Monday, 19 May 2014

Allerton Grangette Allstars play their school's Carboot Sale

First up, Phil carried all the pans we needed to their performance area, Secondly we came and played, bringing a coupla extra pans.
Lastly all the players took at least two pieces of equipment back, enough for them to get to understand what gigging is about, but not enough, I hope to put them off gigging for life.


The Grangettes [Allstars? still waiting for the right name] were Kris, Finlay, Seb and Josie [with Sophie and Adam off being athletic somewhere - separately, on this the hottest day of the year!]. George and Claudia from the Sparrows played kit and bass as support, and Vicky S and I joined in as well.
We played Redemption Song, Monday Morning, Jamaica Farewell, Liza Jane, Oh When the Saints. And I bought some tomato plants and calendulas. And, as you see, Phil took some of the best photos of band in setting ever!

Sparrows, Seacroft Grange, Beechwood, Oulton, Steel Silc, Allerton Allstars play Wharfedale Festival.

So, Debs, it's that time of year again! And I forget to book the big works' van, so first off - it's four trips there and back. And Diane, Natalie and I check out the Railway on the Monday night after Load One. half a lager? I could stayed there all night.
Wharfedale Festival was probably established well before they invented SATs. But the weeks coincide. Plus, for the first time ever, my sixth formers are too involved with revision, and A and AS levels to be able to play it, so Sparrows are Millie S, Ashley [one-handed], Naomi, Claudia, Bella, George. So that's six [well, five and a half] out of a possible fourteen. Eek.
Wanda is missing Yr 6 from her primary school crew, Xanthe from John Jamieson is down to two. Natalie has a full house from the Seacroft schools, including several players who are the sons and daughters of my ex-students from Foxwood [which is unbelievably mind-blowing for me], and Allerton Allstars are Kris, Adam, Seb, Finlay, Isobel, Sophie and Josie.
Bex, Bart and Vicky are on hand for Sparrows and Allerton; Wanda has Kirsty and a selection of staff and aprents, Natalie and Xanthe have themselves and parents.
First off is the meeting at the Station. Finlay tries in vain to avoid the photograph! However it seems that the younger they are the earlier they arrive. Well, that's a habit I'm not keen they should break.
Then it's the blocking of the pavement while we wait for Kings Hall to open; then the setting up of five bands [with forty-odd players] with some coinciding pans or drum-kit. Nightmare. Then we have playing of the tunes.
First on is Allerton with Redemption Song and Oh When the Saints, next up is Steel Silc with Xanthe's composition, then Seacroft Grange/Beechwood with Impossible, A Message to You Rudi and Matilda. Now it's Oulton with Scale Song, Hallelujah and Lazy Coconut. Then Sparrows with I Could Have Danced All Night and The Flood.
And just as the brass bands thought it was time for their entrance it was time for every pan player to get up on stage and give it a massed Buffalo Gals in G. After she has sight-read it twice, I see that Millie S has now learnt the tune so we get a melody/kit solo then back to tutti.

Then it's chips [for which Vicki tours Otley!] waiting for the train, the near miss from the pop bottle, But whatever and chips after Wharfedale, and then hanging about for the 8.28, well, it's a tradition.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows and Foxwood Steel play Barnado's Mandela Event at Leeds West Indian Centre

Sarah from Barnardo's contacted the ArtForms Office on Friday, let down last minute by a steelband, found Sparrows in internet, could they do anything on Tuesday? On Tuesday? As in in four days' time? Yes. Well, with a little help from Foxwood, yes we could.

Barnado's are celebrating Mandela Week by making edible pictures, and it seems to involve hand painting. We decide to decorate our scruffy guitar pans while we are at it - see pic.

Anyway, despite a few players in the run up to A levels, AS levels and GCSEs we manage to rustle up Millie S, Chloe, Claudia, Naomi, Bella, Remeice with teachers/Foxwood players: me, Bex, Bart, Natalie and Tim.
The West Indian centre brings back a lot of memories for me, quite mixed but mostly happy. I had my 40th and 41st birthday parties here, sharing them with Jenny, a then Foxwood colleague. Then in 1997, at our first attempt at a combined Music College/Music Service steelband, here Dudley and I were awarded our first [and, as it turns out only] trophy. After that a lot of Carnival Celebration evenings, including one with yourself, Debs. But, of course increasingly aware that my and our contribution to the promotion and development of steel pan in Leeds was not entirely welcome. No more trophies, no pictures on the wall of fame, no thank yous.
So, when Barnado's asked us to step in at the last moment, I agreed, but with mixed feelings. As it turns out, the guys we met had enjoyed the Foxwood pop up at Savile Park, and we felt extremely welcome. The band played its socks off, and the atmosphere was great. I cried buckets reading the Long Walk to Freedom so anything Mandela is good with me.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

John and Charlotte's party

Well I was just watching Ronnie and Mark battle it out at the Crucible, but hey ho, man there's I-player and it's party-time. I plan to drive over to Burley, so only drink one can of beer, and come back for the kill.
Which is what I did. Ace. J and C have such lovely friends. We sit around the fire in the back garden; but the cat I would like to photograph refuses to get back into the supermarket bag.
As I leave John and pal are now in the kitchen with the double bass and guitar. Excellent. I go back to discover that Ronnie has not reached the 18th frame after all, which I find very disappointing - me and most of the country, I would think.
Next morning Lola and Mig are messing about with syrup on porridge.

Foxwood Steel at Oakwood Clock

Now I am at Oakwood, Debs. Oakwood Clock. Bex and the gang have set up and started. And Debs we have three proper drummers! Like flippin' buses. However Natalie stays on guitar pans today and it's up to Bart and Tim to take turns keeping the beats.
We were also myself, Bex, Daisy, Sophie, Vicky, Katie and Georgia.
After we rocked through our favourite tunes, Christine asked if we would cross the road and play at Oakwood Library. Well Debs, I lived here as a kid in Oakwood and I vividly remembering saying to myself that I had read all the books in the Children's Section, and thinking I would have to move on to the Adult Bit. So I have a vivid memory of, and a soft spot for this particular place.
Well Debs, after you've been a roll, it is hard to stop, move and start again, but we had with us my new secret weapon! Possibly the first ever single over-size single bass with C, F and G on it! It's a world exclusive premier! Only took eight years of hassling Grafton for. See me below playing it behind Sophie.
So, with some help from friends and partners we carried the stuff across Roundhay Road, set up, Bex started a solo on Trini to the Bone, where she played unaccompanied for what must have seemed likes hours until Tim decided to drum along, and bit by bit we joined her, and my favourite moment was when Gig took over the melody so Bex could go have a chord strum break. And we never spoke a word to each other.
Then the Lord Mayor gave a speech, and then we loaded the van again, then Christine came back to get her mother because the Library wanted to close, then had a chat with Fabian H MP, and then another with ex-teacher from Foxwood, and then we all went home . . .  to unload!
Next - John's party . . this evening.

TUC Rally

Is this business, pleasure or politics? I don't know. It is the May Day TUC rally. We used to play as people assembled. Then they put us on their banner. How proud? And how many times do I look at that banner and feel proud? Well, every Mayday since.
Foxwood at TUC rally 2004 remembering Royal Park School

Best story and worst was, that the year they put on the flag we didn't get the message that they wanted us to play, so after years of playing these rallies in all sorts of weather [you may remember the piece of plastic tied between a lamppost and a car aerial!][will post the pic when I find it], I was disappointed; then I turned up to march [sans band] and then they were disappointed! EEk and double eek!
However this Saturday Foxwood also has a gig at Oakwood Clock, so in the morning, I drive the van over to Oakwood and leave it there, get a lift with Christine back to town, march from outside the Art Gallery, then leave Patrick and Richard in Vicar Lane, fail to find a taxi by the Markets, fail to get the X98 bus, find a taxi after all.
The TUC march was well attended and went forward in a very jolly way.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Torville and Dean at Leeds Arena

So Debs , it's Sunday 27 April 2014.
I went downtown Leeds with Lola, Daisy and Diane.  And I cannot begin to describe the affection and admiration I feel for these two people that we are about to watch skate; and that I am not at all alone in this makes it one of the best feelings ever. I can't skate or ski myself [anymore] because my knees have suffered too many texting accidents, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful.
Debs, they are Jane and Chris, and yesterday I was in Dancing On Ice Heaven at Leeds Arena. I saw my favourite Beth Tweddle; I saw Joe the Comedian who was rubbish; I saw Ray who is charisma on ice, but still not my favourite, and Debs, then, Debs, I saw Jane and Chris.
And absolutely nobody, nobody gets anywhere near.
And at the end, when they danced Bolero, everyone stood up here at slightly reticent Leeds. One by two by two hundred stood up till the whole arena was on its feet, and we clapped and clapped and clapped and I cried .  .  .  and we went on clapping like no encore I ever saw or felt before, and I felt that feeling of sharing that love for these two ordinary guys with an extraordinary dream, and who have a style of skating that no one else comes anywhere near.
Torville and Dean touch my heart, as they do the world over, and they put me in touch with everybody else, whose heart is also touched.
We got it, and stood up in our thousands at Leeds to say so.