sidetracks & detours present PASS IT ON 56 weekly supplement Sunday 9 6 2024

sidetracks & detours



weekly supplement Sunday 9 6 2024


Hear the Call


by Akela

Live Music Event


6 June – 8 June preview by newsletter

Live Jazz with SARA DOWLING

Royal Northern College Music Big Band

27 June preview by newsletter

Live Jazz Concert in Support of Ukraine

14 June  Reading Minster Church, St Mary’s Butts RG1 2LG

preview by Jazz In Reading

Following Festivals


previews  by Alfred Michael

Music In Portsmouth

player profile NATALIA COROLSCAIA violinist

interview by newsletter

Recorded  Music.


review by newsletter from Manchester Folk

Live Manchester Folk Music

THE UNTHANKS in winter

15th December New Century Hall, Manchester

preview by newsletter

Music News


upcoming events previewed by newsletter

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward


by Peter Pearson.

Norman Warwick watches a play, starring


Uga, May 2024

Hello and thank you for joining us. Today we take a walk through a city of floating sounds and look forward to live jazz from Sarah Dowling and The Riyakl Northern Collage Band and an upcoming gig in support of Ukraine. There´s a good folk day coming up in Rochdale, my former home town and Manchester Music Festival around the same time, so it should be a cracking summer. There´s an excellent player profile from music in Portsmouth and we even have the official UK folk music charts and news of forthcoming performance by The Unthanks In Winter. We hear from North Sea Quartet, who have plenty to be pleased about at the moment. We take a look  at the career of Gretchen Peters, an Americana singer writer, and we close today´s issue with another Island Insight of Lanzarote.

Live Music Event


6 June – 8 June review by newsletter

Yesterday brought the culmination to a unique event held in Manchester this weekend.

Fans heard the strands of Huang Ruo’s new symphony grow and met each other travelling through the streets of the city – before subsequently being treated to a world premiere of the full score performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at Aviva Studios.

City of Floating Sounds (right) was an invitation to connect with our surroundings and each other. It began with the experience of a shifting soundscape as ´the audience´ journeyed through the city and were invited to find other audience members to create a richer sound.

Pushing the boundaries of classical music performance, City of Floating Sounds used cutting-edge creative technology to take music out into the city. Guided by a bespoke mobile app, listeners made their way through the streets of Manchester listening to fragments of Huang Ruo’s meditative new work, recorded by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

As they neared closer to Aviva Studios – and other audience members – the sound expanded, revealing more parts of the work. This was an opportunity to explore Manchester in a new light – the path taken and those we met on our journey somehow changed  how we listened and changed what we heard.

On arrival at Aviva Studios, ´the audience´ heard the world premiere of City of Floating Sounds performed live by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gemma New. Hearing the full score come to life with an immersive performance was a classical concert experience like no other.

This project we joined this weekend brought together Huang Ruo, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Creative Technologist Josh Kopeček from Echoes – a company that specialises in creating unique sound experiences through app technology.

City of Floating Sounds asked listeners to open all their senses to the sounds of the city.

Live Jazz with SARA DOWLING

Royal Northern College Music Big Band

27 June preview by newsletter

This promises to be a sizzling event.

Voted Best Vocalist in the British Jazz Awards 2019, Sara Dowling (right) is gaining fame as one of the most talented jazz singers in the UK. With Palestinian and Irish heritage, she first trained as a cellist at Chetham’s School of Music and the RNCM, before emerging as a powerful and expressive jazz vocalist and composer. Her most important influences are Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan.

Although her vocal approach is steeped in the jazz idiom and its repertoire, Sara is now coming forth with her own original sound that resonates in her compositions as well as her unique approach to standards.

Iain Dixon director

Sara Dowling vocals

RNCM Big Band

Live Jazz Concert in Support of Ukraine

14 June  Reading Minster Church, St Mary’s Butts RG1 2LG

preview by Jazz In Reading

We will bring fabulous music with messages of peace and unity to our audience.

We’ve got a great band for this event – Maff Potts, Robert Otwinowski, Steve Kershaw, Ben Roberts, Fleur Stevenson, Steve Foster, Katrina Likhtman, Kyrill Avilov.

Please join us in standing with Ukraine, the country fighting for the freedom of its people and the wider democratic world.

If you can’t attend our concert but would like to support our initiative, you can still make a donation. Every donation would be greatly appreciated.

Please help us spread the word and invite as many people as possible to make this concert a great success!

On air sign background

Jazz On Air

HOT BISCUITS shared by Steve Bewick

Tuning in to our HOT BISCUITS programme next week  should be just like discovering a pearl in the sand, because we feature Sam Newbould and a few singles from his now released CD, Homing. Regualr listeners might remember me interviewing Same on the show recently and readers of Sidetracks & detours, and of course the PASS IT ON weekly Sunday supplement, will be aware that each of those publications carried my interview with Sam on their on-line outlets.

Also included in the show this week is the Ken Colyer Society as well as the  Bobby Wellins Quintet,  performing `You Don’t Know What Love Is.`

There will be an an old favourite, `Caravan` from, Michael Hughes‘ Poetrio.

We will also include, Small Blue, an ensemble featuring Marianne Windham on bass, David Beebee on piano, and Martin Pyne playing drums on, Stealthy Moon.

We will close the show with Maja Bugge, the cellist and composer, with Healing Song. If this looks good, like it, share it and enjoy it on 24/07

Following Festivals


Sunday 11th August previews by Alfred Michael

Sound Roots and Rochdale creates will present an exciting free day of folk music this summer in partnership with the Annual Rochdale Feel Good Festival.

Alongside some of the finest English folk talent, festival-goers will be the first to experience the fascinating new project from Sean Cooney, of The Young Úns fame. Featuring Eliza Carthy and Sam Carter, the project is inspired by the life of radical reformer and hero of Peterloo, Sam Bamford.

Live Music


preview by mmf newsletter

Manchester Music Festival welcomes artists from all over the globe to perform in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont. We look forward to being joined by Edward Arron and Jeewon Park on July 18 in Schumann, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky!

Cellist Edward Arron made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has since performed in major concert halls worldwide. He was the artistic director and host of the Musical Masterworks concert series in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and is currently co-artistic director of the Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute. A member of the renowned Ehnes Quartet, Arron also teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park (left) captivates audiences with her dazzling technique and poetic lyricism. She has performed in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and frequently appears at global festivals like Bargemusic and Caramoor. She is the co-artistic director of the Performing Artists in Residence series at the Clark Art Institute and holds degrees from Yonsei University, The Juilliard School, Yale University, and SUNY Stony Brook.

Manchester Music Festival is thrilled to be mentioned in Manchester Life Magazine and Symphony Magazine recognizing the upcoming summer 2024 season.

Manchester Music Festival commissions a new work from composer Sarah Kirkland Snider (left). Featuring New York Philharmonic Harpist Nancy Allen and MMF Young Artists Ensemble, “Drink the Wild Aye” for harp and string orchestra is a re-imagining of the string quartet by the same name that Snider wrote for the Emerson String Quartet’s Farewell Tour in 2023. Join us for the World Premiere of this new version on August 1.

Music In Portsmouth

player profile. NATALIA COROLSCAIA violinist

interview by newsletter

Natalia (right) is Leader of the Chichester Symphony Orchestra, the oldest local secular amateur musical ensemble. Its next concert is playing Three Characteristic Pieces, op. 10 by Elgar and the “London” Symphony no. 104 in D Major by Haydn at 1.10pm on 24 October, as part of the Chichester Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts series.

What are you looking most forward to when performing at this concert?

I was appointed Leader of the CSO a year ago. Right from the start, I received so great a reception and so much support. It’s an orchestra which welcomes new ideas and challenges, and which clearly articulates them in its music making. It also comprises a wide range of ages. It’s nice for me to do something in the community, outside of the University.

One of the most exciting aspects about this performance is collaborating with the talented musicians of  the Chichester Symphony Orchestra and our conductor Simon Wilkins. I am truly thrilled about performing in such a beautiful place as Chichester Cathedral. Its unique acoustics create a special atmosphere that adds an entirely new dimension to the music.

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career or interest in music?

While I was at music school in my native Moldova, my teacher Angela Molodojan gave me a sense of self-belief as a musician, and as a result I graduated from University with the highest mark. A while before I moved to the UK, I purchased her violin. I play it with pride and still use her advice when teaching and performing. I owe her a huge debt.

Crispin Ward gave me the opportunity to study at Chichester University, where I currently work: I teach chamber ensemble and violin, and also am “Concertmeister” where I help students to understand what’s needed to prepare for rehearsals and performances, and also offer guidance on practice techniques and stylistic nuances.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

It was a challenge to move to a new country permanently. As one would expect, the UK has a different mindset, but it also has a different music system. My past experience didn’t count for much and I have had to prove my worth on many occasions.

What are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

The best part of my job is collaborating  with other musicians; sometimes this experience can be simply magical, as you share your thoughts, backgrounds, experiences and the mix of all of these are always unique.  

Let me give you an example. In one of my recent performances, I played in a string quartet, and it was something really special for me. What made it so amazing was that all four of us in the quartet came from different parts of the world – Moldova, Iran, USA, and Bosnia Herzegovina. We each had different musical backgrounds and training, but we brought all that together to create a really special performance. Experiences like this help me to grow as a musician, and it’s extremely valuable for me. And just imagine, if we didn’t choose music as our main activity, we might never have even met one another.

Are there any composers for whom you feel a particular affinity? 

Vivaldi is always enjoyable and I’m fortunate to be part of the Baroque Ensemble at the University, playing alongside Julia Bishop, where we often play his works. We delve deep into the history and feel immersed in it: we play with Baroque bows and sometimes Baroque violins, and we often read the music in manuscript.

Bach is a maestro, and I find the slow movements of Bach’s Partitas so intense.

I used to play in the National Opera of Moldova, and developed a love of the operas of Puccini and Prokoviev – Tosca and Romeo and Juliet give me goosebumps every time!

I am a great admirer of the piano concertos of Rachmaninov.

Which works do you think you are able to perform best, and why? 

Any music with folk influences, especially coming from the Balkans or from Spain.

Which performances are you most proud of?

Recording Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe at Abbey Road Studios.

What are your most memorable experiences, either as a performer, composer or listener?

As part of the National Opera of Moldova, I’ve taken part in the annual open-air DescOpera festival, performing Verdi’s Rigoletto and Requiem. It’s in a beautiful location, taking opera out from its traditional setting and transporting it into the midst of nature.

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

It’s not easy at the beginning but if you have patience and vision it does get easier. Dare to dream big. And when you do progress in your career, remember to be kind to musicians who are following you on their journeys.

How would you define success as a musician?

Each of us has a different interpretation of what is meant by success and you need to set yourself a goal so you know when you’ve succeeded. But more importantly, you need to enjoy yourself on the journey getting there!

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

I’ve been so focused to get where I am now, and so I’d like to broaden my horizons, travel to new places and explore new hobbies and activities. I’d also like to be still helping to develop the careers of up-and-coming musicians, and to be performing as much as possible.

About Natalia
Natalia Corolscaia started to play the violin at the age of 7, having her first lessons at the prestigious Musical Lyceum “Sergei Rachmaninov” in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. During that time she took part in numerous concerts and music festivals as a soloist, quartet player and orchestra member. After successfully graduating, Natalia obtained a full scholarship at the Academy of Music, Theatre and Fine Arts, “Gavriil Musicescu”, in Chisinau, in the class of Angela Molodojan, Maestro in Arts of the Republic of Moldova. She graduated with a Licentiate Diploma in Higher Education Music. In that period Natalia started working in the National Opera and Ballet Theatre, as a violinist in the orchestra, and performed in various theatres in Europe: Germany, Spain, France, Belgium and Switzerland.

In 2016, Natalia was offered a full scholarship at the University of Chichester Conservatoire starting her Master’s Degree in Advanced Music Performance, under the tutorship of Oxana Dodon. In a short period, she took part in a masterclass with Zoltan Tacacz (principal first violin at the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Helsinki), James Dickenson (Leader of the Villiers Quartet), and Emilian Dascal (solo viola at Sinfonierorchester St. Gallen). Natalia has recorded at the famous Abbey Road Studios and also had numerous performances with the University of Chichester Conservatoire, where she is currently a guest lecturer and providing tuition, sectionals and workshops to young talented students.

Recorded  Music.


review by newsletter from Manchester Folk

In at No. 1 is Lives Outgrown by Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame. Her much-acclaimed debut solo record is her most personal work to date, the result of a period of sustained reflection and change – “lots of goodbyes” in Beth’s words. These are songs from the mid-course of life, when looking ahead no longer yields what it used to and looking back has a sudden, sharper focus.

Straight in at No.3 is thought-provoking and politically charged, Ferocious Dog’s Kleptocracy. A close reflection of their live shows, the album echoes their commitment to shedding light on the issues plaguing our world today, a rallying cry for change, amplifying voices against corruption and injustice.

No. 4 is Emily Barker’s Fragile As Humans. After the expansive themes of 2020’s A Dark Murmuration of Words, this record sees Barker turn her lyrical gaze inwards, providing an unflinching self-examination of grief, pain and loneliness, while also sparkling with hope, optimism and connection.

New at No. 6 is Willson Williams, Kathryn Williams & Withered Hand’s collaborative debut. Their modest confessionals, written poetically and over nostalgic melodies, are as relatable as ever and together they find new ways to unpack their feelings.

The summation of over a decade of releasing music and the overcoming of personal struggle, Bright Circumstance by Blue Rose Code comes in at No. 7. Written between the Isle of Lewis, the Whitstable seafront and his new home of Liverpool, Ross Wilson’s startling vulnerability and honest lyricism give the record an undeniable feeling of redemption..

In at No. 17 is Parenthesis, I  by renowned indie-folk singer, songwriter, and producer Josienne Clarke. Shimmering, warm, intimate and profoundly heart-wrenching, the album signifies a new era for the former Rough Trade-signed artist and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-winner.

Live Manchester Folk Music

THE UNTHANKS in winter

15th December New Century Hall, Manchester

preview by newsletter

After a stunning sell-out show at The Albert Hall last year Manchester Folk, in partnership with Hey ! Manchester, is delighted to welcome back to the city The Unthanks in winter.

When December 2024 draws near The Unthanks will release ´In Winter´, a double album, dream-like fantasia embracing both darkness and the light,  in the most ritualistic of seasons. Fans can expect winter tunes known throughout the western world, mixed with the traditional and the newly-written.

If you have wondered what a Tyneside Band playing a German Christmas song in the style of the Beach Boys might sound like, then have a listen.

Capturing the warmth and nostalgia of the festive season, come usher in those darker nights with sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, Adrian McNally and their immensely talented band.

Music News


upcoming events previewed by newsletter

The past few weeks for the North Sea String Quartet have been wonderful. They have enjoyed two sold-out concerts in Zwolle and Den Haag and a great experience at a packed Paradox in Tilburg, where the band met many fans and friends, most of whom were wearing the band´s Splunge themed t shirts (right). NSSQ have enjoyed very positive reviews of the new Splunge across a platform of print music media, including of course at sidetracks & detours and PASS IT ON.

We will continue to keep you updated on NSSQ and their haunting music.

A Reader´s Perspective: All Points Forward


by Peter Pearson.

In the UK, fans of the late BBC presenter, Terry Wogan, will be familiar with at least one of Gretchen Peter’s (right) compositions.

On a Bus To St. Cloud was played on his BBC Radio 2 show repeatedly following its release in 1996.  It  was  the song that

introduced UK fans to Gretchen Peters. Prior to 1996 Gretchen had concentrated on writing songs and recording demos for other Country/Americana artists. In fact, On a Bus To St. Cloud had been recorded and issued previously in 1995 by Trisha Yearwood and included on her fourth studio album, Thinkin About You. It charted in the States but received nothing like the same airplay outside the USA as Peters’ later version received.

Born in Bronxville, New York in 1957, Peters wrote her first song, with her sister, at the age of five! Not long after, she started to play guitar, encouraged by her folk singing father.

Following her parents’ break up in 1970, Peters moved with her mother to Boulder, Colorado, where she started playing at local bars and clubs from the age of 15 and at 19, a demo tape she recorded for a local songwriting competition won her first prize.

Despite this, she couldn’t break out of the local scene and continued to perform her songs around the Colorado circuit. Finally, in 1988, she relocated to Nashville, intent on breaking into the music scene there.

There she found fertile ground as a songwriter. Her first hit came in 1991 when George Strait recorded her co-write, The Chill of an Early Fall. This was quickly followed by Pam Tillis having a country hit with Let That Pony Run.

The big breakthrough came in 1995, when she won her first Grammy for Song of the Year, with Martina McBride’s recording of Independence Day, a powerful song about an abused wife trying to save her own life and child from an abusive husband.

After Sarah Palin only got as far as the title and tune in understanding the meaning of the song and attempted to appropriate it in 2008 as her Vice Presidential campaign anthem, Peters put the block in on her continuing to use it and

decided to retire the song from her set, as she felt it was no longer hers.

Another songwriting Grammy came her way in 1996 after Patty Loveless topped the country charts with, You Don’t Even Know Who I Am.

Finally at the age of 39 in 1996 she released her debut album, The Secret Of Life. As well as On a Bus to St.Cloud and Independence Day it contains a number of outstanding self written songs and a cover of Steve Earle’s, I Ain’t Ever Satisfied.

With this she started to tour the UK, which she would continue to do on an almost annual basis for in excess of 20 years. Prior to her first UK visit, I recall writing to her UK agent for tour details and receiving not only tour details but also a CD EP of the album and a signed photo. Always considerate of her fans, those like me who signed up to her mailing list, received a free digital download with each monthly newsletter. Often these were songs recorded in live performances or previews of songs yet to be released. Over 20 years, I now have a mass of them.

She has released 15 albums and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame in 2014.

I can’t remember missing any of her UK visits. Like John Stewart, Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith and a number of others in the Americana genre, she has built up a sizeable fan base of loyal supporters outside the USA by regular touring, starting with small venues and building up to larger venues.

It is instructive to read her comments on that touring career given in a recent interview with the music journalist Alan Cackett.

“I’m in huge debt to people like you and promoters from over the years, who just stuck with me. They took a chance on me when I first came over and were like, let’s do a little bit bigger next time.

I remember the first time I brought Barry Walsh, (her long time keyboard player and now husband) over in 2001. I think it was the first gig we did, the Maze in Nottingham, before the Maze got bigger. It was teeny, and he walked in there and I could see the look on his face and he was like: What! My god! I said: Just you wait, you will be as high as a kite from all the energy in this room.’ And he was. It was the audience!

People ask me a lot, especially people from over here; ‘What made you go over there? How did you do that? They see on Facebook the venues we are playing now, and they kind of think that they can jump on a plane and go to London and everybody’s going to roll out the red carpet for you. I’m like, no I played in pubs and I played in little tiny places, like you do anywhere to start.

The thing is, the people have just been unbelievable. I get teary when I think about the support that kept me going for years, when I didn’t really have anything going on. Now it’s more of a regular thing and we’re so happy that we get to the gig and it’s full and it’s great, but you know, I’ve been playing for years, when that wasn’t the case. I’ll always feel indebted to the audience in the UK.”

On a couple of tours she has performed as part of a song circle trio under the banner, Wine Women and Song, with fellow singer songwriters, Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg.

Collaborations have come easily to her. In 2009 she released an album of duets with Tom Russell. Titled One to the Heart, One to the Head, it is a themed cowboy songs album and contains the Tom Russell masterpiece, Guadalupe.

On her 2015 album, Blackbirds, she worked alongside Ben Glover (right) , Mary Gauthier, Jimmy La Fave, Suzy Bogguss and Matraca Berg.

Ben Glover has co-written with Peters and provided support on one of her UK tours, which introduced me to his music. He is a gifted performer and songwriter. Irish born and raised and now based in Nashville, with several excellent albums to his credit. His career perhaps warrants further examination in a future article.

Peters’ songs always have a strong melody and catchy hook. In a 3 minute song she is able to tell stories of people in different situations which linger in the memory. On stage she is a captivating performer, able to connect with her audience and relate the stories behind the songs.

Of the song, The Matador, from her, Hello Cruel World album, fellow songwriter Rodney Crowell says, “this song moved me so greatly, I cried from the soles of my feet”.

Sadly she decided to give up touring in 2022, having released her last album The Show: Live from the UK, recorded while on tour in the UK in 2019 with her band and an all-female Scottish string quartet. She had gone from the tiny Preston pub, Live Upstairs at The Adelphi where I first saw her on her first UK visit, to selling out the concert hall of Manchester’s Royal College of Music and Salford’s Lowry.

This extract from her website announcement and subsequently delivered from the stage sums up her connection to her audience:

“Music has been my church for as long as I can remember, and live performance has always been the thing that brings me closest to losing myself in the beauty and mystery of it all. Of all the aspects of my job, performing is the most ephemeral, the most of-the-moment. You can’t do it while you’re watching yourself. It’s a high wire act – and for a circus girl, that’s a nearly irresistible thing. Nonetheless, after several years of soul searching, questioning, and yes, grieving – I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to say farewell to touring life. It has been an absolute joy to play on stages from Sydney, Australia to Aberdeen, Scotland to Portland, Oregon. It has been a privilege to sing my songs for you. It has been my deepest pleasure and I will miss so many things about the road. But I am ready to stop.

Without a doubt, the thing I’ll miss the most is you. You’ve kept my spirits up and my wheels rolling for decades. You’ve been willing to follow me through some rough territory, song-wise, knowing that we would find beauty together in the darkness – literally and figuratively. You’ve shown your big hearts over and over again, whether donating to a cause when I asked, or sending your love and concern when I lost a friend or family member or a beloved dog. Seeing some of you become close to each other, even while separated by oceans, has given me so much pleasure – to have been the catalyst that brought you together is an amazing thing. Together we’ve celebrated and grieved births, deaths, marriages, divorces, heartbreaks – just like any family. What an unexpected joy.”

Island Insights

Norman Warwick watches a play, starring


On every one of the twenty odd holidays we spent on Lanzarote, we planned to eventually retire to this island. We were serious about doing so, and every holiday made us more determined. I loved the Wild West scenery of Timanfaya and El Risco at Famara, with their reminders of much loved tv westerns of my youth, such as Wagon Train and Boots And Saddles. I also loved the fact that I could hear, in the Spanish and Canarian folk-lore music, the ancestry of the Texan-Mexican genre of music, now categorised as Americana, that I had come to love through those tv westerns.

Perhaps the defining moment in our migration to live permanently on the island came one evening when I was driving my wife in our hire car on a romantic sunset ride down the sidetracks and detours we had discovered over the years, in the hope of even finding some new diversions too. We were watching the sun kiss the sea as we drove west over La Geria, the island´s vineyard regions. On previous occasions of taking this same direction we had become aware of a particularly pretty development of houses set in the crook of the valley between Yaiza and the La Geria road.

On this evening, as darkness fell, we were startled by the beauty of the village with its streets lit and we pulled into a layby to gaze at the view of the community nestled a hundred yards or so below us. We were struck by the number of coloured lights of reds, greens and blues and realised that a travelling fair must be in town. Through our car-windows, open on this night of a thousand stars, we could hear strains of music, some of it typical fairground sounds of rock and roll and rockabilly but also some beautiful Spanish music, all swirling together.

We drove down into this village of Uga, which we had never done before, and found parking was at a premium. Nevertheless, we actually found a space within easy walking distance of the fairground. There was no fencing, no gates, no admission fee, just access all areas, behave yourself and enjoy what you like. We liked the churros, the crepes, the cold white wine and bottles of cerveza sin alcohol.

We loved watching the macho teenage local boys riding on and falling off the mechanical bucking bulls to a recording of Cotton Eyed Joe, and we loved looking up at the space capsules that soared and swooped and hung in the air whilst we craned our necks to look up at the twenty passengers / astronauts, upside down in their seats, looking down at us, for a Ground Control to Major Tom moment.

We loved the dodgems, being enjoyed for family fun rather than tearaway terror.

Most of all, though, we loved the half hour in which the rides were stilled, and the music turned off, so that thousands of people could listen to the live band on stage,…..and that band was an ensemble playing perfect Matriarch Mexican music putting me in mind of two of my favourite female singers, Tish Jinajosa and Linda Rondstat. I was transfixed.

We drove back north to our hotel in Matagorda and spoke of how surprised we were to see what we had thought was a sleepy little market town, being so busy. We both agreed, though, that the whole night had seemed to encapsulate Lanzarote customs and attitudes, of family: respect between genders, between generations.

A couple of years later, November 2015, we came here to retire,…. except that I am now a freelance journalist writing for these pages at Lanzarote Information and publishing my own daily blog of Sidetracks & Detours and a Sunday Supplement, PASS IT ON, all of which are arts related postings. I am also a reluctant last-man-standing President of my community, Shangrila Park in Playa Blanca. So much for retirement.

So, we have lived here for nine years now, and although we work hard there is, nevertheless, a constant atmosphere of retirement that seems to permeate through all those of us who live on the island. My wife, or First Lady, as I call her, studies Spanish three times a week, goes to yoga classes twice a week and goes on occasional hikes into the hills with her yoga pals. She somehow finds the time to undertake my proof-reading (so blame her not I !) and also runs the White House and its presidential partners and staff, and in doing so reminds me of Jackie Kennedy !?

We have learned quite a bit about Uga over those years and it has become our favourite place for lively entertainment.

As part of Yaiza, a municipality in the south of Lanzarote, Uga is recorded as one of the oldest communities on the island, but its population is only just over a thousand.

Uga dates back to the fifteen-hundreds and legend says that it owes its name to a woman, although there is no evidence of this and its meaning is not known either. Such legends are alive all over Lanzarote and with the island being so small these legends collide and change appearance and small details of their biographies and so new legends are born.

After that first sighting we had of Uga down in the dip we learned that the village is known for its traditional low white houses and for being the largest camel settlement in the Canary Islands. The reminders of that last fact can be seen as you drive by the long camel trains taking their always slightly uneasy looking passengers up into the mountains. If the wind is in the wrong direction your nostrils might be reminded, too, that there are definitely camels about.

It was, of course, the volcanic eruption in the 18th century that years later, saw the town re-built again on its own ashes.

Uga is located southwest of Lanzarote, about 5 kilometres east of Yaiza, the town to which it belongs, and next to LaGeria.  It is seven or eight kilometres from where we live in Playa Blanca. It is close to the entrance to Timanfaya National Park, sometimes called Fire Mountain, the lava field that changed our landscape, attracted film-makers and still draws millions of tourists every year. In a quiet environment that many foreigners have valued when settling on the island.

If you visit Uga market, you will find it attractive and easy to stroll through.  You cannot miss the Church of San Isidro Labrador, the highest tower in the town.

The church also gives its name to the town´s biggest festival of the year held in May. For several days the town is decorated and filled with life with traditional dances and its famous pilgrimage.

If you visit Uga  on weekends, to purchase artisan products from Uga farmers and ranchers, take a look at products such as soap, smoked salmon and local cheeses. Of course, you can also walk, or drive, just up the road to the nearby wineries. Uga is the first town on the wine route that passes through the La Geria vineyards.

Along with the rest of the island, Uga recently celebrated Canaries day with a theatre production of Loca Historia Maha which took place 29th May, on the evening before the special day. The play was performed in a tent covering, and drew an audience of around 400 people and we have attended several such events here over the years.

The audience seemed, as usual, to be comprised of large family groups of grandparents, mums and dads, teenage girlfriends and boyfriends and younger brothers and sisters, That is wonderful, of course, but any play needs to be gripping or unique to keep the attention of such a diverse audience.

Several members of the nine strong cast played multiple roles, there was no scenery and only highly imaginative, but quite basic props.

Loca Historia Maha was seeking an answer to the question as to who was the first couple to live on Lanzarote. As soon as you remind yourself that Lanzarote is an island in the Atlantic Ocean the question becomes more pertinent and provokes a host of follow up questions such as Who were they? What did they want? When did they come here? Where did they come from and why did they come?

The play told the story of the inhabitants of the island before the volcanic eruptions of the volcanoes almost three hundred years ago.

This gave the play the opportunity to depict invasion after invasion down the centuries, with the island´s history and the names of its first two inhabitants being buried deeper and deeper by each new set of immigrants or invaders. Laws changed, the language changed, and the rivalry of church and state led to social change, and changes of mind, changes of attitude.

The cast delivered some great lines that the Spanish speaking audience chuckled at throughout, and the props such as they were, and costume such as it was, drew gales of laughter and rounds of applause when the ingenuity behind them was revealed. We noticed that some the shirts of the males were simply the previous shirt turned inside out, for instance and the weapons were basically sticks, that were the ´guns´  and swords we all played with as children.

What we were watching was a Monty Python Life of Brian style history, making many salient points within its humour. We were shown how one after another after another ruling hegemony denuded Lanzarote of its assets and profitability and sustainability.

Of course, the big bang brought an end to all that as this play showed to great effect. The last sound heard from the stage was a loud explosion (read eruption), and a huge cloud of smoke rolled across the stage.

The volcanoes had blown and now that the island was left as a barren home for rock and sand no new invaders ever came again,….until the nineteen sixties, whenever they came not in their hundreds of thousand by wooden boats but in the millions, as tourists, by metal aeroplane.

The play and its players had given us much to ponder, with the cast being microphoned, somehow adding gravitas to their utterances.

This was a play that worked well at an adult level but would surely have worked well as an educational aide in school history and geography classes, for instances.

To give yourself an idea of the props I am talking about, think of The Woodentops on Watch With Mother (in the 1960s) and see our photographs.

There was a horse that seemed to be a cardboard cut-out but that suddenly reared on its hind hooves and raised his front legs at yet another invader, quite the scariest moment in the entire performance.

Another soldier was riding, as Stanley Holloway might have said, ´a stick with an ´orses ´ead ´andle´ which reminded me that I used to take Edgar Marriatt´s tale of The Lion And Albert out into Primary Schools. My one performance, with three enlisted students, used the same sort of basic props, some rough and tumble action scenes and a post-performance discussion about citizenship, personal responsibilities, and animal and environmental rights.

What you mean who was Albert?

ALBERT ! the lad with a stick with an órses ´ead ´andle! 

All of the above too place on the eve of Canaries Day, as did a meal in a great atmosphere at the overflowing restaurant shown right in a more sober state.

On the day itself each local ´council´ presented its own schedule of celebrations.

Our home town of Playa Blanca lies in the boundaries of Yaiza, an area taking full advantage of the Yaiza Municipal Band, so we headed down into town early in the morning to join a large crowd of local people and even tourists ready and waiting for the band to begin to play.

This they did after a short and positive welcoming speech from Oscar Noda, the Mayor of the Borough (right). Even for us as new residents it was an emotional moment when he invited the band to play an anthem in tribute of Lanzarote. As the music began some ladies and gentlemen in national costume slowly raised the three flags and just as the anthem finished the flags unfurled and fluttered in a blustery breeze.

We had already seen a couple of concerts by Yaiza Municipal Band earlier in the year playing some up tempo and familiar music from stage, recordings and cinema, but today´s play-list was slightly more temperate.

The populist highlight was a rendition of Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, a song recorded as  “Quizás, quizás, quizás”, sometimes known simply as “Quizás” (Latin American Spanish: [kiˈsas]; “Perhaps”). This popular song was written by Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés, who wrote the music and original Spanish lyrics for the song which became a hit for Bobby Capó in 1947.

Doris Day recorded Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps on Nov. 5, 1964 for her Latin For Lovers album.

The song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” also featured in the 2021 Disney live-action film Cruella.

Please not that parts of this report previously appeared in Lanzarote Information.


We return tomorrow, 10th June, with our daily not for profit blogs. We´ll be searching the sidetracks & detours all week so that we can supply you with your free to read items of arts related news. We begin by enjoying The Dolly Parton Experience, before meeting Martyn Jackson a much respected violinist with the Northern Chamber Orchestra. We´ll also tell you why Lowry is at the heart and soul of Salford before we all meet up at jazz junction to share Freedom Justica and Hope and we´ll be back home on Friday with boos about Bing Crosby because, as you all know, we´re building a bigger bookshelf. All you have to do is tap in and you will find a new story each day and you will also have access to our easy to navigate archives of around 1,200 arts related stories. And then all you have to do is look at the link again, remember it, and

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