Monday, 23 September 2013

A packed Late September News Blog

Let’s see if I can get the News Blog underway.   Yes it’s much overdue because so much has happened, both good and not so good and there is much on the blocks awaiting nods from higher authorities.   And of course it wouldn’t be the News Blog without the odd bit of controversy, would it? 


Two or three short weeks of frantic activity to get this event up and running with Lizzy at RMBC taking most of the burden rushing around chasing artists, running workshops, and cajoling organisations to present programmes.  If anyone deserved a medal it is indeed Lizzy who went well beyond the call of duty on a occasions. 

The main lesson from this is that we really need to develop ideas early and put structures in place early.  Leaving things to the last minute is not an option and with changes being made to the way that events over a certain size are to be sanctioned in Rotherham from next year requiring a minimum six week lead in period from the point of the event being approved, then we are all going to have to get our acts in order.

Also late were the run-in Workshops and unfortunately under publicised, so many people simply did not know that the event was on.   

As far as the arts, crafts, music, and showmanship was concerned the event was a massive success.  Not easy pulling together so many arts organisations in Rotherham and getting commitment, ask one who knows, and Lizzy did this.   We had a number of Buskers on show, all new to the Busking event; Philip Padmore doing some brilliant spray painting in the Old Market Gallery, a piece of art that I hope will soon be installed within the Drop In Centre; Stilt walkers; a fire show; moving sculptures; and of course the theme of the day, Ferrits both live and created by Get Creative, the later proving very popular. 

On the negative side was the lack of people coming into the Town to check out the event.  There could have been many reasons, it being the Saturday before the big return to School / College etc.;  the big Hull Festival; poor local media coverage, with the exception of BBC Radio Sheffield; and poor / late publicity of the event.  I’m sure there are more. 

But I’m proud we part of this Festival and hope that it will be the first of many to come.  Let’s face it, it takes time to build Festival audiences.  

Photographs of the show can be found HERE


Well the weather held off nicely, the promised wind and rain held off nicely until the Monday following the event.

The RAE involvement centred around the “Diversity Festival”, put together by The Rotherham Culture Group. 

Get Creative fronted up providing Workshops with the Ferrets and the masks proving very popular. 

Once again though the organisation was plagued by late administration and structure.  I won’t go into details here. 

Unfortunately the acts did not get the publicity they deserved as final stage times and line-up was not fixed until late in the day, and once again I have tom ask if placing the “Headliners” at the end of the afternoon is such a good idea when the Show closes at 6:00pm – but hey what do I know.  

There were some fantastic and colourful performances to be seen, and of course I took full part in the Zomba interludes.    In more toned down mode there were some excellent poetry spots, Dwane Reads amongst them.  

Where Sameed got his energy from for the entire weekend I do not know.   So a well done to him, always good when a plan comes together.

Photographs from the show can be found HERE


Dwane Reads came to the Drop In Centre on the Saturday of the Rotherham Show to launch his new book and double CD “The Annoying Megaphone Pigeon” and dragged us all down into All Saints Square where he gave us a Master Class of an hour in Busking Poetry.  It was a simply brilliant performance, animated and demanding the attention of people.  All the RAE folks felt privileged to have witnessed the performance.

Dwane pulled quite a gathering during his outflow of words, causing people to stop and see what was going on so it was a shame that on several occasions kids were dragged away by parents unable to spend just a few moments indulging the interest of their charges.  I think it applied to one or two older males as well, the Wives wanting to get the shopping done.  If it was to avoid Dwane so they could rush off to the Rotherham Show they were to be disappointed as Dwane was to be found popping up all over the Show Ground as well as making two visits to the Diversity Festival Stage.

Dwane’s Book and Double CD can be bought from the RAE Drop In Centre for £5 each or £9:00 the two.  

You can find pictures of Dwane's visit HERE

Need to find the Drop In Centre – go HERE 


After what can only be described as a disappoint summer in terms of bums on seats for our presentations it was fantastic to set off on the Autumn and Winter program with a huge bang in the form of former AC/DC’s drummer Chris Slade, and his Timeline Band.  

This was a musical walk across very nearly five decades of music making from this innovative pro, who has worked with so many of the big names of music and rock. 

It was pleasing to see The Trades packed to the rafters with happy rockers, most of whom have paid ten quid to see the spectacle.   

With musicians on the Venue circuit it’s always difficult to know what to expect, but this guy was something else, showing patience and professionalism during the sound check which was unusual for the sound crew as they had to set up 16 drum mics.   He played a full two hours and fifteen minutes almost without a break.  He then spent two hours after the show talking, signing autographs, and having his picture taken.   What a really nice man and someone from whom many local bands could well learn a thing or two from.  Pictures HERE

The following week we put on three of South Yorkshires top indie Bands, a sure fire success at £3 a ticket one would have thought.   Unfortunately, not so.   The fifty odd who did turn out had a fantastic show to listen to, with Phil Sinclair, Searching for Sylvia, Muscat Blues Trio headlined by Dave Woodcock and the Dead Comedians.  

Following this RAE were called into The Trades for a friendly chat.   Our target had been to place an average of 100 bums on seats across all RAE promoted events at The Trades across 2013.  When there is only a turnout of thirty odd to see five of Rotherham’s finest for FREE then serious questions had to be asked of us.

We were already on it of course, there is nothing worse than staging good music shows to an audience of around fifty in a Concert Room that will hold close to 300, and with a couple of exceptions which we’ve been ordered to rectify our program for Autumn and Winter should take us close to our original target.  

Even the enforced change of venue of the Roger the Robot gig (a Band that has toured and supported The Artic Monkeys) to The Titans Club failed to make an impact.   Brilliant night of music with Blind Drivers in support, pity not more got to enjoy it.

However, this has meant compromise.   If we are maintain our association with The Trades we are no longer allowed to book local bands who have played for free within Rotherham in the six previous months.   Now, I can see one or two moving uneasily in their seats, “surely local bands are what RAE is about?”  they ask.  And yes indeed it is, and we are certainly not surrendering our grass roots position.  We will be using local Bands to support headliners that are of the standard required by The Trades Management.   We will also be featuring at least two celebrations of local music which will be made more potent by a strong Live at The Trades brand.   And that’s not forgetting an even stronger Slamfest for 2014 which will feature of course mainly local musicians and Bands. 

Also through 2014 you might well be surprised by the Bands and artists who may well be visiting The Trades to perform and run Workshops………….   That’s all in the Top Secret Folder for now, but can be sure that I’ll let it all slip once confirmations are in concrete.

But on the downside we’ve had to pull The Lambrettas Charity Concert at The Civic Theatre on 4th October.   There are a whole number of reasons for pulling – well there would be wouldn’t there be – but I’m not going into the nitty gritty this time.

So what’s coming up Live at The Trades.    Next Saturday 29th September, we have Ian Huddleston’s Be The Revolution launching their EP, with a full support program of poetry and music.  Tickets are only £3 Get them from the Trades - Drop In Centre or On Line HERE

On the 5th October we have ODS Saxon returning to rock The Trades, and what a support line up with The Monte Carlo Safe Crackers playing their first Gig after coming out of retirement and The Bar  Steward Sons of Val Doonigan.     Tickets are a very reasonable £6.  Get them from the Trades - Drop In Centre or On Line  HERE

The final October offering will be The East Street Band, with Steve Gasgoine bashing out his Bruce Springsteen, tickets are £5 on the door only or on line HERE 

All our program including The Night Train Burlesque Night in late November can be found HERE
Talking of Burlesque I popped along to Shelly’s Burlesque at the Trades.   Sorry to say that it was not supported in the numbers that the Promoters would have liked.  If Burlesque is to work then it needs atmosphere, and much like a few of the Live at The Trades shows, forty to fifty people in a 300 seater simply does not help.   However more work could have been done on the staging.  I know it might be nit picking but running with the House Lights up and using what is not the best House sound system simply does not help any presentation.   Good fun though, as Burlesque always is. 


Our Get Creative program of Workshops continues.  The next one is 25th September at 6:00pm where they will be working on basic knitting, if you check out the Drop In window you’ll find some examples of very smart knitted hand warmers.  The ferrets have all but disappeared, although I get that feeling that I’m being watched, so they may not all have gone. 

We have tickets for all the main Live At the Trades events available, along with some excellent local indie Band CDs from Punk to Folk and now poetry.   You’ll also get an eyeful of some excellent artwork and photographs. 

New to the Drop In  “Coolart” Workshops on a Tuesday morning at 11:00am.  A chance to learn how to draw and paint + some of the interesting theory that underpins much art. 

On 27th September we will be joining with many other Shops and Clubs by hosting a Big Coffee Morning for the McMillan Nurses Charity.   We’ll have cakes – bring your own if you so desire to sell for donations, music, workshops and I’m told surprises.  

The Drop In News can always be found HERE first.


October 27th is the date of the next Acoustic Rotherham Event.  If you would like a spot then please Email me HERE 

On 29th September, that’s next Sunday our tie in with the Titans will see the launch of a new Monthly acoustic session called “The Sunday Warm Down” hosted by Swansong Acoustic.   This is going to be based on the old Folk Club format, with a guest, in this case the wonderful Paul Pearson and Chris Treebeard, supported we hope by an army of Floor singers.    Best of all it’s a free Event.  You can find all the details HERE

The team are currently working on a series of top rated acoustic nights for Winter / Spring, so stand by your beds. 

While I have been trying to write this Blog up the good old Whitby Folk week has run it’s course.   For those who don’t know Whitby Folk Week is where every supporter of Folk Music in Yorkshire seems to head off east to the Fishing Town for an orgy of Folk music.  For obvious reasons I can no longer get to this event and so I rely upon my spies to keep me informed.  

In this case my old mate John has contributed and I finish this section with his tale from the Whitby Fringe

“From Your Roving Reporter...

a superb week of weather blessed the festival goers this year. The town was packed at the weekend but a little less busy from Monday, with some vacancies popping up in B&B windows. So no signs of the green shoots of recovery here, then.  On the other hand your correspondent was pleasantly surprised at being able to get a seat at some of the organised tune sessions (led by ‘proper’ musicians!) at The Dolphin, Fisherman’s Rowing Club and, gulp, Conservative club without having to queue for 20 minutes beforehand.

Singing was still well attended at The Station and Jeff Wright’s afternoon session at The Fleece but the non-stop Irish tune session at The Ship was noticeably absent much of the time – in fact the pub was totally empty one night. Up the hill The Elsinore (tunes) was also slack at times – you couldn’t get through the door last year. The Golden Lion and Black Swan had good mixed sessions going on when we called in.

The Middle Earth Tavern was a bit disappointing. As the last pub we passed on our long midnight trudge back to the flat, we would always pop in to see what was happening. Last year we usually re-emerged at 2 am after some excellent sessions. This year there were just as few seats available but many fewer musicians inside- it seemed less vibrant.  Plenty of pop/country stuff going on outside though, if that’s your cup of Lapsang Souchong.

Anyway a good time was had by all, with Whitby looking beautiful in the sun and even a German cruise ship tendering its passengers into the port. Then, as if to stop us having to return to South Yorkshire, the train broke down n Whitby station and we were stranded for 2 hours.

C’est la vie 


Oh yes indeedy!!  preparations for Slamfest 2014 have already started. 

But we need your input, and we certainly need your organisational skills in all usual Departments.   If you think that you have something to contribute well be holding a General Open Meeting to discuss Slamfest on 17th October, 8:00pm  at the Drop In Centre.  Hopefully we’ll organise a glass of wine for those who attend.


In these days when so many Working Men Clubs are closing it’s great to report that Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary on 2nd October with a special Club Concert night.   Congratulations to the Club. 

The Autumn / Winter ROAR Program was published last week I’ve linked it HERE  There’s some really interesting Workshops and briefings.

Also on the 2nd October is what looks to be a super project financed by The Co-operative called Sing Your Life.  This is an attempt to bring together all the cultural communities together to create a choir singing songs from all cultures.   The Choir will be lead by that Master of music Mr Mark Hearne.   I wish the project every success and you can find links to further details HERE

I thought he had been quiet, Rudi has emerged again to promote what looks to be a great Gala afternoon of live music at the Woodlands Club.   Looks as if virtually every established Band playing the Rotherham scene will be doing their bit for the Rotherham Hospice – everyone from Tom Killner to Blacktoad and a rare appearance of Steph Little………. It will be really good to see her out again. 

There’s a bit of an early finish, so why not pop along to the Woodlands and then head to the other side of Clifton Park for the Sunday Warm Down at The Titans Club, to play a few tunes or simply have a listen. 

Those supporters of the Monthly Club in Braithwell Folk Club will by now have discovered that yet another supportive venue has had to close – The Butchers Arms.   All a little potent for me beyond the sorrow at seeing another Pub close – The Butchers Arms saw the last performance of The Rawmarsh Mashers with Myke Masher in his customary place on my left wing.  We shared a great night with Paul Pearson, and the pubs Thursday hosts.  Strangely it was on dropping him off after that night that Myke gave me hug and thanked me, as if any thanks were necessary, for taking him out to some wonderful night of music.   We were never to speak again.  
And there we finish this Blog.   

Given the lateness of the month, I think we can take it that the Rotherham Open Arts Festival will not be taking place this year.   RAE had been planning a Fringe Festival to be fit around the ROAF, but this will not take place given that it's far too late to bid for our independent funding.  However, the fact is that I have still not been officially informed by RCC Ltd.  Perhaps it's OK for me to waste my time, but some are far to busy to pick up a phone or drop an Email to tell me something that I have been waiting at least five months to have news about, despite my asking. 

That aside it's a pity that the Festival has been rested for 2013, I hope we might be able to find some way of reactivating in 2014.   

Quick Links:    Acoustic Rotherham
                       Rotherham Art Events
                       Live At The Trades 

I hope to catch one or two of you out and about, but whatever you are doing over the next couple of weeks or whenever I can find the energy to hit the keys again, HAVE FUN, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND KEEP IT LIVE

Apologies for the lack of pictures - there appears to be a problem uploading the photographs.