Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Foxwood and East Steels at Bentley Court

Well Debs,

I said yes to Jenny's request, and invited all of Foxwood and East Steel to Bentley Court Care Home, expecting us to be a trio: me, Gig and Trish.

Well, we were a very full octet, which now included as well, Stewart, Wendy, Wanda, Kirsty and [for the second set] Vicky.

We played two sets of ten tunes, including songs from all different eras. The audience, those who lived in Bentley, and their friends and families, sang along Can't help Lovin Dat Man and You'll Never Walk Alone [lump in throat time], and correctly identified Kaiser Chiefs,  Oh My God.

At home I printed off eight setlists and left them on my desk; at the gig, having hassled my players to get their songsheets, I failed miserably to do so myself, and I was standing next to Georgia and Stewart. Anyway, the players didn't seem to hold it against us. [Had found my own booklet by the second set.]

Wanda, who had been deaf in one ear for several months, suddenly, in a whoosh, during the last song, started to hear properly again. I leaned over to ask her to play on the beat, and she experiencing a very loud room in a state of shock. Proof, if it was needed that playing music is good for your health.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Foxwod Steel, 2 Sparrows and 1 East Steel rock the Teachers' Strike

So, Debs,
Michael, the Bear of Immensely Small Brain has achieved this one thing: getting the NUT and the NAS/UWT out on strike together.

Getting a band together on a Tuesday proved more difficult. The drummers were either at work, or one-handed, but, at last, one thousand drummers later, Bart is our knight in shining armour.

Not only that, he had his own drum-kit and a car. Well, Debs, surely that's beyond the call of duty! [Perhaps he has heard that we forget drum stools, bass pedals, or, as in Harrogate on Saturday, cymbals!]

Anyway, not that you really see us behind the massive crowd of teachers and fellow-workers, but in the end we were me, Bex, Natalie, Katie, Austin [who had only nipped out from work when he saw us, and who needs to playing again with us], Vicky, Georgia 1, Georgia 2, Chloe , Bart and a very surprised Wanda, who had come down with her tambourine and found herself on bass. Also Harvey was there in his Foxwood t shirt  and tambourine at the ready. [And also thanks to Rosie, the surprise[d] photographer]

As we are packing up after the march set off, Bart is doing wheelies on wheelchair, and while carrying half a ton of drum-kit. Rock n Roll, eh?

And at the 1, 6 and 56 bus stop going home I see the sign up - "Delays possible owing to demonstration" Excellent. The screen kept moving so this is all I managed to get of the sign.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Foxwood at Inkwell


We played at Inkwell.

This venue used to be the Shoulder of Mutton, a pub that my family and I often frequented in the 1990s. And I am sure that you and I would have quaffed the odd pint or two here. We were small, but interestingly formed. Diane was on keyboards; Natalie put her one good hand to very good use on a single second.

And Debs, why we were doing it was that it was a good cause: Leeds Survivor Led Crisis Service - launch.

And that's it. Next: the Teachers' Strike - tomorrow. I guess I'll have to wait to be ill.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sparrows play Harrogate International Conference of Festivals

Dear Debs

When Blanche [from the Wharfedale Festival] phoned me up earlier on this year and asked if the Sparrows would play Harrogate for above-mentioned conference, I was so proud. Year after year this was The Festival that gave us the confidence and courage to carry on.

The year that we went on to win the UK World Music Award it was Wharfedale adjudicator, Steve Roberts, who was happy to advise us that we should drop Pachebel's Kanon, in favour of 10cc's I'm Not in Love. And again, it was Steve who said who said he knew he was in Leeds when heard the mellifluous way our bands played.

So, Debs, it was no contest. Whatever Blanche was asking, I was up for it.

However, life offered us a few challenges first. Firstly, I had to acknowledge that I was ill. You know if breathing in hurts then something is probably wrong. I even went to the doctor with the feeling-illness. Before my appointment we had a chat at work and decided I probably had pleurisy.

The doctor was not over-impressed with our collective diagnosis and discussed inflamed muscles with me, and advised this and that. This involved rest, and time off work. "Well", I said, "There's Harrogate tomorrow".  He looked at me quite seriously and said, what is more important - this concert, or your health?

Secondly, on arrival at the Cedar Court Hotel we discovered 1. that I had forgotten to pack any cymbals, and 2 that our drummer was poorly. All hands to the deck, not that Vicky and Bex were letting me carry anything. I drummed Jar of Hearts, and Peter and Bex shared the other numbers between them. Without a hi-hat! And without a murmur.

This band was Chloe, Millie S, Millie C, Peter, Claudia, Georgia, Bella. Plus me, Bex and [a rather surprised] Vicky. And we were massive!

I got invited to set up and teach steel pans in Sri Lanka. Oh my goodness, I hope that one comes off! I only just cured myself of my fear of flying, and part of that was having to stop and change some passengers in Colombo. Weird!

We had a great crowd invasion after a little demo from Steve, myself and the band of "technique".  [Chloe and I compared pinks.]

[Anyone with any better pics, please send.]

Otway at the Hyde Park Cinema!

It's a Tuesday in Leeds and, at Leeds Hyde Park Cinema, Otway is previewing his planned soon-to-be BAFTA-nominated film. It is superb.

Haven't enjoyed myself so much at an event that I didn't either organise or play at in years! [Okay, there was that Philip Glass concert!] Then us fans skip along to the Brudenell for an in depth chat about beer and BAFTAs.

I fail to get any of my steel pan pals to get to the film, but at least Tim does the drinks bit, and we discuss the nature of stardom, success and who's round is it. Now Tim is wishing he saw the film. Too right!