So where do I begin?
I’ve just experienced one of the most intense programmes of live, and yes, local music making weekends I’ve ever had.
This year particularly the Masher has had some busy weekends, but this was the first time that he has had to take on the organisation of two high profile events on consecutive days, and it marks the start of what is to be a fantastic month long season of live, local music in Rotherham.
Put together in short order it was perhaps a miracle that 38 hearty souls (if one includes all members of the Rotherham Red Choir) braved the sub 10c conditions to perform on the streets of Rotherham for The Busking Day, which was put together to raise consciousness of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival.
My heartfelt thanks go out to all those involved on the Day, I’ve had comments from a lot people to say how great it was to find the streets of Rotherham full of music throughout the day. Special thanks to the guys of Black Socks who came all the way from Leeds to do an hour on the Streets of Rotherham, and I clearly having fun.
I’ll not forget the look on the faces of passers-by when at 11:00am Roy Blackman suddenly burst into song on the High Street, one of those special chuckle moments. Well done Roy.
Working the entire day, their energy surpassing The Masher, was Pocketful of N’owt, who drew big audiences wherever they performed. The crowd was such outside of The Halifax Bank that the Bank Manager (boooo) complained that people could not get to the cash machines, when it was pointed out that it was a cunning plan to conserve the Bank’s cash reserves he relented and went about his Business of racking up a large bonus for himself.
It’s always great working with Mike and the boys and more of that later.
Mixing in with the music, we had some very brave Poets out and performing their material. Carol Robson joining the Sutherland Clan Singers so as to get herself heard and of Course the person who may not have realised it brought the means together whereby the event was made possible, Gav Roberts.
Sylvia and Phoebe brought an interesting contrast to the Streets wielding cello and violins at the passers-by; Tina Mckevitt and Matt Hegarty, were to be found stirring people with their great Celtic sound; The Masher doing a couple of lonely spots close to the Imperial Building; and of course the Sutherland Ensemble, who were the major cash winners of the day thanks to the cute looks Danny and Mitchell were giving to the Rotherham shoppers; Rob Slow did a great spot with John Statter that I was able to catch a bit of; Our Gill, did a couple of spots before giving way to the cold; even Liam of ROAR fame managed a few chords on the Mashing machine: and of course the centre piece of the day The Rotherham Red Choir with the addition of The Town Crier.
My thanks to you all.
And of course while the musicians and poets did their bit the hard working volunteers of The Rotherham Culture Company were out doing their bit handing out their handful of fliers to anyone who would take one and talk to people about the good things that will be going on at the Festival in the Month ahead. We also need to record our thanks to RCC for providing much of the necessary back-room chores to get the day set up. Sometimes it’s often forgotten just how much work has to be done behind the scenes to make an event like this happen.
And after such an intense day we moved onto Sunday’s Acoustic Rotherham, our third Birthday Party – if X Factor judges are bemoaning the lack of WOW factor amongst this year’s TV Finalists they should have been in The Crown, Rawmarsh, on Sunday afternoon.
WOW!! Hardly describes each and every performance making it one of the finest afternoons acoustic music I have ever heard, well, once that is The Masher had road tested Steve’s new sound machine to make sure there were no loose wires likely to electrocute the talent that was to follow.
As if to really emphasis the modest attempts of The Masher to entertain the room was filled to sound of Savant. Here’s a Band that by regular gigging recently are showing real signs of moving into headier circles. The rich tones of Howard’s voice now merge wonderfully with guitar playing of Brian, making for an overall magical sound. Great stuff guys, and looking forward to seeing you during the Open Arts Festival in November, and hopefully at another Acoustic Rotherham in the future. This was a brilliant debut.
Then came an old stagger. The 2Cs aka our Pete. Pete appeared at the very first Acoustic Rotherham at The Monkwood, alongside Tim Cleverley now very much part of Papa Legbas. But here Pete in solo mode was at his rockin’ best with a programme of self-written material punctuated with the odd cover. Watch out for Pete’s new CD which is due as soon as he has won the argument with himself as to what to call it and also giving time to recording the final tracks. However if you go to his Myspace page HERE you’ll find some great tracks to listen to.
We were then given a real treat. Folk on Fire, Lucie and Mathew, providing us with amazing Celtic music, much of it their own compositions, right down to their final piece entitled Bleeding The Radiators. Here are two young people who are an example to us all, not only in terms of performance but in the work they do beyond the stage front line with other young people. It’s such a pity that this was their penultimate performance, as life get’s in the way, as they say, as Mathew already at Manchester University and Lucie with fingers crossed might soon be heading the way of Glasgow University. They will be missed of the Yorkshire Folk scene, but we so hope that whatever musical collaborations they form in the years to come might find their way down to Rotherham.
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve a real soft spot for Folk on Fire having seen them develop over the past three years. They have in return been staunch supporters of Acoustic Rotherham, and they know that they will always be welcome at any of our events.
A truly electric performance from Storm Trees, (who are they? You ask) Yes, Storm Trees. You know it does not take a lot to confuse The Masher but hey these folks know how to do it big time. Acoustic Rotherham entertained the duo version of Storm Trees (the artists formally known as Eskimo Kissed!) Dare I say that this was the best I had seen from them? Yes indeed I can, always entertaining but this was I another class as they played through a programme of their own songs, with a cover thrown in. The feet were tapping the dancers moving where they could as The Crown was by now packed to standing room only. This outstanding set is even more remarkable as Richard was suffering from a pulled muscle in his back. Keep it going Julie and Richard, great supporters of Acoustic Rotherham and the local music scene.
No time to stop dancing though, as we were then given the treat of a super set from that troop of musicians named Jack’s Rake. Somehow I did manage to call them Jake’s Rake…………. Which I think is a better name, lol, something that goes back to their first appearance at an Acoustic Rotherham. But this was another brilliant performance on an afternoon that was already turning into a spectacular. No one can keep their feet still as the Jack’s Rake Orchestra burst forth their traditional tunes and songs and this afternoon’s performance was no different. Thank you all members for adding so much to the day and our Birthday Party.
Normally by now we’re all flagging a bit, but hey, the introduction of a feast of stew supplied free of charge by The Crown certainly helped to fire the bellies into the second half of the programme.
All the way from……………………….. Leeds, Rum Doodle were next to take the stage. Why on earth I thought they came from the North East I do not know. Something will spring to mind to get me out of that hole. This was their Acoustic Rotherham debut and they certainly right royally entertained us with some classic folk songs. There was something for everyone in their set from songs from that great writer Trad to Eric Bogle. A splendid performance, under what must have seemed to them considerable pressure. We certainly hope the lads will make their way down from Leeds to treat Acoustic Rotherham audiences in the future.
I really don’t have to say much about the next act up, Toein’ In The Dark. Pure quality and total professionalism as their clever harmonies and musical arrangements of songs worked their hypnotic magic on the audience. Toein’ never, ever, disappoint and over the years have been fantastic supporters of Acoustic Rotherham and allied events. And of course you can look forward to hearing more from them in the week ahead, when alongside Ray Hearne they launch the Rotherham Open Arts Festival on November the 1st at the Old Market Gallery. Head HERE for details. As to that second CD. I’m told we might have to wait until at least late Spring 2012 before it’s ready.
Rocking the House and almost bringing the roof down as they went into their first number came The Troubadors. These guys playing Americana and some Country and their own tunes had the audience bouncing, and anyone who was falling to sleep certainly could have slept through this brilliant set. Great supporters of the local music scene these guys , and promoters to, which is what it has to be about as we seek to grow audiences for local live music.
Thanks too to Steve for taking charge of the sound for the day, it really does make job easy when I’m not trying to be all things to all men.
And it didn’t stop there for the next act Phillip Hartley, using his new finger style guitar had the audience in his hands. His song writing ability is sensational, writing in so many musical styles, and his performances at Acoustic Rotherham bare testament to the incredible progress he has made as a solo singer song writer over the three years. Phillip has been a great supporter of Acoustic Rotherham, an ever present in the audience and regular performer, and for a short time was even brave enough to be a fill in Masher. Its chaps like this that keep Acoustic Rotherham going. Well done mate and I look forward to more in the future.
From the sublime……………………….. well, perhaps I could say, from one brilliant song writer to another, as Pocketful of N’owt took to the stage, the room and any spare space that was going. Given that they had done so much at the Busking Day it was surprising that Mike had any voice or energy left to give what was a classic Pocketful performance. No quiz, but having the audience select the songs because they couldn’t be bothered to draw up a set list was a master stroke – even if my favourite song fell over the edge somewhere, not a bad thing as there were a few young ears still left in the audience. I’m really looking forward to sharing the stage with them properly when along with Cracktown we’ll be heading for the lunatic asylum on 23rd November for the Rotherham Open Arts Festival.
Last but certainly not least came the ever brilliant Paul Pearson, accompanied as he often is at Acoustic Rotherham by the energetic and talented Chris Treebeard, a combination that offers an amazing visual contrast to their staging. Despite always coming across as a confident professional performer, I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind if I pointed to just how nervous Paul gets before going on, something that is often miss-understood by folks. For me it’s just great that that he finds the time to always support Acoustic Rotherham events and comes forward whenever I need him for associated events, as he will for The Rotherham Open Arts Festival on November the 9th as part of the Steel City evening with Phillip Hartley and Charlie Barker.
Some might think that that I’ve over egged the cake in my description of the afternoon’s music, if anything, in reality I’m understating just how this event gelled.
But amongst all this I minded to remind myself that this was a one off very Special afternoon, and that a number of factors came into play.
The first one was the change of venue to The Crown, The Queens having inadvertently double booked. The lounge of The Crown seemed more suited to the music and the event in general. Our thanks to the Land Lady for her hospitality and the added attraction of the splendid stew which was enjoyed by all.
Another was that the artists were selected and invited to celebrate the third Birthday of Acoustic Rotherham.
Let’ not forget that the main aim of Acoustic Rotherham is provide new and emerging artists with opportunities to network and showcase their talent, and no matter what happens in the future this will remain at the heart of what Acoustic Rotherham does.
So Masher cap off to everyone involved in this very special event, and I hope that we’ll all be assembling again in October 2012 to celebrate our fourth anniversary.
All the pictures with link to the still Gallery HERE
And at this point I’m going to truncate things as if I go on there is a danger that some fairly important information will get lost – so there will be a Part 2 to this week’s Blog coming up tomorrow, all being well.
BUT – I can’t leave without pointing you towards this week’s events at The Rotherham OpenArts Festival.
Tuesday 1st November is the opening night. Major and all and speeches to launch this year’s brilliant Exhibition of Art at the Old Market Gallery on Corporation Street, which has been given the title “Rotherham Roots”.
Providing the music for the event will be a piano player and from the Acoustic scene, Toein’ In The Dark alongside of the ever green Ray Hearne. They’ve promised me some great surprises, and I have to admit to really looking forward to their Concert.
Wednesday 2nd November we have a fantastic evening of music from across the great Folk spectrum. With classic Traditional harmony from Paul & Liz Davenport, the song writing and sheer genius performance of Philip Cockerham and if that were not enough, great music from Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty.
All the concerts are FREE although we’ll be having the odd raffle to help towards Performer expenses, which will include as prizes two free tickets to the show case Festival events to be held at Magna, where the Phoenix Dance Theatre, and Retina Dance Company will be performing on the 19th and 20th of November.
And that’s not forgetting what will be a great addition to the Rotherham music scene , the first of series of Brunch time Concerts starting on Saturday 5th November. At the first concert we have Savant, Storm Tress (the band previously known as Eskimo Kissed!), that great troubadour Lou Marriot and from West Yorkshire / working in Rotherham, some more pop type music from a great duo Raspberry Tortoise. These Saturday Brunch concerts start at 11:00am, there’s a bar and I think we might well have coffee on sale as well.
Until part 2 then……………………..
Oh – and let me just thank all the new readers that have pushed the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site, jmucreate.com up to 539,000 most read site in the World. This is the highest we’ve ever been and certainly pushes us to the for front of Acoustic sites in the UK, which has to be great for our local Music scene.
Have great fun and Keep it live.