Monday, 29 June 2015


So much has happened since the last Blog, much good some sad, and some bad.

The recent run of Rotherham Live concerts have had a mixed reception.  

The Kiss tribute concert at Silverwood was fantastic.   Unfortunately, once again not enough people turned out for this great show.  

Those who did come really entered into the spirit of the night by applying the slap and dressing up and dancing.   It made for a very entertaining night.  Also who will forget Ryan Maiden’s support with Chris’s explosive enter stage left appearance – a fast developing Rotherham based band and well worth your time checking out.  

Operations then moved to The Cutlers and the first of our Summertime Specials on the outside stage, with Carnival of Thieves supporting the top European Prog Rock Band from the Netherlands Lesoir.

It was great to see the Rotherham based Carnival of Thieves in such fine voice and really rocking the audience.   They treated us to some of the standard material and tracks from their upcoming CD due later in the year.

However, Lesoir were in a class of their own.  Two years ago at Slamfest they surprised Festival goers with their brand of music involving a range of instruments, tempo and vocals.   Their performance at The Cutlers far surpassed the Slamfest performance – their technical musicianship magnificently engineered by Josh and the Delta Sound team was a joy.   They had the audience bouncing with the skilful arrangements and made many new friends amongst the Rotherham rock community.

An early finish gave me the opportunity to pop down to the Bridge to catch the first Rotherham appearance of Fluc500 at The Bridge supporting Papa Legba’s.  Fluc500 are the reincarnation of Waiting for Eddie.   The new line up which retains Em as front lady and Aaron on drums.  The Band is full of rocking energy as those who loved Waiting for Eddie would expect, with Em leading the way, stomping around the stage and delivering the vocals as only she can.   The performance was about as good as you get for a debut and without doubt Fluc500 will be in great demand.

Papa Legba’s were their usual fantastic self.  Entertaining, bluesey and wriggling.  From their raw start they have become a very accomplished and professional unit.  

That particular Saturday night I also managed to catch the second set of Wizz Kid at Rawmarsh Trades and Labour Club……………………..   Once again delivering a polished rock performance.  True veterans and troupers.

Our next Concert blew us all away literally.   Bon Giovi who packed The Cutlers stage area close to its maximum.   A great couple of hours of music, brilliantly performed by a very slick unit.   These guys have a reputation around Europe for their Bon Jovi Tribute which is so close to the original.  

Our thanks for all those who turned out on a windy and slightly chilly evening.  

Also our thanks to Smokestack for a super end of evening performance inside.

Then to top off the weekend a great afternoon of punk on the Sunday, headlined by Ed Tudor Pole.   However we had two very exciting bands to enjoy.  First up the Kingcrows, with a top energised performance of their original material.  Brilliant stuff and I really enjoyed their lyrics.   A performance that really warmed the audience up, not that it was needed in the June sunshine – a complete contrast to the previous evening.

The Shambolix followed, now a firm favourite with a reputation that now takes them touring throughout Yorkshire.    Punk at its very best.   The Shabolix are firm crowd pullers so it was a pity that two Bands who were due to play pulled out for various reasons. 

So, by the time that Ed Tudor took to the stage everyone was thoroughly warmed up. 

Ed Tudor Pole performed his usual amusing mix of acous  Always popular in Rotherham, this being the third time we have invited him in four years and we have never been disappointed.   The highlight is always the rendition of Swords of a Thousand Men, performed this time with the Kingcrows, and a magical rendition it was too.  Where Ed gets the energy from to put in all the jumps etc in after an hour + solo set at his age is beyond me. 
c rock and roll set to his weird and wonderful lyr
ics and sounds.

And so to the Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival.   Great Beer, and some super music.  I popped along on the Friday night normally the busiest night of the three day Festival.  I had a feeling that it was not quite as busy as people would have liked this year there being plenty of room to move around the various rooms and Halls.  

We arrived just in time to catch Steph Little giving one of her performances on The Cutlers Boardwalk Stage, a lady that is always good value.   Apparently on the previous evening she had spent four hours on the Buskers stage in the main lobby, where I am told she also performed on Saturday.  

We caught the Tush night.   Regulars will know that I’m not a great Tush fan, I find their sets just a little understated.   Tonight was no exception.  Maybe it was the vastness of the main hall where the big stage was situated with sound bouncing around the walls or the sound mix itself – or just maybe I’ve been treated to too many “class” rock bands recently, but the performance seemed to be loose, with solos not working crisply enough and on occasions the lyrics being completely lost, as did the audience who seemed to be jammed into the far end of the Hall away from the stage.   Sorry – and I am sorry because Tush have been main stays of the Rotherham music scene for many years. 

Are You Experienced was my next port of call.  Completely different here, a near full Hall enjoying this fine tribute to the great Jimmy Hendrix.   Brilliant crisp solos, and a great verb to the performance as all the main hits were masterly delivered.  Of course the performance would not have been complete without the ritual burning of the guitar, after a violent rendition of “Wild Thing”.   Well done that man, as they say.

Having tested a few for varieties of ale it was back to The Cutlers Boardwalk for Vehicle.   Vehicle are a veteran Northern Soul Band who do it completely live, instruments and all – no back tracked music here.   It’s not my normal cup of tea and I wasn’t expecting to stay long, but after three songs they had me hooked in for the entire one and half hour show.   Mick and I have been scratching our heads for a decent soul band (a genre not normally in our orbit) I think this reminder about Vehicle will have solved the problem.  

A good night out that where I even dug out one of my Slamfest T Shirts to advertise the upcoming FREE festival.   A rite Masher I looked.  

June’s ROAR Talk was one the best I have attended.  Rachael Horne from Doncaster was the main speaker talking about her work.  This young Lady is full of passion, using her art to engage her Community in a rediscovery of their roots – and hers.   She has achieved considerable notoriety for her installations, Festival organisation, and her performance prose.   I was not the only person almost moved to tears by her “performance”.  Rachel is also part of the editorial team / publisher of Doncopolitan Magazine, an arts based publication covering Doncaster.   

While there is an underlying political message to her work, she is not trying to sell a philosophy, rather by helping Communities to engage they will gain a greater awareness and become more involved in the Political process. 

All success to her.  It’s a pity that similar talent that we have in Rotherham tends to get swallowed up and lost in the mist.

Unfortunately health meant that I could not get to another of Rotherham’s great success stories, the Rotherham Shakespeare Festival led by Open Minds Theatre.  Finance issues have plagued this year’s Festival, being sorted virtually at the last minute.  But none of that affected the hundreds of Children that have taken part in the Workshops and rehearsals and the final showcases at Magna in front of big audiences.  

This is an internationally recognised Festival and should be protected and given wider recognition within the Borough for the high quality delivery by top notch trainers.  

The Tom Killner Band and The Lewis Hamilton Band kicked off their UK tour at The Cutlers and my spies have informed me that it was a fantastic night of rocking blues.   I’m sure both bands will be making many new friends and fans as they travel around the Country. 

So to bring things completely up to date.  Sunday last saw another great Sunday tea time Party at The Cutlers, headlined by Tom Hingley, the former lead singer of Inspiral Carpets.   What a really nice chap he was, rocking the audience for an hour and a half of acoustic songs from across the era.   Clever too for not only did he bring posters and CDs + his book, he also brought his own beer (a bit like coals to Newcastle) in the form of Tom Hingley Bitter.   My signed bottle can be found on my shelves. 

In support we had a Band fast becoming a firm favourite with music lovers across South Yorkshire, The Harringtons; three very talented young men with a big future.  Already looking forward to hearing them play again – they are MODs by the way………………….      

Also in support was a talented singer song writer from Doncaster by the name of Martin Black.   This guy knows how to sell a song, and unusually for an acoustic artist the audience remained interested and engaged with Martin’s set of original songs.   Another artist with a big future ahead I think.  

Unfortunately the evening was only spoiled by a very small minority of Rotherham’s finest who moaned about having to pay £5 to see the show.    I’m sorry – well no I’m not sorry – if you want true quality and top names there is a price to pay – even if the venue is a pub!   We’ve moaned about music venues closing across Rotherham, the reason, they were not making a profit, and that on shows where the total cost was £150 - £180 to the Land Lord.  Sunday’s show cost £750 to put on, by the time sound is included and the shortfall was made up by Chantry Brewery.   So even for a great turnout the pub was still subsidising the cost of the show.  

What’s more, next weekend the whole of Rotherham is invited to a completely free two day Festival, which is costing around £3K to mount, all sponsored by Chantry Brewery;  if that is not dedication to the cause of local live music, I really don’t know some people might be looking for.  

It was sad to hear that Rotherham based Band Goat Leaf are to call it a day.   It’s been sometime since we’ve seen them in Rotherham as they have chosen to play the bigger venues in Sheffield lately and of course they have been touring in Europe and developing a following in London.   Always sad to see a top notch unit call it a day.  

Joe Solo a fantastic song writer of the left has put together a Nation-wide event programmed for the first weekend in October, “We Will Overcome”.  This is a National demonstration for musicians, coming together to protest against the Governments program of austerity. 

RAE are putting together the Rotherham show, which if possible I would like to feature as many Youth / Young Person – to 30 performers as possible.  If you would like to be involved in this project please EMAIL HERE

SLAMFEST is upon us.   This year’s Festival is coming in two parts, 4th / 5th July and 22nd August.  Unlike previous years there will be no Town Centre Stage, this is because of a virtual lack of support and interest by the Town Centre Traders.  

For the first three Festivals shortfalls have been made up by the Banks of Masher and Mick, but neither of us could afford a fourth year.  

Also Mashers health has meant that the Volunteer Team has rotted on the vine and needs to be replenished with fresh blood, and while serious work has started on this front, it is far too late to make any impact on the 2015 Festival.  

If you would like to be part of the Volunteer team for 2016 please EMAIL

One shining light out of this has been the commitment of Chantry Brewery, who through their championing of local Bands at The Cutlers, and spoken word at The New York Tavern have invested heavily in Slamfest.  Back in 2014 they helped substantially with cash flow that helped to keep the Festival on course and this year 2015 they have led from the front.  

The outside courtyard at The Cutlers has been transformed by an outside stage and by 4th July will have a smart new canopy over it protecting Festival goers from the worst of the elements, heat or wet.   That said I’m told that the weather for the 4th / 5th July is going to be scorching.  

Supporting an amazing line up of top local talent will be ODS Saxon on 4th July and on the 5th July Sigue Sigue Sputnik (the full band, I’m told).

Supplementing the main stage at the Cutlers, is an Acoustic Stage at the New York Tavern, featuring some of the best Rotherham acoustic Talent along with some spoken word and in addition a Youth Stage at MyPlace on St Ann’s Road (behind Tesco) where we are offering an opportunity for young people to join in the Festival of local music by providing a stage they and parents can access outside the pub environment. 

And the FESTIVAL is FREE -  in fact Slamfest remains the biggest completely free with no catches celebration of local and live music in South Yorkshire.

There’s lots happening in Rotherham on the 4th July.  It’s Independent Day, for the local businesses, please go and support, and there is special celebratory Market in the Imperial Building with all the usual extras.  And on the Minster Green the new Heart of Steel installation will be unveiled at a special ceremony.   So check everything out and then pop up to The Cutlers, or New York Tavern for some real ale from Rotherham’s best independent brewery Chantry, and some fantastic music throughout the day from noon.   See listings page HERE

Talking of Festivals, I have to mention Barnsley Live who enjoyed another fantastic time last weekend.  Barnsley live is a year younger than Slamfest and demonstrates what can happen when Business and music comes together for a celebration of the Town.   It’s ironic that Rotherham’s idea has been taken on by Barnsley, and while Rotherham has lacked support from both business and music venues Barnsley live has thrived and goes from strength to strength.  

Each year 400 + local musicians have played Slamfest, giving freely of their time to showcase the Borough and draw people into the Town, 6,000 last year.  Yet having lit the fuse our little cracker went off with a whimper.  

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Community got together and actually had a celebration of Rotherham talent, rather than find reasons not to give support? 

It’s been over time for the wedding bell ringers.  Two well-known faces have been made honest men by their ladies.    First it was Tim Cleverley who married Joolia; quickly followed by an ageing Tony Beesley who married Vanessa on his 50th birthday.  Congratulations to both couples from all at RAE along with our wish that you all find true happiness.

At this point I would try to give some pointers to what is coming up on the music and arts scene over the next few weeks.    My problem is that July has so many great events – from Slamfest and Mattfest at The Cutlers to Beanfest, The Coalfields Fest and much, much more.    So for all the up to date information head for our listings page HERE where you can plan out your plans for July.    I would draw your attention to the opening of the new Something Special on 11th July in the Old Town Hall Mayor’s Parlour and the ROAR Members Exhibition that will be in place at The Old Market Gallery from 3rd July until the 18th.  

I’d also mention the new picture reel that you can find on our Web Pages – “latest pictures” – where many of the events featured are featured. 

Until the next time then -  have an amazing time, support the local arts scene and business, and KEEP IT LIVE.