Sunday, 31 July 2016

Foxwood and Sparrows at Leeds Unity Day July 2016

We are now van-free so with an anticipated twenty-one-piece band, it's a ferry service with the Skoda-tardiss, Vicky and Wanda's cars, from my house to Woodhouse Moor and back, and to, and back. 21 people, 21 pans, 28 separate old oil-drums and 28 stands. The evening before I have colour-coded the stands to make reassembly less daunting. We have lost 4 of our 10 London collapsibles so that 28 stands coming in 3 separate pieces . That makes 94 separate pieces of metal plus the accidental ancient spare stands that I took as I lost count.

The stage was small, but it wasn't raining so we put Sparrows and some taller Foxes on the grass and three melody players on the speakers again at the front. They were still sound checking small parts of drum kit when we arrived, and then the sound engineers played some loud music over speakers to "drum up audience". I advised against as it was mind-blowingly difficult to plan and execute it all over the noise.

We were to start the day off, so not expecting a big audience, but can't complain. We had mid-afternoon slot last year, plus a session in the World Music tent.

Anyway at 12 prompt we started our half hour set, a mix of the Common Repertoire and two songs for the other band to sight read. After the set, a friend said to Katie "Rolling in the Deep" sounded good, but you need to work on "Hold My Hand".

As Foxwood was sight-reading both, we took that as a compliment. Maya [aged 5] and Stella [aged 14] played the Little Pink and the Panda Pan. Maya played the right changes of rhythm for Give Me Hope; Stella sight-read anything she had half a chance with, and, like a true pro, mimed any chords she couldn't find in time. Yo! [Who knows if anyone can see/watch the little video clip above!]

We were me [Victoria], Bex, Varshika, Sophie, Katie, Vicky, Natalie, Fehmina, Georgia, Ash, Gazza, Wanda, Emilia [Millie S], Claudia, Wanda, Owen, Kirsten, Alice, Stella, Maya.

This is our first attempt to get the Foxcubs in action. On Friday evening I fashioned a vest for Maya out of a teeshirt, and Maya and Stella learnt the two three or four chord songs [Give me Hope and Boardwalk]. Patrick modelled the t shirt but didn't contribute meaningfully to the sound.

After the set it was a massive five trips back to my house with pans, now also in Matt's car. After that all the players had scattered so not able to take tea and beer and tell each other how good that was.

Emilia and I took tea and buns in the Swarthmore tent, and then with Gig and kids watched the dogshow, at which almost no dogs could do any tricks and two dogs had a skirmish.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Quarry Mount Nursery barbecue

My own van was nicked on Sunday, but, as this is a Sparrows gig we can use the ArtForms Works van. None of the parents or players recognise it as it trundles along [it is massive!] Pennington Street.

It is Thursday early evening, the same time as we normally practise, and the sunny weather just holds. I meet, and realise my contact is Diane Woodley, for whom we used to play at Chapeltown Nursery. Have a hug. Meet drummer, Fidel, whose children I used to teach at City. Nice.

Only problem is the drum-kit. The robbers left all my instruments at the side of the side down a dark cul-de-sac in East End Park, but they did take the snare, its cradle and two little toms. Also the hi-hat stand got bent.
I bought this little gigging kit from Paul Smith nearly twenty years ago for £100, so I like to think they will have got nothing for them. Meantime George appears with a spare snare, I get the Sparrows snare stand, which weighs a ton, then George appears to have the hihat straighter than it ever was.

Michelle and Joanne did a good job on the pictures - as you can see.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Foxwood Steel at Mirfield Arts Festival

I am catching up with the steelband blogs and have gone and done the NUT Strike twice [and used the same pics!]. Anyway, moving on. [I'm crossing it out now I have spent 2 hours on it].

Foxwood Steel are playing Mirfield first ever Arts Festival. And what a lovely vibe that was. Thanks to Marina and Jenny for sorting that.

We were me [Victoria], Georgia, Charlotte, Vicky, Natalie, Debs, and guests, Wanda and Emilia [Millie S]. Presently living in Abu Dabi, Debs plays infrequently with us; we had lots of hugs [and need some more].

Love the picture below. Thanks Glen.

Leeds Pan Central play NUT Strike, Leeds

As a member of the NUT I voted to strike against the government's mistreatment of school students and teachers, and thus of society in general. This not being a political blog is all you get here. Back to the steelbands.

Leeds Pan Central is whoever we can get from Foxwood, Sparrows and East Steel. We were me [Victoria] [NUT], Georgia [maternity leave], Charlotte [NUT], Wanda [NUT], Katie[took a day off], Chloe [student], Georgia G2 [students], Lynn [PT], YiBai [shift worker], Holly [shift worker], Emma [shift worker], Pippa [NUT], Fehmina [on her way to work!] - not too bad a turn out really.

We also had three of Wanda's colleagues/friends as percussionists plus various people we pulled out the crowd, including Fred, last worked with at Quarry Mount, Diane, and Patrick [who, being 6 months old was more visual than aural. But you gotta start somewhere].

We made it onto the tele on three different News programmes, three different clips. Now that's an improvement on our usual 9 seconds, blink and we are gone. We played You'll Never Walk Alone as our last song, and the crowd sang along. Then Rick came down for the van and the loading while I failed miserably to make the march; got to City Varieties though for the speeches.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Steelpan Workshops at Swarthmore College

When Natalie [S] asked me if a couple of workshops at Swarthmore, I didn't expect six days of workshops [some longer than others]. It was mostly for young adults with Additional Needs, but there was a staff workshop as well, in which Mandy declared "I can only stay for fifteen minutes", and was there nearly two hours later.

Last time we did a workshop at Swarthmore we were at the top of this wonderful old building, narrow winding stairs and all. This time we are in the Print Room, on the same level as the carpark. Bliss! And students and staff carried the pans and glocks in and out, even more bliss [my tendons were audibly sighing with relief].

Was surprised to meet Wolfman when I went up to the mini room top café; but thus not surprised when he turned up for the next workshop.

The atmosphere in Swarthmore is quite different from the scared stiffness of most of the schools I have worked in. Loads of foreign exchange teenagers were hurtling up and down the stairs in their yellow summer camp t-shirts; higgledy-piggedly stairs, loads of front doors -open to the public! Heavens, where's the machine pointlessly taking your picture when you want it. We carried our cups of tea around without having to fill in a risk assessment first. Jessica shared her bagels and cheese with me one lunchtime [which I understand is regular feature]. The café bar has lemon meringue pies [who sees those about these days?]; Wolfman having his lunch in the rooftop terrace area.

And the best of all, when you turn up with a van full of steel pans [which shortly wasn't to be a possibility!], they don't say - you can't park there, but they send down a team of porters with a parking permit. I nearly fell out of the Little Blue!

My bag is packed ready for the next invite. [And I got the van back, sans windscreen!].

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Calder High Workshops

Suzanne found me eventually and one thing led to another. We became the Gang of Five.

éclair travel
First Wednesday, Rick and I in the Big White Works van bringing a large set of pans to Mytholmroyd. Met Yr 6, then Yr 8, then the after school class was older students and teachers. Besides Suzanne, I met Ruth and Johnny. and others. I took the train home. Passed out.

Second Wednesday I drove over to collect the stuff that didn't need to stay, drove back through the West Yorkshire rush hour. Got home, passed out. After that I stuck to the train, announcing that I was en route with pictures of flasks, eclairs and/or books.

Third week Suzanne took me to the Trades Club where her school leavers were giving a concert. I walked along the canal to the station, got home and passed out.

cake-free travel
Then we went to Manchester one Friday to meet Francis and look over some pans that he was selling. I checked them over; Suzanne bought them. That was a good day's work.  Francis had some ace tenor bass stands. I will be back. We went back into the town centre, found a nice little café in a department store and then bought handbags, as you do. [Below some random pics of Manchester]

On the last Wednesday I accidentally got up at 5.15 am, showered and was ready to walk to the station but I had misread the alarm clock. It was only 4 hours sleep and today, the last of my five weeks, it is a full day's workshop and it is outside, in the open air, open to the elements. Eek! Double eclairs today methinks.

The elements were genrally nice and it only rained a bit. We did some workshops; we played some tunes; it was just ace. We used the old standards from the Foxwood Songsheets: London Bridge, Largo, Au Clair de la Lune, Lightly Row, and then, to vary things, we sight-read some two and three chord tunes in C and G, with easy melodies.We took on Wavin Flag for which I scrambled onto the balcony so as to muddle through the tune myself. [Pop songs, eh! That's a whole blog bursting out of me].

Obviously I went home and passed out.

[The pics below are from the concert before it rained, and a coupla more shots of Suzanne's and my day trip to Manchester]. Done arty things with kids' faces]

ladies havin a laugh in the ladies

Saturday, 16 July 2016

East Steel at Cross Flatts park

Never recovered from the four gig weekend, so once Huddersfield Carnival was cancelled we didn't pick up any of the other requests.

Playing in park with fabulous awnings and concrete floors with brick walls to amplify properly is just the best! Plus we were as close to the café and the glorious cakes as we could be. Even bester!

Rain and sun were both forecast. We chose sun and got it for all but last twenty minutes. This was Steel Rising's second time playing with East Steel.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Leeds Pan Central play NUT Strike

Well, there's two good reasons for teachers and education workers to have one union.

1. The education system of the UK is in very very dire straits. It is ruining the present and future lives of a whole generation of UK school students who are losing this one chance, their only chance to explore themselves through the protection and informed support of our educationalists.

It started with an idea on the back of an envelope from Andrew Adonis and Tony Blair; it was warmly received and endorsed by Ed Balls, and then by Gove and Morgan. I accuse these five people of extreme abuse of power, in complete disproportion to their educational knowledge. And this generation of schoolkids has been asked to learn only the chosen and partial facts that uninformed ministers choose for them. If all teachers and other education workers went on strike at the same time, we would make the point much more forcibly, and achieve our aims without prolonged disruption.

2. Leeds Pan Central would be a bigger band on these very important occasions.

Anyway, as it turned out, we had a good turn out. From Foxwood Steel there were me, Charlotte, Katie, YiBai, Holly, Georgia G1, and later, Fehmina [blissfully unaware we had a gig, and on her way to work]; from East Steel we had Pippa, Wanda, Lynn,  Emma, Chloe; from Sparrows Georgia G2.

Wanda brought the Oultonettes percussionists, and other old friends [eg Fred] appeared and shook a tambourine or two. We got more than our usual 3 seconds on the tele. Yay.

A good way to deliver a serious message.