Monday, 10 May 2010

Brave New World - Or is it?

So it’s official, the British people want no one to govern them!!  Anarchy rules.   What fun.
The once famous smoke filled room discussions going on at the moment with two Political Parties who have dramatically diametrically opposed Policies attempting to find enough common ground to hobble together a Government does little for any notion that the ideas they spouted for four weeks had any value what so ever.
But this is not a time for knocking especially as we do not yet know what is going to happen. 
We have an opportunity, a slight one, for a fundamental change in British politics and it all comes down to whether Clegg and his associates are seduced by Cameron’s “in the Nations interest” stance.   I think most us know that the National Interest equals, what’s good for the Banks – the very people who landed us in this economic mess.
We stand on the verge of what could be a complete realignment in British politics, and many of us would say, “and about time to”.
Whether the ego’s of those involved in the discussions will allow this to happen is in the air.

I’d just like to make a few personal observations. 
In my view Cameron has missed the biggest open goal in British Political history.  Here was a Government fairly or unfairly labelled as one of the most unpopular in history, led by an individual also viewed as the most unpopular Prime Minister in Centuries.  
The media lined up to throw their insults.  The reporting on ITN and the Murdock Press in particular being the most vicious I’ve ever seen.  OK we’ve seen some bad character assignation throughout the years but over this past four weeks the attacks on both Brown and latterly Clegg have been vicious to the extreme as the governing classes sought to protect themselves by giving what they thought was a helpful hand to Cameron.
Yet Cameron failed. 
Think – Majors small majority of ten or so in 1992 was changed into a whopping one hundred and eighty Labour majority in 1997. 
If Cameron has made the impact being claimed by the media then he should have won an outright majority as a bare minimum.
Unfortunately, this election demonstrates just what an achievement Blair’s victory in 1997 was, and just what a waste the following thirteen years has in many ways been.  OK the man could win elections, but Blair lacked principles or even a modicum of the ideology of the Party he led – result a pick and mix approach to policy making which Brown was unable to turn around by the time that he took control. 
Brown himself is damaged goods.  It’s clear that there was a significant anti Brown vote going on.   Somehow the Labour Party has to find a way of removing the man or encouraging him to stand aside to allow positive discussions with Clegg to take place.
Personally I feel a bit sorry for Gordon.  It’s been one crisis after another for him, not helped by this idea pushed by the Press that he is a cuckoo in the nest, forgetting of course all the other Prime Ministers of this Country who never faced an election at the start of their tenure.
But given the need to immediately re-energise Labour ready for what could be a very early General Election, the need for a change of Leader is obvious.  Who it is hardly seems to matter at the moment, who knows; perhaps Heriot’s time has come.  
But whoever gets the crown will need to have the ability and creative imagination to manage the undoubted shifts that any form of Electoral Reform will bring.
Finally, four short observations.
The first was a Banker talking after the result was clear and advising the Leaders on what they will “have to do” to keep the Banks and markets happy. 
Oh yes.  And are these the same Bankers who threw the World economy into melt down – who relied upon you and me to bail them out?   These arrogant b****** need sorting big time. 
The second was waking up on Friday morning  to that idiot Cash spouting off about immigration, Europe and the Euro – throw back to early nineties, you bet it was, and if Cameron is given the key to number ten, then you can expect to hear a lot more.  Any thought that the Conservative Party has changed in any way should be forgotten.
Third, what ever happened to our usually red hot election machine?   Thousands unable to vote because the Polling Stations could not cope – and why?  Because the idiots who we over pay at the top of our Town / City Administration were cost cutting!!    Resignations are in order I think. 
And finally, the choice on my ballot paper was extremely thin.  Where are the Parties of the Left?   My choice was UKIP (Right) BNP (Fascist ) Tory (Right) Lib Dem (Not sure yet but we’ll soon find out once their hands have been greased) and Labour (not quite anything)    Where are the Socialist Parties?
We stand on the brink, do the Party Leaders have the courage to capture the mood of the people and act. 
Hey – and joy of joys.  The BNP were virtually wiped out even in the Council Elections – though it’s worrying to see that in many places their share of the vote actually increased – we may have won the battle but the war carries on.

So all that rubbish aside it’s been a quiet week for The Mashers.  Two weeks of flitting about from one place to another took its toll. 
Not even a practice session.
However we did the gird the loins, and with the aid of matchsticks make it to Myke’s home Club, Play On at the Fat Cat on Friday and a fine evening of music it was to.
There’s something about hearing Rich Man’s Paradise and May Day being sung out with such gusto by a room full of singers that sends tingles down my spine.  Great songs from a true Socialist, Matt McGinn.

The local news has been dominated by the sister of one our biggest music friends, Phillip Hartley going missing.   We’ve all been trying to use our social network sites to get Melanie’s picture into the public domain in the hope that someone will see her and report it to Phillip or the Police. 
Melanie is forty five and is a Mother to four and ten days ago left her home and has not been seen by her family since.
Sittings have been reported, but nothing concrete.  An attempt has been made to use her debit card and the Northern General Hospital reported that she paid them a visit before disappearing before they could get the Police out.
We all go through crisis’s in life and sometimes we simply have no idea just how much misery we inflict upon our nearest and dearest when taking what may at the time seem a great idea to us. 
All the family want is to know that she is safe and in good health. 
So visit our News Page, down load the flier, and let’s see if we can help bring Phillip that peace of mind.    HERE

In attempt to avoid the problems I created for myself with AR7 when I lost the list of people to whom I had promised spots I’m well ahead of myself with both Acoustic Rotherham 8 (25th July) and Acoustic Rotherham 9 (31st October).
Click the relevant link and it take you through to a list of the confirmed spots for each date. 

The June Diary Page has gone up HERE don’t forget if you want your Festival or Club included please EMAIL me with the details.

The Mashers next main outing is the 18th May at The Cross Keys, Handsworth.   We are hoping that we will be joined by a very special guest – so watch out for an announcement soon.   But for sure it’s going to be night worth making the time to join in with.   Everyone will be most welcome.

The Charity Festival at The Bridge on the 31st May is looking good.  We’d like to see a few more songs entered into the Protest Song Competition though – AND I STILL HAVE SPOTS AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE ON THE ACOUSTIC STAGE- so get your name down quick.   EMAIL me.

And that’s everything for another week. 
Oh and come and join us on
We’d love to have you as a friend.

Folk Against Fascism Barnsley and All the Other news

It’s been a busy week all round, so lots to get through.
The dust settles on Acoustic Rotherham 7.  Thanks to all for your kind words, much appreciated, and it’s great to see so many of the acts using the thumb nail reviews in last week’s Blog. 
Well, Myke and I started the week polishing up a new song that we particularly wanted to work into our Barnsley set, so it was a rushed practice prior to Nellie Folk. 
It was great to see so many people creeping out into the Spring air to make their way to Nellie Folk to make for an interesting evening of music and the odd poem. 
Always room for more though, so if you’ve not visited Nellie Folk yet (fourth Monday of each month) then add it to the diary as a place to visit.
Thursday found The Mashers out exploring.  We went along to the Rock at Wentworth.  The “What’s On” Board said there was folk in the Bar on a Thursday, but the two lads who apparently normally do their stuff were nowhere to be seen. 
Not to be thwarted we headed to the Yellow Lion Buskers Night, where we found Jono doing a grand job working an evening out of limited musician resources.   We’ve not been to the Yellow Lion for months and it was great to see that the session is populated by so many young people doing their “stuff”. 
And proving the absence makes the heart grow fonder, The Masher set proved to go down quite well.
But where was everyone?  Surely folks were not gripped by either the heroics of Fulham in the Europa League or the third Leaders Debate?  Perhaps they were. 
But The Mashers marched on to Saturday and the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival Festival in Barnsley.   We played the Folk Against Fascism Stage which was based in Peel Square. 
I have to admit we were not holding out much hope for this set, for whenever The Mashers play in the open the rain always seems to make an appearance, and the forecast for the day was not brilliant according to the BBC.
Parking is a problem in Barnsley, even when it’s free.  We ended up on the top tier of the multi-story car Park, so by the time we parked and hiked to Peel Square, we missed what I was told was a typically brilliant set from the Bar Steward Sons of Val Doonigan, aided and abetted by the Mass Ranks of the Barnsley Trades Council. 
We did catch the last few songs of Jonathon Taylor’s set of his interesting songs.
Our set went almost according to plan – we forgot the cloths pegs – so the only gust of wind in our thirty minutes did cause a little confusion during Ordinary Man – which nonetheless was well received by the gathered folks. 
Gerry McNeice followed us with a typically superb set of songs.  Gerry was in fact also sound man of the day.  We have to say – creeps that we are – that it was simply the best outside sound that we have experienced in our travels, so congratulations to Gerry.
With blood sugar levels running low we had to run off and find some food and liquid refreshment – so unfortunately we missed Richard Kitson, returning just in time to catch our old friends Tian McKevit and Matt Hegarty who produced one of the best sets we’ve seen them do. 
It was the role of Chris Milner to wrap the afternoon up.  But we had to skittle away as we wanted to pop in and see how the Wath Festival Singaround was going.
Sorry Chris and we look forward to seeing you at Acoustic Rotherham 9 in October.
Also in attendance in Peel Square, and providing fine percussion accompaniment throughout The Mashers set were the couple who make up Song and Story.  Dorothy Fryman and John Bartley.  Now, if you’ve not seen these two folks at work or heard their material then you are missing a real treat head off HERE
Anyway, Dorothy picked up on one of the songs we sing written by the great Matt McGinn, May Day.  Apparently this song was written in the back of a van on the way to a Labour Party event in Glasgow,  way back in the sixties and Dorothy was there!  Now how cool is that………………  
And thanks guys for the percussion – it was great.
And so the Wath Festival.
OK it was four o’clock when we arrived in a damp Wath.  We parked in the main car park – no I’m not getting hung up on our parking – the point is we arrived in the main car park and there was nothing to tell us that there was a Folk Festival going on, let alone where anything was happening.
Regular readers will know that last year I mentioned the very same thing – it’s sad to have to repeat it.
Typically we arrived just as George was leaving his session.  But!  Were quite pleased to discover that the session was still running lead by South Yorkshire Pete.  So Phoebe, who had been driving us around at last had a chance to do a song. 
But before The Mashers could launch themselves onto the session even Pete had to make his escape, leaving us in charge – oh dear. 
We did a couple of songs and there was just enough time for another full round of songs before we had to make way for a Private Party.
Good to see folks from down South in attendance – lovely banjo playing (did I say that) and fiddle playing. 
Apparently all the main events were well attended, even sold out, but the fringe events at this Festival need some attention.  There were mutterings once again of not enough use of local acts to promote various sessions throughout the day and I’ve heard that pubs were not as busy as they expected to be.
My own feeling was that there was a lack of a Festival atmosphere.
Which brings me to the sad news of the demise of The Spratton Festival.
We had the privilege of playing Spratton last year.  Well organised and all inclusive, the whole Village seemed to be included in one way or another.
 Spratton’s demise was clearly the result of several factors, some of which were political to the Village.
The fact is though that they made a rolling loss.
Last year they had a bit of bad luck with the weather especially on the Saturday.  However, I think that the bottom line was trying to run before they could walk.   With so many Festivals springing up around the Country the Diary is getting very crowded and with the same names appearing at the top of Bills it’s not surprising that some will fall by the wayside.
On which it’s worth noting that the Holmfith Festival goes ahead next weekend.  This is a Festival built from the bottom up, a festival of people’s music.  In other words a recognition that the people who attend and pay for these Festivals invariably are performers themselves who like nothing better than to share their music with old and new friends.  Something that is overlooked by some organisers.    Full details HERE
 Plans for the 31st May Charity Festival at The Bridge Inn, Rotherham are well under way now.   There was a moment of panic when it seems a misunderstanding lead to a double take………. But now we’ve integrated into a full on event in aid of The Rotherham Hospice.    There’s to be two stages – a main stage in the bar downstairs which will be mainly electric based, and featuring some of Rotherham’s top Bands and upstairs an acoustic based stage.
Plus of course the Protest Song contest.  We’re already getting entries.  All a bit fun, but we hope it might set people’s creative juices flowing.   Full details of the contest can found HERE
Stay tuned as details come in.
By the way we’ve still got some spaces on the acoustic stage, so if you fancy a sing please contact me at   
In the Free Down Load Section of the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site you’ll find some NEW additions.   Demo packages from Owd Chyver and Marzipan Moon plus The Mashers Live at The Riverside which features many of the new songs.  HERE

The list for Acoustic Rotherham 8 is building.  We’ve a few limited spots left so please contact me if you fancy taking part on 25th July.
Places for October 31st are also being taken quickly so it might be an idea to get your name down for our second birthday Party early.
Tickets for our joint venture with – Pete of South Yorkshire Folk – featuring The Artisan Re-Union Tour, are available.  Tickets are £10 in advance, and are strictly limited so it’s best to get yours early.   You can order on line HERE or call Pete on 07703298164or Richard on 07507588964 to reserve tickets. 
Pictures from Saturday’s Masher outings will be on the site soon.
And that finishes this week’s News. 
In the coming week The Mashers will be catching their breath – but watch out we might raid your Club during the week.