Category Archives: music

FAUSTUS AT HALSWAY MANOR

Catch Faustus, the pioneering, “bloke folk” triumvirate  of Benji Kirkpatrick, Paul Sartin & Saul Rose as they return to Halsway Manor for a live gig on Thursday 6 July at 8pm.

Previously nominated for the Best Group Award in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and Artist In Residence at Halsway Manor Centre for Folk Arts across 2016 supported by funding from Arts Council England, Faustus brings to the stage three of the leading lights of their generation: Saul Rose (Waterson:Carthy, Whapweazel, War Horse), Benji Kirkpatrick (Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin (Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast). They have a plethora of experience between them, brought together here in a virtuosic display of musicianship and testosterone representing the best in the current vibrant English folk scene.

Faustus released their acclaimed third album, ‘Death and Other Animals’, in October 2016, tackling head-on subjects from the Dance of Death to the plight of the common man, sand-swallowed ships to mythical black dogs. The album has huge local resonance as it was researched, rehearsed and recorded at Halsway Manor on the Quantock Hills, during Faustus’ time as Artists in Residence. Beastly good” said Folking.com, “Modern day folk Buccaneers… so blindingly dazzling you’ll need to don a pair of RayBans before listening,” said LouderThanWar.com.

Faustus are leading a course ‘From Page to Performance’ halswaymanor.org.uk/event/faustus-from-page-to-performance/  at Halsway in the run-up to the gig, and the evening will open with performances by participants, before the mighty Faustus take to the stage!

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts. There’s ample free parking onsite, a bar and – of course – beautiful atmospheric settings for concerts with wonderful acoustics, and a chance to catch-up with the artists over a drink afterwards!

Tickets for ‘Faustus’ are priced at £10, with a concessionary price of £4 for children and full time students of any age. Call 01984 618274 (option 1), email office@halswaymanor.org.uk or buy securely online www.halswaymanor.org.uk.

BLACKBERRIES AND BANDAGES: CONCERT EVOKES LIFE ON DEVON’S HOME FRONT DURING FIRST WORLD WAR

Devon, 1917, and communities across the county are working harder than ever to bring food to their tables and having to find the time and energy to do their bit for the war effort, too. Women, children, key workers and older men all mucked in together while the county’s young men were away at the Front.

Blackberries and Bandages tells the story, in songs, of what life was like on the Home Front in Devon during the First World War. The concert has been produced by Devon’s community music charity, Wren Music, who were asked to create the musical element of the Devon Remembers Heritage Project, which is running for four years to mark the centenary of the 1914-18 war.

Working with their community choirs and orchestras across the county, Wren have written several songs that reflect what day-to-day life was like for folk back home.

The concert is coming to Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple, on Saturday 24 June at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5; £3 for Under-16s.
Marilyn Tucker from Wren Music explained: “We did a lot of research during the winter, sifting through old documents at the Devon Heritage Centre and various museums around the county, finding out about the Home Front in Devon.

“We looked through newspaper cuttings, people’s diaries and other historical material and we’ve come up with about 10 songs. But we couldn’t discover the folk songs that were being sung at the time because nobody seems to have written that down anywhere and we decided that if there was no evidence that particular songs were sung on the Home Front in Devon, then we wouldn’t include them.”

Blackberries and Bandages is therefore a concert of largely new songs, with place names and people’s names in them, so the concert is really located in Devon. “The songs are all informed by the research we did,” said Marilyn. “For example, we found a poem with the theme of ‘this week’s menu’ which was quite derogatory about the food people were getting so we’ve put that to music.

“There’s also a scurrilous little verse about Dad’s Army, from the Sampford Voluntary Training Corps in Sampford Peverell. And we’ve got reports of a concert party in Exeter where there was a famous concertino trio, so we’ve chosen one of the tunes they played.”
From the research, Wren learnt more about the role that nature and natural remedies played on the Home Front, which is why the concert is called Blackberries and Bandages: “People spent a lot of their time foraging,” said Marilyn. “Many of the women who went into nursing had never worked before, they were quite genteel, not like the women who had to work on the land during the First World War. The nurses would use foraged sphagnum moss which was then dried and used for bandages because the moss has healing properties. They’d use these bandages for injured soldiers that came home but they also sent some to the Front as well.”

One of the songs Marilyn has written is called ‘The Lilies of the Valley’: “These flowers were used medicinally and they were thought to counteract the effects of mustard gas by flushing out toxins. So the flowers were foraged and used by nurses in the VAD (voluntary aid detachment) hospitals.

“The children did their bit too. They’d collect conkers to make cordite for ammunition. Anything that could be foraged was foraged, and of course all the fruit like blackberries would be made into jams and sent to the Front.”

The role of women working the land is celebrated in a song Wren have written called ‘Bidlake Girls’, about the women’s co-operative that was set up at a large farm near Bridestowe: “Up until then, they used to say ‘women can’t work on the farms, they’ll curse the land!’ Well, they had to forget about all that nonsense,” said Marilyn.
Wren found cuttings about the conscientious objectors being held at Dartmoor Prison and learnt that Devon as a county was reluctant to go to war: “We didn’t sign up like the rest of the country in the early days of the war, when it was a volunteer army,” said Marilyn. “It wasn’t until conscription was introduced in 1916 that men from Devon went to the Front in large numbers.”

Marilyn added: “It’s a concert, not a story, but at the same time I think we’ve covered most of the main themes. And we’ve tried not to be too downhearted about it; everybody knows about the First World War don’t they? So we’ve looked at it and asked, ‘What was the effect on people’s lives on the Home Front?’ ‘What about the lesser-told stories, some of the things we don’t know so well?”

The first half of each concert features a repertoire from 50 members of Wren’s community choirs and orchestras local to that area; the second half is Blackberries and Bandages, bringing together the 20 members from across the groups who have worked on the concert.
The groups involved in the Blackberries and Bandages concert are the Rough Music Orchestras of North and East Devon and Torbay, and the Voices in Common folk choirs from West, North, East Devon, Exeter and Torbay. Marilyn is the concert artistic director, with Paul Wilson and David Faulkner sharing musical direction.
The opening concert slots are being performed by the Folk Choirs of West and North Devon and The Folk Orchestra of North Devon in Barnstaple; the Folk Choirs of Torbay and Exeter and The Folk Orchestra of Torbay in Paignton; and East Devon Folk Choir and The Folk Orchestra of East Devon in Honiton.

For tickets to the Barnstaple concert, call 01837 53754.

The concert tour in full: All start at 7.30pm, tickets £5; £3 for Under-16s.  Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple on Saturday 24 June (for tickets, contact 01837 53754); Palace Theatre, Paignton, Saturday 1 July (01803 665800); and Beehive, Honiton, on Saturday 8 July (01404 384050).

PHOTO: Newly recruited nurses with Sphagnum moss, Princetown, 1917. Courtesy Halsgrove Publishing.

ARE YOU GOING TO OCEANFEST? SNAP YOUR TICKET UP NOW!

We predict a Riot! Devon’s longest running Surf & Music Festival tickets selling out fast.

Now in its 19th continuous year – a huge achievement in itself – the GoldCoast Oceanfest team are delighted with the way tickets are going. “It’s been our fastest-selling year for a long while,” says festival co-organiser Warren Latham. “Maybe it’s the sunshine which always brings people to the coast, or maybe everyone just wants to get out and let their hair down for a weekend and forget about any political shenanigans. We are looking forward to welcoming them all.”

Whatever the reason, Goldcoast Oceanfest, taking place mid-summer weekend 16-18 June 2017 beside the sea at Croyde Bay in North Devon, is all set to welcome its biggest crowds. And it’s not just the surf that will be pounding.

Friday evening kicks off with a cool DJ set by SIGMA. Multiple Brit-award winning, indie-rock band, KAISER CHIEFS will top the bill on Saturday night and SCOUTING FOR GIRLS will be Sunday’s headliners.  The Cuban Brothers, Charlie Sloth, The Shelters, Gentlemen’s Dub Club, Willie and The Bandits and Alice Jemima are amongst other great acts playing the sunshine stage this year. There’s also a second stage, complete with Bar and Cider garden, offering an alternative music choice and stand-up comedy with the Comedy Avengers.

Always a family event, there will  be a circus performance area complete with aerial rig and stilt walkers weaving magic and imagination with live music workshops, lego making and crafts, storytelling and drumming. Food outlets, stalls and a fab chill-out zone are all in the mix.

Sports action takes place down on Croyde beach with football and volleyball tournaments, surfing and water sports.

A 3-Day Festival Ticket costs £59 per adult, £52 per child (under 18) and to encourage families, a 3-Day Festival Family Ticket costs just £150 (2 adults & 2 children). Under 6s: booking fee only. www.goldcoastoceanfest.co.uk

Wake up to the sound of the waves in weekend accommodation right across the road at Parkdean Resorts Ruda Holiday Park. (Costs from £699 – sleeping up to 8 in a 3-bed caravan. www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk (0344 3353450) There are many other campsites, B&Bs, cottages and hotels in the local area.

Grown from grassroots beginnings, Goldcoast Oceanfest is run by two eco-minded brothers who have a huge respect for the wonderful north Devon coastal playgrounds. The festival is a true family lifestyle event, with festival-goers encouraged to sign up and join in with the beach soccer, beach volleyball, surfing and ocean swimming competitions.

BRITTEN, BLISS AND HOLST – BRIDGWATER CHORAL SOCIETY CONCERT

by Jenny McCubbin
For Bridgwater Choral Society

Saints and satyrs, cantatas and psalms – Bridgwater Choral Society is preparing a wide-ranging programme of twentieth-century music for your enjoyment at their next concert on Saturday 6 May which takes place at 7.30pm at Bridgwater Baptist Church.

Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975) was a composer and conductor who embraced modernism. He composed music for ballet, film and later for television, and became Director of Music at the BBC where he was instrumental in setting up the Third Programme after World War II. His Pastoral was inspired by a trip to the classical landscape of Sicily in the late 1920s. He collected and set to music an ‘anthology’ of pastoral poems, arranged in the form of a day moving from first light through to evening. The setting is for choir, mezzo-soprano, flute, timpani and strings. Elgar admitted to being a little ‘puzzled’ by some of it but suitably flattered that Bliss had dedicated the work to him!

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) composed St Nicholas in the form on a cantata in nine scenes, describing the life, faith and miracles performed by St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, patron saint of children, sailors and travellers. The piece is for choir, tenor soloist, and children, and was premiered in 1948 at the first Aldburgh Festival. We are fortunate to welcome back tenor Dominick Felix as soloist, and to have members of the Taunton School choir joining us for this performance.

Both Bliss and Britten were influenced by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) and we complete the programme with his Two Psalms for choir, organ and strings.

Please join us for the celebration concert on 6 May in Bridgwater.

The concert will take place in the Bridgwater Baptist Church (not St Mary’s as previously  advertised). This beautiful Grade II listed building was built in 1837 by Edwin Down and features a stunning classical frontage with pediment and cornice of Bath stone. It is located in St Mary Street, Bridgwater TA6 3LY.

Tickets are £10 and are available on the door or via our website www.bridgwaterchoral.org Tickets are £10 for adults (under-16s go free but must be accompanied by an adult) or £8 for the Friends of Bridgwater Choral Society.