Sunday, 25 March 2012

GREAT PROGRESS FOR ROTHERHAM ARTISTS / Updates / New music and Art Oh and so much more...

So a week of talk and developments after last week’s Irish singing Fest. 

Sad to say another of the RAE Team is currently out of action.  Tina McKevitt has been ailing with a virus which sounds really nasty affecting ear, nose and throat.  Good wishes Tina for a speedy recovery, we hope to hear you singing, and joining in on the discussions very soon.

Lisa Marie, the victim of the hit and run in Broom a couple of weeks ago is going through that really uncomfortable time when the bruising comes out and the pain kicks in.  The whole team send out their best wishes and trust that it will not be long before your hard-nosed negotiating skills are available to us once again.

A bit head scratching this week, as we attempted to secure a venue for The Banners High Festival.  We had hoped to secure the Old Market Gallery, but The Council had already press ganged the premises into use as part of the Mayor’s Diamond Jubilee Street Party.   The location would have been ideal placing the event at the centre of the Day’s activities.  Not to be though.

So with an empty wallet but considerable charm Mick was dispatched to seduce venue B into hosting the event, a great positive response, and we can announce that the day time activities for Banners High will be centred on The Rotherham Trades Club. 

This is a fantastic venue offering first class facilities in terms of accommodation and staging, and our thanks go to The Secretary for being so supportive.  In addition, if the venue proves popular one hopes that we might be able to place some events in Slamfest and the Fringe in the Club.

It does mean that we are a little tucked away from the Mayor’s Street Party, and considerable thought will go into how we can make our presence felt on the day.

Just to be clear about this.  Banners High is not about being spoil sports or about ruining the fun of those who wish to enjoy the hospitality of the Mayor.  However, we do think it is important to make the point that this is a Council who will be laying off 200 workers, cutting back on front line services, and in terms of the Arts will be making significant budget cuts.  Many people believe that under such circumstances that it is a little strange that a Labour Council should be spending Council Tax money to celebrate a Royal event.  We take the view that if Communities wanted to hold Street Parties etc., then these could have been accommodated and probably would have been of more significance in terms of bringing people together.  As it is, one might also argue that the Mayor’s event will distract from the local celebrations already being organised within the Communities, not to mention the Townships – I wonder how much money the Council be spending on them?

But we don’t want this to be the centre of the Day though.   Banners High is about how the Arts can be used as a positive tool of protest and regeneration of Communities and “self”.   That investment in the Arts can lead to jobs and massive economic benefit to Communities. 

So the Rally in the morning of Banners High will concentrate on “The Cuts” and how cuts that may seem insignificant can have a snowball effect by the time that they are translated into actuality when delivering services. 

The afternoon will be giving to some performances from some of the best Yorkshire talent, including music, theatre, comedy and poetry. 

And in the evening we’ll be having a rite knees up as Ed Tudor Pole heads a bill of local Rock talent at The Rotherham Titans Rugby Club.

You can find and view the details as they develop HERE

There will be a brochure printed for the event, and we’d like to feature some Art / poems from the Rotherham Community.  You can find the Email address to send submissions to HERE  We need submissions by 30th April 2012.

Rotherham Art Events took another step towards proper Constitution this week and three Members of the Team had a very constructive and informative meeting with SYFAB and Jane and I have been signed up for Funding Courses.

You can find an updated consultative Aims and Objectives for RAE can be found HERE

Yes we still need to fill that essential role in the Team.  Commercial Fund Raiser.  Emails and begging letters are not enough to recruit Sponsors and advertisers to the cause, we need to reach out, so it takes someone with a very confident personality to make it work.  You can find general details HERE

 This week I managed to get an opportunity to have a chat with Graham at Getsorted Music Academy about involvement in Slamfest and The Fringe.  It’s always good to have such whole hearted enthusiasm and support for the ideas being put forward.  As a result it’s great to be able to add Graham and Paul as members of the Team and Getsorted as a Partner.  

Considerable process is being made towards the formulation of Rotherham’s bid to the Creative People and Places Fund.  This week there was formal approval for ROAR, who have lead open weekly discussions at Westgate Chambers, about how the bid should be formulated, to take on the role of lead Organisation for the bid in Partnership with the Council and RotherFed who have been invited to help with Community engagement.

For those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about I’d advise you to head off to the Arts Council site HERE to discover more about what the CPP Fund is all about.  In short though, we can say that it is a one off opportunity to attract major funding for the Arts in Rotherham.

There are considerable opportunities for Artists and Arts Groups to get involved in the Community projects, and ROAR have put out an initial Pro Forma Form to help assess the skills and talent that might be available.  You can find the a link to the form HERE

Don't worry there will be plenty of opportunities in the months ahead to get your ideas and skills involved.

The task is a huge one, as those who go to the Arts Council page and or the form will discover, which is why the bid and if successful the delivery receives the full support of the Arts Community. 

Just a reflection, these brain storming type Committee Meetings leave me just a bit cold, one never feels that anything has been spotlighted or decided which leaves one wondering if time has been well spent.  I’m of the old school, saddo that I am; I like to see something concrete which can be amended.  There is of course the cynical side of me; so many fine words and intentions were spoken at the Meeting, it’s often the case, and I really hope that we can make it all happen. 

Which brings me nicely to the RMBC arts initiative the “ArtNav, Direction Finder for the Arts”, document, which is supposed to act as a strategy for the development of the arts in Rotherham from 2012 – 2015. 

This week the overview Document was signed off by the ArtNav Steering Group for presentation to the Council Cabinet.

Look out for it’s publication which should happen before the end of March.  “It has to be before the end of March” said Lizzy, “because I don’t have a budget for next year”.   A statement that sent a shiver down the spine, I just hope she was referring to the Document and not the delivery of what it contains.

The Document is a worthy one.  Many fine words and objectives.  So why do I feel that the glass is half full?  Maybe it’s because my limited experience to date of the Council has been one of muddled Committees and direction purpose.  I hope I’m wrong about this. 

The Meeting was great fun though giving us the opportunity to enjoy the luxury of the new Council Offices on Westside.  The Fort Knox of Rotherham, or so it seemed.  We had to sign in and sign out, were issued with little chipped badges that we had to wear that allowed us access to the lifts to the upper floors, (how much do they cost as they are all valid only for one day only?) and then there was the fun of finding our way around the various wings.  It’s an impressive building.  The fact that I am at my desk this morning is testament to the skill of our guide, without her I fear I may still be in the building somewhere.

And high tech!  wow all mod cons – isles of committee rooms with big screens allowing Power Point presentations and the like.  All state of the art, forgive the pun! 

Warning, if you are having to visit the new Council building for any reason allow time for queuing, it could take some time to get booked in.

It’s worth noting that the move has not been without casualty.  We’ve lost a performance area in the form of the small Library Theatre, which is a great pity, and exhibition space will be limited.  Another loss.  It’s ironic that we should loose the little Theatre at a time when we are crying out for modern up to date performance spaces. 

As I was held in barracks under armed guards following last Saturday’s excess and punishment to the body I’ve had to rely upon my spies out there to report in on the activities of the week. 

I’m told that it’s congratulations to the ROMPers for a successful first gathering at SNAFU on Wednesday night.  Exhausted by the day’s meetings I couldn’t make it myself, and I was really disappointed not to see any pictures of musicians sharing this event.  I think the next one is the 18th April, so let’s see if we can motivate one or two singers to play a tune or two.  

And it was a fantastic night at Crookes Folk on Thursday, where I’m told that man of Rotherham Memories, Roy Blackman, made a short appearance. 

You can buy Roy’s CD HERE

Finally on Saturday I’m informed that Crafty Jack put on an excellent show at The Bridge. 

For my sins I was sentenced to a Saturday night at home and chose to cook tea just in time to see Britain’s Got Talent.  There were few stand out acts, the Boys Only Choir from Wales were simply brilliant, Sam had a singing voice to kill for (many of us could learn from the difficult song he chose to deliver, it’s the difference between brilliance and mediocrity), and the big lad with his young lady, Jonathan and Charlotte partner were very good, although lacking that extra magic needed.

But those aside the standout performance of the night for me was the duo Barbara and Bradley, who one suspects must be the toast of their Home Town Poetry Slams.   The act consists of Barbara reciting her poetry to the accompaniment of dramatic music while Bradley, the description given was, danced around behind her.  It had to be seen to be believed.  So for the next ROMP night armed with my trusty cassette recorder, I shall recite poetry while John Statter dances behind me, it will be a miracle of entertainment and art. 

I thought Barbara’s parting shot was classic though, having been slatted by the Judges, she said to Ant and Dec on the way off, “you’d have to pay £90 million quid for publicity like that”.  Just brilliant.

Worth staying in for.

OK some great stuff has been going on this week media wise.  First to a brand new song from Wendy Arrowsmith,  “Six Boys” a tribute to the six young men killed in the Afghanistan incident a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a proper song of respect – I’m told that Wendy hopes to record it and have it out for digital download with all funds going to one of the Soldier Charities in the very near future.  In the meantime have a listen to it HERE 

And another of them North Yorkshire folky ladies has a CD coming out very soon.  Rebekah Findlay.  Her last album got fantastic reviews, and this one judging by her cruel taster video is even better and should rocket her into the main stream of must have acts.  Improvising Around the Sun will be out in April (I think) but check out the pre-launch video featuring extracts from the songs HERE  

I’d also bring your attention to a local digital artist, Karen Gilmore.  Here’s a very talented lady who has been struggling away on her own with no support and so far little recognition.  You can find examples of her work HERE, it’s gritty and real in my uneducated opinion, and on the basis of I know what I likes, I like it.  I hope we’ll be able to find a suitable Exhibition space for her work during Slamfest. 

I’d just add, please take the time to tell Karen what you think of her work and I know she would really love to feel connected to the Rotherham Art Community so touch base with her.

And so to the week ahead.  And I’m sorry it’s back to Art Administration again and questioning what we are doing within the genres to promote ourselves.  Next Saturday Folk21 will be holding the first of their Regional Days in Cleckheaton at The Music Rooms.  It promises to be an interesting day for Organisers of guest booking Folk Clubs, topped by a brilliant evening’s Showcase Concert, with some brilliant performers on the Bill.  You can check it out HERE

You will also find a Fund Raising Concert for Folk21 in Newhampton, unfortunately the 109 does not take me there!  But it’s another fantastic line up for a very reasonable price.

I’m holding my judgement about Folk21 at the moment, I’m still to be convinced that yet another nich Organisation is the way forward, especially one that is so limited in it’s scope, e.g. Guest Booking Folk Clubs.

And a busy week ahead locally.  It’s the monthly meeting of Nellie Folk on Monday at The Bridge, and reminder, a big reminder that it’s Open Mic Jazz at The Bridge on Wednesday night.  Two great opportunities to play a tune or two.

The Doncaster Pride Season kicks off with a launch Party next Friday, and we have of course it being the last Friday of the month the Doncaster Oen Mic Poetry event will be taking place at The Leopard. 

Check out all the usual regular listings and more coming your way this week HERE

So a rather full Blog this week………..   hope you made it to the end. 

And whatever you are doing this week, have great fun, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE.





Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hit and Run - And That's Just The Mashers Outing

Sore fingers this week, as cap on the Masher worked hard to bring the Irish songs up to speed ready for Saturday’s Paddy Day celebrations at The Cannon in Worksop.

And what a night it was.   Typically Mashers, with the usual round of technical hiccups, key clashing starts and those magic moments when everything comes together wonderfully.  It happened on at least three songs…………

The night’s deliberate mistakes were well crafted in lack of co-ordinated practice with poor John Statter who joined me for the evening again in his role of adopted Masher.  And typically a long sad story. 

We were supposed to have got together on Tuesday, however due to the financial embarrassment of my not being able to afford the bus fare into Town, 2p no longer covering a return trip mores the pity, I had to pull out.  Calling John’s mobile took me direct to Call Message and while I desperately tried to get hold of him it was not until he was installed at The Bridge and enjoying a post gym pint (John in the gym being an awful image) that he decided to turn his phone on!!!   I think it was deliberately, as I think it was his second pint when he turned the phone on.  In any event I was lambasted for having upset Yvon’s plans for a nice long afternoon walk in the sunshine…….    Personally I think she thought John had planned it all deliberately, even carrying three instruments!

We did get together on Friday morning courtesy of the road crew, that’s Barrie, and seemed to bash things through in 90 minutes, as we discovered.  The start of the Wild Rover was more than interesting, but I did get the timing right so the fact that John was in a completely different key shouldn’t have been noticed!  And my phrasing for McAlpines Fusiliers has never been right, hence the reason the song was avoided by The Masher in the past. 

But hey it was Paddy night and the Guinness flowed, so all the errors went unnoticed, didn’t they  Oh and there was an awkward moment when for reasons unknown at the time John’s mic started to feedback and then for some reason die.  The cause turned out to be the amp fairies, veterans of the PA will know exactly what I mean, the inexplicable movement of knobs.

It was funny though watching John adjust and attempting to sing and play banjo into what was a dead mic…….   My sick sense of humour I fear.

All in all a super night.  Once again The Masher has to thank the best Folk Roadies on the Road, Sue and Barrie, who not only get me to places safely; they also do all the lugging around of kit.  I really cannot thank them enough. 

I can’t say I will be that sorry to close the Irish song book for another year and move back to what I consider to be core Masher material, because I won’t.  I think it really is time to add a few new songs to freshen things up though, so watch out folk. 

The full picture Gallery from The Cannon Paddy Night Show can be found HERE  or on Facebook HERE

And boy, I was pleased to see all my friends out working on St Patrick’s Night; it really is good to see the Folkies being taken out of their box for the night.   From the Mashers – Billy and The Boys – Ceol – Mark Hearne – The Rogues and of course Jack’s Rake, our thanks to the Pubs for their support and just perhaps you should use us on more than just one night a year.  Hoho.

And so other things.

One of Rotherham Arts Events team has had her own problems this week.  Our Lisa Marie was walking home along Broom Valley when she was hit by a taxi that mounted the pavement.  The Taxi didn't bother to stop!!  Obviously once the adrenaline dropped and the bruises started coming out  the full extent of the injuries became clear.

Lucky to be alive in many respects, Lisa Marie is very uncomfortable at the moment.  The poor girl is not having the best of things at the moment, as she was already having to combat a serious injury caused by a medic that has prevented her from playing her Instrument.   So please spare a few good thoughts for her and we look forward to having her back in the RAE team very soon.

And if anyone heard any rumours about this hit and run incident please get in touch with Lisa who’ll tell you who to contact.   Thanks.

It’s been another busy set up admin week for RAE.  This coming week is again full of Meetings that will deal directly with the Organisation and funding of RAE, supplemented with ROAR, Art Networks, and Rotherham Art Strategy Meetings.  All good fun. 

However on the fun side of things.  Meetings this week with Jonathon from the Jazz fraternity and my friends in The Rotherham Against The Cuts group were both positive. 

This means we add Jazz to the growing list of music genres that will be featured during Slamfest and the ROAF Fringe

It also means that Banners High is virtually sorted.  Speaker invitations have been sent out and a tie in with the LPYS has been secured to join us on the day.  I still await confirmation from two Acts concerning the afternoon event, while tickets for both the full Festival and Rock Concert are beginning to be booked.  A positive I think.BOOK HERE

As a negative, it would appear that Rotherham Trades Council have dismissed involvement.  However, I’ve yet to make formal contact so will do so immediately.

I’ve also secured  provisional agreement from BBC Horizon Folk Award Winner Lucy Ward and the amazing Sheedyfrost to appear at the Fringe Festival in October.  Expect more attractive names to be announced in the months ahead.

At grass roots I’m pleased to say that Plays are hitting my Inbox!  Thanks so much, I know FOF Theatre will be thrilled with the excellent work submitted so far.  Remember the closing date for submissions is the 30th April.  If you’re not on the Internet you can post your submissions to Richard Millard, RAE, 26 Payne Crescent, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, S62 7JB. 

We are also looking for Poems  of Protest to be published in the Banners High Brochure.  Again we will need your submissions by the 30th April.   No prizes or anything, it’s all for the glory………..

While on Competitions.  Don’t forget to get your entries for the Wath Folk Festival “Silver Roots Award” on 5th May to me asap.  We have a very limited amount of time to run the showcase for us emerging oldies, and while entries will be taken on the day, I really do advise folks to declare their interest to avoid any disappointment.   Email HERE  £50 + Cup to the Winner, + Tickets to the remaining Concerts of the Festival – an excellent Prize for what we hope will essentially be a bit of fun.

Not forgetting the RAE call for entries into the Create an image for the Open Arts Festival in October carrying a £200 first prize, along with other Extras.  Closing date 7th July.

Quite a few balls in the air there then.

On Thursday evening I popped down to Rosehill Park, Rawmarsh, with Mac Masher in tow, to see the outside SPARKS presentation of films featuring some of local young people.  It was a really creative idea, with the films being projected onto the side of the lodge.  Baked potatoes and burgers were also on offer for this splendid evening.   Well done to all involved, which included Artists “The Collaborators” and Academics from Sheffield University.  The project was to highlight the social use of green open spaces.  A little more detail about the project HERE

So the week ahead.  Eagle eyed and regular folks using the site will be aware of a couple of corrections, but close to home I would just draw your attention that Ken The Hat’s Monday Session has moved to THE MARQUIS, Upper Haugh.  Close to Rawmarsh.  It’s easy to find on the main Barnsley Road.  This is a great session for folks looking to gain confidence with guitars etc, in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.  Be prepared to play a lot of As and B7s  - yes it’s where the Masher cut his teeth nearly ten years ago, and a group to which I will always be grateful.

Tuesday and Roy Blackman will be hosting what I call the Handsworth Folk Club, and my memory is as bad as Roy’s as I can’t remember who the main guest is this Month. 

It’s a busy Wednesday!!!   ROMP will be holding their first gathering at SNAFU, for an Open Mic Session.  Musicians are particularly welcome to this one as it’s Gav’s intention to use the SNAFU evening to cross fertilise poetry and music.  Everyone is welcome of course. 

Also on Wednesday evening at ROAR’s HQ in Westgate Chambers at 6;30pm there will be a meeting of the Rotherham Arts Network.  Anyone with a passing interest in the Arts is cordially invited.  This meeting will be concentrating on the progress of the CCP bid, which is the Arts Community’s immediate priority.  If anyone wants to say something about how money could usefully spent within Arts this Meeting is for you.

And Paul and Liz Davenport will be holding their Monthly Ballads Session at Burton Street, Hillsborough.  (Really must get to one of those).

Thursday programme is quite standard – in other words packed with places to sing and play, and on Friday Jakes Rake and Nowhere Fast are both out playing live.

On Saturday I would draw your attention to Varsity Slam at The Riverside in Sheffield, as a non-standard event. 

So plenty to get your teeth into for another week. All the details, events, Clubs and Sessions can be found HERE

As usual I suspect that I will have left something really important out, but I suppose there is a danger of information overload – at which point my brain might explode.

Whatever you’re doing this week, have great fun, support the local music scene and please keep it LIVE.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

It's All Going On - Want to be Part of it Read On Poets, Artists and Musicians

Live stuff first this week, and a query, why were there not more of you in The Bridge last night to listen to Swansong?

They are undoubtedly one of the stand out Bands playing the local scene.  They are regular Giggers around the South Yorkshire area and a little beyond.  And they would get a lot more Gigs, only, as one Promoter said to me, “they don’t have a following”. 

Last night I saw them play an energised first set at The Bridge, edgy, skilful and full on, covering rock classics to the more rocky Beatles numbers.  They performed like true troopers and professionals to a handful of listeners. 

So why might this be the case?  Indeed why is it that many of our local Bands find themselves not getting the recognition they deserve? 

My own view is that it’s down to “profile”.  The musicians who play in these Bands do so because they simply enjoy playing and sharing their music.  Swansong very much reflect this, no frills, nothing added, simply good wholesome rock and blues. 

But these days to get a following it would seem that there has to be an added extra, audiences are looked for added value when it comes to investing their time in following or turning out to listen to a Band. 

Take for example Leeds Pirate Band Seas of Mirth, OK the music might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they give much, much more, result, wherever they play, a near full house.

More locally the amazing Papa Legbas have by hard work and development of the Band’s character and staging have achieved the near impossible, popularity while playing their own songs, pulling audiences wherever they go.  It’s been a privilege to witness their growing fame.  But again the Band offer more that little bit of value added, be it the mix of instruments or the staging.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every Band should go off and develop silly things to do that might hold the attention of an audience, far from it, but what I am saying is that Bands do need to consider what their unique selling point might be.  What is it that they can do to create a following who will turnout in sufficient numbers to make a Band attractive enough to book on a regular basis or for Event Promoters to have at the top of their list for Booking into Festival events etc. 

And with my Promoters hat on, I know exactly how important this is.  If money is being invested then one needs to be certain that at least costs are going to be covered, which means Bands that attract an audience are always go to get first pickings.

As Artists of all genres discover, creativity and talent are not enough in a competitive market.  Luck and hard marketing graft is also required.

But let not this take away from a fine evening’s entertainment on one of The Mashers rare forays out this past week.   And if Jon’o thinks that the dark glasses and military hat will in some way disguise him enough to keep HMRC off his back, he can think again.  And to hear their great sound GO HERE

It was good to see ROMPers and other faces in the audience though and have a good chat with Karen, Swansong’s brilliant and attractive singer.  A Lady of many talents if ye go and search out the Web Site HERE

And another man of many talents got hold of the tunes on my phone last night, and the result……. He was clearly disappointed at what he found……

If you’ve not come across Chris Bilton’s work, go and take a look on his Facebook page HERE

But the BIG NEWS of the week is that Roy Blackman has declared himself fit.  It means we can now get down to being serious about promoting the CD.  “Roy Blackman – Rotherham’s Man of Memories”.   You’ll find Roy’s planned itinerary on his Gig list HERE.   PLEASE NOTEthis is not where Roy will be making “Guest Appearance”  it’s where he will be heading with a supply of CDs and the off chance that he might be offered a “Floor Spot”.

Roy’s CD is now also available via Amazon as an MP3 Download.  For reasons unknown it’s appearing only on their American site, I’m sure someone will tell me why, but hey, don’t let that put you off if you only want the songs or a song without the brilliant insert with all the lyrics.   His Amazon listing is HERE


Roy will be one of Guests taking part in the Words and Music Presentation as part of Banners High on the 2nd June.   We’re waiting for venue confirmation, but we have an excellent afternoons programme of music and Theatre developing.  I’m currently awaiting one or two final confirmations and then we will be able to publish the full programme. 

Tickets are already available for the full day HERE with a few special offers and the usual concessions.  You’ll also find opportunities to buy advanced tickets to each of the afternoon and evening sessions.  We’re expecting tickets to go quite quick so jump in quick and place your order.

Plans for Slamfest continue apace.   We have four key opportunities for people to get involved and take part in the event.

1.     1.  POEM IN PICTURES -   Get in touch with Vicky Hilton about this one.  It’s an idea that she and the afore mentioned Chris Bilton came up with.   Rotherham ‘s Artists are being invited to paint or sketch a picture including the words of a poem which we will Exhibit during the week.  It’s also our intention to continue this through to The Rotherham Open Arts Festival where the best will be selected for Exhibition throughout the month of October.    Contact Vicky HERE

2.    2. SCRIPT WRITING -  We’re looking for short scripts 15 – 30 minute max from writers to be performed by the FOF Theatre Company  in a 90 minute presentation during Slamfest.  Once again we intend to use the material during the Fringe of The Rotherham Open Arts Festival on a mini tour of the Borough.  If you want to enter your Play, Email the script HERE Closing date is the end of April.

3.     3.  FRINGE FESTIVAL CORPORATE IMAGE – This is a competition for Arts, Digital Artists and designers.  It’s open to anyone in South Yorkshire.  We require a full Corporate image for the Fringe Festival, a design that we can use on Posters, Communications etc. .  All entries will be exhibited during SLAMFEST and a winner selected on Saturday 28th July.  There’s a two hundred pound first prize and the top two entries will have an opportunity to exhibit a limited number of pieces during The Rotherham Open Arts Festival in October.   All entries must be submitted by 7th July 2012.

4.     4.  BANDS AND MUSICIANS – On Saturday the 28th July we intend to flood the Pubs and outside areas of Rotherham with music.  If your Band or act would like to be involved with this then contact Mick Hill HERE 

Keep your eyes peeled because there may well be other opportunities to take part.

All details of the above can also be found on the Slamfest page HERE

Following on from last week’s Blog Rotherham Arts Events now has a TAB on the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site.  You can find a very general introduction to what it’s all about and Team as it stands at the moment.

You’ll also find more detailed Role descriptions for the two key posts that we are seeking to fill at the moment, the most important of which is the role of COMMERCIAL FUND RAISER.  Check it out HERE

Any questions about RAE or any of the Events Email HERE

There will be no sitting back as we seek to produce some quality events.

Just a reminder that time is running out to get your name down for consideration to take part in the Wath Folk Festival “Silver Roots” Competition on Saturday 5th May at The Red Lion, Wath.  2:00pm.  A chance for emerging, if that’s the right word, over 45’s to go through their paces for a £50 prize and tickets to the remaining main event of the Festival.  Yes….. and a Cup.   A lap of honour of Wath upon winning is also mandatory, so you had also better be fit.  EMAIL HERE or HERE putting “Silver Roots Entry” in the Subject line.

Our good friends from Malvern, that’s Worcestershire, have a super new CDEP out “Nothing to Declare”.  You’ll find some fantastic original rockin’ blues, so nip over to their Web Site HERE and sample the great sound on offer.  Best of all it’s cheap…….. ish.

I was pleased to see that Cairan Boyle’s CD Launch at The Riverside last week was a fantastic success.  There’s some great a great clip that you can find HERE  and to find out how to get your hands of a copy of the CD you’ll need to go HERE

I’m sure I’m missing something important, but time presses on so we’ll head towards the good things coming this week. 

For those who live on the other side of the Hill in that other County, this week sees the start of the Manchester Irish Festival, which of course is giving our mate Dom Collins every excuse to drag out all his aged Irish jokes!    This year’s Festival looks to be as lively as ever with Parades and fantastic Celtic Music throughout. 

And of course there is the full range of activities throughout the week, and no lesser day than the 17th March, next Saturday, when The Mashers will be heading to The Cannon in Worksop, The Rogues will be doing their thing at SNAFU in Rotherham, and Mark Hearne makes his Annual pilgrimage to The George and Dragon at Wentworth.   You lucky, lucky people. 

You can check all the details out HERE on the Diary pages.

And of course, we’ve added more Festivals to the Festival page, there are more links on the Resources Page.

And thank you to all.  Last week the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site had a record number of hits for a non-event / controversy week.  Please keep spreading the Word, especially now that it has won Universal Approval as it now can be read on Phones, Ipads, Laptops and desktops.    We love you all.

So whatever you are doing this week, have a great one, enjoy yourselves and please support local music, especially next weekend, and KEEP IT LIVE.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

UPS DOWNS TWISTS AND TURNS - Great nights had and many still to come.

It’s been what might be described as a “busy” week.  Started off with a near clear Diary but it all got a bit silly. 

But let’s start with the fun things.  

Monday Night was Nellie Folk day and what a fine evening we had.  There was a slight change to the evening’s format, as a one off, and I’m all for ringing out the odd change here and there.  Acting as the filling in the sandwich of some rather lively performances from all the usual suspects came a twenty minute interlude where we were treated to extracts from Tina McKevit and Matt Hegarty’s Folk Theatre, “A Poor Prospect: Tales From The Workhouse”. 

And what a treat it was too.  In words and music Tina and Matt brought nineteenth Century Britain to life, highlighting the plight of the poor at the time faced with the stark choices of work, crime or the Workhouse.
We only got selected highlights and I’m now biting at the bit to see the full production.  I’m just waiting on full confirmation that they will be doing the full show at Banners High Rotherham Festival on the 2nd June.  

My congratulations to Rob and Roy for having the courage to allow an extended slot to Tina and Matt in what is generally a singer’s environment.  You know what they say, a change is as good as a rest. 

It was another fantastic turnout to, and it was a pity that not everyone got a chance to do their songs, but hey, even if there had not been an extended spot, time would have still have been pressing, so perhaps those who complained should appreciate what was a fine evening of the best folk in Rotherham. 

And it was another fine evening at the other end of the week, on Friday at ROMP.  The Spoken Word and Poetry troops turning out in their numbers again with a whole host of new readers coming in from the South Yorkshire area to supplement the fine Rotherham grown talent. 

It really is fantastic the Rotherham Open Mic Poetry evenings are proving so popular and so brilliantly presented by Gav Roberts.  So popular have the evenings become that March see’s the launch of a second Monthly evening at SNAFU on Wednesday 21st.  

Better news still was the experimental Show on Saturday night featuring old friends Pocketful of N’owt at The Bridge.  This was a very brave evening to put on at The Bridge for a Saturday night.  Well outside the norm of things with the music of Pocketful of N’owt being supplemented by Poems from local hero Gav Roberts and two great performing Poets from Hull, Mike Watts and Joe Hakim.  

Early reports from the spies, The Masher having been confined to quarters because of the busy week, inform me that the evening was a great a success.  So Masher caps off to Mike O’Brian for being so brave.  We certainly need more of this innovation in the presentation of the arts. 

The Mashers will be having a busy May Day weekend.  On the Sunday we’ll be playing at the “Three Sheets To The Wind” venue at Filey.  Another box ticked…………. Lol  But the highlight of the weekend, even surpassing a day out in Filey is to be invited to join in the fun of The Wath Folk Festival.  

The Committee have very kindly invited me to oversee the goings ons at Wath Folk Festival Silver Roots Competition.  This is a competition for emerging talent in the over 45 category, and carries the handsome prize of £50 + a Cup + tickets the remaining Festival Events.  A fantastic prize for having a great afternoon.  The Competition takes place at the Red Lion in Wath on the 5th May starting at 2:00pm.  We have only a very limited time though, we must be finished by 3:45pm, so places will be limited.  I’ll be putting together a small judging panel which will include The Masher, so you can bet that “entertainment” value will be high up the list of criteria, as will technical ability and creativity. 
If you would like the opportunity of taking part in this Competition then please Email either Acoustic Rotherham HERE putting or the Wath Festival HERE putting “Wath Festival Silver Roots” In the subject line.  It really would help me in allocating places that if The Masher has not heard you play e.g. you’ve not appeared on an Acoustic Rotherham event then please if possible attach a picture and an MP3 of your music. 

You'll be pleased to hear that The Masher is unable to qualify for this event.  It's not the age issue, but he has no hair so lacks silver roots.

Oh and don’t forget the Mashers head to The Cannon in Worksop on 17th March for an evening filled with Irish Music!!?   I’m currently trying to find space in the Diary for some practice!!!!   - do you note the frustration here…………    time just seems so tied up at the moment. 

Time might be tight but it’s all in a good cause as we seek to bring some exciting Arts events to Rotherham. 

First on the list is the Banners High Festival on the 2nd June. I thought everything was going far too smoothly on this one, and so it proved.  The initial idea included a march through Rotherham and a major Rally in Town Centre, with some key note speakers.  But it seems the best laid plans of men have fallen upon the rocks of Rotherham Council and the plans of the Mayor to have a major big time Street Party in the Town Centre to Celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.  

I’ve had words with some of the people involved in Banners High and the general feeling is that we should still go ahead with what was after all billed as an alternative to the Golden Jubilee.  Perhaps the contrast will be made that more poignant by the Mayor’s Party, that while huge sums of money are being spent at a time worsening time of austerity, the less advantaged within the Borough will not even be able to afford the bus fare to get to the event (see Mrs Masher) .  

Our Festival of Words and Music in Art being used as a positive tool of protest, with illustrations from the past and present will I hope demonstrate that there are alternatives to the existing order and ways of thinking about our Society. 

The Morning session will be re-planned.  The afternoon Words and Music event will go ahead as planned, with Theatre, Poetry, sketches and music.  An impressive list of participants are coming together for what promises to be an outstandingly afternoon.  The venue has yet to be confirmed.

 And of course in the evening we finish off the event with a fantastic Rock Concert at The Rugby Club, Clifton Lane, Rotherham, where Ed Tudor Pole  (he of the Crystal Maze and Harry Potter fame + Tempole Tudor) will head up a bill that also includes Papa Legbas wiggling their way through the evening, BrainBomb rocking out some great punk covers and Sons of Elroacho.  

So while we might not agree with the over indulgence for the Golden Jubilee lets show Rotherham that there is alternative ways to have a great Party. 

Unfortunately tickets are going to have to be strictly limited.  The Morning session in whatever form it goes ahead will be FREE but the afternoon + evening has to be ticketed.  However we have put together an attractive ticketing structure.   And there is a special T Shirt in production to celebrate the event.   You can find it all HERE – we’ll also be bringing details of the afternoon event to you via this page as the Bill is confirmed. 

Now a word about the politics behind all the Festivals that are currently under development.
Some people have got hold of the wrong end of the stick simply because we are charging ticketed entry to many of the events.  

Acoustic Rotherham has since its formation been NOT FOR PROFIT.  The new organising / management group (working name, Rotherham Arts Events RAE) will be / is NOT FOR PROFIT.  

Any financial surplus will be carried over into the next event promoting Arts in Rotherham, and at the end of year there will be a review of finances and a decision made either to roll surplus into 2013 or to set  up a fund through the Management of ROAR to which Grass Roots Arts groups in Rotherham can apply for grants. 

That said.  For far too long Artists in Rotherham have depended upon to perform or make their work available to Festivals for absolutely nothing, not even expenses, and yes Acoustic Rotherham is probably one of the most guilty in this.  This has to stop as a general practice.  Artists across the genres invest huge amounts of time in developing their skills and producing their product it is only right that they should receive payment for their work.  This is real investment in the Rotherham Arts community.

Hence even Banners High entertainment content will be ticketed.  

But let me be clear, even the ticket prices will not necessarily cover the real cost of staging the events, and we are not resting on our laurels as a Management Group.  Fund raising activities including a series of Rock Concerts at The Rugby Club will be seeking to add to the coffers.  We’re also looking at Sponsorship – advertising – even donations and of course grant funding to help produce quality products that the Arts Community in Rotherham can be proud of, and catch the imagination of potential audiences. 

I hope that explains the general philosophy underpinning what all this about.
This week also highlighted one or two communication problems in getting the essence of the events across.  

Yes, I get carried away and often think aloud, sometimes in writing.  Not good as it seems people catch onto the wrong end of the stick.  It also appear that some people require personal invitations before they get themselves involved.  I’m sorry, but quite honestly I cannot cover every base and I of course speak to folks I’ve worked with in the past, and folks who have delivered and end result for me in the past.  HOWEVER, I THINK THAT I’VE ALWAYS MADE IT CLEAR THAT ALL ACOUSTIC ROTHERHAM / THE RAE EVENTS FOR 2012 are open to everyone, and if someone feels as if they can make a contribution then, please, please get in touch.  finds me. 
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  Throughout my life I have sat on so may Committee’s attended so many meetings, where there have been some brilliant ideas and creative thinking, only to fall because people fall out or egos get in the way or simply because no one drives the ideas forward. 

The RAE events and general planning are born out of your, the general grass roots Arts Community in Rotherham ideas and wish lists.  Banners High was originally a ROAR idea, Slamfest is shaping up to cover some of the more imaginative and standard events on the Grass Roots scene and will be a bedding for events to be staged during the main Fringe Festival in October.  

All we are doing as a Management group is facilitate and provide time lines (dreaded Facebook word) if people want to be involved then that is fantastic if they don’t that is their decision, but the door is always open. 

This is in no way an ego trip by Acoustic Rotherham.  Acoustic Rotherham as a loose co-operative of grass roots musicians has been in working away for four years now, each year widening it’s range of activities to provide stages and audiences for the fantastic talent so often silent.   RAE is just another step in that process. 
Once again there is what I think is a sound reason behind it.  Having seen the work of Folk21, and very noble it is for the Guest Folk Clubs, and other Folk and Acoustic groups we were more than ever convinced that the way to develop audiences for Folk and Acoustic music was through the net-working of Art genres.  The developments in Rotherham are the first faltering steps towards that ideal. 

Let’s also be clear that none of it can happen without firm Partnerships co-operation and a willingness to think in new ways to make things happen. 

So I’ve over indulged a bit above.  But I believe, especially after a conversation I had in the later part of the week that it’s important to be absolutely clear about where all the activity is coming from and the motivation behind it. 

The final point I would make is that it’s mainly come about because I currently have the time to devote towards it all.  In many ways I find it helps to bury myself in something like this.  I appreciate that many would love the luxury of having such time to devote to such fun projects, but I can promise you that you certainly do not want the circumstances by which this block of time is available to me as in many other ways it’s very frustrating.  

I have a fantastically creative team coming together, so far the boring jobs, especially the one of covering me and making sure I stick to the straight and narrow have been covered.  But I’m still desperately looking for a Commercial Fund Raiser.  If anyone is interested in this role, then please Email me HERE putting “Fund Raiser” in the subject line. 

Slamfest is beginning to take some shape already.   We’ve spotted that the Festival takes place the week immediately following Tramlines and so an executive decision has been to ride on the back of this by flooding the centre of Rotherham, and it’s pubs with music on the weekend of 27th – 29th July.  This will also include an in your face Poetry pub crawl and any other stuff we can think of.  It will be a good tester for the Busking Day, assuming the Town Centre is free of course, if not we’ll just fill the pubs. 

Plans are also in place for The Battle of the Bands.  And we’re also building a fabulous programme of other events. 

Enough – enough, we don’t want to be giving away too much too early do we. 

You can keep up to date by visiting the various Web Pages for the Festivals.  Banners High  -  Slamfest  -  Rotherham Busking Day  -  Official Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe

The Web Site. Yes the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site has been made even more accessible, this time by the simple change in Font.   Reports had been building up of difficulty to read especially on Ipads and Phones and for some people even Laptops computers.  We’ve now gone over to Ariel and I hope this will mean that more people will be able to read the pages and benefit from the information. 

As the sun shone this week has not seen a peak in hits, but judging by our no change position in the various tables, it’s been the same for everyone, as you good folks have sought out fresh air and sunshine. 

It’s also good to see that our Blog is getting more and more readers, we must be doing something right.

The May Dairy Page has now been added. 

And so we head into another week.  I’ve got more Meetings to attend and more people to chat to.  Stagecoach will be making record profits at this rate.  

On Tuesday John and Band, including the Masher Road Crew will be settling into the posh seats at The Red Lion in Baithwell for another great session of Folk music, while at The Civic in Rotherham, Mike Harding will be doing his thing in which I believe is a sell-out show.  

On Wednesday there’s a special event at The Riverside where Caran Boyle will be officially launching his CD “Bright Light” in the company of Paul& Liz Davenport.  Should be a fantastic evening of traditional and celtic root music.  One of those I wish I could be at. 

If that’s not enough of Wednesday Storm Trees will be performing at Delaney’s Bar. 

Saturday there is the intriguing YORKSHIRE CAJUN & ZYDECO FESTIVAL in Malton.  I’ve listened to some of the music on offer and it’s a fantastic sound, so if you’re out that way there are events going on throughout the day. 

And back in Rotherham Swansong will be rocking The Bridge out on Saturday night.  

Running throughout the week is the “ONE Exhibition” within the Imperial Buildings.  I went to the Opening evening on Thursday.   The Exhibition is a fascinating and clever use of space, hats off to the team which I believe includes Leon and Matt Butt the ROAR Development Officer, on providing Rotherham Arts with a very clever way of demonstrating the talent we have in the Town.  

The art work on view is just stunning, with carvings as well as some wonderful pictures full of depth and colour on display.  I was particularly taken by a piece created from a montage produced by cutting up a magazine page illustrating a pregnant lady.  The texture and the simplicity was stunning. 

Anyway don’t take my word for it, you get to the Imperial Building and see for yourself.  It’s open Monday to Saturday through trading hours. 

More pictures on Facebook HERE

You can find all the normal weekly listings in addition to details of the above by heading off to the March Diary page HERE

And whatever you are doing this week have great fun, support local music and keep it LIVE