The Masquerade Ball


Featherstone Castle
Northumberland
12th-13th November, 2021


Friday 12th November

The first party I had attended since January 2020, Of course, it was an important one. Parties at Featherstone Castle always are, so maximum preparation was in order, my lift wasnae arriving till 6pm. So had a full day to look my best. My Covid Test was negative and the absence of Party in my life was about to be rectified with a whole gathering of beautiful people that I havenae seen for two years. I knew that it was going to be a wonderful Bohemian experience.

My faithful carriage arrived on time, thankyou Cal Howland, a new friend made, and we were off in an electric car, another Divine first. Gliding down south with a stop in Carlisle to charge up the battery, we eventually arrived at our destination at 9.00pm sharp. I was so happy and ready to boogie, trousers and knickers off, kilt on and ready for the amazing Cenote Soundsytems that would provide sonic fidelity in three rooms for the duration of our entertainment. Happy Smiley people abound. Everyone knew that this was going to be a good one.

DJ Falex warmed up The Blue Room spinning golden oldies on the wheels of steel to take the groove through till Saturday. I hopped through to the ballroom for a catch-up and natter with Summer Lawson and we had some Healing time on the comfy couch as Hungry 4 Apples took to the stage, a brilliant band of musicians that hail from my native Yorkshire, wonderfully fronted by the gifted singer, Nathan Pies, and no strangers to the Castle.

This band of merry Yorkshiremen have gifted us with their collective muse in years past. After a two year break from performing live they brought Rock N Roll finesse to the Ballroom in fine form. The saying ‘a break is as good as a rest’ certainly rang true, & I was totally transfixed by this sterling performance for the entire duration. The last Song had me in raptures of joy with the perfect flavours of Primus. Hungry 4 Apples really do have something special.

By 3am I was growing weary and in need of a bit of rest and recuperation, so I returned to the Annex for a bit of a rest. Divine’s Sober now, so was pacing myself. I knew that I was on fire duty all day Saturday and the coming night I was very very excited for. Minerva Wakes, Erb And Ting and Sex Cakes. Three bands that Divine had been patient to review for some time and as if by magik all three were to be Gracing The Ballroom that coming night. Yeeeha.


Saturday 13th November

As Dawn Broke and the Autumnal Sun began to rise, I went to check the wood situation out. Hmmmm… indeed there was enough to cover the three fires upstairs and the Hearth in the Dungeon. Divine does take pride in his fire duties and keeping all the revellers warm is in Divine’s nature. It was a lovely day and the rolling green of Featherstone’s grounds were just breathtakingly beautiful (Sigh ❤ ) So I stocked up three wheelbarrows full and tended to the castle fires. Making sure each was glowing heartily, at mid day, I went for a shower and freshen up, a bit of a powernap before Mel Tiger Cats DJ Performance and yes it was a lovely skilled master mix of Disco Classics from the vaults of yesteryear further warming up a cozy Blue Room.

It was just as the Drum N Bass was revving up in the dungeon I lit the fire in the Hearth, making sure it was glowing heartily. Divine headed to witness the bill of pectacular Rock N Roll Brilliance that was about to unfold. But first it was Dinner time as performance artists and revellers rejoiced on hearty Fare, MacNCheese with a choice of Vegan, Vegetarian and meaty options available, along with some really really yummy heart and belly warming soup. Another 5 Star performance from The Masquerade Party Kitchen Crew.

To begin proceedings Minerva Wakes took to the stage of The Ballroom to deliver spoken word and contemporary performance art in a rather brilliant way. Minerva Wakes a one Woman powerhouse of creativity called Jo D’Arc, a lady who also plays Bass for the legendry Girobabies and fronts the sibling duo and power garage rock band “The Twistettes.” This is why my anticipation for this performance was so huge; Minerva Wakes I hadnae witnessed before so this is why it was extra special. The Castle Party Massive were blessed with a very entertaining Bohemian hour of brilliance, Trip-Hop Theatrical Amazingness and the debut of Minerva Wakes’ forthcoming album. This was the 5 Divine Star Opener of a night of 5 Star entertainment, Absolutely Brilliant.

During the intermission, I did a round of fire tending, stoking the fires and feeding them with the lovely Featherstone wood, grabbed a coffee and headed back to The Ballroom comfy couch to bear witness again to genuinely gifted talent. Now this one was a total surprise and completely new to Divine; a band (again from Yorkshire – Good Time! its always a good thing) called Masi Masi, fronted by a multi -talented instrumentalist. With the voice of an angel, called Joe McGrath, this young man would put Jamiroquai to shame, an absolute gifted soul. Another Star within The Ball Room, Massi Massi and Joe McGrath are gonna be massive… talent such as this always rises to the top.

This next performance I knew was going to be massive; Erb N Ting fronted by Groove Armada’s MC Mike Daniels on lead vocals and Jen Lynn Davis on supporting vocals. With the guitar and electronic wizardry of Al Roberts how could this not be a brilliant thing to witness, further blessing the Castle Massive with Rock N Roll brilliance. Jen blew me out of the water with her vocal range, totally complimenting Mike’s genius with a voice that appeared to be channelling Amy Winehouse. Honestly, this was the best night of my life since Groove Armada Headlined Lindisfarne. Erb N Ting even closed the set with Groove Armada’s classic, Superstyling. Absolutely brilliant and all in The Ball Room of musical delight.

As you can guess I was having the musical equivalent of Kundalini rising on the mega talent rammed night of excellence and just as I was thinking could it be any more brilliant, Sex Cakes took to the stage and climaxed with a performance that was just absolutely out of this world. Like all the bands on this stella line up, this was my first time of seeing them live. Oh my, how blessed could we be. Fronted by The Duchess, a poignant voice of truth that tells it as it is with no punches barred. This Goddess has something to say and it needs to be heard and indeed it will be. (All-Seeing. All-knowing Thats Divine ❤ ) And that’s just the lyrical prowess.

The Lynch Pin is the Electronic Mastery, Synths, Beats and Guitar by The Ploughman, a superior take on electronica in league with Orbital and Underworld, powered along with the Punk Rock power bass lines of The Baron. A collective of genuine performance art genius. No one was expecting this, performance art that is dynamite. Imagine Underworld with something to say words and beats that naturally grabs one attention with a resounding Yes!. Absolute Musical and performance art mastery. This was the climax to a night and weekend of performance art Orgasms, bubbling with delight insight and Bohemian Mastery. A night that moved my World and all I had witnessed for the first time in the flesh and not on a screen. Indeed the Cream Of The Crop Graced The Ballroom of 2021’s Masquerade Ball. A night that will enrich our souls forever.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

An Interview with Sam McGowan


Hitting pipes with Flip Flops has proven to be a great success for JunNk. The Mumble caught up with the man behind it all


Hello Sam, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Hello! Currently I am sitting in sunny Florida, enjoying being back in America after not being able to visit for so long due to the pandemic. I was born in Essex, England but live in the south in the heart of the New Forest.

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
As a kid, I was always a part of some amateur dramatic group; but it was when I first started studying Performing Arts at Brockenhurst College and being immersed with other talented performers where I thought this is something I wanted to do.

Can you tell us about your training?
My musical training is all self-taught, I learnt to play guitar first, and used this skill through school and college for bands and musical theatre shows, which increased my love of the arts. However, it was when I started JunNk that I learnt how to play drums and piano. A ‘learning on the Job’ approach; I knew early on that JunNk had the potential to be huge, so I didn’t want to hold back.

By 2021 you have become quite the polymath – a performer, producer, director, and manager. Why so many strings to your bow?
I have always strived for success in everything that I do; I want to deliver the best, which led me down a path of learning as much as I could, expanding my skills and knowledge in order to have the best understanding of everything I was involved in.

I started JunNk in 2008 with 3 of my best friends, from a performance point of view it was a 25% split on stage, however everything behind the scenes needed a lot more attention, everything from running the business, marketing, branding, bookings to building the equipment, arranging the music, casting additional performers. The list goes on, I quickly adapted the ability to do it all and I loved it. Producing and directing more JunNk shows as we started expanding, creating new ideas and opportunities for the company. It was, and still is, a rush and my passion for the show and my determination to ever expand makes it all worth it!

So, what for you makes a good piece of theatre?
For me, it is about being able to create a world that you can immerse yourself into, a complete interactive experience; I want to forget about everything else except what I am watching.

You’re also quite an award winner – can you run us through a few?
JunNk first won a Sky 1, TV show called Don’t Stop Me Now back in 2012 which was the start to our awards. Following that we went on to win the ‘Act of the Year’ award for our corporate engagements in the UK in 2013. Our Edinburgh fringe debut in 2016 led to us win the ‘Spirit of the Fringe Award’; fast forward to 2019 and our debut at the Orlando Fringe where we won 3 awards; Best Family Show, Pick of the Fringe and Best Marketing.

On to JunNk; where, when how & why did you get the initial impulse to create the show?
JunNk started as a college project, and we had a dance exam for part of our performing arts course; collectively we weren’t the best dancers, so we created a very basic form of JunNk to get past the exam.

It was laid to rest after college until we entered a competition on ITV’s tv show Dancing on Ice, they were searching for an act to tour with the production show; I pulled the guys together to take part and we were placed 5th overall. We then entered a local talent competition in Bournemouth, we came runners up however a talent scout watched our performance and later offered us some work if we could create a 45-minute show. This was the starting point to the creation of the JunNk you see today.

Can you give us an overall picture of the JunNk experience?
Truly like nothing you’ve ever seen before; using various items commonly found in a junkyard, the four hilarious performers energetically combine superb acappella singing, captivating percussion, innovative musical creations and mesmerising gymnastics to produce a lively, dynamic and fun show that consistently delights audiences of all ages and nationalities.

From using bottles as panpipes and watering cans as trumpets, to playing well-known tunes on drain pipes with flip flops and a PVC tube as a didjeridoo, a show that really is a unique and sensational whirlwind of pure entertainment that should definitely not be missed!

So its essentially a ‘rubbish-powered variety show’- how do the audiences react in every age group?
We have been very selective with the variety that we add to the show to make sure we can reach a wide spectrum of ages. The show is perfect for all and due to the lack of spoken word also makes it popular internationally for all cultures!

Who writes the material for the show – the jokes, the comedy, etc.?
The material normally starts with a basic idea, a song, a sketch etc and then we would workshop it in a rehearsal; essentially if we found it funny it would go in the show. Quite a lot of the show was generated by me and some of the guys just messing around. When it comes to the music, depending on the songs I would arrange some and bring them to a rehearsal and we would ‘JunNk-ify’ them.

Since its inception, then, how has the show evolv’d?
Most things have a ‘sell by date’ so I try to keep most things updated and current, some bits of material continually do well with the audience so have become classic parts of the show. The biggest part of the show that evolves is the creation of instruments, I’m constantly coming up with new ways to make music, building more equipment to deliver even more unique ways to make sound!

Tell us about China & Abu Dhabi?
Even though JunNk is based in the UK, we have done more tours in China and Abu Dhabi than England; both countries are unbelievable, I love them, and our show is always so well received. Incredible theatres and amazing people, I cant wait to get back over and tour them again.

So Covid. How big an obstacle did it prove to JunNk’s progress?
Live entertainment has certainly been one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, with ongoing and ever-changing restrictions plaguing its full comeback. Even in a pre-covid world, the entertainment business is far from easy, with live entertainment usually operating on a last-in, first- out basis, often being seen as a disposable luxury for most events. The pandemic caused the JunNk to lose two year’s worth of contracts overnight. Like many, the company was devastated, however persistence and determination managed to keep the company alive and growing and we are coming back stronger than ever!

In the dark days of the Lockdowns, did you ever feel like you wanted to give it all up?
Honestly Yes, but that was on a cold dark winter’s evening during a power cut… it didn’t last! I then lit the fire and got to it. I turned to the digital age and quickly grew a TikTok following of eighty thousand followers, generating over ten million views. This was the spark I needed to kick JunNk into our post covid gear and start to get the show back out there.

Tell us about your collaboration with Dana McKeon?
This started as a covid project, I met Dana while we were both performing on a cruise, she’s an incredible artist. We had similar goals and an equal passion for creating music, we started by covering Justin Timberlake’s – Cry me a River before deciding to write an original song together. We put our heads together and wrote ‘Love Language’ where I mixed the original sound of JunNk and the beautiful vocals from Dana to write a commercial pop / tropical house song. Love Language made it into the top 10 in the Malta PRS charts. Me and Dana have more in the pipeline so keep those eyes peeled.

You’ve now got an eye on America – what stokes the interest & what are your Transatlantic plans?
So I started JunNk in Orlando, FL in 2018, we have 2 teams that are set for Cruises, theme parks and theatres, touching a market that we hadn’t been able to do with the UK team. America offers a world of opportunities, we have strong connections with Disney due to the Cruises we have done with them over the years, so we are now working closely with another production company to open as many opportunities as possible. A very exciting time that’s for sure.

& Finally, you’ve got 20 seconds to sell your show to a stranger in the street – whaddayasay?
JunNk the manic love child of Stomp and the Blue Man Group, come immerse yourself in our zany world of comedy and music.


www.junnk.co.uk

Mid Life Krysis @ Room 2


Mid Life Krysis
Room 2, Glasgow
4th November, 2021


Room 2 is an up and coming Glasgow venue, just round the corner from George Square. The basement room spreads out at the bottom of the stairs, making it a basement venue. On this dark and wintery night it was host to a promotional evening involving four acts that were as different as polar opposite in style of music.

I was personally there to see the Steven Vickers’ hip-hop creation, Mid Life Krysis. This would be my own second listening of his act that he is constantly touring with. I met him on a trip to Arran where he performed at a house in a behind-the-scenes kind of evening.


Steven’s genius in full flow

At the Room 2 gig his act was second to perform, after a folk music duo on guitar. But Steven’s gig set list was enough for a concert all of its own. His now well-chiselled style was all about breaking free from any and all limitation in ruckus libations of complete rap and soul. His accent enhanced his outbreak of intentions, and gave the whole space room to venture into his whipped up ideas that he classes his lyrics and determines his beats upon.

So it was fit for dancing, zoning out with a power mixed in on almost a heavy techno level. He was the perfect artist, struggling with himself, and with the lies he sees all around him all the time. Using his musical venture and prowess to complain but also having a sharp cutting edge on things in life in his own Mid Life Krysis.

A booming sound coupled with comical, serious, ironic and even street level streams of a hard hitting hip hop. He was alone on the stage with only his music to go on, and his dance was something like an antagonism, almost like a fully dressed African standing ready for war.

The crowd was enamoured to his beats of progression, and there were rumours flying about because out man Steven is more than a struggling artist but the vein of songs dealt with very real perturbations of isolation, being homeless, and many themes that cut to the bone.



He magically interweaves it all into a heightened state of affairs managing to gut him-self while also creating a performance and a good time for his up and coming audiences through thriving through his musical genre.

The liveliness was quite the thing for a solo act managing to cram a great night out into a matter of an hour. We took it in with a good enthusiasm and did our best not to feel sorry for all the lines he has come up with. Lyrics that on their own would seem devastating but when put passionately to music and his composition where well travelled and we hope he’ll have the realisation that he was not suffering them alone.

But it’s good to hear someone saying it like it is, unafraid to confront the living daylights out of it by using music. All of which he does with nothing less than bravado and accomplishment. A zesty, dancy time for adult consumption he offers a conundrum of musical spheres and untold life experience.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts

Ivor Klayman

St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh
10 – 14, 16 – 17, 19 – 21, Aug, 2021


The heavens opened as I reached Edinburgh on Monday, but my spirits were not deterred. I approached the great Edinburgh Cathedral St Mary’s not far from Haymarket, for my first live Fringe excursion for two years I arrived early and in my prep I strolled the soaking grounds and entered the peaceful and magnificent building. The free, short concert between the larger than life Ivor Klayman (a native from Edinburgh) in baritone and on piano his compatriot Nancy Crook who navigated her way through Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire. We were very quiet and attentive.

It was the softest music to the ears as they played Schubert’s An die music, and Der musensohn and into Schumann with poems by Heine. It was sung in German where I could pick out things here and there but just as in operatic operates we found the gist to be in the tones of his baritone and the fleeing of the piano.

The well experienced voice had so very soothing and gentle a tone. He sang without a mic which really added a very personal touch essential in portraying the songs that were about sadness and joy and pain and happiness. Themes that still exist for us 100’s of years later. And the realised music was not lost on us, played as fresh as the date it all originally performed on.

He stood there throat and body open to the songs, a small figure with a large character next to Nancy seated and engrossed in the piano work. It really felt good to simply listen to this music in a dry and relaxed environment of a Cathedral who sees many visitors.

We can go into a musical concert like this to enjoy in whatever way you’d like. I personally closed my eyes for a bit and the music was no less potent if not more so as I sat with a clearer and clearer sense, what wonder music is. If you enjoy classical, opera, piano in any form, the human voice raised to emerge from the singer.

The Cathedral will be hosting other such performances for a few more dates. For me it was a most relaxing start to this wet but promising day. I was at ease and soothed in a no pressure gig of only the greatest quality. Thanks to St Mary’s in Edinburgh, and I hope you fill the seats.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

The Road Ahead


Brighton Fringe
28th May – 27th June


For today’s hour at the Brighton Fringe we were met with two musicians sitting in a meadow with guitars and mandolins surrounded by pine trees on the sky line. This set was called very aptly ‘The Road Ahead’ a title they came up with after being asked for by the festival. They came up with it almost on the spot but it suited the nuances of the twos music very well.

They were called ‘Glorieta Pines’ and their show was presented by ‘flying solo presents.’ On fiddle & mandolin was Lindsay Taylor and on guitar and harmonica was the enthusiastic Brian Nelson. Coming from the hills of New Mexico the sweet and tender music of Glorieta was fit for the pine trees around them.

Their songs and musical styles were strongly country but Brian in his wisdom called it folk music. Their warmth and friendly perspectives helped the stringent styles become unified by bond ship. As in their music it was clear that they had practiced well, having formed together for a long while.

The songs had the feeling of the nature of birds on hills and buffalo in the fields. And in a worldly concept they sang freely and outspokenly about life’s more precarious aspects. They sang with joy together; harmonising to make the sounds of their voices become so emotionally complete at least for a moment.

The style of lyric was of storytelling as is with folk music, but also played around with their positive outlooks and even giving advice as if for the road. They began with a wonderful song to sing with the lyric “love don’t come this way anymore.” As to her harmony with “will we ever see the sun?” and “love comes once, twice…slipped away again”. We felt the release coming from the music as it celebrated its forthcoming naturalness, especially with the surroundings. It was nothing less than a picture of happiness.

Their desire to be serious came from their abilities on their instruments. They swapped those instruments to suit the music that was folk music in its finest senses. Owning as they did themselves and their style, their original songs worked so well and had the strength and will to carry on; even if we may be stuck. The two were companions; they levelled each other off and with their music delved into the beyond that so well expressed their capability of living brightly, as their songs reflected.

They were both easy, even loving, and had a feeling of togetherness and knowingness that was of something special, relevant and in love with music. Singing for old age and whisky, it was a scene inside of a scene making music of such compassion as to change a world. Very relaxing like visiting a spa, the footage from America fitted in and set the scene with some truly great music.

Daniel Donnelly


Watch: The Road Ahead

Area Of A Circle



Dundee Rep
Fri 28th May, 2021


A big Hello from the Dundee Rep, for which this evening’s entertainment compiled a two hour session for friends and loved ones. The camera angle revealed a large space with 4 round tables seating four or five people a space for the set and a large screen for the film footage of special Dundee conversations between Kathryn and her respective acts. At first things seemed unorganised and speedily done.

Kathryn Joseph

But after a short introduction by Kathryn she introduced the first act by interviewing (very personally) with stories and experience’s taken in by friend and compatriot Andrew Wasylyk. They took a stroll through Balgay Park talking about childhood, memories and of course good times. sharing blossom, flowers, nature and its great healing qualities.

The piano/ violin that were the first act performed by Andrew were very slow and melodic. And in a certain way sounded lament like, with see through visuals of water. Then taken up was the trumpet that always creates an instant third dimension but still held to the music of the piano. And as the cello, joined the footage changed to scenes of mass gatherings, with the very soft music turned to visuals of tugs of war and children’s see saws.

It was an extended song telling its own soulful story, as we were guided by the footage of birds and crying. When the ongoing song held a single note it really claimed the performance. As each note passed we also felt the sense that each one had meaning for the artist something like conceptual.

Strolling around the Ferry with Sion Parkinson whom Kathryn got on well with was in a very relaxed manner; an encounter of deep friendship. He selflessly told us of his diagnosis of epilepsy he had been given during lock down in 2020. He was speedily diagnosed and put on medication that he said changed his life.

Sion Parkinson

His songs spoke of the inner experiences of suffering the condition, explaining the overpowering smells and noises he will have to live with. He was upright and accepting of these things coming from this change of life. He played his instances on his piano and what came out took us to the heart of the problems that come with his different world. He wore a mask like/helmet like which was made of shredded paper. I don’t think it was really to hide himself away, more like it was another root of his outlandish performance. It was so accomplished in being able to strikingly control the music to inform us of the outlandish experience. Notes that held strange and gruelling passages and screams like torture again strikingly composed for the very toughest of reality.

The structure of the evening was now in full flow in a momentum of story and song. There was a feeling of tradition but in no way was the music constrained to that. As Kathryn interviewed Lu Shaw otherwise known as SHHE, they took a walk down memory lane (literally) where her album has been done, it was an introduction compelling and familiar.

It was Kathryn’s night, she was the ring master of idea and thought but she would also go very deeply into the overall evening before the end. There were layers and depths created in an extraordinary way through closeness and to reiterate love.

SHHE

For SHHE the sound was sparse and star like, it was enthroned and uneasy. Using a synth to create the least possible notes to the completion of what music is itself. For a while no speaking or talking only vibe notes held to the greatest possible length and seeming distance. And when singing she attuned to the notes being expressed. She had the gig in her hands with the sound of widened expression. The room was darker with only two lights on so she loomed there as the small audience silently took it in. There were tones like a phone dial or a soft siren to leave us compelled.

Kathryn told us of her nervous anticipation at the thought of doing what she loved, and how she felt was most important for music the aspect of making it live. She relaxed took her seat for a solo performance. Her songs were short and included lyrics that would overwhelm you if you thought about them for too long. We could see her capability for the much experienced live act she has to go on. Her voice had shrills, whispers, passion and heartbreak.

Her styles transposed her story like lyrics with the cool thump of the piano keys. She in her time as an artist had won awards in the world of music. She simply sits with a telling smile and a content frown keeping us up with her well travelled world, her love for life and her song making. Sharing disparaging comments on the great and highly personal music of the poignant, playful precision sound of the human voice and its companion the piano.

We were just getting used to the number of songs when she would finish and take it away from us. Then she was soon to restart another pain ridden, love strong song from the heart of the artist’s life. “You do not know me, and never will”, “You don’t want me”, “It sounds like…blood has spilled.”, were words of seeming torture for the enchanted works of every song.

She played her songs that could only be as an entrance to living in her playful, deductive sincere and wrought (at least in idea) self. Bringing a presence to the stage of open and real time music with untold and forthcoming stories. Powerful styles that through her song invited us to be pulled alongside her. She was inclusive and strikingly not so, truthful, unbearing. It was a venue where music is the encounter it should be like magic and fire yet dowsing that fire with completeness. We felt gratitude and even blessing in her informal yet decisive performance.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Preview: The Skaparis At Easter Promo


SR Shindigs LTD

presents

Saturday 3rd April, 2021


The timing could not be better for this Easter’s performance by the internationally acclaimed Skaparis, a Manchester based orchestra, in a global livestream filmed at the Lighthouse in Salford and going online on the 3rd April.

Using the Old Norse word meaning to create, the ensemble was formed in 2016 by the highly thought of Simon Robertshaw. The group were soon to become much admired in the public arena. In November 2018, only 2 years since its inception, they performed with another titan of the music world, Gary Numan. Skaparis received acclaim from critic and fan alike.

The April 3rd global livestream will involve the performance of 3 pieces that are set to cheer up a claustrophobic public who are in as much need of being entertained as the performers and organisers are to putting it on in this event.

First to perform will be ‘Les Elemens’ by Jean Fery Rebel, originally a Symphony whose world premier was in 1737. His writing has become popular again in recent decades. Les Elemens was a piece written about the 4 elements of the universe; earth, water, air and fire. Then there will be a violin sonata in G by Mozart from the 1700’s consisting of 2 movements, 1. Allegro con Spirito (cheerful in spirit), and 2. Allegro (a straight forward happiness).

The third piece will be the 13th century Christian Hymn ‘Stabat mater’ all about the saddest of occurrence of Mary suffering the crucifixion of her beloved son. Called ‘Sabat Mater’ brought to us by Battista Pergolesi. The evening is a set of Robertshaw’s orchestra that will show the capability of a modern orchestra who are so well accomplished that they can showcase any genre of music. It will be yet another chapter in the progress of a phenomenal group who are flying through the world of music with unstoppable momentum.


Date: Saturday 3rd April 2021 – 19:00 – 21:00 (introduction and interviews from 19:00)

Tickets: Global livestream tickets are available at www.skaparis.uk
Super Early Bird – £18* (from 23rd February to 5th March)
Early Bird – £24* (from 6th March to 19th March)
Standard – £28* (from 20th March to 3rd April)
VIP – £60* (from 23rd February to 3rd April)
*including VAT

Performers:
Conductor and Musical Director – Simon Robertshaw
Soprano – Madeleine Pierard (The Royal Opera, Convent Garden)
Mezzo-Soprano – Sarah Castle (Zurich and New Zealand Opera)

Party In The Park: New Dates Confirmed

For the first time in many years, Perth and Kinross will once again play host to a major music festival and this one is right in the heart of the city.


Party at The Park was due to take place on the South Inch in June this year after its postponement in June 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, but organisers have announced today that the long awaited new festival to Perth will take place on 21 st and 22 nd August 2021 instead. The weekend will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans, Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, Ash, Fun Loving Criminals, Gun, Tide Lines, Callum Beattie, Skerryvore, Toploader, Lightning Seeds, Be Charlotte and many more.

With more than 50 live performances, there will be something for everyone’s musical tastes. With a dedicated kids zone, it won’t just be for the adults either as there is loads for the younger audience also. 

The team behind the event have already been running a successful multiaward event in West Lothian – Party at The Palace – and they were keen to bring the award winning event north.  Peter Ferguson (PATP Director) said “The recent news of an improving situation has given us a real boost over the last few days.

“We are more hopeful than ever of having our party on the South Inch this summer. Moving it back a few weeks to 21 st and 22 nd August certainly gives it a great chance.

“All our bands were able to confirm they will be available on
the new date which is great news.”

Celtic Connections 2021: Elephant Sessions – A Lockdown Special

Ironworks, Inverness
30th Jan, 2021

———————

The intro to this evening’s musical offering was the 1977 hit from the Spanish act Baccara ‘Yes Sir I can Boogie’. A lively disco number which set the scene nicely for tonight’s concert entitled Elephant Sessions. The gig was recorded at the Ironworks Venue in Inverness and felt like a ‘you had to be there’ event. A violin played its dramatic tones as we were led in to the venue by film, on and into the room for tonight’s no vocal performance.

The Elephants were at first in the dark then dimly lit by green light giving viewers the pleasurable feeling of being there with them. This young act of merry making music commenced with a single violin (Euan) plucking a traditional melody which then loudened as we were introduced to the music that soon became a fusion of traditional and experimental. It was giddy with their talent and with their first gig like that in too long a time.
By the end of their first song the spotlight had hit the stage that was surrounded by neon light. This band are very well liked and critically acclaimed. With their second song they called ‘Wet Field Day’ the thumping of the drum came to fore. It was an amalgamation of styles that they played, from jazzy base to really booming the music from the drums.

Their mastery was obvious and each variety of song passed by with a genuine feeling of satisfaction that poured out of them in the dim images on the screen. They were able to create all sorts of rhymes and speeds with a most effortless interaction especially for them being such a young act, but very well experienced, for live and recorded music and for indulging in the sweeping act of folk, funk and electronic music.
Their coverage of themes is very well known now and very popular. Never missing a trick and including their seductive talent for traditional and synthesiser going together while calling a song; Loft Crofter and keeping a disco speed that the violin was happily involved with. Their songs; ‘Tiagarra’ which is a Museum in Australia, ‘Doofer’ where you can’t think of a name, just showed the trajectory the Elephants are able to work with and master a great amount of work.

For ‘Doofer’ they had a heavy overdrive on the guitar, which along with the thumping drum had a kind of ecstatic effect that blew you away and while that was happening you were reminded that another sound was the violin or the mandolin. The 6 or 7 performances were the same set up throughout though they swapped instruments. including the synth in an amazing movement of pace and changing repetitive note changes and energy changes making an event of stories old and new.

It was the first I had seen in this year’s connections where the band were on their own. And it felt like a slightly different dynamic because of the type of venue all the way up in Inverness, a night club venue no doubt. But it was the sheer energy that sprung from them and the tightness of this very well-oiled act. A kind of positivity without having to think about it, and a great desire to entertain us make us dance and have a great time. One of the most together acts out there.

Daniel Donnelly

Celtic Connections 2021: Transatlantic Sessions


Various venues inc. The Royal Concert Hall
29th Jan
2021

I sat with bated breath at the thought of this evenings Transatlantic Sessions gig. An evening that holds a place at the heart of the Connections festival. The Sessions kicked off with some familiar faces at the Royal Concert Hall with a fast paced 3-reel set beginning with an Irish jig called ‘Boys of 25’, where 25 is an Irish card game. The band consisted of 8 musicians on double base, flute, violin, accordion and more, all coming together in fast and slow rhythms in songs with and without vocals.

The next artist was Julie Flowlis whose song ‘Bothen Ai righ am braigh Raithneach’, had her vocals in a grip compelling you to hear them clearly. She appeared again later on with her song called ‘Biodh an beoch seo ‘n haimh mo ruin’ which she told us translates as ‘This drink will be in the hand of my love’, an endearing lyric.

After the Sessions, we indeed crossed the ocean to a recording studio called The Compass Records studio in Nashville Tennessee. To a 3-person act on guitar violin and banjo who were to perform 3 tunes, the first called ‘Temperance Reel’ or ‘T-totalers’ in Irish, which was a no vocal song. Alison Brown sang her ‘Appalacian Celtic melody’ as an American Musician with strong Celtic ties. With a hint of medieval classical they fused with Celtic and a country twang. Also, at the studios Tim O’Brien took his music with 4 performers playing a song called ‘Storms are on the Ocean’ a traditional song about the perils we have to meet and overcome on our journey.

At the Record studio Molly Tuttle took to the stage in a vocal and guitar set. She played very stringent blues guitar and sang a song called ‘Take the journey’ about realising the journey we are already on. Then to footage of Glasgow’s George Square and the Walter Scott monument setting a scene for a 300-year-old Irish song called ‘The Wishing Tree’ by a blind harpist called Ocallaghan. Performed at the Royal Concert Hall it was a glorious and beautiful piece with no vocals but plenty of smiles.

To enhance the evenings virtual experience the next reel was taken from the archives back to 1998 with a song called ‘Trouble in the Fields. Filmed in a pub and so at very close quarter sang Maura O’Connell and Nanci Griffith a song about life in the heart of rural Scottish communities. A gifted and traditional song of guitar and double bass (somehow fitting into the small room) and so on, a treat and a reminder of their beginnings.

The footage moved back across the ocean from The Royal Concert Hall to the humble Tennessee studio as always in its most welcoming way. Songs were sung about the graces of people, places and the journeys necessity. Playing old wounded war songs or capturing the lives of inspiring people as tribute and a celebration of beautiful music that grows and moves and welcomes us in.

Back at the Concert Hall was the mournful sounds of Kris Drever, who sang for the sessions band. In his ‘farewell to Fiunery’ his ‘heart almost dies at the thought of leaving Fiunery’ his tones had the impression of something like suffering which was what he was singing about.

Before leaving Tennessee, we were treated to a last number from Tim O’Brien and his group of stringed instruments with the guiding song of’ Look down that Lonesome Road’. On an 8-string guitar he led the 3 backing vocals who offered the country styles of backing up harmonies to twist the song and elevate the sound. He left us with the line ‘they say whiskey slows you down, well keep drinking.’

And finally, we once again heard the tones of the Sessions band all together and in their wonderous musical unison. With an Irish Shetland tune. And three reels called ‘Kid on the Mountain/Sleep Sound Ida Mornin/The Reconciliation’. All with a full-on band, no vocals, with a skipping rhythm and a dramatic background. Very much like a fling but also so much more with a kind of musical honesty. And in one movement piano, violin drum and all vanished into the finished fading of a lively, lovely time, well that’s all folks (well until the next time anyway).

Daniel Donnelly

Surveying International Music