Monday, 7 January 2013

Welcome to 2013 It's All Going On......

Welcome to 2013. 

The year got off to a great start as into my Inbox came an Email with the heading, “Find Out why you Will Not Succeed in 2013”, just what you want to see on New Year’s morn, even if the sun was pouring through the window at the time. 

May your New Year be filled with music and and your diaries filled with Gigs.   

But first, unfinished business from 2012 from the World of Music and the Leather Zoo, Eurotrash promo at The Charters  - 

The evening got a real rocking kick off with Waiting for Eddie.  Wow.  I’m told they only had a forty five minute practice in the last month because of College and School commitments; you simply would not have been able to tell, the set was so tight.  A nice mix of their own material and covers.  Great to see that they are becoming more confident with their own material and the “Freedom” song was great.   I’m really looking forward to the Band finding the time to get into the studio and producing some quality demo tracks.

I’d heard the name, but would you believe Myke’s old Buddy from the Sheffield sessions Rob Tarana had been like ships in the night, running a bit close but never meeting or getting onto the same Bill.

I could instantly see why Rob would have had a fan in Myke. His amazing punk / jazz improvised fusion held the audience spell bound; if only because they were not sure where he would take us next, musically speaking.   It was wonderful to see, and his appreciation of Myke the musical troubadour and the Mashers, naturally made us instant friends.  Rob’s card was marked and we hope that he’ll be joining us for one or two of this year’s Festivals. 

For his set Rob was backed by the French outfit Black Hole Super Mass.  Wow: showing outstanding musicianship it would be difficult to replicate the quality of the blues / punk / rock fusion they offered in a nonstop sixty minute high octane set made up entirely by their own material. 

Problem:  For reviewers such as I – e.g. one’s of limited intellect, the clearly angry lyrics were hard to grasp as they were in, yes, surprise, surprise, French.    And readers will not be disappointed to learn that I had the same trouble with the German Band, yes, this was a truly European night of music, without Graham Norton’s attempts at humour, and of course no marking from the judges.

From Germany Bif had recruited Into the Boon Docks, hailing from Munich, who produced an edged set with a deeper and more underscored anger in the writing.  So once again it would have been fantastic to have been able to understood the lyrics (kiddies learn a language when you’re young, sadly, in Dad talk, you’ll regret it at my age if you don’t.)

So a damp, wet, and cold Friday night was warmed up nicely, although we were taking bets as to whether it was colder in the pub than outside, yes, the heating switch had not been found.   Result what should have been a packed event, held few people, as even those who came down into the downstairs room soon sought the tropical heat to be found in the rain outside.  

This is the cutting edge music and entertainment that is so exciting, youthful and angry, which given the European political circumstances in which we find ourselves I’m surprised that we don’t hear more of in the UK.   Having said that my digging has uncovered one or two things which we will talk about in future Blogs

Which reminds me, I need to do some listening to Radio 6 to see if the spirit of John Peel lies there. 

It would appear that our friends Leather Zoo have been a bit in the war.  They very kindly lent a group of musicians £1,000 to hire a vehicle, a sum which has not been returned despite many requests.  So STP Records have organised a Pay Back Leather Zoo Show for June 2013.  You can check the full details HERE.  You really couldn’t wish to meet a nicer team than Leather Zoo, and they do so much to promote and encourage Grass Roots Bands across Europe as well as locally in Rotherham.  So if you can get across to Manchester or simply help by buying a ticket please do so.

And that sadly, was my only musical outing of the whole holiday period, other than being dragged out by Mrs Masher to sample the delights of a deluded lad calling himself a “tribute singer”  and one of those show bands thrown together by someone to work the Holiday Parks during 2013, and still undergoing training.    I shouldn’t be cruel.  Oh go on then. But only because these acts are being paid riches from the Clubs comparatively when placed against the meagre earnings to be made by far better acts from Pub Gigs.   And within that there lies a huge political discussion about Agents!   which we will not go into here. 

I’m told that there were good turnouts at all the Folk Clubs meeting over the Festive period and the live Gigs at The Bridge received mixed reviews from my spies. 

Even Mick was quiet over the Festive season, pinned down by his shift pattern over the Festive season.  

So with batteries fully recharged we look towards 2013.

But first, like all good News Papers and periodicals at this time of year, (even The Mercury, you can read it on line HERE) it’s time for Dickie’s review of 2012. 

And unusually I’m going to start with a non-music development that I’m just over the moon about.   OK, it’s not the most comfortable building / venue, especially during the late autumn and Winter Months but the job that Vicky Hilton has done for RCC on the Old Market Gallery has been nothing short of miraculous.  Since being passed the baton Vicky has attracted new sources of finance and mounted some excellent Exhibitions, including three fantastic months over the Michaelmas Term, including Youth, freelance local artists for the Open  Arts Festival, and rounding up with the work of a South Yorkshire Arts Collective.   

The 2013 Old Market Gallery season starts with an Exhibition of Chris Slater’s work called “Rotherham and Beyond” and it kicks off at 7:00pm on Thursday 10th January.   A real treat for the eyes I promise you, especially if these tropical weather conditions continue.  

And throughout 2012 the Arts have been doing some great things in Rotherham, many of which were covered in the AGM Blog a month or so ago, so let’s look at what Rotherham Art Events has been up to during 2012

At the turn of the year 2011 RAE did not exist.   However, thanks largely to some very hard work by Mick Hill, supplementing the broken body that is Dickie Masher, RAE was born.  Others to be thanked for their early enthusiasm Jane Corbitt, backed by Linda Gamston, Lisa Marie, Louise, and considerable essential support from Vicky and all the guys in and around RCC and ROAR.

The project was an ambitious one, to bring together as many genres of art at the grass roots, especially in the field of music which has so often been overlooked and mount time framed Festival Presentations.   The early Meetings suggested that there would be support from organisations across the board.

Looking back on the year we can say that the attempt to knit together audiences and artists from different genres was just a little over ambitious; although there are signs that the initial ideas have been taken up and experimented with outside of the RAE framed events, which is great. 

Our attempt to mount a Day of alternative entertainment for those not into celebrating the Diamond Jubilee went off like a damp squid.   A magnificent morning of political debate was followed by an afternoon of showcased entertainment involving, poetry, music, theatre.  Artistically brilliant but unfortunately failing to find support from an audience, made more disappointing as the “left” failed to show any support preferring the high jinx’s going on at The Town Centre  Street Party.  Also the expected financial support also disappeared into the ether, requiring us to use money that should have been designated for Slamfest / Fringe Festival to pay the artists.

Having said that, the evening Concert we promoted at The Rugby Club featuring Ed Tenpole Tudor was a fantastic success, with around 200 packing themselves in.  

The Day was declared a draw. 

Onwards to Slamfest.   Sounds quite simple when sat around in the Pub and scribbling ideas on the back of a fag packet.  Not so easy as we drove the whole event with around £1K of sponsorship  - less in fact.   Also, we didn’t appreciate the hoops that we would all have to jump through to make the Festival happen.

In the end the Insurance had to be paid by selling the Mashing Machine Taylor Guitar!  So that the big Town Centre show could go ahead.

Slamfest began life as what we hoped might have been a literary based Festival, and while there was much enthusiasm during discussions in January, nothing had been transposed into anything by July.   Three Arts based evenings were put together and staged at the Myplace Theatre, these included Folk Music, Satire (Music and Poetry), and Theatre.  Not one of the evenings succeeded, which was a little disappointing.   It was argued that entry to these events should have been free – however, one of  the RAE aims was to help with other organisations to develop an arts economy in Rotherham and encourage Promoters to pay a sensible fee  for the services of our arts – this means cover charges and ticketing – therefore by not at least experimenting with charging would not have made any sort of sense.

It was the music that again saved the Festival.  Slamfest came to life at 10:00am on the Saturday, winding up at a rubbish hour on the Sunday at The Bridge.   Over eighty acts, adding up to 300 individual musicians, on eight stages across the Town with music from Folk to the heaviest of Metals took part in what was a tremendous day of music; a true celebration of Rotherham musicianship, and including musicians of all ages, from the Youth Stage at Myplace to the Folkies at The Exchange where Roy Blackman was banging out his stuff. 

Anyone want to buy a T shirt from Slamfest in sizes large to mini skirt can do so by heading HERE  yes, our T shirt buyer went a little mad?!  Well we all live and learn, and I did suggest Folkies were large. 

We had a great team of volunteers on the day who did all they could, but small was the operative word and yet another lesson was learnt.   And of course our huge thanks to the whole of that team.

By the time we reached The Fringe Festival in October one would have hoped to have been slicker in our delivery; however our team of volunteers should be thanked for the fantastic hard work they did.

We were also fortunate enough to attract a bit of local Commercial Sponsorship for Slamfest which we were mighty grateful for, even though one major contributor went into Administration leaving RAE with a bit of problem or two which are currently being sorted.

The lessons have been learnt, and details of the 2013 two day Slamfest will be leaked over the coming weeks.   You might already find some HERE

Our final blow out of the year came throughout the entire month of October as RAE Promoted an ambitious range of events for the Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe, not that we wanted to be quite so involved in the Production process, but once again we note that there was a lack of Arts Groups wishing to be involved. 

That said RAE linked up with Gallery Town and the Urban Piano Project and launched the exhibition of the work across Rotherham during the Busking Day.  Young people and communities engaged themselves with professional artists to decorate and sculptor pianos donated by Towns folk.  A real Community project that RAE were very much proud to be part of.  There was even a special piece of music composed which you can find in the early Fringe Blog.

As a result audiences ranged from the fantastic to what at best might be described as very disappointing, and once again our lack of volunteer support really did for us in a big way. 

The highlights, attracting OD Saxon to play Rotherham for the first time in thirty years, and at the incredible, and unrepeatable ticket price of £5; thanks too to Graham and Steve for agreeing to become Honorary Presidents of RAE.   Around 250 packed into the Trades Club.    Two nights of free rock music at the Bridge to packed out audiences.   The Rotherham Red Choir Evening and an absolutely brilliant night of blues at The Charters from Tom Killner and friends.

Biggest disappointment of the Festival, the near to zero support for the anything acoustic music based, even though we had attracted top names from South Yorkshire and over the Boarders to play.  There are a number of reasons for this, the venue being one and I think publicity being another.  

There were also a number of administrative and communication issues relating to the overall programme that have already been addressed by RCC and RAE. 

But what an amazing year?  From twinkle in Dickie’s eye, RAE on a budget of not much more than a pocketful of Dickie’s, and Mick’s fly buttons managed to hobble together three multi genre events involving grass roots artists from across Rotherham. 

Looking to 2013.   Planning for the three showcase Festivals has already started.  Banners High will become a Festival based on Young Bands, Slamfest will run for only the weekend and concentrate mainly on music with opportunities being found for other arts groups who may wish to become involved.  The Fringe Festival and thoughts about it are still in the early stages of thinking – it’s open to everyone and if you want to get involved, get in touch.  EMAIL that applies to all 2013 RAE projects.

And Mick and Dickie are nothing but ambitious in developing opportunities for live performance and music, providing great music entertainment and full access to the arts.  

Hence we have spent the winter negotiating hard and working out how we could put one of Rotherham’s premier venues to work.  RAE has gained an agreement and booked at least two to three dates a month with the Rotherham Trades Venue and will be launching “Live at The Trades”.  We’ll be holding at least one Rock night a month with a top Regional / National touring Band playing, local Bands will get the opportunity to provide support, and will also have Show Case Evenings of their own.  We’re also venturing into Burlesque and other forms of live entertainment, Comedy etc.  and towards the end of the year watch out for news of a series of Party Nights.   Yes and watch out for some special nights to run into our Festival dates.

Check out the Events as they become available HERE

We will also be looking to put the room to good use during the week.  We’re thinking about some Workshops and Training Courses for Musicians looking to take the next step on the ladder.  

Live at The Trades will also be promoting monthly open access to Care / Disabled  Community for live music.  Watch out for news of the first one probably in March.

Reaching the youth audience is one of our key priorities.  The evidence suggests that within Rotherham we are blessed with talent seeking to play and find an audience.  We are also aware that for a lot of young people getting involved in music as a musician, technician, or simply for musical enjoyment.  Thus we will be developing a project aimed at taking Live Music to the Schools, covering the full range from access to instrument instruction / putting Bands together / staging and practice / Promotion and Performance.    

And you might ask, what has happened to the Quarterly Acoustic Rotherham Events.  October was called off because of my health, but it has given the opportunity to sit back and think about it’s future.   There is no doubt that artists liked the format and enjoyed playing the event and networking, but the last three events took that to it’s limit with only minimal non playing audience in attendance. 

We are in the process of planning a re-launch of the Acoustic Rotherham Events in March at a more central Rotherham venue.    My list is growing, but if you would like to play at an Acoustic Rotherham in March contact us HERE

Our links with ROAR, Get Sorted, and RCC will we trust be consolidated, and into 2013 we hope that we can make positive contributions to the discussion of the Rotherham Culture Group.  We hope also that we’ll be able to get out to some of the other organisations and Groups.

But our priority is to build our team of Volunteers, and this in the main will mean that we will be positively seeking to build bridges with youth and young adult groups. 

So, an exciting year lays ahead and just a reminder, if you want to get involved at any level simply EMAIL HERE, to make it all work we need more people to come on board and help, especially on event days. 

The Masher had his own interesting year with his general mobility making appearances rare, but those Gigs that he did do were great fun.  Barnsley Folk Club in April, Madfest, Natures World, Filey FF all stand out as being great fun.  Who knows, the medics may sort things so that he’ll be out and playing more during 2013.  Shall we say that he is simply frustrated at the moment.

It’s been a good year musically for some of our great friends, with new CDs from Jack’s Rake, Roy Blackman, String Theory, Speedyfrost, Tom Killner and others.  None will get the coverage and plays that they warrant or welcome.    I’m also privileged to know that one of Rotherham’s / South Yorkshire’s premier Bands will be marking the New Year with the release of a CD – can’t wait to be able to tell you more.

One person who is doing his part for the unsung heroes of  the independent unsigned musicians is my old mate Phil  Hartley, his Saturday afternoon (UK) Internet Radio Show, via a Canadian based Radio Station is fast becoming a must listen.  OK four hours is a bit long, but Phil’s Phancies (for that is what he calls the show) is also available as a Podcast.  He even plays The Mashers so he is clearly a man of great taste.  You’ll find Phil HERE on a Saturday afternoon and the Podcasts are HERE

Phil has finally caught up with the World of eighties Electronic music, and has been a bit of busy bee writing some nice sounding music which you can find HERE .  Fans of Phil will know that way back in time he recorded his own version of Gary Newman’s, Cars which you can still find on his Phillip Hartley Reverbnation page.  Gets so complicated, doesn’t it? 

It’s worth mentioning again Mike Harding’s Sunday Tea time Folk Programme treat on the Internet.   Unfortunately the first two weeks have been spoilt by a malicious spoiler attacking his Broadcasting Web Site.  Very small minded of someone.  One hopes that listeners will be patient.  In any event, following the trend set by Mr Hartley, Mike has made it available as a Podcast which you can find HERE

It seems a lot of acts have drawn breath and are already beating the drum for 2013 with host of January Gigs.  I have to admit January was always down time for the Mashers as nothing seemed to happen and the sessions were all poorly attended, but there might be change in the trend. 

It has been really good to hear some encouraging noises to start 2013, and I was over joyed by the impromptu mixed genre New Year Party at The Bridge – fantastic, and I was really sorry to have missed it.  Of course hats off to the main stars of the night Papa Leba’s.

So what have we got coming up, remembering you can find the full listings HERE - this week Rotherham Goths will pushing aside their coffin lids to gather at SNAFU on Thursday.  This is a return of what was a popular night organised by Mesmerised.     On the same night Chris Slater’s Rotherham and Beyond Exhibition opens at the Old Market Gallery, so why not give Vicky and Chris a rite scare before heading across the road to SNAFU. 

There’s one other stand out event for the week, a mass Lobby of the Rotherham NHS Trust at the Hospital on Wednesday 9th at 4:30pm.  If you thought the cuts have affected your life up to now, or simply sighing because you have escaped, 2013 will bring the reality of what is happening home in a big way.  

Besides the Welfare Reform in the form of the unified benefit scheme which will hurt many people, despite the Government saying something different, we have the Bedroom Tax, which will affect your Council Tax Bills.  Already Newcastle have zeroed the Arts budget, and Rotherham is looking very much the same.   I also discovered this week that with the Reform of Legal Aid no longer will people be able to get debt and Housing advise from Solicitors in the build-up to proceedings, instead they will have an emergency Solicitor given to them on the day of the hearing!  Or use Charity Gateway referral.  

The RHV January Showcase looks interesting with a great line up on the 19th, at The Charters so more of that next week. 

Pleasing news of ailing folkies.  Pete Stone is threatening to break out and do some Keystone Acoustic spots with Pam in the very near future and Andy Hault’s hand is well on the mend, so much so that I’m informed that he has played a few notes and chords.  

The Web Sites, yes I know we’ve made rash promises in the past that have not happened, but I really hope that by the end of next week we will be completely up to the moment.    In the meantime why not check out The Word Pit HERE or David Kidman’s reviews HERE and if you have any money left or are buying from Amazon, please, please, please use our Amazon linked Shop – no extra charges, and we get a small amount from your purchase to pursue our Festival and Event objectives. 

 Congratulations if you have got to the end of this one, you truly deserve a fantastic New Year, so have one. 

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

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