Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Rest of the Best play Springwell June 2017

We started this tour in March but didn't have the full complement for the Thursday, so now in June is that Thursday.

The Rest of the Best is a band as important for the benefits it offers its players as the pleasure and education that it offers its audiences. We formed in the educational year 1996 to 7, in Diane's and my first year working for the Leeds Music Service, and have varied in size from 5 to maybe 15 [now 15 was a bit of a luxury!].

Our raison d'etre is documented in earlier blogs.

On this particular Thursday at the end of June [always one of a music teacher's busiest months!] we were on the small side. Bart the drummer was teaching till 9.10, and then again at 11. He just had time to do our 9.30 gig at the first Springwell site. He found the venue, parked his car in the carpark, parked his wheelchair outside the school front door, and sprinted down on his crutches from door to concert area, no time to consider that the clutch on the hihat was in fact a piece of blutak! Miracle worker!

We were today Bart kit], me [steelpans, bass guitar, vocals, kit], Diane [keyboards, accordion, ocarina, recorder] Julia [flute, piccolo], Joanna [saxophone, clarinet, kit, vocals, well anything really] and Cathy [saxophone, guitar, vocals]
persuaded a staff member up to dance

Maggie had brought her trumpet. Now that was a very nice surprise. We always love it when the school music teacher can join us for a tune or two on the "stage". And Maggie played a quality trumpet! Sadly we couldn't persuade to join us for the next school. Here I played drum kit really badly, not deliberately, but my skills in this area have declined rather than improved. But here we did discover that Joanna could most certainly cut it on a kit!

Obviously, for reasons of child protection,  we can't show you our audiences at these two schools, and for all you know we may have playing to ourselves. In fact  . . . . . .

Monday, 14 August 2017

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows at West Yorkshire Playhouse

setting up the day before
We were very pleased to be invited to take part in Dave Evans' big bash at the Playhouse on June 22. Last time Dave and I worked together was 2004 ish when he brought Garforth Big Band and I brought Sparrows to Leeds Town Hall for a similar bash organised by the music college.
This time we were, besides Sparrows, the Music College Saturday Morning School, Green Lane Primary School, and Garforth Jazz Rock Band,
DJ School and Roundhay School. Other leaders, besides me and Bex, were Dave Mitchell [last worked with at Flare at Woodhouse Community Centre, and before that Carnival Messiah, also at the Playhouse], Rachel Tustain, Dan de Lissandri. [If you are reading this and know others please let me know].

We also had guest semi-pros: Natalie and GeorgiaW. 

Sparrows were, regularly rehearsing, Ella, Annie, Owen, Kirsten, Isha, Alice, Karam, and, almost sight-reading on the day MillieC, MillieS and Claudia. Bella rehearsed but had A levels the same day and the day after.

MillieS is doing Technical Theatre at Uni and was actually pleased to be asked to help set up, load etc on the day, and the day before. Can't tell you how pleased I was she was pleased!

The deal was we all learnt Mercy Mercy Mercy by Josef Zawinul, then all did our compositions based on this tune. We did a mash up of this and Mercy by Duffy, calling it Mercy Mercy Mercy Mercy.

Also, all of us played a couple of our own tunes. We played Wings of a Dove by Prince Buster, and Symphony 40 by Mozart [not all of it!].

The whole event was tremendous. And tiring. We were there all day from 9am till 9pm [and me Millie and Millie, 10pm], and the players were mysteriously and consistently well-behaved. [After the era of Mig and Jamillah this is a refreshing change!].

We had lots of lovely proud parents. All good.

Foxwood and East Steels at Otley Carnival 2017

If it is the third Saturday in June it must be . . . . .

Otley Carnival. Yippee! How welcome are we! Back in the day Foxwood played this gig alone, but really we didn't have enough players so we invited East Steel to join us. But this year . . . . .

There was only Lynn and Anne from East Steel. Foxwood was actually in double figures.

As it happened my mother had just been moved to Wharfedale Hospital that week. Morgan I said, mum, I am going to visit her. Do you want to come with me? I said Mig, on Saturday we play Otley Carnival and Wharfedale Hospital is in Otley. That was a coincidence too far.

And Mig played Otley Carnival. Giving us four soprano players. Which, om a float means two either side. So good. Also, I was on the float with three of my own children. No words.

All in all Foxwood was/were me, Daisy, Vicky, Georgia, Morgan, Natalie, Charlotte, Gary, Amy and from East Steel - Lynn, Anne.

It was a lovely day. Our van was brock so John lent us one. I don't recall any real disasters, so here are some pictures.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Sparrows and Junior Steel at Headingley Festival June 2017

A quick rehearsal first with North Steel at Allerton CE. They have a concert next week without me, so must run through their tunes.

Loading the car, see the car seat, go back for Maya. Lol.

Then over to Shire Oak School. It is busy!

Having threatened, the heavens never opened. Jane opined that people didn't go to the seaside for the day because of the forecast, then came to the Festival because it turned out nice. Nice!
Shire Oak djembe players balancing on a hill!

 Sparrows players were Ella, Bella, Isha, Karam, Maya, Niall with support from North Steel: Satinder, Julia, Luke.

Junior Steel was Arthur, Rosie, Elijah, Lily, Thomas, Noah, Isabel, Phoebe. Possibly [please correct me if anyone knows different!]

I thought I saw members of the audience sighing with relief that I didn't try to drag them on stage to play! Alun agreed to be cameraman with something that almost bordered on pleasure.

Maya and Niall bonded over the tambourines

Sparrows at Meanwood Festival 29 June 2017

Gordon, from the Meanwood Festival found us somehow. I was so pleased as our new YAMSEN:SpeciallyMusic office is located at the Meanwood Community Centre and we generally would like to be more involved in Meanwood.

 It rained; we have gazebos; it was half term; we have a great turn-out.

Sparrows were Alice, Annie, Bella, Chloe, Claudia, Georgia E, GeorgiaW,  Isha, MillieC, Owen, Older Sparrows [aka Doves] were Sophie and Sheeks, support was Vicky. Leaders: me and Bex. Drummer: Bex

As the van was temporarily dead Vicky and I resorted to extreme car transport. Se  pic below of overloaded Fabia doing one of the trips.

Bassa Bassa were on the adjacent stage. See pictures below.

Bassa Bassa

Overloaded work-horse of a car!

Percussion Workshop for YAM 26 May 2017

Once a year Mavis gets me in to the wonderful Friday experience that is YAM at West Park Church, Spen Lane. Until the West Park Centre was so cruelly closed four years ago this lifeline activity took place there. Luckily Mavis was able to secure a venue very close to the centre so that these vulnerable adults were able to get the next best and closest thing. Disorientated workshoppers were easily rescued from wandering round the old closed building that had looked after us all for so long. This building with its history, its memories and its amazing unpretentious facilities . . . but I digress.

Today I am pairing up with Joanna. Always good to work with a partner; always good to work with Joanna. We decide to group our instruments into five section : pans, tamboo bamboo, djembes, dancing with ribbons and glocks. And everytime we change tune everyone changes section.  Well, not everyone! Lol!

We did three or four two chord songs. It was exhausting and thoroughly enjoyable.Here are a few pictures

Leeds Silver Steel Sparrows, Stanningley and Oulton Steelbands play the Wharfedale Festival

It's Thursday 18th May, and three sets of steelbands are converging on Ilkley Kings Hall. Wanda is bringing Oulton Year Five, Oulton Year Six, and Oulton Fledglings. Bex and I are bringing Sparrows, and Carole and I are bringing Stanningley year Five Steel.

We played all the usual tunes, and Sparrows featured songs this year were Symphony Number 40 [Mozart arranged VJ], Wings of a Dove [Prince Buster arranged DG] and Rockabye [Sean Paul and Clean Bandit arranged BA]

Stanningley played Come and Sing Together and Russian Folk Song Sledging, both originally arranged by myself and then arranged further by Year Five themselves.

Oulton Year Five played Merrily, Skip to my Lou, Liza Jane and Frere Jacques

Oulton Year Six played Scale Song, Jamaica Farewell and Egyptian Reggae,

Oulton Fledglings played Mad World, Next to Me , Lazy Coconut and one Wanda can't remember [!]

Before we started I discussed the question of smiling with the Wharfedale Committee members. This is a thorny point for us [from the Foxwood Panyard].

At the beginning of their gigging careers our children are getting used to concentrating, performing on stage, not being nervous, being confident - all the things that go with public performance.

They are also expressing themselves through their own playing and interacting with others in a deepest ensemble. If they want to move, tap their feet or smile we think it should be natural and spontaneous and grow out of their feelings for the performance.

I know that other steelbands train their players to do [sort of] synchronised jumps and dance moves, but personally I find these unnatural and somewhat disconcerting. Our players will move when they are ready. I did discuss this with the committee The wonderful adjudicator took all my comments on board, and picked out how the players were involved in their music-making in all the other subtle ways. We were all really pleased.