Saturday, 25 July 2015

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Music For Youth Birmingham

The night before we were due to hit Birmingham, I took the tickets out for one last check, as you do, and, as only I do, discovered that I had bought eight, and not ten. Did I panic?
No, I went online and bought another ticket, and I phoned Diane and asked if she would go down in the van with Rick, after all. Then I drove down to the station [luckily five driving minutes away from my house] and collected the extra ticket - just to be sure.
 We met at the station next morning, panicked briefly at one player's late arrival, all took the 10.15 train, changed at Donnie, arrived Birmingham, set off for the Official High Street Busking Spot. Alas this was being dug up, so not as picturesque as it might have been.
We were staff: me [Victoria], Bex, Natalie, Yi Bai, Diane and Sparrows: Chloe, Claudia, Georgia, George, Naomi, Bella. We were down on numbers thanks to work and general A level celebrations, so the pan-playing staff had to stand in and play themselves - not really a sacrifice.

Played the High Street; a lady from Trinidad told us to keep on trying. I didn't tell her that we have been told that we sounded as good as bands as people have heard over there - at the birthplace of pan, nor that we won the overall UK World Music Award in 2009, nor that I personally have been playing for over 3 decades, and Bex and Natalie nearly 2!
But today we were doing 20 minutes of classical, pop and swing, with only a little nod to soca. I couldn't tell whether she really didn't think much of us, or whether she didn't really want us to be any good. It happens from time to time. But, at a weak moment, it can be disheartening.
After that we packed the van, so the driver could head back to Leeds in plenty of time to unload and get it back to ArtForms for next day's steelpan workshop.
Meanwhile, the rest of all hit the Adrian Boult Hall where we saw an inspiring array of high quality bands from all over the UK. Our favourite by a mile was the youngest band from Holy Trinity CE School, London [I see arranged /taught by Chris with whom we shared a Festival Hall stage a few years back].
After that it was the 7.03 from New Street [where we found Bex taking a selfie with pigeon], back to Leeds  briefly to the land of nod, and for some of us another 3 gigs all in one Friday! Madness!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Three workshops: Leeds Civic Hall and Swarthmore

On Monday morning Diane and I took three sets of tamboo bamboo to the Civic in order to do a workshop for the Girls Can conference at Leeds Civic Hall. I started our workshop with a stamping clapping exercise, and then Diane did her whizzy thing with tamboo bamboo sticks. This is actually a bit tricky even if you are only trying to keep a hold of the one rhythm that you have been given, and with or without a verbal phrase to remember the rhythm by.

Leaving Diane to it in Glorious Building No 1, I skipped up to the bus stop by the Merrion Centre, took the 56 home, jumped into the blue van that I prepared earlier, down to the Swarthmore Centre, Glorious Building Number 2, set of pans up to top floor [students did that, phew!]. Workshop with Natalie S's class, met Gosh, practised my Polish on her, did some tunes, left the pans there, went home, passed out.
Next morning back to Swarthmore, more tunes, took photos of those who wanted to be in them [the act natural bit didn't happen!], bumped into my old friend, Martin C. left the class to continue the lesson without me and shot off to last school of the day, watched Pippa's lovely steelband play a concert, took some photos [no permission to show yet], then back to collect pans which students had already brought down. Sting helped me load the van, parked nervously at the front, but together this took no time at all.
Went home, passed out. Holidays anyone?

Monday, 20 July 2015

East Steel at Yeadon Carnival

Spencer found us at Morley St George's Day, and invited us to Yeadon. Mixed emotions here for those of our number who are local [ie Lynn and Anne], and indeed it is more difficult to play in front of your own family, school, town, whatever, than to play in front of strangers. I do get that.
Anyway, because Spencer had actually seen us play, I knew that he didn't just want a steelband; he wanted East Steel. And that was enough for us!
We were me, Bex, Vicky, Lynn, Wendy, Yi Bai, Jeanette, Pippa, Kirsty, Sophie, Anne, Wanda. Surprise guest was Peter; surprised guest in fact!
We were treated with such consideration. After a brief skirmish with the ice-cream van about where I couldn't park my van [ever thus!], Spencer found us and directed me through a gap in the fence which looked like it was just big enough for a double buggy. Then we were able to park where we played. Loading was dream. In fact the van was a shelter for Wanda and hubby during the interval. And we definitely needed shelter. We covered up the pans from the hot sun as you can see.
Yeadon Carnival. Loved it.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Foxwood Steel play Leeds Uni Staff party

The sun shone, and it stayed shining. It was a warm balmy day. The gazebos were in the van just in case but not needed. A sort of heavy version of carrying an umbrella so that it doesn't rain.
The theme of the staff party was Here Comes the Summer, and we planned Summertime, Sunny Afternoon, all those summery songs, but in the event, the wind had risen slightly; the avenue outside the Union building was not so summer balmy anymore; the sound wasn't carrying so easily so we defaulted to our rock soca set.
We were me, Bex, Vicky, Natalie, Daisy, Yi Bai, Bart, Charlotte, Katie, Sophie.
Max appointed himself i/c cups of tea and food, and was a total success in this role. Thanks to Jo for asking us, Gilly for suggesting us and Karen for trying so hard to pay us! [And sorry Gary wasn't able to play after all].

Friday, 17 July 2015

Buckets and Banners

container and unstraight banners

nearly straight banner and debris
Well, really it started at Otley. I have for years been bemoaning the fact that when we look at pictures of the gigs we play, we are all standing in rubbish - handbags, bottles of water, cheese sandwiches, jackets, paper worksheets, spare sticks, small children. And nowhere does this look worse than when we are on a float, when people's heads are in line with our handbags.
In real life I join a big list of people who have an obsession with containers, and buy them when the big stores bring them out in as many colours and sizes as they have. With no known need for at all.
We couldn't fit the Foxcubs in the bucket!
Until the float at Otley Carnival.
debris and buckets

So now, the plan is for all the debris to be contained, and much better it looks too. Until we forget of course!
Next I am trying to find a band member, one for each band who as is obsessed with straight rows and parallel lines as I am, so that our banners proudly proclaim who we are, while I am freed up to discuss where exactly it is we can't park with security guards. 
Outside Arena for Grand Depart, one small bag, banners nearly straight.
great buckets
great buckets Otley Carnival, shame about the banners

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Sparrows Sort of at the Co-op [Primrose]

No sooner back from Selby and unloading the big white than I am jumping into the pre-loaded Small Blue Van and off to the Co-op. This is Sparrows' gig, and we have two Sparrows! Ever thus. Helping out are me, Vicky, Wanda and Yi Bai. [It has to be said Sparrows help out Foxwood Steel whenever needed. It's the only way we can do so many]
It's Awards Evening. We belt out some soca tunes as parents assemble and eat the best samosas ever [I know this because there were some left over. Mmmm]. Ash has three goes at starting Under the Sea. This type of beginning will be refered as do as "doing an Ash" from now on. He was irritated because he  is a musical perfectionist, but he handled it well because he is a natural performer.

There was an audience for our gig but our photographers just took the band. Fair enough!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Steel Pan Workshops in Selby. Work Experience the Hard Way

On Monday Reece [work experience student from South Leeds] and I loaded the big Works' white van with a set of low basses, a set of tenor bass, a set of floor cellos, two sets of double guitar pans, one set of double seconds, two single guitar pans, five single seconds and three soprano ]aka tenor] pans, and twenty stands, plus music and sticks.
Then we drove to Selby High School, where set up all the stands and placed pans near them.
On Tuesday I picked Reece up in my car at 7.45 a.m.[unheard of!], drove back to Selby swung all the pans up and took three and a kit across to the stage with the help of Jenny, Matt and other colleagues. At 9.20 the four of us gave a little demo to the school, then we took thirteen pans across the hall for five workshops with school years 7 and 8. And four of the classes demonstrated their tunes [Largo, London Bridge, Clown Dance and Sur le Pont, Merrily]. Then we hauled them back to the Music Room. Drove back to Leeds. Passed out.
Next day picked Reece up at 8.30 [still too early and too far to drive to work!] and we did the same thing. With Au Clair de la Lune, Ring a Ring Roses Old Macdonald, Drunken Sailor, We got a free lunch and it was the best cheese and tomato pannini ever! Today it was the Birds of Prey turn to do the demo.  Rick appeared in the big white at three. We loaded it; both vehicles went back to ArtForms and we carted the gear down the corridor to the Pan Room [Diane appeared and also carried some stuff]. Went home and passed out.
Thursday Then it was Sparrows, Steelettes and East Steel on Thursday night. Reece drummed for the Steelettes, and went home and threw up. Possibly a work experience too far. Vicky and I packed the blue van for the next two Foxwood and East Steel concerts.
If you want a pan workshop, or a band for a gig, or you want to do work experience to the point of being sick . . . . .!