Friday, 14 December 2012

Foxwood at Touchstone

Like buses, this set of gigs came in threes, and now finishing the trio off is Foxwood Steel at Touchstone. We are me, Bex, Nat, Tim, Gig and Katie. We are at the White Rose Banqueting Suite, Tong Road, playing between 10 and 10.30. I knew it was an AGM. I thought that meant a committee of 20 or so around a table, and I thought that a steel band was a bit of a luxury. Debs, it was about 200!

And this is the best load in in Leeds. Van - loading entrance - stage. 2 mintes. We are ace. Acoustics - ace. I was so buzzing that I bought too any samosas at the best vegetarian Asian food shop in town [Anands on Harehills Road], ran Nat to Seacroft, Tim to Burley, then came home and passed out!

In time I may have better pics. In the meantime, here we are, and also Stephanie from Touchstone. [I first worked with Stephanie eight years ago when I took the Sparrows across to the Roscoe Luncheon Club just off Chapeltown Road [Francis Street, I think].]

If it's Thursday, it must be Allerton Grange

On Wednesdays I usually go in to teach my little Allerton Grangers; this Wednesday it was a staff training staff, so I didn't.

On Thursday Mr M and I fixed up an extra little rehearsal for the pannistes. We had a choice: practise in the pan-room, then take the pans through and set them up in the hall, or set up first. We set up first; it started to rain [outside]; they set up the table tennis tables in the hall. They played table tennis; we played tunes, dodging the tennis balls. Some table tennis players tried helping me count to 4. Ace. Such is life.

I went home at tea time but didn't have time for tea; picked up an extra single second and soprano pan; went to Scholes to pick up some cello pans for Rick to take to Manchester the next day; stopped in Harehills to buy a carry-out [regretted it]; and back to A Grange for the show.

Now these little ones have been with me for a year or so now; some were even with me at Moor Allerton Primary School; they played Sledging [Russian Folk Song], Words [our tribute to Robin Gibb from the BeeGees], Brown Girl in the Ring [West Indian folk song] and Someone I used to Know [my concession to contemporary]; Alex played kit as we needed Claudia on pans [ - next time, Claudia!].

Our players this evening were Leila, Claudia, Ciara, Grace, Polly, Dezire, Isobel, Josie and Sophie. Annette was in the audience with her camera so we do have a couple of snaps. They are invited to do a guest slot at Tropical World next Wednesday at 5.30.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

East Steel at YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Christmas Concert at Leeds Town Hall, and the Declines at the Viaduct

Dear Debs,

Tiz the season to play almost no Christmas tunes at all. East Steel's fetaured tunes for the Town Hall Concert are Magic Moments, Scarborough Fair, My Grandfather's Clock and Jar of Hearts. Over the prize giving we play [in honour of the West Park Centre, recently and pointlessly closed] We Shall Not be Moved and The Red Flag [aka O Christmas Tree]. Here's some sound check pics before the choirs and other bands take to the stage.  

This year we are  me, Bex, Joyce, Karen, Anne, Lynn, Cathy, Peter, Jeanette, Trish, Wendy, Becky, Cheryl, Katie, Vicky and Bart.

 Both my schools today were closed to me [Allerton Grange  has a training day, and Quarry Mount is replacing its windows], so I can spend all day packing the little blue Transit and wondering why I agreed to lend Nat the Foxwood drum kit today [durr!]. Anyway we nearly have two kits these days, and in the end, Bart plays for us with no hihat, and the snare balanced on a metal strip balanced on top of the cymbals inside their bag. Rock and roll, hey! Bart sounded great hihat-less, Anyway think all drummers should play thus; metal only give them ideas.

Now, Debs, it has taken me ten or even more years of playing Leeds Town Hall to discover that band leaders etc can park at the front. So, it's unload, van round to front, play gig, take pans to loading bay again, bring van back round, load back up. Got the edge on coming back the next day with one other person! Also, it really is so much nicer setting up at leisure and not bewteen schools.

After that some of us leg it down to the Viaduct to see Nat play with the Declines. Nice drum kit! Shame about the photo. [But I think you get the idea.]

In Recovery, grand-daughters, West Park Refugees Club and Philip Glass

So Debs, after a lovely event such as one of these Suzuki workshops, I should be feet up in pleasant remembrance . . . . but no! It's another day, and once more into the breach. Back in Leeds Maya has been sawing up the same piece of dowel all week. As her saw is upside down [and also plastic] she has not made many steel pan sticks yet.

Then on Friday, very sadly I decide against Benjamin Zephaniah at the Hudawi Centre, and babyist Lola instead. We have chips and cauliflower cheese, and bake buns.

On Saturday I set off to help Sue tidy up Royal Park playground but they forget to come down with the keys. I go home, and here I am  posing under the scaffolding on the front steps, and then I change into concert outfit. Which is the same as gardening outfit really minus yard brush and walking boots.

The City of Leeds Youth Training Orchestra is playing its first concert at City of Leeds School. Very nice, and I must say, conveniently near home. I am surprised to see my friend and colleague, Joe making his conducting debut. And he must say he is surprised to see me.

On Sunday we have our first meting of the West Park Refugees Club at the West Park Church on Spen Lane. [See other blog: VJ, Hyde Park, Leeds and the Wider World]. See, it's not just Royal Park and City they pick on! Here's a pic of Diane, Des and Lorraine after the rest have left.

It's dark early in the UK now, Debs, so I drive home in the dark, and then, yes, I'm going to push out the old boat and go to Leeds Town Hall to listen to and watch Philip Glass's violin concerto, which the first thing my ipod turns on when I am on the train or on my bike, and I am going be right in it, well not playing, obviously, I am gonna sit on the risers and be as close as possible to the band [okay, I mean orchestra: Opera North].

After Glass, Sibelius means nothing to me, but I stay to end, and arriving at my bus-stop I spot a large teacup on the back of a lorry.  And here it is just passing the Merrion Centre.

So, now Debs I am recovered and braced for the three concert three dayer that will end the coming week.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in Walsall

Dear Debs, I have agreed to do a steelpan workshop in Walsall for the Midlands Suzuki violinists on Sunday November 25 when I know that actually I can't commit to driving a long journey, on account of the unresolved panic attack while driving a van and also a car on a motorway situation.  Fortunately there is Daisy.

And so on Saturday 24 me and Daisy hit the road, the motorway and Walsall Strange Town Centre at 8.15 in the dark and very pouring rain. Are we mad or is Diz doing rehearsals for her new show? Maybe both.  In the capacious back, now denuded of seats, of my lovely little Skoda I have stashed away our luggage inside nine single steel pans. And two sets of chime bars.

I have booked a hotel which turns out has live music on a Saturday night. What a lovely atmosphere. We check into our rooms, change one pair of black leggings for another pair of black leggings - this is my attempt to "dress up" - Daisy's instructions.  And hit the bottle, the shared bottle of rose, and when the public bar closes, why not enter the disco from where I had earlier on mistaken the Abba tribute band for the karaoke. Oops.

Sadly for us, on arrival in the conservatory disco, Daisy immediately finds a fiver. One of says Let's have another drink which the other reads as Let's buy another bottle. Here's some pictures of us dancing. On a now nearly deserted dance floor. Got to bed at 2! Hmmm!

Next day, after the best mushrooms and tomatoes in the Midlands we find the wonderfully refurbished Forest Arts Centre, and put four groups of Suzuki violinists through their steel pan paces. The centre has its own steel pans and Louise has got them to agree to let us use them. Very generous; very grateful.

For the grand last joint number we played Louise's arrangement of Pirates of the Caribbean. Sadly for me, Daisy and the three parent "volunteers", we played it at a totally different tempo from the 80-odd violinists. Happily, someone said Encore and then we nearly got it right.

We hit the road north with tangerines and flapjacks. I drive about 15 miles and Daisy 100.