, I see that Cambridge is Sold Out.   All details and links to the Festival Web Sites or details HERE

And of course there is the usual local programme of Clubs and Sessions.

I’m hoping that I’ll get a couple of reviews from the Tramline Festival and the Hull Shanty Festival currently going on by the middle of the week, in which case I’ll publish in a separate Blog. 

And that’s it for this week Folks.   Sorry there’s not a lot about what is going on in the big wide World of South Yorkshire this week, but until I’m out and about again I’m reliant upon good folks taking the trouble to send stuff into me, so please feel free to send me your reviews, comments or whatever. Send to

Whatever you’re doing this week please have fun and keep it live – best of all I’d love to see you all at the Birthday Bash on Wednesday.

Monday, 18 July 2011

A Recovery Rant

It’s been a week of recovery for me.  Last weekend drained the batteries, but I would not have missed any of it for anything, it was just one long festival of music from start to finish. 

It’s also been a week of endings and new starts.  

And here I would just like to thank all my friends who have sent messages of goodwill, offers of help and more.  One really does not appreciate just how many true friends are out there.  I really do thank you all.   

I’m sure everything will sort itself out in the long run.  In the short term I have a couple of things to keep me busy for a bit on top of re-organising life.   Many will already know that I’ve put a few items up on the Web Site as part of Dickie’s Big Sale Off which I hope will keep the cash flow going until everything is sorted and put in order.   If you’ve not taken a look at the Song and music books I’ve put up for sale take a look HERE.  There’s some little Gems, and some relatively rare song collections. 

Seems to be a week of change all round.  

I really find it astounding what is happening with regard to News International.   Were we really so naïve as to think that “hacking” and “back handers” was not widely used by our Journalists to get stories, be it Celebrity chit chat or to get a deeper insight into more serious matter, like murder and terrorism, or politics.  

I find the whole thing to be a complete over reaction, yet heads are rolling all over the place, with huge doses of hypocrisy as Journalists, Politicians and movers and shakers queue  up to fire big guns at Murdock and his crew.

Don’t get me wrong I’m no Murdock apologist.   What I am saying is that we are all guilty of letting our Media magnets get away with all this stuff for as long as I can remember, and just perhaps the writing was on the wall as long ago as Maxwell – yet we ignored it, choosing to put up with shoddy and biased Journalism.  

It does show how our Public Life has become so corrupted, as the ethos of the backhander or something for nothing became ingrained in our psychic.   Take for example Steven’s.   Did it not occur to him that accepting a freebie from a Health Spa would be wrong?   That it might come back to bite him?    But it illustrates just how deep it all goes, when not even now, our top copper does not appreciate that he had done anything wrong – he resigned because of the complex relationship with the former Deputy Editor of The News of The World.   

Seeing those Policemen last week, Yates and company explaining away dinners they had with people they were supposedly investigating as being quite “normal” and then wondering why their integrity was being challenged was just so bemusing.  And what about the Copper who having been involved in the Investigation took a job with News International – nothing wrong with that is there!!

What I find so insulting is that the Coppers defence appears to be that News International assured them that they had not done anything wrong!  So that’s alright then.   The only trouble is that it demonstrates a dual approach to Policing, for it you or I were suspected of a crime, one we would not be allowed to take the Investigating Copper out for Dinner, two, we would have been immediately dragged in for deep interrogation, our houses searched, our computers ceased etc. etc.   Just why did this not happen in the case of News International?

And we all know why.   Only at the time we would not have admitted it. 

But what about Cameron?   We have a Prime Minister who is so naïve to think that when Coulston said his hands were clean, actually believe him, despite warnings from all directions.   All this talk of second chances etc is just clap trap.   

One really has to work on the principle that if the Editors and Senior Execs didn’t actually know what was going on, they should have, and thus if nothing else their Management ability or judgement is questionable.   On that basis Coulston should never have been employed by Cameron in such a Senior post. 

And so while our so called National decision makers and opinion makers go to war with each other all we can do is look on and wonder at the weakness of these self-important people.  
The fact is that for most of us it’s all a non-story.  But it’ fun watching the blood flow.

So back to the music.   

And another busy couple of weeks is looming.  

This week all the usual activities are on the go.   And you can check them out HERE   It’s Handsworth FC on the 19th July at The Cross Keys, with a special guest, and the Davenports will be in action on Wednesday  at Burton Street, and at the weekend there’s the Tramline Festival happening throughout the Hillsborough in Sheffield, The Shanty Festival in Hull and the Stainsby Folk Weekend.  

For some next week will be the one, with Nellie Folk on Monday 25th, the MBMT Myke’s Birthday Bash on the 27th, and Acoustic Rotherham 12 on the 31st July.    Again all details will be found HERE

Thanks to the Facebook friends who have sought out the Mashers Band Page and clicked the “Like” button, we’re pressing ahead towards 10%. Hehehe.  

Over recent weeks the site has had more hits than ever, which is great news for the local artists who have their music featured on the site.  So thanks to everyone. 

And please – if you can spare the time run off a few of the fliers that are available HERE and spread around your Club – or Festival that you might be going to. 

That’s it for this week.    If more comes in over the next few days I’ll keep you informed.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

PART 2: Of The News Blog. Launches / Poetry / Personal

Well I did warn you.  Yes I did forget some important News from last week.   So here’s Part 2 of the News. 

The word is that Stormcrow’s launch of their CD “Tales of The Crow” at The Station, Loftus on Friday night was a raging success, with Amanda and Mark seeing their baby off into the World aided by a host of musicians from North Yorkshire and beyond.  Apparently Barbara Helen made an appearance, while Ian Swinburne and Glenn Coggin provided support as well as joining the “boys in the band”

We wish Amanda and Mark every success with the CD, which I’m sure will do extremely well as they travel the Festivals. 

Now, there I was sat at my computer on Friday when up came a message from someone to say that they were heading to an Open Mic session at The Bridge that night.   Now, I might be thick, but even I knew that The Bridge Open Mic is held on a Thursday night.  However, it turns out I was wrong for this was a Poetry Open Mic., the first of what is hoped to be a monthly event, so not being able to get to The Bridge myself I twisted the arm of Carol Robson to write a review for the News Blog………….

Open mic Poetry night Bridge Inn Rotherham Friday July 8th

Friday July 8th saw the first and hopefully many more open mic poetry evening at the Bridge Inn Rotherham, this was organised by Gav Roberts and he had advertised the event through a Facebook page, which is how I found out about it.

On arriving I found a nervous Gav worrying how the night was going to go, as it turned out he didn’t need to worry.  It was supposed to be a 7.30pm start, there were five of us to start off with (including Gav) who had come along to perform and there was just a handful of people making up the audience.  However, the small corner room started to quickly fill up, so I agreed to be the first and get the evening going at around 8pm.

This was the start of an excellent evening of poetry and tales which the full room seem to thoroughly appreciate going by their laughter and appreciative applause.  There were poetry and tales of life, work, places and relationships often full of humour, but also some with a serious content.  It turned out that four of us did three spots each varying from five to ten minutes each and wonderfully two other people came along during the evening and did contrasting performances, one of which included a skit on Richard Dimbleby.

As the evening progressed hardly anyone left and several more came in and some from the bar area standing at the back.  This was a very appreciative audience and shows that an evening like this in Rotherham is a wonderful change of something to do on a Friday night. This first evening closed at about 11pm (bar closed) but folk were still milling around for some time talking about the night.   Gav is hoping that this will become a regular event to be held every second Friday of the month and he is already trying to arrange the second one for August 12th.   

From the response of performers and audience alike this was a different but excellent evening’s entertainment, well done to Gav Roberts for having the belief to start this Open mic Poetry evening in Rotherham.  Hopefully there will be many more and it will encourage others to come along and perform their poetry or just read their favourite pieces.

By Carol Robson

Thanks for that Carol, you make it sound like a super evening, so we hope that Ben will let it become a regular event.  

And don’t forget if you’re attending an event and feel moved to write a short Review, then please do so and I’ll share it in the Weekly News Blog. 

And we can’t really leave this section without giving a mention to Papa Legas who according to the reports I have had wowed The Harlequin audience with their wriggling.  I’ve nicked a picture.  It’s fantastic to see Rotherham based musicians doing so well and gaining in reputation – and it’s also a tribute to Olivia and Ben at The Bridge who doing so much to facilitate local Bands and cultural events.   

Finally in this Part 2 News Blog.  

Richard is waving the white flag.   After thirty years of riding roads from as far apart as Droitwich, Malvern, Ledbury, Pontefract, Middlesbrough and more recently South Yorkshire teaching folks to hopefully  keep themselves alive when driving, the end has come.  

Times have been hard as far as the market for driving lessons is concerned in recent years, and it’s only going to get worse.

It’s all been brought to a head because I have to have a period off the road to take some medication that has been prescribed and of course by the time I return it will be extremely difficult to rebuild the business.  Also I will be carless because Mr Plant will of course want his car back given that it will sate doing nothing for a period. 

What the future brings one does not yet know, in fact I’m still getting my head around what is a major life decision, but I’m sure something will sort itself out……………….   It normally does.
Of course, if you know of someone who would like to Sponsor the Web Site or advertise on any of it’s pages please send them my way.   

Not forgetting of course that I specialise in designing individual Web Sites that meet the requirements and design of individual customers. 
In any event a clean sheet of paper lays ahead, and like Ed Milliband I shall be looking to fill it.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Masher On the Road............. What Fun. And there's more to come.

It’s been a busy weekend, hence the lateness of this week’s News Blog, and while the spirit was more than willing and did get me around three Festivals, the body this Monday morning is telling me that perhaps we’ve slightly over indulged.  I only hope that my road crew of Sue and Barrie, who did a sterling job in getting me around are not too worn out themselves…………..   Barrie especially who did all the driving in addition to much of the carrying…………….   I cannot express just how grateful I am to them for everything. 

And all this on top of a week where the little “grey scales” had had to work overtime as to where the non-Masher part of my life was having to go.  But more of that later.  First the music.

For reasons completely unclear as yet, probably because he can’t read! The Masher made a slightly less than professional start to his weekend’s activities by arriving late for his Birdsedge Festival set.  Somewhere along the line he got 12:30 mixed up with 2:00pm, so he was greeted at 12:45 by a less than impressed Stage Manager.   All I can do is apologise.   It gave them a chance to check out the equipment though as without sound check The Masher thrashed out two songs before being hooked off.  

Beware of ladies with clipboards.   Must add that to my advice section. 

Thankfully, my crew were on hand to capture the glory moment, and you can find pictures HERE

Great to meet up with Lou and his Lady, not seen them about for a bit, probably because I’ve not been to a few sessions recently. 

Not a lot can be said for two song sets………………   so we’ll get in the car and head over to Heckmondwicke, where, by the time got there the music was already in full flow for the Acoustic Circus Day Festival at The New Charnwood.  

And what an afternoon of varied music we were treated to, from the Electro Covers played by the interestingly named The Good Germans, amazing Blues from Gerry Cooper his fingers flying around his guitar even mid-Saturday afternoon and without fuel, the new sounds from a very young Omega3, the fantastic sound of Raspberry Tortoise (note must see more from this duo) and some super jamming from The Substitutes (I think that’s the name they eventually settled on).  

I really enjoyed playing to a smashing audience who involved themselves in the songs and it was great to get an opportunity to frame the Masher as he should be framed……………….   E.g. a set long enough to actually get folks involved.   I’m told one lady got very upset by Fat People In Love, the Alan Moorehouse classic, SORRY – but until I found the perfect diet, poverty, I too was a Fat Bugger – I’m told.  I think that’s what they use to call me. 

So big thanks to Pete Long for putting the whole event on and his regular monthly Acoustic Circus Open Mic sessions.  May the power be with you in West Yorkshire and please keep the great work up.    Keep an eye on the Diary pages for when the next event will happening.
We also look forward to welcoming Pete with his VanrayUK hat on to Acoustic Rotherham 12 on the 31st July.

And of course should anyone of the acts on your list fancy a set at an Acoustic Rotherham all they have to do is get in touch, find out how HERE

And thank you to those at the event who have left some really nice comments about the set.  Much appreciated, it’s always good when people “get it”.

Slide show Pictures of the time we spent at the event can be found HERE

And so after what seemed to be a very short sleep, we were up and at them early on Sunday morning, and making our way up………………..  the entire length of the A19 (the scenic route) to Middlesbrough, well, just a bit short of it, to splendid area of fresh air and gardens known as Nature’s World

This was Folk all the way……………..  their nineteenth Festival……………….   And what a packed action afternoon it turned out to be.   

What’s more the weather held off for most of the afternoon.  I have to admit I thought the clouds were saving it all up to make for a classic Masher set, but no, it was another poor soul who copped for the only short spell of rain of the afternoon. 

A great turn-out on the Sunday from the South Yorkshire Folk Fraternity, with sets from Tina McKevitt, with guitar, and also doing a top secret duo set with Mien Host David Kidman.  Welsh Geoff doing a short selection of his best tunes, have to admit to almost choking when Dave asked him to do a short one, anyone who knows Geoff will know that his stories in music are not exactly short on verses, and I mean that in the kindest way.  The fantastic Tim and Julie Cole who are getting out amongst the Festivals this year with their fine traditional sound, and of course me.  

Great to see ItsAcoustica, our old friends in music Kath and Andy with one of the most musically accomplished sets of the afternoon.  It was nice to see jiva too, with Jimmy and Val who set a great standard for the afternoon to follow.  

And Festival Favourites, Ian Tyzack, Sue and Bob Swales, Michael Woods (if only I could finger pick like that), what turned out to be Stan Gee Band, Paul Cornwall and Katie Prout, Monkey’s Fist, Monkey’s Moonshine Band, Festival Organiser Trevor Lister, and The Compass Rose Band.   If I’ve forgotten anyone, it’s not personal.

The Masher of course had a rather strange spot, sandwiched between the Richmond Castle Cloggers Dance Team and the exotic Oriental dancing of The Daughters of the Sand.

It was a fun time for all.  

I’d just make this observation, we were all told fifteen minute sets.  What I found a little strange was that some people were allowed to run over this, in some cases substantially, while others, were curtailed – in fact the Masher was well below his fifteen minutes, well just below, 'cos his songs arn't very long.

Those who read the Blog regularly know I’m not a keen proponent of the fifteen minute set, it doesn’t allow the artist time to warm up and it doesn’t allow the audience to really get to know the music of artists that might be new to them.   The affect is one of a Pot Boiler, not really satisfactory for anyone, and with the sort of act The Masher is, sometimes it does take time for people to “get it”.

On the other hand, and I know this from my own experience, the more acts you get in the bigger the audience. 

Don’t want to be negative though on what was a lovely social event. 

Pictures can be found HERE

The Masher and his crew were certainly very, very tired by the time he was safely locked up in Rawmarsh again………………………..  but well satisfied musically.
All we can say is a big thank you to everyone.

I’m sure that you are all saddened by the destruction of your Sunday Mornings by the closure of The News of The World.  I jest of course…………………..   could this be the end of an era as far as so called Journalism in this Country is concerned?

I’m sure we’ll be spending the Summer muttering our disgust at the games News International have been playing………….   And looking on paper after paper pulling the other apart…………………    good time Cameron to do whatever he wants and get away with it.

UKFCN News………………………..   well, don’t expect much ‘cos it’s that time of the year when everyone is exceptionally busy either organising or playing.  Hold back the revolution until the autumn please.

It’s hard to know where to start with all the great music heading your way this week.   

But let’s start with a bit of bad news.  The Star at Rawmarsh has temporarily closed.  There are many rumours circulating and it all came as a bit of a shock after the fantastic success of this year’s Beanfest.    I’m sure we’d all wish Chris and his Partner all the best in whatever they are now doing.   So NO Jam Session on a Monday for the foreseeable future. 

It’s Hillsborough Folk at Burton Street on Wednesday, Pete’s Email says it could be held in the Board Room this time, great, all those going could pretend to be Rupert Murdoch for the night. 

Thursday and there’s a Special Charity event at Rotherham Trades Club, a very short stagger from The Bridge in Rotherham, which is good news for the members of Papa Legbas who are on the Bill, and seem to spend most of their lives in The Bridge.   

Also Thursday, one of my favourites, Charlie Barker is playing The Princess Royal.  Wish I could be there, but one fears circumstances will prevent. 

And it’s another weekend of Festivals.  Bombfest at Worsbrough Mill, always a great rocking event, the intriguingly named Air Do Festival at Keighey, and of course the two dayer Acoustic Festival over at The Venue, Stocksbridge with so many people appearing that I’d be here until next Christmas typing, but good to see Lou Marriott and Paul Pearson on the list, along with new friends Vanray;UK – where was The Mashers invite.   You can find all the details to these and more by heading to the Diary Page HERE

And as I use match sticks to hold my eyelids open it’s time to close this week’s Blog.    I’m bound to left out far too much of the other stuff I should have included so don’t be surprised if there is a part 2 later in the week.

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