Thursday, 27 September 2012

Urban Music with you at The Centre

Very, very late this week, but eventually the News Blog is Published. 

Going to keep it to the bare bones, but just one note to say how much I enjoyed Madfest at the Elsicar Heritage Centre at the weekend.  A lovely couple of hours with some great company and music.  Also good to get out with Sue and Barrie – lovingly referred to as the Road Crew.

The Heritage Centre makes for a lovely setting for the Festival, and I spent ages checking out the craft and art shops on offer, most of which are open the entire year seven days a week.  Certainly worth a trip out.  

You can see The Masher played out his set to a very attentive and appreciative audience of rather smart plastic chairs and not for the first time.   I'll let you into a secret, after Barrie took the photo the tent was packed out human activity and at least one person who sat and listened to my set.   And big thanks to The Fat Controller Scott, for buying my beer and making me feel so welcome.

Such a pity that Bombfest decided to relocate their date to the same weekend!  Not the best of planning by Bombfest, although they may have been in the hands of the Council – in which case it’s their fault. 

Watch out for details of Madfest for 2013.  The setup is fantastic with the daytime event full of great free music from around the Region and entertainment for all including the kiddies Village Green and some super Street performers.   The evening concerts are very impressive with some of the top names, this year amongst them were the Demon Barbers, Chambawamba and Eliza Carthy with her Band. 

But enough – onwards. 

The excuse for not getting the Blog out on time is that I’m currently not at my best, and tend to get exhausted very quickly, and a steroid injection this week in the hand has not helped matters. So apologies and I hope you can bare with me. 

I've also been struggling to get my new strings fitted to the New Mashing Machine.   I use the strings seen in the picture, anyone have any advise? 

BUSKING DAY AND URBAN PIANOS 29th September -  Yes!! That’s this Saturday, panic.   Just to recap on everything said previously.

BUSKING  -  Music starts 11:00 am        Please Register with us at the IMPERIAL BUILDING on Corporation Street in Rotherham, before starting to play.  The Registration Office is open from 10:00am -  Office is probably a bit grand lol.    

Singers, musicians – street dancers, street performers – anyone who would like to do something  is welcome and we’ll find you time and space. 

Or you can also Register Online HERE


You can find the score to the short TUNE to be played HERE  check it out and if you would like to  play it on the day  Register at THE IMPERIAL BUILDINGS FROM 10 am. 

The Pianos will be played throughout the day, from 11:00 am   But please Register.  

For those in need of a polish up or even a piano lesson help will be on hand from Get Sorted. 

The special tune will be played as part of the launch to The Rotherham Open Arts Festival  at around 12:50 with Joshua Goodman plying the tune publically for the first time, Steve and I will do our bit and then it’s all systems go as the tune is taken through the Town from Piano to Piano.  

There are some fantastic, nay spectacular works of art in the form made over pianos to be seen.  We’ll have pictures on the Web Site very soon.  

So everything from fantastic visual images to acoustic musical sound throughout the Town  and one or two poems to for “1000 Poets for Change Day” as well – it’s going to be a great knees up and Party.

And in this first week of the Fringe Festival we have on Wednesday 3rd October the first of our Wednesday Acoustic Clubs at The Old Market Gallery.  Starts around 7:30 and we have three top local performers, Steph Little, Will Padfield and of course Toein’ In the Dark.   A not to be missed Wednesday evening – even if The Champions League is on.   Even though the Exhibition does not start until the 10th October (Opening 9th) we hope to have a Bar up and running and I believe that this year we may also be offering tea and coffee.   Full details of the Wednesday Acoustic Club HERE

And on Saturday 6th at The Bridge we have a top Punk night with The Sons of El Roacho and Cambodia – it’s a sort of 60th knees up for The Masher as well so come on down and just have a great evening of entertaining music.   This is a FREE EVENT – of course it might cost you a beer for Dickie, but hey that’s what birthdays are for!

As explained last week we have to charge for some of the events, and you can securely and exclusively buy the Fringe Festival Season Ticket (available until 1st October) or tickets to the individual Concerts and events at “We’ve Got Tickets”  HERE   Just a warning –  some of the tickets are selling fast.

Keep an eye on the Fringe Festival Web Site HERE for details of the Festival Programme as I find the energy to get them on line.

On Sunday night there’s a real treat at Wath Folk Club where Hicks and Goulbourn will be guesting.  If I can get transport I’ll be there to this outstanding duo.   Some super tunes and fantastic instrumentalisation and not to be missed.  

And of course I think Barnsley Folk Club have something going on tomorrow Friday in the form of their 50th Anniversary, with Ray holding Court in Snooker Room all afternoon or until he drops then Dave Burland + String Theory (The House Band lol) will be letting off along with a host of other top names.  You’ll have to get in early like Ray to get a seat.   And of course Acoustic Rotherham’s congratulations to Barnsley Folk and Acoustic Club.

You can keep up to date with all the regular sessions, open mics and folk clubs by heading to the link HERE

Parish Notice:  Urgent   Artwork for the Festival Exhibition needs to be in by 4th October .  This is a chance for any artist from any discipline to exhibit work at NO CHARGE.  Film makers, animators, photographers, painters, sculptors of Rotherham this is your one real chance a year to dust off the work under the bed and show it.   Email HERE

Keep your eyes peeled for Festival Special Blogs in the days and weeks ahead.

Whatever you’re this weekend, (and we hope it’s joining us in Rotherham for some great acoustic music in the fresh air, and view some amazing pianos), support your local artists and above all, KEEP IT LIVE.

PS – Being on The Masher mailing list is going to be crucial to keeping up with Festival activities for October so head HERE and sign up.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Special Royal Orb Issue / Fringe Festival the latest and the usual chit chat

Following the shock horror topless pictures of Kate filling up Giga Bytes of Internet space this week security at Masher Towers has been stepped up. 

The pictures have in one click exploded so many myths.  Royals only have two nipples like commoners and are roughly placed in exactly the same position on the body.  We were also shocked to discover that Royals do not have their own special sun screen Servants, "one's significant other" must perform the duties around the Royal orbs.

The picture is not one of our future Queen, but one I took myself with my wideangled long range lens over a hundred miles.

The fact is we cannot have Masher myths smashed in a similar way, the public have to believe that The Mashers cap is permanently fixed to his head; that he has the body of a God ; and that his foot size is quite large (if you know what we mean) if The Mashers commercial standing and value is to be maintained.

Group4S have specially trained “sausage dogs” and handlers are currently patrolling Rawmarsh seeking out anyone with a long lensed camera around their neck, now that their Olympic duties are complete.  So if you’re high fived by a stranger or offered purple clothing at car boot sale you’ll know that they are undercover and working for the Mashers.

Enough of this rubbish as I must soon away to lend my frame to the London Fashion Week cat walks; watch your telly closely and see if you spot me, then call me, as I will have been plagiarised.

It’s only a couple of weeks to the Busking Saturday in Rotherham, or for those with a preference The Rotherham Street Performance Festival – we use the later name so as to encourage anyone who would like to perform to take part – it’s not just a music event!! On the 29th September. 

Register HERE or in the Imperial Building on the day.

And as you will have discovered in last week’s Blog, this year we also celebrate The Rotherham Urban Piano Project and will be featuring specially decorated Pianos throughout the Town. 

The Urban Piano Project has been financed by Gallery Town funds and the workshops have been a great success as groups of Children and even happy people at last week’s Rotherham Show, overseen by local professional artists, have been creating Master Pieces from Rawmarsh to Kiverton.  

On the 29th September they will all be centring upon Rotherham to join in the Busking Day.  Within the Library The Steinberg will be open to public view, and the Kasbian piano will be available for public use at Riverside – why not pop in and have a tickle on the way to the Match?   Two pianos will be available around the Imperial Building, another around Riverside Walk and others across the Town Centre.

Everyone is welcome to take part and even learn something about the piano, this is not just for the veteran players.  Staff Members from Rotherham’s top musical tuition Centre for young people and adults “Get  Sorted” will be on hand to help you through playing the specially written twelve bar tune. 

Watch this space for more details very soon. 

The Fringe Festival Planning goes grinding on.

The Programme for the Wednesday evening Festival Acoustic Sessions is very nearly complete, already confirmed are some of the top acoustic musicians from across Rotherham, and a tiny bit beyond.   Toein’ In The Dark, Storm Tree’s Acoustic, Swansong Acoustic, Keystone Acoustic, Phillip Hartley, Paul Pearson, Dylan Brierly, Nic Harding, Steph Little and Will Padfield have confirmed; watch out for the detailed programme on the Fringe Web Site HERE over the next few days. 

We’ve got loads of places left for the Saturday Acoustic Brunch Club with David Kidman, if you would like a spot then please Email us HERE  The venue for the first Saturday Brunch Club is yet to be announced, the remaining three are as advertised and FREE and open to children ages 9 - 900

The line-up for the Acoustic Rotherham 17 is very nearly complete, and the details will be up before the end of the week.

And with the exception of one featured event the Full Programme for the Rotherham Open Arts Festival is set.  You can find the skeleton on the Programme Page of the Festival Web Site HERE.  Nice fleshy pages of information will be on the site within a couple of days.

Tickets for the ODS Saxon Concert are now on sale at The Trades Club, Rotherham during normal opening hours and at Mesmerise on Wellgate in Rotherham.  You might even spot Mick about this week and he is a ticket carrier – grab him with care. 

REA have appointed we’ve got Tickets as our On-Line booking Office.  By going HERE you buy tickets to all the pay events, and a useful little season ticket that lets you avoid the cash queues. 

The final item for the Programme is a Theatre event.  I require a small Theatre or a Theatre like environment for Sunday 21st October – please contact me urgently HERE if you know of one that might be available at minimum charges.   We need tea making facilities / cakes and for the theatre to be available from mid-day to 7:00pm.

This past week saw the opening of Art In The Park at the Old Market Gallery – and what a great evening celebrating the young artists of Rotherham Thursday was.  There really was some incredible art work on display ranging from abstract pieces, to experimental use of materials and even what might be described as creative commercial artwork. 

Besides the visual work we were treated to music and poetry from some of the Town’s top young talent.  Full marks to the poet the Lass who really had to fight against the odds to be heard. 

Best still was that the evening had a fantastic turn out.  So well done to Vicky and OMT / RCC for all the work putting the Exhibition together.  I believe that you can see the work at the Gallery throughout this week, and if you’ve not checked it out yet get yourself down to the Gallery. 

I see that I’m not the only one who can stir things up on Facebook.   Our Karen has made herself popular with a few folks at The Bridge for tongue in cheek comments about the behaviour of the Bridge Audience on Saturday night.  Personally I think the venue itself, while a fantastic supporter of live music, does not lend itself to comfortable music listening.   The result tends to be that most people find themselves migrating between the stage room and the bar, and if like poor little me one needs a sit down occasionally then you’re in the main bar where you’re either drawn into a conversation or trying to listen over the hum of the other drinkers and punters.   It can’t be helped – but I know other bands that have found it difficult, as it’s like playing to two different types of audience on occasions, the ones who are listening with the use of 10% of their ear and those who are hanging on your every word (the latter is an audience I do not know much about – but have heard rumours).

On the wider issue, it is really interesting how perfectly logical and generally nice people suddenly become “Mr Angry” on Facebook, and shoot off what they think to be logical arguments in a manner they would never think to use if sat next to the Mr Nasty who has attacked their senses so.   And yes I’ve been guilty myself of this modern day sin.   Yes, these manufactured arguments can be fun, on the other hand they can hurt the feelings of people.   So just perhaps some us need to be a little bit more careful before wadding into some one’s private thoughts that they have shared on Facebook. 

But let’s be honest.  I’m happy to share the stocks with Karen………  if for no other reason than she is a very talented lady.  If you’ve not had a look at her art work then take a look at this brilliant Slideshow which takes you deep inside Karen’s creativity, look HERE

Honesty eh?   Musicmetric have published a top twenty of the worst offenders when it comes to downloading illegal / sharing (delete according to your view) tracks from the Internet.  Sheffield stand just inside the European places at fourth, while Manchester top the league, which would obviously be the case given the cost of season tickets at Old Trafford and whatever they call the other place now (City of Manchester Stadium).  What did surprise me is the position of London who are laying in twentieth place.   Bankers’ bonuses do make a difference!  

It’s Rotherham’s turn for the plague of “Calendar Girls” productions currently hitting the UK.  Apparently the License on the Play has been generally available for twelve months or so and as a result every Rep Company worth its salt are ripping their cloths off to be as risqué as they can be.  The Rotherham Rep is no exception and from Tuesday until Saturday the Civic Theatre will be demonstrating the art of carefully choreographed flesh flashing on stage.   A bargain at £7 and a Rep Company well worth supporting.

Indeed the Rotherham Civic Programme for the Autumn is full of good things for everyone, Phil Collins Tribute to an evening with the real Des O’Connor, need I say more.   Full details HERE

Speaking of Des O’Connor, my old mate David Kidman will be singing a song or two at The Cross Keys, Handsworth tonight.  Sing out young man. 

It’s a Mad weekend in Barnsley.  The rearranged BOMB FEST takes place out at Worsbrough, tickets still available, while MADFEST runs at Elsicar, with the Masher on stage for half an hour or so  at Mid-day.    Madfest has it’s usually ambitious line up with Friday night being headlined by Thea Gilmore, Saturday The Deon Barbers Road Show + Chumbawamba, and on Sunday Eliza Cathy and her Band.   Not sure about the current ticket availability but more details HERE

Opus Hatch will be making an appearance at The Montgomery Theatre on Saturday.

There’s also an interesting little Festival down in London at the this weekend The Acoustic Guitar Show, worth checking out HERE 

But there is just so much going on again that I can’t mention or remember it all so check it out for yourself on the Diary Pages HERE

There’s two things next week I’d bring your immediate attention to.  On the 26th there is a Rally Against Austerity 7:00pm at The Old Market Gallery, on Corporation Street Rotherham.   There is a brilliant line up of speakers so come and join the movement putting an alternative to the policies of the grey suited politicians.  All details HERE

And Phoebe starts her seven week WEA Singing Course.  You can find all the details HERE

Ray  tells all who will listen that the Barnsley Folk Club 50th Anniversary celebration evening tickets are going like hot cakes and beginning to run short, not surprising given the line up.   Friday Sep 28th Trades Club Barnsley.  For the day drinkers and thosem with loads of singing stamina the fun starts at 12:00. 

Carol Robson's Collection of Poetry that we reviewed here a couple of weeks ago is to have a Formal Launch more details coming soon.

And sad news that Paul Arrowsmith is moving to the back seat as far as Folk Club Organisation is concerned.  The programmed Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club events are the last one's for the foreseeable future.   The Final Bash takes place on 23rd November and tickets are already on sale.  All the details HERE

And that’s about it for another week  - whatever you’re doing this week have great fun, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

And The Fun Just keeps Coming. Fringe, Busking and much more

So well done to all you Rotherham Folkies who remembered that last Monday was the rearranged August Nellie Folk, even though it was September.  These Bank Holidays cause so many complications, especially one as date blind as I.  I do hope that no one turned up on Bank Holiday at The Bridge, as I'm aware that Listings page was completely wrong.

It was an “all the usual suspects” gathering with some fine quality singing including a new duo!   Louise and Tom – and a fine couple they made, and the heavy breathing heard from the rehearsal room was completely legit – they say.

No new faces but nice to see a rare visit from Phoebe and Sylvia + young man.

And more good local Folk Club News as John has let me know that The Butchers Arms, Braithwell venue proved to be a great success.   A good Club attendance and “food” appears to have convinced John.

Personally I feel as if I’ve been everywhere this week, yet nowhere.    Yet somehow progress is being made.

Performing Street Arts Festival (that’s the Busking Day to me and you) on 29th September, and plans are afoot to make the launch of the Urban Piano Project Exhibition around the Town very special.  A special short piece of music is being composed for the day.  Once the day is officially open the pianos will be available to play by everyone and we’ll even making arrangements with a team from Getsorted to provide tuition for folks like I who will not have a clue.

I was very lucky to meet many of the artists who will be using their creativity to transform the pianos.  

Anyone c an get involved.   There are workshops 17th and 24th at Manor Farm Community Centre  and at the Old Market Gallery on Saturday 15th September, with Vicky Hilton. 

We still need a couple of pianos, you can in touch with Lizzy HERE should you have one taking up space in your garage, living room or dining room.  Maybe the bedroom – and that’s a whole story I’ll not go into here.

I’ve also had confirmation from some pretty special musicians that they will be in the Town Centre playing you a tune of two.   If you’re interested in spending a few hours with us on 29th September just drop me a note HERE or if you want to make up your mind on the day Registration will be at the Imperial Building from 10:00am

There will also be a programme of poetry and acoustic music at the Imperial Building. 

We are still hoping that we’ll get a brass band, gospel choir and more.

The Fringe Festival Programme is near complete.  The confirmed dates for this week have been a night of blues from The Tom Kilner Band on the 20thn October at The Charters and a really special end to the Festival as one of the UK’s finest acoustic singer song writing teams come to Rotherham.  Sheedyfrost will be playing at The Charters on Wednesday 31st with Tina McKevitt and Matt Hegarty in support.   Sheedyfrost will be playing tracks from their latest CD Something Definite, which is already getting heady critical acclaim. 

If you want to keep up to date with the ticketing arrangements and what will be happening throughout October, you’ll need to go HERE

Those wanting tickets to ODS Saxon can buy them at £5 from Mesmerize on Wellgate and The Trades Club at the Bar.   On line arrangements soon.

Whoops.  Rotherham Show.  Wow, isn’t the Rotherham Show and Clifton Park great when the sun comes out, if Saturday was busy, Sunday was double buzzing busy as the  weather Gods were generous to the Organisers.

The Diversity area was busy with the Marquee being very busy for most of the time with many people creating birds to be put on the Urban Piano for which I believe an interesting ending is planned.   

The ROAR Drawing Board proved to be very popular too, with some fantastic art work on show within their tent.  

The main Diversity Stage provided some great entertainment especially from the local artists.  Gav Roberts  once again surprised me with his ability to hold an audience with his poetry.  I say surprise;  this is because I know just how difficult it is to hold a Show Ground audience, and Gav did a fine job – at one stage you could have heard a needle drop.  Masher hat off.

Life Act one of the Youth sections of OMTC performed a series of energetic and thought provoking sketches on the subject of bullying that attracted many people to the stage performance area.  So easy to be patronising, but there were some super performances in difficult conditions.  And of course well done to Steve and the team; a personal note – just would like to see more of the OMTC groups showing off their creativity. 

Caught a bit of Nic Harding who was her super self, as was Steph Little who shared her time with some of the talent she has found hidden away within some of the Eastwood projects that she has been involved with.  Steph’s self-penned songs are to kill for, just a feeling that she needs to be more confident with them, but hey, Steph is a one off and you’ll never know what you’re going to get from her.  Be sure of some surprises when she performs at The Gallery during October.  

I also got to see some great Zumba workout dancing.  I loved the young lady who was yelling out the songs, and making the sales pitch; very reminiscent of Skegness Market. 

Made it to the Folk Tent for an hour or so on Saturday and was treated to some great music from SUNJAY BRAYNE, who was nominated for the BBC Folk awards young performer of the year award and won the Wath Young Musician prize in 2012.  Oh wow, guitar work to kill for and from one so young, and with a maturity in the performance.  

Making an interesting contrast I also got to listen to Flossie Malavialle, I’m sure she’ll forgive if I say demonstrating her relaxed tried and tested performance.  Sparkling with humour and delightful songs.  There is something wonderful about watching and listening to a top artist in action whatever their genre.   I believe Flossie is back in South Yorkshire for the Doncaster Festival Fund Raiser later in the autumn, on 27th October.

The rumour is that the Folk / Jazz Tent will not be given funding for 2013.  I’m sure Judy Dalton and her Partner will not give up without some heavy negotiation as the Tent has become such a popular feature of the Rotherham Show.   We also have to say, that while we’ve all at times had our moans and groans about the acts invited, it has been Judy’s ability to attract some of the top acts around to the Tent that has led to it being so popular.  

Judy did make one very important public information announcement:  It seems that The Rock Folk Club (Maltby) has somehow lost their mailing list – if you want to be kept up todate with ticket availability and the top names visiting the Club, please contact Pete at his Email HERE

The Diversity Stage on Sunday somehow got a little dominated by the Street Dancers, punctuated by a punchy performance from Andy Hault, I think the audience were hypnotised by his knees which were enjoying an airing.

I was making a second visit for the weekend to see a couple of Bands close to the heart of RAE.  First up The Tom Kilner Band.  Tom is growing in maturity every time I see him, and this was a fine demonstration of the blues guitar.  On the basis of this performance I was also well impressed with the growing confidence Tom is getting with his vocal delivery.  At such a young age it’s not easy to get an authentic blues sound but Tom is beginning to get the hang of it.   Of course it’s not easy on a Show Ground Stage.

Next up were Waiting for Eddie.  This was the Band’s first Show Ground / Festival like performance, and was certainly their biggest audience. They delivered a workmanlike performance, if at times a little nervous, and with the bass hampered by a hand injury.  The energy of Em and the enthusiasm of the drummer pulled the Band through the set wonderfully. 

Well almost.  I can only guess at what was happening, but there was clearly some sort of communications breakdown.  The Band were given 30 minutes, and I know that WFE have a dead 30 minute set.  I could see activity as one of the MCs attempted to tell the Band halfway through a song that they were to finish at the end of the song – but of course being young and let’s be honest, inexperienced they failed to see this, an attempt was then made to talk to the drummer during the song – what was that about?  - and then as the song finished, the MC marched onto the stage announcing that they had to cut short the Band.  No thanks to the Band – just an announcement to say how great the next Band was going to be.

I’m aware of the problems that organisers have, but essentially destroying three very young musicians on stage by giving the appearance that a) they didn’t matter and b) that they were being hooked.  Even if the performance had been inept then because of their age more care should have been taken in how the set was wrapped, but in this case the performance had been far from inept, and it was simply poor Stage Management.

The irony was that in being so unprofessional the MC actually wasted time as the audience demanded that Waiting for Eddie be given the opportunity to finish their set, meaning leads had to be re-connected and sound levels re-set.  So well done to the audience.

What disappointed me most was that the Stage MCs should have known 100% better.  This wasn’t a Pub or even a commercial stage, this was a Community Stage run by local arts professionals.   We really must take great care of our local emerging talent, and those of us more experienced should give it every opportunity to shine.

The whole situation was really caused by bad timings and planning, with the main act of the afternoon going on as most of the stalls were either closed or closing down and the audience were making their way home. 

We all learn from these errors though and hopefully it won’t happen again.


Besides the excitement of the Busking Day  coming up at the end of the month, there is just so much going on…………  

I’ve just got back from a sneak preview of the Art In The Park Young Person Exhibition that has been mounted at the Old Market Gallery on Corporation Street, in Rotherham.  Personally I was stunned by the technical skills that the some of the very young artists display – and there’s some great art from the over eighteens as well.  But don’t take my word for it, why not pop along to the Gallery on the 13th September at 7:00pm and join in the opening Party.

Opus Hatch has it’s second outing on the 13th in Halifax, The Weather Forecast Poetry over in Sheffield, also on the 13th……………….   Whitby Pirate Day!  On Saturday, you can find all the details on the listings page HERE

Talking of art here’s a young lady with an eye for a potential market.    Decorated hard cases what a great idea, beats the slogan stickers.  Next – he says in hope, Gig Bags.  Check it out HERE

There is just so much happening at the moment that it is very difficult to keep up with everything.  I’m doing my best Folks – so keep a close eye on the Listings page HERE

Over the weekend there will be massive improvements to the Fringe Festival Web Site and the guests for the Wednesday and Saturday Acoustic Gigs will go up to complete the programme.

There have been a few comments about the fact that small charges are having to be made for some of the Fringe events.   The fact is that the Fringe Festival, like Slamfest is being mounted on a very small budget, in fact a zero budget, indeed if it were not for a small donation towards the basic costs from Open Minds Theatre / RCC Ltd all the events would have to be charged for.

The maximum ticket cost will be £5 most are no more than £3 which for the quality of acts on offer represents amazing value for money, that’s classic rock / amazing critically acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Theatre / and top quality acoustic music / and appearances from personalities at the top of the Music business.

There is a wider debate about arts finance and 2013 in particular but we’ll save that for after this Festival. 

RAE might have more exciting News to talk about very soon to…………….   So worth keeping your finger on the pulse.

That’s it my friends for this week.

Whatever you are doing this week have great fun, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE