Monday, 1 January 2018

Sparrows at Royds Christmas Concert 2017

It didn't snow but it is dark and rainy. But into Royds School, which was very easy to find, it is warm and welcoming. Chris is already here and Emma is making teas and we can load straight from playground to hall.

Players are Owen, Kirsten [who both go to Royds], Karam, Isha, Ella, Esme [with Wanda helping her again], with guest drummer, Chris.

Emma from Royds joined us for a few carols at the beginning, then some awesome singing by other Royds students, then Sparrows played Symphony 40 and Wings of a Dove [Prince Buster of course].

pans set up waiting for players

Traditionally Royds has invited some older people from a local care home to sing carols, so just before the concert started we learnt Charlotte [Emery]'s version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. This has several bars with four chords in! And the Little Beauts managed it. Now that was a very public challenge I was proud of.

Back outside it was cold, dark and rainy, but we were done with gigs for 2017, and we did it in style!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows at Temple Newsam

By Sunday the temperature had been plummeting to the point of widespread snow being forecast. And I was not recovered from standing on Brudenell Road in the cold and dark for two hours.

Plus I hadn't been able to do a reccy for this gig [parking- loading that kind of a thing], and we had originally agreed to do one set outside!

So on Sunday [December 10] I went over early to Temple Newsam; the staff carpark gate was being opened. Finding the organisers was easy; they were amenable to anything I suggested; we could do both sets inside; there was a green room in this fabulous old building with tea bags and urn; I could bring the van right to the door.

In Temple Newsam heaven.

The players were Kirsten, Annie, Owen, Karam, Isha, Ella, Esme, Alice and myself. We were joined in the second half by Wanda and Vicky. The two latter were being generally helpful in the first, Wanda was supporting our newest Sparrow; Vicky generally putting things in alphabetical order.

Apparently it [the room] had been rammed in the morning. Thankfully it wasn't in the afternoon and there was just enough room for the band, the parents, the organisers and a few strays overstaying the morningfest.

It had been a long and stressful weekend: three gigs, three separate bands, plus the YAMSEN: SpeciallyMusic Town Hall concert on Wednesday, and then another one at Royds coming on Tuesday that makes five gigs in seven days - just thinking about it makes me feel faint!]; massive snow warnings. 

But it was great! The Sparrows sight-read their way through one seasonal song after another. How Kirsten and Owen got their way through the first line of Magic Moments I'll never know, but they did! Woohoo!

[Now who are these characters let loose with my camera!]

Thursday, 28 December 2017

North Steel and North Steelettes play North Steel Music Centre Concert

We were at Allerton CE School where the music centre is based. We are inside and it is warm. We were on last and we followed Amy's lovely violins and also the adult singers [these made Georgia cry].

After three years at the music centre, we now have more beginners than pans. And we are outgrowing our room [which point I make regularly to Mark!].

This year we have also been able to include some Foxcubs [in the shape of James, Lola and Maya], and the concert we have an average of two parents/carers per cub.

The North Steelettes are Niall, Harvey, Lola, Darcy [only there for the rehearsal], James, Lola, Maya, Theo, Julie, Lucy, Ginny [also only at rehearsal], supported by Satinder. They play African Noel [wouldn't be a Christmas concert without a beginners' class playing it]  and Au Clair de la Lune.

North Steel took on We Three Kings, which according to Jackie [Luke's mum], was a massive raise on last year's standards, and then Kylie's entirely unseasonal Can't Get you Out of my Head.

We were me Sylvia, Satinder, Kurum, Ella, Julia, Luke, Isha and Theo, and I really enjoyed the challenge of playing both songs myself and was really proud of North Steel.

PS: They were allowed to wear antlers or Christmas hats as long as no one tried to invited me to do the same! Lol!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Foxwood Steel at GoFood Craft Fair December 2017

When Holly asked us if we would play outside GoFood for her craft fair I thought, that’s nice, early evening, after work, let’s just hope it doesn’t rain! What was I thinking. It is December; the sun sets at quarter to four, and then it gets cold;

          and then this week it is unusually cold.

With an unexpected dearth of the usual suspects, and because Diz and Gig were playing I invited Lola and Maya to play and carted down two more pans for them. This was my second mistake (after agreeing in the first place).

In the end we should probably draw a veil.

The craft fair was a successful event and stall holders (inside in the warm) all sold their wares; teas and pizzas were consumed, and the most amazing mulled wine briefly warmed the cockles.

We were me, Diz, Gig, Vicky, Holly with guest appearances from Mole, Comrade Moochenko and Jermaine.

Charlotte turned up as we were putting away, fresh (if that is the word) from playing with South Steel in Cross Flatts Park. She was inquiring which of us had ad the better fine mess. And Vicky had been down the bus station with Wanda’s Fledglings, still laughing about repeated lines that not everyone played.

Generally this evening is only a laughing matter from a great distance. [Thanks Noel and Ian for staying outside so long, holding phone torches up and being generally supportive. Has to said, we were good.]

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Foxwood Steel plays TJs for John's 50th

This is how we left the Mansion House; we were soaking; the pans were soaking. We drove to the next gig.

At TJs we set the pans up on the stage so they would dry out over the next few hours, and left the cases open as long we could.

In the evening we were joined by what was left of Gary who had spent the morning flying back from the continent, and what was left of Fehmina who had spent her morning on Pontefract Train Station until a friend brought her to Leeds in a car.

A preamble. It was eleven years ago that John Webster found me and the Foxwood Panyard crew. He was running the second of his Donovan Days, this one at Meanwood Cricket Club. A local steelband, with four days to go, had let him down, having earlier "committed" themselves to playing for him. Now John's motto is "No Disappointment", which, as it happens, has also, implicitly, always been mine. You give your word; you keep your word.

On that occasion, between our three Foxwood Panyard steelbands [Foxwood, Sparrows and East Steel] we mustered about twelve players, and we have been friends [understatement] ever since.

We played for three more Donovan's Days: one in the Roscoe Carpark, one in pouring rain in Potternewton School Playing Field, one in howling gale at the Caribbean Cricket Club. A small group of us also played in Harehills Cemetery when John erected Donovan's beautiful new headstone.

Donovan's song is "You'll Never Walk Alone", hard not to play it without tears; I think we did special justice to it this evening. It was already in our repertoire when we met John and his family, but it now has added meaning.

[Apparently the whole party was live-streamed to St Kitts. Can't wait to see the DVD!]

What was left of Fehmina called a taxi from her mum's home and collected me en route for the gig. Here we found the snare drum had not survived the hasty packing from the Mansion House.

My phone call started, "Ri-ick . . " Rick successfully found Millie S's snare drum and met me outside TJs with ten minutes to go. [We are back on speaking terms.]

Because Fiona is of Scottish descent, we now have bagpipes as well as steelband, and also we have Ed the saxophonist. I don't know where he fitted into the first bit but he most certainly fitted in the second i.e. at the gig. We played a tune together; this was most awesome.

Well it all ended in drinks. Excellent. We were me [Victoria], Bex, Daisy, Vicky, Gary, Natalie, Fehmina, Sophie, Bart, Sheeks, Gig, Lola [briefly], Charlotte, Wanda and Vicky.

Lola, Maya and Patrick wore the reds, and attempted to steal the show. Lol.
Next day we cleared up. Much better than loading up straight after playing.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Foxwood Steel play the Mansion House for Sophie and Tommy's wedding.

setting up beside the House
After the massive flurry of high-profile gigs over the summer "holidays" September was almost unbearably quiet, musically speaking. Then suddenly two very big gigs in one day [September 30th]. The first is Sophie and Tommy's wedding at the Mansion House Roundhay Park.

The weather was uncertain. Hedging our bets we set up both gazebos, but as close as possible to the House itself in case we need suddenly to dash inside.

We were me, Bex, Vicky, Daisy, Lola, Sophie, Natalie, Georgia, Charlotte, Sheeks, and for the last two tunes, Bart  [much teasing ensued].

The weather held until suddenly it didn't. In the meantime we included the song that Sophie had requested, Bex had arranged, and we had sort of learnt. We don't think that Sophie [bride] was around to hear it, and we think that that is probably no bad thing.

Well, after that, the deluge. As Louis XIV once nearly said. The banner that Trish had originally made for us in the 80s took the brunt and consequently was too wet to use at John's fiftieth.

If It's Raining . . . . 

Vicky and Daisy did insect impressions as they carried their pan loads from gazebo to van.

Thankfully we were able to set up immediately for the next gig [at TJs], and the pans dried before we returned to play on them.

The End