Pre covid, my friend at the Wassail for a local apple tree.
Wassail? An ancient celebration to encourage apple trees to be fruitful again this year. In Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent it is celebrated by our local Morris Dancing team.
Morris Dancing? In ancient times Local groups of men (now anyone can join) used to get together and dress up, wearing boots or heavy clogs on their feet. Dancing to ancient tunes. Sometimes there is a person dressed as a hobby horse (with a large skirt and a carved horse head worn as a mask?) I don’t know enough about Morris history. I’m sure there is a lot of information out there.
So why this photo? It’s blurry, but it was taken at a Wassail. The Morris men were dancing, and the apple tree was beaten with sticks to get it to grow. And amidst it was my friend in his plague doctors mask, Cape and tricorn hat. And today I found it again and thought… Why not?
Take a dried up, broad nib, calligraphy felt pen. Start drawing, watch as the view changes because the line up of images moves when you have the songsheet with the words displayed. Try and sing and draw at the same time! It’s hard to look down at your sketchbook, up at the words, and across to your fellow choir members. I challenged them to try and recognise themselves from these crude sketches.
Today’s #bandofsketchers prompt was ‘case’ so I decided to draw my trumpet in its case. I haven’t practiced for a year, since the first lockdown. I hooe one day to start lessons again… The drawing is very dark as the case is black…
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!
Dr Kathy Bullock ran the afternoon workshop for the Stoke Sings Festival 2021, #ssf21. She was brilliant, giving a history of the slave trade and the way people were transported from Africa across the world as slaves. Dragged from their homes and imprisoned in cells until ships came and took them away. She explained the inhuman ways they were held and treated. Their transportation in ships where they were often thrown overboard if they were sick or had died during the passage. Beaten and tortured. And from this came the spiritual songs people sang as they worked, and later the Gospel songs as they worshipped. The history of African America is so sad and their treatment was and is despicable. They deserve the freedom that some people just have through the luck of birth.
The workshop was wonderful, Dr Bullock’s singing is great. It was so informative and thought provoking.
Tonight we were singing sea shanties and other songs, led by Greg and Kate from the Boatband. Our choir is called Clay Chorus, and every week I spend a little time sketching what’s happening. It can be an object in the room or an image on the screen. I really enjoy doing them….
There seem to be a lot of sea shanties at the moment, there is one, I cant remember the name, about whaling, that is on TicTok or Whatsapp or something. We have learnt a few over the last couple of nights with the choirs I’m in. Just a bit of a chorus. Haul away or something like that. I love singing and we have the lovely Kate from the Boat Band to teach us. Head over to Youtube and you can find their Cajun songs and music there…
Way hay me harties! singing is one of the best ways to relax and enjoy yourself . So many different genre’s .
sleep tight, let the sea be placid, and rock you gently over the deep….
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.