Thursday, 16 August 2012

Foxwood Steel play Manchester Carnival

Rick drove the van [with Bex], cars were me [plus Tim and Ashley], Lizzie [plus Gig, Katie and Vicky] and Alli [plus] Karen; on the train were Amy, Sophie, Varshika and Fehmina.And you, Debs, coming from Huddersfield. Plan A was for a small group of us to leave early, arrive early, set up in the perfect and agreed spot, then once the architecture is right, we know where the next-comers can slot in.  And hey! No need for Plan B.
By twelve noon we have two kits set up under the gazebo [preserving drummers from sunstroke] and the pans in a semi-circle from big bass to tenor bass.  Here is a picture of Sophie and Georgia doing impressions of each other while we are setting up.

Natalie has arm-in-sling and decided ["gutted"] against one-armed bass playing, so Tim is main drummer, with Varshika joining him towards the end.
I have a forty song setlish [setlist/wishlist] and we manage about thirty of these.  The sun comes up, the ground is dry; as the parade leaves and folks return to the arena they gather around sitting on the grass.

Damien [organiser] had got a little PA for us but there’s some problems with us using it. At first the sound systems on the stage and from the adjacent youth arena threaten to engulf us but they die away as we embark on three and a half  hours of our favourite tunes.  In memory of Robin and Whitney this year we have introduced Words and I Will Always Love You as well as reviving Tragedy.  In honour of the Jubilee we are trashing the once-lovely Diamonds are Forever by playing it calypso style, and in hour of the Olympics we [forget to] play Chariots of Fire. Hmmm.

In a twelve months that saw us chucked out of our home town carnival, had us overhear the comment in Huddersfield about who Carnival is for, and read That book by Geraldine Connor which stated that Leeds City Council should be ashamed to have no high quality steelband]; well, after such a disheartening year, Manchester Carnival is a wonderful, wonderful experience. I loved it; we loved it . . .

I was so excited that I decided to attempt to drive the van again on the motorway. Had a panic attack on massive bridge [over two canals and a river] on M60 and then had to drive Tim and Bex home the slow route, setting the Satnav to avoid motorways. Scenic and slow.  Very slow.

Here's a before and after shot of Amy - seen it, been it, got the t shirt. It's official. She's stuck with us for ever, or at least till she decides she is not.

For the record the bands today come from Foxwod Steel [Leeds community steelband], Leeds Silver Doves [older, more experienced and in most cases, better players[!] from city-wide high school, Leeds ArtForms Music Service band: Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows] and Steel Rising [from East Steel: Leeds ArtForms Music Centre steelband, these are long-serving members, who want to push the musical boundaries], plus guest Sparrow Ashley [who is conveniently over 16, plays nearly all the tunes and a bit of kit, and can nearly play all of the melody of Moves Like Jagger.  And you, Debs of course also play for South Steel [ex-students from South Leeds High School]. [So that's five steelbands that Leeds City Council can be proud of.]

In the past we have played on floats at this carnival, but there were serious riots last year in Manchester town centre. At first the police called the parade off, but the organisers argued that they should not be daunted; the police agreed; reinstated the parade, by which time, half the lorry drivers had committed themselves elsewhere [this is my understanding of events], and so we ended up in the arena. We loved it; so did many of the festival-goers; we decided to do it again. And we did.  

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