Monday, 23 December 2013

Foxwood Steel, Allerton Grange Allstars, Baby Steel, Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows, East Steel rock Tropical World Saturday

Day Two,

First up we have Josie and Sophie representing Allerton G Allstars, supported by Foxwood. I found them at the end of the massive queue waiting to see them [-selves]. We play Brown Girl in the Ring, One More River, then a few Christmas tunes, taking us up to Rosa representing Baby Steel, then they support her with Jingle Bells in C and African Noel. 

Next up it's East Steel. This is Wanda, Kirsty, Anne, Lynn, Trisha, me, Vicky and Bex. We play some Christmas stuff plus our latest piece de resistance: The Flood, with Bex soloing on the tune. Superb.

Plus, Trish has brought in her version of Holy Night. Superb.

After East Steel it's Sparrows Mark 2. This time it is Bella, Chloe, Millie S and Claudia.  Mostly seasonal, then we put in Clocks. There's no F sharp or C sharp on these double basses, so the single second-players are ready poised to step in.

The cockroach is giving us a wide berth this evening. But the Sparrows are happy to play on with Foxwood for a more tunes, so by the time you and Sophie appear we quite a big outfit.

Then as the evening draws to a close, up pops Adam from Allerton Grange, with his mum. Inevitably I ask him guest; he agrees and Foxwood and co back him on Monday Morning. Absolutely made my evening, as did the other Allerton Grangers earlier on.

Foxwood and Sparrows at Tropical World Friday

Ah Debs, the delightful slog that is Tropical World, but where's the sand! What no more watching your shoes fall part, dragging pans here and there across sand, like walking in treacle. Not enough space to swing all the cats we brought.

 Did I mention Claudia and the cockroach?

Debs, I'm loving these bare boards. After the trio success of the baby raves we decided we would play these small spaces with three singles with pride. However, there's all this space, and all these bands. And Debs, here you in Leeds again. Yippee!

First off this evening is Foxwood Steel: me, Bex, Vicky, Sarah, and every so often I would turn round and find that baby Daniel has made an appearance and Sarah is playing two notes with one hand. Then I spot a lady (from Garforth) showing someone how the song sheets work. Next up she is guesting on "Silent Night".

Peter arrives early for the Sparrows' slot. Ah, Peter just get in here. Ah Peter, just solo this tune you're sight-reading. Ah Ashley, early, great. Just get in here. What, not played this tune before? It's easy! "We Nah Goin' Home"? Why not!

Soon Foxwood melts into Sparrows as Ciara and Claudia join us. And then the cockroach. We never saw Claudia move so fast or squeak so loud! After that we all fought over who was going to get photographed with aforementioned escaped reptile dinner.

Then you [Debs], Tim and Sophie replace Vicky and Sarah. One by one the Sparrows leave. The tunes are getting less and less Christmassy. Time for the Brudenell. Varshika joins, fresh from one of several imminent long essays.

Lawnswood Steel Band in action at Christmas Concert

Wednesday evening and it was so good to see Lawnswood pans back out again. This time Sparrow and Lawnswood Sixth-former, Millie C is their leader.

Chris J introduces them as a steel pan orchestra, which, I think is a bit a bit of an exaggeration, but this little quintet still sounds great. They rock through a couple of Christmas numbers, and I am very proud.

That's it really. Here's some pics of the rehearsal.

Ad hoc Foxwood Steel rocks Christmas Singalong

Day Two of the Singalong

It's the Singalong again at the Civic Hall, Banqueting Suite. Over the years I have taught and played at most of the Special Schools in Leeds, and events like these brings me together with old friends and colleagues from way back then. Bit like Christmas really, and, in fact we have as much a need to keep staff in good spirits, as entertain the children [obviously contrary to some current government thinking].

So far Foxwood is me and Georgia. Then Richard the clarinettist and Jermaine a pannist from Manchester join us for some sight-reading and playing by ear. Father Christmas still sounds suspiciously Italian.

Oulton Primary Steel Band rocks Christmas Singalong 1

Last year for the first year ever in decades we had to cancel the YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Singalong, what with our base being suddenly whipped from under us. West Park is still unavailable, but this year we are going to Leeds Civic Hall.

For the steelband side of it, Wanda brought her gang from Oulton Primary. Good to know that some headteachers still appreciate the benefits all round of children playing to other children, and let their willing and hardworking music teachers take them out of maths from time to time.

[There's enough research to prove that playing music develops all the brain skills you need to do better at other subjects, but sadly research and professional knowledge is easily ignored. See Michael Gove. oops! Slipped into wrong blog there!]

Apart from the parking, Leeds Civic Hall is a fine building, full of history, art and architecture. The Lord Mayor put in an appearance, and agreed to pose with Wanda and the Oultonites.

Strangely Father Christmas said Yo Ho Ho in an Italian accent!

Diane got changed behind the screen. Made me laugh [and take a photo or two. here's one.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Foxwood Steel play Leeds Winter Wonderland

It was a rubbish idea in the first place! And it was my rubbish idea. What with Blayd's being on Briggate, and Wonderland being on Briggate, I thought, leave the pans overnight at Blayd's, then just collect them on Sunday.


Blayd's - Lower Briggate; Wonderland middle of Briggate; pans stored top of club; have to carry them down, then stagger up Briggate with them. We pile all the big ones onto Bart in his wheelchair. This made an alarming sight for passers-by, as Bart couldn't see over the top of the basses. Worth it for the comedy moment.

Parking on last but one Sunday before Christmas?

I put my bike into the van before bringing down the rest of the pans; nearest parking space is opposite the University Parkinson steps; cycle down to Briggate [and in reverse later].

Ed, the organiser, asked me how many people were playing. "Well," I said, "I'm not sure." Amy passed, carrying a guitar pan; Varshika passed us holding a small piece of drum-kit in her one good hand; Bart rolled past. "Er, that makes twelve, I think".

In the end we were me, Bex, Natalie, Amy, Sophie, Varshika, Tim, Bart, Charlotte, Gary, Vicky, Daisy. Yes, that makes twelve. I thought we were expecting a couple more, but sometimes it's hard to keep track. Ah, half way through Sarah appeared. She said she would just come to take pics, but given that she had originally arranged the song we were playing when she turned up  . . .

Varshika asked what should she play; I said, shall we wait to see what's not taken. It's ever thus. 

But we loved it; they loved us; despite all the hassles on transporting our several hundred kilogrammes of crafted metal down to a town-centre pedestrianized street, it was a just Foxwood at its best: long-term friends [and a few newer ones] playing along together by feel. [Cycling back to the Parkinson steps in ecstasy. Well, a bit].

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Foxwood Steel play Blayd's in Briggate

Well, it was Blayd's who hosted our set for Leeds Pride in summer so when it was Robert's birthday, and he wanted us to play outside [in December!] we did.

It was cold, but we were under a gazebo which stopped trying to take off once we weighted it down. Plus there was some sort of warm air vent.

We were me, Bex, Natalie, Georgia, Katie, Vicky and Charlotte. We played for half an hour, then I skipped off back to the X Factor final. Not very rock n roll!

I am kinda hoping that someone has some better photos than these, but they will have to do for now.

Allerton Allstars at Allerton Grange Winter Show

A whole week now passes without a gig. Ah, bliss.

Then next up it's Thursday and it's Allerton Grange winter show. As ever this show is packed full of acts and of talent. My two groups get one song each. We will make them count.

First up is Year 7. They are Kris, Adam, Seb, Phoebe and Finlay, and guest Jonah, supported by Polly and     . They play Monday Morning. They have been playing for four months. I count in; they don't need me; I stand to one side in pride.

Next up is the Year 8 and 9s. They are Polly, Isobel, Rowena, Sophie and Josie. I he3lp out with the tune.They tackle I'm a Believer. This is tricky; they are amazing. George plays kit for both bands. Thanks, George.

East Steel plays Leeds Town Hall

On Wednesday, it was East Steel's turn to tread the historic boards [and the new bit of stage at the front]. We were me and Bex [joint leaders and occasional sparring partners], Vicky, Joyce, Wendy, Cheryl, Becky, Jeanette, Trish, Anne, Lynn,Wanda, Kirsty with Peter guesting, and Bart on kit.  [Unusually we had rehearsed with the drummer the week before. Don't worry - I'm sure we won't make a habit of it.]

We had planned to give a mash-up of Harry Potter and Hedwig's Theme till we discovered that we playing the same set of notes and chords. So, time to remember Lou Reed, and bring out Hallelujah, but with a little twist. I planned to locate an angel and ask the audience, when the angel was waving, to sing along with the chorus.

Well, Vicky scoured Leeds, but no angels. She returned with a snowman. Besides Hallelujah and Harry Potter we played The Flood [by Gary B]. I copied out The Flood a few weeks before, and me and East Steel secretly tried it when Bex was away, and then presented to her the following week. A couple of days later, Bex opined, "The Flood's great, shame we haven't time to do it for the Town Hall Concert" I had to tell her it was already on the printed programme. In the end it was great!

As an apperitif we raced through Walking in the Air, I saw Three Ships, Jingle Bells, Last Christmas and ?. For the prize-giving we stopped and started our way through Rudolf.

Xanthe brought the lovely Steel Silc to play their Beethoven Seven/Too Close [Alex Clare] mash-up. Two steelbands on the Town hall stage at the same time. Mmmmm!

The snowman did indeed direct the audience singing the chorus to Hallelujah.

Next thing I knew, Snowman had been kidnapped by the Lord Mayor, and was now appearing at the other stage of the stage as Mayoral sidekick!