Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Acoustuc Rotherham and Rawmarsh Masher Musings

A real success.  A full week of not going out has been completed, and I’m pleased to report to all who have sent messages, that I’m feeling a lot better. 

Somehow I lost two stone in a couple of weeks, but the scales now start to show that the weight is now going back on and I’m feeling much better within myself.

Thanks for all the remedies -  I’m not sure which one worked, but at least one must have proven to be a great success.

I often ponder upon the weather reflecting the mood of the Nation and this week sort of proved the point, especially for those supporting our boys out in South Africa. 

The 1-1 draw with those Mammoths of the World of Football the USA brought a rather wet long weekend, and the clouds remained with us until Thursday morning when hope once again reigned supreme, as the build up for the big game against the Mountain that is Algeria mounted, turning to cloud and rain as the match grew closer, and thoughts that just perhaps we simply are not good enough crept in.  Our worst fears realised and after the 0-0 draw, Saturday was predictably very cloudy and wet in places. 

But I see no reduction in the number of St George’s flags being flown from cars or houses, and very pretty they look to.  I hope that by Wednesday Tea Time they have not become rags for washing the car.

Personally I put it all down to the TV Channel covering the games.   England never does well when covered by ITV – and I have to admit that Tilsley chap commentating on ITV just drives me up the wall with his benign observations, and on Thursday he was trying just a little too hard to find positive reasons for England’s non-performance.    So here’s a tip.  Turn the TV down and turn on Radio 5 – you can be sure that Alan Green will tell it as it is.  Green’s commentary on Friday would have caused rioting in the streets if more had listened to it.

Good news,  England are on the BBC on Wednesday – that’s the only positive that I can offer you folks.  And if we lose or draw and have to catch an early plane home at least we’re going to be saved a further week or so of torture. 

Personally I’d let the WAGS loose on them – a good “hand-bagging” would solve a few problems. ....
But is it any accident that Mr Cameron decided this week to inform us that he was expecting a back lash from the public against the cuts his Coalition Government was making to reduce the deficit.  

I notice on Facebook that many folks are already blaming the Tories for England’s failures at the World Cup – good for them – they are clearly keen observers of both Football and Politics and it’s clear that the players have been affected by the knowledge that their meagre earnings will taxed at a much higher rate.  I really don’t know how they will survive on a mere £50K net per WEEK.   I think we should have a day of action for them.   

But for all you patriots who refuse to accept the obvious, I refer you to this year’s World Cup Song of the year from The Misk Hills Mountain Rambler.    I’ve linked it up on our News page for you HERE

But there’s a serious side to Mr Cameron.  There is you know!  And this week we saw that side of this Government.  I was left speechless by the announcement that the “Loan” the Government was to make to Forge Masters in Sheffield to help them develop a manufacturing line for components used in new Nuclear Energy Plants was taken away as part of the cuts.  ....
Mr Clegg, who has, I would remind you, a Sheffield Constituency, told the World that this loan was just a mirage, a feature of Lord Mandleson’s fertile imagination, and part of Labour’s, invest in Marginal Constituency’s, burnt field policy.  When asked who will now make the components, Mr Clegg told us he supposed they would have to come from Korea.  So no UK jobs, no investment in manufacturing in the UK.   Well done the Lib. Dems. ....
And my friends in the North East will not get their new Hospital either.  ....
Anyone notice a trend here?   ....
Was it any accident that this was all announced in the build up to Friday’s match – of course not!....
But one note of sunshine from all of this.  Our glorious Rugby Union boys have turned the Aussies over on their own patch!!   On the evidence of this one point victory it’s clear we’re going to win the World Cup and the Cricket Ashes this Winter.  So that’s all OK and positive.
.. ..
So more locally.  

Phillip Hartley, upon whom Acoustic Rotherham has been keeping a sly eye on since we first heard his super songs, has released a CD of his best bits.  Yes they can go on a CD, so his Partner says.  ....
This is the BEST of Phill’s early work, his mid-period and his current phase, and is well worth the investment, especially if you have not yet bought his two Original CDs, The Game, and Words and Music. 

It’ called “The Perfect Face For Radio” and you can find it HERE on his Acoustic Rotherham Feature Page and HERE in the Acoustic Rotherham CD Shop.

And you can still buy the first two CDs for a bargain package price in The Acoustic Rotherham CD Shop. ....
While in CD mode – why not also check out the great new CD from Cracktown our good friends from Hull.  They’ve a Facebook Page now HERE – but to check out the CD go HERE
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Those of you who pay attention to my “status comments” on Facebook and the like will know that this week I’ve had to play catch up with the Web Site again.  Let this be a lesson to those who borrow, or push their luck with software.  The Software developers are getting very clever these days and the ********  somehow managed to corrupt not only their programme to make it unusable, but also my site Files. 

I had though taken the precaution, after other self-inflicted disasters to put a copy on a separate drive – which was not corrupted although a month out of date. 

We are now fully operational again with legit Software and all is running smoothly, what’s more I’ve brought it all up to date, barring a couple of cosmetic touches that need to be sorted. 

Those going to Phillip Hartley page will see a completely new look to it along with his new Reverb pro version of the Player – looking good Phill, it may even convince me to buy the Pro package. ....
But this week see’s you able to access the Web Site via.

www.acousticrotherham.com  and www.rawmarshmashers.com  which some might find a little more instinctive than the Jmucreate.com address.  
.. ..
Both Myke pages have been updated HERE and HERE You’ll find some different photographs and other stuff.  

The donation button on the Trust Page has been tested and it’s working perfectly. ....
Please note – you don’t need a Paypal Account to pay via the buttons.   On the left of the first screen you’ll see a facility to make a donation or payment by Credit / Debit Card through the Paypal safe and secure system.   

That applies to the CD Shop – Acoustic Rotherham Donations – and Masher purchases as well.....
However if you are an artist opening a Paypal Account can have many benefits and you can open an account by following the Paypal link on the HOME Page - HERE
.. ..
The Diary pages have been updated with the latest Gig and Festival News I have been sent.  HERE
.. ..
I’ll be trying to get out and about this week a little.  It’s my intention to head out to the Black Lion on Monday night, and might hang around for a few minutes to see how the Thursday session at The Bridge works out this week.
.. ..
Places you might find interesting to visit should include The Venue Last Friday Folk at Stocksbridge, hosted by the lovely Charlie Barker – that reminds me I should make the effort this Friday. 

Charlie has also started a series of music evenings on a Friday evening at The Park Inn, which is on the Manvers Way, Wath Upon Dearne.  Steak and Folk I think her Company, The Partnership has called it.   When I can afford a night out I’ll drag Mrs Masher along for an evening. 

Don’t forget the Wickersley Open Mic on a Tuesday – The Jam session at The Woodlands Club, Rotherham on a Thursday.  Also check out the SNAFU link on The Gigs and News page HERE for details of their session.  It comes highly recommended.

I’m just a little bit concerned for Live@Dickens – check out the great Gigs that Mick promotes at his place, and the cover charges are so low as to be non-existent.   Most important of all Mick does a lot to help Promote and give time to local Bands to their stuff and if lose this venue it will be a very sad day for live music and the music scene in general around the Rotherham area. 

That’s it for a non-news week.  I think I did quite well to fill the space. 

Read more: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=130697807&blogId=536085796#ixzz0raHEh99z

Monday, 14 June 2010

A Quiet Wek Still Plenty to Talk About

Well, it’s all kicked off. And already much of the hope that we all had that an Italian might work a miracle over our headless chickens we call footballers have taken a bit of a kicking.

Never mind, I’m sure it will all come out in the wash.

For artists though, especially those on the Pub circuit this is at least three nightmare weeks. Last night poor Mark Hearne became the first local casualty, giving up before a note was played due to manic children and adults dressed in England shirts celebrating a 1-1 draw.

Why oh why do land Lords book, especially acoustic acts for these events.

On suggesting to the Land Lord that it was all going to be a waste of time once the big screen was switched off, the Land Lord said, “it’s up to you mate”.

The Mashers had a similar experience the night of England’s Rugby semi-final with France a couple of years ago, we did play on even though we had been considerably inconvenienced by a slip in the start time and the loss of the audience that had come to see us. We ended up playing out an hour with all our songs being punctuated with choruses of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”.

It wasn’t fun though. Our equipment was at risk as those who had over done the cheap beer during the match wobbled around the bar.

The best one can say is that some Land Lords need to use a more effective Diary, the worst, is that they simply do not check out what sort of acts they are booking for an event, or just show a total lack of respect for the artist who they view like any other disposable commodity.....

So nil points to the land Lord of The Monkwood for last night, but 2/10 for at least re-booking Mark for the 24th July.

So I had to go further afield for some music.

We ended up at The Woodlands where The Lanterns were doing their chilled out numbers, a positive antidote to the anger many felt about a certain goal keeping error.

It’s sometime since I’ve seen The Lanterns in full flow and it was good to see that they have not lost any of their technical and musical togetherness. With Bob’s smooth vocals being supported by Paul’s superlative guitar. But I’m not sure that the move to drums by Johno, surrendering his keyboards and banjo actually aids the band and Martin’s bass line needs lifting a bit.

Splendid stuff though.

And all performed on an outdoor stage in the wonderful setting of The Woodlands Club garden.

The Woodlands Club is a new venue to me. I had heard some of the boys talking about the place in the past but had not found the time to actually take a look at it. However, an act I particularly wanted to take listen to were doing a short set at the regular Thursday Jam Night, and so that’s where Thursday night found me.

A reasonably sized audience were treated to some smooth rock from host John to start the evening off, accompanied by his bass and drums mates. ....

A short acoustic interlude then followed. ....

Richard and Julie, the act I had popped along to listen to treated us to some super self-penned songs. They have only recently come back onto the local music scene and are already building a positive reputation for themselves around the Session Nights. I recommend that you look out for them. We hope to have them at an Acoustic Rotherham very soon.

Richard is clever chap, and he designs and hand makes pewter pins, badges keyrings etc. many with a musical theme. I hope that we’ll be able to feature some of his product on our Acoustic Rotherham pages soon. Check out his Web site HERE

It was also great to bump into Steph. It’s sometime since I last saw her perform, as she circulated around a different music orbit to The Mashers. Confident and entertaining as ever, and played on, for her, a strange guitar. Well done Steph.

As a venue I found The Woodlands Club to be very welcoming. It’s a Private Club, and you have to find someone to sign you in. Membership is fairly cheap though, and on the evidence of my two visits in one week, well worth the investment.

They have a full summer programme of music for the outside stage coming up so check out the local media for details.

It’s good to see a venue that is fighting the odds to remain open.

Recently I’ve been travelling around areas I’ve not been into for a long time. It’s just so depressing to see so many venues that Myke and I had played at now closed down or worse heaps of rubble. One boarded up Pub had no less than eight Agent Boards nailed to it and a big sign saying it now had all purpose planning permission – one fears it will not be long before that too is rubble. ....

In Rawmarsh itself, it was so sad to see that The Green Lane Tavern was again boarded up, one feels it won’t recover this time.

It’s perhaps a demonstration of just how alienated that the Labour Government became from the working folks and Community Pub users that it was heir range of policies that have led to decimation of the Pub Trade in this way. They could have done something – but simply did not understand what the problem was.

And those were the outings for the week. Note – no singing. You’ll not believe this but I’m still suffering a bit with the dodgy tummy. The Doctor says it’s stress…………… yes, the scourge of modern man. So I think another quiet week lies ahead.

More Festivals and Gigs have been added to the Diary Pages on the Acoustic Rotherham site HERE

All the latest News as ever can be found HERE

I’ve also updated the Myke’s Memory book. Thanks to all those who are still sending in your memories and kind wishes. ....

You’ll find the Book on Myke’s page HERE.

Also up is The Myke Barritt Music Trust page. HERE You will find a detailed account of what the Trust is all about, why we’ve started it and what it will seek to achieve. There is also a donation button.

Just reminder – if anyone in the Rotherham area plays lead guitar, or know of someone with such skills, I’m still looking for an honorary Masher to fulfil a number of commitments in the late summer early Autumn period. If you fancy ago give me a call 07507588964

Plans for Myke’s Birthday Bash on the 27th July are now beginning to take a bit of shape, and I hope to have a page up on the Web Site soon.

Phoebe has put out a general plea for “STORAGE SPACE”. Clearing Myke’s flat is a nightmare and there is a need to store some artefacts for a short period of time. If you’ve got space in a secure garage, garden shed of something similar – then please Email Phoebe : mphoebet@googlemail.com

And that’s it for this week. Please check out the Myke Barritt Music Trust page – you never know once we’re up and running we might be able to give you a hand in some way.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Latest News From Masher Land - The Myke Barrit Music Trust

So, while my tummy continues to rumble on life has continued at a pace.
Reflecting my state of mind my review of the week will his time be in reverse order, starting with my reflections on Friday evening at The Fat Cat where the good members of the Play On Club came together to have their celebration for the life of Myke.
The Play On is Myke’s Club.  It’s the one he wouldn’t miss for any reason.  I have to say that it was the one that Myke was at his most relaxed – his guitar would only leave his hands for occasional visits to the Bar – apparently just as Raymond Geenoaken would dig his Squeeze box out of his case – or pull his guitar out to give us a song.
By nine, the small upstairs room of The Fat Cat was jammed to the rafters with sweating humanity.   On an airless night the windows thrown wide open, but no one would have been able to tell.
And what a night of music was to follow.   The House Band  with Phoebe filling in for Myke kicked the evening off with three songs that Myke loved playing on – Karl and Andy doing their understated thing to perfection.
Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty, Lou Marriot, Toein’ In The Dark (3/4 of), Al (The Misk Hills Mountain Rambler), Phillip Hartley, Matt Shaw and a host of Club regulars all paying their tribute Myke – although the significance of Al’s World Cup Song would have had to have been explained to Myke for whom football was mystery. 
And when it was time for The Mashers to answer back – it was so good to look down a room so full that even all standing room was taken, and what’s more, to have people singing along to May Day from the very first word was just brilliant, it may be new on the Mashers play list, but it was one of Myke’s favourite numbers at recent Gigs.  
And when in Bloody Rotten Audience it was time for Myke to take his bow – the roar and explosion of applause took the roof off. 
There are some lovely pictures taken by Linda Gamston of the evening on her Facebook page, which I hope to transfer to one of the Web Site pages very soon.
So a big thank you to everyone involved in what was a fantastic evening of music – a stomper – as Myke would have called it.  

Going back in time now…………………    and to The Bridge Charity Festival on Bank Holiday Monday. 
The original concept as far as the Acoustic Stage was concerned was to have a political day of music aimed at young people to encourage “protest”.
We even had a Song Contest planned.
In the event it turned out to be no more than a glorified open session. 
Well, the motivating force behind the Acoustic side of the event was the Rotherham Political Forum.   A group that came together in the hope of encouraging Left orientated Organisations and Parties to come together and Campaign.
Alas, and lo, in the true traditions of the Left not even the regular half dozen or so members could keep it together without a falling out of sorts.
It’s little wonder that the Left is so fragmented and simply operates on the fringe of the political consciousness of the people they claim to represent, or seek to politicise. 
When will all these Groups realise that if the forces of Capital are to be taken on seriously then philosophical differences need to be  put aside in favour of Campaigns that will capture the imagination of people and reflect their everyday concerns and experiences.
All the promises of help and support in organising the acoustic event sort of came to nothing.  None of the promised participation of Parties by coming along and having a stall or something similar simply didn’t happen.  The publicity never happened. 
 Under normal circumstances I would of course have been kicking arse long before Monday, but with Myke popping off to a finer World and a bout of the tummy bug that has still not cleared to this day, I simply did not have the energy to go chasing people. 
So my apologies to those who submitted songs for the Protest Song Contest – apologies to artists who may have thought that I had forgotten them – apologies to artists who came expecting one thing and finding something completely different.
I’ve not given up on the basic concept of a Festival of Music with a Political theme, but I think I’ll give it a little bit more thought and involve a lot more people who are prepared to be involved.
But to the Bridge Festival itself.   The pub had decided that their part of the Festival would be a Charity event for the Rotherham Hospice, and they drew together many of the local Bands who are regular performers on a Saturday night. 
Stand out sets from Papa Legbas, and Searching for Sylvia were supplemented by sets from other local artists and of course These Black and White Flames.
Also on the main stage a couple of standout performances from acts originally due to appear on the Acoustic Stage, Vicky Cottam coming out for a rare outing, and of course the fantastic Cracktown, who produced an amazing all round performance that had even the day weary audience in fits of laughter and at full attention. 
Special mention to for Ian Hopkins, who having performed a super set for the Acoustic Stage was press ganged into opening the Festivals main Stage down stairs to much acclaim.   Thanks Ian and very well done, we hope to see you at Acoustic Rotherham in October.
On the Acoustic Stage – an afternoon of real variety.  Al (The Misk Hills Mountain Rambler) producing one of his special sets, well done mate, culminating with his song Don’t Let Me Die dedicated to Myke now, because his passing provided the inspiration for the final verse.  Lyrics can be found on Myke’s page HERE – I hope the track will be there before too long.
David Kidman produced one of his exceptional sets of songs old and new.  Thanks Dave for coming on down.
Tina McKevit put on one her super solo shows.   Who needs Matt eh?
Anxious Andrews from Wath gave us a few songs that were well appreciated. 
Phoebe also joined in the fun, producing an entertaining set dedicated to Myke.   That’s having almost scarring the life out of me by leaving Myke’s guitar and blue shopping bag of song notes for me to find giving the impression that he had turned up as normal for a Mashers set.    Very strange, especially when I did a short Mashers slot. 
And of course to wind things up the magnificent Paul Pearson entertained us with some songs.
So thank you all for your contributions and apologies to those who came along later expecting to find music only to find that the Acoustic stage had disappeared.  

And that’s it for The Mashers for a bit.   The diary is now clear of any commitments until the end of the month and I intend to take some time out to assess where The Mashers go from here.  
Having said that I would like The Mashers to meet a few existing commitments, principally The Star Festival, The Worcester Music Festival and The Wirksworth Street Music Festival.   If anyone out there reading this fancies having a crack at them with me then please get in contact.  mashers@jmucreate.com

Those anxiously wondering about the Acoustic Rotherham Web Site statistics will want to know that the site is now below 600,000 of World Wide sites – not bad for a local based site, it puts us in the top 25,000 in the UK.
Over 10,000 hits have now been made on our News Blog which is amazing.  Thanks so much for your interest and support.

And on the acoustic Rotherham site itself, the Diary pages have been updated and July added – I think all the main Clubs events and Gigs that I know about have been listed, but if you know different or feel left out please contact me at acousticrotherham@jmucreate.com    HERE

The Myke Barrit page continues to grow.   I’ve up dated the Book of Remembrance and hope to add more content soon.   HERE
Watch out for news of The Myke Barritt Music Trust.   We think this will be a lasting memorial to Myke.  It’s aim, simply put will be to encourage and develop local live music and musicians – in memory of Myke’s love of music.  
It’s early days and the detail of how the money will be used has still to be decided, but broadly speaking we will be directing it at artists and events that reflect Myke’s slant on life, and will take the form of grants, education, and even the purchase of instruments. 
We’ll also be launching an Annual Song Writing Contest in Myke’s name offering a small financial prize and a chance to record the song.  The winner will also perform the song as part of Myke’s Birthday Bash, the first one being in 2011.
The Trust will be funded by a variety of money raising activities, still to be finalised, and of course we will be asking for Donations to be made to the Trust instead of flowers at Myke’s Funeral on 30th June.
Please watch this space for details.
Currently, the Committee is looking for folks to come on board and help out in the setting up of the Trust.    Please contact  mashers@jmucreate.com if you would like to help.
The line-up for this years Myke’s Birthday Bash, 27th July  is looking fantastic.  All his Bands will be represented in some form or another and we’ve some special guests joining us as well, including the Troubadors. 
The Bash will be starting, in true Myke manner at 2:00pm in The Bridge, with the first part of the day taking on the form of an open session to which everyone with a guitar is welcome to contribute to.  More details will be published soon.

On lighter matters, I’ve been giving These Black and White Flames debut CD “From The Inside of Outside” a listen or two.  
Well worth grabbing a copy.   It ain’t folk, that’s for sure, but I enjoyed the general rock feel to this selection of interesting self-penned songs.
There will be a full Review from David Kidman in the not too distant future.

And that my friends is more than enough for this week.
I hope that Clubs etc will not think bad of me for just dropping out for a bit – but I honestly just need a bit of non-pressure time.    That’s not to say that you’re safe – if I fancy a sing you might well find me hidden away in a corner ready to pounce, so don’t drop your guard too much.

Better Late Than Never - The Tummy Bug Hits

Better late than never – some say, it’s for you to decide.
The very strange experience of solo performing continued at a very special Nellie Folk on the Monday.
I have to observe there was a strange atmosphere in the room, it was as if the ghost of Myke hung heavily in the room.  A different sort of night to the Cross Keys Mashers Gig last Tuesday, but in terms of turn out, just as busy.
Tributes to Myke came in various forms.  A Poem from Terry, a song from Sue Sutherland (both now published on Myke’s Memorial Page), and of course a toast or two, or was that six.
And Phoebe bravely performing a couple of songs too.  Bravely because like I, she chose songs that Myke would have been alongside of her providing his normal upbeat guitar accompaniment.  
But it was just the sort of evening Myke would have so much enjoyed himself, good songs, well sung, monologues, and general good crack, rounded off by a typically brilliant Roy Blackman performance.
Well done Rob and Roy.
Tuesday, and to The Black Bull at Aughton.  Great to meet up with more old friends.   The Black Bull is where we would give some of our not so folky material a work out, although recently our visits to the open mic had been few and far between as our acoustic sound became drowned out by the bigger band electric sound – brilliant though it is. 
Not a great Masher night though –  the curse of the Masherising of my guitar strings kicked in and for the third time in six weeks my A string went twang -  must have been a faulty pack me thinks.  Then of course the house guitar was completely out of tune as I slashed away at the last song.  
All of which reminded me of why we had withdrawn from the Open Mic scene more and more. 
I think Myke would have been having a good laugh looking down on the scene.  And I think that was the moment it really kicked in that he was no longer there.   Myke knew just what to do in such circumstances and had a series of little routines ranging from mock anger to a look of sheer boredom with which to entertain while running repairs etc. were made.   That realisation flashing in did little to help the last song.
And the week then went downhill for me – certainly in terms of health as the tummy bug kicked in, which to this day is still affecting my energy levels. 
So moving on –
Myke based events.  
4th June – This Friday.  The Fat Cat, Kelham Island for the Play On Club.   This is a Club that Myke helped to found way back in the mists of time when it started meeting following the demise of The Harlequin Session which he used as his base.  Myke never missed a meeting, in all the years, no matter what his health, and even if he only stayed on for a thirty minutes or so.  
This meeting of the Club is to be a special gathering to celebrate Myke’s life.   Be early. 
30th June  -  The Funeral.   2:00pm Rotherham Crematorium.    Wake at The Bridge Inn, Rotherham from around 3:00pm.  
No Flowers please.
Donations to be made to The Myke Barritt Music Trust - details of how to make donations will soon be available. 
The Trust has been set up in the name of Myke with the principle aim of providing encouragement and support to local live music and musicians, to reflect his lifelong love affair with music.
The Wake.  There will be limited catering, but please if you live locally it’s primarily “Bring and Share”.
Phoebe and I would like this to be an afternoon full of music and joy to celebrate Myke and will take the form of an Open Session.  In other words total musical chaos – just the sort of thing that Myke would have enjoyed so much.  
27th July -  Myke’s Birthday Bash.    From 2:00pm The Bridge, Rotherham. 
More details of this event will be published in due course.  It’s to be the principle Fund Raiser for the Myke Barritt Music Trust. 
All Myke’s main Bands will be making an appearance during the day, from Rock to The Mashers, + many, many others.   
It will be a full on event with continuous music all the way – with two stages allowing for non-stop stomping. 
So put the date in your diary – book it as a day off at work and be there.  
On Myke’s Page.   Added this week you will find a link to the Tribute to Myke from the Thursday Session published in the Advertiser last week.   A lovely tribute to the man.
Also I’ve pulled together all the Emails, and Social Networking messages that have been sent to The Mashers, Acoustic Rotherham and Phoebe and put them into one file now published as Myke’s Book of Remembrance.    The intention is to update the book at regular intervals up to the end of July.
If you have something to say or a story to tell that can be added then please send it to
and I’ll make sure that it is added. 
There will be an opportunity at the Wake and The Birthday Bash for those who do not have the technology to write a few lines and be added to the book.

As you can imagine with all this going on and my current lack of energy Acoustic Rotherham matters have been taking a back seat.   However over the next week or so I promise to get things moving again.
There’s plenty going on locally so check out the diary pages and find a place to play.
And what about The Mashers?  Some have been asking.  Well!   I’m not sure yet.  Something will be going on, it’s case of watch this space. 
That’s enough for this week I think.   The Bridge Charity Festival etc. will be covered in next week’s News blog.
Keep it real, keep it live.

Good Times - Sad Times

It’s so very hard to describe the sort of week that it has been.

On one hand there is the selfish sense of total loss, lack of direction, drifting and a general sense of not understanding what life is all about because Myke is no longer there at the end of the phone line – even if sometimes he would refuse to pick up because he was deep in practice or building a train or listening to The Archers.

On the other hand the capacity of human kind to come together at times like this with warmth, understanding - united in their love for a man who touched so many lives.

Truly, one never really appreciates what one has, until it’s no longer there.
My Inbox is full of warm wishes of sympathy, as is Phoebe’s, and the tributes to Myke on Facebook and Myspace just keep rolling in.

So first, from Phoebe and I, a big thank you to you all. It is a comfort to know that Myke was loved and appreciated by so many people.

On Tuesday The Rawmarsh Mashers Gig at The Cross Keys in Handsworth went ahead as planned. I say as planned, but this was a meeting of the Handworth Club like no other.

I would like to thank Roy Blackman and the Members of the Handsworth Club for being so accommodating, and allowing their normally cosy gathering be taken over for what turned out to be a fantastic celebration of Myke’s life.

Thanks also go out to all of you who were able to make the event. It was to say the least a night I shall never forget, and one I think anyone who was there will ever forget. There are some pictures of the event on the Mashers Facebook and Myspace pages.

Contributing to the nights music were, Sue Sutherland, Roy Blackman, Toein’ In The Dark, Paul Pearson, Tina McKevit and Matt Hegarty, Louise, Rob Slow, John McCullagh and Brother, Karl from Earth Tales, the poets of the Crystal Peaks Writers. Thank you to you all.

Centre though was a typical Rawmarsh Mashers set. My Old Guitar, Rich Man’s Paradise, We’ll Have a May Day, Ordinary Man, I’m Glad To Be a Northerner, Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher, Drink Down The Moon and of course finishing with Bloody Rotten Audience.

For this was a celebration of my friend and Partner in musical crime. Complete with all the “Deliberate Mistakes” that feature in a Mashers performance.

But for me there were two stand out moments.

The first was being joined by John McCullagh to sing his (John’s) song, Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher, and who was visiting the UK to see his Mum, all the way from Australia. The visit was a surprise so it had not been up to the last few days that we could advertise that he would be at the Club.

Myke never got to meet John and had to reply upon my stories from Facebook contact that I had.

It was such a priviledge to meet John in person for the first time – yet sad it had to be under such circumstances.

But we hammered out the song with real gusto, with the room erupting into voice during the choruses.

I’ll certainly not forget this completely unrehearsed performance, and I know John feels the same way.

The second stand out moment came when Sue Southerland joined me for Drink Down The Moon. And what a performance. Sue danced and sung throughout beside me making it one I shall cherish in my memory for the rest of my life.

Sue and her Husband Barry have been great supporters of The Rawmarsh Mashers, they have followed us to many strange and distant places and last year chauffeured The Mashers to the first Peterborough Folk Festival, besides undertaking the arduous task of roadying and photographing our exploits at the Wirksworth Festival. Thank you to you both – your friendship and support has been appreciated much more than we might at times have shown.

On a night of standout moments the most poignant moment for me came when Karl (from Myke’s rock side band Earth Tales) accompanied Phoebe in a couple unrehearsed songs. It was a moving moment that I for one will never forget.

Before moving on – if anyone happens to have any photographs from The Cross Keys please send them on to me.

And so to Thursday night.

Thursday night is the traditional meeting night of the Rotherham Singers Club. Myke had been a member of this group long before we got together, and had followed them around as venues changed from The Clifton, The Rotherham Rugby Club, and now finally coming to rest at The Bridge.

It was the Club where I cut my teeth, it was the Club that suffered the early Rawmarsh Mashers attempts at singing songs together.

It was also a Club that has not gone without it’s criticism on the pages of my Blogs. In recent times the music appeared to have become a secondary consideration, which is why the past year had seen The Mashers visits to the Club fall away to almost nothing.

But this Thursday was something special. The room was packed with friends old and new, all united by our love for Myke. Our Gill kicking the night off in typical fashion. Most poignant of all was the contribution of Theresa Daley who had been one of Myke’s closest friends and singing companions. Always a top “turn” was Theresa, accompanied on guitar by Myke. There is a track or two out there somewhere, and I hope to be able to add them to Myke’s page on the Web Site in due course.

But the lads of the Club did Myke proud, as did new comers like Phil Sinclair.
Phoebe and I would again thank everyone for turning out it was to say the least a very emotional evening. And thank you too by forgoing protocol and allowing me to perform three songs straight off, it was appreciated.

Two other stand out things occurred on Thursday night. First, Stan and I got around to burying the hatchet. Myke’s sudden passing demonstrates how we cannot take our lives for granted and that life is far too short to bare grudges. So thank you Stan for being there and for your banjo support throughout my set. I think “thank you” is the word! Or two words.

The second moment came right at the end of the evening.

The old chap that used to be The Star seller in Rotherham Town centre and still to this day makes his way around his old haunts in the evening including The Bridge, decided to join in the fun.

First he told a story about meeting Ronny Moore, the Rotherham United Manager, and how meeting his hero had moved him to song. The old fella then burst into song “Ronny Moore, Ronny Moore, Ronny Moore” you can imagine the rest, he then gave us what I think was an Elvis song.

These are moments that Myke would have cherished. Not because he would have known who Ronny Moore was, or liked the Elvis song, but simply because the contribution was so random and unexpected – he might even have sought out the key the song was being sung in and played along.

So thank you lads.

So a week full of memories that will be cherished – a week full of poignant moments, quiet reflection and thought.

A few business matters though –

Arrangements for Myke’s Funeral will not be known until early into this coming week. Be assured that details will be posted on all the usual places that I haunt you.

There is a page dedicated to Myke Masher on the Jmucreate site, HERE besides the recent photographs of Myke you’ll find the article run in The South Yorkshire Times and a track from his Rhiannon days.

In the week ahead.

The Rawmarsh Mashers plan to be at Nellie Folk on Monday; The Black Bull, Tuesday; and hope to get across to Last Friday Folk on, yes you guessed it, Friday.

Other matters.

There’s a new Open Mic on a Tuesday night opening at The Old Cricket Club, Wickersley. You can check it out HERE

I’ll do my best to keep all the pages up to date over the next few weeks but I hope that you’ll be patient.
Again thank you to you all.

Myke (Masher) Barritt RIP

A tribute to Myke (Masher) Barritt (27th July 1949 - 16th May 2010 A Good Gig)

Myke left us to play in the master session beyond this life, the” happiest man in the World”. His words, not mine.

After a life time of searching Myke had at last found, if belatedly, his perfect soul mate, the love of his life Phoebe.
He was to become a man of property and was so excited, planning where the music room would be, where his model train layout would dominate where his workshop would be.

And yes, as Myke Masher he was having a great time Gigging around the North and taking his natural flair to entertain out to wider public.
What’s more, just recently he had got his more rocking band Earthtales a couple of “proper” Gigs and was enjoying the practice and rehearsals and even the fun of putting new material into the mix.

Myke was happy.

Ironically, The Mashers should have been in Germany this week on a mini tour, but it was my Doctor who said no because of my various ailments which had not settled back down. It would have been yet another tick on Myke’s list of ambitions achieved.

Myke’s life was dedicated to music. He would tell me stories of how as a boy his parents would buy records, watch Top of The Pops, and how he widened his music knowledge and discovered bands and genre of music.
He was a self-taught guitarist. Myke told of how he would send other occupants in his Sixth Form Common Room mad has he worked out bar chords, learnt new riffs or sang out lyrics.

The range of his musical knowledge was all compassing, anything from heavy rock to the rarest of Traditional sea shanty were all well within his range. I’ve seen head banging one moment and singing along to a Harvesting song the next. Music was music to Myke, a good song was a good song, and so long as it was not The Mountains of Mourn he was the happiest person in the World.
I never did find out why he hated the Mountains of Mourn quite so much.
Just go and listen to the programme we did for Bishop FM Folk Up Front with Terry Ferdinand, and the music that Myke selected to be played. It’s well worth a listen. HERE

His entire life was just one long Session. Wherever he lived, wherever the location, if it was in reach of a bus, Myke would be there, sitting in a corner, pint in hand, quiet and unassuming, then bursting into life and working away at his guitar the moment a song he could play, or a tune he knew was played.

As his collaboration with The Mashers proved, Myke would play along with anyone. More. He would encourage anyone with their music. It didn’t matter that your performance was lacking, it didn’t matter that the songs were weak, it didn’t matter that you were not a master of the guitar, as long as you were enjoying your music and progressing skills he was there to help.

And in the low times when I wondered if the Masher project was worthwhile or that Acoustic Rotherham was not achieving what I wanted, Myke was there offering encouragement, boosting ego and just generally pushing me on.

I know he did the same for Phoebe with their Wyrd Wych and The Mad Frog project.
But this applied to anyone who sought out his advice.

One of the notable features of touring with Myke was his fame. Wherever we went, even the remotest parts of Norfolk, someone would recognise him. Often from his days with Rhiannon, a band that terrorised Folk venues, he said, in the way The Mashers have done in more recent times. Whenever I would get frustrated with the musical snobbery that exists around certain Folk Clubs or venues, Myke would tell of when Rhiannon played to the same reaction from those who dictate as to what is good and what is bad “folk”. As he would say, as long as the audience enjoyed it, which invariably they did, “f*** them”. An ethos now firmly built into my own attitude.

I remember one drive, I think it was from a Hiring Faire at The Station in Loftus, where we stopped off at a Motorway Station for a freshen up. Myke was busy attending to his business when a total stranger standing down the line said “I know you mate, you were in that band Rhiannon!”. Myke modestly bowed his head and said “in another life my friend, but you’re right.”

We had our moments too though. My guitar playing could be all over the place, and frequently is, but he was a stickler for getting the lyrics on the right beat, and they “have to rhyme”. Which is why in the song “Sunny Day In Dublin” the last verse was often cut – or if sung, we would chuckle as we sang:

“On Walking home I met a friend
We went to have a drink
We took our pints we sat outside
And laughed and had a……………….. joke”

It was always an “oh dear” moment.

We had many discussions about similar lines.

And of course the famous late night driving back from his beloved Play On Club on Kelham Island, when in the dark and tipping rain it took an hour an half of touring The Manor in Sheffield to find his beloved Phoebe’s house, first because he didn’t have a clue as where the house was, secondly because I was reading the A-Z upside down!

Many a word exchanged that night.

In a nutshell though within the musical community Myke touched so many lives.

But Myke was also a skilled model engineer. Not many people appreciate that his passion for model trains led him to launching a business. MB Trains. “MB Trains Made in Sheffield”, his labels proudly boast.

This business manufactured hand built and painted model electric trains. I have one proudly displayed in my cabinet in the colours of Southern Railways. Typical of Myke, even the boxes and label were all “hand made”, the label precisely placed on the lid with the typical perfection he sought from whatever he did in life.

Sadly the business itself was not a raving success, yet like his music, his trains have a cult following amongst the serious and knowledgeable collectors.

When someone passes on it’s the norm for all and sundry to creep from undergrowth to express their good wishes etc and say what a great person they were.

In our Myle’s case it’s all true though. A nicer, sweeter personality, a more unassuming generous, loving man, one could not wish to meet.

I count myself privileged and extremely lucky to have worked alongside him for so long. He will never know the joy he brought into my life personally, nor how much I treasured his friendship.

But the music must go on.

Myke would not want the tears, he would not want the long faces. I’m sure he saw it as his personal mission in life to bring happiness to everyone’s lives. Which is why one way or another The Mashers will continue to play. Which is why we must all celebrate this fantastic man’s life. Which is why we must fill that empty seat with music.

Above all he has achieved at least one of his life’s main aims “leave them wanting more”. Indeed, if only.
I had all but written this week’s News Blog when at just after 9:00am on Sunday morning I received the dreadful news from Phoebe that Myke Masher had decided to pop off to the big Jam Session in whatever World he now inhabits.
My thoughts about Myke have been published in a separate Blog/ Obituary which you’ll find around the placement of this Blog. It will also be eventually published as a separate page on the main Web Site.
All this other stuff seems to fall into complete insignificance when compared to the events of the last 24 hours – events that it’s going to take a very long time for me to come to grips with.
However, the last thing Myke would have wanted in life would be for the music to come to a stop – for no matter how short a time. So………………………………………………..

I suppose we can’t start this week’s Blog without a comment about “the outcome” of what for five days was even bigger than X Factor.

I was amazed by the number of people who were engaged by the general Election Result, normally a shrug of the shoulders will do, but many people were talking about it, informed or otherwise. That can only be good.

So predictably we ended the process on Tuesday with a Conservative / Liberal Coalition. The exercise of getting there proving to be quite interesting in its own way, if at times painful. The grenades thrown by the outgoing Government at strategic times adding to the entertainment.

My reading of last weekend’s events was that at no time did Labour ever believe that it could form a Government, the width of the coalition required would have been just impossible to hold together. What we saw was a very brave man giving his victors time to sort their act out, and having the odd bit of fun, like the timing of his announcement on Monday that he would speak to the Liberals and resign as Labour Leader.

We really are ill-served by our media though. Here we are as a Nation with massive economic problems, not only within our own economy, but within the very heart of Europe, and much of our popular press continued with their vile and completely unfair personal attacks on Brown – except for The Mirror of course.
Also the pressure they put on the two coalition Parties to come to a quick deal was just plain stupid. They needed the time to work out a deal that would work, as much for them as the Country.

I have to admit that I find the outcome, a Conservative/ Liberal Coalition quite exciting. Not so much because of the Parties involved but because of the lengths that Cameron appears to have gone to accommodate the Liberals within Government. It’s also clear that both Cameron and Clegg really believe that they have a chance to change the way politics is conducted in the UK. Time will tell and they should be given that time.

Their problem is in securing a right of centre alignment in concrete. We all know what just a handful of Tory backbenchers did to John Major, and the same could happen to Cameron once the glitz of taking Government wears off.
The Liberals also have their own problems, not least selling the deal to their Party, for while the Membership Department of the Labour Party has been enjoying a very busy period signing new members, The Liberal Party have been sorting through the subscription cancellations.

And – while Cameron sits in No 10 one needs to remember that this was an election that went very wrong for the Conservatives. Only four months ago the Opinion Polls would have had them winning by a Country mile, with public opinion being led by the Murdock press. In the event the Conservatives did not secure a majority, in fact they fell well short. Cameron will have to answer questions within his Party.
It as I said last week one of the biggest open political goals in history – and he missed – a bit like the Chelsea strikers in the first half of the Cup Final yesterday.

As for Gordon. The man left with dignity, he had come very close to what had been a few weeks ago an impossibility, and the damage to The Labour Party had been minimised. The new Leader has a relatively strong position to mount Opposition within Parliament to start from, and the Party as a whole has the time to assess the failures of the past thirteen years as well as the minor successes.

My experience of Labour lesson learning is not that great, but the Milliband Brothers having launched their Leadership bids both appear to be using the right words and attempting to take Labour back to a left of centre position. Can leopards change their spots that much? Uummmm

I remember as a student reading the books of their Dad, dripping in Marxism, one wishes that they just a little of his youthful socialism in their gene’s.
One hopes a left of Labour centre candidate will show his or her face before nominations close.

Of course the fun has started trying to label the Coalition Government – “Condem” seemingly one of the most popular. And I rather liked, “we’ll take Conservative from the Conservatives, and Party from the Liberal Democratic ………………………… “ . Ah well.

Interesting times ahead folks.

Announcements for the week -

The Bridge Spring Charity Festival on 31st May. All collected proceeds going to The Rotherham Hospice. I’ve still got a number of spaces for the Acoustic Stage and we’re still looking for a load more Protest Songs to be entered in the song contest.

Please Email springfestival@jmucreate.com for both. Song Contest details HERE

We’ve been contacted by Steve Matthews of the G String Acoustic Club. Steve is putting together a new mini Festival, for the weekend 27 – 28 - 29th August, Free Music Extravaganza. Most of the music is to be acoustic based and the Land Lord of The Angel Inn, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire will be putting on a veritable feast of BBQs and Hog Roasts throughout the weekend. Anyone interested in taking part should contact Steve through his Facebook page.

No reports yet, the but Acoustic Roadshow UK, put together by Martin Croft got underway on Friday with a concert involving Florin, Free Beer and Velvet Pause at the Truckstop in Hellabey.

The Acoustic Roadshow UK project intends to take a variety of acts to different venues throughout South Yorkshire. Watch out for more details as they become available.

On the May Diary page you’ll find new dates for the Bluegrass Buddies and others. If you want your Gigs listed then please Email acousticrotherham@jmucreate.com

So what have The Mashers been up to?

Monday found us getting back together for a constructive practice session as we sought out some of the older material ready for our Gig at The Cross Keys, Handsworth on Tuesday Night. We’re hoping for a very special guest in the form of John McCulagh, he’s the chap who wrote “Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher”, and is in the Country for a short time from Australia. THIS GIG WILL GO AHEAD.

The Mashers last performance together as Myke and Dickie Masher was at The Butchers Arms, Braithwell. We only went as last minute decision, just to stay sharp for the upcoming Gigs.

It proved to be a fantastic evening.

The small yet appreciative audience along with the Session Regulars proved to be very welcoming and warm and some of the songs went down a storm.
It was a relaxed fun filled and song filled evening.

Paul Pearson and the lovely Christine joined us later in the evening, so those lucky enough to have been there will have shared in some brilliant music.

And there I’m going to end it.

If you can make the Cross Keys on the 18th May Phoebe and I will love to see you, but only if you intend to smile and join in with the songs. Myke would not want us to be down and out.

A more formalish Celebration will take place in JULY. “MYKE’S BIRTHDAY BASH” . This will take place at The Bridge Inn, which he had already booked, on Tuesday the 27th July and will give as many people as possible the chance to sing Myke a song and say a few words. A true celebration of man who touched so many lives.
If you want to be involved then please contact me at mashers@jmucreate.com

For all the Masher and Acoustic Rotherham News GO HERE