Monday, 28 May 2012

The Lack of Tobbaco Might Be Making Me Moody - Banners High and Fantastic Week Ahead

The weather has been sensational this week, so good in fact that I’ve been finding it hard to stay awake.  But awake I must be as we drift into the final week of activity towards the Banners High Festival.

It’s been a strange week for the Banners High Festival; we’ve had some great local media coverage in The Advertiser, with more to come in coming weeks in the South Yorkshire Times.

The fliers are finding their away around the Town and the Posters are all in place.

On the other hand there have been some negatives, which I shall be airing gently at Thursday’s RAE General Meeting (31st May at The Bridge) to which everyone is invited. 

Those volunteering to help at Banners High we have an organisational meeting starting at 6:00pm on Thursday at The Bridge.

But you know what it’s like when Organising these things, disaster is just one step around the corner, then it turns out a lot better than one feared and well the smile is returned to the face. 

It should be a really good day with plenty of debate in the morning, great poetry, music and theatre in the afternoon and just a kick arse rock event in the evening with Ed Tudor Pole  being supported by three local top Bands.

One thing is for certain, the whole of the RAE Team have learnt something these last couple of weeks, and while mistakes have been made, this was on a an organisational front   Well done to the hard working team, especially those who have carried the main work load.

So a big push from our real friends please, something as simple as sharing our Banners High link on Facebook will really help in this last week, even if you don’t intend to come lol. 

Anyway, the more astute amongst you might be sensing a bit of a guns blazing Blog coming up next week, probably made more intense by my being into the second week of having stopped smoking after 45 years, so the withdrawal symptoms should be really kicking in by next week.  lol   

And the Slamfest programme is nearing final publication, there are one or two things to put into place and then we’ll be adding dates venues and times to the what is looking to be a fantastic week of “grass roots” Art, Music and Spoken word performance in Rotherham.

Pop over and take a look at the Slamfest page.  OK I know it all looks a bit rear end heavy at the moment with the Open Music events on 28th July very much taking centre stage; balance will be restored, I promise.

And Karen Gilmore has come up with yet another fantastic logo.  This one for Slamfest.  It carries a real punch.  We owe Karen a lot for all her efforts on our behalf.  RAE has given Karen Life Membership, the significance of which will become clear over the next couple of weeks.

All very exciting though, especially as the event is catching the imagination of Sponsors.  This really is a plus for the RAE goal of striking up a positive relationship with local business in promoting Rotherham Art.

And would you believe it? We’re actually making initial progress with the Fringe Festival.  It’s looking good.

Bad news.  The RAE team have been talking and consulting.  This is not good news for my blood pressure.  But we now have a new major Goal / mid-term objective.  A brief outline will be given at Thursday General Meeting.

And finally on RAE business.  We’re pleased to say that Chris Bilton has joined us to share the Visual Art / Exhibition portfolio with Vicky Hilton.  On which note it might be worth reminding you poets and artists that we are planning an exhibition of Vicky’s great idea mixing words and art, during Slamfest.  The visual work can a painting, photograph, or other form of digital art. No fee’s for exhibiting.  So if you have a piece that you think might fit please contact Chris via the Contact page.  Thanks.

On the music side of things the folkies of South Yorkshire gave a sigh of relief, The Mashers were not out on the prowl.  However, we fully intend to take advantage of our Folk Legend status, given by the Advertiser, so it has to be true, in the weeks ahead.  I think our next outing after Banners High is a trip to Malvern Town, for a private Music Festival.  I’m looking forward to that one. 

For my dose of live music this week two completely different Gigs, both on Saturday Night.

The Bridge was of course humming; it was a hot night.  Rightly so, Papa Legba’s was rocking the night away.  And WOW was I impressed with their performance, even Mrs Masher was impressed, having escaped The Trades Club turn, to say that wriggling should have been going on 50 meters down the road.  Praise indeed.  It’s true though, and I’ve not been bribed by Tim, the first set on Saturday night featuring many of my own favourite Papa tunes was together and slick, without losing that raw edge which ranks them among my favourite live Bands.  I’m really looking forward to seeing them next Saturday night at The Rugby Club where they will be amongst the support for Ed Tudor Pole. 

As I was on a lead for the night, Mrs Masher then dragged me back to Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club.  We got in just in time for the second set of the night from Midlife Crisis.

It would be like comparing the value of Gold and Plastic, to compare the two gigs, so I won’t.

Midlife Crisis are a covers show / Club Band, playing soft rock.  I say playing, as it was extremely difficult to decide whether or not any instrument other than the drums was actually being played so full was the backing track they played to.  The set opened with a guitar and Bass Guitar and drums, and when towards the end a second guitar was added no difference was noted to the sound or its quality.

While the backing track was as clear as a bell the vocal mic was chronic.  Not sure if they had a problem or not, but for much of the set it sounded if the lead vocalist was singing down a tunnel from the Pizza Shop 50 meters away. 

I can’t knock it though.  They were cheered to the rafters and called back twice thus proving I know nothing about music, and while the dance floor was not full, they did hold an audience in on a very hot night.  They must have had something.  I’m not quite sure what, but let’s be kind and put it down to an excellent choice of tunes and an excellent backing track, oh, and a drummer who certainly knew what he was doing.

Enough………………    yes it must be withdrawal from the tobacco that is getting to me……   kitty, kitty and it’s only the fourth day!

There is something we need to learn from the evening’s entertainment.  I’ll let you know what in time…….

And we’re into the week coming already………….  Monday is of course Nellie Folk Night, Rotherham’s best singers Club, at The Bridge.  Do come along if you enjoy a song or two; starts 8:45pm. 

Wednesday is Open Mic Jazz at The Bridge and Friday is ROMP, once again at The Bridge (what would we do without that Pub) where I’m informed Gav has a surprise for everyone. 

So go on – yes there’s the RAE General Meeting, where? Yes, at The Bridge on Thursday that starts 7:00pm.  Not forgetting the Open Mic Musician and Singers Club that Meets at the Bridge every Thursday. 

So a busy week for The Bridge, I hope Land Lord Ben has enough beer in the cellar.

Not forgetting of course the two performances of The Taming of The Shrew in Urdu; Tuesday evening at the Old Market Gallery, and Thursday afternoon at the Clifton Park Wall Garden. 

And there is of course the busy Bank Holiday weekend ahead, its a four dayer, and there is plenty going on.  On Saturday, yes, Banners High Festival (the antidote to the Royal things going on), there is also a Rotherham Town Centre Tea Party and at the Imperial Building they are having a Vintage Tea Party, should you wish to celebrate Elizabeth’s sixty years on the throne. The Bar Steward Sons have something going on in Elsecar for most of Saturday.

Florin will be awarded The Acoustic Rotherham Serial Performers of The Year Gold Coloured Beer Glass when they take on three days hard drinking at the Castleton Beer Festival event.  Oh, and they will be singing on three consecutive days to.  Anyone going please record their third session for me I’m sure it will be highly entertaining. 

All the Festivals and general listings can be found on the Diary Pages HERE

So with the promise that next week’s Blog will have a little more of a razor’s edge to it, but also carrying news of the great week’s entertainment ahead of us this Monday morning. 

Whatever you’re doing this week, have amazing fun, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Hot Air! / Banners High / Apologies and Dylan What more could you Want

So, not a word in the G8 Communiqué about the need of funds for Rotherham Art Events; this, even though they say that their eyes are firmly on Europe.  Clearly not focussed enough I fear.  I only asked for a Billion quid, I think that’s less than 1% of the Greek debt.  Never mind we’ll just have to look elsewhere, for now.

Talk about a load of hot air, on one hand they want growth in the Western economies, on the other hand they require austerity policies known to stifle growth and confidence, as we will discover as the summer months stats will I suspect prove. 

One thing is for certain it’s not very edifying watching Europe’s Heads of State running around like headless chicken.

But to the past week, a week that supposedly saw the start to Dickie being weaned off smoking.   I must say I was quite pleased with the progress of the first Meeting, “carry on as usual” said the Lady, I rather liked that approach to stopping.   I’m sure it’s about to get tougher though.

I was offered a range of replacement therapies, but strangely the electric cigarette was not one of them, the strict Lady explaining that so far that there is no scientific evidence that they are safe or work.  So I was left to consider the range of gum, (that will pull my teeth), spray (which might hurt the throat), little tablet things (they don’t taste nice apparently, too minty), or the good old patches (which may not, apparently, be enough on their own).  Yes it’s a complicated business.

Session two on Monday of this coming week when I have to analysis my habit, e.g. the triggers. 

It has to be done though, and “we” will succeed.

Tuesday and an on the hoof Meeting with RAE folks over coffee.  Lisa has started to get the money raising message out there in her role of Commercial Fund Raiser, while Mick just keeps coming up trumps with the Bands who will be taking part in Slamfest Rockin’ Rotherham Saturday on 28th July.  My have we some great stuff going on. 

That was before shocking myself and very nearly killing myself off by going to the optician.  Free this and free that, etc., and two for one, the price you see is the one you pay, but not quite.  Selecting a nice pair of £79.99 frames I sat down to pay and go, but by the time the lenses had been prescribed, “I advise the Gold Varifocal” said the nice Optician, “especially with the big change in prescription since your last visit”, and of course they will need to be anti-glare and photosensitive”, total……………  shall we say that somehow the original figure had been trebled. 

“But you get a completely free pair” the Sales person said, but not photosensitive, and you’re only allowed silver grade varifocals.  She was not impressed when I suggesting halving the price of the first pair, and doing away with the free pair

I’m sure there is some good reason for this marketing, but it defeats my poor brain.

But light relief in the evening by way of a surprise trip out in the company of Paul Pearson and Christine  who very kindly called in at Masher Towers on their  to the Doncaster Folk Club.  Much appreciated.

It’s some years since I was last at the Doncaster Folk Club, I think it was some four years ago when Myke and I raided the regulars at The Railway, which is where they used to meet.  The Club now meets at The Masons Arms which offers cosy accommodation in the back room. 

Unfortunately it gets just a little over cosy when the cliental need to visit the gents, tracking trail straight through the singing circle, a matter of much merriment.   However it’s a little disappointing that the clients failed to have the basic of manners by waiting to break the circle until a song was completed, particularly when Paul was performing and having to find interesting angles to hold the guitar so as to allow the desperate drinker through. 

A really good fun evening among some excellent singers.

A short Meeting with Lizzy at The Council on Wednesday just to bring her up to date as to where RAE were in getting things underway, and to show Jane the joys of the inner sanctum of our new Council Building. 

I made the mistake of doubling the trip up with getting a form from the Council.  It said on the screen “Forms: 0 Waiting  Average time 5 minutes”.  After thirty minutes we left without our form.  Might be an idea for the Council to sort that little problem out.

Guess what, Thursday gave me a chance to get my nose into the pile of paper on my desk that needed reading, continued on Friday, by the much appreciated visit from Tina to discuss staging for Banners High on second June.

The Banners High Posters are going up around Rotherham and at the weekend the fliers and tickets arrived at the door and are now getting out there.

At the moment I’m praying for a bit of rain, on 2nd June, if only to push Town Centre Party goers towards the cover of The Trades Club for a drink, or two and some great entertainment.

Help get the word out there, if you can hand out a few fliers or have somewhere to put a Poster then contact Mick or Lisa – details HERE

Can I have a bit of a nag.  Dickie Masher, RAE and Acoustic Rotherham go out of their way to help publicise Rotherham based events by sharing links and posters and the rest, it would be nice to see some people doing the same for us – please, especially on Facebook, takes a couple of clicks and ten seconds of your time.  Thank you.

Su has done a brilliant job on the Brochure, given the difficulties of getting the copy together.  A few lessons have been learnt on this one.   The print run is limited so you’ll have to get in quick to secure a copy. 

The mess that is the Jmucreate bit of the Web Site has taken another major step forward with the launch of The Mashers own site, a nice vivid green, chosen because it’s the normal facial colour of our audiences when we finish.   Check it for yourself HERE

I’m sorry, I’ve been asked by several people to comment on the winding up of the Myke Barritt Music Trust, in all fairness to the Trust and everyone involved I’m not saying anything until the Minutes of the Meeting are published.  I believe that this should not be long now.
The main details of the Myke Barritt Song Writing Competition, judging to be done at the Rotherham Open Arts Fringe Festival in October, have been published.  There are three age categories so go take a look HERE

We can’t let this week pass without noting that 16th May marked the second Anniversary of Myke moving onto the bigger session, I hope that like me you have found time to raise a glass to the lad.

Roy Blackman’s CD will remain on line on Acoustic Rotherham HERE

I didn’t have too many spies out at Holmfirth last week for the Folk Festival.  Those who did go had one word in common, “chilly”.   By all accounts though it was once again a fun weekend especially amongst the grass roots sessions, which is great to hear.  I only wish I could have got over to experience the atmosphere for myself, perhaps next year.

A heads up for something that looks as if it’s going to be great fun.  Based at the Old Market Gallery Open Minds Theatre are putting on an Exhibition called “Fabulous Sound Machines”, which is an interactive exhibition of unusual musical instruments.  It all starts on the 16th June and runs to mid-August the poster will be on the relevant Diary pages..  I’ve asked Steve but he says none of them will make The Masher sound any better.   A must for the Diary.

While we’re on Open Mind productions, don’t forget the two productions of “Taming of The Shrew” being performed in Urdu, 29th May at The Old Market Gallery and 31st May in the Clifton Park Wall Garden. 

This coming week we have a standard programme of Sessions and Folk Clubs ending the week with a whole host of Festivals, including Shepley Folk Festival, a Festival that is growing in popularity amongst singers and musicians. 

Next Saturday 26th May there is a special night for all Bob Dylan fans when The Annual Bob Dylan Night is hosted by Lou (Dylan) Marriott at The Princess Royal (upstairs), Crookes.  It’s bound to be packed so get in early, the music starts at 8:00pm and I believe it’s FREE – although I’m sure some enterprising individual will find something to raffle.

 Go HERE to find all the details and links to the Festival Web Sites. 

And a big apology to The Captain Cooke in Staithes.  From Emails I gained the impression that the Staithes Festival had been cancelled with a new venue having been found at Roxby. Apparently, while running the same dates as those published for the Staithes Festival (which was cancelled) and with the same organiser, The Roxby Singers Festival has nothing to do with the Staithes Festival or Captain Cooke.  Does that make sense?  We apologise for any confusion which was non of our making......... of course.

There is so much bubbling under the surface which I cannot talk about at the moment, it’s all good and should if it reaches reality help in promoting the Artists of Rotherham. 

So posters out, SPEAK UP for Banners High, and whatever you are doing this week have great fun, support your local artists and sessions, and keep it live.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Myke Barritt Music Trust Winds Up / Progress on The Festivals and More

I suppose we have to start this week’s Blog with the extremely sad news, especially as this week marks the second Anniversary of Myke’s passing; the decision of the Myke Barritt Music Trust at Wednesday’s EGM to wind the Group up.

Unfortunately I was not able to make the Meeting, having rather overdone things in the previous ten days or so, (see last week’s Blog).  However, I had long concluded that the course of action eventually decided by the Meeting was inevitable and desired.

As yet there has not been an Official Statement and as I write, the Minutes of the Meeting have not as yet been published. 

My understanding is that cash held by the MBMT along with revenues from the sale of the Roy Blackman CD will be donated to Music Charities.

I also understand that the Travelling Minstrels Folk Club will continue.

I do have deep seated views as to why this has come about, but will await the Minutes before passing further comment. 

For my part, through Rotherham Art Events I can announce two things which I hope will enable the name of my long-time partner in musical crime to be remembered by the Arts Community of Rotherham.  Each 27th July, (Myke’s Birthday – a day well known for the profits made by breweries) we will promote a Myke Barritt Memorial Concert. 

Secondly, we will run the Myke Barritt Song Writing Prize.  This was a Competition set up in the early days of MBMT but never followed through with.  There will be two age groups 10 – 18 and Over 18.  Judging will be during the Fringe Festival.   Watch this space for further details.

The Myke Barritt Music Trust  .com will of course be closed, but the Myke pages will be assimilated into the Rawmarsh Masher .com pages in time.

And onto happier matters. 

Tuesday was one of those over doing it moments.  The morning was taken up with a really interesting chat with Amy from the Nodding Dog Theatre Company. 

Nodding Dog have an absolutely amazing project that will put the old B & Q Building to work.  It’s innovative, brave and completely different to the usual Theatre experience.  Pre-view Performances will start in late September and run into The Fringe Festival during October.  But you’ll have to watch this space for the detail. 

The Company have a wide range of opportunities for local artists with an interest in the Theatre, and for people with an interest who would like to learn Theatre based skills.  EMAIL Amy for more details and to Register your interest.

Then it was a Business Meeting.  I can announce that the long search for a Commercial Fund Raiser for Rotherham Art Events has ended.  Lisa Marie Fitzgerald has taken the role on; expect to hear from her soon. 

There then followed a catch up with the God of RAE Rock Mick.  Fund raisers going into place, on top of the Festival Programme. You can find all the details on the Rockin’ Rotherham page HERE

And to finish the day a Meeting with the Town Centre Team.  I’m pleased to say it was a really positive Meeting, and we can confirm that 28th July of Slamfest will take place in The Town Centre.  Watch the Web Site pages and stay tuned to The News Blog. 

The wider Slamfest is beginning to shape up, and in addition to the regular Sessions of the week the Theatre and performance parts are very nearly in place.

Thursday was my day with the Specialist at the Hospital.  Two scans to come. 

Posters for the Banners High Festival will be seen around Town from next week.  They look very impressive. 

You can reserve your tickets for the Banners High Festival and pay on line if so desired, HERE

TUESDAY 15th MAY is the last day for copy / advertising for the Banners High Brochure.  Advertising detail can be found HERE

Progress is being made on The Fringe Festival.  However, we’re still looking for entries into the Poster / Corporate image Competition:  The Judging is to take place at the end of Slamfest.   There’s a £200 first prize so time for you artists to get busy. Details HERE

We’re also looking for ideas of how best to Celebrate “100 Thousand Poets For Change” as part of The Busking Day on 29th September and “National Poetry Day” on the 4th October.  If you’ve got a good one then EMAIL us.

I can also inform folks that the Business Plan for RAE has been started.  Yawn.   And I have to get on and finish it, so onwards.

And yes, we’re into the, what’s coming up bit.

“The Taming of The Shrew”  in Urdu, with performances at The Old Market Gallery and Clifton Park, May 27th and 29th.   Tickets are still available at only £5.  Pop into The Westgate Chambers ROAR Office they will point you the right direction for tickets.  Or telephone:  Rotherham Culture Company on 01709 829446.

And it being the third week of the month it’s a really busy time,  with Handsworth, Sheffield Ballads, Anston Folk Clubs all Meeting (NOTE I THINK ANSTON FOLK CLUB HAS MOVED BUT I DON’T HAVE THE NEW VENUE)

And of course it’s ROMP at SNAFU in Rotherham.  Another great night of the spoken word can be expected. 

At the end of the week Doncaster Folk Festival is underway, mainly at the Ukrainian Club in Doncaster.  Paul Pearson, Welsh Geoff, Mick McGarry and co kicking the Festival off on Friday night. 

All the detail and information can be found on the Diary page HERE

And that’s it my friends.   After a World Record for length last week, I think we come close to the shortest this week. 

We have plenty going on in the background, so don’t be surprised if a second News Blog appears this week.

Whatever you are doing, have great fun, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE

Monday, 7 May 2012

Acoustic Rotherham 15 / May Day / Wath Festival / Filey Festival It's a BIGGIE

Well my friends, it’s been yet another extremely busy week for me, wearing my various hats for Rotherham Art Events and The Mashers in our solo and duo modes.

It’s been a super positive week, with new friends being made for both Rotherham Arts and The Mashers.

So to start from the beginning of all the activity. 

Sunday and Acoustic Rotherham 15 at The Queens in Rawmarsh. 

OK let’s be honest it was not one of our greatest successes.  However, it was still a super afternoon of music for those who popped along to listen on what was an awful day of weather.

My particular thanks go to Wychwood who paddled down the A1 to perform for us.  Unfortunately during the week four of the main artists listed were taken down by the dreaded throat infection which seems to be doing the rounds.  Not fun for those affected, especially in such damp conditions and given the temperature in the room we were using a sensible decision to stay away.

The good news was that Roy Blackman, straight from his bed, and also suffering from the throat bug did make it, and produced a typical Roy set of spoken word and song.  I don’t know how he does it, but he drew the audience in to his songs perfectly.  His CD is available HERE We are still planning Roy’s CD launch, and have decided that it will probably take place during Slamfest at the end of July when the weather should be fine and Roy will be at his best. 

Watch out for Roy and his CDs at Holmfirth next weekend.

Wychwood gave us a wonderful set of roots / folk music.  This was their second appearance at Acoustic Rotherham; this time with a slightly different line up, Debbie and Richard Roe still leading and joined by and in typical Masher style the brain goes dead and the name is lost.  Worse – this young man gave us a couple of numbers playing solo. 

And then it was down to some great music from the assembled supporters who had braved the weather, Rob Slow and John Statter, the latter’s dancing was a must see, Sue and Barrie Sutherland (The Road Crew) I think that’s what they should call themselves when in duo mode, Kevin Marshall played us a couple of tunes on his squeeze box, livening up the proceedings somewhat although unfortunately no one was moved to square dance; and not forgetting my old mucker, Paul Pearson who kindly popped across with Christine to give us a few songs before heading off to perform at Wyrd Folk 2, Dave Paskell’s new CD launch at the Riverside.

So while not one of our busiest afternoons it was a refreshingly different Acoustic Rotherham.   Of course the event was not helped as I have been so distracted by other matters recently.  However, the next two Acoustic Rotherham events are part of the two Rotherham Art Events Festivals, so hopefully we’ll return to our full glory for 16 and 17.  If you would like to be a part of this then Email

Pictures from Acoustic Rotherham 15 can be found HERE
Tuesday night the Sutherland Road Crew collected me for a fine evening of Folk Music at The Red Lion, Braithwell, Folk Club.  Once again it was full, and it was so good to see Keystone Acoustic  (Pam and Pete) taking the trouble to travel from Featherstone to share a few songs with us, along with Paul and Liz Davenport, Roy Blackman, Ciarán Boyle, and a host of regulars.  Great night Sue – Sue was standing in as MC for the absent John who was playing with his big full scale train set and walking, he claims (more like an extended pub crawl).

Wednesday and a day of study, as we hone in on the right political structure for Rotherham Art Events.  Believe it or not following our Meeting with those who know on Thursday afternoon, we are getting very close to the final decision.   We hope to bring full details towards the end of next week. 

Anyone who would like to contribute towards adding / tightening up the language of the Aims Objectives please do so over the next week using the Email.   Everyone is welcome to contribute for consideration by the core Committee.You can find the aims and objectives as they currently stand HERE

On Friday we had the privilege of finding out more about Myplace from Manager Francesca.  Myplace being that new building close to the St Anne’s Roundabout, which so many wonder about. 

Myplace is a Youth Centre, and part of the YMCA.  It’s activities are open to all young people in Rotherham.  The project is still very much in it’s infancy, yet is developing fast. 

The building has an impressive range of facilities, from a neat 100 seater / 150 + standing theatre area, with lighting rig, meeting and activity rooms and a truly state of the art technology room containing a studio and enough computer terminals to keep anyone happy.   Incidentally, Mick and I were told that the room was underutilised at the moment because of a lack of Volunteers to oversee it’s use with the young people.  So anyone who has something to offer get in touch with the Management and they will put you to work.

Myplace also boasts a very nice Café / Coffee shop with an extensive menu, and the building is fully accessible to the disabled, throughout.

Overall Mick and I were well impressed, and our visit certainly laid most of the negative word of mouth things that we had heard about the building, and it’s use.  Personally I see this a failure by Myplace and perhaps the Council who are one of the Senior Partners to get a positive message about the building and it’s facilities out into the public domain. 

Rotherham Art Events shall certainly be looking for a partnership with Myplace and hope to include work by their clients in our Festivals.  Especially young people Events that can’t be staged in pubs etc.  or for groups of disabled people. Find out more HERE

And then Friday sort of exploded into one of those standout days. 

We eventually, thanks to Mick, established a connection with the Town Centre Team, meeting this coming week, text messaging carried on as a phone Call from Ziggy’s Workhouse Gym confirmed them as our first major Sponsors.  Ziggy’s will be sponsoring the Main Stages at both Slamfest in July and the Busking Day in September.  A fantastic gesture that really gets things moving.  The link to Ziggy's Workhouse Gym can found HERE

Karl (he being Ziggy) has also donated a guitar to the cause, we will be raffling the guitar + of course any other donated prizes, watch out for details of this.

To date we’ve setting this Community Business up with absolutely no working Capital, but now we can see the wood from the trees, and can move forward with a bit of confidence.  There are many hidden costs to setting the Business side and the projects up, so if you’d like to become a full member of Rotherham Art Events then you would be doing us a huge favour.  You can find the benefits and details HERE

And the excited texts continued, as Mick passed on news of a major donation to RAE as particularly amongst the Music Community people line up to give support to overall objectives.  Watch out for news of Fund Raising Concerts heading your way by some of the top bands in Rotherham who are donating their time and talent to raise funds. 

It is fantastic to see Artists being so prepared to help other Artists.

To complete Friday it was add to Stagecoach profits again, and mad dash to Town for ROMP.  Another night of great performance poetry, by my almost flying visit was pass around fliers to draw people’s attention to the Banners High Festival.   A short visit as I had to charge batteries ready for the weekend.

My spies tell me that the second half of the evening was equally as good as the first half I saw, with all the local favourites supplemented by the best of the Region.

I’m told that there was some misunderstanding at the end of the evening, which I hope will not sour ROMPs relationship with The Bridge as it’s such fine supporter of the arts in Rotherham.

And so to the Masher Weekend.

The Rotherham May Day March was the first one in the Town for many years and had taken some organising.  Unfortunately, and sadly I think, the Organisers could not find the £100 needed to pay for the Insurance which would have allowed both a March on the public roads and more importantly as far as I am concerned a PA.

So it was a mix of the new and the old.  The March being restricted to the pedestrianized area of the Town, being the new, and the speeches being delivered by megaphone, the old.   Fortunately the Rotherham Red Choir was on hand to sing a few rousing songs in the freezing conditions, (who would have thought that it would be so cold in May?) but the Masher was reduced to a walking role, as his voice would not have filled All Saints Square. 

The rousing speeches warmed us up, particularly the contributions from Gav Roberts and the PCI Representative at the end.  Gav was in his element, and finished with one of his classic poems.  These should be published.   For more see Gav at The Banners High Festival on the 2nd June.  Information and tickets HERE

Good to see the Labour Party represented by Ken Wyatt who called for unity amongst left to fight the Coalition austerity programme.  A sentiment seconded by the PCI spokesman.   And as many of you already know it’s something that we really need to work on Unity of the left. 

We sing the songs, we say the words but at the bottom line our political prejudices get in the way, and we spend far too much time being suspicious of each Left Group rather than deliver unity.  Personal ego gets in the way of true Unity.  And what do I mean – well it’s clear, one loses a vote or a decision, so toys are thrown out of the pram and yet another Organisation is created, and there are just so many examples of this.   It might be argued that the left is defragmenting itself rather than unifying.

Unfortunately the young, well not so young, cannot remember the days when the Labour Party, and the Young Socialist section in particular had a true socialist programme.   Kinnock and Blair / Mandelson destroyed this by ripping true grass roots democracy out of the Party.  In truth the battle should be to get true democracy and a true socialist programme adopted by the Labour Party.  Do I wish for too much?  One thing is for certain we will not achieve anything by denying the existence of the Labour Party or ignoring it. 

ENOUGH!!!  - Pictures from the May Day March can be found HERE

A quick return to base for a rest and then it was make up on and off to the Wath Folk Festival for the “Silver Roots” Competition. 

Greeted in Wath by the assembled Morris Dancers doing their jigs was a fine way to start the afternoon, however, please, please can someone do something about signing!!!   Without the Morris Dancers it would have been hard to know that what has become a Nationally recognised Festival was going on.  No Welcome sign in the car Park or signing to the main venues. 
So it was a good job that I knew where I was going; The Red Lion. 

The timing of the Silver Roots contest had slipped, we started with a 1:00pm kick off, slipped to 2:00pm and then finally a firm start of 3:00pm was set.  Unfortunate as we had to be finished by 4:15pm.  

So time was really limited. 

In that time we had, eventually, had to fit six acts.  With Keystone Acoustic, Carole Palmer, Heather Woodhead, Gary Hannon, Pete Swift and Stuart Crew all competing for the top prize of £50.

We set off with the plan of allowing artists three songs, and I thought it had worked perfectly, only one of the above had slipped in unnoticed, which rather embarrassingly lead to the final two performers having to be cut down to two songs. 

Personally I think that only giving three songs to a performer hardly allows for nerve settling, let alone giving of one’s best, two songs is highly restrictive, so I hope that next year more time is allowed for the contest.

And wow, we were treated to some absolutely brilliant performances.  Which is why the time allowed was unfair, as the artists had clearly put considerable work into preparing for their spots.   I’ve been privileged to have seen all one of the acts on my travels and I can honestly say that the extra sharpness under the competition conditions really produced some outstanding and above normal levels of performance.  Which obviously is what such events are all about.

The lack of time meant that the Judges, The Masher (that’s me) and Roy Blackman could not give our comments about the individual performances given and our reasoning behind the eventual decisions concerning places.

Roy is a past Master of the Judging game, sending me messages throughout in his secret shorthand code, while for me this was a first serious judging job, and how difficult it is, especially faced with such different genres of Folk Music being placed against each other and with such polished performances. 

So here is Roy’s and I thinking when creating our top four. 

First a big thank you to Pete Swift and Stuart Crew for entering the Competition.  For those who don’t know, both are stalwarts of the local music scene and have worked tirelessly for the good of Folk.  Both performances show the strength we have locally in our song writing and music. 

Gary Hannon was placed 4th.  OK we don’t usually go that far down the list, but both Roy and I felt that his self-written songs and the polished performance needed special mention.  This was a performance far and above anything either of us had seen from Gary in the past, and the songs struck a note with the audience. 

And of course it was very kind of him to give graciously by only playing two songs, so as to allow us to fit in an additional competitor.

I think we should at this point make it absolutely clear that between the top three performers there was very, very little.  All produced outstanding performances that would have graced the main stage of any Festival in Country.

In third place.  Representing the Black Country came Carole Palmer.  A beautiful singer and song writer of contemporary songs, not without their touch of humour and irony

This was a polished performance, stepping the Competition up a peg or two.  Not only were the songs perfectly performed but Carole’s engagement with the audience was first class, a sign of a seasoned Club singer who could hold their own as the main guest.

We’re so glad to have heard that following the session that she received so many enquires about CDs and congratulations for the performance from audience members.

We hope that we’ll see more of Carole in the area, and an invitation to appear at an Acoustic Rotherham event this year has already been issued.  It will be great to hear a full set from Carole.   Keep your eyes peeled for news of when she will be appearing.

The runners up spot went to Keystone Acoustic.  Once again, and I know it sounds repetitive, but yet again a wonderful polished performance including songs adapted from the work of local poets, but also self-written material.  As a duo it’s slightly easier to be entertaining – ask one who knows – for while one might be tinkling away on the guitar the other can make introductions crack jokes, and in the case of Pete and Pam even pass around visual aids.

We know that Keystone Acoustic will go from strength to strength; they have already made a major impact on the local Folk and Acoustic music scene and will be so in the future.

For reasons unknown to me, the announcement that the Rawmarsh Masher had cleaned up first place and the £50 first prize was met by dumbfounded silence by the audience.   But……….

And so to the Winner.  We awarded first place to Heather Woodhead several different reasons.  First and probably the most important being that the performance of her three traditional folk songs was flawless.  And the songs Heather chose were not easy.  Throughout the performance you could have heard a pin drop, recognition of the spell her voice cast over the audience.

A personal input from me was that I have seen Heather grow as a performer from a nervous emerging talent at one of the very first Acoustic Rotherham’s, to this current outstanding level of performance.

Both Roy and I hope that this victory will really help to bring Heather to the front of Club Organisers minds as on the evidence of what we heard and saw on Saturday there are few who can perform traditional songs so well.  We also hope that it will also give a boost of personal confidence to Heather.

Finally, with so many contemporary songs, even if some were well based within the tradition, we thought, given that there was so little to choose between the top three performers we should give the top prize to someone who held up the best Folk traditions at a Folk Festival.

So congratulations to Heather.  To those placed below, well parallel, we say, we had to declare a winner, but all three of you were winners in our minds on the day.

To finish the Wath Festival section it was so good to see so many friends about this year, and to see two of my favourite young lady performers Holly Tamar and Catherine Bindon performing at the Emerging Talent Concert.  Rock on stars of Acoustic Rotherham, it’s great to say, we recognised the talent and had them perform before other caught on. 

And that in itself marks an improvement in the Festival programming with more recognition going to local talent needing a bigger stage.  Perhaps though, room might be found for this emerging talent on the under Bill to some of the big names in the Montgomery Hall for the evening concerts instead of a Saturday Tea time in a not too big room, I’m sure that the exposure would be of great benefit to the talent.   Just a thought.

Photographs from The Silver Roots Competition can be found HERE

Throughout Saturday my designated roadie had been the much suffering son number one Jack, and it was great to have a Saturday evening catching up and relaxing with a not too brilliant Cup Final and a couple of old rubbish franchise films.
So it was up early on Sunday for our trip to the Filey Folk Festival.  The life of a rock and roll Folk singer is never dull. 

Filey is one of the growing number of grass roots based Folk Festivals that feature much of the top Regional talent in the genre and who do it for now’t.   This what makes the acoustic music community so special, indeed as Rock boys have shown in Rotherham as well, the ability for musicians to come together and create something great. 

There was a chill northern wind blowing as we reached Filey, so paddling and sun bathing was cut to a minimum, in favour of seats inside the Belle Vue pub.  I think cosy best describes the room used for the music. 

But we had a great afternoons entertainment kicked off by Paula Ryan who seemed have the complete menagerie of instruments, every time I looked up she seemed to be playing something different, and what a voice, just suited for her repertoire of Irish tunes and songs.  

Steve Chapman-Smith then produced a set of his rockin’ roots music.  Steve has left the Trubadors to go solo, which in away is a great pity.  On the evidence of this afternoons performance Steve really does need the foil of the treble offered by the mandolin and banjo to his heavy guitar and gravel voice.   It’s a personal view. 

Banging it out with a bass drum came Dave Kelly and his band, with some interesting arrangements of classic skiffle songs.  Great to see such enthusiasm as he marched through songs ranging from the Wild Rover to Lonnie Donigan.  Dave certainly livened up that deadly post lunch, pre time to hit the pints period.

And then Joe Solo who has built a reputation for himself in the North of the County singing his self-penned songs accompanied by a ukulele.  His songs have a contemporary pop song  feeling to them, and left me wondering if they might not have been given better justice if played on a guitar or better by a Band.  Personal choice.  However, his final song provided the reason for why he hads built a reputation for himself as performer as between choruses he launched into a tirade of jokes and comments that made the final chorus the Mashers Bloody Rotten Audience seem short……….   I think the song ran for around fifteen minutes.    And very funny for all that.

The position of the stage was then turned around to facilitate one of the Bands going on later in the evening.  And naturally it was The Mashers who were to be the test dummies for the new position. 

Now throughout the afternoon I had begun to think that John Masher was not going to make it, however, as I was taking the air, having a fag to you, into view came John loaded down to by his instruments.  Phew, The Mashers would have their full sound. 

I’m not sure that the new stage positioning worked that well, as the sound played directly into a corner, and as it was tucked around a corner only those in the twenty pound seats occupied earlier by The Masher crew could actually see us.  OK a blessing for some, but for those wanting to see Dickie’s master class in how to find multiple variations of the basic C chord not so good.

Those who could see us or those we could see appeared to enjoy our forty minutes of frivolity, and political rant.  Of course we can’t go far without finding someone who has day tripped from the Socialist Republic, and so it was in Filey as a lady from Anton, was to be seen joining in with our songs of Revolution and agitation.

We really enjoyed ourselves as usual and finished John was whisked away again by his support crew before he was arrested.

Son number one and I stayed for one more act, Chris Martin, I’m so glad we did.  A master class in slide blues, framed in an entertaining set full of great jokes, which I’ve immediately written down.  I certainly hope I’ll be able to tempt Chris down the A1 to Rotherham to share his music with us.  Top stuff, and a pity that we had to slip away before he had finished, or see the final two acts of the night, Three Sheets T Wind (who had organised the stage) and Blackstone Edge to finish off.

Crawling into house at 10:15pm all I could say was phewwwwwwwwwwww…………….   Before finding the duvet.  

You can find pictures of the big day out in Filey HERE

It’s another busy week ahead.  For me Meetings and my long anticipated visit to the neurologist are on the Diary. 

However, my heads up are – The Myke Barritt Music Trust has an important EGM on Wednesday night, where the future of the Trust will be discussed.  Anyone interested is invited especially if you’ve supported Trust events in the last couple of years. 

You can find all the documents you need for the EGM HERE

And for you hardy folkies at the weekend it’s the Holmfirth Festival, which is a super grassroots event for singers and players if you can get into the pubs.

All the week’s events including Florin Gigs and Spoken the spoken word HERE

That finishes this mammoth edition of the News Blog. 

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