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

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