Sunday, 6 December 2015

East Steel at YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic Town Hall Concert

art display
Yo ho ho
This year, not only is East Steel playing the YSM concert, but I have taken over co-ordinating the whole event from Sue, so the stress levels are higher than usual. Anyway this blog is about the steelband, so readers are spared any unnecessary details. Well maybe a couple. Here they are:
art display
rehearsing Sleigh Ride in Aberford Village Hall
art competition winners
Off By heart
On the day before the concert I assisted the team displaying the art competition winners. This marathon job involved pins, ribbons, display boards and backache. We were Mavis Sue S, Anne and Douglas, Diane C, Chloe and myself.

pan rehearsing with OBH
This also involved negotiating with Eric, Mike and team to get some maximum noticeboards plus I have donated to the Town Hall the one from West Park that has been cluttering up the City pan room for years. [I was only waiting for a good home, honest!].
dressing room stuff
On the Friday a week before, I joined Mavis at West Park to try out the numbers that East Steel would accompany Off By Heart on. On the Sunday before Bex and I hit Aberford Town Hall in order to do our joint Sleigh Ride in B flat. As you do if you have shared a stage for a decade with the lovely Yorkshire Post Band [conductor- Rob, cracking whip- Diane C2] who plays the same top tune. [Although I am sure that  someone once said we didn't use the note of B flat!]

On the day Rick takes me Millie and a large set of steelpans down to Leeds Town Hall.  Millie, in real life, a Sparrow, spends all day as the most wonderful technical support - this must be noted.

NWSILC rehearse Nativity
In the afternoon, Margaret and the crew brought the NW SILC nativity to rehearse.  They went through their paces four times until they were all familiar with what they had to do. And I must say both the rehearsal and the actual performance were very professional. Unfortunately I can't show too many [well hardly any]photos without permissions.
On the night the choirs are, besides OBH [led by Mavis and Pat], Young Accord and One Accord, [led by Sophie and Clare], the Minster singers [led by Simon][including Jan who transformed my educational life 30 years ago], Off the Cuff [led by Diane P; they are a mixed bag of ArtForms music teachers who teach children with Additional Needs all year round, plus flautist, Philip].
I have not name-checked everyone who contributed to the organising of or performing at this event, but I do need to name and credit Irene Peace who started these concerts off, on the grounds that children with additional needs deserved the best, the best of everything, and, if that means a concert in Leeds, it must be at Leeds Town Hall. And so it still is, 32 years later.
In the evening we have ALL our regular players [see Staveley's pic above]: me, Bex, Vicky S, Wanda, Lynn, Kirsty, Pippa, Anne, Trish, Joyce, Wendy, Vicky R, Sophie, Yi Bai, Maddy, and when Yi Bai sprints off to work, Bart finds himself crossing the stage for Break of Day and Diwali.

Bart joins us after Yi Bai heads off to work

Foxwood at Rosebank Millennium Green Street Party

So it's the Sunday the clocks go back and when Bassa Bassa asked for us to play a bit earlier so as not packing away in the dark, it was a good request.
However we left them packing away in the dark, even playing in the dark.
Before that I did a small drumming workshop with some local kids
and with Leah and family, Leah and family actually carried most of the gear across the road as the earlier start information bypassed most of the band. Sharing the bigger drums was a concept alien to some of the kids, and sharing too easily something the adults were trying on!
Ifty was there too, fresh from the camps of Calais, with his kids. His kids shared okay and did percussion later with Foxwood for a couple of tunes.
This was another street party from Hyde Park Source on Rosebank Millennium Green. We were me, Bex, Vicky, Fehmina, Daisy, Georgia, Charlotte, Yi Bai. We played on the pavement backed up against wall and hedge. Acoustically great.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Leeds Pan Central Rock the Co-operative Academy

Well the days are long gone that you could call for the kids you want, jump in the minibus and go downtown. You can't even book them in advance not unless it's the Town Hall, and even then I usually only now get them for the show itself, not the morning rehearsal.

My latest letter to the paper [on sister blog]:]

enumerates, and not for the first time, all the great great benefits that music, playing music, playing well enough to play in public, confers on a human being. . . . . . .

Well, cutting this long one short, we are me [Victoria], Yi Bai, Georgia and Joyce. Next up is Chloe [flute player and singer] who has played four times in her life so far, and never the songs we are about to take on. Then the three amazing Czech boys from the Co-operative Academy [Primrose High School as was]. I checked out the Czechs the day before; yes, Nicolas can drum calypso; yes Adrian can change chords by ear, and on the day here is Timi, who with some heavy guidance can hit the bass note on cue. And then, just as you thought this was a already proper band, I spot Gavin before he spots me!
It was a trip down Memory Lane. There's Richard, Nadia, Jacky, Marie, Diane for a start.

The whole show is about what makes Britain great, and it's its many different cultures. The break-your-heart act was the Slovenian choir with the girl lead/soloist [with Timi accompanying on piano! Now that's what I call live music]. Because I don't which school students, if any have parental permission to be on this blog, we tried pics with players leaning at silly angles, or turned round.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Foxwood Steel play for Cloverleaf at Dewsbury Town Hall

We know Natalie from Huddersfield Carnival. In July we played for her nephew's wedding in Sheffield; today we are at Dewsbury Town Hall for Cloverleaf's 20th Anniversary. And this building just reeks with history. Balconies, corridors, intricate woodwork, velvet curtains. Loving it. There's Bollywood dancing on the stage when we arrive.
I ask Natalie where we should set up; she disappears on stage to wiggle Bollywood-style and gives me to her colleague to decide. The colleague leads me and Bex back out of the hall into the Town Hall's vestibule and shows me a few tables. I look surprised; I sask, Who will watch us here? She looks incredulous, and says Do you need to be watched?
It's our turn to look incredulous. Then we all realise that she is mistaking us for the caterers! LOL. And still Lolling weeks later.
We are me [Victoria], Bex, Varshika, Vicky, Natalie, Bart, Charlotte and Holly. And instead of serving Caribbean food we serve up some Caribbean music. It's been a long week. We play tried and tested. Watch people all round the room tapping their feet and half-dancing as they chat.
At the end,  a guy approaches,
What was the name of that last song?
Is Heat
Nope. I'm sure I've heard it before.
You go to Huddersfield Carnival?
Every July for ten years.
Well, I don't mind, but I rest my case. However I went to see Bruce Springsteen once at NEC Birmingham, and he didn't play, Dancing In the Dark, and it quite spoilt the evening and then I had to drive back to Leeds at 3 in the morning, not buzzing but really irritated.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Foxwood Steel and Sparrows play for Communications Matters Conference at Leeds Uni

On Monday evening Daisy and I met Yi Bai outside the marquee opposite the University Union. We were greeted by Connor, with How may I help? Heavens, I have only got replies for You can't park here!

 It was a good start and it stayed good.
First we played for the pre-dinner drink in the marquee which had been kindly left over set up for the piano competition.
Combining two bands is easy if you stick to tried and tested songs, but I'm up for a few risky moments, and  we had them and there were indeed a few slip-ups.
Hilary who booked and liaised with us came dressed as a camel. This was a bit disconcerting.

For the first set we were me, Daisy, Yi Bai, Charlotte, Ashley, Claudia, Milly, Gary, Varshika, Georgia G2, Vicky and Bart. And half-way through Bex popped up. Yippee!
We exchanged Georgia G2 for Georgia G1 for the second set, also lost Daisy, and gained Sophie and Fehmina. We also move over to Refec. On the balcony we were provided with posh sandwiches and cake, then set up on the stage where I watched, amongst others, Wilson Pickett, The Yardbirds, The Ramones and the Cure. Not all at the same time of course. Staveley got very excited about the photography possibilities, and somewhat neglected his percussion responsibilities.
There was a live twitter on the big screen behind us, and lots of compliments to us came up live. This, plus the great audience response, their conga, the insistence on an encore lifted our spirits no end. The acoustics were great in the marquee but a bit weird in the big hall.
Sadly we weren't to everyone's taste. On the way to the bus stop one of our players overheard two people discussing us:
 ". . . next time they play . . . "
" . . . yeah, I was so bored. Couldn't wait to get out . . ."
I told the player I was sorry they had had to hear that, and asked if it had spoilt the feeling [cos the feeling was buzzing!], and they replied, "Of course not! . . . It was great! you can't please everyone all the time. . . "
Well, I wouldn't have coped so well, but, hearing about it after the event was okay. When Foxwood, or any of our bands play, it is not just for the money or for the good cause, it is for the buzz and the lift that we get doing it, and the buzz and the lift that we want our listeners to feel listening. And if neither of those things happen, it is quite pointless.

Very sad that someone couldn't wait to get out, but as the player texted me, "You can't please everyone all the time, it's only two, so no big loss." Wise words.
Next: Dewsbury Town Hall.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

East Steel Rocking Elland Road Police Station

Well Joyce has come back for more! She joins Wanda, Lynn, Kirsty, Pippa, Sophie, Yi Bai, Vicky, Anne, Trish, Maddie, Bex and me for the last sunny gigging day of the summer - as it turns out.
This was a very well played gig, song after song - just perfect. The weather warm and still; no amusing mishaps; Liam took pics from all angles, so here it is in pictures.
East Steel was born in 1999 at East Leeds Training Centre [formerly Foxwood School] as a satellite for East Leeds Music Centre. We were gigging by the summer. We rehearsed in the old weights room just off the main hall, then back stage. After a year or so we moved into Parklands School to be properly part of East Leeds Music Centre. Sixteen years later, East Steel is regularly gigging band, part of the Leeds music scene. [And what started at Foxwood School in the early eighties was continued at East Leeds Music centre in the late nineties].
To learn steel pans you can go to classes at three music centres, organised, funded and run by Leeds ArtForms Music Service: North Leeds Music Centre, East Leeds Music Centre and the Steel Pan Music Centre. For details see the Leeds ArtForms website.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Foxwood Steel and Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Leeds Rhythms Carnival Village

By the time Foxwood and Sparrows took to the stage this afternoon, it was dry and all the electrics in order. We were me, Bex, Georgia, Ash, Wanda, Yi Bai, Vicky, Sophie, Milly, Holly and Charlotte.
Sue [ex-Foxwood] came to watch, but wasn't tempted on stage. Next time, Sue. We put Ashley where he could rest against the side wall if needed. ! Wanda from Steel Rising was doing sterling on them basses. Staveley [Andrew] played tambourine when he wasn't snapping us. And he perfectly captured the moment we play each others' Cs in Lay All Your Love.
We stopped as the Carnival Procession came past. It was smaller than usual. It had two live bands, New World, whose playing sadly was drowned out by the following float, and later down four djembes, sensibly miked up, looked good and sounded good. Nice scaffolding.
Some nice costumes. here's a coupla pics. The two girls in pink had escaped from the main procession and were shimmying up the other side of Chapeltown Road. Then, just as Sophie and I decided to go back to Rhythms Carnival Village, the spectator side of the road filled up with dancers, so danced sideways through them to get to the pavement again.