Mark

Mark who was part of this evenings Clay Chorus group. He played two brilliant songs. I used a bit of monoprint to add shadows to the side of his face. I only used a bit as he was moving and playing his guitar as I was trying to sketch him.

I wish I had his skill and had carried on learning an instrument, it’s great to be able to play things, but my trumpet is staying firmly locked away!

Wet carolling

Very wwet song book

We went out and sang upon our local church green tonight. All of us in masks. We each had a space marked with a CD on the ground. We sang four songs, Good King Wensceslas, Ye Shepherds arise, While Shepherds watched their flocks by night (Cranbrook version) and the St Day Carol (now the Holly bears the Berry…).

There were about seventeen of us getting very wet, but it was great to sing in harmony with people. We didn’t have an audience. But it was great fun.

Look up Penkhull Mystery singers on YouTube if you want to see us in full voice in previous years.

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Sing time

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Tonight was the first time our choir sang (sort of) together…

But of course its not that easy. When you sing with someone else there is a time delay. It’s not possible to sing in time. It’s fine when you are talking but even a slight delay in sound makes everything very strange. Tonight our hosts were a couple who teach us up at the village hall on a Monday.

So we were muted whilst singing, listening along to the hosts and singing our parts. Then unmuted to chat afterwards. And yes we used the now ubiquitous Zoom, but that’s OK.

Then of us got to see each other fit the first time in months, even though it was only cyberspace. Now for a brew.

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Big sing

I went to something called the big sing, organised by a group called appetite this afternoon.

Four choirs including Clay Chorus, Loud Mouth Women, Staffordshire Community choir and Village voices for lung health gathered together alongside members of the public to learn two songs together and also sing from their own repertoire. There were about 110 people singing in the Regent theatre who had allowed us to use the venue for the event.

After two hours learning the songs together we sang our own songs. Then we came together to sing two final songs. There were about 70 people massed together to sing them. We made a big noise in Piccadilly, Hanley. The atmosphere was great. I was so happy to be part of it. I even managed a quick sketch  of the Staffordshire community choir while we waited to go on.

Mystery Music

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Where would the mystery play be without the music. This year as always provided by the brilliant Boatband and Clay Chorus choir.

I don’t want to give away the music or plot too much. But the singing covers dramatic action in the play. I know Clay have been learning the songs for a couple of months now and there are some poignant pieces to illustrate the conditions in the first half of the nineteenth century. We don’t realise just how much things have improved for both adults and children.

I think the audience are in for a treat this year if we all keep our cool and get it right.

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Charity singing day.

I’ve been out all day singing at workshops with various tutors. Then in the evening 16 choirs were involved in a concert to raise money for three charities.

The day started early at a local theatre, groups went off to various changing rooms, bars and the auditorium to learn new songs and vocal techniques. In the same way as artists have different styles so do musicians. The first workshop I attended was called “joy” and it was joyful and bonkers. Fast cheery tunes and ” jazz hands”, it woke us up and some of us even threatened to join the teachers choir. The second workshop I went to was called “raise your voice” and helped us to harmonise and listen to each other while we learnt two folk songs.

In the afternoon around 400 of us.. Yes that many, learned a new song written specially for the day. Based on “let your little light shine” the lyrics were written by a local poet and music by a local musician. The result was filmed this evening when we sang it at the end of the concert.

It should be going on YouTube.

Each choir also sang one or two songs. Some of the singers were in 3 and even 4 of the choirs so they were busy.

We had a satisfying day and I think everyone should be proud of what they did.

Penkhull Wassail

 

There’s not many places in Britain where you can wander round with flaming torches (but no pitchforks). But today we did just that round Penkhull Village. From Penkhull village hall we walked down the road to a garden with an ancient apple tree. The Domesday Morris danced and poured cider over its roots, Wassailing (shouting Wassail) to bless it and get it to flourish in the coming year. Domesday Morris danced, the Clay choir, which I sing with, sang Wassailing songs such as ” The old Cornish Wassail” and “the Penkhull Wassail” ( written by Duncan Bourne). Penkhull village brass band and the Penkhull Ukelele band also played.

Once we had drunk warm cider down at the garden we walked back up the hill and on to the local pubs, the Marquis of Granby, the White Lion, which was closed for some reason. We then went to The Beehive pub on Honeywall which had laid on some sandwiches. Then back across the hill to the Terrace pub and up to the Greyhound pub and Manor Court ale House where we finished singing and dancing. The Morris group were brilliant with their decorated hats, bells and boots. When they start dancing their sticks fly and swirl and clash together in time with the music  So exciting to watch.

We went over to the village hall for hot soup. Some people stayed for a barndance, but as we were tired out we came home to get warm and have a hot coffee.

No monsters or zombies were affected by this Wassail.

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It’s over

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After 5 days and 6 performances we finished singing with the play Beautiful thing tonight. We did two performances today and I’m shattered. We have had a great time though. The choir was accepted by the cast and crew of the play and the New Vic theatre staff. I think we had a wonderful welcome and great support throughout the run.

Now the play is off to Lancaster to run for a week up there. They will be joined by a new community choir. It would be good to go up and see the actual play (we only saw the bits when we were on stage). It had come up from Bristol after a run down there.

So what next? Back to normal. One of the choirs I’m in (Loud Mouth women) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with two musical workshops and a party. Then normal choir practice with Clay chorus the following night.

I’m staggered at how much singing we have done. But it’s been a blast.

Review

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Well we are doing it. Singing to accompany the cast of Beautiful thing. Clay Chorus and some of Loud Mouth women led by Greg Stephens and Kate Barfield. Here I am with the cast members playing Jamie and Ste. I have to say we are having a good time now people are getting over their nerves. We are half way through a run of 6 performances so that’s why I’m not on social media as much. Here is a link to the review of the play .

https://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/whats-on/music-nightlife/review-beautiful-thing-new-vic-2167300

I hope you can follow it.

It’s on at the new victoria theatre, Basford  Newcastle-under-Lyme until Saturday.