Sunday, 17 April 2016

Foxwood Steel at Queens Hall Art Exchange

I cannot believe we got to April before Foxwood got its first proper gig of the year. Not counting Gig and me at the Station. Anyway Debbie S contacted some of the bands who had played Oakwood Market, and after crossing and uncrossing a few wires, we finally got to do some board-treading.

We were me, Bex, Ash, Sheeks, Amy, Sophie, Gig and half of Daisy, half of whose double seconds lay slumbering under the stairs in my house, and in the wrong case. We wrote a setlist that would be relatively quiet and asked Debbie to tell us if it ever got too loud. Which, of course, it did.

Becky [arriving on motorbike with Ash] turned out to have a really good eye for a picture, as you will see from those that adorn this blog. Queens Hall was particularly photogenic, and we were given tea and buns. Just the best. The event was a fund raiser for St Gemma's.

We packed the van and I introduced the band to the telephone extension that Lola and Daisy bought me, and had another cuppa.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows play Leeds Town Hall

When I offered my lovely Sparrows to play at the CLYM [City of Leeds Youth Music] Prom in March, I wasn't anticipating being thrown across the London Tube carriage in February. And so by the time the day arose they were self-directing while I could only watch and admire.

They were George, Millie, Milly, Georgia, Alice, Owen, Deangelo with support from Chloe, Natalie and Yi Bai. Their schools are or were Allerton Grange, Abbey Grange, Park Lane, Lawnswood, Bruntcliffe, Oulton [PS], Allerton High,

We/they played the Music For Youth set of Raindrops Keep Falling on My head, Fix You and Hold My Hand. And, to fit with the movie theme we/they played I Dreamed a Dream. Now several slightly untoward things here, and showed what consummate professional players they nearly already are.

1. Half of them went back [correctly] to a repeat in Raindrops but some of them, by now playing by ear I guess, went on to the final line. And, oh beauties of ensembility, they all just fell in together.

in rehearsal

2. For Fix You [a quiet, intense, sensitive piece], the audience decided to clap along, sadly not exactly in time with the Sparrows. The band, however, always stayed in time with itself. From the stalls I was unable to dissuade the audience from this course of action. [But next time I'm at the Oval, I will be clinging onto the safety rails].

3. Hold My Hand rocked the hall without disaster. That only leaves I Dreamed a Dream, for which Millie had her version of the music copied. This is the version with the first two line repeat not identified. After that I am not sure anyone was, musically speaking, with anyone else, but they did all end at the same time.

Note: This unwillingness to part with the original version of a song is a common phenomenon with all three steelbands [Sparrows, Foxwood, East Steel]. Players get attached to that first piece of paper, on which they added their notes, such as how they voiced which chord, or what rhythm is for which bar or section, and when I have made the structure clearer, or added Charlotte's belated picture, it makes no difference!

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows is an ArtForms CLYM ensemble. They tumbled out of their nest in 1999, have played all over Leeds and beyond, won awards, trod the boards at London Royal Albert and Festival Hall, and in June, with three teachers, three Sparrows are playing in Lille, Leeds twin city in France. Band leaders are Victoria Jaquiss and Bex Ainge.