|Royal Albert Hall 2009|
Music For Youth has always been a lifeline for the Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows [city-wide steelband from Leeds ArtForms Music Service].
|Chamberlain Square 2006|
|Centenary Sq 2014|
We were first invited to play the National Festival in 2005, and went on playing it till 2010, even winning the whole World Music Award in 2009 with its 15 minutes of glory at the Royal Albert Hall. We also played the Fringe in 2011 in order to demonstrate to the other steelbands the common tune that all five Festival of Britain bands [including both Doves and Sparrows] were to play at the Southbank later that summer. We Nah Goin' Home since you asked. I chose it cos it was a three-chorder - can't go wrong!
Then, and always, we were judged on the quality of our play, and not some preconceptions about who can or cannot play pans well. When we weren't asked, sometimes as well as when we were - to the National Festival we were recommended for all sorts of other events, e.g. NUT conferences [although sadly, one Manchester hotel declined to have us in on the grounds we might be too loud!], and to London Southbank Festival Hall to celebrate 60th Festival of Britain, and 60 years since TASPO played Crystal Palace, and to St George's Hall in Bradford for the Primary Proms.
Inside Festival Hall, Southbank 2011
We have worked hard to be a high quality band, and Music For Youth put on the UK map, so we were happy to play at the Festival Fringe this year, and give my latest Sparrows a taste of the whole event.
So, Tuesday 8th July found the Sparrows and teachers: me, Natalie and Tim, [Bart sadly couldn't make it]with parents, Wendy and Annette at Leeds City Station waiting for the 9.11 to Birmingham. It was at this point [8.58am] I found I had actually bought one ticket too few. I casually strolled over to the ticket desk to rectify the situation. Well, it was all going too smoothly.
Rick had set off at 9 with the Leeds City Council ArtForms van full of our steel pans. We met at Centenary Square. Players were Peter, Chloe, Millie S, Millie C, Georgia, Claudia, Ash, George, Naomi. They played I Could Have Danced, Spirit of Trinidad, Under the Sea, and the Flood. They brought goosebumps to the arms, and compliments from the audience. Then Rick took the pans back to Leeds while we went off to the Symphony Hall to listen to the other steelbands, all very conveniently one after another.
watching the other bands
Sadly, only at this point did we realise that the steelbands were best, as they had been previously, interspersed with the Taikos and Irish folk music, and all the rest. However we got a good feel for the other UK bands, and the Sparrows managed to get themselves interviewed for the MU website, and George and Peter did a drum-off on two kits, also filmed.
After that it was the 6.30pm back and all safely in Leeds, except Ash's Irish jacket, which ended up in Plymouth.