Monday, 31 October 2011

All the News / Pictures / Chit Chat from the Rotherham Busking Day and Acoustic Rotherham 3rd Birthday Party

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. 

All the pictures from the Day HERE and the Stills are HERE

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, 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.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR THE MASHERS: Rotherham Busking Day / Festival / Acoustic Rotherham

What I’m fondly referring to as the mad season has started.  Ahead lies six exciting weeks of music and activities.  

Saturday was the kick off day when in the company of his fantastic Roadies, Sue and Barrie Sutherland, without whom the Masher would not be able to take to the road, and his new Wing Man John Statter and his good Wife Yvonne, we headed off to play a series of sets upon the Keighley and Worth Railway, to celebrate their Beer Festival.  

A real fantasy Gig this, for small boys like us.   Steam Trains, loads of real ale, and best of all a captive audience, although I think one or two people came close to jumping off the train while it was moving.

And of course introducing a new Masher Wing Man, John (Masher) Statter, and what a performance he produced and without any formal rehearsal as well, adding fiddly bits and Mashing along as if born to the role.    

It might have been the fantastic ale, or the quantity sunk, but the audiences certainly made the most of joining in on songs that they had never heard before as for three hours we rode up down the length of the track from Keighley to Oxenhope for near on four hours.   Four hours I should say that seemed like ten minutes to us, but probably endless to our fellow travellers.  

What’s more I have nothing but praise for the hospitality, and care shown to the performers by the Organisers of this Festival.   From the moment we checked in we were shown nothing but courtesy and attention, even to the point of being shown the performance area and how the PA worked etc..  It all went to making the experience special and a stand out event.  

To my fellow artists I say, if you get an invitation to play at this event, take it with both hands it’s an experience you will not forget or regret. 

Slide Show of the event is HERE and the full Gallery of pictures can be found HERE

So NEXT SATURDAY it’s the Busking Day in central Rotherham.  It’s going to be one of those suck it and see events.  We’ve got some fantastic acts that have pre-registered from Operatic Quartets to dare I say, Pocketful of N’owt.    

But the call is still out there for Bands, soloists, Poets, Theatrical groups, in fact any artist that can do it in the street, and Registration is OPEN on and throughout the day.  All you have to do is come to the Registration Office at the Imperial Building, open from around 10:00 am, and someone will tell you exactly where you can go……………   if you know what I mean.   More details with a map of where you’ll find the artists can be found HERE

There is a link that has and will be appearing on Facebook daily, please share this link daily with your friends – and if you’re not a friend to the Rawmarsh Mashers get signed up and get all the News from the Mashers / The Myke Barritt Music Trust and Acoustic Rotherham and all it’s activities as they happen.  

And of course you’ll also find that all the Concerts are now listed on Facebook Events.  If you’re one of the acts then find yours and keep sharing it.  We’ll be featuring the week’s Concerts each day as we move along through what promises to be a super season of Concerts throughout the Month of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival.  It all kicks off on Tuesday 1st November with Toein’ In The Dark and Ray Hearne playing the Opening of the Gallery, and on Wednesday the 2nd November it’s Paul & Liz Davenport, Philip Cockerham, and Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty for a brilliant night of Trad – Contemporary Celtic music.  All the details are HERE

But that’s not all.  Next Sunday at The Crown in Rawmarsh we celebrate the Third Birthday of Acoustic Rotherham.  We have a really super line up of stars from the Folk and Acoustic music scene from around the Region.  It promises to be special, so come along and support some great and creative local musicians at work.  The fun starts at 1:00pm, it’s completely FREE, so well worth every penny, and the full line up can be found HERE

The Myke Barritt Music Trust sponsored CD from Rotherham’s Man of Memories, Roy Blackman, is still taking shape.  All the recording is done, and I’m bashing together the insert ready for someone to do some magic and make it all into a CD.   I think we’re still on target for that mid-December release date.   But just to tickle your fancy I’ve uploaded another of the songs that will not be on the CD, “Alison’s Not Well Today”.   You can find it HERE on the Roy Blackman page.  

We’re sorry about all the confusion caused last week concerning the Wandering Minstrels visit to NoSmoke at The Commercial.  There is a plan to make this happen on the 4th November.  I’m awaiting instructions.   Apparently this was all Roy’s fault………………….   Naughty boy!!  But at 76 I think we can forgive him the odd slip.

One of the great supporters of Acoustic Rotherham and The Myke Barritt Music Trust has, after much arm twisting I believe, published one of her Novels on the Internet as a download that can be read in most formats including Kindle.   Linda Gamston, has some great artistic creativity, and this Novel, “Italian Love Lessons” and published under her writers name of Linda Trevanion is outstanding.  You can down load from our Amazon Store HERE at the very reasonable price of £1.75.  

OK another bit of admin……………………..   just to keep my life a bit saner.   Deadlines for the stuff I send out are

Weekly Blog - Normally Sunday Morning around 10:00 am
Monday News Letter - Monday morning around 10:00 am
Thursday News Letter – Thursday morning around 10:00 am

And obviously the earlier you inform me of an event the more exposure it will get on the Diary listing page, 10:00 am on the day of the event is hardly going to touch the sides.  Yes, really.

We reach around 600 – 1,000 people on our Diary page weekly, and our News Letters reach over 5000 weekly.  So it’s worth the effort.   One Email to or complete the form HERE

Almost coming full circle, it’s Folk train week , Fourth Tuesday so it has to be Hillsborough Folk at Burton Street, and of course at the end of the week good things at the Princess Royal.  Wednesday it’s Open Mic Jazz at The Bridge, and Thursday a Phillip Hartley in Concert Gig in Sheffield, and that’s all before the Big Weekend in Rotherham.    Full details of everything going off this week can be found on the October Diary Page HERE 
And that my friends is this week’s Blog.   
Busy times ahead – so get involved, HAVE FUN AND KEEP IT LIVE.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

X Factor + the Latest from the Festival / Busking Day / and the week Ahead

Making a late start to this week’s News Blog.  

It’s been one of those bitty weeks that I’m sure we all have from time to time, marked at the start of the week by major communications failures.  

First to break down was my mobile, which I can survive without, but when on Tuesday I was working away when suddenly my Internet Connection broke, I was a bit like a blind man tottering at the top of steep stair case!

We are a wasting Society, you know.  When I called my Internet Supplier it took over twenty minutes to get myself connected to an operative (at my expense), this following five minutes of telling me how I’d need to be sat in front of my computer; that turning the Computer off and on often solves the problem; turning the router on and off often solves the problem and telling me how valuable my call is to them....... it certainly was.  

My problem, and it was quite clear, was that I had no power going into the router.   The nice lady at Customer Support ran her Tests, “yes you have a problem”  she said.  Then I was told that router would have to be replaced, which I was informed would take up to five days!!   All for a one pound, if that, power lead.  

As it happens I did have a cable that solved my immediate problem, but the whole unit still had to be replaced.

Then the mobile phone.   Apparently they had managed to do something that had completely locked me out of the network………….  The answer?   Another phone and number!!  This time the wait was to be forty eight hours.  

We’re all now up and working on all fronts, although my Mobile seems to do everything except scrub my back in the bath, or make the coffee.

With what looks to be a mad six weeks heading my way Mrs Masher is being very firm about my sleeping and resting, and so I have not been allowed out much.  

Because of this the outing to Birdsedge on Tuesday to tidy up and finish the recording part of the Roy Blackman project proved to be very nearly the highlight of the week. 

I can report that we now have the rough mix of the CD now in the can and that only the mastering has to be done.   Once I’ve got the lyric sheets and other odds and sods together it’s all systems go. 

Later in the week I had a really constructive meeting with Lizzy at the Council Arts Offices to discuss the Busking Day and a few other exciting projects that might be in the pipeline.  

The plans for the Busking Day on 29th October are progressing.  I’m pleased to say that more and more folks are joining the list of performers, but we’re still looking for more diversity in the acts and demonstrations on show.  Please come and join in the fun and please tell your friends about the event, especially if they are a performer who would like to join in.   All the details and Registration are HERE and more details can be gained by calling me 07805699476.

The final piece of the Open Arts Festival was slotted into place when Ray Hearne confirmed the date for his Workshop “Rotherham Utd:  A Community Experience”, where intends to explore how the football Club has impacted upon the Rotherham Community.  It should be a really interesting and exciting project.   November 15th is the date. 
For those beginning to panic I’m hoping that we’ll see the main publicity for the season of Concerts hitting the streets in the coming week.  You can find the programme HERE

The week ended by being dragged out (if you believe that you’ll believe anything) by Mrs Masher to the Club for an hour or so.  

We didn’t last long.   A band by the name of Warrior was the offering.  I think I’m getting old, I hunger for those days when rock bands had sound mixing desks with a sound man.   Here once again the first two songs of the set I saw was taken up with much fluffing around as one of the Groups supporters stood at the back of the room to give the old thumbs up thumbs down, while band members gave various hand signals – only into the third song was the switch clicked and the volume doubled, and the full glory of the mis-balance became clear.

It didn’t do the Band many favours.  For this was journeyman performance, performed live with no clever backing tracks and for songs like “Brick In The Wall” to work the band really has to be together, and together it was not quite.  (if you forgive the  appalling English). 
But hey it was fun………………….    And for me it was good to get out for half an evening.

The other half of the evening had been spent watching  XFactor.  Oh dear!!   There is undoubtedly some fantastic raw talent on show, and in the programme I saw there were for me two stand out performances, but the problem was working out if they were because the others were so weak or because these people had the talent to be one step up from the Cabaret Level or as that snob Gary Barlow suggested Cruise Ship standard.  

Personally, and I’ll confess to watching some of the audition programmes, and some of the problem I think is in the songs that one or two of the Judges asked their performers to do.

 While on the Judges, I have to say that admired the way in which Tulisa sorted out her “Bands” section.   All three of the final Bands were her creations from either discarded solo performers or ripped away from their mates to be thrust with some new best buddies.  She did an excellent job, although judging by the negative vibes coming from one of the Groups not everyone appreciates the opportunity they have been offered. 

I wish though that there was less emphasis on the fame and glitz, and that the acts appreciated that no matter what, they could make a very comfortable living and have a wonderful life style simply by having appeared on the programme and shown their best. When I hear such young souls worrying that they are not being recognised in the street I wonder at their motivation, of course the simple answer has to be to the fame issue, buy a Masher Cap!!

I love Johnny though………………………    he knows what it’s all about.

Enough froth. 

The Masher takes to the road, sorry, railway lines next week, playing the KEIGHLEY AND WORTH Railway Beer Festival 22nd October.  I suppose that means I’ll have to do a bit of practice during the week ahead.   I’m playing in Buffet Car of the Train on the early Saturday Evening.    FULLDETAILS HERE

And so having by various devious methods chased off my partners in crime, I’m pleased to be able to announce that my old mate John Statter will be appearing as the Honorary Masher next weekend.   He’ll be spending his week perfecting the chords of G and C on his various instruments in readiness for this Gig.   We’re doing two 45 minute spots on the train so I hope he’s up for the ride. 

The draw of Beer & Steam Trains has to be too much for anyone, so come along and join us, go to the Web Page and get your ticket booked.

Web Sites.  Well progress in the re-write is a bit slow now.   However the Menu Bar has now been sorted and all the main pages can now be accessed from it.   I’ve sorted out that problem on the Roy Blackman page where the Doreen section seemed a bit chopped off, so you can now get to all the recordings that I have.   Poor old Roy was in tears listening to those when he came to visit me this week.  

Fanfare – the DavidKidman Review Page has been redone and THREE NEW REVIEWS have been added for offerings from Stormcrow, Sibrena Piggot, and Kate Doubleday.

And it’s your chance to get your own back on Tuesday night at The Cross Keys, Handsworth, where David is the main guest of the Handsworth Folk Club.   Pop along and write your review.   Better still pop along and sing a few songs with someone who is passionate about the Folk tradition.  

On Wednesday Paul & Liz Davenport will be having their Ballard Night at the Burton Street Foundation, Hillsborough, where you can expect more brilliant songs from the tradition plus a lot more.  

Thursday is one of them packed days.  2:00pm at The Crystal Peaks Library, Ray Hearne will be chatting and singing with the Creative Writers Group.   In the evening our friends from the Barnsley end String Theory, are launching their NEW CD, one that I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on, the last one I heard was simply fantastic.  But if you llve at the end of Town, then Judy Dalton will be leading the South Anston Folk Club into song. 
Please remember that The Pricess Royal meets on the Thursday but NOT – that’s NOT on FRIDAY for this week only, and Uncle Pete says that he only has a few tickets for Wizz Jones left at £8.

All the details and more can be found HERE

And that’s the basic facts for this week folks.   So whatever you’re doing this week, have great fun and KEEP IT LIVE

Sunday, 9 October 2011


It’s busy, busy, busy. 

But let’s start this week’s Blog by paying a tribute to Bert Jansch, probably the finest guitar player of his generation within the Folk genre.  I suspect most acoustic / folk music lovers will have Pentangles “Basket of Light” in their collection and of those most will have at least one Jansch solo album on the shelf to.  

I only got to see him twice, both in my formative years.  He appeared solo at The Railway Folk Club, in Fratton, Portsmouth, and was one of the few acts not to sing the “Wild Rover”, my note on the evening says!   Then again a couple of years later when he was out on the road with Pentangle where their amazing harmonies and truly interesting and ground breaking  musical arrangements of both traditional and their own material held a packed audience at Portsmouth Guildhall in their hands.  Great memories. 

RIP Bert.    His Web Site is HERE

Another sad story reached my Inbox this week.  The highly popular Birdsedge Live Folk Concerts organised by Jacey Bedford are to come to an end.   Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but the Village Hall Committee decided to more than double the rent on the use of the room, and as the Concerts have only just about been breaking even then in Jacey’s  words “there seemed little point in struggling on”.  Of course the irony of the situation is that the Birdsedge Live Concerts were born as part of the fund raising campaign to re-vamp the same Village Hall that has now decided to increase the rent so violently.  People’s memories tend to be short, and loyalty these days is in very short supply.  

Birdsedge Live has one remaining Concert this Autumn, and decisions are yet to be made about two firm bookings that Jacey has made for 2012.   See the November Diary page for details and additional links.   

Another Club under threat is the G String Club at The Angel, in Topcliffe who are going through the torture of the multiple Manager change.  Steve has contingency plans in place should things become really difficult.    A big pity though as the free supper which was a feature of the Club, is now under threat.   

Reading through the reams or should it be pages of comments and articles on the Internet suggests that Folk Clubs in general are going through hard times.  The age demographic in particular is of great concern, with most Clubs populated by the fifty plus age group, and my own empirical evidence suggests that Clubs are kept going by the usual suspects.   It is something that needs to be addressed at all levels of Folk Club, be they Guest Clubs or Singer Clubs.  

The UKFCN are at least trying to do something about it.  They are looking into the reasons for market resistance to Clubs, etc.  although I have to say that one or two comments I read cause me concern e.g. ”It’s my Club and we’re not going to change”.   

YOU CAN GIVE YOUR VIEWS!!  I would urge you to follow the links and answer the Online Survey HERE
Without a doubt we need to understand our audiences far better, and our Venues, and the more input into this survey the better the understanding will be.  

Watch out to for news of the Regional Events that are currently in the process of being organised.   

Well, this week I was allowed out under the armed guard of Son Number 1, but only because it was my birthday!!  Mrs Masher is looking ahead to what looks to be a manic end of October and November and feels I need to build up my strength.  

But I made the most of it, and managed to fit in two venues and Bands in one evening. 

My first port of call was the Woodlands Club, that’s one hidden away opposite Clifton Park.   I think this was the launch of Florin, the Quartet, bongos and light drums having been added to their more familiar sound.  

Those ardent readers of the Blog will know that while having full respect for the technical musical brilliance of the Band members I always felt that there was something missing. 
From the evidence of the forty minutes of their show that I was able to stay for I can tell you that all my reservations have been shattered.  The hard work that the boys have clearly been putting in during the down time will certainly bring their rewards.   

I think most of the work has gone into the musical arrangements of the material.  The vocal harmony between Rob and Bob is now more relaxed, and Rob’s mandolin now reflects the needs of the music,  rather than what had sometimes appeared just a need to do something.   The new additional percussion provides an interesting understated rhythm and I felt blends brilliantly with the overall sound mix.   

Best of all though, as an overall performance they have at last put some thought into their Set List.   Instead of the previous similarity between each song we now have a set list that lives, each song contrasting with the other and the introduction of the Irish Jig thirty minutes in is a master stroke, revitalising the audience at that dangerous moment in any performance.  

There’s more.  I had chat with Bob before the show and besides telling me about how the boys have been working, he let it slip that he is writing more original material.   This is good news, as Bob is a brilliant and original song writer, I know he’ll hate this, but if you go listen to “The Yorskshire Gypsey”  you’ll see what I mean, as it demonstrates his ability to write both melodically using clever lyrical rhythms.

And the set list reflected Florin’s use of Bob’s material.   

Of course I can’t close this review without a mention for the NEW SINGLE “Just Can’t Last” a Bob composition.  This is Florin at it’s very best, and all I do is urge you to get your hands on a copy or demand that they load it up to Reverbnation.

So, well done lads, proof positive that you have a passion for the music  you are playing and work hard that it can all come together.   OK a negative, Bob was rather understated with his introductions, those he was up front with were great, maybe he was just a bit nervous – but more witty observations between songs, especially given the intensity of the music would be  most welcome.    But I know from experience, playing to an audience made up of musico’s can be very daunting, particularly when you’ve a new message to give. 

I recommend that if Florin are playing near you soon that you go take a look, I’m just sorry that they are one of the local Bands that we couldn’t book into the Rotherham Open Arts Festival Concert season because of their work commitments.

That Florin single - live - with thanks to Linda HERE

Then a short drive up the road to Vascos at Wickersley. 

Yet another heaving venue, and on stage, The Storm Trees.   When you see this Band you’d be right to recognise the two key members, lead guitarist Richard and lead singer Julie, for together they have been wowing local audiences as Eskimo Kissed! .   Storm Trees are the rocky quartet version, adding drums and bass to the mix. 
Yes the venue, like the Woodlands was packed, but the audiences were very different.   Instead of the intimate audience made up of folks who had come along to listen to the music Vascos was packed with Friday night revellers.   The Mashers played one or two of these, and it requires a slightly different mind-set to the performance. 

I should also add, the twenty minute set I got to see was Storm Trees first in public, and a fine start it was to. 

Playing a mixture of their own material and popular covers they held the audience brilliantly, with Julie whipping the sagging drunks up to tap their toes and a few to even dance. 
Once everyone in the band relaxes they are going to get even better and on the evidence of this debut we have a lot to look forward to, and I’ll be looking to catch Storm Trees again in the not too distant future.   

In the immediacy you’ll be able to sample the delights of Eskimo kissed!  At the AcousticRotherham Third Birthday Party  (ON STAGE TIMES ARE UP) and at a couple of the concerts.  And who knows you might also catch them out during the Busking Day.  

I also bumped into Mel and Biff, for those uneducated people, they are the moving force behind Leather Zoo, who perform just amazing punk and sometimes I feel are one of the Regions best kept secrets.  It’s exciting times for Leather Zoo for having built up a huge fan base in Europe they are heading out to the States this week to play sixteen dates in three weeks.   If you’ve seen their performances you will know that this will be a fantastic stamina achievement let alone breaking their music in the USA. 

 Their next UK appearance will be in December in Manchester.   But keep an eye on the listings folks and if they are playing near you I can’t recommend as evening in their company enough, especially if you want to see punk as it should be played.   Their Web Site HERE

Slowly but surely the Web Site is undergoing it’s change.   The good news is that at long last a link to the site will now appear on the Arts Community pages of the Rotherham MBC site.  A major step forward as we try to illustrate to all the fantastic talent that is currently making Rotherham such a rich place for live music.   You can check out the addition HERE

As to the Festival News (Rotherham Open Arts Festival 1st – 30th November)  I’ve brought our Festival page right up to date, HERE    

You will find that added to The Old Market Gallery programme is a Workshop on the 8th November delivered by Paul Davenport supported by his Wife and music partner Liz.   The subject matter is The Gatty collection, which is a collection of songs from the Braithwell, Bramley, Ravenfield, and Stainton areas made by Gatty when he was visited by Vaughan Williams in 1907.   The songs are to be published in one volume for the first time in early 2012 after some brilliant research by Paul & Liz.   I’m sure that historians and particularly those of music and song will find this a great evening.   It is of course a free event. 

I’ve also added the key links that you will need to book seats for the main Dance events at Magna, and if you’re a Morris Dancer or Clog Dancer reading this you may be interested in taking up the opportunity to work with the Retina Dance Company and take part in their performance.    If you check out the link I’ve posted to the Rentian Web Site you can see exactly how subtle you’ll need to be, and I’m not yet sure if tights are included. 


It’s all systems go for the Busking Day on the 29th October in Rotherham Town Centre.   I’m pleased to be able to say that folks are beginning to Register the latest being the Rotherham Red Choir.  

This is a complete Fun Day, no stars etc., no Bill headlining.  We just would like as much of the performing arts talent in Rotherham t come onto the Streets.   

Even if your Band cannot make the day as a group, why not Register and come along and bang out a few of your back bedroom favourites.   It doesn’t matter what your standard is we want YOU to join in.    

Advanced Registration HERE would be preferred but if you make your mind up late then you’ll be able to Register on the day at The Imperial Building.    The link also provides you with other information. 

And of course preceding all the Festival activity there will be the exciting opening of ROAR's new premises at Westgate.

Just a bit of heads up, a lot of the Festivals are making 2012 tickets available on very special Very Early Bird Rates.  It’s well worth searching for your favourite must not miss Festival to see if their tickets are already on sale.

“ROY BLACKMAN – Rotherham’s Man of Memories a CD celebrating the music and poems of our Roy and made possible by The Myke Barritt Music Trust took another step towards it’s realisation this week.   The initial recordings are now with us, and the CD has now been constructed from the tracks we have available.   

 We’ve a bit more work to do on the production side and the artwork to finalise before the CD can go into full production.  Our target release date remains mid – December.   However, we hope to have enough together to allow for pre-orders from the 1st November.  

The recording quality and production is brilliant, and I’ve put a teaser track up for you to enjoy, it’s not one you’ll find on the CD so I’m not spoiling the surprise.    You can find it HERE

And so we come to look at the week ahead.  

Besides the regular weekly events you’ll find that it’s Burton Street on Tuesday, it being the second of the month for Hillsborough Folk, everyone welcome from around 8:00pm in the bar.   Thursday the Ring O Bells session at Silkstone with String Theory is I’m told a super evening of music.  On Friday you’ll find the fantastic ROMP (Rotherham Open Mic Poets) meeting at The Bridge in Rotherham.  You’ll need to get in early, but it’s lovely way to spend an evening in great company.  Florin are playing live over at Wensleydale also on Friday Night.   

A special mention for a new evening making it’s debut this week.   An informal evening of Bluegrass at the Huntsman, on Manchester Road, in Sheffield, featuring the Sheaf River Band with Chris Macshane.  The evening kicks off around 8:30pm   

Into the weekend and at The Monkwood on Saturday night you’ll find a Festival of local Bands playing under the Bean Fest banner.  A brilliant night of music for charity, and the Wortley Folk Club has some special guests at The Venue over in Stocksbridge.

Further up north you’ll find that our good friend Chris Milner is promoting a special evening for RODNEY CORNER AND JOHN-PIERRE RUDOLPH, who are celebrating 40 years on the road together on Friday in the good Town of Stanley, (I remember it well from my Durham days)  The aforementioned G String Acoustic Club will be meeting at The Angel Topcliffe on Sunday evening unless you hear something different.  

All the details and locations can be checked out on the Diary page HERE

And that’s It for this week folks.   Whatever you are doing have a great time and KEEP IT LIVE