Friday, 13 April 2012

Foxwood Steel and Foxwood Doves at Gateway Church Easter Sunday at Notre Dame

Well Debs, it's the last lap this Easter break, and when I'm getting the 20 to 11 train from Harrogate last night, I know, and so does Bex, Joe MC, Varshika, Amy and Sophie, that there will be no Sunday lie-in. It's the thought of tea and hot cross buns at 10.30 that keeps me going. And now it's Sunday morning and now we are joined by Vicky, Katie and Lizzie. Helen, from Gateway agrees to guest on one song, which was probably an ask too far,
she ends up standing/sitting there for all the sets.Sorry, Helen.
There's some pictures of Bex still on the walls of the hall at Notre Dame, from when she was at college here. Does this mean she was very important student, or that they don't change their displays very often?

We play all our top tunes. We have realised that, in the absence of yourself, Gig, Danielle and Charlotte, it's up to me and Bex to play most of the melodies, and sometimes on one of our owns. Eek. Lizzie and Varshika take a couple of numbers. It's Matt from Gateway Church who is responsible for our lack of lie-in, but who does take some nice pics of us. And the hot cross buns were plentiful and lovely.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Harrogate International Festival of Performing Arts, and Victoria and Daisy get a bit older

Now then Debs, it should be the Easter "break", but now we have the small matter of the Harrogate International Festival, and all my family's Easter birthdays. Did I say "small"!

Monday: Down the Brudenell Social first to raise a glass to me and Daisy. We were Cherie, Liz, Bex, Natalie, Gig, Danny, Katie and Vicky. And Rick!

: Lionel comes up from London toattend a conference which is actually on Wednesday next week. As you do.

A few Sparrows were able to gather at West Park to show Lionel how it's done in Leeds . [Lionel is band leader for Nostalgia, London marching band that finished my knees off a few years ago at Notting Hill Carnival]. Available Sparrows were Millie S, Ashley H, Evie, and leaders: me and Bex.

After that we took the cello pans and two sopranos down the steps to collect the day after;
and I went to Daisy's to eat cake, Rick took Lionel to Beckett Park so he could cycle round where he studied his B Ed; I went to pick up my mother from the dentist, only by the time I found out where the dentist was, she'd taken a taxi home; I called on her . . . . .

I made Daisy a cake; took Lionel back to the station, and then back to Daisy's . . . well, it was a long day.

On Saturday Amy, Ashley and Evie got the one minute to at Leeds City; me, Bex, Varshika, Millie C, Millie S, Nyla, Nina, Maisie and Joe got the same train at Burley Park at two past the hour and then Sophie jumped on at Horsforth a few minutes after that. [I left my bag on the platform; Nyla picked it up and put it on the train - even before I had time to feel sick about leaving all the music, spare sticks and diary of everything. . and whatever.

We watched a German brass band in the square opposite the station in Harrogate: same square that we had played in two years ago, walked down to the Royal Hall, met Rick and the van, Fehmina appeared, loaded in, set up, had a cup of tea, [looked up to see the band looking in the cafe window] did a sound check, went for chips, did the show. Got moved from ending first half to starting second half. And thus got to see the band from China. Thus went from 8.40 train home to getting the 10.40. We said, if the other bands can come all the way from Canada and China, then we're sure we can manage a late train back to Leeds.

We were on form, on fire even; and the Chinese band was mesmerising.

Would have slept most of Sunday, but we were to play at Notre Dame for Gateway Church.

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows BTEC Music Classes play for the Poetry Slam at City of Leeds School, and it's still my birthday

Well, it's still my birthday, and Jane's been giving me a hard time about celebrating it. She's waved a gift bag at me in a sort of cross between theatening and a promise. Okay, I have agreed to "do" the happy birthday thing at lunctime.

But worse, I am so hyper about how well we played, were received and danced to [no greater honour], at the Grand Opening at the Clarendon Wing that I decide to go home and bake buns for my colleagues. So now it's load the van, hand over all my strawberries to Maya, and go home to make 20 small buns. Obviously they are still hot when I jump into car and zoom [never above 30mph of
course] up to West Park, but I make it in time, ice them, and settle down to be serenaded by Diane, Jane, Aretha, Jo, Ray, Joanna, Helen, Rosie.
I just get to City of Leeds School in time to whip through Price Tag with Rukhea and co, which they had taught themselves it anyway without me, and collapse in small heap in Music Office.
. . . and onto the next gig, which luckily in just down the corridor in City's Drama studio. This time there's only five Sparrows: Ashley H, Georgia, Evie, Claudia and Antonio, and it's Antonio's first time being the drummer. After a rocky start we invite the BTEC Music class who seem to be most of the poets to join us, and agree on the tunes that they know in common.
As it happens this Year 11 class [from City of Leeds] presented their final BTEC performance, only two days before [and in the same studio]. I had been helping them with the steel pan tunes, but I hadn't expected all the rest! Such stage presence and confidence, and pieces thought through, and then they were there when we needed them. And, as in real life, loading up and packing away at the end of the gig.
And, bless us all. It translated into a real life gig! Yo. Organisers of the Slam at this venue were Liz and Cath, artists were Michelle, Stella and judges were Amanda, Becky and Rob.
The poetry was wonderful. And it was a wonderful vehicle for school students to tell us like it really is. As one of the comperes pointed out, how can our students learn with all this inside.
I have always believed that education should be about the individual student, about their needs their hopes and their fears. There's stuff that should be let out before any stuff is put in. In my opinion. Not just mine. And this poetry festival is perfect for that. Here's a pic of Stella and Michelle doing a turn themselves.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Foxwood Steel, Leeds Silver Doves and RJC Youth Dance Company at Clarendon Wing Grand Opening

I thought it was nice of the Countess/Duchess of Wessex to come up for my birthday. Yes, it's Wednesday 28 March. And we've worked out a rough version of Breakaway for Kathy's dancers to dance to.

When I say we, I mean, when I realised that Peter B from Crawsahw also played the organ in church, I thought he might be just the person. "I bet you've got a degree in Music, " I said. Actually most music teachers have. So I wasn't exactly taking a wild guess here. And he did. I gave him the CD, and while I was wobbling away with the BTEC pan class with Jar of Hearts or Oh When the Saints or whatever, he extracted the bones of the melody, the chord sequence and little brass riffs. "But", he said, "it seems speeded up," "Nope. That how fast we have to play it." OMG.

Katie got to the Clarendon Wing first. Actually, punctuality seems to run in this family [sister, Bex is always on time as well. Natalie is the other punctual band member but she's not the same family and she isn't actually playing today. Also you Debs, but you're not even in the UK]. Organiser Debra W has the store room keys where we find the pans and kit that Rick the driver and I brought here last night. [Although I don't actually do punctual I do do getting ready the day before]. We are set up and ready. Play some tunes. Kathy's troupe dances to some, in the end prefering Dead or Alive to Breakaway. Joe Mc and Tim just about manage the speed. Eek!
The Lord Mayor is here. He just can't keep away from us. He probably knows the chord sequence to We Nah Going Home by now. It being a hospital I try a little subtle Harry Potter theme, but it seems that everyone wants loud and Carnival, so after it's more or less soca all the way.
I am not a royalist, Debs, as you know, but Duchess Sophie, is great at what she does. Great with the kids, great speaking, looks the royal part. Today we are me, Daisy, Georgia [and Maya], Katie, Sophie, Varshika, Tim, Joe Mc, Nina and Maisie. Dancers are from RJC Youth Dance Company. And, after we have played and packed the van, there is a little buffet for us [all of us: organisers, dancers, band], which is just perfect. You can't beat hospitality like that. After the wonderful feeling of playing together with nine other great players, taking food together like this seals an event.
Maya befriends a small dog, and eats all my strawberries.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Foxwood at Sports Relief Leeds

Do you know, Debs, there would be no point unloading the van if it wasn't that it's a different van! Yes, no sooner than the Sparrows are out of the The Town Hall than Foxwood and Foxwood Doves are at Sports Relief in town. It's 8am on a Sunday morning and yes, we are ready and raring to go. And in a different van.

This is a three-hour endurance test; it's Carnival on a dry land float. Trying not to repeat tunes, there's Lizzie muttering Dead or Alive every time there's a pause. We're up to three drummers - what luxury - Natalie, Joe Mc and Tim. And, oops, I seem to have forgotten to take back City of Leeds School djembe. It's nearly a percussion section. Excellent.
We're just down from the Headrow and up from Briggate where Albion Whatever meets Lands Lane. The runners come round the corner and there we are urging them on. One of Lizzie's dental patients said she's done the Sports Relief Mile. Lizzie texted me: "I asked if she enjoyed the steelband. She said it got to the point when she turned a certain corner she would be able to hear us soon, and run to the music. Her friend [who works in an Italian cafe near where we played] said it was a good job she liked it as we were there for so long.!"

Today we are me, Bex, Katie, Natalie, Vicky, Daisy [with Lola], Georgia [thankfully late], Joe MC, Varshika, Amy, Tim, Lizzie, Sophie, Fehmina, Danielle. Charlotte woke up late, thought we were only playing for an hour, so didn't come at all. I had forgotten both hers and Gig's soprano pan. Thankfully, as I mentioned, Georgia was late enough to get her taxi to call at Moorland Road en route and Sophie and Fehmina happy enough, well, bless them them all, they did it, to wade through the cordoned off streets to help her down with them.

The Lord Mayor, who was present for The Sparrows at the Town Hall CLYM Prom, is walking the route. He came over and commended said Prom. Yo! Here's Amy and Lola re-enacting one of my favourite photos of yore.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

East Steel and some Foxwood and a Dove at Harewood House on 18 March 2012

Debs, What with all these gigs in March I nearly forgot the One Mile Whatever which was the day after Oakwood. This was an Age UK fund raising event, as they all are these days. Your friends pay a third person a few pounds for you to raise a sweat in some sporting way. I can see that it works, but, personally, I'm more in favour of a sponsored litter-pick. Anyway, they wanted some music; another band had pulled out, and despite my misgivings about sporting sponsorship in general, it is a nice little outing for me and my bands, both amateur and desperately-trying-to-be-professional.
East Steel, as you know, because you also have played with them, is Leeds ArtForms Music Centre steelband. Leaders are myself and Bex. Players range in age from 12 to 70, and vary in their musical experience and ability. Some play other instruments; some were rubbished musically as children
[as indeed I was] by their teachers. East Steel is a home for players to find themselves in and feel safe in. And it is also place for all players to push themselves in, as soon as they feel ready.
Back to to Harewood. From East Steel were Judy, Joyce, Bella, Vicky, Anne, Alli, Lynn, Adele; Amy was our Dove; from Foxwood Natalie, Vicky [member of both bands], Sarah, me and Bex. Michale and James helped Bex play kit when Natalie needed a break.
Choosing where to play was tricky. There was a little stage/marquee/sound system alongside the other little stalls, which include food and drinks and brilliant toilets.
We felt it better to be away from them, because some very unhappy past experiences [Debs, you remember Knaresborough?] have included trigger happy DJs.
Debs, we needn't have worried. The sound system went louder and quieter as was needed, and did not attempt to drown out the live music; the organisers allowed us to choose where we wanted play; and it didn't rain.
And afterwards, on bliss, the food place went on serving teas and chips; there were benches to sit and the birds of prey hovered above and let us take pics. Some of us stayed on and waited for the traffic to calm down.
Vicky and I posed on the start line. So nice after we've packed away and Rick [driver] has gone off to join the traffic queues.
Of course, there's unloading later, but that's later. And here's a litte film clip on youtube, filmed by Sarah, youtubed by Andy.