Thursday, 17 January 2013

WOW! - Promotional CD details / Youth Festival takes shape / Reviews / Great Events coming

A week is a long time in the life of a Blogger.   A bit like politics.  I’ve written one of The Mashers Rants brought on by Lord Snob Face Government Housing spokesman I heard on the Radio this week but the good news is that I’ll push it to the end of the Blog so that those who wish to avoid it can do so. 

Not exactly a great week all round. 

I discovered that another of CIU Affiliated WMC’s has become a Private Club, The Rycroft Club in Rawmarsh.  Apparently I’m late with this information, and what it means to live music I’m not sure.  As the smoke clears we’ll keep you informed.

Mike Harding has been experiencing major problems with his on line Radio Programme, Sundays at 5pm.  It seems that while the rolling programme can be heard and the Podcast version is available to download, the live update is being attacked by what is believed to be a hostile source.  The techno people are working on it and they hope to have the problem sorted very soon.  It seems the problem is one that they can only know if they have solved when the programme broadcasts live.  We wish them luck.

HMV have at last given up the ghost.  It seems to me that HMV’s death has been a long time in coming, in fact the writing has been on the wall since Branson decided to get out of Record Mega Stores way back.  If he felt he couldn’t make it work; if his Management could not make it work when they bought him out then surely someone at HMV should have been looking at their retail offer.   What makes me laugh is that £210m of debts and the Administrator still thinks they can make it work or sell off the “profitable parts” of the business.  My thoughts go to the staff who have been let down by poor Management, as indeed was the case at Jessops.  Or is it that quite simply the offer that these Stores make are no longer relevant in the digital age?   There is one further consideration that I had not given thought to until hearing about it on the Radio and that is the Business Rates involved in a front line Retail operation are many times greater than the Business Rates involved on Warehouse space; not surprising that digital product retailers are under so much pressure. 

My heart goes out to all those who are currently losing their jobs.    

Let’s have a look at something positive.  Chris Slater’s fantastic collection currently being exhibited at The Old Market Gallery here in Rotherham. 

Seventy seven canvases and all painted during 2012 and making up just a proportion of Chris’s body of work, which according to his quality “free” catalogue is categorised as being Contemporary Impressionist, others of a non-classic art education myself included might call it “realist”.  Having said that, I can see how his characterisation of people might be said to be Impressionist.   Yet his capturing of well-known Rotherham scenes is very real indeed.

Chris’s main study is “light” he loves to capture shades of light.  The catalogue includes two paintings of studies of Westgate, illustrating the change of light shade between the morning and the afternoon.  “Brief Light”, a picture of the Interchange end of Corporation Street, painted from the bridge is another statement of his interest. 

While images of Rotherham dominate the exhibition, you’ll also find that Chris has been busy on his holidays including Cornwall and Venice in particular. 

However, my own favourite is a classic Yorkshire Dales snow scape entitled “The Little Red Box”, my chances of adding it to my extensive empty wall are remote at a cost of £995. 

I really recommend anyone visiting Rotherham Town Centre to pop into the Gallery and take a look at this excellent exhibition of an artist who is fast gaining a Reputation for his work well beyond the Town and County boundaries and as such enhancing the kudos of Rotherham art.  More detail on opening hours etc on the Listings page HERE

By the way, avoid going to the Gallery if it's snowing as I wouldn't want to be hit on the head by these flakes.

Another young chap doing fine work is Jon Rosling who through his Eye Film Company has been doing many splendid things.  Last Saturday he offered the arts groups an opportunity to be involved in his latest project a feature film that has the project title of My England.

So Dickie and three other intrepid local artists from music and spoken word made their way to the ROAR building where having gone through the film star make up process (all disappointed that we were not issued luxury trailers with bar and HEATER) we were set to the arduous task of sitting in our chairs and perhaps more difficult, looking attentive and intelligent.  The trials and tribulations of being an extra.    

We shall be looking forward to viewing the final result.  Jon says he is about half way through the project which has been made possible via funding from private sponsors and he hopes to be able some scenes from the film when he heads off for the Cannes Film Festival  (I think that’s the right one) where he will be showing a short film he has made.  

Jon is another Rotherham based artists gaining wider recognition for his work and perhaps deserving  of more support locally.  

Exciting - how many of you spotted the change to my Facebook picture?  What a fantastic surprise.  The one I had been using was from Jon Rosling and had been live for about a year, I loved it as it me in my sitting at the back thinking mode, but this drawing / sketch by Mike Everidge, blew my mind.  Mike is fine and prolific artist working in good old Tennessee in the US of A.  Which makes the time he clearly spent on this absolutely amazing.  Thanks Mike, it's much appreciated and must have for my family lol

RAE News, Mick has been a very busy boy and the Live at The Trades programme and the main stage line ups for Slamfest are coming together nicely, we’ll soon be in a position to announce the provisional line ups. 

Plans for the Youth Festival to be held at the Trades on the 4th May are also coming along.  Bands representing Schools, Colleges, or simply young people in Rotherham will be taking part, and our link in with Get Sorted will be of great value.  We’re hoping that this Festival will be more than just Bands playing and we’ll have more experienced local artists at The Trades talking informally to those taking part or wanting to find out more about putting a Band together.  Also some of the lucky participants will get the opportunity to pop over to The Civic Theatre and have a chat with the boys of Dr Feelgood and go to the concert that evening.  (Not sure on the numbers yet for that part).  There will be a rockin’ RAE Event at the Trades in the evening, restricted to the over 18s, with Motorheadache topping the Bill.    

If you've a Youth Band e.g. 18 years max.  and would like to take part at the Festival then get in touch with Mick HERE

RAE are inviting all Rotherham Bands to submit a track for a Rotherham Rocks CD which we will make available digitally to promote the creativity and talent of Rotherham musicians across the UK and beyond.  If artists or Bands do not have a quality recorded track, then we have a tie up with Get Sorted whereby a single track can be recorded.  We will be placing a small charge on the collection, no more than a £1, and proceeds will go towards distribution costs and a Youth Charity yet to be decided.     

The project is open to all genres of music, including acoustic / folk.   Depending upon submissions we may decide to distribute a separate CD for the Acoustic scene depending upon take up of the offer.

No charge is being made to Bands to take part in this project.   If you would like to take part we will require you (I know sounds so regimented) to
a.       Submit a top quality Recorded MP3 – track
b.      Track title
c.       The Name of your Band / act or you
d.      Max 150 words about yourself / Band / track
e.      A waiver allowing the track to be Copyrighted to the RAE Rotherham ? Project. 

We will need your Tracks or an indication that wish to be part of the project by 15th February please.  We will then sort out a closing date for tracks to be recorded and submitted.  We hope to launch the CD as pre Slamfest.

Just a reminder for you to get hold of your Goat Leaf CD Launch Party tickets for 2nd February.  It promises to be a top night for the rockers with support coming in from the best of our local talent, including Tom Killner who has just got himself a guitar sponsorship deal with FretKing guitars and The Mudcat Blues Trio who are getting National recognition for their work.  Tickets £3 from Mesmersise in Wellgate, or at The Trades bar or on line at We’ve GotTickets HERE  They will be £5 on the night.

For those who enjoy a bit of Satire and Political Theatre there is good News.  Rotherham Trades Council have invited The Banner Theatre Company to perform “live at the Trades” with support from The Hurriers.  Other than being aware that the” hurrier “ is mining term I know nothing and can trace nothing about The Hurriers who I believe play out of Barnsley.  So if anyone can point me in the right direction.   The date is Saturday 23rd February and entry will be by way of donation.  Ray Hearne will be in the Chair.

I put out a special News Blog last week with a Review of Toein’ In the Dark’s new CD “About Time”.  It’s a super recording with one or two classy Toein’ type surprises for you.  If you want to find out more head off to the Blog HERE

Another classy performer “our Phoebe” will be starting one of her WEA Singing Courses, “Singing For Fun” at the Talbot Lane Centre, Talbot Lane Methodist Church, Moorgate St, Rotherham, S60 2EY.  The fun starts at 6:00pm on Thursday 17th January and will be running weekly.  One hopes this might provide a new supply of talent to Nellie Folk. 

Another late notice, but I’ll let him off, Stormtrees the plugged in version will be appearing at Vasco in Wickersley.  Good to see that they are retaining their Saturday night live music into 2013. 

And another advanced heads up for the Rockers.  A new project coming out of Wath Rocks....   who are holding their first big event on the 8th February at The Montgomery Hall. Three bands will be playing for the rite on price of £2.  Another Promoter deserving support to get live music on and support local talent.  

You can find all the listings for the next week HERE

Just a reminder that ROAR will be holding their AGM on Wednesday 23rd at Westgate Chambers  6:00pm kick off.  Really looking forward to this one as there will be a report on what has been an exciting year for ROAR in 2012 with the clear promise that there will be lots more to come in 2013 and beyond.

SO MUSICIANS – Matt Butt at ROAR and RAE have been putting our heads together and coming up with ideas for a multi genre project that would involve visual artists, film makers, choreographers and MUSICIANS / BANDS.  The general idea is to put artists together and producing a complete project based upon an original track of music.  NO FUNDING for this but this could be an exciting project for all, and if timings worked out we might be able to do a big presentation Night as part of The Fringe Festival in September.  At the moment we are at the planning stage, or collecting interested parties stage.  If you would like to be involved please Email HERE

The Web Sites are coming along slow but sure.  The RAE site is currently the one under reconstruction. 

RAE require a Professional Commercial Fund Raiser to work as a Freelance, urgently.  We need to get to local business early this year to fund activities for both Slamfest and The Fringe Festival.  There is already much interest in the offer we have for business, and we need someone who can go out and close deals.   Full details HERE

We’ve also posted the general Sponsorship details.  HERE

I really hope to have made so much more progress by the end of this week – fingers crossed.

Hey and has anyone spotted that Reverbnation has gone mad this week.  Once again, he says as if he was bored by it all, yes once again The Mashers are Number one for South Yorkshire, and, and we’ve been catapulted into the top ten Folk acts Nationally.  God bless the stupid person who creates Reverbs very clever equity formula – The Mashers will love you for ever.  Well, until we start sinking once again that is, when we will turn against you big time.

And since starting to write this Blog Blockbusters have been added to the High Street casualties, post rent demands.  Rent day was 25th December, so it’s hardly surprising that all these stores are crashing now.  I wonder who’s next, in fact do we have any High Street names? is it more a case of Retail Park names? 

Which brings us to the politics bit.  Hoho

If you’re leaving now, do have a fantastic week, support your local artists and KEEP IT ALL LIVE

In just one short week we’ve been committed to a one level pension, (and guess what I hit 65 the year it comes in so given the extra time I already have to serve), I guess that I shall be around seventy or the grave before I retire.  But we’ll have to wait for the detail.   Unfortunately as someone once said, the devil is in the detail.

And the devil is certainly in the detail of the “bedroom tax”.  Did you know that if you have child in the services, or at Uni and currently receiving Housing Benefit in any form, 25% of the money will be lost, should the child’s room be empty while they are out of Town.   If you are disabled,  and need  extra space to move around in, wet rooms etc.  Hard luck anything over the room you sleep will count against you.  Of course if you’re in Social Housing and currently live in a two or three bedroom house, you might well be asked to move house, down sized, at the behest of the Condem-ed Government.

In anyone’s book this has to be one of the biggest pieces of Social Engineering ever under taken in the UK and comes very close to the dirty tricks used by Westminster Council in the eighties to shift certain income and social groups into designated areas.   I’m told by those who claim to know better that the term “social engineering” is an old fashioned sociological term; really!   I say far better to be an old fashioned drum banging Sociologist than an apologist for this Government and what it is doing in the name, ironically, of equality. 

On a Radio 5 Programme this morning the subject of the Bedroom Tax was discussed.  The Tory Housing a Minister, a Lord (no surprise there) could only spare 10 minutes to talk to the plebs about the effect of the tax on ordinary people and especially the disabled.   We’re told that that there is £30m to help the disabled, but the rules of engagement have not yet been announced and judging by the number of people on social networks and the radio claiming special needs the £30m is not going to go very far. 

I am still not convinced that the full effect of April 2013 and the massive Welfare Reforms has yet to sink into the core thinking.   Most people are giving a sigh at paying off their last Council Tax payment and look towards reducing their Card Debt from Christmas. 

Both Tories and Lib Dems are playing the age old game of setting the haves against the have not,  rich against poor, weak against the strong. 

And here’s another example.  A house has been sold close to Masher Towers, at the height of the Housing silly period it would have been valued at £120,000. On the Internet on the Zoom whatever site it was valued at £80K a realistic price I thought – sold after one year for £60K to a Private Land Lord who is to market the House for a monthly rent of £550.   Three years ago rents in this area were around £300 twelve months ago £450.  You tell me what’s going on.   Seems to me that as more people are thrown onto the Private Renting market we’ll all be paying for these sky high rents through our Council Tax.

I heard the PM explaining that this was somehow the fault of the previous Government, which means that he does not have to regulate private Land Lords as the Market must have it’s way.  Ummmmm  So if he can stick his nose into public housing why not private housing.  Once again Tories playing the Capitalist game true to their support, while Labour work on the basis of attempting to make Capitalism work better and then only giving half-hearted support to anything that might smell of being an idea of the left.   What chance do we stand.

I live in a rotten Borough so my vote doesn’t really count, but for those readers outside of solid Labour seats, please think about the role of the Lib Dems in all this yes, that includes the good people of Hallam, Sheffield.  Don’t get coned by it’s all for your own good, all this that we are going through is simply for the short term gratification of certain Lib Dem MPs who find themselves called Ministers. 

Of course it would be fantastic for the left of Centre to be able to offer something by way of a radical alternative, sadly we dinosaurs cannot organise a pint of beer in a brewery (polite), and much prefer to debate political philosophy of the left than be a little more pragmatic and build an election machine.    So the best we can offer is our Ed. 

That’s it politics done for a few months until another Tory Lord gets under my skin, and rubbed raw with salt by a friend of mine who should know a lot different.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


If you want to fill your Folk Club to bursting in South Yorkshire.  If you want a Band that will Guarantee a full House Concert to generate money for good causes.  If you want to meet four of the nicest people populating the Folk and Acoustic scene in South Yorkshire – yes, you call upon, Carmel, Jenny, Andy and Bob collectively known to us as Toein’ In The Dark.  

Many will know that The Masher is a good friend of Toein’ around the music scene and they have performed for sensational fees at many of Dickie’s brain wave events, sometimes to full Houses and sometimes seemingly for Dickie’s own entertainment. 

For that reason it was with just a little nervousness that I agreed to be one of the first to have a listen to the much promised “new CD” and write a review.  What’s more I had to keep it a secret, for weeks, while the paper work was all sorted.  On one hand my record for putting my foot in things and on the other my complete inability to keep a secret were to say the least draw backs.

Needn’t have worried!

This one of the finest acoustic set CDs you are likely to come across.  “Folk”? you ask, not in the strictest definition of the term.  Old songs? Yes; Songs to sing along too? All seventeen tracks fall into that category.    

The title of the CD “About Time” reflects the clamour amongst the host of friends and fans for a new CD from Toein’ In The Dark, since “Along Way Home” their first CD had been sold out for many years and was only available in download format from Acoustic Rotherham, with proceeds going to South Yorkshire Music Charities.

 For some of us it also reflects the seemingly long time it has taken for the Band to record the material since those first rumours that they were back in the studio again slipped out; three years ago! 

The wait has been worth it.

The recordings have been produced by Robin Garside and while on a couple of the tracks you can clearly make out his influence on the musical arrangement, he has done a fantastic job in capturing the essence and heart which makes the Toein’ In the Dark sound so distinctive.   Yet there are one or two surprises as well.  

I thought Jenny had to be surgically removed from her accordion, but one has to reach Track Five “Sunset Over Castlemaine Harbour/Liberty Tree” which is a haunting self-penned composition by Andy and Jenny, before the accordion features on this CD.  Instead Jenny has laid some lovely keyboard accompaniment to the songs.  You’ll also pick up her distinctive keyboards on later tracks as well.

Throughout the CD the strong, clear, full voice of Andy and Carmel create outstanding harmony supplemented by Jenny and Bob when required, and it’s fantastic to see that they have also had the confidence to record some of their own songs, “Down The Road” and “I Don’t Want To Quarrel” from Andy and “Pulling Away” from Carmel, both songs have featured in Toein’ In The Dark live performances these past years

And providing outstanding support throughout is Bob, mainly on the violin, but you can also pick up his mandolin and djembe contributions the later providing a fantastic rhythm to “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”, and if you are looking for a bit of classic Bob fiddle playing you will find it on the only song marked “Trad” “Leaboys Lassie”. It is a stand out track.

The CD also features the Toein’ version of Peter Hames “Ordinary Man” a song that considers the effect of factory closures and unemployment.   The Masher and Toein’ have joked for some years about the singing of this song.  The Masher sings it with more than a bit of anger and bitterness while he used to joke that Toein’ did the pretty version, more associated with Christy Moore.   Interestingly I note a little more (not too much) anger in this recording of the song by the Band.  There’s a definite edge.  Judge for yourselves.

From Dylan to Chrissie Hynde, Hewerdine to Guthrie (or the other way around) the songs on this CD all get that famous Toein’ treatment. 

Over all this is a super package of songs doing complete justice to the Toein’ In The Dark sound and reputation.  It’s four good musical friends completely enjoying themselves and singing for joy, which of course is the secret of their success.

There’s just one thing, and this is not a stab at “About Time” it’s a more general point.  I get sent lots of artist produced CDs and unfortunately few have insert notes that do the recording or the Band’s talent  justice.  Nerds like myself like to read something about the Band, and perhaps a few notes as to why the tracks were selected for the CD.  I understand the cost factor, but one extra insert would allow four sides of extra information………….    Just a thought. 

All I can say is that you will need to get your hands on a copy of “About Time” very quickly as the CD will sell out fast.   The CD costs £9.99 and will be available from all Toein’ In The Dark Gigs, or Email Andy Hoult at or go to the Toein’ Facebook page HERE and message Jenny.  

Here are some links to a couple of teaser tracks :    That's How Learned to Sing The Blues     I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Welcome to 2013 It's All Going On......

Welcome to 2013. 

The year got off to a great start as into my Inbox came an Email with the heading, “Find Out why you Will Not Succeed in 2013”, just what you want to see on New Year’s morn, even if the sun was pouring through the window at the time. 

May your New Year be filled with music and and your diaries filled with Gigs.   

But first, unfinished business from 2012 from the World of Music and the Leather Zoo, Eurotrash promo at The Charters  - 

The evening got a real rocking kick off with Waiting for Eddie.  Wow.  I’m told they only had a forty five minute practice in the last month because of College and School commitments; you simply would not have been able to tell, the set was so tight.  A nice mix of their own material and covers.  Great to see that they are becoming more confident with their own material and the “Freedom” song was great.   I’m really looking forward to the Band finding the time to get into the studio and producing some quality demo tracks.

I’d heard the name, but would you believe Myke’s old Buddy from the Sheffield sessions Rob Tarana had been like ships in the night, running a bit close but never meeting or getting onto the same Bill.

I could instantly see why Rob would have had a fan in Myke. His amazing punk / jazz improvised fusion held the audience spell bound; if only because they were not sure where he would take us next, musically speaking.   It was wonderful to see, and his appreciation of Myke the musical troubadour and the Mashers, naturally made us instant friends.  Rob’s card was marked and we hope that he’ll be joining us for one or two of this year’s Festivals. 

For his set Rob was backed by the French outfit Black Hole Super Mass.  Wow: showing outstanding musicianship it would be difficult to replicate the quality of the blues / punk / rock fusion they offered in a nonstop sixty minute high octane set made up entirely by their own material. 

Problem:  For reviewers such as I – e.g. one’s of limited intellect, the clearly angry lyrics were hard to grasp as they were in, yes, surprise, surprise, French.    And readers will not be disappointed to learn that I had the same trouble with the German Band, yes, this was a truly European night of music, without Graham Norton’s attempts at humour, and of course no marking from the judges.

From Germany Bif had recruited Into the Boon Docks, hailing from Munich, who produced an edged set with a deeper and more underscored anger in the writing.  So once again it would have been fantastic to have been able to understood the lyrics (kiddies learn a language when you’re young, sadly, in Dad talk, you’ll regret it at my age if you don’t.)

So a damp, wet, and cold Friday night was warmed up nicely, although we were taking bets as to whether it was colder in the pub than outside, yes, the heating switch had not been found.   Result what should have been a packed event, held few people, as even those who came down into the downstairs room soon sought the tropical heat to be found in the rain outside.  

This is the cutting edge music and entertainment that is so exciting, youthful and angry, which given the European political circumstances in which we find ourselves I’m surprised that we don’t hear more of in the UK.   Having said that my digging has uncovered one or two things which we will talk about in future Blogs

Which reminds me, I need to do some listening to Radio 6 to see if the spirit of John Peel lies there. 

It would appear that our friends Leather Zoo have been a bit in the war.  They very kindly lent a group of musicians £1,000 to hire a vehicle, a sum which has not been returned despite many requests.  So STP Records have organised a Pay Back Leather Zoo Show for June 2013.  You can check the full details HERE.  You really couldn’t wish to meet a nicer team than Leather Zoo, and they do so much to promote and encourage Grass Roots Bands across Europe as well as locally in Rotherham.  So if you can get across to Manchester or simply help by buying a ticket please do so.

And that sadly, was my only musical outing of the whole holiday period, other than being dragged out by Mrs Masher to sample the delights of a deluded lad calling himself a “tribute singer”  and one of those show bands thrown together by someone to work the Holiday Parks during 2013, and still undergoing training.    I shouldn’t be cruel.  Oh go on then. But only because these acts are being paid riches from the Clubs comparatively when placed against the meagre earnings to be made by far better acts from Pub Gigs.   And within that there lies a huge political discussion about Agents!   which we will not go into here. 

I’m told that there were good turnouts at all the Folk Clubs meeting over the Festive period and the live Gigs at The Bridge received mixed reviews from my spies. 

Even Mick was quiet over the Festive season, pinned down by his shift pattern over the Festive season.  

So with batteries fully recharged we look towards 2013.

But first, like all good News Papers and periodicals at this time of year, (even The Mercury, you can read it on line HERE) it’s time for Dickie’s review of 2012. 

And unusually I’m going to start with a non-music development that I’m just over the moon about.   OK, it’s not the most comfortable building / venue, especially during the late autumn and Winter Months but the job that Vicky Hilton has done for RCC on the Old Market Gallery has been nothing short of miraculous.  Since being passed the baton Vicky has attracted new sources of finance and mounted some excellent Exhibitions, including three fantastic months over the Michaelmas Term, including Youth, freelance local artists for the Open  Arts Festival, and rounding up with the work of a South Yorkshire Arts Collective.   

The 2013 Old Market Gallery season starts with an Exhibition of Chris Slater’s work called “Rotherham and Beyond” and it kicks off at 7:00pm on Thursday 10th January.   A real treat for the eyes I promise you, especially if these tropical weather conditions continue.  

And throughout 2012 the Arts have been doing some great things in Rotherham, many of which were covered in the AGM Blog a month or so ago, so let’s look at what Rotherham Art Events has been up to during 2012

At the turn of the year 2011 RAE did not exist.   However, thanks largely to some very hard work by Mick Hill, supplementing the broken body that is Dickie Masher, RAE was born.  Others to be thanked for their early enthusiasm Jane Corbitt, backed by Linda Gamston, Lisa Marie, Louise, and considerable essential support from Vicky and all the guys in and around RCC and ROAR.

The project was an ambitious one, to bring together as many genres of art at the grass roots, especially in the field of music which has so often been overlooked and mount time framed Festival Presentations.   The early Meetings suggested that there would be support from organisations across the board.

Looking back on the year we can say that the attempt to knit together audiences and artists from different genres was just a little over ambitious; although there are signs that the initial ideas have been taken up and experimented with outside of the RAE framed events, which is great. 

Our attempt to mount a Day of alternative entertainment for those not into celebrating the Diamond Jubilee went off like a damp squid.   A magnificent morning of political debate was followed by an afternoon of showcased entertainment involving, poetry, music, theatre.  Artistically brilliant but unfortunately failing to find support from an audience, made more disappointing as the “left” failed to show any support preferring the high jinx’s going on at The Town Centre  Street Party.  Also the expected financial support also disappeared into the ether, requiring us to use money that should have been designated for Slamfest / Fringe Festival to pay the artists.

Having said that, the evening Concert we promoted at The Rugby Club featuring Ed Tenpole Tudor was a fantastic success, with around 200 packing themselves in.  

The Day was declared a draw. 

Onwards to Slamfest.   Sounds quite simple when sat around in the Pub and scribbling ideas on the back of a fag packet.  Not so easy as we drove the whole event with around £1K of sponsorship  - less in fact.   Also, we didn’t appreciate the hoops that we would all have to jump through to make the Festival happen.

In the end the Insurance had to be paid by selling the Mashing Machine Taylor Guitar!  So that the big Town Centre show could go ahead.

Slamfest began life as what we hoped might have been a literary based Festival, and while there was much enthusiasm during discussions in January, nothing had been transposed into anything by July.   Three Arts based evenings were put together and staged at the Myplace Theatre, these included Folk Music, Satire (Music and Poetry), and Theatre.  Not one of the evenings succeeded, which was a little disappointing.   It was argued that entry to these events should have been free – however, one of  the RAE aims was to help with other organisations to develop an arts economy in Rotherham and encourage Promoters to pay a sensible fee  for the services of our arts – this means cover charges and ticketing – therefore by not at least experimenting with charging would not have made any sort of sense.

It was the music that again saved the Festival.  Slamfest came to life at 10:00am on the Saturday, winding up at a rubbish hour on the Sunday at The Bridge.   Over eighty acts, adding up to 300 individual musicians, on eight stages across the Town with music from Folk to the heaviest of Metals took part in what was a tremendous day of music; a true celebration of Rotherham musicianship, and including musicians of all ages, from the Youth Stage at Myplace to the Folkies at The Exchange where Roy Blackman was banging out his stuff. 

Anyone want to buy a T shirt from Slamfest in sizes large to mini skirt can do so by heading HERE  yes, our T shirt buyer went a little mad?!  Well we all live and learn, and I did suggest Folkies were large. 

We had a great team of volunteers on the day who did all they could, but small was the operative word and yet another lesson was learnt.   And of course our huge thanks to the whole of that team.

By the time we reached The Fringe Festival in October one would have hoped to have been slicker in our delivery; however our team of volunteers should be thanked for the fantastic hard work they did.

We were also fortunate enough to attract a bit of local Commercial Sponsorship for Slamfest which we were mighty grateful for, even though one major contributor went into Administration leaving RAE with a bit of problem or two which are currently being sorted.

The lessons have been learnt, and details of the 2013 two day Slamfest will be leaked over the coming weeks.   You might already find some HERE

Our final blow out of the year came throughout the entire month of October as RAE Promoted an ambitious range of events for the Rotherham Open Arts Festival Fringe, not that we wanted to be quite so involved in the Production process, but once again we note that there was a lack of Arts Groups wishing to be involved. 

That said RAE linked up with Gallery Town and the Urban Piano Project and launched the exhibition of the work across Rotherham during the Busking Day.  Young people and communities engaged themselves with professional artists to decorate and sculptor pianos donated by Towns folk.  A real Community project that RAE were very much proud to be part of.  There was even a special piece of music composed which you can find in the early Fringe Blog.

As a result audiences ranged from the fantastic to what at best might be described as very disappointing, and once again our lack of volunteer support really did for us in a big way. 

The highlights, attracting OD Saxon to play Rotherham for the first time in thirty years, and at the incredible, and unrepeatable ticket price of £5; thanks too to Graham and Steve for agreeing to become Honorary Presidents of RAE.   Around 250 packed into the Trades Club.    Two nights of free rock music at the Bridge to packed out audiences.   The Rotherham Red Choir Evening and an absolutely brilliant night of blues at The Charters from Tom Killner and friends.

Biggest disappointment of the Festival, the near to zero support for the anything acoustic music based, even though we had attracted top names from South Yorkshire and over the Boarders to play.  There are a number of reasons for this, the venue being one and I think publicity being another.  

There were also a number of administrative and communication issues relating to the overall programme that have already been addressed by RCC and RAE. 

But what an amazing year?  From twinkle in Dickie’s eye, RAE on a budget of not much more than a pocketful of Dickie’s, and Mick’s fly buttons managed to hobble together three multi genre events involving grass roots artists from across Rotherham. 

Looking to 2013.   Planning for the three showcase Festivals has already started.  Banners High will become a Festival based on Young Bands, Slamfest will run for only the weekend and concentrate mainly on music with opportunities being found for other arts groups who may wish to become involved.  The Fringe Festival and thoughts about it are still in the early stages of thinking – it’s open to everyone and if you want to get involved, get in touch.  EMAIL that applies to all 2013 RAE projects.

And Mick and Dickie are nothing but ambitious in developing opportunities for live performance and music, providing great music entertainment and full access to the arts.  

Hence we have spent the winter negotiating hard and working out how we could put one of Rotherham’s premier venues to work.  RAE has gained an agreement and booked at least two to three dates a month with the Rotherham Trades Venue and will be launching “Live at The Trades”.  We’ll be holding at least one Rock night a month with a top Regional / National touring Band playing, local Bands will get the opportunity to provide support, and will also have Show Case Evenings of their own.  We’re also venturing into Burlesque and other forms of live entertainment, Comedy etc.  and towards the end of the year watch out for news of a series of Party Nights.   Yes and watch out for some special nights to run into our Festival dates.

Check out the Events as they become available HERE

We will also be looking to put the room to good use during the week.  We’re thinking about some Workshops and Training Courses for Musicians looking to take the next step on the ladder.  

Live at The Trades will also be promoting monthly open access to Care / Disabled  Community for live music.  Watch out for news of the first one probably in March.

Reaching the youth audience is one of our key priorities.  The evidence suggests that within Rotherham we are blessed with talent seeking to play and find an audience.  We are also aware that for a lot of young people getting involved in music as a musician, technician, or simply for musical enjoyment.  Thus we will be developing a project aimed at taking Live Music to the Schools, covering the full range from access to instrument instruction / putting Bands together / staging and practice / Promotion and Performance.    

And you might ask, what has happened to the Quarterly Acoustic Rotherham Events.  October was called off because of my health, but it has given the opportunity to sit back and think about it’s future.   There is no doubt that artists liked the format and enjoyed playing the event and networking, but the last three events took that to it’s limit with only minimal non playing audience in attendance. 

We are in the process of planning a re-launch of the Acoustic Rotherham Events in March at a more central Rotherham venue.    My list is growing, but if you would like to play at an Acoustic Rotherham in March contact us HERE

Our links with ROAR, Get Sorted, and RCC will we trust be consolidated, and into 2013 we hope that we can make positive contributions to the discussion of the Rotherham Culture Group.  We hope also that we’ll be able to get out to some of the other organisations and Groups.

But our priority is to build our team of Volunteers, and this in the main will mean that we will be positively seeking to build bridges with youth and young adult groups. 

So, an exciting year lays ahead and just a reminder, if you want to get involved at any level simply EMAIL HERE, to make it all work we need more people to come on board and help, especially on event days. 

The Masher had his own interesting year with his general mobility making appearances rare, but those Gigs that he did do were great fun.  Barnsley Folk Club in April, Madfest, Natures World, Filey FF all stand out as being great fun.  Who knows, the medics may sort things so that he’ll be out and playing more during 2013.  Shall we say that he is simply frustrated at the moment.

It’s been a good year musically for some of our great friends, with new CDs from Jack’s Rake, Roy Blackman, String Theory, Speedyfrost, Tom Killner and others.  None will get the coverage and plays that they warrant or welcome.    I’m also privileged to know that one of Rotherham’s / South Yorkshire’s premier Bands will be marking the New Year with the release of a CD – can’t wait to be able to tell you more.

One person who is doing his part for the unsung heroes of  the independent unsigned musicians is my old mate Phil  Hartley, his Saturday afternoon (UK) Internet Radio Show, via a Canadian based Radio Station is fast becoming a must listen.  OK four hours is a bit long, but Phil’s Phancies (for that is what he calls the show) is also available as a Podcast.  He even plays The Mashers so he is clearly a man of great taste.  You’ll find Phil HERE on a Saturday afternoon and the Podcasts are HERE

Phil has finally caught up with the World of eighties Electronic music, and has been a bit of busy bee writing some nice sounding music which you can find HERE .  Fans of Phil will know that way back in time he recorded his own version of Gary Newman’s, Cars which you can still find on his Phillip Hartley Reverbnation page.  Gets so complicated, doesn’t it? 

It’s worth mentioning again Mike Harding’s Sunday Tea time Folk Programme treat on the Internet.   Unfortunately the first two weeks have been spoilt by a malicious spoiler attacking his Broadcasting Web Site.  Very small minded of someone.  One hopes that listeners will be patient.  In any event, following the trend set by Mr Hartley, Mike has made it available as a Podcast which you can find HERE

It seems a lot of acts have drawn breath and are already beating the drum for 2013 with host of January Gigs.  I have to admit January was always down time for the Mashers as nothing seemed to happen and the sessions were all poorly attended, but there might be change in the trend. 

It has been really good to hear some encouraging noises to start 2013, and I was over joyed by the impromptu mixed genre New Year Party at The Bridge – fantastic, and I was really sorry to have missed it.  Of course hats off to the main stars of the night Papa Leba’s.

So what have we got coming up, remembering you can find the full listings HERE - this week Rotherham Goths will pushing aside their coffin lids to gather at SNAFU on Thursday.  This is a return of what was a popular night organised by Mesmerised.     On the same night Chris Slater’s Rotherham and Beyond Exhibition opens at the Old Market Gallery, so why not give Vicky and Chris a rite scare before heading across the road to SNAFU. 

There’s one other stand out event for the week, a mass Lobby of the Rotherham NHS Trust at the Hospital on Wednesday 9th at 4:30pm.  If you thought the cuts have affected your life up to now, or simply sighing because you have escaped, 2013 will bring the reality of what is happening home in a big way.  

Besides the Welfare Reform in the form of the unified benefit scheme which will hurt many people, despite the Government saying something different, we have the Bedroom Tax, which will affect your Council Tax Bills.  Already Newcastle have zeroed the Arts budget, and Rotherham is looking very much the same.   I also discovered this week that with the Reform of Legal Aid no longer will people be able to get debt and Housing advise from Solicitors in the build-up to proceedings, instead they will have an emergency Solicitor given to them on the day of the hearing!  Or use Charity Gateway referral.  

The RHV January Showcase looks interesting with a great line up on the 19th, at The Charters so more of that next week. 

Pleasing news of ailing folkies.  Pete Stone is threatening to break out and do some Keystone Acoustic spots with Pam in the very near future and Andy Hault’s hand is well on the mend, so much so that I’m informed that he has played a few notes and chords.  

The Web Sites, yes I know we’ve made rash promises in the past that have not happened, but I really hope that by the end of next week we will be completely up to the moment.    In the meantime why not check out The Word Pit HERE or David Kidman’s reviews HERE and if you have any money left or are buying from Amazon, please, please, please use our Amazon linked Shop – no extra charges, and we get a small amount from your purchase to pursue our Festival and Event objectives. 

 Congratulations if you have got to the end of this one, you truly deserve a fantastic New Year, so have one. 

And whatever you are doing this week, have a great time, support your local artists and KEEP IT LIVE