Saturday, 25 June 2016

Foxwood and East Steel at Otley Carnival

It's the third Saturday in June. It is Otley Carnival. We are Foxwood Steel and East Steel. And this is our umpteenth time playing it. It never disappoints.

This year East Steel is me [Victoria], Bex, Sophie, Vicky, Wanda, Wendy, Maddie, Lynn, Joyce, Jeanette, Anne, Pippa.

Foxwood Steel is  me [Victoria], Bex, Sophie, Vicky, Natalie, YiBai, Amy, Gig, Charlotte.

Guest Doves are George, Millie.

That's nineteen players, twenty-six, cut down ex-oil drums, twenty-six stands, four banners and two sets of bunting.

I make three float diagrams, distributing the high and low sounds as enely as possible while retaining friends and families [Wendy-Jeanette and me-Georgia], and four setlists. I leave behind two setlists and two diagrams, but I chain my setlist to my handbag and never lose it. A first!

We play our usual Carnival tunes setlist, ruin Matilda/Soca Junkie, then make them all play/sight-read Rolling in the Deep, Fix You, and some other moving slow one.

Our driver was Daniel at first, then he wasn't allowed cos it was his first float drive and we got X who had driven us 3 years ago. Driving out onto the Leeds Road continues to be very scary. We hang on for dear life then burst into Boardwalk, or whatever.

Thanks as ever to Rhona and the crew for organising it all, and asking us over and over. Thanks to Kirsty T for the static shots.

turning into parade ground

cab backing up to float

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows at Leeds West Indian Centre

When Julie from Leeds Trinity University contacted us to ask us to play for the Virginia Woolf Conference at the West Indian Centre, we were only too happy.

Steelpans at a West Indian Centre. Seems only appropriate, and who else but the award-winning Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows, some of us fresh from our week in Lille! [When I say fresh . . . . . ]

For a while we wobbled at the beginning of this school year as the older Sparrows hit pastures new and A levels, but the new Sparrows are catching up now, with a repertoire of tricky tunes in double figures, and an increasing facility for sight-reading the Foxwood Songsheets.

New Sparrows today are Kirsten, Lucy, Deangelo, Owen and Alice. Older Sparrows are Claudia, George, Ash, Millie and Millie. Leaders are Victoria and Bex; support staff are Wanda and Vicky; parents are Alice's dad, Mark, Joanne, Michelle, Amanda, Sandy. Foxcubs are James and Mikey.

nice pallet

We only had five crosses for the big basses. Alice and co came back with a pallet, painted turquoise. Too big for the basses, we used it to display the banner. And we remembered the pallets in Lille supporting the tenor basses. Ahhh!. [Bex found some logs later].

Here is the following day's message of thanks:

Thank you so much for a super performance at The West Indian Centre yesterday. My conference delegates were delighted by the performance – you can tell from the rapturous applause and also people have been talking about it all day.

And, do you know, it felt good at the time.

East Steel at Pool-in-Wharfedale

It's a parking space; it's cream teas; it's a great position. With this sort of organisation it's impossible to say no to Richard, and what's left of me, Wanda, YiBai and Bex are now in Pool-in-Wharfedale, contemplating gazebos.

With us are Sophie, Anne, Vicky, Lynn, Joyce, Wendy, Trisha, Pippa and Maddie

We start off on the club's lovely balcony, but put up gazebos underneath and to one side - just in case.

We move to the gazebos after about an hour, as the rain takes a hold, and entries for the running races drop off. We play Chariots of Fire for Joyce who did a walking race in the morning and for the Pool Race for Life runners. Then we play If It's Raining, it's Raining for obvious reasons.

We have the cream teas; I meet an ex-teacher from Cross Green [the school that had the same misfortune as Foxwood - both amalgamated to become the short-lived, hugely expensive and pretentiously named Copperfields College]. Always like an chat about education, wherever I find it.

 In front of the gazebos a toddler dances, barefoot in the rain [I wonder if she will remember this moment].

Wanda and I both win a raffle prize; she got to the bottle of wine first. [A week later the chocolate cake is still gazing at me forlornly, only half eaten].

YiBai and Bex carry away the gazebos; and in the carpark, we find Wendy [who left a family do to play with us] still waiting for her lift.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Foxwood Steel play Weston Wedding

I met Jon, Rosie and Priscilla back in April. I was still limping from that sojourn at St Thomas's. Discovered that Rosie was a doctor in London; discussed campaigning for the NHS; I discussed PFI sucking the money from hospitals and schools.

I was already pleased to be playing Jon and Rosie's wedding near Otley. People like Rosie routinely save the lives of people like me. I was doubly pleased.

In the field, on the day there was now the most beautiful of marquees, and opposite a space for us to set up the double gazebo phenomenon that I like to think is our rainy day trade mark. In the pouring rain we rocked with all the usual tunes and threw in If It's raining, it's Raining because, well, it was.

Gary was bemoaning playing his first gig in specs. Come on Gazza, it's a fashion statement for me! We were me, Charlotte, Sheeks, Amy, Bex, Natalie, Gary, Georgia, Katie, Vicky, Sophie.

At the beginning we were given an ace tray of sandwich buns. At some point we started a tune before Sheeks had no chance to finish hers. Stop the song, or take a photograph. No contest.

Back at home, the next day, there was a bit of drying out to do.

On an entirely serious note, Jon the Groom wrote thus afterwards:

Hello Victoria. Sorry to have not said goodbye yesterday. I cannot thank you enough for what was the most wonderful of performances. The steel band was a real highlight, and people have been talking about it nonstop. Thank you so much."

And, do you know, if we weren't that good, that would be no point.

Hyde Park Percussion at headingley Festival

It felt like it was cutting it fine, but actually it was a piece of cake. And that, with a cup of tea was my first thought when I arrived at Shire Oak Primary the day after the week before, that was Lille. The imminent triathlon was shutting roads so I took a trolley with the glocks, got a lift there and a bus back.

The first act was Avtar's Shire Oak drummers. Who thankfully agreed to be our rhythm section.


The band was Ryan and me.

We persuaded Sting, Alun and Avtar's djembe group to play with us. Ryan played like he didn't understand the meaning of the word, pressure.

We did Drunken Sailor, Old MacDonald had a Farm [for which the audience gloriously agreed to moo, quack and baa], Lightly Row and Careless Love. Unbelievable! So proud.

I jumped on the bus home and changed the turquoise for red to be Foxwood at a wedding near Otley.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Sparrows, Oulton and Clapgate Steelbands at Wharfedale Festival 2016

Pleased to say that Ash and Millie have been practising and have perfected not smiling. [Okay it come natural]. And Lucy is doing well. [Everyone else is too blurred a picture to be able to tell.

Every year I think Ilkley and the Wharfedale Festival is a train journey too far, a van load too far, a journey too far, and an extra practice too far, and then Blanche and Liz and her friends make us feel like royalty. And Craiglands or Kings Hall - both such lovely, formal, old-fashioned venues. And so grateful that they have moved the festival out of SATs week, but of course, GCSEs, AS and A levels still take their natural toll.

Adjudicator Steven Roberts makes us feel like pan royalty and in his [let's be frank] eulogy to us all, he never mentions no smiling! In pan adjudication heaven! Thanks to the usual suspects.

Here's mine, Millie's and Deangelo's phone satnavs fighting for supremacy on our way home. [Mine won. It fell over less often].

Best quote was from Deangelo [to Bex as she brought him over from South Leeds to Ilkley] recently come from Turks and Kakos: "This such beautiful scenery. Where I come from all you can see is white sands and sea." How awful! Not!

Bands were Oulton, led by Wanda, Clapgate led by Bex and me; Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows, led by me and Bex. Sparrows were Ash [who melted the adjudicator's heart], Millie, Lucy, Kirsten, Deangelo, Owen, Alice. Adults making up for the GCSE, A level and first year uni losses were me, Bex, Wanda and guests: Vicky and Natalie [who also melted Stephen's heart!].

On Y Va! Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows teach Lille play Steel

We have our tickets. On y va! [There may be more add or correct, but this is blog for now]

Meet Vivianne at Lille Gare
Sparrows meeting Lille pans pour la premiere fois
Millie Chloe Bex

Wanda loses the power!

Viviane teaches Debutantes