TODAY: Songs of Protest at Brockley Max


Copyright Ben Mueller-Brown

 

Vocal Chords are reprising our Songs of Protest repertoire for Brockley MAX Festival today, Sunday 4th June at 3.30.

St Hilda’s Church, Courtrai Road
SE23 1PL

We are joined by Carrie Cohen & Silas Hawkins who will read poems from Arachne Press’ Liberty Tales anthology.

£7 on the door (proceeds to Wheels for Wellbeing)

Books Sales & refreshments available

Carrie Cohen

Songs of Protest


Back in the day, when you went on a march through London – something I did a lot of in my youth, starting with the march against the Corrie Bill, and moving on to Section 28, the Police Bill, Anti-Nuclear marches with CND, Reclaim the Night, anti-cuts marches with various unions, Lesbian Strength, Gay Pride (back when it was really a political march not a fun day out) …gosh so many marches – anyway, way back then, we used to SING, and in local protests more recently (library under threat,  arts venue funding being cut, entire hospital threatened with closure) we’ve gone out and sung too.

I’ve been on a few marches recently, the political climate having taking a heave to the right, and feeling the need to do some shouting in public, but no one is singing anymore.

Why NOT?

There is a fantastic tradition of protest songs, and they are (Usually, from necessity) easy to sing and easy to remember.

And they are fun too.

I’ve been suggesting we do a season of protest songs at Vocal Chords, my regular choir for a couple of years and we have finally done it. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about protest songs in perfect harmony in a church – they should really be rough round the edges and raucous, and full of joy and anger and defiance, and most importantly – outside! However, I’ll take what I can get.

Come and have a listen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 1st April 7pm for 7.30

Holy Trinity Church, 66 Lennard Road SE20 7LX

£7 on the door in aid of Wheels for Wellbeing.

Reprising at Brockley Max festival Sunday June 4th 3.30pm at St Hilda’s Church Courtrai Road SE4.

Vocal Chords Hold Back the River


I may have mentioned that sometimes I sing?

This is me, buried in the tenor section of Vocal Chords in our first professionally produced video

You Tube

of James Bay’s Hold Back the River.

readings this week


Busy week again, singing Monday (Vocal Chords mid-project ‘stop-over’ concert)  and Sunday (rehearsing Brundibar at Blackheath – more on this later), teaching Tuesday, reading Saturday.

So the readings are:

Saturday: Arachne Press event at Keats House – readings from The Other Side of Sleep, and discussion of Narrative Poetry. I’m not reading personally apart form a cheeky 30 second thing, but I am taking part in my role of editor of the book. Readings from Alwyn Marriage, Jennifer A McGowan, Bernie Howley, Sarah Lawson and  Math Jones.

 

Tall ships and icecream floats


It’s been a manic few days, getting the review copies of The Other Side of Sleep out, sorting fliers for the exhibition, hounding people as nicely as I can to support the crowd funding for Solstice shorts. taking the cat the vet, rehearsing the songs Vocal Chords are singing at The Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich at the weekend…

So it’s been lovely to take a break now and then, to track the progress of the ships up from Falmouth on this nifty little map which is updated every hour. We’ve got quite hooked. Most of the ships should be moored up in the Thames at Woolwich and Greenwich by tomorrow, so the thinking is, as we won’t have time on Sunday on account of all the singing, we’ll whisk down to Greenwich in the morning for a quick look, before I head into town for a meeting and some leaflet distribution to likely venues in Highgate.

It’s also been great to read for an hour or two here and there, before sleep, first thing in the morning, or a quiet lunchtime in the garden. I’ve just back-to-backed on Kerry Hudson‘s two novels, Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, and Thirst.
Both excellent gripping books, but the tension racked up in Thirst was so great at times I had to stop reading and return to work to calm my nerves!

Thirst pack shot

Folk. Always


I  have been singing folk carols for something like 6 hours today, because Vocal Chords, my regular (as opposed to occasional forays elsewhere) choir, are doing a recording. Carols in August, why not?

I love folk music. It’s something to do with the ability to tell a story, and not be afraid of really going for it, whether it’s the Dunstan Lullaby which gets its point across in 3 verses (one of which is repeated) of 4 lines, in which only 2 lines change, or something like Anarchy Gordon which goes on telling its deadly tale of lost love, brutality and despair for verse after verse after… (I’ve not counted – 24?) And then there’s the deceptively simple tunes, some designed to be sung solo, some raucously joyful harmonies. I like loads of types of music – I sing in operas, I was in a punk band briefly, but you could say that folk is my default setting.

So when the idea for Solstice Shorts Festival landed pretty much fully formed in my head in January, as soon as I realised that there would be music, folk rose steadily to the top of my list of possibles. Partly because the theme is Time, and I was struggling to find much classical music that was suitable and that I liked whereas folk is chock full of it; partly because it became clear there wasn’t going to be much room so the musical groups needed to be small; partly because so many pop/rock songs we thought would work turned out to have seriously dodgy verses (either plain bad, or offensive).

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund)

Folk is adaptable. That’s why folk carols exist – when the church took against the gallery musicians and insisted on carols that could be directly linked to the bible, the people who had been singing and playing carols since who-knows-when, stood outside the church and sang in protest, moving to the pub when it turned chilly. (Is this really how it happened? Or is it just another good folk story?)

Anyway, the point is, FOLK. so I contacted our friends Sue & Nyge at The Goose is Out and asked for suggestions. So, provided we get our funding, we have folk music happening on 21st December – the Winter Solstice – from Sunrise to Sunset, interspersed with new short stories.

Let me introduce you to our musicians:

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – think of this as the chorus)

Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd

Ian and Sarah are local musicians who delight in blending their voices in live unaccompanied harmony. Their repertoire covers traditional folk songs, including nursery rhymes and the occasional long ballad. Having warmed their vocal chords at The Goose is Out Singarounds, they now regularly sing floor spots at the Goose club nights in Nunhead, Tooting, Sharps and Islington folk clubs and as far afield as the Towersey Festival. In the last year, they have supported both Thomas McCarthy and the Copper Family for sell out nights at the Ivy House Community Pub in Nunhead. Earlier this year, Ian and Sarah performed as a duo at Cecil Sharp House for the launch of the EFDSS Yan Tan Tethera textiles and song project. They are also founder members of the Dulwich Folk Choir.

Shadrack Tye

Shadrack Tye have won critical acclaim from audiences and promoters alike for their performances at venues and festivals in London and around the country. All members of the same family, they perform folk arrangements and original songs bringing to both a multitude of musical influences.Tina and Paul have had long careers playing for top London orchestras and as music educationalists, while Sony artist Sam also sings with vocal jazz harmony group Vive, recently featured on both BBC television and radio.

I look forward to hearing some more of their stuff because it’s different and very, very interesting…..like it very much …

Mike Harding- Folk Show

In their first year out Shadrack Tye were invited to play in the Folk Rising series at Cecil Sharpe House and also performed at the Purbeck, Wessex and Folk Thing festivals.In 2013 they debuted most successfully at the Rochester Sweeps and Broadstairs folk festivals, while this years firsts included Gate to Southwell and  the London Folkfest at the Bedford, Balham as well as an invitation to return to the main stage at the Wessex Festival. More recently they have headlined at venues in London and the south, most notably at the famous Bush Hall in west London.

Last year they achieved multiple radio plays on the Tom Robinson Show, BBC Introducing Mixtape and Mike Harding Folk Show and in addition, after being heard live by the producer of the International Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show, they were given the opportunity to record their much-loved cover of “Big Yellow Taxi” for the Joni Mitchell Special aired in the UK, USA and Canada.

They were also the featured band for Spiral Earth’s “Introducing” article in November 2013.

Their self-released EP – “The Lovers Tale”, was described by Mike Harding as “damn fine” and they are currently creating their next album due for release in 2014.

Rosemary Lippard

Rosemary has been singing British Traditional Music in folk clubs for nearly 3 years now. She often sings unaccompanied but is also in folk duos, with consummate guitarist Tim Graham, and as Country Parish Music with Steven Collins, founder of the Owl Service and Stone Tape Recording. She has played at gigs for The Goose Is Out in South East London, Leigh On Sea Folk Festival, Oxford Folk Weekend, The Islington Folk Club (from whom she won the Trad2Mad award in 2012) and the Green Note Cafe, Camden supporting artists such as Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, Ewan McLennan, Long Lankin, The Askew Sisters, and Jim Causley. Rosemary hopes to be doing a few gigs this September, with Tim Graham, around England and potentially Wales… and for there to be enough gigs to call it a tour…

Pepper and Shepherd

Pepper and Shepherd are James Pepper and Anthony Shepherd. They play intricate, honest folk music on mandolin, guitar, ukulele and harmonies. They formed in 2009 and both live in Peckham, South London.
Their second album, Kings on the Rye was released on last August Bank Holiday. A bittersweet collection of eight original folk songs, written, recorded and produced in a tiny flat on Peckham High Street in the spring of 2013.

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – you are thinking of this as the chorus – yes?)

And finally, and most personally, Summer All Year Long

Summer All Year Long (SAYL) is a group of friends who meet in my living room to sing for the pleasure of it, and sometimes do this in public, usually in connection with an Arachne Press event.

Since January we have been ploughing through what seems like thousands of songs about or related to time, trying things out and rejecting them, or making up arrangements. A lot of wine has been drunk, many, many songs have been discarded, and we are getting very excited about the few that have passed the no-one hates it, we can all sing it, the arrangement sounds great test. Not all of them started out as folk songs, but they are now!

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – We’ll be very grateful and there are loads of fun and interesting rewards…)

 

Songs of the Sea


Well, for a writing blog there’s a heck of a lot about singing on here. This post is no exception.

vocal chords July 19th FlyerVocal Chords, my regular choir, are splashing out in Forest Hill on Saturday July 19th (The only day that week that I’m not rehearsing or performing in Count Ory at Blackheath.

3pm St Saviour’s Church, Brockley Rise, SE23.

£5. Proceeds to Seaman’s Mission and St Saviour’s.

I will also be selling books, though not at the same time as I’m singing (as far as I know!)

There’s a bit of everything, from passionate (Ready for the Storm, Crossing the Bar) to bonkers (Sailor with the Navy Blue Eyes, Under the Sea), by way of traditional (Sea Coal, Haul Away Joe) and lots more.

A fun afternoon out, pretty much guaranteed.