WEEKEND WALKABOUT volume 5 PASS IT ON
Hello, and welcome to what is already our fifth consecutive Weekend Walkabout. As ever, we will wander down sidetracks & detours and will explore all across the arts in search of interesting arts stories. We will call in at Bewick´s Jazz Joint for a plate of Hot Biscuits to share for energy as we head further afield to find jazz, folk, country and blues. Whatever we find, we will share with you details of artists and their creations, and details , too, of our sources. All this is part of our not for profit services and all we ask is that if you think the information is worth sharing with other like-minded arts loving friends and family, then please ….
Contents PASS IT ON Sunday 18th June
I Love Manchester:
Music In Portsmouth
Oxford Chamber Music Festival:
Jazz On Air
Points Of Interest
Sidetracks And Detours
THEATRE. The Lowry; Salford
Strictly Ballroom the Musical, based on the award-winning world-wide film phenomenon, is heading out to tour the UK and Ireland!
Based on Baz Luhrmann’s award-winning worldwide film phenomenon, Strictly Ballroom: The Musical is heading out on a brand-new UK and Ireland tour starring Strictly Come Dancing favourite Kevin Clifton and treasured Coronation Street star and Dancing on Ice finalist, Faye Brookes.
With direction from dancer, choreographer, theatre director and Britain’s favourite TV Judge, Craig Revel Horwood, Strictly Ballroom the Musical will be will be foxtrotting around the UK from September 2020. Bringing together a cast of over 20 world class performers, Strictly Ballroom the Musical follows arrogant, rebellious young ballroom dancer, Scott Hastings. When his radical and daring dance style see him fall out of favour with Australian Federation, he must dance with beginner, Fran. Together they find the courage to defy tradition and discover that to win, your steps don’t need to be strictly ballroom!
Featuring break-into-song numbers such as Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, as well as several wonderful new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect. This spectacle is sure to make for an unforgettable evening under the glitter ball that will send your heart soaring and toes tapping!
Performances Monday 26th June to Saturday 1st July 2023 at 7.30pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm
Accessible Performances on Thursday 29th and Friday 30th June 2023
Book tickets for Strictly Ballroom The Musical at The Lowry
Local History by Michael Higgins
STEP UP ROYTON
I may have remarked before that Royton is notable for three (or even four or five) things: its famous seven inhabitants, its Jacobins, Royton Hall, the once all-embracing course cotton spinning industry, and the Royton Morris Dance. Jacobins, hall and cotton are long gone, and the Royton Seven may still walk among us ‘eight abreast’, but the name ‘Royton’ has lasted in the folk music world ever since Maud Karpeles interviewed the old Morris dance team in 1928 and published a basic version of it as a guide to folk dancers everywhere. She called her book ‘The Lancashire Morris Dance’ but the name ‘Royton’ has stuck to it ever since. Today many dance teams dance Royton even if they are far away from the old cotton mill streets it was originally choreographed for. I was reminded of my own role as conductor of the Royton Morris Dancers in the late 1970s to the mid 80’s,( the last time a Royton team performed the dance), at a book launch last year. The newly published book, All Step Up, The History of the Manley Morris Dancers by Derek Schofield, charts the history of one copy-team formed in Manley, Cheshire, after the publication of Miss Karpeles’s own book in 1930, to dance their own version of the Royton Dance. This year I attended a Wakes and Rushbearing session with Dr Robert Poole, in which the old rush carts and Morris Dancing were recalled as being inexorably intertwined. And also this year my poem The Morris Dancers Farewell, based on the Royton Dancers of 1900, won a commendation from the Lancashire Authors Association. Hence I was forced to consult my old notes from my own dancing days.
Miss Karpeles’s book’s introduction tells us that the leader in Royton was James Coleman who had taken over from James Cheetham ‘about thirty years ago’, that the team hadn’t danced since the outbreak of war in1914, and that the dance probably came from Oldham where there were once several teams. But after publication an internal spat broke out between the Coleman faction and Robert McDermott, number one dancer and the star of the team. Robert claimed Coleman was not a proper leader, that Bob’s elder brother James, and brother- in- law James Cheetham, had started the original team in Royton about 1898 after dancing in a team in Oldham, and that subsequently Jim McDermott had formed his own team separate from Cheetham’s. James Coleman’s reply was furious: His elder brother Mick, he said, had trained the original team, before Cheetham or the McDermotts, in the early 1890s at the Hope and Anchor Inn, and had had ‘brought the dance’ from Hollinwood (or Failsworth), where the family had once lived. The McDermotts, Coleman agreed, had indeed briefly run their own team, meeting at the Commercial Inn on Middleton Road but it was merely a set of ‘buskers’ with no proper conductor. (Jim McDermott was an unemployable wife-beating drunkard). Indeed, their dance was ‘not a proper Morris Dance at all’ and the McDermotts soon saw the light and rejoined his team. Bob rejoined that Coleman could not dance at all and that they (Bob and his brothers) had ‘put the spring into the dance’. Coleman is supposed to have declared that the McDermotts had ‘infringed ‘the dance, The feud simmered for a long time and when the Folk dance enthusiast Howarth Family of Manley village, east of Chester, wished to set up a Morris Dance team there, they asked Bob to train one up for them, They paid his railway fare from Royton to Manley and the feud now stretched over the miles. Meanwhile the Royton Team began to dance again in the thirties, equipped by the English Folk Dance Society and fellow enthusiasts- not without some financial irregularities and internal revolts- led by James Coleman and the long time concertina player Lees Kershaw, who really wished to keep control of all – the dance, men, money, and glory. Kershaw was rather a legend in Royton as a long-serving musician and teacher of the concertina all over the Oldham area and he and Coleman were hard-nosed veterans. Yet three other McDermotts continued to dance with the team, as did Bob, even while he was training up Manley. The Royton team danced at the Albert Hall for the first time in 1930 and again in 1935 when they won the Championship of All England folk trophy.
But as the Manley dancers started up again after the Second World War, the feud worsened when Manley ‘pinched’ Fred Kilroy, who had come to the fore as concertina player with Ellis Marshall after Lees Kershaw’s death, for a tour. Coleman personally went round to everyone’s house to see if any other Royton Members had been ‘pinched’. By this time Bob McDermott had ceased to perform with Royton and the Manley team tried to distance themselves from the town even further, claiming the dance hadn’t originated in Royton at all and was really the ‘Failsworth tradition’, while Manley’s version was the ‘Oldham’ tradition. But who was right? Both Oldham and Failsworth had a long history of rush carts and Morris Dancing at Wakes time going back to the late 18th century. And teams of thirty dancers are recorded in the 1840s and 1850s. especially for Hollinwood, and the team dancing under the wondrous ‘Donty’ at the Volunteer Inn, George Street, Oldham from 1840s to 1860s. In the 1970s I asked descendants of James McDermott and James Cheetham, the supposed dancing partners of 1898, for their version of dancing truth. They were adamant that the dance had been brought from Royton to Oldham by James Cheetham and not the other way round. James Cheetham led the team after Mick Coleman, and James Coleman took over the team after Cheetham. The Cheetham daughters told me that according to the family the Coleman brothers ‘started all the Morris Dancing round here’. Other old dancers or descendants said more or less the same thing and James Cheetham himself was born in Royton.
The district of Northmoor in Oldham, where Cheetham, and many of the dancers who eventually left Royton lived, was a sort of Royton colony and by 1909 a new feud had broken out when Cheetham started a breakaway team at the Abbey Inn on West Street and a rival team at the Rope and Anchor tried to ‘pinch’ their ‘Royton’ dance. Like the McDermotts, the Rope and Anchor team were said to be a ‘rough lot’ who would stoop to nothing . Back in Royton at that time it seems the McDermott’s team had joined forces with Coleman’s, practising at the Church Inn on Middleton Road, After the war the team did help to train a boys’ team, originally for St Paul’s Church gala held opposite Crofter’s Farm. They practised at the Dog and Partridge pub, in stocking feet as they used an upstairs room and the clatter of dancing clogs was frightening the clientele below. Then in 1928 Maude Karpeles called and the world opened up for the revived adult Royton Traditional Morris Dancers. Led by James Coleman and later trained up by his son Norman, an increasingly ageing team danced on until the late 1940s. Royton Urban District council came to their rescue in 1953, risking public money in asking The Colemans to train a team of boys to dance in the Coronation year and beyond. Recruits were sought from all the schools but this team faded away as the boys grew up and led dispersed lives. Both James McDermott’s son, Frank, and James Coleman’s son, Norman, helped to train a new team in Royton in the 1970s and I was one of them, learning to ‘step up’ and dance ‘double number ones’, ‘hands across’, and the ‘back polka’.
So, considering James Cheetham was ‘One of the Seven’ ( born in Royton), who took the Royton dance to Oldham, did that dance originate with the Coleman version, as Jimmy Coleman was born in Hollinwood and came to Royton as a six year old schoolboy in 1891? His brother, Mick Coleman, did indeed later become a well known clog dancer and Morris trainer in Failsworth and was featured in a book on Morris Dancing (John Graham- Lancashire and Cheshire Morris Dances 1911). But what was afoot before any of the above-mentioned learnt their steps? From newspaper accounts we know that in the 1860s Jim ‘Tat’ (Tattersall) supported rushcart parades from his Fir Lane beer house and that carts were built at the Unicorn and newly built Duke of Edinburgh too. But a poignant dance report is from Royton Wakes of 1875. It was late evening, a holiday, and with no early start at the mill next day:
About half-past nine on Monday evening a set of morris dancers, accompanied by a fife and drum band, perambulated through the village and performed at several places. Whilst going through their evolutions at the bottom of Sandy-Lane, a girl came to the window of the house in which she resided, and drawing the blind to one side so that she might see what was going on, set the blind on fire with a candle she held in her hand. Upon seeing the fire the crowd became much excited, but no damage was done beyond consuming the blind. (Oldham Chronicle, 14 August 1875).
clog stepping Morris dancers knew how to cause sparks even then.
MUSIC IN PORTSMOUTH: forthcoming events
Lack of spave a glimpse of the music in Portsmouth to be delivered over the next few weeks, so we urge you to check out our selection and all the rest what is on offer with full details of time venue and ticket availability.
newly formed SELSEY SINGERS
Music In Portsmouth will shortly deliver a debut concert, under the direction of Martin Elliott.
The sounds of summer in a scintillating serenade of simmering songs by this newly formed group of Selsey singers. Along with classics for trumpet and voice, there’s Handel and Vivaldi, madrigals and glees, and we are absolutely “Mad about Mozart”! This will be a fun, intoxicating and mesmerising concert in praise of long, lazy days of mid-summer madness, and it even includes a shipping forecast!
Tickets £10 available online and from Flawless Finish, 133 High Street, Selsey,
Summer Donation Bar in Church Garden
Full details from: Martin Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHICHESTER SINGERS celebrate their 70th anniversary
There will be huge extra significance to The Chichester Singers’ Festival of Chichester concert this year: it will be their 70th anniversary concert (Chichester Cathedral, turday, June 17, 7.30pm).
photo 5 On the night their programme will comprise Chilcott – Dances of Time; Stanford – Songs of the Fleet; and Assersohn – A Drop of Nelson’s Blood.
Remarkably Jonathan Willcocks (left) is only the second musical director the Chichester Singers have had in those seven decades together: “In the very earliest days when it was just a group of teachers it’s not quite clear who the director was but since then it is only been myself and Anne Lawrence,” Jonathan says (Anne from 1952-1979 and then Jonathan from 1979 when Anne was taken ill and sadly died).
The great news is that the anniversary finds the choir in excellent spirits: “I think some organisations have found it challenging coming back from the pandemic. Having perhaps clung on by their fingertips during the lockdowns, some organisations are finding it difficult to pick up the pieces now. So I’m just thrilled by the way that the Chichester Singers have kept going. We did Zoom rehearsals for a while during the lockdowns which was very unsatisfactory but somehow it just kept the spirit of the choir alive and then when we were able to do our first season of concerts back after the pandemic, the concerts were really excellent. I’ve been so proud and pleased by the way that the concerts were received. You just really didn’t know after what was effectively 18 months how things would do. We weren’t together from March 2020 until the autumn of 2021 but the choir have come back so strongly. It was a period of constant frustration. At first it just wasn’t clear how long it was going to go on. When we had to cancel concerts in March 2020 we organised them for June and July and then we had to organise them again for the autumn when it was clear it wasn’t going to be short run. But we have come back so strongly.
“I think audiences are still something of a challenge. I think with the pandemic people got out of the habit of going out to live events. There were quite a lot of things on offer with a lot of theatre companies and opera companies starting to stream things. People got their pleasures just sitting on their own at home and quite often without even having to pay for the pleasure. Maybe that was slightly less so for the choral groups but I do think sometimes people are a bit reluctant to come out still. But I’m confident that the Chichester Singers continue to offer something really strong with extremely high standards and the concert that we’re doing for the Festival of Chichester this year is going to be really quite unusual in that it is a totally secular programme we are doing. It is all British music and in the first part we have got a piece by a living composer, Ian Assersohn. I have known Ian and I have known his work. I’ve come across him in various capacities. The music that he writes is very practical and attractive both for the choir and for the audience. It is a piece based on the tradition of shanties and it will be very exciting to do. And Ian will be coming to one of the rehearsals. I think that will give the choir an extra insight into the piece.”
Zabetas is one of the warmest and most relatable and uplifting Greek musicians. His catchy and melodic music, filled with the down-to-earth tragedy and comedy of the human condition, makes his songs part of the DNA of Greek life. They make you smile and dance and sing along.
Plastikes Karekles “had people dancing in the aisles and evoked memories of sunnier climes.” (Nottingham Press).
Maria Tsirodimitri, voice/guitar
George Tsolakis, voice/guitar
Manolis Taouxis, voice/bouzouki
George Angelopoulos, baglama, bouzouki
Dimitris Koustas, voice/accordion
Pavlos Carvalho, cello/ double bass
Tickets £17, £15, £12.
They comprise Victoria Stilwell soprano, Stella Bracegirdle alto, Toby Churchley tenor and George Salmon bass. And together they are turning the spotlight on a wealth of exciting, moving and even boundary-breaking music, spanning 900 years, taking in everything from German mystics to famous siblings – and going right up to the present day with music from Stella, the composer amongst them. Tickets: £17, seniors £15, students £12 from the Festival of Chichester website. “This programme is something we’ve wanted to do ever since we started,” Victoria says, “and it has been great fun to do. Even the piece that we begin with that was written 900 years ago, the composer was very bold and cutting edge for her time. It is really nice to be able to give these composers a bit of spotlight.”
The quartet has now been together for three and a half years, as George explains: “We met as choral scholars at the Church of St John in Hackney in October 2019, and we were supposed to be doing a one-season engagement to last until the summer 2020. We finally finished that at the end of 2021! But that was how we came together. The initial idea was Vicki’s once things had started to open up again following the lockdown periods. We thought that it would be deeply uncertain as to how we might get work. And we just didn’t know what the competition would be like. We thought the competition for freelance work was going to be very, very stiff and so Vicki had the idea that the four of us come together and do our own thing. It’s just the four of us. We don’t need any equipment. We don’t even need a keyboard. Stella our alto has got perfect pitch so we don’t need anything at all. We thought we would try.”
And Vicki is delighted at the way things have developed since then: “We didn’t know then what we know now and it has been a real baptism of fire but we have done a number of tours and we sing at weddings and funerals and private parties and I do think that we have really grown together. The last tour we did felt really so much more polished and so much tighter for the fact that we’ve been together for three and a half years and it means that we can be more ambitious. Our first tour was very eclectic but we have been able to develop some really strong themes and move forward.”
George, who is also the musical director of the Phoenix Crawley of Crawley, agrees: “I do a lot of work with Crawley and other amateur choirs which is a particular joy because you can sense them thinking ‘I don’t know if I can do this’ and then they realise that they can, and that is lovely but what I love about singing with these guys is there is absolutely no limit in terms of the difficulty… just so long as it is something that can be sung by four people. We can take on really ambitious challenges musically and get to the musical grain of it. When we first started out and we were doing something difficult we would be thinking how; now we almost do it without thinking it has become so intuitive between us.”
OXFORD CHAMBER MUSIC ORCHESTRA (OCMO)
You are invited to join Oxford Chamber Music Orchestra (right) for a summer concert and party on Friday 30th June to celebrate the launch of our 22nd Festival from 2-8th October 2023. there will be the announcement of the programme for the autumn festival, and there will also be an opportunity to join the Orchestra´s valued Friends Membership scheme to help support the festival now and into the future. OCMF is a charity and rely heavily on support from individuals in order to continue.
If you sign up to our Membership either before or at our Summer Concert, you will receive a special 20th anniversary album with highlights from over the course of the history of the festival.
Tickets are free to book. If you would like to help cover the costs of presenting the event, there is an option to donate at the point of booking.
FRIDAY 30 JUNE 2023, Holywell Music Room
Oxford Chamber Music Orhestra
6.30pm Welcome reception
8pm Post-concert party and canapés
Limited free tickets
It was Beethoven who advised us, ‘Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into it’s secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.’
You might like to ponder that as you enjoy listening to a summer concert that will see Artistic Director Priya Mitchell performing alongside pianist Dirk Mommertz at the home of the festival, the Holywell Music Room. The Holywell is the city of Oxford’s chamber music hall, situated on Holywell Street in the city centre, and is part of Wadham College. It is the oldest purpose-built music room in Europe, and Britain’s first concert hall.
Priya and Dirk say they are enormously looking forward to announcing the programme, and there will also be an opportunity to join our valued Friends Membership to help support our festival now and into the future. OCMF is a charity and we rely heavily on support from individuals in order to continue.
3 recommendations by Jim Wade
The Horace Silver Project
Friday 30 June
Progress Theatre, The Mount, Reading RG1 5HL
Doors as soon as the bar is open, 7-ish
Horace Silver may be the smilingest man in jazz
Why that enormous grim, evident in so many photos across his long career? What made him so happy?
Maybe bassist Christian McBride has the essential answer: “In an art form where fun is sometimes perceived as not being serious, I think Horace proved otherwise with his music.”
And Silver himself, writing in an album liner note, reckoned that “musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles.”
Come join us on Friday 30 June for the last Jazz at Progress show before the summer break and spend a fun evening being brought happiness and joy, and maybe even being relieved of a trouble or two.
The music’s going to be special; Silver put a lot of stock on melody. Christian McBride tells us “it has always represented what jazz musicians preach but don’t necessarily practice, and that’s simplicity. It sticks to the memory. It’s very singable. It gets in your blood easily. You can comprehend it easily. It’s very rooted, very soulful.”
Here’s news of two more great events in the series
JAZZ AT OAKEN GROVE VINEYARD 30th June
shared by Jim Wade
Sunday 25 June
The Vineyard at Oaken Grove is located at
Benhams Lane, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames RG9 6JG.
The Sharp End of the Sax with Karen Sharp
Gates 12pm, food at approx 1:30pm.
Music from about 3pm
£22, child £10, under ten free
Pre-order food when purchasing tickets
Information and tickets
Gates open at midday and guests are welcome to enjoy drinks on the wine terrace before the jazz starts, Wines from the vineyard as well as other guest wines and local beers will be available to order. Food is available to pre-order.
Join Karen Sharp and her trio (right) for a melodic afternoon of Sunday sax! Having won best tenor of the year, Karen has joined forces with the fantastic Colin Oxley and Simon Thorpe to play selections from their recent trio album ‘Another Place’.
Award-winning saxophonist Karen Sharp invites you to relax with the sax. Its a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Expect exquisite tunes by the likes of Steve Swallow, Bill Evans, Jobim and Dolphy as well as some recent compositions by Thorpe and Sharp – all given a relaxed and intimate treatment by this trio which reflects a shared love of creative interplay and improvisation together with a deep respect for the jazz tradition.
Accompanying the music will be the amazing sharing platters made fresh on the premises. Packed with local cheeses from Marlow Cheese and Nettlebed Creamery, fresh charcuterie, breads, pickles, nuts and more. Please order your meat or vegetarian option at checkout.
Gates open at 12.00pm midday after which food will be served at approximately 1.30pm and the music will start at about 3.00pm.
Jazz At The Oaken Gate
Sunday 30 July
From New Orleans to Rio with Thomas L’Etienne (left)
Gates 12pm, food at approx 1:30pm.
Music from about 3pm
£22, child £10, under ten free
Pre-order food when purchasing tickets
Information and tickets
|The German clarinetist and saxophonist Thomas L’Etienne is a well established name on the European jazz scene.
• A musical round trip with Thomas and friends
• Jazz clarinetist and saxophonist
• A beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Thomas was living and working as a musician in New Orleans for fifteen years. In the last decade, he has spent at least three months each year in Rio de Janeiro studying and playing Brazilian choro and samba music.
This afternoon’s jazz will take you on a journey to these two exciting musical melting pots. Lunch
Accompanying the music will be amazing dishes prepared by Marlow’s very own Little Urban Chef. Please order your meat or vegetarian option at checkout.
Cooked in the typical giant one-pan, this spectacular dish is packed with chicken, smoked sausage, peppers and rice with garlic and cajun spices.
Mac and Cheese Macaroni mixed with a cream and cheese sauce, topped with breadcrumbs.
Both served with a choice of mixed leaves, vine tomatoes and fresh bread.
Gates open at 12.00pm midday after which food will be served at approximately 1.30pm and the music will start at about 3.00pm. Pass it logo logo
HOT BISCUITS with Steve Bewick (and Gary Heywood Everett)
Listen in to next week´s Jazz broadcast where Gary Heywood-Everett reviews an intriguing album entitled Head Puzzle Parts. It is released by Alison Diamond, a sax player from Manchester UK working in Jazz, Soul, Blues, Pop and Folk music. She is on Twitter as @ADsaxist for musical chat and if you would like a CD copy of the album, after hearing her music on the show she would love you to contact her direct.
We also have music also from Avishai Cohen wishing only to be, Gently Disturbed. You can check out the quite fascinating biography of this extremely accomplished bassist, singer aqd composer at his web site at
where you will find details of his music career that includes a sackful of excellent albums dating back to 1970.
Following a chat with trumpet man Rick Barnes we agreed on including two pieces from the jazz/fusion of the 70’s. Graham Collier Sextet – Down Another Road & secondly, Jazz in Britain ’68–69 with John Surman, Tony Oxley (Decca Eclipse ECS) 2114, 1972, previously unreleased masters.
There are also A tracks from Mat Walklate, who is not only a blues harmonica extraordinaire, but also a musician, at ease with vocals, Irish traditional flute and uilleann pipes. He mainly plays blues, Irish traditional music, bluegrass, old time, ska and, of course, jazz
Later in the show we listen to Song For My Father by The Helen Morgan Trio, who honed their skills on the south Wales jazz scene. Helen and the band have found common ground in their love for the Great American Songbook. Helen’s gorgeous vocals and sensitive interpretation, are complemented by her own trio of guitar, double bass and drums. Helen is often joined by a horn or sax to form a bigger band.
Together the Helen Morgan Trio have performed in Cardiff at Cafe Jazz, Varsity, Millennium Centre Foyer Stage, St Davids Hall Floor 3, Clwb y Bont and other bars and venues around south and west Wales.
Weddings and birthday parties are a time for the band to take a little detour into pop classics and jazz favourites. Two Newlyweds, Alison and Phil, wrote after their wedding, “Thank you Helen, you sing beautifully and the band was perfect for our wedding . Our first dance to ‘Have I told You Lately That I Love You’ was truly magical.”
We finish this week´s Hot Biscuits with Ian Shaw and his tales of life on Mars. Ian has 16 studio albums to his own name in a career spanning three decades, He is widely regarded as the best male jazz vocalist the UK has produced. He is also a talented pianist, song writer, presenter, record producer and actor. Alongside performances at the major London venues, Shaw tours throughout the UK and internationally.
Sidetrack And Detours readers will no doubt explore his album Drawn To All Things, released in 2015, as a tribute to the canon of Joni Mitchell
I´m sure you´ll find plenty to enjoy if join us at any time, perhaps not yet having reached Mars but certainly up there in the skies at
POINTS OF INTEREST
In All Directions: from Peter Pearson
These week-end blogs are great. Don’t know how you have the time to do it all.
Sorry about the Knopfler pick up but you corrected it very nicely.
I may be wrong but I don’t think that Mark has ever co-written with anybody. However I recently read an article in American Songwriter which suggested that Sting had a writing credit on Money For Nothing. Puzzled by this, as I have heard Mark’s story about how he came to write it countless times, I delved further.
Apparently ,within the riff Mark incorporated something approximating to Sting’s Don’t Stand so Close to Me and when Virgin heard it they claimed -much to Sting’s embarrassment – a percentage of the royalties.
I watched the BBC Gordon Lightfoot concert again recently, just after reading a Sidetracks And Detours review of his career. The concert had been shown on BBC 4 just short of 12 month’s ago when I recorded it to watch later, only to then find it had cut off early. So it was good to catch it again.
Those In Concert series, of the seventies, were way ahead of their time but were only available to the masses in black and white.
Sidetracks And Detours keeps telling us (every Friday), that we´re gonna need a bigger bookshelf as Norm gives his recommended reading each week.
As a point of interest, I have just finished reading the Lucinda Williams bio book.-Don’t Tell Anybody The Secrets. It is more of a short memoir rather than a fuill biography, but is not bad. It precedes a new album-next month I think.
Meanwhile, I´ll be attending another gig soon on June 25th at Bury Met. The venue is one that I know our Sidetracks And Detours editor knows and loves very well from his time spent in the UK. I also know that Norm shares for my admiration for American Songwriter Tom Russell who is the evening´s headline act. I shall probably send a review over to Norm if only to remind him how lucky I am to still see such artists here in the North West of England as they tour the UK
SIDETRACKS AND DETOURS
by Norman Warwick
REMEMBERING ROBIN PARKER
He arrived in the town several decades ago from down south in the London area but despite the fact that he was never shy to admit being a QPR Robin Parker took Rochdale to heart as the town and its people took him to heart. So much so that he became a hard working and effective Council member. He became a much-loved Mayor of the town and worked quietly behind the scenes supporting multi-faith matters and denouncing social injustice. He was also a great supporter of the arts.
Robin Parker (right) sadly died last week after a short illness and I was grateful for a message from our occasional correspondent Michael Higgins, who was not only a regular performer when Roboin and I were running poetry nights at The Baum for two or three years, but also was a companion with Robin on many poetry trips. I was also informed by Steve Cooke, from all across the arts, who worked closely with Robin over the last few years on a few arts initiatives in recent years.
I shared their liking of Robin and I also shared their sadness, but what Robin achieved in Rochdale and the attributes and personal skills he carried were most perfectly captured in the fb post below.
Despite, or perhaps because of, being a Londoner, Robin was an active member of The Edwin Waugh Dialect Society (EWDS) of which we have written about on these pages several times. He also was the author of The Edenfield Scrolls a book of short stories from the Bible, re-imagined, as it were, in a dialect from somewhere along the Rochdale Bolton Line.. The beautifully presented hard-back book was sold with an included audio cd of the stories being read by Robin´s good pal Sid Calderbank, a colleague from the EWDS, with an authentic local dialect.
Robin will be missed not only for his poetry but also for the far more important ability to speak out for others, stand his ground and make a difference for the better.
taking Sidetracks & Detours in search of
on Family, Loss & Such Ferocious Beauty
originally written by Tom Lanham for Pasdte On Line magazine
Idle hands, we were reminded in a recent Paste-post by journalist Tom Lanham, are the devil’s workshop. So during the pandemic, Margo Timmins kept hers in constant motion, banishing Beelzebub in the process. On her farm two miles north of Toronto, the Cowboy Junkies songbird fluttered from task to attention-diverting task, starting with an archival dig through album after album of vintage band photographs, which she organized to soon be transferred to digital. And yes, she says, she even found a backstage snapshot commemorating the band’s first-ever show in San Francisco in the late ’80s, when poker-faced actor Sean Penn dropped by for some quiet conversation afterwards.
“There’s one of us in the basement of Great American Music Hall, and it’s so funny, because both of us are sitting on a bench, and we’ve got two feet between us,” she recalls. “And we’re both looking at each other, and it’s really intense—you can really feel the tension.”
Next, she dug into a treasure trove of dusty old cassette tapes of various cover versions undertaken by the quiescent quartet over the years, long after their signature 1988 take on “Sweet Jane,” which were then redone for their covers for a 2020 Songs of the Revolution release, like The Cure’s “17 Seconds,” “Neil Young’s “Love in Mind,” Bob Dylan’s “I’ve Made Up My Mind,” and the late Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Way I Feel.” “And there were some rare songs we found that I just don’t remember ever singing at all,” she confesses.
The recording began in earnest on Such Ferocious Beauty, Cowboy Junkies’ first album of new material in five years, composed by bandleader and brother Michael Timmins in honor of the recent passing of both parents, under completely different circumstances. And her patented smoke-tendril vocals wreath effortlessly around her sibling’s forlorn, occasionally funereal notes and filigrees, from the opening elegy “What I Lost” to a bluesier “Hard to Build, Easy to Break,” the seraphic “Shadows,” the subtly symphonic “Knives,” and the hushed, optimistic closer “Blue Skies.” It’s quite the heartwarming, mortality-themed familial undertaking (especially with brother Peter Timmins on drums and long time bassist Alan Anton providing eerily syncopated rhythm). But at 62, Margo Timmins still felt restless.
“So I started a decluttering company,” she adds. “I was down in people’s basements and I loved it! It was mindless work, but it made people so happy, because they finally had a clean basement. And that helped a lot to give me purpose.” And, of course, dibs on any collectibles folks were discarding, like valuable cameras, corning-ware, even mint-condition comic books. The only thing she didn’t have to busy herself with was songwriting, she says. “It’s always Michael—I stopped writing a long time ago, because his songwriting is up there on such an amazing level, I could never begin to compete.”
And here’s where 64-year old Michael Timmins himself chimes in, to relate the rest of the Ferocious fable.
Paste: Nobody seems to talk about this, but going back to the beginning, your first album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, was actually a thing back then, because every once in a while authorities would find these radicals up in the Pacific Northwest who’d assumed that name, and were working on some 12 Monkeys-deadly virus to get, not just whites, but everyone off the Earth now. But now I can’t find any proof that they ever existed. But why would you dub your debut disc that?
Michael Timmins: Yeah! And you have to remember, this was way before the internet, so you had a real lack of information. But we knew there was a group with that slogan or name, Whites Off Earth Now, and we didn’t know anything about it, what they meant or symbolized. But we just loved the idea, because it was such a great picky little statement, because we were just a bunch of white kids playing blues again, so once again suburban white kids were taking this great old Black roots music and pretending to make it their own. So it was sort of a dig at ourselves—it wasn’t necessarily a nod to the organization. We just stole the name, and their slogan. And I’ve done the same as you, you know? Because I’m curious, and I remember coming across this article and loving their name and their slogan, and it was way before Cowboy Junkies were even around, so we had carried it with us. But in recent years, I tried to find them, like, “What was that? Who were those people?” And I can’t find it, either! It’s really interesting, eh?
Paste: And I really hate to say this, but as we teeter on the precipice of extinction, getting closer every day, I’ve noticed that in many superhero films, like Kingsmen and The Watchmen, the super villains have had pretty good ideas, like killer cellphones and a frightened-rabbit nuclear standoff between all countries, worried that Dr. Manhattan will nuke them all.
Timmins: Yeah. Exactly. And it’s hard to judge it, especially if you put it in an historical context, you know? Is what’s going on now worse than what was going on in the 1940s? I don’t think so. But it’s happening to us, and it’s happening now, so obviously it feels like everything’s falling apart. But when you start to go back through history, and think of the plagues that have devastated humanity, we’re not even close, and we’re still in pretty good shape. But we’re trying hard, trying hard to wreck it.
Paste: Going from that to fatherhood, how are your kids doing?
Timmins: Alright, you know? For Covid it was very difficult for them. I think that age bracket was hit hardest, from 18 to 22. Three of these kids were trying to get out in the world and do their thing, get away from their parents, but for a year and a half or so, they all had to just sit in their childhood bedrooms and sleep, you know? And I sort of feel like just now, they’re finally beginning to recover from that. Their natural momentum was stopped, right? So now they’re just beginning to figure that out and build up a bit of steam and get moving again. But I think it was really hard for them, and for that age group, it was the hardest. One was in grade 12, last year of high school, one was in first year of university, and the other was just starting to get into her work, just building up some momentum. But they all got slammed, so it was difficult. And we’re in Toronto.
Paste: And it must have been especially tough—given your love of Asia—for Trump and his ilk to immediately blame China for Covid, dubbing it the “Wuhan Virus.”
Timmins: Yeah. And the thing about Toronto is that it’s very multicultural, and very diverse. So you don’t really have to think too much about those things, but then all of a sudden, there’s this—whatever you want to call him—president? Or appointed leader, and all of a sudden, your children are dealt with, looked on, or being pointed at as minorities. It was weird, just a bit strange. It was horrible.
Paste: How did the pandemic hit you, personally? And obviously, you thought, “Hey—we’re known for covers! Let’s do a whole album’s worth!”
Timmins: Well, those were sort of already in the can, though. They were floating around, and it was a way of bridging things, coming out of Covid. At the time, we were starting to work on this new record, so I think a couple of those [covers] we hadn’t recorded yet, but we had been doing them live. So with that record, it was like, “Let’s get something out there so that when we start up touring again, after Covid, we’ll have something to focus our shows around.
Paste: And just when you think you’re out of the pandemic woods, your father’s health started to decline?
Timmins: Yeah. He had dementia, and my mom had died in the fall of 2018, and she’s lucky because she died of lung complications, so Covid would have been really terrifying for her with that. But my dad was of his age, so as an older man, he was kind of lost in a way, and when my mom died, he was really lost. But the dementia began to get worse and worse, and then with Covid, he didn’t really know what was going on. But by then, we had made a decision that whatever the rules were, we broke them. We went and saw him and visited him, and he was at home, living at home, so we had to deal with that and visit him. So we were very careful, because he had no real idea what was going on, on that level. So he’d want to go somewhere, and we had to keep undermining him, so that was hard. And as dementia happens, he got worse, and finally he died last June. And it was difficult, because it was a really weird time, with Covid and the kids, and especially how Covid affected live music, you know? And that’s what we were living for and living on, so it was a very stressful couple of years.
Paste: Was there a point where you stopped and decided, “I can’t write about this—it’s too close,” Or did you immediately understand that you had to write about it?
Timmins: You know, that’s what I’ve written about my entire life—what’s going on, so it was kind of natural, in a way, for me to write about it. And there are a couple of things on there that are written more directly about it, and some that are indirect, but the overall arching theme to me is the idea of impermanence, so it all kind of flows in with the idea of Covid and what was happening down in your country with social unrest and uncertainty, and the trouble with my dad and his dementia. All of it flowed into this sense of, “Where are we? And what is this?” And it’s amazing how fragile it all is.
Paste: So how did Circe and mythology fit in?
Timmins: Well, I guess when you think about it, Circe and Penelope both deal with impermanence, as well. They’re both dealing with a relationship with a person who’s there and then not there, so their standing in the world is based around him, so that’s part of it, as well. But that’s after the fact—to me, it was just a cool idea, and I followed it.
Paste: “Hell is Real” relies on scripture, as well.
Timmins: It’s more of an ironic statement on that fatalistic sort of outlook, and I think the real lines in that song are “I’m scared and I’m angry” and “I’m scared and I’m lonely” and “I’m scared and I’m empty.” Because that’s what the song’s about—about people being isolated and, well, scared. And not just Covid-wise, but people trying to figure out who they are, economically, and they’re just trying to figure out what’s going on in their lives. That’s what the song’s really about, is those people, which the “Hell is real” part doesn’t seem to want to deal with, because the people who want to tell you Hell is real don’t want to deal so much with the actual feelings of—or care too much about—the actual people that are out there.
Paste: The creepiest track on the record—and it’s almost like the hump the listener has to get over—is “Shadows,” with lyrics like “I can sit here and wait for death.”
Timmins: Yeah. And that song was inspired by a D.H. Lawrence poem called “Shadows,” and he wrote a series of poems when he was nearing the end of his life, and he was sort of reflecting on his life, and that was one of them. So the song is really taken from two sides—it’s from the side of me, imagining my father, because that’s what he’d do, just sit and look out the window all day, and on my visits, I’d wonder what he was thinking about, what he was doing. And eventually, I came to peace with, when I’d visit, just to sit with him, and not try to engage him, necessarily, because he didn’t want to be engaged, and not try to figure out what he was thinking about. So there are two sides—him sitting there, waiting, and me sitting there and just being with him, and just waiting, as well, with neither of us really knowing what we’re waiting for. But that’s what we’re doing, and that was the relationship at that point. So it was a song that started with D.H. Lawrence 100 years ago, and now comes full circle and continues.
Paste: Have you gotten any messages from your folks from the other side?
Timmins: No, I haven’t really, or I don’t think so. But I don’t think my dad would know to do that, and I think my mom would want to be left alone.
Paste: Do you have any concept, mortality-wise, for what comes next? And is it more Eastern or Western, given your background?
Timmins: That’s a good point. I think it’s both. Obviously, I’m indoctrinated in the Western side of things, but the Eastern side of things is what I try and use to figure things out, and so it’s more interesting in a way. But I dunno—I can’t even begin to understand what comes next, but it’s something I think about more now. I really, really do—I really try to find my own peace with it and figure it out, because one thing I do know—which sounds kind of stupid, but I don’t think people actually realize it or admit it—is that it’s coming. You’re not gonna escape it. So I do wanna try to figure it out, because I’d like to have the luxury of being at peace with it. That, to me, is a big thing. And it’s something that my dad didn’t have, but that I think my mom did have—her diagnosis was such that she knew she had a limited amount of life, whereas my dad, when his brain started to go, he lost touch with the reality of this life, so I don’t think he really had any sense of what was happening.
Paste: Has all of this become a big motivating factor for you now?
Timmins: In a way, you know? But not so much with the work. It’s less to do with the work, and more about how I live my life and how I enjoy it. And especially, being Canadian, seasons are a big thing. But recently, a big realization for me has been that my summers are very limited. I have a limited amount of summers left. I don’t know how many, but there’s not that many more, and things like that have made me realize the need to appreciate that, and just to enjoy it, because there’s not a whole lot of time left, all told. So now I do tend to relax a bit more, and enjoy things a lot more.
What a revealing interview is the one above,…particularly for me as it was with members of a group I am somewhat ashamed to say I had rather lost touch of. The Cowboy Junkies were not the only group that disappeared out of my life on the Boxing Day of 2015; We had been living here on Lanzarote since 9th November, so a period of maybe seven weeks. With no boxing day football fixtures we thought we would just recourse to catching the UK BBC news and went on line to do so,….the first image we saw was of a raging river, streaming and screaming through a venue that looked very familiar,…it was the office that Steve Cooke and I had chosen from which to produce All Across The Arts. Fortunately Steve, who had of course recently become the sole director of aata, had all his necessary archived on gadgets he had at home, but it was still a sorry sight to see. The next image, however wes a orry sight indeed. As the news presenter said we were now to be shown images from further up the valley at Hebden Bridge….an artsy small town where my brother had a lock-up and where he been entrusted to store my collection of about 5,000 cds and twice that number on 90 minute cassette tapes. As a cold chill ran down my back I could almost read the titles of the cds and tapes,…and of all my Book collection floating behind them,
It is only now, thanks to the fantastic carrier of music that is Spotify, and the book suppliers that are Amazon and Kindle that I am beginning to refill my collections. I would love to say I have my own headful of computer like record archives. Obviously I can remember favourite such as the entire discographies of John Stewart, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tom Waits.
I might have forgotten or overlooked the only Cowboy Junkies album I had in my collections had it not been for the very informative and memory tapping article by Ton Lanham. published above. Since reading that article a week or so ago, I have remembered how I first came to buy that album,,,,it must have been when I was researching a series of articles called Their Name Dropped Out In Conversation, for Country Matters a UK music publication.
MAKING MUSICAL MEMORIES.
as names fall out in conversation
between Norman & Dee Warwick
with Larry and Liz Yaskiel
A series I wrote for Country Matters half a life-time ago called Their Names fell Out In Conversation reflected on songs that paid tribute to other artists or songs, and falling right into that category was Townes´ Blues on the Black Eyed Man album by The Cowboy Junkies in 1992 as referred to in the previous article. (Townes Van Zandt is shown left)
It was a lovely track on a disc full of quiet beauty and I am pleased to say I have this week added it the new series of play-lists to be produced by Sidetracks And Detours called Names Fall Out In Conversation, focussing on new or seminal or generational or legendary artists we, or an interviewee or contributor has mentioned in a Sidetracks And Detours edition.
The best examples of such conversation, in that they inevitably produce a torrent of names whenever we have a chat, are held over a coffee and cake with Larry and Liz Yaskiel. I have previously mentioned these meetings in an article called POP MASTER PRETENDERS published on Lanzarote Information..
Our latestget-together was this last Wednesday at Café La Plaza in Puerto Callero, on a gorgeous blue sky day. Dee and I had met with Larry and Liz to hear about their trip over to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party to celebrate Larry´s recent receipt of an MBE. It was a dangling conversation about Liz´s liking for red-coat soldiers in Busby Hats. We all chatted away about which Royals were present and we learned that Kate and William were standing in for King Charles and Queen Camilla, as the Coronation of The King was only two days later.
And then very casually Larry slipped in to the conversation a name that fell out and landed on the table.
´There was some sheet music on a music stand, from which the director was to lead the band´, said Larry, ´and I slipped away to have a look at what the music was,….and it was a song recorded by a very young Petula Clark, who signed for a label I was working with many years ago.´
¨What a coincidence´, I replied, ´I´ve just researched a piece about Harry Belafonte who has just sadly passed away´, (which Larry knew of course), ´Apparently a duet he performed with Petula Clark on a tv series he hosted was the first ever tv showing of a white woman patting the arm of a coloured person.
Larry told us that the signing of Petula was around the time öf the likes Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, Lonnie Donegon and Joe Brown and The Bruvvers.
That led us on to my love of I Wanna Be Like You (Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen) and Larry´s love of Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Over Night and also of My Old Man´s A Dustman. There was an immediate leap by me from Donegon to Mark Knopfler who wrote and recorded an incredible Donegon´s Gone as a musical homage, really. I was able to jump across to my favourite singer-writer John Stewart who almost simultaneously with Lonnie, recorded a version of Hang Down Your Head Tom Dula.
Liz then let a name fall out in the conversation that had us all remembering some of the great music of our youth.
¨We went to the theatre in the evening, after Buckingham Palace Garden Party, to see the musical about The Temptations !¨
The musical is more formally titled as Ain´t Too Proud To Beg: The Life And Times Of The Temptations (right) and carries the strap-line of Five Men. One Dream. A Sound That Would Last A Lifetime.
Great claims are made on-line, such as
From the creators of the award-winning Jersey Boys…Get Ready, ‘Cos Here They Come!
AIN’T TOO PROUD is the exhilarating new musical following the remarkable journey of THE TEMPTATIONS from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
TONY Award-winning choreography and Grammy Award-winning music tell a thrilling story of brotherhood, loyalty and betrayal set to the beat of the group’s most treasured hits, including My Girl, Just My Imagination, Get Ready, Papa Was a Rolling Stone and so many more.
With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, THE TEMPTATIONS rose to the top of the charts with a staggering 42 Top-Ten Hits and 14 Number Ones. The rest is history.
Experience the sound of genius in the making. NOW PLAYING at the Prince Edward Theatre, London.
Please note: This performance includes haze effects, a black out in Act 1, two blackouts in Act 2, and the smoking of herbal cigarettes on stage.
This performance contains racially offensive language prevalent at the time and some other derogatory language.
This performance also contains strong language, scenes of violence and drug use.
Liz and Dee began to usher us back to our cars before Larry and I started to settle a few recollections of diverse chronologies weaving through the sixties over a reliable tome we both treasure..
I´d have won, though, because it was only at our previous meeting that he had given me, for safe keeping, a priceless edition of The Rolling Stone Encylopeadia Of Rock. When he reads the preceding article about everything I lost in the floods he might well ask for it back !
Sidetracks And Detours perfect playlists are compiled when Names Fall Out In Conversation and the series has already reached volume six. Today´s edition of Weekend Walkabout contains such a plethora of names that we are now collating the first in a complementary new series called PASS IT ON.
From Music In Porstmouth we learned heard about Selsey Singers, , Zabetas and The Sonare Quartet and more about a name we were already familiar with, The Chichester Singers.
As were introduced to The Oxford Chamber Music Orchestra
we also learned of aphorism that kept Beethoven constantly composing
Jim Wade and the other good guys at Jazz In Reading introduced The Horace Silver Project, The Sharp End of The Sax and Thomas L´E¨tienne.
Peter Pearson, in his first column for us in Weekend Walkabout threw down the names of Mark Knopfler, Sting, Gordon Lightfoot, Lucinda Williams and Tom Russell in an assormtnet of American.
Personally, I love name-dropping, and do so in the manner of Hyacinth Bucket, and in this edition I have contributed Sid Calderbanl, The Cowboy Junkies, John Stewart, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tom Waits
Names always fall out in conversation with Larry and Liz Yaskiel and at our meeting this time we placed Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen, Lonnie Donegon and The Temptations,
We are very excited about our two series of playlists, Names Fall Out In Conversation and Pass It On, and will publish full details of listings and availability at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, where will SIDETRACKS AND DETOURS take us next?
It will be around the world in about eighty hours of typing next week ! We fly over to watch soap and drama with the Kids In Korea, before crossing the Atlantic to listen to why Carole King is regarded as having been born a songwriter. and why Mark and Emmylou do All The Road-Running. We will also deliver a compare and contrast between British Folk and Americana. The book that will be budging all the others up the bookshelf at the end of the week will be a biography of the foot-loose Kenny Loggins.
Come follow your art, next, week down Sidetracks & Detours