Friday, 30 September 2011

Bradford, Bradford and Brotherton

Hi Debs, Before we played our last carnival of the season, Foxwood Steel did a couple of charity busking slots at Bradford Interchange bus station. On both occasions we made nearly as much as it cost us in transport and babysitters to get there. The first time we played was the day before Manchester Carnival and two days after Manchester's riots. The station had never been as empty. "Ah, well," someone opined, "you've picked a bad day for it, what with the riots." Hmmm. Still it was a lovely venue.

At Brotherton Carnival we played at the arena entrance welcoming carnival-goers as they came down from the big main road. We were Foxwood Steel [you, me, Bex, Nat, Diz, Gig, Mig, Lizzie, Katie,Vicky, Charlotte], Doves [Amy, Varshika, Sophie, Joe], Steel Rising [Karen, Ruth], South Steel [you and Charlotte in dual role, Caroline, Neil]; we played two long sets, only repeating Dead or Alive, while the hurdy gurdy played the Archers in the not-so background. What is it about sounds mingling in the air: when does it stop being charming and start being irritating?
Anyway we [Bex and Vicky] put up our fabulous events tent [think we should be getting a commission from Go Outdoors for all this product placement!], whereupon it didn't rain, and only the drummers didn't mind being in the shade; everyone else was trying to escape back into the sunshine. We played until it was time for the rock band to take to the stage. They got half way through their sound check before somebody cut through the mains lead up on the main road. After that we only competed with the hurdy-gurdy for sound attention. and left just as the electric was being reconnected and three would definitely have been a crowd.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

July 2011

Here's a list of the gigs in a very busy July 2011 and a few of the pictures:
1. 2 July Foxwood, Sparrows, Doves at City of Leeds Summer Fair .

2 July Sparows at Springbank Summer Fair
3. 5 July Mariners resource centre, Beeston
4. 7 July Doves at Outdoor Performance Area, Music For Youth, Birmingham
5. 9 July Foxwood, Doves, SteelRising at Huddersfield Carnival
6. 10 July East Steel at Ben Rhydding Primary School Summer Fair
7. 12 July Sparrows at Leeds Poetry Slam, City of Leeds School
8. 13 July Sparrows at City of Leeds School Awards Evening
9. 16 July Sparrows at Moortown Community Event
10. 16 July Doves at Ecclesfield School Arts Festival, Chapeltown, Sheffield
11. 17 July Sparrows and Doves at the West Park Centre
12. 19 July Sparrows and Doves at last open rehearsal at City of Leeds School
13. 23 July Sparrows and Doves at Festival of Britain, Southbank Centre London
14. 30 July Foxwood at Katie's Big Lunch

31 July Sparrows, Doves, Foxwood, East Steel at Donovan's Day, Millfield [Potternewton] School

Monday, 5 September 2011

Festival of Britain 2011

Dear Debs, It seems that you are now heading for Carriacou by way of Abu Dhabi which is somewhere in the Near Middle East, as Science Advisor. I'm not sure what to say, so I think I'll say Massive Congratulations. The work you did at Merlyn Rees and South Leeds High Schools, staying there through all the troubles, inducting one new Science teacher after another; devastating one Ofsted after another with your wonderful successes, only to see an incompetent and corrupt private education company close South Leeds - oh Heavens, I've wondered into my wrong blog!

Anyway, I'd like to think that playing pans with Foxwood and South Leeds is what has given you the strength to keep going, especially when it must have seemed that brilliance was no match for money and power.

Well, I was trying to go through all my gigs chronologically, and I was just heading towards the 60th anniversary of TASPO [Trinidad All Percussion Steel Orchestra] playing the first Festival of Britain in 1951, which was about to feature the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows and the Leeds Silver Doves when I discovered that the Leeds Carnival Committee had run out of money and couldn't afford the massed Foxwood Carnival Steelband.

Debs I wish I couldn't believe it, but I could. Sadly I could. I looked on the Leeds Carnival website to see who was on the committee. Who thought it was okay to dismiss the bands who were good enough for the Festival of Britain at the Southbank Centre [only 4 weeks earlier], who were good enough for the Royal Albert Hall [2 years previously], who were good for Huddersfield, Manchester, Otley, Featherstone, Brotherton Carnivals, invited to London and Birmingham.

When we were asked to play at the Festival of Britain, I felt the same glow that I had done in 1993 when I was asked for the first time to play on a float at Leeds Carnival. And, once you get over the nerves, there is nothing like playing your hometown. And, when we were asked to play in London, the particular slant was on how pans had got into schools and reached Britain's youth. So the Festival organisers asked the National Festival of Music For Youth to reccommend some bands, and they reccommended us from Leeds. And there was nothing like playing for your capital city, and representing your town, and representing it with students from the inner city of your town, including Hyde Park [that's in Leeds], Chapeltown, Harehills, Osmondthorpe, Beeston, Kirkstall, Holbeck, Middleton, Little London, Burley.

Debs, it doesn't get better than that.