Sunday, 26 February 2012

Street Cred Top Hats / Great Memories / Busy Tiimes

Hey.  An early start on this week’s Blog in the hope that we can get it published on a Sunday, which is of course the highlighted day.

Good time to remind you that if you want something included in the News Blog or the Mailing we send out twice a week, the deadlines are:

News Blog  Material by the Saturday morning of each week.
Mailings:  1.  Monday Morning     2.  Thursday Morning.
Additions to the Web Site, Diary listings etc., can be sent at any time. 

Well my friends we’re into Lent.  What have you given up.  Mrs Masher and I have given up paying Bills, we think this is the best way to note this reflective time of the year, and of course it will give those who send us Bills something to reflect upon. 

We noted that the pre Lent Celebration of Shrove Tuesday was a fantastic success for our Leader, beside trying to defend Britain from Bankers, he is of course currently at War with The Lords over Welfare Reform, what seems to be the entire Nation over NHS Reform, (so much so that he’s refusing to talk to anyone who is opposing the Reforms! Which is leaving him with a very small circle of friends), and of course there has been much hand wringing over the economic crisis in Greece and the slaughter being carried out by Syrian Government against their own people.   

A weird week, if only because The Masher had an outing.  It was a really lovely evening Session to celebrate the life of Harry Darson.  Not Darkman as one had previously been told, my excuse is that I only knew Harry as Harry.  For those who didn’t come into contact Harry he was anarchic poet who graced the Sessions of Rotherham for many years before heading North to the Shetland Isles.   He was one of life’s big characters, once seen never forgotten.  

Wednesday’s session included many of the local acts who had shared evenings with him and one or two too young to have met him, making for a super evening, and one or two renditions of his poems as well, serious, funny and sometimes just abstract and off the wall. 
So good to see Gill, Jeff, and Em (now there’s a young lady with a fantastic voice and a mean guitar)doing their bit from the Thursday session, Sue Sutherland, Ray Hearne, Steph, Andy Hoult, John, and many others doing their stuff.  Congratulations to the two Toms for organising the evening.  

Yes, The Mashers took their traditional starting position………..   I’m more convinced than ever that it is a deliberate ploy by organisers to see us off by hoping that we’ll electrocute ourselves on the untested equipment. 
Yes, and again The Masher was joined on stage by John Statter who did another great job as wing man without any practice.  He’ll also be joining me at The Cannon, Worksop on St Patricks Night and at the Filey Folk Festival; we promise to do some practice before those Gigs.  

One really nice personal moment came at the end of the evening when Harry’s brother approached me. “I remember you when you played at the Rugby Club” he said, “you were crap”!  he went on “But hey you’ve certainly worked hard over the past seven years ‘cos the performance tonight was really very professional.”  

Sometimes people can be too kind.  

Not so lucky with post Gig comments were Cracktown this week.  

Cracktown are one of my favourite duo’s, in fact one that Harry would have appreciated to the full, best described as musical anarchists.  

They played a venue in Leeds on Thursday night in typical style, finding something to say that might make everyone in the audience challenge any pre-conceived or entrenched ideas they might have.   

My Reporter tells me that as a Band of pirates took to the stage Silver Fox popped out for an intake of nicotine to wind down.  He did not return. Indeed the King Rat made his apologies and Cracktown made a swift exit.  It seems a that one or two members of a Lesbian Group out that night, not listening properly to the lyrics of a song, had taken exception to the boys, and having Silver Fox isolated in smokers corner decided they would accost him!!  Fortunately it was only Silver Fox’s top hat that took the brunt of their anger and apparently now boasts the Street Cred scars of audience engagement. 

A warning to us all of the dangers we run when on the edge of social comment. 
To find out what might have upset said audience head off HERE and listen to a few of Cracktown’s ditties.

My Leed’s Reporter tells me that a number of venues in Leeds, even in the student quarter are being populated by a Fascist Group called “Blood and Honour”, I thought this worth passing on.  

Reports from the Doncaster Folk Festival Fund Raiser last Saturday by contrast were fantastic.  There was a packed house for Flossie Malavialle, Fyrish, Paul Pearson + others.  A super evening doing a great job to raise funds for the Doncaster Festival, which I am told is suffering from a cut back in Local Authority spending on the arts.

And talking about Art.  I’m not sure if I’m flattered or not by the use of my portrait as a backdrop for Florin’s Gig at Dada’s.  While I think that the artist has managed to get the proportions fairly spot on I’m not convinced about the likeness to my facial features – and of course the hat is missing. 

Planning on the Festivals carries on relentlessly.  More folks have been recruited to the team and new Partners dragged screaming into the events.  There will be much more next week on this if not a full Blog later in the week on it’s own to point you into the right direction.  In the meantime follow these links to find out what the hell I’m talking about.  BannersHigh FestivalSlamfest Rotherham Busking DayRotherham Open Arts FestivalFringe.

We’re still looking to add a keen and very affective FUND RAISER to join the team.  From the early sums I’ve done this will be a very critical position.  If anyone would like to have a chat about it just Email me HERE

Now, while I do have a fairly good knowledge of local Acts etc., it’s not encyclopaedic.  I don’t know everyone.  So it’s disappointing when people take the huff because they have not been “invited” to take part in Events.  Please be assured that we have an open house policy – to be included simply Email me – that includes any of the Festivals or any of the events run by Acoustic Rotherham.

A Band that I hope will be featuring during our activities is of course Pocketful of N’owt, mentioned here because this week has seen the launch of their Web Site HERE and of course their outing at The Bridge next Saturday night where they will be supported by a bevy of poets including ROMP’s very own Gav Roberts.

We’re moving into what on paper looks like a very busy opening to Spring.  The March Diary Page HERE seems to get longer everyday with new events being added daily.  

This week though the Old Market Gallery Exhibition of Rotherham Graduate Art, “Repercussions” will come to an end, still time to check it out on Thursday and Friday 10am – 4pm.  

However, you may also like to take a look at the opening Exhibition of the ROAR Gallery in the Imperial Building, with the title “One” which starts on Thursday evening with a viewing between 6pm and 8pm.  The Gallery will be open Monday to Friday, in The Imperial Building from 10am – 5pm.   Another exciting development for Rotherham Arts. 

Out of Rotherham, but very much on the radar, based in Hillsborough is the Cupola Contemporary Art Gallery who are running a series of late Winter Workshops at their premises.  Last week they ran a very successful Book Making Workshop, and coming up is Animation and Film Making.  To find out more head off HERE

Also a bit out of our geographical area but nonetheless important, we’ve put up the March poster for the Acoustic Circus events on the Diary page.  Just a pointer to acts who may be looking for an outlet for their music The Acoustic Circus run a lot events throughout West Yorkshire and will always give new names a go.

A reminder that Highlighting History Festival  takes place next weekend at venues around Sheffield.  Starts Friday, when Tina, Matt + will be performing their “A Poor Prospect: Tales From The Workhouse” Folk Theatre – check out where and when and all the other Festival events HERE

I know many of you have been worried about Roy Blackman. Yes unfortunately he has not had the best of Winters with regard to his health which has meant that he has not felt fit enough to get out to the Folk Clubs as he would normally have done, especially with his CD to sell now.  I’m sorry to say that Roy still is not at fully fit so it’s going to be at least another week before we’ll see him out and about.  For those who are growing impatient about getting their hands on one of his CDs you can buy it on line HERE which will also give you a direct line to the additional tracks available in two Zipped packages.  Your CD will be signed, as I have stash of signed CDs ready to go. 

I can assure people that Roy is improving and will soon be back in full swing.   We are holding off a launch Party and a full media assault until he is fully fit.

It’s that time of the year, yes, this week will see the start of the Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival where many of our local Bands will be playing while the good men of Rotherham sample the Real Ale on offer.  One hopes that it will all be a little warmer than last year!  But I doubt it.  From the music programme there appears not be an Acoustic Stage, but I’m sure there has to be somewhere.  But I can assure you there’s plenty of top local talent on show, with View From S62, Rawmarsh’s finest, seemly playing on each night.  Hard work lads so the very best of luck to you.  All details about the Festival can be found HERE

For The Masher this week it’s Nellie Folk on Monday preceded by a host of meetings, so I will be interesting to see if the body can hold up.  Nellie Folk Rotherham's top Monthly Session Club for Folkies, at The Bridge, Rotherham.

And we shouldn’t forget to remind folks that this month see’s ROMP become a two a month event.  The Bridge (Traditional) ROMP is this Friday (the first Friday of the Month) 2nd March and the new event will be at SNAFU on the third Wednesday of the Month 21st March.  Keep in tune with goings on in Poets Corner HERE or the ROMP Facebook Page HERE

So with the usual reminders that the full Club and Session listings can be found on the Dairy HERE, David Kidman Reviews HERE, and the best way to keep up with everything going on is to be on our mailing list – just fill the form in on the right of the Blog (Blogspot) or on the Acoustic Rotherham Home Page HERE  or if you also want to have the squalid Masher comments then Facebook is the place to find us HERE - I shall leave thee to enjoy your week. 

Have great fun, and whatever you are doing this week, support the local Arts and music scene and KEEP IT LIVE. 

Monday, 20 February 2012


It’s been a busy week.  Not sang a note, but nonetheless extremely busy, with so many things coming together. 

On Wednesday I boomeranged on the 108 from one meeting to another.  The morning meeting of the Consultation Group helping to formulate the new Rotherham Arts Strategy started to work their way through what we hope will be the final draft.  

The Strategy is looking good from my perspective and once the final Aims and Objectives have been homed we’ll have a template from which all Arts organisations and Promoters will be able to use and work to. 

And the Group have an opportunity for a budding Journalist or pro who might like to volunteer some of their time to Rotherham Arts.  We’re looking for someone to write stories about Rotherham Arts for submission to the Media.  

After a discussion about publicity and the sometimes negative approach to the Arts given by our local media it was generally thought that is we could find someone to do more than the usual Press Release, and gear stories individually to the needs of the various titles we might have more success at getting our positive messages about Rotherham Arts into the public domain.

Speaking for myself I’ve found the Meetings of the Strategy Group really interesting, I’ve learnt so much about the Arts in Rotherham; above all as a source of Networking and Meeting people from across the Arts scene from Volunteers to Festival Organisers it has been invaluable.  

That also goes for ROAR. And it was to the ROAR AGM that I made my way on Wednesday evening.  The Development of ROAR has been nothing short of fantastic, in just a few years the organisation has managed to establish itself at the centre and a focal point for Rotherham Artists. 

If you want to find out what ROAR is all about then head to their Web Site HERE

This year’s AGM reflected the development, and dare I say it was nice to hold the meeting in a nice warm room at Westgate Chambers.  Well done Liam for getting the double glazing and heater in. 

The opening of Westgate Chambers in December 2011, providing affordable studio space to artists of all genres and a fantastic rehearsal space is itself, and financed locally and by The Peoples Millions.   

We were also treated to a talk from one of the people who have found ROAR’s facilities and help useful.  A cleaner for the Council Bernadine Stocks is developing a fine reputation for herself as an artist in Rotherham has a unit in the Imperial Building which is part of the ROAR estate.  

It’s so good to know that the ROAR units are all fully taken, and that there is only one studio left in Westgate Chambers to be Let. 

The appointment of Matt Butt as Development Officer will also be of major importance to Rotherham Artists searching for funding or advise about marketing etc.  Matt took up his post in December 2011, and by the end of 2012 is bound to be making an impact besides being a familiar face around Rotherham events. 

The AGM also noted the considerable contribution that Karen Sherwood made to the development of ROAR in her role as CEO which she left in January of this year.  Taiba Yasseen has stepped in as acting CEO, to oversee discussions about a bid under the Creative People and Places Fund which needs to be completed by the end of April. 

New members to the Board of ROAR are Kathleen Fletcher, Gave Roberts and Tair (but only on the basis that he continues to supply the Board with Cakes).  

Now more about the Acoustic Rotherham projects for the year. 

First up will be “Rotherham Banners High” Saturday 2nd June and perhaps running into Sunday 3rd June.  Banners High will be highlighting Art as a statement of “protest” illustrated by a series of events.  I’m sure the significance of the date will not be overlooked……….. 

We hope to encourage the involvement of the Rotherham Trades Unions, and the mass ranks of the Left to come together for a March around Rotherham using the Coalition Cuts as the focal piece of the Demonstration.  

There will be key note speakers, presentations, exhibitions, and lyric Workshops and more. 
On the evening of the 2nd June there will be a Rock Concert. 

We’re hoping to make the day / days seamless and offering a range of events for people to visit or part-take in.  

If you have any ideas for what might be included then please get in touch.  There will be a page on the Web Site very soon but in the meantime Email me HERE putting “Banners High” in the subject box. Site page HERE

At the end of July “Slamfest” will be making what I hope will be début for the event. July 21st – July 29th

This will be mainly a Festival of the written word, be it a song lyric, poem or a full blown Novel.  

It will feature short plays written by Rotherham writers, Comedy, and Workshops / Presentations.  

It will also incorporate a Battle of Bands featuring the very best of, and perhaps not so hot local Bands.
It will also incorporate The Myke Barritt Music Trust Birthday Bash on 27th July, a day long event of session music, poetry culminating in the coming together of Myke’s Bands, The Rawmarsh Mashers, Earth Tales etc.  

Plus of course on the 29th July Acoustic Rotherham 16 at The Queens, Rawmarsh, for a full afternoon of emerging and established local acoustic talent. 

There is a Web Page for this Event HERE where you’ll also find the contact details to include your event or suggest what you would like to see going on during this week long celebration of local writing talent. 

The Rotherham Busking Day will be Saturday September 29th.  Once again we plan to flood Rotherham Town Centre with the sound of music from 11:00am until 3:30pm – and beyond if people are for it.

This year, because of the longer planning time we’ll be looking to get organised a little better and have many more acts joining us, especially as the earlier date should mean that we will not be frozen to our guitar strings.  

I’ve created a Web page HERE where you can contact me about inclusion in this year’s event, and where details will appear as the Day develops.  

This will be the launch of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe.

Yes, plans for the Official Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe are already underway, and this year we aim to make it bigger and better than ever.   Running from 1st – 31st October 2012.
Plans for a series of Rock Concerts throughout the Borough, featuring Rotherham Bands are being made.  These will be in addition to what we hope will be our series of Acoustic presentations at the Old Market Place Gallery.

Workshops – writing projects and much more are all in the early stages of development.

Once again a Web page has been created.  We want your input into what you would like to see as part of the Fringe Festival and or your input in the form of Events that can be included as part of the month long programme.   The Web page is HERE

While I’m drawing together a creative team to help deliver all of the above events, and seeking out Partners, please do not wait on ceremony for me to contact you or receive a gold edged invite to become involved.  We genuinely want you, be it artist, organiser, or just someone interested in a particular form of art to get involved, and may your views known. 

While it may seem that we have plenty of time, this is not the case, wide ranging Festivals take time to put together and market properly, so the real work starts now, and of course minimises the risk of high blood pressure in the final run up to events.

I’d also say that it is not Acoustic Rotherham’s intention to step on toes.  We are not seeking to take the World over or go against any notion of democracy that some might have.  For too many years I’ve sat in Meetings listening to some great imaginative ideas, and more often than not nothing has happened; and where something has gone off it has been of poor quality not showing off either the professionalism of artists or Rotherham’s ability to put stage quality Festivals

Already we are involving genres often overlooked as being part of the Arts scene and we’ll be seeking to involve more.

What we are doing is setting time lines (Facebook users will hate that term)and general conceptual frames within which every Arts Group in Rotherham can programme.  We ain’t twisting arms, we are not excluding anyone if you want to be involved then this is your chance to programme Events, and benefit from the mass publicity that we will be seeking to generate for the various Festivals.

Of course Funding for these events will be critical.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to go down the FREE to all road that Acoustic Rotherham has famously used in the past.  Some events will have to be pay events, to cover the cost of the venue and to make sure that our artists get rewarded as they should be, not just for their appearance but for the hours of practice and experiment that goes into creating the finished products presented to the public.

There will be a pricing structure which will be set after proper consultations for each of the main Festivals above.

And that is as far as I can go that this moment in time.  I have another round of meetings with individuals from various possible Partners and an important next Monday at ROAR after which I may be in a position to say a little more.   Early, very early in March I hope to be able to call together everyone so that any misunderstandings etc., that may still be out there can be cleared and we can move on to start creating these worthwhile events.

These are exciting times on the Rotherham Arts scene, as more artists come out of their workshops, studios, rehearsal rooms, back bedrooms and make their faces known.  If we are to really cash in on this Renaissance and build firm foundations upon which our Arts Community can grow and thrive then we must strike while the iron is hot.  And we’ve got some really hot things happening outside of what I’ve talked about above.

Which brings me nicely to a person who has already committed some her valuable and scares time to helping Acoustic Rotherham.  Tina Mckevitt.  I’ll be honest, not having from Tina for nearly a month I was getting rather worried, especially as it seemed Emails were going unanswered and telephone calls not returned.

Eventually Tina broke through the communications barrier; I think she was shopping at the time and probably her only time to chat.

Rally exciting news though as she has been working with Matt her musical maestro, and a new member of the cast, Kathleen Jordan on her historic music and words presentation “A Poor Prospect: Tales From the Workhouse” for which there is a full performance in two weeks time on the 2nd March at the Foundry in Sheffield as part of what looks like to be an excellent Festival, “Highlighting History”.   You can find the full Brochure for the event HERE, there’s something for everyone with events throughout Sheffield.
Break a leg Tina.

Of course we’ll be looking to present this fantastic bit of South Yorkshire work at one of our events if not all………

Someone who will be playing a key role throughout “Slamfest” is Roy Blackman.

Unfortunately, Roy has not been enjoying the best of health over the Winter and has not been getting out as much as he would like.  However, he will be making three appearances this week.  On Monday he will be at the Darnall Writers Club; Tuesday he’ll be hosting the Handsworth Folk Club at the Cross Keys, Handsworth where Paul Pearson is the main guest and on Wednesday 22nd he’ll be joining a host of Rotherham’s finest at the Woodlands Club, Clifton, Rotherham (it’s opposite the new Mosque) to celebrate the life of one of Rotherham’s favourite sons Harry Darkson who died in February of 2011.  Ray Hearne, Andy Hoult, Dave Oldroyd, Stephanie Little, The Rawmarsh Masher plus a host of others will be providing the music in what promises to be an excellent evening for Charity.

Facebook friends will not have missed this week’s flavour of the week, the Governments “Workfare”  programme, and how some Multi-National Companies have been using it to increase their profits.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for real training for work, but this Government programme is nothing short of near slave labour.  People are forced into the work place to fill shelves or break down cardboard boxes in many of top retailers with minimal training and for nothing more than their benefits; an hourly rate well below the National Minimum wage.

Tesco appears to be the Company taking most of the flack if only because they are bare faced about it, by actually advertising jobs with a wage at Benefits levels. 

These schemes are supposed to get people into work, and besides being threatened with having their benefits stopped if they refuse to take a placement, the poor soul is told that there is a good chance that they will be offered a job at the end of the set period.  Of course it’s hard to find anyone that may have been offered a job this way, indeed most people on asking are told by the likes of Tesco “why should we take you on? I can get as many people as I like for nothing.”

This all comes at a time when apparently British Industry is saying that they cannot find workers with the skills they need.  Indeed Digby Jones believes that at least 10% of our unemployed are completely unemployable.  My very simple question would be, where are the Apprenticeships?  Where are the Training Programmes?  It’s my belief that British Industry only has itself to blame, their lack of investment in “people” has failed us all, not just the Companies that need the skills.

One really wonders just how many of the four hundred skilled jobs that are to be created at the new Rolls Royce Factory at Catcliffe will actually go to Rotherham people.

This is yet another reason why we need to have a thriving and outgoing Arts scene in Rotherham.  Involvement in the arts can help to give people confidence, build skills, self-motivation and training; it can also provide stimulation for debate and discussion, and an environment that people can be proud of.  Can we not fail to be proud at the difference we’ve seen in All Saints Square area and in particular the new gardens that run around the Minster area.

Keep an eye on the overall debate.

My goodness we’re in danger in turning this into a bit of a preachy Blog…………….

I’ve already covered many of the major highlights of this week while bringing you up to date with Roy Blackman’s activities of the week, important as they are should you be looking for a Roy Blackman CD.

However, Ash Wednesday will bring you Hillsborough Ballads at The Burton Street Foundation, and Storm Trees are playing live at Delaneys in Sheffield.
A  new or newish Open Mic for Thursday has been created at The Castle Bar in Conisbrough, while on Friday it’s The Bar Stewards Sons, Acoustic Cabaret at Thawleys in Wombwell.

Plus all the usual weekly and monthly Clubs and Sessions.

And as we move into March there are just so many great things happening, I seem to get more landing in my Inbox every day.  If your event / Festival is missing then get in touch.

You can find it all HERE

I try to keep you up with news of what our Acoustic Rotherham friends are to.  So it’s great to see that Steve Chapman-Smith, he with the big voice of The Troubadors has a solo Web Site devoted to some his great music and all his activities around Yorkshire.  Check it out HERE

I’ve a whole pile of links that I need to check out for the Blog and I hope I’ll be able to update you in next week’s Blog.

A bit of a heavy marathon this week, so I think I’ll end it all now.  Watch out for any updates in Thursday’s News Email.

Monday, 13 February 2012

OUT!! / News Round Up / What's Coming in 2012 from Acoustic Rotherham

A lovely week, I got out from behind the desk!!

Yes thanks to the good services of friends I was able to escape Masher Towers, work around the Bus Strikes and sing one song……………..   wow! But more importantly meet up with some smiling faces in two fantastic atmospheres. 

Tuesday, thank to Mark Hearne, it was to the Red Lion that I was taken. 
I have to say that the down stairs Lounge Bar setting certainly allowed for a more intimate atmosphere, and the acoustics were fantastic. 
It was another fantastic turn out, with the regular faces (or usual suspects) being supplemented with Mark Hearne who gave a short and very entertaining guest spot, Ciaran Boyle, Paul and Liz Davenport, Roy Blackman, Rob Slow, and a host of folks too many to name; oh and of course The Masher. 

Have to say that I do love Mark Hearne spots, you simply never know what you’re going to get.  Such a pity that we don’t see more of him. 

The Red Lion Club, Braithwell, meets the first Tuesday of the Month, and for you singers and players out there is well worth a visit.

Friday found me hidden a way, squeezed in nicely at The Bridge for the monthly ROMP Poetry Open Mic, having found a way around the lack of public transport.  Thank you Paul.
Another success.  Who would have thought that in Rotherham we could pack rooms out with so much talent and creativity.  It’s simply such an inspirational atmosphere all made possible of course by Gav Roberts the evenings MC and Leader of the pack.

Again I say to folks, if you’ve not experienced a ROMP evening you really do not know what you are missing, great atmosphere, brilliant entertainment, and as Gav would say, beer!

REMEMBER ROMP IS MOVING TO THE FIRST FRIDAY IN THE MONTH IN MARCH – so as to allow space for the new gathering with music at SNAFU which starts later in the Month.

Eventually Roy and I got together, CDs were signed and the pre orders sent out.  Roy is still feeling a bit under the weather so his tour of Clubs will not get seriously underway until next week, however, he will be heading towards Crooks this coming Thursday and will have a limited number of CDs (they are quite heavy to carry in bulk) with him.  If you bought one and want it signed he’ll be happy to oblige, he says.  Details of the guest and the excellent programme at The Princess Royal Club can be found HERE

DON’T KNOW ABOUT ROY’S CD?   “Roy Blackman – Rotherham’s Man of Memories” now available for the fantastic price of £9.99 with two free down load packages of eleven further tracks of studio recordings.  You need to go HERE

The first Review of the CD is now in.  David Kidman has passed his ear over the CD many times, and has produced a prolific Review that has to be read.  Find it HERE

The Acoustic Rotherham Web Site continues to grow in popularity.  This week we shot through the 20,000 hits mark which is excellent News.  It means that people are checking out the Clubs / Sessions and above all the brilliant music that is on the Acoustic Rotherham Player that features so many of the Artists that go to make up the lively music scene across Yorkshire.  

Sometimes I think that I cram far too much information onto the site, but not to do so would defeat what we’re trying to achieve, which is to provide a one stop resource for everyone involved in what can loosely be said to be the Grass-Roots Music scene, from beginner to the regular Gigger. 

Focus has been a bit of a problem for me recently, or is it idleness, but I will get the rest of the site over to the new format as soon as I can, honest. 

While on the Internet stats, I’m pleased to say that readership of our Weekly News Blog has now returned to well over one hundred a week.  It’s been a long way back after Myspace destroyed the RSS links to the Blog which had a regular readership of near on two hundred a week.  But we are getting back our readership and that is all that is important. 

But joining us on the Friends Page is our new friends Keystone Acoustic HERE who have discovered the joys and later the frustrations of Reverbnation HERE  

We do recommend that anyone looking to get their music out there into the World that they join both Facebook and Reverbnation, if nothing else it ensures that if you are Googled that the listing will appear at the top of page one.   Not only that but if you’re a Acoustic Rotherham friend then you get to go on the Acoustic Rotherham friend page, WOW!!
One for you visual artists out there, an opportunity to have your work shown in a Virtual Gallery for FREE. The Chester Chronicle has made this feature available on their Web Site, which looks one of the better local paper sites that I’ve seen.  Go HERE to find out all about it. 

I’d draw your attention to The Lost Chord Charity, which uses the power of music to help people suffering with dementia, you can find their excellent local programme of events HERE  

Vicky’s Vintage, Vicky Hilton’s craft and art trading business is moving into the Vaults Arts, Crafts and Vintage in Sheffield  (442 Abbeydale road, Sheffield S7 1FR) from next Saturday.   If you’re over in Sheffield why not pop in and see her in all her glory.  Details of where to find her can be found HERE 

Great friends of Acoustic Rotherham HICKS and GOULBOURN (Steve Hicks and Lynn Goulbourn) did a gig last weekend at The Lutherhaus in Osnabruck, Germany. The concert was videoed and is scheduled to be podcast at 8.00pm on Monday 27th February. To see this free podcast you'll need to pre-register HERE and they'll forward an access code. (There'll be a Union Jack somewhere on the page so that you can read it in English if you need to.) Steve and Lynn will be online ready and willing to chat at the end of the podcast. It'll be great to meet you there! 

Toein’ in The Dark played to a packed Chesterfield Labour Club on Friday night.  I’m told it was a fantastic evening as they helped to celebrate the Iron Real Iron Ladies, who were the real strength behind the 1984-85 Miners Strike.  It’s so good to see recognition again being given to these women who gave so much in supporting their men during that inglorious period of our Social History.   Many of the women went on to play leading roles in the social reconstruction after the Thatcher’s Pit closure programme decimated South Yorkshire / Derbyshire / and Nottinghamshire communities. 

Good news for the local music scene.  The Chequers at Whiston, following the success of a few Open Mic sessions are now to make it a regular feature of their entertainment programme.  The first Wednesday of each month.  You can find the details on our Diary pages HERE for March. 

And good news to for local Band Soulmates, as the local Charity Concert they are a part of at The Pastures has been SOLD OUT.  If you’ve not checked them out yet locally then I can recommend their lively performances.  Well worth getting to see them.  Check them out HERE  
Cupola Contemporary-Art has a fantastic series of Workshops, and there are still one or two places on them.  All ages and include animation, bookmaking and a lot more for only £5 for a full day.  You’ll need to get in quick so head HERE   for more details. 
It was fantastic to see Lucy Ward win the Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards.  I’m a great fan.  Not sure about the sometimes over produced recordings, but her live performances are something to kill to get tickets for.  She’s going to be everywhere following this win and for us Organisers will no doubt be a nightmare to book from now on.  However, I’ll be doing my best to get her to Rotherham for something during 2012.  Why not check out her modern protest song For The Dead Man HERE   Her Web Site is HERE 

While on the subject of the Folk Awards it was good to see Don Mclean singing and playing in the key of Masher during his first contribution.  It just goes to show that atmospheric effects on strings happen to us all!!  Poor chap.   

If the purpose of the Awards is to improve the profile of Folk Music then great, but perhaps the BBC should do more to address the axing of Folk Programmes on their Local Radio Network if they really would like us to take their interest in Folk Music seriously.  

And with just a one hour Programme on Radio 2 hosted by the brilliant Mike Harding who tries his best they really are not doing too much to help. 

And so what’s been bubbling under. 

Well I can say that real progress is beginning to made to make planned events actually happen.   It’s no secret now, but we have three major projects for this year.  Probably over the weekend of the Diamond Jubilee we’re hoping to put a Festival of Protest on, similar to Raise Your Banners the popular Bradford based biannual event.  In the last week in July a more Literary based Festival (name to be decided) is being planned, with local based Plays and Comedy plus music events.  Saturday 29th September will be this year’s Busking Day in Rotherham – should be slightly warmer – and then in October what we hope will be a fantastic Fringe to the Rotherham Open Arts Festival, with concerts in the Gallery and a lot more around the Borough.  OK that’s four major events. 

I have a fantastic creative team coming together from across the Arts with more to be invited.  If anyone would like to be involved on either the organisational side or the performance side, please contact me and we’ll keep you in touch with progress or invite you to the key Meetings. 

The week ahead holds all the usual sessions and Clubs and of course the Doncaster Comedy Festival is on-going as is The Repercussions Exhibition at the Old Market Gallery in Rotherham.  You can check it all out on the listings page HERE

Just a reminder that if you have a session or Club or an event not listed then please email me HERE and I’ll make sure it goes on the page.    

So there we have it for another week folks.  

Whatever you are doing this week have great fun, get out and support local music, and keep it LIVE.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Ranting into February / CDs / Great stuff to come

So the big news of the week is of course, the weather!

Once again disruption rules the land, planes cancelled, sporting fixtures cancelled, Bands unable to get to Gigs!, let alone audiences prepared to prise themselves from the warmth and comfort of their living rooms, or beds.

The good news is of course it’s here today (Sunday) and will be gone tomorrow (Monday). 
Well at least it has given the Coalition Spin Doctors a weekend off, for they have been busy folks poking Argentina, filling our screens with pictures of the Falkland’s, slowly cranking the rhetoric up against Iran and Syria in fact talking about anything except all the aggro in Parliament with the House of Lords or the real effects of the Bills that Government Whips are chasing through the Commons.  

Of course they have been helped on the way by Harry Redknapp’s argument in Court, a Government Minister feeling the full wrath of a woman scorned and of course a certain footballer was being stood down as England Captain.  

Despite all these important and critical distractions we should not lose sight of the new restrictions being put on the poor by what is being called Welfare Reform.   I understand the attraction of “capping” Benefits, but if we are to this then we must ensure that weakest in our Society are protected, and I don’t just mean sickest and most disabled, I also mean those who cannot speak for themselves, because they simply do not understand how the system works. 

What would of course be real reform is for the Welfare system to be simplified, some of the forms are just so complicated one needs a University Education to work out what information is being asked for!! And I’m still confused……. Lol     The last time I was sick all I did was send off a sick note and that was it, now, when you’re feeling at your lowest you are awarded with a form the thickness of a Bible to work through.   

And what’s all this business about not trusting a Doctors sick note anymore?  No!  if you’re off sick over an extended period off you have to go for someone else to diagnose what you already knew……  talk about doubling the cost of illness.  

OK, we all point the finger at people we suspect of playing the system, I suspect we all know one or two folks who have mystery illness that only seems to inflict them when called for medicals etc.  made worse when you see them climbing on roofs or doing heavy digging in the garden, or  sprinting for a bus, but I’m sure that a simplified system would find the “hook swingers” out faster and more effectively than  the current madness. 
Just a personal point of view. 

And while we are all debating as to whether we can all survive on £26K or not, remember what lies behind it, a whole raft of new regulations and systems designed to reduce expenditure, do not be fooled!! Or distracted. 

As to the NHS Bill.  Quite simply this needs to be stopped in it’s tracks immediately.  It’s total madness.   Why every Government thinks that giving Consultation and Management Companies Billions of NHS pounds to introduce new systems and ways of working is cost effective I really don’t know.  

Of course we’d all prefer the Government to concentrate on the one thing that really matters, which of course is getting the National Economy going and helping as best as we can to get our Trading Partners in Europe back on track.  

There were some other distracting stories this week.  I was struck by the Report that suggested we on the left are more intelligent than our friends on the right of politics.  But then we already knew we were more intelligent, and any actions or words from the Left that suggest that the Report might be wrong are obviously minor slips in the main scheme of things.  Didn’t see the Report go HERE  

And as if to prove it the Tory MP for Guilford decided to entertain us with her stereo typed image of the North, heavy drinking, chain smoking and spending all our time in bed breeding.  A bit frightening to think that this view of the North is still held firm by some who spend their lives South of the Watford Gap.  Of course I’ve tried to point out that we can no longer afford to drink or smoke, and the reason we’re in bed is to stay warm, thanks mainly to her idiot friends in the City and her Comrades in Government.  Check for the story HERE   

Interestingly both stories from the Daily Mail!!

And this is not a Party Political Broadcast for the Labour Party.  None of our Political Parties seem to have any answers, mainly because they are not prepared to think outside of the market and Capitalist Box.  All our major Parties are keen to tell us what they can’t do, rather than what they will do.

Well’ it’s been sometime since my last political rant. 

And of course a Political Rant is my own smokescreen to cover up the fact that it’s been a strange and quiet week.

I say quiet, Friday was a bit of a nightmare.  I turned the computer on to discover that the Web Site had been suspended!!  It took a few hours to get hold of someone at the Host, but we got there in the end.  

I was not best pleased to discover that the site had been reported for carrying inappropriate content, and given the current sensitive atmosphere around Web issues and content my Host has a policy of act first then find out.   Not helpful, but I can see why.

It turned out that the complainant, Mr Anony Mous, was being directed to certain mainline Genre that made the Web so famous, and found this hurt their sensibilities.  The problem for me was that none of my links, as far as I know, will take the viewer to such exotic content.  

The solution turns out to be a reminder to all of us to make sure that we have all the correct Protection in place.  The complainant had picked up a germ that had corrupted his / her Browser.  

There are a lot of such viruses etc. out there so please make sure that you use a well-recognised Anti-Virus Programme and that you only download updates and new versions of standard programmes from the Official Web Sites.  

For the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site it’s all well that ends well. 

This week on the Web Site we’ve added two new poems to Poets Corner HERE from two of Rotherham’s finest, Carol and Christine.  I’ve also been finding more Festivals to add to the Festival page HERE and Diary listings HERE.  

It’s been a week when all the spies have reported being cold, hence I don’t think they’ve been out much.

Roy Blackman has not enjoyed the best Winter as far as his health is concerned, and for a change has been behaving himself by enclosing himself in the warm.  This means that I have not yet been able to get Roy to Masher Towers to sign the CDs.  We are due to meet today (Monday) so fingers crossed.  It’s also meant that many of you who have been attending Roy events will have missed him and thus not been able to get your hands on a copy of the CD yet.   Orders can be taken on the Web Site HERE or you can simply wait until a member of the Committee or Roy himself hits your event / Club / Festival.
The CDs for the Press have been prepared and you should start to hear more about the CD in the media over the next couple of weeks. 

The Official launch Party date I’m hoping to sort with Roy later along with his programme of visits to Clubs.  I’ll publish all of Roy’s dates, health permitting, on his Reverbnation page HERE  I’ll also import the information to his Acoustic Rotherham page HERE

For media folks who may be reading this, Roy is available for personal appearances / interviews etc  please contact Richard at in the first instance.  Thank you. 

While we’re talking about the Bard of Rotherham, I thought some might be interested in a vacancy to work with School Children for a poet who works with the Yorkshire dialect.  You can find all the details HERE 

Despite the weather I’m told that the first outing of the Davenport Family has gone extremely well at the weekend as they warmed up (in more ways than one) for the Cheltenham Folk Festival next weekend.  Liz says “it’s rather loud” so if they have to use a PA my sympathies goes out to the engineer who has to balance it all up.  It’s brilliant that our local talent hitting Festivals out of the County you can find the link to the Festival on the Diary page HERE Gig listings and samples of their great sound can be found on Liz and Pauls Web Site HERE , and if I may be so bold, there is something very reminiscent of some of the early Copper Family tracks, but I need to hear more.  You can also find details of the Ciarán Boyle CD “Bright Flame”  on the excellent Web Site Hallamshire Traditions.   
Further North the latest edition of the Fool’s Gold News Blog is out and about packed with the usual great range of information HERE 

Those who can remember back to the dark days of 1973 / 74 might remember the imprisonment of 24 Trade Unionists who became known collectively as the Shrewsbury 24.  Amongst them was Ricky Tomlinson who later became more famous for his acting and comedy.  

Nearly forty years after the events Legal Appeals against the convictions of these men are to be mounted.  To help finance this a CD has been launched “Who’s Conspiracy”, containing eighteen tracks of political songs.  There’s also intro from Ken Loach and an outro from Ricky Tomlinson.  Tracks from all the top political song writers.  Full details HERE  along with details of other ways in which you can help the Campaign for Justice.

So to the week ahead.  Well you’ve probably guessed from the above that it’s been a bit quiet on the immediate local scene this past week, that’s not to say that there has been a lot of beavering going on under the surface.  I might have more news of that later this week.  However, this week is jammed packed again with good things, starting of course with Tuesday night’s  gathering at the Red Lion in Braithwell.  This looks as if it is building into a major night out, with many a fine musician in attendance plus a special guest spot from Masher guitar Teacher, Mark Hearne, who is always a treat to listen to.  Who knows, the Masher himself might even break free from his walls of confinement for an evening.  The Roy Blackman CD will be available.  

On Friday we have ROMP in the House at the Bridge in Rotherham, a fantastic night of Open Mic Poetry, and if you’ve not been along to sample one of these evenings, WHY NOT??   And the Roy Blackman CD will be available at this event, so bring thy cash!!
All the usual Clubs / Sessions etc  and you can find it all HERE

So with that and the feeling I have forgotten something important we’ll leave it for another week.  

Whatever you are doing this week have fun, support the local music scene and KEEP IT LIVE