Monday, 28 November 2011

Last of The Cracking Festival Concerts / News from the World of Folk / Web Site Additions

So the Rotherham Open Arts Festival winds down.  The final Concert has been played out but there are still two days, Tuesday and Wednesday to pop into the Gallery and check out the fantastic Art Work on show created mainly by the people of Rotherham from the very young to the more Senior members of our Community. 

I’m not going to go into my full Review of the Festival experience in this Blog.  There are two reasons, first so that we can give full credit to the artists who have appeared this week and secondly I feel that such a Review deserves a little more time in the “cooking” and requires to be treated as a standalone.

So with the week starting with a classic Masher mistake by shouting out that it was Nellie Folk last Monday –IT’S TODAY (MONDAY)  – the week could only get better. 
And so it did.

The Wednesday Festival Concert was a cracker. By popular demand!! it was kicked off by The Masher set where I was joined on stage by John Statter, making it our first more formal outing, which given the total lack of any practice session together proved to be a truly enjoyable experience. Good to hear folks joining in on choruses, and even those who were new to The Mashers seemed to enjoy it.  So, result.

Then Pocketful of N’owt, the smaller, took the audience by storm, with a rite rousing set of frivolity pushed along by the high wire stool walking of Mike O’Brian.   Mike’s performances seem to become more outrageous each time I see him, and he even included my favourite song into this makeshift set.  

They also included their fantastic new Christmas song.  Here’s the link. HERE Head in that direction as we’re trying to make it this year’s Christmas number one – at which point Mike says he will buy me a pint!   Thanks Mike. 

But you have to give these lads a lot of credit.  They are magic supporters of the local music scene and through “hard work” have in a very short period of time created a very positive profile with fans and Promoters.  We really hope that current problems are quickly sorted and that they return to full numbers soon. 

I’ve also had the privilege of checking out their six track studio EP which contains what might be described as their greatest hits.  You can pick a copy up by heading off to Pocketful of N’owt Gig or find Mike O’Brian and beg………………..   worth a fiver of anyone’s money.   Check out their Facebook Page HERE

To complete a night of madness and Politician hating satire came Cracktown.  My good friends Silver Fox and the King Rat providing us with some fine blues harp along with an upbeat set of their very best songs.   

I’m not sure why they worry so much.   They give off this air of Devil take the hindmost yet are sensitive to audience response.   In this particular case they needn’t have worried.  I’ve seen them amongst their own when they’ve gone for it and are absolutely brilliant, almost different level to us mere mortals, yet one sensed in the Gallery environment something was being held back.  Just my feeling. 

Cracktown will always be at the top of my booking list for what they are, challenging, clever with words and lyrics and juxta positioned arguments and above all creative and talented.  Be yourselves lads and let it rip.  The other reason they will always be at the top of list, is that they’re cheap, but hurry that may change I believe Silver Fox will soon need a new Top Hat and Leather coat, while I noticed King Rat’s jeans had shrunk a bit (or he’s grown) and as we go into winter he’ll need something to keep him warm. 

Check out their CDs and more by joining their Facebook page HERE

Of course our thanks also go to Christine our Poet in residence.

On Friday the Festival hosted a Special Presentation of Hearts of Steel, the collated result of work started at a Festival workshop two years ago.  It’s a celebration of Steel Production in Rotherham and it’s two public performances earlier in the year received many accolades from the critics.  

It was a great shame that the cast very much outnumbered the audience by two to one.  The reason we’ll return to at another time. 

For now I want to congratulate Ray Hearne, and the full cast for an outstanding presentation under very difficult circumstances.  And for those who missed the evening, it was incredible.  

The good news though is that there are still a few copies of the original DVD available which contains the work of the Group along with some fantastic images of the time when steel was King in the Town.   Go HERE to buy.

I’m also told that the same group might be coming together for another project soon.   Stay tuned for news.  In the meantime why not check out the Millmoor Memories project all the details and links are on the Festival page HERE

And so to the final Concert of the Festival on Saturday.  A true Rotherham day with the ever young Roy Blackman kicking off proceedings with renditions of songs old and new, punctuated with the odd poem.  

It was fantastic to see Roy in full Concert mode, instead of performing the odd song here and there.  He’s a true entertainer.  

Roy let slip that the 26th November was his late Partner Doreen birthday, and it was to have been their Wedding Day.  So it was befitting to dedicate his performance on the day to Doreen.

And don’t forget folks……………..    Roy has his CD coming out soon, “Roy Blackman – Rotherham’s Man of Memories” .  We’re still hoping for a late December launch, but it will certainly be with us early in the New Year.  The snag has been in the proof reading, which due to the size of the CD Insert is taking just a little longer to put together than we originally thought. 

More details and the teaser track that won’t be on CD can be found HERE

Roy was followed by Will Padfield.   Will’s a young singer song writer now based in Wath and has one of the strongest and best voices in the Town.  His songs are full of carefully crafted lyrics and hold a blues like melody.  It was a well-crafted set which was videoed, so I hope you’ll get to some of the tracks before too long. 

Will tells me that he’s currently experimenting with his recording, which is exciting news and I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the results in the near future.  

And great to see the family come and give full support.

And from one powerful vocal to another as Rachel Barley made one of her too rare solo appearances in Rotherham.  

What can I say about this young lady who is gaining in confidence with every performance thanks to her Band Papa Legbas.   

It was just so good to hear her jazz and blues all brilliantly supported by confident guitar playing. 

We really need to convince Rachel to get something recorded properly so that a wider audience can enjoy the music that she makes.  

Unfortunately Paul Newman couldn’t be with us because of health issues, so as we moved into the final moments of the Festival Concerts it was very kind of Paul Pearson to give us a surprise three song set.  Magical as ever and so typical of the guy to perform at a moment’s notice.   

And to finish – well with the aid of “Little” Neil The Masher was able to deliver a rendition of Bloody Rotten Audience – which was probably directed towards those who had missed some of the outstanding performances during the Month.   

All this, plus, brilliant contributions from Carol Robson and Christine May Turner providing the poetical interludes.  


I can tell you all that because of your amazing efforts the profile of Rotherham created music has been enhanced enormously.  The standards reached, in sometimes challenging conditions have left me opened mouthed as each of you produced performances worthy of your professional status. 

I will be making sure that you all get a copy of my final Review / Write Up  + put it up as a Blog so that you can add your own comments about your experiences at the Festival.  Better still if you have anything that you think might be overlooked please send your comments by Email or add them to the bottom of this Blog. 

Already work on next year’s various projects has started.  But before diving headlong into the mire, the first thing that has to be done is make sure that we get the Macro Organisation in place. 

The Masher will be warming the troops up on Wednesday 30th November, that’s the day of the Public Workers Strike.  I’ll be kicking off with a few heart-warming songs while the Marchers gather for the Speeches at Rotherham Town Hall and head off to join the main March and Rally in Sheffield. I should be underway by about 9:50 am – yes you did read that correctly 9:50 AM    

There’s a TUC Sponsored song from The Workers which you can find HERE and well worth downloading, it’s light hearted way of showing your support for this important stand not only to save the existing Pensions of our Public Workers but also kick forward the upgrading of Private Pension schemes that have taken a hammering over the past three years.

The UKFCN published their Good Practice Guide to Folk Clubs this week.   It’s well worth a read by Folk Club Organisers, especially the guest booking ones and anyone thinking of setting a Folk Club up.  The link is HERE  Even if you think that you have nothing to learn it's worth taking a look.

It is a step forward.

However, I still have my doubts about whether or not this closed approach by Folk Clubs is the way to go.   I’m still convinced that if we are really to grow audiences by creating new Folk Clubs or strengthen our existing Club base then we need to ally ourselves with other musical genre and general arts.   

I’m also put off a bit by some really petty nit picking by some of the people involved in this Group.  Too often at the critical moment someone throws a spoke into the wheel and everything gets reduced to a fairly juvenile level of debate. 

However, I’m sure as the Group develops some useful things will come out of it. 

Another organisation UK Folk Music  marches on though.  You can check out their Web Site pages HERE   They are to Launch a Podcast in the very near future and if you would like any of your material featured they have set up an Upload Page on SoundCloud HERE 

The week head and we have a full programme of all the regular Clubs.   This past week we have been told of a couple sessions featured on the Diary that have become defunct and they have been deleted.  I can only delete or more importantly add if you tell me – so please if you find anything not working on the Web Site or want to add or tell me about a Club that has become defunct email me at  

One event I would give you a head’s up to is the return of Big Neil to the scene.  I’ve not seen him out and about for years but I’m told a new Band has been formed Penno and they will be performing at Delaney’s Music Bar in Sheffield on Sunday 4th from 6:00pm.  You’ll be sure to be in for some great Irish tunes and good crack.  

Everything going on can be found HERE

There have been additions to the Resource Page HERE  and new tracks have been added to the Acoustic Rotherham Player.  In fact you'll find tracks from most, if not all Festival performers on the Player which you can find on every page of the Web Site.

And with that we draw to an end this week’s News Blog.  Watch out for the Festival Special later in the week.   And please try, no matter how inconvenienced on Wednesday, just what it is all about.  The Tories have always been good at setting worker against worker, person against person, it’s their standard strategy.   

Whatever you are doing this week have great fun, support live music and keep it LIVE

Monday, 21 November 2011

Standing Room Only at The Festival Concerts / Good Things for 2012 / and a Great Week Coming Up

This week has been full of meetings and Festival events.  A fine way for this officially sick bloke to be carrying on, and I have to say that I’m beginning to pay for it. 

I can safely say that by way of a change for such things this week’s round of Meetings have been positive, and this Masher is really excited about the potential for 2012 in respect of the Arts in Rotherham.  There is just so many great things already on the drawing board, and again, for a change I’m sure that most if not all will become reality.  

What I hope is that the Arts Community will give their support and add another nail to the coffin of those who would view Rotherham as some sort of cultural desert. 

You’ll have to watch this space, as Rotherham MBC, ROMP, Acoustic Rotherham, The Myke Barritt Music Trust and ROAR  all of which I’m now involved with at one level or another, get down to sorting out their various roles, structures and programmes.  And you can expect some big surprises and some great opportunities for “Grass Roots” artists of all genres.  

Some of you regular readers will know that I have been monitoring and taking part in the discussions of the UKFCN, look up their Facebook page if you want to find out what it is all about, a very short synopsis would be to say that it’s overall objective is to build links and ties between “Guest Booking” Folk Clubs in an attempt to build audiences so as to make sure they survive.  Having followed the debate and discussions closely and taken a look at the Survey Results I have to say that overall I’m not that impressed the thinking which seems so “closed”.

There was in the Survey one outstanding statistic in my view, that being that 70%+ of Festival attendees and even existing Club Members would not be attracted to going to a Club or a different Club to test new waters. 

From my experience that is just about right.  Perhaps even an understatement of the problem. 

So if we cannot grow or cross fertilize our audiences from within, we of Folk Music must look without, especially if artists are to be rewarded their worth.  

The supposed audience problem within Folk Clubs, is shared by every art genre.  Since the destruction of our traditional Pub base, the art of going out to be entertained has been lost.  Smokers don’t leave home as the novelty of freezing to death in beer gardens or the street corner has lost its glamour, (and like it or not this is by far the most singular reason for the decline in our pubs), and we now compete not only with other events for the shrinking audiences, but the glamour of 3D 60 inch Televisions, Computers and of course Game Consuls.  

I’m convinced more than ever that what we need to be doing is joining with other Art genres to promote our talented people, and that applies at all levels, and you can be sure this is the direction Acoustic Rotherham and The MBMT will be going. 

So watch out for News as it all starts coming together. 

The Rotherham Open Arts Festival

We enter the final week of events – Facebook folks will be over joyed to know – Wednesday will see The Masher make his appearance, hopefully with John Statter to my left so that the bottles have two targets to home in on.  Yes, I’ve been dragged reluctantly to the stage, having been told that if all those artists who have already done their bit in the Gallery freezer have been made to suffer, it is more than due that the season ticket holders and sundry unsuspecting visitors should also be made to suffer. 

I do plan to sing just one song on Saturday as well, but we’ll put that aside for now.  

Joining me on Wednesday will be Cracktown all the way from Hull.  If you’ve not seen these lads take it from me, it’s an experience that you will never forget.  

Also appearing will be Pocketful of N’owt.  They will be appearing either in their full frontal glory, or as a cut down version due to Mike having made his Wife suffer so much over the past month.  

It’s a night of total madness and a fitting end I think to the Wednesday Night Concert season. 

On Friday.  That’s the 25th November.  We have something very special, a rare live presentation of Hearts of Steel, which is a reflection in song and verse on the production of Steel in Rotherham.  The team, led by Ray Hearne, (for his sins making a third appearance at the Festival) and including that man of song, Roy Blackman will performing in the Gallery for Free.  Might be a good idea to get in early for this one.  If you’ve not been or intend not to come to any of our events, this is the one worth making an exception for.   Copies of the DVD will be available at £9.99 at The Gallery Reception from Friday through to closure on 30th November. 

And then on Saturday we have the last of the Saturday Brunch Concerts, and I can promise you a real treat.  Paul Newman the Bard of Sheffield will be entertaining us with his brilliant stories and songs.  One to bring the Children to………. You won’t be disappointed.  We have Roy Blackman singing songs from his upcoming CD “Roy Blackman – Rotherham’s Man of Memories”, in full concert mode, and not to be missed.  The fabulous vocals of Rachel Barley will be ringing out around the Gallery and the powerful voice of singer song writer Will Padmore will be in residence for a rare performance.  Ad as stated, The Masher will have the perfect song for finishing the whole thing off.  

I’m sure that we’ll also have contributions from the poets of ROMP.   

The remaining programme can be found in full HERE

We have to thank Christine from ROMP in particular who has not only been a season ticket holding member of the audience but has filled in brilliantly with her poems between the music, whenever I have asked, or when some people have failed to show their face. 

And the past week at The Festival has been quite special.   

On Wednesday and Saturday it’s been standing room only at various stages of the events, which has been fantastic for both artists and the atmosphere – let’s face it the more we squeeze in the warmer we’ll all be. 

Tuesday there was an enthusiastic gathering of Poets and Song Writers to explore memories of Saturday afternoons at Millmoor, led by Ray Hearne.

It’s funny how we get all romantic about our football going memories – of course mine were all based at Fratton Park, so it was with interest that I listened to the memories of United supporters, and reflect upon how similar the sights and sounds around a ground no matter where they are placed were.   

A lovely evening.  For those who came along and want to get work to Ray you’re find the links HERE and there is also a link for anyone who wants to find out more about the overall project. 

On Wednesday night we  were again treated to a fantastic, and thankfully up beat and warming set from Storm Trees (Eskimo Kissed!).  My personal thanks to Julie and Richard who have been great supporters of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival having made three appearances.  They are a hard working musical couple, and on the evidence of what I’ve seen this month will be heading onwards to much better things in the years ahead.  I think they have made many new friends over the November who I hope will help swell the audiences at their local appearances. 

My considerable thanks also go to Mark Hearne who stood in with only 48 hours’ notice for The Backyard Buskers who could not appear because of illness to their lead singer Richard.  We hope Richard is well on the road to recovery.  

What a great performance?  A mixture of songs from traditional to rock – and some brilliant musical improvisations, showing off his rather dry sense of humour…………
So thanks Mark.  And what a pity we don’t see a lot more of you around the venues of Rotherham. 

And someone managed to capture a picture of brotherly love as the Hearne takeover of the Festival was completed. 

Bringing up the rear, were the fantastic Troubadors.  Steve and the Boys had feet a tapping as they overcame a couple of technical difficulties to produce another fine professional performance. 

OK these guys come from Wakefield, but they have been great supporters of live music in South Yorkshire.  The good news is that they are beginning to get the wider recognition they deserve, and somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to book them for the huge Fees I pay anytime soon.  Their Diary is looking full, but I’m sure for the right bribe they could have their arm twisted into making more appearances in the area.   

Big hugs and thank you to the Boys.    And we all left the Gallery feeling pretty warm.  

And our thanks also go out to John Cawthorn for the poetry contribution from ROMP

And onwards to Saturday where we had another feast of music at the Saturday Brunch Concert.  

Making many new friends was Rotherham’s young song writing talent Phil Sinclar.  A strong performance of his songs had unusually early morning large audience hanging on his every note.
Well done Phil.  Once again this a chap that really needs the support of the Arts Community to spread the word about his work, and help boost his confidence.  Phil deserves many more Gigs, and I hope they will be coming his way.  

If Phil was not enough evidence enough of the hidden talent in Rotherham, then the vocal performance of Catherine Bindon, supported by Rotherham trouper Andy Hoult on guitar certainly rammed the point home with a huge swing of the hammer.  

Complicated songs sung majestically, understates this fine performance of a set hurriedly put together in the early hours of the morning, because Catherine had to travel up from Bristol University to be with us.  

I don’t think I saw one person leave the Gallery during her performance, they were just captured by not only the delivery of the songs but also the care taken with a programme of jazz, blues, pop, and traditional songs.  

Also producing a confident and wonderful set full of great vocals was Heather Woodhead, and I have to say what a pity that so many left during the interval and missed what was a superb performance.  Again it was a full mixture of songs, from the traditional to the contemporary side of Folk Music.  

And yet another performer deserving of a wider audience. 

I was really impressed with Heather’s professionalism, and dare I say that her confidence and her delivery of the songs has soured since I last got to hear from her at an Acoustic Rotherham.  A very important reminder that we must invite her back again in the very near future if she can find room for us in her busy Diary.

Following on from Heather came a set of yet more magical vocals from the talented Karen Gilmore, who along with her Partner Nigel Smith go under the name of Swansong Acoustic (when in duo mode and Swansong when in quartet full rockin’ mode)  

It was again a programme delivered so professionally in difficult circumstances.
While I love their rockin’ sets, I have to say that I think the full value of Karen’s singing versatility is best heard in acoustic sets.   In a day of outstanding vocal performances from the start it was another brilliant performance. 

Karen works really hard on the circuit, not only does she join up with the full Band but she also performs as a solo performer in Club Land – a show I still have to see, (so get yourself booked into The Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club) but like me, if you see her name of the Billing for your Club go along and give her some support and someone to chat to during the Bingo.

And the day’s extra surprise came from the really powerful voice and amazing songs written by Andrew Oxley.   

OK you’re bored of me saying it, but, again, Andrew is another undervalued talent that should be nurtured a lot more by Promoters in the area.  

The power of his playing is so evident by the fact that our decibel counter was closing in on the red on his own, even out doing the Troubadors.  The breaking of a string was also a bit of a giveaway to.  He tells me that it’s third time in as many gigs that has happened, so perhaps he needs to invest in a backup guitar, something he will only be able to afford if we get out there and book him. 

Well done Andrew, and I’m only sorry so few were there to actually enjoy your performance.  We’ll put that right at Acoustic Rotherham 14

And the reason Andrew was a surprise inclusion is that he was due to have taken part in The Festival Within a Festival – that which did not happen.  So I was more than happy to have Andrew come and play at the Festival venue.

We’ll deal with some of the negatives in next week’s summing up Festival Blog.

And I should also add that this Saturday did not follow the pattern of the previous two Concerts, where audiences grew over the day, instead, the audience crammed in for the morning bit of the Brunch concert and then sort of gradually evaporated in an unexplained way……………   so my thanks to the those on in the afternoon for being so professional and producing such outstanding performances.

Thanks to Christine for the poetical interludes between the music, as said before they were much appreciated. 

All the pictures can be found HERE

Unfortunately I was not able to get to either of the Dance events at Magna this weekend, under instructions from she who must be obeyed to rest.  

However, I was very pleased to read that both events were simply fantastic spectacles, especially the Retina Dance Company production on Sunday which from those who saw it I learn was a really uplifting experience.  

Dancing with the Retina Company were a dozen Rotherham Dancers who I’m told excelled, and demonstrated the Dance talent we have in Rotherham.  It’s worth noting that they had only five days to learn the Dance making their achievements even more notable. 
My congratulations to all those involved. 

The Web Site  is currently going from strength to strength.   I’m not going to make any false claims on the usage of the Site as some clearly do, (I recently saw one local site claiming 250,000 hits, when checked, it’s possible that they added three zeroes to actual hits as the World ranking was a 20,000,000 away from Acoustic Rotherham).  

Our World Ranking is the highest it has ever been at 529,000 according to Alexia.  Our National ranking is 22,000. We normally trundle along at 560,000 and 26,000 respectively. 
Even our Blog Rankings have significantly improved, reaching the level of eight months ago when Myspace blacked us out when they changed all their RSS links without telling anyone.  

The improvements seem to be working and in December I’ll try and get the reconstruction finished so that the site has a uniform look to it.  

The figures do show that we are one of the most read music sites, especially in the Folk / Acoustic genre in the UK, the notable exception being Spiral Earth.  

We will be seeking to strengthen our Resource Page early in 2012 – and widening the scope of the Arts that we feature on our pages.  Keen readers will have already noted that the visual Arts are already being featured on the Diary pages. 

This week Philip Cockerham’s latest CD has been added to the David Kidman Review Page HERE – the final Art work for Roy Blackman’s CD is on display on the Roy Blackman Page HERE – and of course all the pictures from the Festival and Busking Day are up.  

And don’t forget there is an open invitation to have your music on our Demo page.  All you have to do is forward the Tracks or send me a CD and we’ll make sure that it is featured.  You can check out the great packages already on the site HERE

I’ve updated our Facebook profile photograph with a picture taken by John Rosling a young Photographer and Film maker from Rotherham.  Check out his fantastic work.  

Westgate Chambers, the new home of ROAR is nearing completion.  Volunteers are still wanted to finish off the painting and next weekend play at being Mr Shifter Men.  If you have some spare time that you can give please contact Katherine on 07834341468.

The Opening will be taking place on 7th December, starting at 5:00pm.

I got to meet Matt this past week, who is to be ROAR’s Development Officer.  His Official start date is 5th December, but will be out and about talking and listening to people before then, he will also be available for discussions about raising Funds and writing claims. 
Rotherham Trade Unions will be on the March in Support of the Public Service Pensions Strike on 30th November.  There is a possibility that The Masher and other Rotherham Working Class artists will do short spots in All Saints Square between 10:40 and 11:20 am.    

I’m still hoping that we’ll have the Roy Blackman CD out before Christmas………..  it’s going to be touch and go, but the Art Work is currently being proof read by David Kidman and then it’s all systems go to the duplicators.   Advanced Orders can be made HERE

Finally, besides all the great things going on in the last ten days of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival, and if you’ve not been to the Gallery yet, get down there, the art work is just stunning, and it comes from our own Rotherham Artists, there are some other great events going off, head off to the November Diary page HERE for all the details. 

I hope we’ll see you at one or another of the events over the next week.  And if you’re a Facebook friend and we’ve not met then come up and say a few words.  

Whatever you are doing this week, have fun, support local musicians and KEEP IT LIVE.  (see you at the Gallery on Wednesday)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Funding for Writers + / The Past Week at the Festival / The Coming week / Masher on the Loose

I feel another mammoth Blog coming on.  A busy week has passed but for this little bee the week ahead looks just as active.

I’m going to jump round a bit this week, more so than usual, and there’s some important stuff amongst it all, probably deserving of a Blog in it’s own right, but time really does not allow.

So as per the default question of recent weeks where to start?


This coming weekend the 19th / 20th November sees the feature events of this year’s Rotherham Open Arts Festival at MAGNA. On Saturday the Phoenix Dance Theatre, as part of this performance Phoenix Dance Theatre will be performing four of their most innovative pieces including the exciting Locked in Vertical and the recent hit Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe “a sparky, mischievous quintet. 

On Sunday The Retina Dance Company, including twelve guest Dancers from Rotherham who will be working with the Company throughout the week will be performing Skins a Dance that has received critical acclaim wherever it has been performed.

Even if you do not have a deep rooted interest in Dance I know you will find both performances stunning to the eye, along with some fantastic music.   Tickets are priced sensibly at £12, with concessions at £10 for each performance.   Go HERE to book on line or simply call in at The Gallery on Corporation Street to book your seats.


The concept of House Concerts has been around for a number of years now, and from the reports I have read appear popular with both artists and audiences.

On Friday The Masher along with the essential Sutherland roadies, had the opportunity to experience one for himself for the first time when invited to play for Hull House Gigs, set up by Richard. 

And what great fun we had.  It was a bit strange to start with as one was conscious of being in a Private Home, but as the room filled the Party atmosphere kicked in.

First up, as seems my role in life, The Masher launched into his standard set (minus Mrs Thatcher).  I really didn’t know what to expect, but was absolutely amazed when the room burst into voice during the choruses, creating one of those great atmosphere’s where even the Masher can gain inspiration.

So thank you Richard for inviting us, it was a great evening. 

Sharing the Bay Window stage were “The Heroes of The Mexican Independence Movement” a fine trio of musicians performing some very imaginative and thought provoking – even amusing – material.

Undoubted Stars of the night, for they paid me the most money to say it, were Cracktown, who launched into one of their trade mark sets with typical organisational gusto.  You’ll get a chance to see the King Rat and the Silver Fox performing at the Open Arts Festival on the 23rd November.

And on Saturday making my way into Town for the Brunch Concert I was royally entertained by Cracktown’s new CD Boneless Roast, which features many of their classic songs, along with some new material.

Cracktown’s opening number, their tribute to the period of Remembrance the Country has been going through, really hit the spot for me.  It’s on the CD, and I hope they will forgive me for sharing it the Track HERE

So a super evening.  Thanks again to the Sutherland Roadie Services for transporting safely in the dead of Saturday morning back to my home base.   It’s fantastic to experience these different events with such good friends and supporters.


It was the difficult second week at The Rotherham Open Arts Festival, the initial enthusiasm starts wear thin with some, yet the great music carries on regardless.  

Week night audiences were down, reflecting I fear the weather as the temptation of a warm living room and the sofa overtook the need to walk through the damp air of Rotherham, to a stool in The Gallery Bar to overdose on music. 

On Tuesday  there was a fantastic turn out for the first of the Festival Workshops, entitled The Gatty Collection and presented by Paul & Liz Davenport.  

This was a truly interesting evening as we learnt about the early twentieth century equivalent to download sampling exercised by Vaughan Williams and the Rev Gatty.  What a little bugger our Vaughan was heading off to collect songs and melodies later to feature in some of the works that were to make him one of our Master Composers.   

The work of love that Paul & Liz have put into bringing the collection together for publication in 2012 was oh so evident as we were introduced to the characters of Ravenfield, Treeton, Stainton and Hooton Roberts who had either written the songs or learnt them at their Parents knees.

The relationship between the good friends Vaughan Williams and Gatty was also an interesting one, apparently they would write letters to each other half in English and half in German; strange or what?  

Paul and Liz’s book will publish the full Rotherham area note books of the Gatty Collection for the first time and it should be a great local seller.  Watch this space. 

Many people at the Workshop felt that there was fantastic scope to produce a Theatrical Production exploring the relationship of the two central characters and their relationships with the people that they took their music from, inserting a few of the songs for good measure.  A small project for someone to pick up on.

You can find a lot more about Paul & Liz Davenport and the tremendous work they do for Traditional Music and customs in South Yorkshire HERE


We had a great night of music from artists “collected” from the Steel City.

Good friend and Acoustic Rotherham regular, song writer Phillip Hartley set the night off with a set made up of his powerful songs.  He warmed the audience up nicely, as warming we certainly needed to be.  A truly professional set delivered as only he can. 

Why, why, why this guy does not get more recognition for his work I really don’t know.  If you are one of those who have not yet found his music head off HERE and then BOOK HIM.

 Another firm favourite of the local acoustic music scene Paul Pearson, accompanied by the magnificent Chris Treebeard, played through a typically thought provoking and entertaining set of songs mostly penned by Ron Trueman-Boarder who is a good friend of Paul.

Paul is the ultimate workaholic visiting many Clubs and sessions on the local acoustic scene, as well as becoming a firm favourite with Festival audiences around South Yorkshire.

Winding the evening up came the wonderful Charlie Barker.  Charlie has just released her CD “Ghosts and Heroes” (available from the Acoustic Rotherham Amazon Web Site HERE) and she did not disappoint by playing through several numbers from the Album.  The CD covers writers and performers who have had an influence upon Charlie’s music making, and the good news for music lovers, if personally disappointing, it does not include a Masher track.  Although the imagine of Charlie performing “Hairy Mary” still has an appeal to me.

But there were songs and tunes from a whole range of music influences, from the traditional to Northern Soul. 

A master set that no one wanted to finish, despite the cold. 

And all this after Charlie had managed to get lost by going to the Arts Centre and not the Old market Gallery, which involved a very long walk across Town carrying CDs and instruments.

My thanks to, to Christine and Carol for their poetical contributions to the evening.  Unfortunately Gav was tied up in Sheffield where apparently there was a minor crisis with the Occupy demonstration outside Sheffield Cathedral. 

And thanks also to Roy Blackman.  He remembered to arrive before the end this time!! And polished off the evening with a song for us all. 


We need first to send out our condolences to poor Phoebe, currently suffering with Pleurisy which is making it impossible for her to sing at the moment. Let’s hope it won’t be long before she is again regaling the local scene with her music.

But never fear!  

Sister Sylvia opened the Brunch Concert in fine style with an entertaining set of songs and Monologues. 

It really is a pity that we don’t see more of Sylvia in show case performances of this sort more often, there is something for everyone and makes for a truly entertaining time.

Stepping in at very short notice local diehard of the local Folk scene Rob Slow, accompanied by first, John Statter, and then Dave provided us forty minutes of interesting tune and song. 

Thanks guys for a fine polished performance, including a magnificent demonstration of mandolin playing from aforementioned Mr Slow, it was brilliant.

Then a surprise and also stepping in at short notice from Featherstone came Pam and Peter, Keystone Acoustic.  

And what a surprise they were!   A brilliantly entertaining set that had the gathered folks pinned to their seats.  There was a complete mixture, from the comic, (was that opening song really about horses?) to more serious and beautifully performed songs.

Big thanks to you both for volunteering for this set, and what’s more, if you want to hear more of this duo you’ll find them at Acoustic Rotherham 14 in January.

What can be said about David Kidman that has not already been said?  You just never know what to expect from this fine singer, and Saturday was no different who gave us a fantastic selection of songs from his gander bag.   Everything from the dead serious traditional song, to some tremendous choruses plus a scattering of humorous and slightly unexpected contemporary songs. 

Our thanks as usual to a good friend of the Rotherham Folk scene and Acoustic Rotherham.

Then pure heaven.  The great “big” sound of Jack’s Rake.  Jack’s Rake have performed at Acoustic Rotherham on three occasions over the years and have never failed to entertain, but this performance was excellence beyond the call of duty and simply outstanding.  Proof positive that if you work hard you’ll get the rewards in terms of performance and I really hope in terms of recognition with high profile Gigs.  They certainly deserve it. 

Even our Leader, non Folkie Steve could be seen dancing around the Gallery, and the crowd they pulled in from outside was proof positive of the popularity of their sound. 

Very well done boys and girls, that was the best I have heard from you and I really look forward to having you back in Rotherham soon.

Winding up a Brunch of surprises came Ian Whitehead who gave us a short set of self-penned songs.  Ian represents everything that Acoustic Rotherham is about, raw talent looking for an outlet to develop.  He too will be making an appearance at Acoustic Rotherham 14 in January, when he has promised a full performance. 

And again we need to give our thanks to Christine for providing the poetical interludes throughout the Concert. 

Somehow we managed to hold Roy Blackman back on this occasion.

The Saturday Brunch Concerts are proving to have an interesting affect.  Over the two concerts two hundred people have passed through the doors of the Gallery.  Many have expressed their surprise at the incredible standard of the music and some have dallied to experience the full show, while others have taken the chance to look at the fantastic art on display from Rotherham artists and moved on.  It does get very cold, especially if you’re in for the full session, so if you’re coming down for any of our concerts make sure you wrap up warm and perhaps bring a flask of coffee laced with something nice. 

We do hope to have heaters on the go in the week ahead.

Pictures from the week’s events can be found HERE


Funding To Support Poetry and Literature (UK)

The Clore Duffield Foundation has announced that the second funding round under its new £1 million programme to fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people across the UK is now open for applications. Through the programme, schools, FE colleges, community groups, libraries and other arts/cultural organisations can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to support participatory learning projects and programmes focused on literature, poetry and creative writing for under 19s. The programme is due to run from 2011 to 2015 with two funding rounds a year. The deadline for applications is 30th March 2012.

Go HERE for the full details and make your application. 

This One is Time critical as it is on WEDNESDAY

Creative Networks! Will be holding a major session on Wednesday 16th November from 2:00pm through to 7:00pm.  The afternoon session is mainly made up by appointment only sessions with experts in the field of Arts Funding.  You can book a session with Stephanie Simm who is with the Arts Council Englan; Martyn Benson from the Business, Retail and Investment Team (RiDO); and Karen Sherwood Chief Executive of ROAR and Cupola Gallery on presenting work and portfolios. 

To book a session call Lizzy on 01709 823636 or Email 
Additional information can be got from Liam on 01709 252535 Email

After refreshments from 5:30pm to 7:00pm the Meetings will continue at the Market Gallery with talks from local artists, a chance to talk about your particular Art group, some Performance Poetry, a presentation on the latest news of Rotherham’s Arts Strategy, more Grant Chat, this time about ACE Funding culminating in The Festival Wednesday Concert. 

It’s a full day.  Make the most of it.  If you have an idea that will help promote the Arts in Rotherham, be it general or more personal then make your appointment – it’s YOUR chance to find out what’s possible.


This week at the Festival promises to be another “cracker”.

On Tuesday Ray Hearne will be hosting a Workshop exploring in words and music the affect Rotherham Utd has had upon the Town of Rotherham and it’s Community, besides personal reflections. 

This might prove to be the busiest session of the Festival to date, so get in early.  The serious work starts off at 7:30pm.

The weekly Wednesday Concert will get underway as soon as the Creative Networks! Meeting runs out of steam.  We’ve a great line up, Storm Trees (Eskimo Kissed!), The Troubadors and a surprise!   Yes the bug has struck again and I’ve learnt today that lead singer of The Backyard Buskers has been rushed off to Hospital in an Ambulance and is currently being fed anti-biotic’s by the pint.  Poor lad.  Our best wishes go out to other members of the Band Kathy and Jane, but particularly Richard who we wish a speedy recovery to.

And the Saturday Brunch Concert features two of Rotherham’s fantastic young talent.  Phil Sinclair a singer song writer of great promise; Catherine Bindon who is an amazing vocalist will be accompanied by Dad Andy Hoult.  Batting for the oldies although she won’t thank me for placing her in that category will be Heather Woodhead from West Yorkshire, and closer to home Swansong Acoustic, one member of which apparently places himself firmly in the “Old Bugger” camp – and it’s not Karen.

So a full week at The Rotherham Open Arts Festival.  If you’ve not yet visited the Gallery why not link up music and some great visual art.

The full programme for the Festival can be found HERE


On Tuesday the Handsworth Writers and Folk Club are meeting with special guests Savant providing the music.  An excellent duo well worth hearing if you have not already found their music.  All goes off at The Cross Keys.

Paul & Liz Davenport will be holding their Ballads session at the Burton Street Foundation on Wednesday night.  A great place to sing and learn.

 And on Saturday Jack’s Rake will be playing The Shiny in Sheffield. 

All this in addition to all the regular stuff going on.  The full listings can be found HERE

Rumour has it that Pocketful of N’owt have been in the studio – we’re expecting good things from them soon.

And here’s a Rotherham based Heavy Metal Band new to the scene and well worth checking out for a good rock Final Strike…………………  not for the faint hearted but check out the video on their Facebook Fan page and judge for yourself.  Musicianship par excellence for the genre. Looking forward to meeting up with Josh and the Boys when they’re ready for Gigging, I’m sure they are going to be a big hit with the head bangers amongst us.

And that my friend’s is that for the week.   Thanks for your continued support and I look forward to seeing more of you heading towards the Rotherham Festival in the week ahead.  And for you creative ones don’t forget the FUNDING help on Wednesday – you will not get if you don’t take the trouble to find out. 

Whatever you might be doing this week, support local LIVE MUSIC and KEEP IT LIVE.