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.  

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