Thursday, 23 October 2014

Two Great CDs / Chit Chat News / and the Weekend Ahead

So let’s make a start on what may of the surface may seem to be quiet week, yet so many good things have happened.  

But first, what do you do with a credit card sized piece of plastic claiming to be a CD?   This is what happened to me on Saturday when the flap of the letter box at Masher Towers was wedged opened by a medium sized envelope.  The contents of the envelop claimed to be the new album from Stompin’ on Spiders, (something we have been doing all Summer if the papers are to be believed), “Blacklisted”. The package was a bit of surprise, not least because the sender of the parcel was at that very moment telling all his Facebook friends that he was arriving in Hong Kong on his way to the land of Auz..  The plastic was an even bigger surprise.  I did try it in the local “hole in the wall” only to be told “NO BUGGER OFF MASHER” by the screen, before a helpful Mr Phil Hartley dug me out of the hole by giving me step by step instructions.   

What a fantastic idea for distributing a physical music product!  A bit of a push and you have a storage stick which slots into a USB port and lo – there shall be music and so there was.   I remember muttering at the time that it had better be worth all the packaging hype, and so it proved.   It would certainly halve the number of boxes under the beds of many Bands.  

We’ve long been trying to find a slot for Stomping on Spiders at Slamfest, unfortunately their lead guitarist and vocals often gets called away on business at short notice, which means the closest we have come is Gazza in his guise of The Abbott of Unreas  Gazza has made a couple of appearances at Acoustic Rotherham events as well.  

The “Blacklisted” CD demonstrates why we are so keen.   This is Blues at it’s very best, coming at you in many fused formats.   There’s a bit of bluesy, folk, rock, Country, and straight at you.  The Band call it “new tradition blues”. This CD is one of the most enjoyable “indie” releases I have had the privileged to listen to this year, the professional mixing and production gives the listener a complete experience of the instruments and vocals – on one track in particular the use of a harp makes for an amazing sound fusion.

I cannot recommend the CD enough, you can get hold of a copy via the Stomping on Spiders Web Site HERE   

And another blast from the past.  Niven Smith the writer behind so many of the songs sung by West Midlands outfit Beechwood, another Band that Acoustic Rotherham brought to South Yorkshire, has produced a super solo CD, entitled Past and Present.  There is a real Indie feel to the music, melodic and very much chirpy and cheerful, he says with qualification as some of the lyrics are rather deep.  Some songs have their roots in the eighties. You can find Niven’s CD at a special price for download HERE  on his Web Site.   You can listen to the tracks before you buy, always a clever idea to tempt you to try music from an artist you might be unsure of.   I liked it; it’s a fun listen 

Live at The Trades was a sensational high spot of the week.   The Trades was packed for one of the best Tribute Bands I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, Livewire performing their AC/DC show.   Over two hundred in the venue, a minimum fifteen minute queue at the bar for most of the evening, says it all.  The music was loud, brash and a full two hour plus thrash of the rock musicianship at it’s very best.  For those who did not get to see the show, we hope to ask them back sometime next year. 

Some venues though really have to get their act together.  The Management was told that the show was pre – box office record for sales.   Yet three bar men had to work two bars for most of the night, at one point this slipped to two when change had to be got.   Madness.   My hat is off to the Bar Staff though who fought manfully to get the queue down, and some had not had a break throughout what by the end of the night was a near thirteen hour shift – far beyond the call of duty.   I was disappointed though when they tried to charge the Band for drinks.  They must have taken near record takings on the night, yet were so miserly as to want to charge the Band who had brought the crowd in; a crowd that will keep them in a job.  

At the end of a night we are all tired, performers, RAE Crew and Venue Staff; tempers get short, especially when “jobsworth” like attitudes come to the fore.   Best for everyone to chill out and Mick and I ain’t going anywhere until at least Christmas; if you want paying, speak to us when everyone has a clear head.   

And that seems to be the problem with our Venue.   They cannot get their heads around the fact that it’s a partnership.  RAE is viewed as outsider’s gate crashing their cosy existence.   The Venue has been sold, receipts not being up to the level required and the fact that the previous Management could not get planning permission to bulldoze it to make way for Offices or a car park.  The Management need to wake up to the business we have brought to the Venue.   By the way there is talk that they will be looking for Bookings bringing in a Hire Fee of £300 per night.   Talk about live on another Planet. 

On a more positive note the Kinkids girls were out shaking their collection boxes at the end of the night, and collected a remarkable £80 towards the Children’s Christmas Party.   They will be out again for Lovehunter, the best Whitesnake Tribute Band in the UK, coming to Live At the Trades on the 1st November.   Get your tickets from Mezmerize, the Cutlers and Trades or Online HERE   Prepare to rock one more time.  More details about Kinkids can be found HERE  You can find ticket links to all the remaining shows in 2014 HERE    

 Well, it was also a busy time for Meetings.  

The ArtNav Co-ordination Group met to consider the Consultants to take on the difficult task of identifying the holes in Rotherham’s arts network.   It’s disappointing that so many Groups have decided that the Meetings of this Group are not a priority on their busy schedules.   It was interesting that the very first Meeting following the news that Lizzy was going to leave her post in the Council was packed and since then the numbers have dwindled significantly. 

For the record we had a limited choice and decided to go with Culture Partners who we hope will be able to be flexible enough to think outside of the box.   We need a positive change and a heap of new ideas to kick start a change in the way that the Arts Or 
ganisations in Rotherham think about what they are doing to help in the reconstruction of Rotherham’s image in the wider World.

I hope; the Group hope; that more Artists and Organisations will not only play a role in the Consultation and the deliberations following the Report. 

It is being treated with some urgency, and the Funds made available for the Consultation are limited so all hands to the deck.

I also went along to the first Meeting of those intending to follow the British Council’s Citizen Action Programme.    This offers fantastic opportunities to Volunteers or Voluntary Sector Pro’s to learn about Citizen Action and develop ideas for Community programmes.  The Course also provides an opportunity for collaborations, and the building of a Network of contacts from across the World.  There’s an opportunity for travel too.  Given that it is fully funded it was rather disappointing to find just three people at the inaugural session.   One hopes that future sessions will be better attended. 

Two of the fantastic artists that RAE has collaborated with over the past couple of the years, Minx Taylor and Caz Maz have had their work entered into the Doncaster Open Arts Exhibition.  The Exhibition opened last Saturday and their work created considerable interest.   It's fantastic their work is being seen outside of Rotherham by whole new audience and lets hope that Commissions follow.   

It does make me wonder sometimes about the subjective nature of Art, when Rotherham Artists have to go out of the Borough to get their work shown. 

Then it was onto the launch of the new Office in the Imperial Building for The Mix, who will be leading a series of projects with young people, mainly theatre based.   The Organisation has it’s HQ in Huddersfield and Vicky Hilton has been recruited to help develop the projects locally.  We look forward to seeing the proposals.

The Rotherham Shakespeare Festival for young people, a project that has a following throughout the World is in financial danger, as there is likely to be a £20K shortfall in funds for the 2015 Festival.   Unfortunately I can’t divulge the reason for this shortfall at the moment, but needless to say it has to do with short sighted Leadership in the corridors of power.  

An appeal has been started and you can donate by text -   that makes it easy - see the poster / sign.  The details are also available on the RAE Web Site HERE

Had a message from ROAR this morning to say that the call for work for a new Exhibition that goes under the working title of “The Darkness” has gone out.  Previously there had been little response.  So get those brushes out, and get in touch with Matt at ROAR.  Email HERE

Yes, I’ve let it happen again.   My Email client has been wiped out.  This time I have managed to not only loose the Emails, but also my entire contact list!!   Not good.   PLEASE IF YOU ARE A REGULAR CORRESPONDENT OR EVEN AN OCCASSIONAL ONE – SEND ME AN EMAIL SO THAT I CAN REPAIR MY DATA BASE.    Email HERE   Thank you.   

Speaking of things technical, a new look Web Site, less heavy on the download will be developed over the next few weeks.  Please be patient though.  

Editor in Chief of The Word Pit has been on to me, apparently some of the Poets who submitted work have not been told that the Word Pit 7 has been published.   It has and links were published on the day and in subsequent Blogs etc.   But for those who have missed it - you ain't 'cos it's HERE 

This weekend promises to be an excellent one;   Friends of Mick and a few others, will be gathering at The Trades for what promises to be a special birthday Party for the man, who hits 50 this week.  I know you didn’t appreciate that he was so young, but that’s modern living for you.   A sign of his age reared it’s ugly head on Saturday when he actually turned down a pint of beer at the end of the evening saying he could not handle it.   Never mind Mick, I do have a spare walking stick you can make use of.  His celebrations also include Led into Zeppelin Acoustic at The Cutlers on Friday.

A quick word for The Cutlers who in addition to their regular Saturday shows are also attracting some super audiences for some more chilled out sounds on a Sunday afternoon.  Keep the eyes on the Facebook for details. 

SYDA (South Yorkshire Disabled Arts) will be performing in the ROAR Arts Space on Westgate.  Entry is free, and this evening of comedy and tragedy starts at 8:00pm.  This is the Company’s second performance in Rotherham, and is called “Second Performance”.     Details HERE  

Throughout the day there are plenty of Anti-Fascist activity, with Hope Not Hate having a Newspaper distribution, details HERE   and there is a Rally in The Town Hall at around 12:00  Details HERE

In the Old Town Hall area, be prepared to be scared out of your wits from around 10ish when Something Special have their Halloween Market.   I’m resisting a Minx joke………..   All the details are HERE  

Finally on Saturday, it being the closest Saturday to Halloween, The Bridge will again be awash with zombies (I know it’s like that most Saturday’s) as Papa Legbus call up the voodoo Pirates for a full on ghostly, yes I said ghostly, performance.   Details HERE 

Sorry to hear about The Bridge’s clash with the Leeds Utd supporters last Friday.   Glad to say that the morons did not cause too much trouble.   Mick claims not to have been amongst the rioters;  I believe him, but only because I saw a photograph of him dressed very smartly been hugged by a six foot giant who once played for Leeds.   We all know Mick would not endanger his best T shirt by throwing beer around. 

This Sunday around 1:00pm to slip down nicely with your lunch, the Masher will be interviewed / maybe performing LIVE on Youtube for the Performers Lounge, with Richard Green in the Chair.   You can find the Link for the Live stream HERE in the Facebook Event. 

And at 7:00pm, more Acoustic Joy as Karen and Nigel (Acoustic Swansong) host the Acoustic Warm Down at the Titan’s Rugby Club.   More details HERE   

So plenty to get your teeth into there.

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

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