Monday 26 July 2010

Great Day - A Summertyne Gospel Addendum

Since Friday night's fantastic concert , I m quite amazed and the number of songs from the set that keep running through my head . Different ones appear each day , whethere it's "Great Day" or "Daddy Sang Bass" , I'm amazed that these songs are sticking with me.

I knew a few of the songs in other incarnations but the choir sessions have left a lasting impression, due in no small part to the excellent musical education (from the latin educo possibly which means "I Lead") given to us bt Sharon Durant , well supported by the proper choir members in the group.

The image to the left is the choir onstage having a ball with Solomon Burke

Anither great thing that happened is I've recieved emails from other choir members who enjoyed similar experiences to mine. The social contact is well worth the effort.

Will I do it again? Only time will tell , but I tend to keep doing things I enjoy , and this is something I really did enjoy.

Carter Gone

Today the "Get Carter" car park in Gateshead was demolished . An eyesore from the day it was built, to house cars that the residents of Gateshead didnt own , so it became a police parking lot for stolen cars - so no change of emphasis there.

Amazingly I took a photo of it last week (see right) , unaware of the impending demolition , thinking how incongrous it looked squatting above the Sage and the Millenium Bridge.

So now the only way to see it is to buy yourself a copy of Get Carter (see below) , the Michael Caine one of course , not the Sylvester Stallone aberation.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Finally On Stage at The Sage

This saga would be ideal for an episode of Sesame Street , dominated by the letter "S" , Summertyne , Solomon Burke , Sharon Durant the choir leader, The Sage, and the lovely Sally Kat who organised and also sang in the choir as well as letting me tag along.

The final rehearsal was on Thursday , and again Sharon tooks us through the warm up , and the songs , cueing the four or five parts for each song and getting everyone to sing and sound absolutely heavenly . The members of the choir were extremely professional and able , and unfortunately I didnt get anyones name , but who knows . Luckily I was fairly close to a pleasant bearded chap called Gary who really could sing , so tried to follow what he did.

In the last rehearsal the choirs had organised a presentation of some beautiful flowers for Sharon and Sally for all the amazing effort that had gone into this venture.

Finally we made the stage , no dressing rooms for us , just waiting in the corridor waiting to come on. As always with these events , you practice and work for weeks and as you step out , even as a group of 80-90 strong the nerves still get you , and then suddenly it's over - half an hour goes by in a second. Sharon metaphorically held our hands and guided us through the set from "Daddy Sang Bass" to the closer "Great Day" , each bringing amazing applause from a packed Hall One at the Sage. Here's a tour of Hall One if you've never been there.

Afetr that it was sit back and enjoy the superb "Phantom Limb" and country . soul , blues band with a stunnig lead singer more that ably backed by a bunch of superb musicians. Below is a video from them on Balcony TV.

Then finally , the headliner , Solomon Burke with a band featuring his youngest daughter Candy as band leader - who got here own spot when she sang Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and his 37th grand daughter (forgot her name) who stunned us with a cracking rendition of Dorothey Moore's "Misty Blue".

Solomon held the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish , resplendent in his sparkly suit on his majestic throne , still the true king of "Rock and Soul" . Stand outs for me were "Nashville" and the Atlantic medley , but the growd were jumping , clapping , dancing , problem being after clapping through a number your hands are too sore to applaud!!

Finally the choir were invited on stage to back Solomon on "None of us are Free"and we stayed on to back him on a rock and roll medley includin "Proud Mary" , Lucille" , Tutti Frutti" and a few others.

The concert closed with "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" which ran in to "The Saints".

Some other nice touches to the night is that Solomon gave Sharon the microphone during "None of Us Are Free" and all the girls I went with got a rose from Solomon. One of the greatest nights for a long long time and I wont be forgetting it. If you get the chance go and see this man.

Saturday 17 July 2010

I'll Fly Away - Summertyne Gospel Choir Penultimate Rehearsal

This was the first rehearsal at the Sage (pictured above in the Thursday Evening Sunshine) , but had to cut this short due to a pre arranged appointment with the Legendary Shack Shakers at The Cluny across the river. The first time I met , ever so briefly Sally Kat , one of the driving forces behind this.

Tonight Sharon took us through the loosening up excercises , before going into "I'll Fly Away" , which sounds a very slight , but pleasant piece. The Men's part sounds incredibly simple , no words , providing a rhythm singing "dum , dum , dum" in tune and time - should be a doddle . But it's one of the most difficult things I've had to do with the choir , just because it's physically difficult to keep it up , so to speak . But it still came out sounding gorgeous.

Secondly we did "Great Day" with the welcome map reference of having some words to sing and remember !! At the end of this had to take my leave and cross the Tyne to check out the Shack Shakers who provided a completely antithetic (is that a word - it is now) end to the night.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Bring A Little Water, Sylvie - Summertyne Gospel Choir 3rd Rehearsal

This is the third rehearsal I've attended and still out of my depth but managing to fit in , I hope. This time we were at the Durant Hall (no not Sharon's house) Unitarian Church in Newcastle and this was a five hour run (10-4 with lunch break). The picture on the right is Sharon in the pulpit after several of the many choir members were unable to see her. She cut a great figure leading the choir from "on high" so to speak , fairly appropriate given the nature of most of the music we are performing!!

One of the songs I'd loved from the list we were doing is Leadbelly's "Bring A Little Water Silvie" , Sharon' arrangement here , it goes with saying is gorgeous , so had to track down the original. which is here accompanying this video!!:

One of my problems is getting the versions of songs out of my head that I know. "Daddy Sang Bass" I hear Johnny Cash , "The Circle Wont Be Broken" , I hear as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" which I first heard by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

"I'll Fly Away" was featured in the Coen Brothers retelling of Homer's Odyssey as a jailbrak during the thrities depression in the deep south, as was "Down To The River To Pray" used to stunning effect in the Redemption Sequence. Amazingly the whole of the sequence vcan be watched here - "Come on In Boys, The Water is Fine!":

Friday 9 July 2010

If One Of Us Is Chained....

Last night was my second rehearsal with the Summer Gospel Choir in preparation for the gig supporting Solomon Burke at the Sage as part of the Summertyne Festival. Agin Sharon Durant showed incredible , leadership , patience and creativity in getting the best out of the choir based around the Customs House singers. The standards vary from my own inept attempts (though not so bad that they want rid .... yet), to the absolutely heavenly probably peaking with Sharon's almost angelic tones which pave the way for everyone else !!!

Last night we ran through the complex arrangement of "Daddy Sang Bass / Will The Circle Not Be Broken" , which still confuses me as I keep thinking of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", but that's just me.

Then we tackled Solomon's "Not Of Us Are Free" , and I got slightly worried when I thought I might be singled out as a potential expert on the song !! But got through without a hitch.

We finished up with "I'll Fly Away" which our lot ended up with the percussive vocal part which is very difficult to execute .

There's three more rehearsals before the big night . sofingers crossed I'll make through to the final concert.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Your Own Inflatable Pub!!

In work today , my mate Jon pointed out this amazing idea , your own inflatable pub? How mad is that. Princes start at a mere four grand for a shed sized one to twenty eight grand for the luxury Hogshead. Drinkstuff are pushing this leisure addition that will enhance and field or unused piece of garden that you have. The website is here.

Of thats not the only thing they have on the site , but if anyone has one of these you have to let us know.

The features of this pub include:

• Can be erected in less than 10 minutes by 4 adults
• Can be installed on any flat surface
• Features 2 fire places
• Internal artwork includes dart board

I mean an inflateable pub with a dart board and fireplaces - What can you say to that?

Sunday 4 July 2010

Celebrate Indepenence With Tea, Cookies and Ice Cream

After the success of National Record Shop Day , RPM in Newcastle decided to throw a free mini festival to celebrate Independence Day with setd from several independent bands . The advertising on the right was brilliant - some chalk instruction on Grey Strret at the entrance to High Bridge!! Being to the total wimp that I am , I only clocked the first four bands , but the standard was excellent and the setting sublime despite the weather changing from one moment to the next alternating between rain and sunshine with a bit of rain.

I must apologise that I dont know the names of any of the RPM staff but they are a great lot and very helpful . They provided tea and cookies to anyone who wanted , the cookies freshly baked by a lovely young RPM girly who was also doing the raffle. I think her talants expand much further than what she was doing today - but her cookies are to die for!! The tea and cookies set up is to the left.

Also one of the guys came out dispensing ice cream in wafers during the sets , how good is that !! Amazing how many people declined but I had two , though ended up with sticky fingers as a result of the ice cream melting!!

The Running Order was as below. Click on the names to hit the myspace page and hear what you missed:

In the same universe as Mumford and Sons , melodic and imaginate use of percussion and mandolin , well worth going to see if you can catch them . The weather suited them and as all the band were great crowd plaeasurs and good to talk to after the gig.

Impressed me as the first band I'd seen sporting a cornet (woodwind not ice cream) sing Roxy Music on the Old Grey Whistle Test around 1971. Reminded bme a bit of Elbow , songs maybe a bit downbeat , but were self deprecating and had some good banter . Would recommend them , and again good company after the gig.

This excellently named upbeat combo were fromted by a guy with a most amazing moustache , with a vaguely rockabilly feel . Visually great and got the crowd going , didnt get a chance to chat , as it was almost home time for me.

The last band I heard , and the loudest on the day . New order type feel for this three piece.
Sorry didnt get to see these.

All in all an excellent day , looking forward to the next one

Saturday 3 July 2010


Today attended the International Friendship Festival / Wahington Kite Festival with some great friends. I've never been able to fly a kite so to see the sort of skills on display here today was jaw dropping. There were things that should just be impossible , but people were doing it. Apparently its all in the preparation !!. Well I could probably do a decent impression of a Kamikaze Kite!! Here's their website that in true local authority style manages to give no directions on how to get there (check these maps of Sunderland) but there is a good picture of a kite !!

Anyway took some video , and despite the fact that my camera uses Apple's idiot MOV format that Microsoft Movie Maker imports but then outputs a nice black screen from , I've put together some footage of the absolutely amazing stuff we saw today . Soundtrack is "Kites" by Simon Dupree and The Big Sound (who later became Gentle Giant) and can be downloaded here. Enjoy...

Friday 2 July 2010

None of Us Are Free....

But I come quite cheaply.....

Yesterday I signed up for The Gospel Choir , who will be on the same stage as the King of Rock and Soul , Solomon Burke. While I knew of Solomon Burke he only burst into my musical sphere when he released the album "Don't Give Up On Me" which contains the excellent "None of Us Are Free". This was sceduled in for the Gospel Choir to perform , But Mr Burke wishes to sing the song himself with the Gospel Choir, this is beyond my wildest expectations. Here's him in 2003 on Top of The Pops with Steve Wright getting the description correct for once:

Heres a link to Emusic that will allow you to download the 2002 album with a free trial.

Anyway I 've joined up with the Gospel Choir half way through rehearsal , and choir consists of outsiders like me, a core of the Custom House house choir , and various memebers of other choirs including a student called Lauren who guessed I was going there as she noticed me dropping my sheet music as I dozed on the Metro !! I was gonna get a taxi but she guided me straight there and told me where to sit , with the half a dozen men , among the multitude of ladies!!

The Choir is led by Sharon Durant , who's voice is the purest I've heard since Joan Baez and that's saying saying something . Her choir website is here , which gives details of what's happening as well as link to "Mouthful" , the accapella group that she is a member of.

Sharon's voice alone deserve's a page article , but she is leading this thing, arranging all the parts for all the different parts of the choir , singing those parts out for the groups to sing , and then getting everyone to sing their parts and bring them together to make a harmonious whole. The work , skill , talent , and enthusiasm of this lady is a wonder to behold .

Last night we worked though "Down To The River To Pray" and "Daddy Sang Bass / Will The Circle" . I started with sheet music and lyric sheets , but Sharon is so good that she had me ditching the paper and following her, and I'm not that hot on the old remembering front!! The music Sharon has lined up consists of a wide ranging spread of Old Time Americana featuring arrangements of traditional material as as Leadbelly and Carl Perkins songs.

Anyway this is Day One from me , working towards the night on the 23rd of July which we join the bill with Mr Burke. When I left I needed to get to North Shields and missed the ferry by two minutes resulting in a half hour wait in a deserted Ferry Terminal , but saw some amazing cloud formations , so maybe even that was worth it...

If you fancy the concert , there's a link to a two for one ticket offer here.