Saturday, 31 March 2012

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows at Leeds Town Hall CLYM Prom

There were four of us: City of Leeds Youth Orchestra, Leeds Youth Jazz and Rock Orchestra, Leeds Youth Percussion Ensemble and Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows.

The theme was film music. Sparrows played Your Song, Harry Potter, Diamonds are Forever, I Will Always Love You and We Nah Goin Home. Your Song made me cry - it was so beautiful. Half the band didn't hear the count in for Harry Potter so it made the beginning sound really aethereal, as those who did hear held their nerve and kept going and then the others crept in - as if it was all planned. Phew! We missed our lovely trumpet-playing Sanna on Diamonds Are Forever; so here is a picture of the Sparrows at City of Leeds School last summer with Sanna playing it - the trumpet, that is and the melody for Diamonds Are Forever.

I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton, was our tribute to the late Whitney, whose life and great talent all fell away from her. So sad.

I wrote I Will Always Love You out Foxwood style 4weeks ago, putting in all the 3 beat bars and the 2 beat bars, and after 3 weeks of struggling, and crucially trying it out on the The Rest of the Best, I then ruthlessly excluded bar after stupid diminshed, major ninth suspended whatevers, changed its key back back to the original A Flat, then spent Sunday watching Dancing on Ice final and playing piano to the youtube Whitney and Dolly during the adverts. Thus I Will Aways Love calypso found its final form.

At the Town Hall rehearsal we spent ten minutes putting a unison ending on, polished it, then I completely forgot during the actual performance so it came to a sticky end! Hmmm.

Ashley put on the harness and did pan de neck for We Nah Goin Home. At Bradford St George's he had been a bit hesitant; now, as they say, walking down the aisles, he owned it. Great set. Me and Natalie very proud. Contributing schools were: City of Leeds, South Leeds, Abbey Grange, Allerton Grange, Leeds College, Woodhouse Grove and some ex-students. Players were Chloe, Millie S, Peter, Han, Antonio, Varshika, Amy, Maisie, Nina, Ciara, Claudia, Tim, Dominic, Isobel, Ashley H, Joe Mc. [Fehmina texted me as we sat down again asking if we were still doing that gig. Hmmm

Friday, 23 March 2012

Foxwood Steel at Oakwood Farmers Market

Hey Debs

Now it's spring at Oakwood Clock again. And Debs, we have run out of drummers. Natalie is at music centre; Joe Mo is working; Alan is in Spain; Joe Mac is in Brighton; Varshika doesn't consider herself a drummer [but she always gives in to popular pressure whenever I attempt, myself to sit at the kit]. Enter Tim, Diane's friend's nephew. And he coped excellently with all the instructions/bullying. Varshika did one number. Here's her pre-performance Dormouse impression.

The fine weather of the previous week is evaporating into droplets of rain and we have a two-gazebo moment. And it's also the third setlist of the season. I have printed off twelve copies and lost two before tune 3. Charlotte tacked a copy to the gazebo pole. Lizzie overslept for her favourite gig of the year! But still made it for most. The picture on the right I call "Wondering".

They love us here, and we love them. So they have booked us a year in advance for next year: March 16 2013; that's plenty of time to lose six drummers in!

Sparrows and Doves at Music For Youth at Harrogate St Aidans School

Well Debs, I still have that cold that started when you were there at Tropical World Day One. I don't do off-work, but I did let Rick take the pans to St Aidan's on his own, while I reacquainted myself with sofa in the front room, and as usual, slept through the Archers.

We are playing this festival, the Music For Youth Regional just as Sparrows are moving their main practices from City of Leeds School to West Park; I have afore-mentioned multi-dimensional cold, and the flippin' Old Guard are getting older and now, even Amy is too old to be M4Y Sparrow. And Varshika is working 7am till 3pm in Leeds [and that means she is probably waking up at least two hours after she has started work. Can M and S tell that she is still asleep?]
This is our seventh year; got the mellow songs sorted way back in September; always knew they would be Your Song and Days, both classics; you, Debs, are usually our source of soca tunes but you're moving between Almondbury and Huddersfield while looking wistfully over the Atlantic; and none of previous tunes are inspiring me. In the end, Ashley says he knows Trinidad so init goes; then I added Moves Like Jagger. A two-chord wonder; the kids hated it, but they played it so well they fooled us all.

Stations: Carrie-ann met the first lot at Leeds City; the rest of us got on at Burley Park. Sparrows were the really old guard : Joe, Danielle, the nearly equally regular: Millie S, newish-comers: Ashley, Jenner, Evie, Nina, Maisie, Claudia, Millie C, Chloe, new-comers: Peter, Yash, Antonio, Nyla, Han. [Varshika was still at the shop tills in Leeds - we survived]. Staff were me, Bex, Joe [who thought that I had tricked him into getting to the station on time, by not revealing the actual train time!], Carrie-ann, Bart; parents were Trish, Wendy and Steve, Adele and Evie's mum; sisters were Jeanette; guests were Diane and her pal, Ruth.

Getting off at Hornbeam Park, walking down to Oatlands Whatever, tellin some kids off for not looking carefully as they cross over side roads, turn round to find Bart doing a wheelie in his wheelchair off the kerb on the side street. OMG! Just can't get the staff these days!

I asked Mark from St Aidan's to give Sparrows first, and Doves last slots. The penultimate band finished; there was a silence; we knew that even as the applause died away Vicky was collecting Varshika from Hornbeam Park. Then the doors open; Varshika runs through the hall and straight out the back doors to put her Doves top on. There's only three Doves proper this year: Joe, Varshika and Danielle; Ashley, Nina and Maisie guest for them; they do Morning, In the Hall of the Mountain King, and Sweet Soca. The judges think that Grieg "would have been thrilled". These are songs decades into the Foxwood repertoire, given a new airing. And Doves, new and old were ace. And did us justice.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Foxwood Steel play for Sarah's Hair Show for Barnado's at Woodkirk

Hi Debs, It's early March in the UK, it's dark and a bit nothing. Not an attractive time of year. But Sarah the Hairdresser has a fund-raising event for Barnado's on the 5th at Woodkirk Country Club, and it's me, Daisy, Georgia, Natalie, Vicky and Katie. Instead of going home at the end of the working day, we go for how lost you can be on the Dewsbury Road before depression sets in. It's a close shave.

I enticed the daughters into the gig on the grounds that we owed this to the person who had once tried to cut Lola's hair. [Not for the faint-hearted].

We are the warm-up for the show, a few tunes before the hair-cuts. Finishing at 7.30 I am anxious to get home. Alas it's a fashion show, and Gig and Diz are giving Sarah a bit more support than I have time for. I have to drag them away.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Rest of the Best on tour March 2012

Now then Debs, Here's a different Leeds outfit. I have just played my favourite ever week of my professional calendar with the Rest of the Best. This year we rehearsed at the Rehearsal Room, West Park on Monday

morning, and played at Green Meadows in the afternoon. In the old days, the first concert was more like an extension of the rehearsal, and Diane was panicking that we wouldn't be up to it. As if!

The point of the Rest of the Best is Truly Inclusion. We meet up, exchange tunes, play with people from different instrument areas, get to know each other, visit new to us schools, especially Special Schools; we bond, but I had a really special bonding exercise this year.

This was called the van under the porch moment: Look above,

And also above is the Rest of the Best getting out of the back of the van where the combined weightof such a big band managed to lower the height of the van so that I could drive out from under porch without any further damage to the van roof or the porch lights.

After that our tour was a piece of cake. Here's some pictures of us at Green Meadows, Pennyfield, Brudenell, City of Leeds, John Jamieson and Broomfield. We were myself and Diane as director and producer, with me on steel pan and vocals, and Diane on keyboards and accordion. The orchestral section was Fiona on violin, viola and guitar, Hilary on all things woodwind including cow's horn and x; Janet played flute and recorder; Mary and Joanna were on clarinet, saxaphone and recorder, Cathy and Chrissie played saxes; Guitarists were Krishna, Alex, Dan, Michael and Al; steel pans were me, Melvin, Xanthe and Bex; drum-kit was John the Main Man plus Joe and Melvin; percussion was Bart, vocals, Sophie, me and Bart,