Thursday, 30 April 2015

Nothing happens in Rotherham? Oh Yea. A Bonaza Weekend coming your way

We’re heading to another Bank Holiday.    This part of the year always confuses me as I tend to forget what the Holiday is celebrating.   This one is May Day.  For young ones who may not remember, this is about remembering the battles of the Labour Movement that gave us so much that we now tend to take for granted. 

To celebrate this year why not pop down to the Imperial Building on Rotherham’s Corporation Street around 7:00pm and join in the Party that will be going on.  Details HERE

That is just for starters.   This is probably the busiest weekends of the year, with Festivals and Open Events throughout the Town.   It’s often shouted out that nothing happens in Rotherham; this weekend proves that lie to this and once again it’s the arts lobby that leads the way.   So SHOUT IT OUT – there is no need to sit at home moaning of boredom this weekend.  

You can find just some of the top music and visual art events on the RAE listings page HERE and I bet there are even more things going on that have slipped through my net. 

Here are a few pointers.

Top of the list has to be the Wath Folk Festival.   I’m told tickets are still available for the Concerts, but don’t think you have to pay to be involved in the atmosphere, pop down to Wath centre on Saturday morning and listen to the music and watch the Morris dancers – it’s a great show.   Many of the pubs host free sessions throughout the weekend and there is the Marquee on the Park where you can normally listen to some of the top local musicians and poets.   Find the link on the listings page HERE

The Cutlers has a top weekend of live music starting Friday night with Just Before Dawn taking to the stage.   Saturday it’s Dan and the Mavericks and Sunday afternoon a Rockabilly special with The Sons of El Roacho taking to the stage.  Real Ale, sunshine and more.  

The Imperial at Mexborough is having an in House Beer Festival over the weekend, to accompany it there is some brilliant music going on.  Top of my list is The Colin Robinson Band on Friday evening.  Colin leads top Club Rock Band Wizz Kids and Whitesnake Tribute Band Lovehunter, so you can be sure of a great rocking night.   Sunday, another of my favourite local Bands Sneaking Stupidity will be taking to the stage.

Live in Rotherham present Dizzy Lizzy at one of the new homes, Silverwood Miners Resource Centre, on Saturday.  This promises to be a great night with support coming from top local originals rockers Carnival of Thieves.   Tickets can be purchased Online HERE, or at Silverwood.     Buy in advance and save yourself £2 on the Door price. 

For those seeking visual and fine Art, the Open Sheffield event kicks off.   Artists across South Yorkshire open the doors on their studios giving a fantastic insight into the creative process.  In Rotherham artists using the ROAR Art Space on Westgate will be opening their studios.   Go take a look at some of the fantastic work being done by local artists.

It’s also the weekend of the Filey Folk Festival which has a top line up of the best of Northern based artists.   I’ve got some great memories of having played this Festival myself and can recommend the event, and true to RAE principles it’s FREE giving everyone the opportunity to taste folk music old and new.

At The Commercial at Chapeltown, Sheffield, on Friday evening Alan Gill launches a new monthly Folk session, First Friday Folk.   We wish you well Alan and hope that we’ll get to visit the Club in the not too distant future.

Also on Friday we have Big ROMP at the Bridge.   Go along and read your work or simply take in the work of some of Rotherham’s top poets.

Value added of Saturday includes The Mix’s Taking Back the Town event in Rotherham Town Centre at 12:00pm.  Fun for all the family, and will include music and theatre.

The Bridge features those stalwarts of the local music scene Searching for Sylvia, on Saturday night.

And yet another of my top to see bands The Shambolix will be playing The Flying Scotsman in Doncaster.  

Sunday and The Imperial Building on Corporation Street, Rotherham has it’s monthly Sunday Market.  Crafts, cakes!!, music and much more.  

I don’t usually point people towards religious events, but this one caught my eye and may be interesting.  The Liberty Church in Rotherham entertain The Watoto Children’s Choir.  A treat for the ears I am told. 

Conisbrough Open Mic will be holding an extra session from 8:00pm Sunday night at the Castle Bar, while veterans of the local scene Tush will be playing at The Titans Rugby Club.

So a great few days ahead - links to the events where they exist, can be found on the RAE listings page HERE

So to the out and about section.  Well I’ve not been out as much as I would have liked, but a couple of weeks ago I was taken to the Pitman Poets evening at the Concertina Club in Mexborough.   It has been many years since I had last crossed the threshold of this establishment and very little had changed.   My last visit had been for a Pub Quiz Cup Final, representing The Sportsman, Swinton.  Wow how time flies. 

The Pitman Poets are lead, if that’s the word by Tony Goodwin, yes, The Pitman Poet himself.   In fact it was Tony who dragged me out. 

He should be very proud of the group of poets he has gathered together, with everyone getting the opportunity to recite two or three poems on the night.

Special Guests were the fantastic Rotherham Red Choir who under the baton of Phoebe performed three wonderful numbers.  

Then it was the turn of The Masher to earn his pint.   Only my second performing outing in 2014/15.   Aided by the mass choir of the Red Choir who strangely knew the songs (lol) it turned into a really lively set.   

If this were not enough, Mr Gooders then dragged me, along with his young lady, to The Imperial to sample their Open Mic Night.   Great to see the Storm Trees duo in situ – my they work hard – and one or two others I recognised.   I repeated the set to an interested audience.   Nice Open Mic, welcoming and a great atmosphere – if you’ve not yet checked it out well worth a visit.
Unfortunately planned other outings had to be put on hold because of ill health.   However, great reports have come back to me about Love Comes First 4.   Well done to all involved.   Best of all there was a truly culturally diverse mix to the entertainment. 

You can’t get away Tony Goodwin at the moment – he’s only gone and released a CD of his work entitled Poems of Love and Loss, which features many of his more recent poems.  

I’m to blame for the CD having nagged and nagged at him.   It is the first recording project of our Community Record Label, a project that has not been without it’s problems in communication and missing technical men.   In the end Tony has produced a sample of his work which those who enjoy his poems will enjoy.  It’s true to the Pitman Poet in that the CD has no airs and graces and some will say under produced, but this is the way he wanted it, rough raw and to the point – indeed The Pitman Poet. 

The CD is £5 direct from Tony - PM on Facebook, or grab him if you spot him in Town or better still catch him at one of his many live appearances across the UK.  

On Friday 1st The Hurriers launch their CD, From Acorns Mighty Trees at The underground in Barnsley.   From the tracks I’ve heard this is a gritty collection of songs reflecting the Socialist principles of the Band.    If you can’t make the Gig you can find out more about it and order it HERE

Unfortunately Jam and Slam took a knock back, the last gathering unfortunately not taking place because of a lock out at MyPlace.   Communication is the word, and clear lack of it resulted in the error.    However it has got me thinking about what we are trying to achieve with the Group.   So we are going to have a short break while we get the project back on track. 

Slamfest and the call goes out.   We need Young Bands average age has to be under 24 to appear on the Slamfest Youth Stage as part of the main Festival, if you are interested please EMAIL HERE   We also need Acoustic performers of any age to fill potentially two acoustic stages.   EMAIL HERE 

Recent Sponsorship deals with other Festivals have not gone under our radar.   We absolutely applaud the work of the Festivals and their organisers, however Mick and I were left wondering where were these Sponsors when we needed help and support for Slamfest in Rotherham Town?   I know it sounds sour grapes, but the fact remains that at least one sponsor is often highly critical of the lack of events in Rotherham, let’s hope that their support of Beanfest marks a change in policy. 

The Cutlers Sunday sessions take on an upgrade in June when on the 8th our good chum Ed Tenpole Tudor will be making an appearance and this time supported by The Shambolix.   AND on the 28th June Tom Hingley the former lead singer with Inspiral Carpets will be making an appearance.   You can buy your tickets for both these concerts from the RAE On Line Box OfficeHERE

So nothing happens in Rotherham?    Perhaps some businesses and local Newspapers need to get behind and celebrate the positive and creative images of Rotherham.   

So whatever you’re doing this Bank Holiday, have great fun, support your local shops and artists, and above all KEEP IT LIVE.  

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

April News / Reviews from the Arts in Rotherham

Apologies for the gap again.  It’s been a busy time and there is much to report.

Everyone who attended enjoyed an amazing evening of Folk Music for the Championing Rotherham Concert.   In one evening Rotherham Against the Cuts managed to bring together Yorkshire based talent that many Festivals would have been envious of.  

Topping the Bill we had the legend that is Roy Bailey.  There seemed a little confusion about his age, but no matter how old, to put together an hour long set went beyond the call of duty.   I think the word immaculate sums up the performance.  Some how I had managed to miss Roy in the past so to me the songs were fresh and the ties with people like Pete Seeger were fascinating.  

Perhaps we have all reached that certain age, with top performances coming from John Young, Dave Oldroyd, Pippins Fancy, The Rotherham Red Choir, and the magnificent work of Toein’ In The Dark and not forgetting Ray Hearne.   Oh – and the Rawmarsh Mashers standing out as poor cousins to those who went before.   The youngest performer turned out to be Tony Gooders, The Pitman Poet who blew us away with some heart felt words – and he’s not that young!   

The left is lucky and we do have some fine young song writers, Joe Solo and Alun Parry to name but two, and one day I hope that we’ll be able to offer a stage for these fine wordsmiths of the working class. 

The purpose of the evening was to raise money to combat the rise of UKIP in Rotherham and the huge sums of money being thrown at their campaign.   We raised just over £300.  While helpful, just a fraction of what is really needed, but non the less a nice wedge of cash for the cause.  

The turnout was fantastic, given all the problems leading into the event, the main one being having to change the venue due to the closure of The Trades, which meant that we had to move out of the Town Centre, highlighting in my view just how devoid of quality venues we are in Rotherham. 

On a personal note it was great to join up with my old mate John Statter and thrash out three classic Masher numbers.   I don’t think the performance was hurt too much by me being on a pain killer high – nor a total lack of serious rehearsal, lol.    Just goes to show that you can’t keep The Mashers down.  

I’ve spent a really interesting day in London as a guest of the British Council as part of the Active Citizenship scheme.    

The range and number of projects that they have facilitated, Worldwide, left me in awe.   Our Jam and Slam project in Rotherham attracted attention, and it was fun having the opportunity to talk about it. 

The British Council is non-Government Organisation and the Active Citizenship Scheme enables and empowers people to discover themselves and seek alternative perspectives to engage with the Community in which they live. 

I would encourage everyone involved and perhaps not involved in the delivery of Community Projects to follow this FREE course.   Not only does it offer to help with the provision of tools to engage with Communities and develop personal projects; some lucky participants get the opportunity to travel, all expenses paid, across the World to see projects in Countries covered by the British Council.  

Those wanting to find out more or register for the 2015/16 cycle need to contact Kerry or Shafiq at VAR Email HERE 

As a slight aside - this was my first trip to London in many years having been a frequent visitor during the sixties, seventies and eighties for Conferences and demonstrations.   To see Policemen on the Streets waving sub-machine guns around was a little hairy, but demonstrates just how much the World has changed over the past thirty years or so.   Not to be able to walk down Downing Street was also a bit of a shock -  surely it's our democratic right to go and shout abuse at number ten and eleven! 

The Secret History of Cake a play, or should it be an entertainment written by Rotherham Play write Tair Rafiq.   I say entertainment as it was really a series of sketches held together by the evil Cake Demon and had shades of the sitting room entertainments so popular during the thirties and forties amongst the artistic Community of the period, almost Noel Cowardess in it’s presentation.    Tair has one of the most wonderfully bewildering creative writing brains I have come across, and knowing something of his technique from his recent chat at ROAR talk The Secret History of Cake was everything one would expected, madcap and “out of the box”.

As a showcase of Tair’s talent the Pantomime nature of the show allowed for the demonstrate several different writing styles, from the contemporary to the classic Shakespearian.

The actors making up the Company performed wonderfully and at times making the whole story believable, I was certainly pulled into Tair’s World of Cake – one that, as Rotherham folk are aware, Tair knows very well, having added calories to many art buffets over the past few years.   I only have to look at a slice for my Doctor to go into a fit.

There were one or two problems with the Production though.  Publicity for the show had been poor.  From my experience Radio and Newspaper interviews even supported by Social Media blitzing is not enough.   Once again the lack of suitable Theatre venue facilities were highlighted, staging in The Old Market Gallery and RCAT had it’s problems not least with lighting and dare I say, back stage space, especially for a piece requiring several costume changes.     

That said, one has to admire the dedication that Tair has shown in bringing the work to the stage, not least the funding which eventually came from the Arts Council.  

So congratulations and I’m sure that we are all looking forward to more.   

Live In Rotherham kicked off in the strange surroundings of the Silverwood Miners Welfare Centre being rocked by the amazing Whitesnake Tribute Band Lovehunter.  Colin, John and co put on an amazing night of rock.   Our thanks to them.   For our first outing the audience was reasonable.  Everything went really well except for the ending of the evening when the fire alarm set itself off and there was panic to discover where the switch was.   It’s thought that there was a build up of smoke from the dry ice machine in one of the dressing rooms, something we will have to watch in the future.  

I had an interesting Meeting with Ged from Gallery Town.   As regular readers will know I’ve not been a fan of Gallery Town as there seemed little point to putting pretty pictures up around Town that had little context to the location.  

HOWEVER, Ged has convinced me that changes are afoot, big ones at that, with many of the problems, communication with the arts Community being one of them, addressed and improved. 

RAE has agreed to help in the change where we can.  Watch out for announcements in the weeks ahead.

SLAMFEST News.    Earlier this year we announced that the Town Centre Slamfest event would take place on the 22nd August.   Unfortunately, even taking into account the generous in kind allowances made by RMBC we cannot attract the financial support to mount the event.  

Because of this, the main Stage for the event has been transferred to The Cutlers.   This enables us to keep the event FREE to the people of Rotherham. 

RAE is now splitting it’s main Live in Rotherham events between Silverwood Miners Welfare Centre at Dalton and The Cutlers, this is in recognition of the huge investment that Chantry Brewery has made in local music.  The investment includes the construction of huge canopy to cover the beer garden thus making it possible to hold events during the summer months outside even if the weather is wet.  

For both SLAMFEST weekends, (4th / 5th July and 22nd August) there will be acoustic events at The New York public House and a Stage for Youth at MyPlace.  

If you would like to be involved please Email HERE.   Youth Bands should have an average age of no more than twenty four.   Your application needs to be in by May 14th.   Than you.

We’ve now run four Jam and Slam sessions at MyPlace and each session has brought new people.   We are offering young people the chance to make their views known to us so that we can create an interesting and diverse programme of activities.   

If you click HERE you will be taken to a basic survey where you can contribute to the discussion.  

All the latest new can be gained from going to our Facebook page HERE

Our next Jam Slam is on Saturday 25th April at MyPlace, starting at 2:00pm at which our full programme for young people will be launched. 

We had a minor problem or two with the Web Sites, mainly with the flash menu bars – these are all now working correctly.

We’re still averaging approx. one hits a day on average across the sites with the Listings pages being as popular as ever.   The Word Pit performs well too with approx. a hundred hits a week. 

Some may have noticed some improvements to the flash slide shows for the sponsors / supporters / partners and Live in Rotherham.  They seem to load quicker and have pretty in and outs. 

I would remind you about the extensive Resource Page and of course for arty discussion or instant publicity for your event why not try the Forum/ Shout Box page.  

Our Blog, under Acoustic Rotherham, is also performing well with 130 hits per week on average.  Interestingly Rotherham appears to be big in Eastern Europe.  I wonder what they make of the going ons.  

I’m told by my spies that the Trad Session Festival in Sheffield over Easter was another rousing success.   This Festival seems to grow in stature every year.   Maintaining this event is so important to the future of Folk Music in the area.  Maybe next year I’ll be able to make it for a day. 

There are some good things to look forward to, not least The Wath Festival over the May Bank Holiday period.  Always a top Folk event.   You can get all the details by going to the Listings page.  Another Festival that caught my eye is the South Yorkshire Poetry Festival which runs at the end of May in Sheffield, again the links are on the Listings page.

A mention to for the Imperial Building.   The first Sunday in the Month Markets are proving to be very popular.  Well worth popping along and you might pick up a bargain or two.  Brian and the Shops in the Imperial Building should be congratulated for bringing the building to life and bringing much needed attention to the services it has to offer.

Next up at the Imperial Building is Love Comes First Four on 25th April.  Besides the usual entertainment they have special guests I Shosholoza a Zambian Choir who will bring fantastic colour and music to the Event.   Congratulations to the team for putting the event together. 

Over at The Harlequin on the 18th April the sounds of Earthtales will be heard.  Apparently this is the first of two Gigs they will be performing there this year.   Good wishes to Phobia, Andy, Karl et al for a good one.   

Live in Rotherham have two events coming up in May at the Silverwood Miners Centre Dizzy Lizzy on the 2nd May and Britain’s top tribute Band to Kiss on Friday 22nd May.   You can get tickets using any of the links on the Box Office Page.  

You may want to put a note in your Diary that Bon Giovi will be returning to Rotherham by popular demand on the 6th June at The Cutlers.  Tickets are £9 in advance. 

I’d like to congratulate two Bands making a stir in Europe.   The Tom Kilner Band playing their brand of rock blues with the fantastic vocals from Tom and Goat Leaf who have carved out a niche for themselves by rocking Spain to a stand still.   Both Bands deserve every success that comes their way.  

And that’s it for this one. 

Whatever you are doing until the next Blog, support your local artists and musicians, shop local, have great fun and KEEP IT LIVE.