Monday, 29 October 2012

Checking that the Brain is Working / Coppers / Winding up The Fringe Festival.

An interesting week.

But what would I know, for much of the week I’ve been locked up.

There is a tendency for the pain and dreadfulness of medical procedures to be exaggerated, and so heading off for mine on Wednesday I was really worried about what was about to happen to me, indeed even my GP had said “poor you”.

Of course I needn’t have worried, as by the time the anaesthetic had taken it’s grip I didn’t fell a thing, indeed I felt quite the spring chicken leaving the hospital.   For those interested, the spinal juices are clear. 

But once the anaesthetic started to wear off, it was time to search for the donkey or horse that had kicked me, and the vampire that seems to have sucked a body full of blood through my arm.  The other minor side effect seems to be a few headaches and tiredness. 

Six weeks to the results………………………….     Don’t say a thing!

To have the procedure done I had to go to the Hallamshire Hospital, a bit of trek, but my Brother In Law was up to the task. But that in turn brings me to the giant establishment known as The Rotherham NHS Trust. 

Following years of building and expansion, including a very pretty main entrance, etc.  the Business Managers of the Trust have suddenly decided that by 2014 Rotherham deserves a “smaller Hospital”, and must save £50m. a figure that you might just have thought they might have been aware of before, but a strange one given that Mr Cameron insists that there is no cuts in the Health budget!!  

750 jobs are to go!!  And the Management have already said that there will be compulsory Redundancies.  Strangely there will not be a reduction in the standard of service offered.  I’m not sure how that one works but I’m sure between now and April 2013 we will find out as more detailed information becomes available.   I’m sure that there is a book of things to say………. All bollocks, and all written and said by people who are the problem rather than the answer to the problem. 

Strangely the Rotherham Trust's own Web Site says that the budget cut needs to be £20M by 2014, (HERE for the NHS version)  so already disinformation is being spread wide which appears to be this Governments tool of choice.  

I would suggest that we need to look more closely at the story though. The News Feed says that they announced in 2011 that they would have to save £50M and that by the end of this financial year £20M will have been saved.  They also say that 250 jobs per year will have been lost 2011 / 12 /13   hmmmmmmm

While we are at it can someone explain why a growing Rotherham needs a “smaller Hospital”?   Use the comment section at the bottom.

And once again on Saturday our the Streets of Rotherham were full of Policemen.  The reason?  The National Front were in Town.  The number of Police was around 800 again.  Number of National Front Marchers – around 40.  Forty too many, but the hastily organised multi-cultural event in All Saint’s Square did have over hundred.

There are rumours that other Fascist Organisations have applied to March through Rotherham all using the “sex grooming” issue as their reason for doing so.  Strangely they have not chosen Leeds or Scarborough, where Jimmy did his work, or outside “The Leaders” house in London (allegedly) .   One hopes that the Police will bring these farces to an end.  I’ll defend the right of anyone to march through the streets of Rotherham, but the moment they utter hate slogans or show themselves to racist then the right to March is lost.

I’ve just seen the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire rolling off a load of rubbish about why these right wind fascists have the right to march through Rotherham at the expense of the rights of the citizens of the Town to go about their business in a safe and orderly manner.   He was sounding like an apologist for the “right wing” indeed it would appear that he is looking for a fight at the expense of Rotherham.  I’m pretty sure that if these Marches were going off in Sheffield City Centre – well, they just wouldn’t!  

I hope Rotherham Council tell the Police exactly where to go if they come looking for money towards the cost of these operations. 

But not everything that us angels do is right and proper though.  A rumour circulated amongst the arts and political community that a certain Pub was going to act as the initial base of the visit of the NF.  RUMOUR  is the operative word.   Despite this there were talks of boycotts and some people were even being a little stronger about the new Land Lord’s intentions.   As it turned out it was the POLICE who had asked the Land Lord to open for the NF, whose response was to close until 5pm on the day of the demo.

The damage that rumours do can be irreversible.   I know.  The rumour that The Masher is a power crazed egoist, with a hard core of mercenary running through the centre, are of course understated and this has affected my reputation in Rotherham enormously.   

Seriously though when it’s someone’s business and livelihood we should not say a thing until clear evidence is available. 

I did hear, or see an argument that suggested that all the pub had to do was make a statement.  Personally I think that is very close to the very political philosophy of the very people we are seeking to oppose.   Let’s hold back and give people the benefit of doubt until proved otherwise, and of course give people the freedom to decide themselves.

What is clear though is that we in the anti-fascist contingent need to get better organised.  Once again it would have been difficult to argue that the All Saint’s Square Event on Saturday was truly multi-cultural.  That’s not a reason for us not to protest at the appearance of the NF in Rotherham, but it really would be fantastic if we could truly involve all Rotherham Communities, rather than what I lovingly refer to as the usual suspects. 

I know that there are moves to bring together a Rotherham UAF Group or Hope Not Hate Group.  If it is to succeed we need all the Communities involved.

On the Fringe Festival scene.   It was a quiet week with just the two RAE events at The Old Market Gallery.   So difficult to understand why the artists were unable to break into the Gallery on Wednesday night for the last of the Wednesday Acoustic Clubs.  I’m sure we’ll eventually get to the bottom of it and it will of course involve, murder and kidnap at the very highest levels of the Arts establishment in Rotherham.   I myself could do nothing, 1. I was laid out, 2. I don’t have keys.  By the time had managed to find a Gallery person it was far too late and the artists were all drunk in the Pub.  Well done them.

Saturday saw the second and final Saturday Brunch Club of the season.  It’s a pity we could not have done more of these as I think of the Wednesday’s and Saturday acoustic sessions the Saturday’s might well have been the most successful. 

David tells me that there were more people in this week and of course I know that we had some excellent guests as well as session singers.  My thanks to all for keeping that going.

We are now into the final few days of the Fringe Festival.  Two events remain.  On Tuesday night John McCullagh, son John, Special Effects, Phil Sinclair and Alan McGee will be in Town at The Charters.  This is a sort of free / donate please evening, and represents an amazing evening of music of all genre. 

Then on Wednesday at The Charters we have the fantastic Sheedyfrost, honestly not one to be missed, see last week’s Blog for the special.  Sheedyfrost will be supported by Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty, and we will presenting Karen with her awards for winning the Fringe Festival Logo.   Karen also did the main logos for Slamfest and Banners High.    Our thanks to Karen for all her support throughout 2012, along Nigel of course who she cannot be without when on stage as Swansong Acoustic.  Swansong plugged were the first Band on Stage at Slamfest. 

So please come along and give Karen a cheer or two besides listening to some fantastic songs.

Some sad news.  During the Festival hiatus it was sad to bump into Bob Humphries and be told that Florin have gone their separate ways.   Florin had a fast growing reputation for high quality music on the acoustic scene and were frequent guests in the pubs of Rotherham and Sheffield as well as popular Festival performers. 

Bob tells me that he is currently taking stock and will be heading out solo for a bit.  Rob on the other hand I believe is working on a musical project with his girlfriend.  

Just a word for MoHawk Promotions who put on an amazing night of Punk at The Charters on Friday night.  Really wish I had been able to get there myself, but I was still very much on a short lead. 

And yes, because there was a high risk that I might go stir crazy my keeper, Mrs Masher took me out on Saturday night; but only as far as the Club where Past Masters, that well known Band from the Club Circuit were in residence. I know I'm a fine one to talk, but I have to say that the technical ability of the Band lacked a bit, a few missed lead ins, chords, etc but hey, this is Party time music from the fifties and sixties, and to be honest does anyone care by 11:00pm? 

Good luck to both –   and of course we’ll miss Martin and his big violin thing,

Over the next few days more pics and stuff will be going onto the Fringe Festival Web Site, access them via the links HERE

And so we head into November………………….. yikes.    I’ve got the Diary page up but at the moment it just covers the regular fixtures, I’ll be putting the December page up soon as well.   More attention to them over the next few days.   November is HERE 

Please keep an eye on Emails etc this week as ROMP are in the process of deciding whether to call off Friday night’s Meeting of the Clan.  From what I can ascertain many of the poets are attending other events, “representing” ROMP around South Yorkshire and so it’s thought not worthwhile to hold the event.   I believe one or two ROMPERS not going to the Sheffield venues might well meet at The Bridge for a smaller word slam.

And don’t forget that over the hill in Sheffield Play On will be singing their hearts out at The Rutland.

I would remind you that the Festival Exhibition at the Old Market Gallery is now closed, but I’m assured that there is another excellent one moving in and will be opening in November – more news later. 

And during early November Cupola Gallery which can be found over in Hillsborough has a series of Tutor Free Printing Workshops.   More details available HERE

Watch out for major changes to the Poets Corner on the Acoustic Rotherham Site. Chris Bilton has joined the Team to keep the page up to date.   And our thanks to Carol Robson for her contribution towards getting the page started – Carol’s a busy lady at the moment and we wish her every success with all of her current projects.

I’ll be catching up with a lot of the stuff that has been missed or overlooked during the Fringe Festival

RAE will be going into a period of quiet contemplation, while promoting some mighty good one off events mind you.   However, we do need to give some thought as to what 2013 is going to hold for us.  This will of course require some thought about the events promoted in 2012, Banners High, Slamfest and the ROAF Fringe.  All have had their highlights and of course low lights. 

We want your involvement, and we know that you don’t like attending meetings too much so if you’ve got a view then please send us an Email expressing your concerns. Email HERE

And I think that brings things to a conclusion of this week’s Blog.

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

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

MADNESS. Good Stuff some have missed the Really Good things Coming

Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in the same time frame and World as some other people.  Perhaps I am going completely gaga since turning into my sixtieth year.  Good job the medics are going to set about checking out the wiring system in the brain. 
Why do I say this?  Well, I sent someone I thought to be friend a text.  It was very simple, basically, “watcha mate what were your numbers on Saturday night?” or words very close to this.
The reply was astounding.  An Email sent by his Company Administrator querying why I wanted to know – and then giving a formal general statement that made no mention of the number. 
Am I going completely mad? why should information that I could simply get from the barman be so sensitive?  The brain boggles (well we know that about me, don’t we?)   

Why do I mention this?  The immediate reason is that currently I’m running on an extremely short fuse and reacting badly to things that don’t fit.  Might be the medic stuff stress, or the medication, I don’t know.  So to those who have been catching the bombs who feel they did not deserve it I apologise and steps have been taken to protect you.    

But just to show equality in this, and given the wonderful attendances at some of the Fringe Events this year that I’ve boasted about, let me say that number wise Friday’s one man Theatre was a complete and abject failure,  seven. 

The performance of Tina and Matt "A Poor Prospect: Tales From The Workhouse" was I’m told World Class, and I believe that a recording was made, so hopefully we’ll see the results of that in the not too distant future.  And of course we have apologised to Stan Skinny.

There are reasons for this abject failure, but now is not the time or place to go into it.

So it’s good to report that on Saturday we had a reasonable turn out for an evening of Blues with the Tom Killner Band at The Charters, brilliantly supported by The Blind Dead McJones Band.   And WOW the standard of music was simply brilliant.  At one point the two Bands came together for a nine minute long jam, and you can listen and see this on the Video and Picture page HERE  Along with other snippets from the Fringe Festival.

Also on Saturday I went along to the Afternoon debut performance of BOT at The Trades Club.  I really have to take my Masher Cap off to Eddie and the boys and girls of the Company.  In a very short period of time they have put together performances of true class from McBeth through to some modernised classic Comedy sketches.   It’s clear that they have worked really hard.

And this is not a Dickie creep bit;  BOT is a fantastic project, and while I know they are working hard on a production of Billy Liar which is due in the Spring of 2013, I hope that they will keep their doors open and allow grassroots Thespians  to join and develop within their ranks.

I know that Eddie and BOT are rightly very jealous of their independence. As is RAE.  It is also my hope that they will not isolate themselves from the rest of the Arts Community in Rotherham, and in fact become an essential and lively part of it.
Much delayed due to marches and setting up but the first of the Saturday Brunch Clubs happened last Saturday with David Kidman in the Chair.   I’m told the in common with most of the events held at the Festival Gallery this year, the walk through was not fantastic, yet pleasing to report that artists had a great time.

This Saturday 27th between 11 and 3:30ish there will be an absolutely fantastic line up of artists making guest appearances, once again under the guise the Brunch Club.  Heather Woodhead, winner of the Wath Festival Seniors award, Ian Whitehead, Diamond Dac, Rob and John (never to be missed) and many, many more.

The Acoustic Rotherham Festival Special at The Queens due 28th October HAS BEEN CANCELLED  as I cannot be hands on for the event and it’s a little unfair to ask someone to take the job on – although typically I did try.

So coming up at the Fringe this next seven days or so……………

Wednesday 24th October    Wednesday Acoustic Club, Phillip Hartley  Sheffield's top singer song writer in the Chair introduces local heroes Mark Hearne and Nic Harding + a surprise depending on the weather, will be gathering at the Old Market Gallery.   As it’s the last one please pop along and give some support to these gallant troopers.

Tuesday 30th October     It’s John McCullagh (that’s he who wrote Dance on The Grave of Mrs Thatcher), Alan McGee who built Creation Records and discovered Oasis upon the way, John’s Son, John Lennon McCullagh making his UK debut, Phil Sinclair local song writing talent, and making for a real mix of music Special Effects will be rocking the house.    So something for everyone.   It’s happening at The Charters.

Wednesday 31st October    We are really lucky to have Sheedyfrost to play at the Fringe Festival.  Sheedyfrost are a song writing duo creating songs that tell fantastic stories, against melodies that singers love.  Many of their Songs have been covered; locally Tina and Matt who provide the support for the evening have been known to sing The Refugee as a standard part of their repertoire.  I know people worry about coming along to an act that they have not seen before, but this one I can fully recommend and as they are coming from the other side of the Mountains  to join us at The Charters, it would be good to make them feel welcome.   Please go and check their music out HERE 

Their Web Site is HERE

TICKETS WERE PUBLISHED AT £5  - As it’s more important for us to get bums of on seats we’re cutting £2 off the price of a ticket.  Tickets on the door are now only £3.

We’ll also be making a presentation to Karen Gilmore for all her excellent art work throughout 2012 for RAE Festivals

What nothing on Saturday?  I hear you saying.  Well we aren’t going to put ourselves up against the ghost Pirates of Papa  Legba’s at The Bridge……….  Hohoho and a bottle of rum for Rachel. 

I’m afraid I have no more information about the rumoured NF Rally in Rotherham this Saturday 27th, if anything passes across my Inbox I’ll pass it on, assuming I can play with my keyboard. 

I was though intrigued by a headline in the Advertiser which read something like "Police Praised".  Given the huge amount of criticism concerning the Police about the expense and scale of their operation for the EDL March in Rotherham I was keen to see who was throwing all this praise around............ ah no other than the Chief Constable.  Nothing like self congratulatory praise; even worse than the Masher's I think.   

So that’s the week so far. 

Back I hope at the weekend with loads of stuff that has got lost under the mound of Fringe Festival stuff. 

So if you want to catch up -  Pictures from the Wednesday Sessions HERE  Pictures and Video from the other Fringe Events with a few Video cuttings HERE Festival Event Diary HERE Listings pages HERE 

Whatever you are doing this next week, have a great time, support local artists and KEEP IT LIVE

Thursday, 18 October 2012

How to spend £350K + / ODS Saxon and Goat Leaf just Great / And Brilliant Theatre and Music This Weekend

There was a strange, nasty atmosphere in Town last Saturday.  It was something I’d not experienced in Rotherham before.   

There was something really frightening about coming through the Interchange to be confronted by walls of Policemen kettling fences and police Vehicles. 

As I walked along Effingham Road, making my way to All Saints Square there were riot cops, cops on horses, cops with dogs, and some very empty shops.

I could hear in the background racist chants emanating from the County Borough, where the cause of the trouble, the EDL, were gathering.  Those chants alone should have had the Police arresting EDL Members, but the Police seemed completely unmoved by the hateful chants. 

Ironic isn’t it?  We all got excited when a Footballer allegedly uttered racist comments, yet here our gallant Police Force actually allowed the EDL to shout the slogans out with real hate and intent in the voice - free of any sanction.

All Saints Square was closed down, by security fencing, Police lined the boundary of the Minster, and yet more Police mixed with the growing Counter Demonstration, suggesting we ought to behave ourselves, and asking us why grown men and women would want to be a part of the Counter Demonstration; especially one like me who could hardly walk.

I’m told that there were over 750 Policemen on duty  on Saturday the 13th.  All leave was cancelled.  There were 200 max Counter demonstrators in all Saints Square; there were around 200 more counter demonstrators protecting the Mosque at the top of Ship Hill where the EDL were going to hold their Rally as instructed by the Police, I'm told  Oh and the EDL turned out about 100.  I make that 1.5 Coppers per protester!!   

No less than five, spread across the road, followed me back to the Interchange, they were in full battle dress.  Couldn’t resist thanking them for the protection as they realised I wanted a bus and not to bash an EDL member with my walking stick. 

Over done? – you bet it was.

For me the real surprise came during the speeches when the Deputy Leader of the Council informed us that it was the Police who had allowed the EDL march to take place; and had set the route of the march, etc, without consulting with the Council or anyone. 

Apparently the Policing cost was around £375K!  The cost to the Town Centre in terms of lost trading etc., is considerably more,  the most recent estimate I saw was £400K and the damage to the improving reputation of the Rotherham Town Centre cannot be measured. 

Personally I think that the Police have major questions to answer.  The main one being why the Police allowed a march to take place that broke many National Laws as well as Rotherham Bye Laws. 

When Mick and I put on Slamfest in All Saints Square at the end of July, we had to go on a major form filling exercise; provide £5m of public liability Insurance; complete risk assessments ; wait for permissions ; give assurances concerning stewarding and alcohol usage; and initially avoid a Utd Match day; and warned that  any call for Policing from our event would incur a charge.   

I’m told that the Counter Demonstration had to hobble together as much of the aforementioned papaerwork as they could in the short time they had to get organised , yet the EDL named the day and the Police without any reference or consideration for the “people” of Rotherham or cost simply gave permission for it to go ahead on the basis of free speech.

That free speech apparently includes words and slogans widely considered to promote racial hatred is absolutely stupid, but our gallant Police Force stood by and let it happen.  Why?  

We won’t go down that road though.

My concern really is aimed at what might be considered to be the low number of Counter Demonstrators, about 175 in total maximum and while represented during the speeches the exceptional and obvious lack of ethnic representation as part of UAF lead demonstration

Perhaps the turnout was not helped by the likes of Lord Ahmed and Community Leaders asking people to stay away.  The arguments being Community safety and giving life to the EDL through providing them with publicity.  Clearly Lord Ahmed and his friends have learnt nothing from history, e.g. that if you sit back, do nothing, you will soon be over run.  Where fascism and racism is concerned there can be no compromise.

There was a rumour on the day that even the Deputy Leader of the Council had issued advise that Labour Councillors should not be seen to be a part of the Demonstration.  In the event a handful of demonstrators and two MPs turned out, well done to them. 

It would be good to see Rotherham Council at the vanguard of defending their citizens from the disruption and threats of the EDL – maybe that’s just a little bit too much to expect.   Yes indeed.

Finally, there was clearly some sort of organisational mix up going on.  Nothing happened for a long time in the Square and it wasn’t clear exactly what was supposed to be going on.  Let’s hope it all gets sorted and clear lines of communication are opened before the next one……………………   yes the next one, apparently the National Front intend to March on Saturday 27th – unless of course the Police do their job and stop it before it gets started.   The Police have a responsibility to the Rotherham Community, not the interests of fascist Organisations.

All Dickie's photographs from the day can be found HERE

That said, Saturday for RAE and the Fringe Festival was a good one.  OK we had to cancel the Saturday Brunch Club, but we were able to get on a truly top quality evening of Heavy Metal, with local Band Goat Leaf supporting the legendary ODS Saxon.  An evening super charged with positivism in so many ways.  

Visually and musically the  performances of both Bands were faultless.

It was also good to see The Trades Club once again packed to the rafters and bouncing, with some class acts. 

I think we chalk that concert up as a success, given the number of people asking for more at the end. 

Photographs from the night HERE and I'm told there are some better one's to come.

And so to a success of a different sort. 

On Monday at the Try Line Club, an interesting venue, The Rotherham Red Choir once again demonstrated their fantastic musical technical ability.  If there is a better Choir in the Town then I’m still to hear them.   I must also note an excellent song about Amnesty written by Rob Slow.  I think I might have a snippet of that which you will be able to find on the Web Site.

The Red Choir had put together a super programme including Two Play an interesting Husband and Wife duo of jazz playing, exponents of the French Horn.  A delightful half hours entertainment including music from the classics to the modern. 

Also included on the programme SOSA-XA brought the sounds of Zimbabwe and South Africa in a slash of great harmonies and colour.  A super end to the evening.  

And it’s good to report that the evening was played out to a near full house (of part the advantage of having large Choir participation – an old Masher trick) 

I also went to a meeting of the Get Sorted Trustees.  Watch this space for more good news very soon. 

Last Wednesday’s Acoustic Club went ahead as planned and played out to the usual suspects, I cannot even call it all the usual suspects.   It’s a great pity that such quality music is not getting the audience it deserves.   Next year even more thought will be put into the planning and venues for the Acoustic Clubs.  

But we cannot leave the Wednesday Club without offering a huge THANK YOU to Swansong Acoustic, Ian Huddleston, Paul Pearson / Chris Treebeard and Keystone Acoustic for once again making a super contribution to the Fringe Festival. 

It seems strange but we’re two weeks into the Festival and we’ve still not had a Fringe Festival Saturday Brunch Acoustic Club.  What would have been week one was taken up with Opus Hatch, and week two was wiped out by the EDL marching past.   Bring your own burgers – coffee / tea  - sandwiches and turn it into realm eating experience, a bag of crisps might pass.   But come and have some fun.  We need it after last Saturday.

David Kidman will be joined by Rum Doodle and Chris Scarlett for a guest spot and you might even find the Masher out on a pre op romp and a host of surprises .……….. + mainly yourselves for a relaxed mid-Saturday.   It’s going to be a goodie. 

If you were down to play at one or two please head on down for three and four and David will sort a spot out for you. 

And this coming weekend at the Fringe we have a variety of events for you.  On Friday 19th, you can be taken to the Sheffield Workhouse of the nineteenth Century and the more modern work experience offered by Tesco in the twenty first century are brought to the stage on Friday 19th October at the Old Market Gallery, Rotherham, in the form of two one person plays, presented by Rotherham Art Events as part of the Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe.

Tina Mckevit will be performing “A Poor Prospect: Tales From the Workhouse” that she co-wrote with Matt Hegarty.  It’s a tears and laughter performance providing a taste of what life in the Workhouse of Sheffield may have been like.  With some beautifully crafted songs the piece is given passion and intensity by Tina’s performance.   There is talk that the show will be taken to the Edinburgh Festival in 2013.

And Edinburgh is where Stan Skinny has returned from with a successful run of his one man show “The Tesco Chain Store Massacre” tucked under his belt.  Fifty minutes of pure satire, that on it’s Premier in Rotherham earlier this year, held the audience in tears of laughter.  Stan captures the essence of what some have has described as the modern equivalent to the Workhouse perfectly as he takes you through work experiences that any retailer will recognise only too well.

The main Festival are presenting “Call Me Mr Robeson” at RCAT.  It’s a bit disappointing that not more thought was given to the programming of the events, but hey the professionals know best, so Rotherham has two top quality Theatre productions in one night.

On Saturday more Theatre, this time at The Trades Club, where the BOT Theatre Company will be presenting a programme to show case the type of work they do.  There is a Matinee at 2:30pm and an evening performance at 7:00pm.   Please go along and make the performances a success. 

And at the Charters it’s The Tom Killner Band with support from The Blind Dead McJones Band from Leeds.  This is sure to be a cracking night so get in early.

I’ll be with you with more tales from the Festival and more, sometime soon, especially if I find out more about the threatened NF March on the 27th October.  

Festival listings page is HERE All the full listings HERE

Hope to see you at the weekend’s Festival activities, and whatever you are doing this weekend, have great fun, support your local artists and keep it live.