So the Rotherham Open Arts Festival winds down. The final Concert has been played out but there are still two days, Tuesday and Wednesday to pop into the Gallery and check out the fantastic Art Work on show created mainly by the people of Rotherham from the very young to the more Senior members of our Community.
I’m not going to go into my full Review of the Festival experience in this Blog. There are two reasons, first so that we can give full credit to the artists who have appeared this week and secondly I feel that such a Review deserves a little more time in the “cooking” and requires to be treated as a standalone.
So with the week starting with a classic Masher mistake by shouting out that it was Nellie Folk last Monday –IT’S TODAY (MONDAY) – the week could only get better.
And so it did.
The Wednesday Festival Concert was a cracker. By popular demand!! it was kicked off by The Masher set where I was joined on stage by John Statter, making it our first more formal outing, which given the total lack of any practice session together proved to be a truly enjoyable experience. Good to hear folks joining in on choruses, and even those who were new to The Mashers seemed to enjoy it. So, result.
Then Pocketful of N’owt, the smaller, took the audience by storm, with a rite rousing set of frivolity pushed along by the high wire stool walking of Mike O’Brian. Mike’s performances seem to become more outrageous each time I see him, and he even included my favourite song into this makeshift set.
They also included their fantastic new Christmas song. Here’s the link. HERE Head in that direction as we’re trying to make it this year’s Christmas number one – at which point Mike says he will buy me a pint! Thanks Mike.
But you have to give these lads a lot of credit. They are magic supporters of the local music scene and through “hard work” have in a very short period of time created a very positive profile with fans and Promoters. We really hope that current problems are quickly sorted and that they return to full numbers soon.
I’ve also had the privilege of checking out their six track studio EP which contains what might be described as their greatest hits. You can pick a copy up by heading off to Pocketful of N’owt Gig or find Mike O’Brian and beg……………….. worth a fiver of anyone’s money. Check out their Facebook Page HERE
To complete a night of madness and Politician hating satire came Cracktown. My good friends Silver Fox and the King Rat providing us with some fine blues harp along with an upbeat set of their very best songs.
I’m not sure why they worry so much. They give off this air of Devil take the hindmost yet are sensitive to audience response. In this particular case they needn’t have worried. I’ve seen them amongst their own when they’ve gone for it and are absolutely brilliant, almost different level to us mere mortals, yet one sensed in the Gallery environment something was being held back. Just my feeling.
Cracktown will always be at the top of my booking list for what they are, challenging, clever with words and lyrics and juxta positioned arguments and above all creative and talented. Be yourselves lads and let it rip. The other reason they will always be at the top of list, is that they’re cheap, but hurry that may change I believe Silver Fox will soon need a new Top Hat and Leather coat, while I noticed King Rat’s jeans had shrunk a bit (or he’s grown) and as we go into winter he’ll need something to keep him warm.
Check out their CDs and more by joining their Facebook page HERE
Of course our thanks also go to Christine our Poet in residence.
On Friday the Festival hosted a Special Presentation of Hearts of Steel, the collated result of work started at a Festival workshop two years ago. It’s a celebration of Steel Production in Rotherham and it’s two public performances earlier in the year received many accolades from the critics.
It was a great shame that the cast very much outnumbered the audience by two to one. The reason we’ll return to at another time.
For now I want to congratulate Ray Hearne, and the full cast for an outstanding presentation under very difficult circumstances. And for those who missed the evening, it was incredible.
The good news though is that there are still a few copies of the original DVD available which contains the work of the Group along with some fantastic images of the time when steel was King in the Town. Go HERE to buy.
I’m also told that the same group might be coming together for another project soon. Stay tuned for news. In the meantime why not check out the Millmoor Memories project all the details and links are on the Festival page HERE
And so to the final Concert of the Festival on Saturday. A true Rotherham day with the ever young Roy Blackman kicking off proceedings with renditions of songs old and new, punctuated with the odd poem.
It was fantastic to see Roy in full Concert mode, instead of performing the odd song here and there. He’s a true entertainer.
Roy let slip that the 26th November was his late Partner Doreen birthday, and it was to have been their Wedding Day. So it was befitting to dedicate his performance on the day to Doreen.
And don’t forget folks…………….. Roy has his CD coming out soon, “Roy Blackman – Rotherham’s Man of Memories” . We’re still hoping for a late December launch, but it will certainly be with us early in the New Year. The snag has been in the proof reading, which due to the size of the CD Insert is taking just a little longer to put together than we originally thought.
More details and the teaser track that won’t be on CD can be found HERE
Roy was followed by Will Padfield. Will’s a young singer song writer now based in Wath and has one of the strongest and best voices in the Town. His songs are full of carefully crafted lyrics and hold a blues like melody. It was a well-crafted set which was videoed, so I hope you’ll get to some of the tracks before too long.
Will tells me that he’s currently experimenting with his recording, which is exciting news and I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the results in the near future.
And great to see the family come and give full support.
And from one powerful vocal to another as Rachel Barley made one of her too rare solo appearances in Rotherham.
What can I say about this young lady who is gaining in confidence with every performance thanks to her Band Papa Legbas.
It was just so good to hear her jazz and blues all brilliantly supported by confident guitar playing.
We really need to convince Rachel to get something recorded properly so that a wider audience can enjoy the music that she makes.
Unfortunately Paul Newman couldn’t be with us because of health issues, so as we moved into the final moments of the Festival Concerts it was very kind of Paul Pearson to give us a surprise three song set. Magical as ever and so typical of the guy to perform at a moment’s notice.
And to finish – well with the aid of “Little” Neil The Masher was able to deliver a rendition of Bloody Rotten Audience – which was probably directed towards those who had missed some of the outstanding performances during the Month.
All this, plus, brilliant contributions from Carol Robson and Christine May Turner providing the poetical interludes.
So at this point all that remains is to THANK EVERY ONE OF THE THIRTY SEVEN PERFORMERS INCLUDING THE POETS FROM ROMP FOR THEIR FREELY GIVEN CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FESTIVAL.
I can tell you all that because of your amazing efforts the profile of Rotherham created music has been enhanced enormously. The standards reached, in sometimes challenging conditions have left me opened mouthed as each of you produced performances worthy of your professional status.
I will be making sure that you all get a copy of my final Review / Write Up + put it up as a Blog so that you can add your own comments about your experiences at the Festival. Better still if you have anything that you think might be overlooked please send your comments by Email firstname.lastname@example.org or add them to the bottom of this Blog.
Already work on next year’s various projects has started. But before diving headlong into the mire, the first thing that has to be done is make sure that we get the Macro Organisation in place.
The Masher will be warming the troops up on Wednesday 30th November, that’s the day of the Public Workers Strike. I’ll be kicking off with a few heart-warming songs while the Marchers gather for the Speeches at Rotherham Town Hall and head off to join the main March and Rally in Sheffield. I should be underway by about 9:50 am – yes you did read that correctly 9:50 AM
There’s a TUC Sponsored song from The Workers which you can find HERE and well worth downloading, it’s light hearted way of showing your support for this important stand not only to save the existing Pensions of our Public Workers but also kick forward the upgrading of Private Pension schemes that have taken a hammering over the past three years.
The UKFCN published their Good Practice Guide to Folk Clubs this week. It’s well worth a read by Folk Club Organisers, especially the guest booking ones and anyone thinking of setting a Folk Club up. The link is HERE Even if you think that you have nothing to learn it's worth taking a look.
It is a step forward.
However, I still have my doubts about whether or not this closed approach by Folk Clubs is the way to go. I’m still convinced that if we are really to grow audiences by creating new Folk Clubs or strengthen our existing Club base then we need to ally ourselves with other musical genre and general arts.
I’m also put off a bit by some really petty nit picking by some of the people involved in this Group. Too often at the critical moment someone throws a spoke into the wheel and everything gets reduced to a fairly juvenile level of debate.
However, I’m sure as the Group develops some useful things will come out of it.
Another organisation UK Folk Music marches on though. You can check out their Web Site pages HERE They are to Launch a Podcast in the very near future and if you would like any of your material featured they have set up an Upload Page on SoundCloud HERE
The week head and we have a full programme of all the regular Clubs. This past week we have been told of a couple sessions featured on the Diary that have become defunct and they have been deleted. I can only delete or more importantly add if you tell me – so please if you find anything not working on the Web Site or want to add or tell me about a Club that has become defunct email me at email@example.com
One event I would give you a head’s up to is the return of Big Neil to the scene. I’ve not seen him out and about for years but I’m told a new Band has been formed Penno and they will be performing at Delaney’s Music Bar in Sheffield on Sunday 4th from 6:00pm. You’ll be sure to be in for some great Irish tunes and good crack.
Everything going on can be found HERE
There have been additions to the Resource Page HERE and new tracks have been added to the Acoustic Rotherham Player. In fact you'll find tracks from most, if not all Festival performers on the Player which you can find on every page of the Web Site.
And with that we draw to an end this week’s News Blog. Watch out for the Festival Special later in the week. And please try, no matter how inconvenienced on Wednesday, just what it is all about. The Tories have always been good at setting worker against worker, person against person, it’s their standard strategy.
Whatever you are doing this week have great fun, support live music and keep it LIVE