Coming up this summer
Well it's all go from here on in. Blowzabella are playing a town festival in Loon Plage on Sunday 22nd July. The gig is 5-8.30pm and is only just across the pond so if you fancy a little day return excursion it should be a lovely event. After a wee holiday in Tuscany I will return for the final preparations for Broadstairs. This includes a huge 'No Masters' showcase concert. Sadly this will also include one of the last ever performances by the wonderful Chumbawamba but the rest of the co-opertaive will help them sing their way through. The Fraser Sisters will be performing and....deep breath...there is a carol concert with Coope, Boyes and Simpson, Fraser, freya Boyes on the Sunday. A completely crazy but wonderful idea. many people tell us what a shame it is to only here us once a year...well now's your chance.
Then there is a brand new summer school in Bedfordshire 13th - 15th August inclusive. Deatiles are here; http://www.musicforyousummerschools.co.uk/folk_course.htm but just to fill you in. Music for you do a whole range of courses and they often cross over with each other. I think when we're doing our summer school the jazz one will be taking place so there be a chance to sessio together etc. The tutor line up is fab and we will cross over with each other, do some joint workshops, perform together and generally ensure you have a fab time as well as getting a lot out of it musically. the summer school will be geared to all levels whether a novis or experienced there will be groupings for you. It's a brave thing to start a new summer school but I am sure it will be a resounding success. see you there.
Stewart Hardy - Fiddle
Jo Freya - Sax & Wind Instruments
Karen Tweed - Accordion
Kevin Dempsey - Guitar
Pete Furnish - Bass
Yvette Staelens - Folk Singer
Carolyn Robson - Folk Singer
Kerry Fletcher - Traditional Danc
An interesting Month
This is an unusual month. Firstly let me appologise for the fact that the Freya Abbott Ferguson gig at The Greystones in Sheffield has had to be re-scheduled. As soon as we have fixed the new date we will let you know.
This month sees me working on an Olympic Torch event. Arts NK were looking for bids to celebrate the fact the the Olympic torch will be going through Bracebridge Heath on 27th June. I put in a bid suggestion we did a song relay. the idea is that we create a song with community groups that reflects the passing of the torch and what it signifies as well as linking into the fact that Bracebridge Heath had been a major crossroads for journeys throughout history and wishes to revive some of it's village festivities.
On the actual day small groups of singers will acompany people as they walk through the forest to the grounds where the larger celebration is taking place. The first group of singers will pass the song on to the second group of singers by way of a chorus and group 2 will then acompany the visitors on to group 3 and so on. It's a woodland walk and visitors are timed to go through in 15 minute slots. This gives group 1 time to get back to the start to great the next group etc.
I met with my adult volunteers last Tuesday and we looked at the History of Bracebridge Heath and it's importance on a micro and a macro scale. Bracebridge Heath came into being predominantly because of The Asylum there. John Gardner Hill put the village and The Asylum on the map as this Asylum was the first to practice reward measures instead of punnishmenst for people with mental health problems and incompassed a belief that patients could get better where as in other asylums they were often locked up for life.
There is no doubt that there were still horrible stories as to why people..and often women, ended up there in the first place but it did pilot the way for a new way of thinking. The village grew up to support the workers need for housing.
So I took all the ideas that arose from the history and blended them with conversations about the wish to rekindle a sense of community now that the focus of the asylum no longer exists.
Today I have been with 2 lots of 30 primary school children and they have been working on ideas about the olympics, the olympic torch and how all that links to their very own Bracebridge Heath, My job tonight (mon 11th June) and tomorrow morning is to blend all of that together. I return to the children first in the day to feedback what they have created and then I have the adults in the evening. I have the bones of an inspirational song and hope what I go back with will go down well and that they can all hear how they have contributed.
The tune at this stage is embyrionic as I wish to leave some space for people to try and invent their own tune although I have a back up tune already started just in case. As you can tell, we are working to a tight schedule. Once the lyrics and tune are fixed it's practicing the practicalities for the event until the day itself.
The Aldworth Giant celebration takes place this Sunday and there you will see myself, Paul James (also of Blowzabella) and Victor Nichols (of Evening Star and of a duo with yours truly 'The Difference Engine') playing for a performnace and a procession in the village. This event is very organic as the 3 of us will only really know what we are attempting to play together on the day. I like that. Very exciting.
The very end of the month sees the continuation of work between Blowzabella and Fanfare Gonzo. Dave Shepherd, Barnaby Stradling and I will journey to a reheasal with the Guys and gals of Gonzo where we are creating enough repertoire for a dance with huge arrangements of some of their tunes and some of ours. Tiring but very very exciting.
For all you Blowzabella fans and in particular workshop fans plans are a foot for a Blowzabella weekend but in France. Once this is confirmed we will let you know as I imagine people would like to travel from other countries in Europe to attend so advance warning is always good.
Contact via the site and any good questions etc will get posted on this page.
This years plans
That 'Christmas' time of year
I always feel fortunate that this time of year has me singing, in our lovely ensemble, those great lesser known hymns and carols from Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Cornwall, Gloucestershire..to name a few. We've just had our first one in Helmsley and it was totally delightful with the audience giving great participation on some chorus'. So great in fact that they may win the audience unofficial 'sing off' competition that we have run each year. Check out the dates on the gig page and hopefully we'll see you at one of them. 'Sing All Earth' and 'Voices at the Door' are our own shows full of great wit and information researched by georgina Boyes, whereas the 'On Angels Wings' have Michael Morpergo, or should I now say the terribly famous Michael Morpergo, reading his take on the the nativity, ably assisted by Juliet Stevenson at Chichester Cathedral and Beverly Minster and Virginia Mckenna at the national theatre. We have done many shows with Juliet before and like us, she now feels that Christmas starts with these performances. Virginia is a new collaborator and we are looking forward to meeting her. So - they read this delightful and amusing story and we sing these faboulous carols.
You may think after all that we'd have had enough, but no! On Christmas eve we go to a party and for pure pleasure sing amongst and with friends and family. A lovely seasonal treat.
So, see you somewhere over December I hope and then more news posted in the new year. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to one and all.
Autumn is upon us
I had a fantastic summer and I am busy working on the last stage of the Sa-Fire project. This takes place in Sleaford and involves 2 compositions for community choir, a piece for cello and violin, a piece for diatonic accordeon and a pre=recorded track for an aerial dance display. As you can imagine that all keeps me pretty busy. Sadly due to the timing i won't be there to see the performances and I will be playing with Blowzabella:
28 October. Ace Space. St Nicolas Road, Newbury RG14 5PR.
Reservations 0788 794 8853.
29 & 30 October. Grand Bal de Bath. Workshops and dance. 01225 302025
We don't play that much in the Uk so snap up these opportunities if you can. At the ball to Bath you will be given a sneak preview of our dance plans and other plans for the future. If you can't make Newbury and Bath or you just can't get enough of us then makesure you book early for the Blowzabella events in Stamfors on the 27th and 28th April. We are very pleased and excited that Esquise will be playing and they are the most exciting Breton band I have heard for years. So sign up for the various workshops and come to the concert/bals too.
Dance seems high on the agenda as Maalstroom are looking to offer a dance option. This will be their own new take on bal featuring Dutch dances as well as the other dances you may expect at a bal. The music for this is progressing brilliantly as it is a really unique sound. I'll let you know when that will be aired.
Freya Abbott Ferguson are building up to Musicport festival and I hope to see many of you there. the response to the live set has been fab.
For other concert dates and workshop opportunities go to the gig page and please feel free to contact me .
The Summer and return of Safire
There have been some fabulous highlights this summer so far. Blowzabella spent a wonderful week in Parthenay working with Gonzo. This culminated in a Blowzabella-gonzo extravaganza with 30 of us on stage. You can hear a bit on this youtube link; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpsZQjgdh2I There are others in there too. It was an extraordinary festival with lots of lovely people great dances that differ to the main central France dances and more. We would really like to repeat this collaboration and devlop it and hope we can bring them to England. watch www.blowzabella.com for details.
The other main highlight for me was Freya Abbott Ferguson at Sidmouth. particularly the show in the new cabaret venue. We finnished off the evening and had a wonderful response. Included things like 'wonderfully subversive', 'a pleasure to be working in the same venue as that performance' (the bar man....that's never happened before) and more principly about the wonderfully diverse materila brought to life witha witty often hilarious and thought provoking performnace. Not bad eh! Well I love the trio so we need more and more gigs. Recomend us if you can.
The safire project has had two parts and there is one more to go. The first was Lincoln cathedral and the second the Luminarium at Branston. I shall post some of the compositions to the site as soon as I have time. The final stage is a performnace in Sleaford on October 29th. for this I will be composing a new song for a massed intergenerational choir. A solo piece for trombone and a string piece although I as yet don't know if this is for more than one performer. i sadly won't be there for the actual performance as I am in Bath with Blowzabella.
So September is fast upon us and for me that involves a couple of solo gigs, see the gig list and I'll begin composing for Sleaford and having choir workshops as and when they are arranged.
Komposit has another composer/performer showcase on 17th September. the composer has yet to be announced and may well involve yours truely.
Whilst the gigs are on-going I am heavily involved this year in a project called Sa-Fire. This is co-ordinated by Arts NK in Lincolnshire and will be in 3 parts. May saw me writing for various installations and rehearsing a choir with a new song and July will see a 30 minute track for dance music and drama which will be played in an amazing structure called the ‘Luminarium’ , a wonderful tent like thing with hints of cathedral style architecture. There will be performances to go with the piece and the event takes place on 17th July on the Recreation field in Lincolnshire. The last part of the project will be in Sleaford in October.