Category Archives: Music

Posts on musical topics

The Band You Know Well – But Have Never Heard Of

Of late I’ve been listening to a new album, called Don’t Ya Love Life, I’ll venture that you’ll not have heard of the band, the Tommy Blaize Band, although like me you’ll probably find the name a little familiar.

Of course the reason you’ll not have heard of them, is because you know them as something else, something that becomes clearer when you realise that the keyboards on Don’t Ya Love Life are being played by a certain Dave Arch, a name familiar to many millions of people as being in charge of the house band on Strictly Come Dancing. Then when you take a look at the Strictly Come Dancing album and find that Tommy Blaize is one of the regular singers on the show, suddenly all the pieces start to fit together.

At it’s core the Tommy Blaize Band is the same group of singers and musicians that we see every Saturday night on BBC1 during the autumn, but this is them playing mainly their own music and under their own name. Whilst on the show they turn their hands to pretty much any style the dancers throw at them, on their own there is a definite motown, old school feel to the music on the album, with brass sections and an orchestra in evidence on certain tracks. Across the whole album it is easily up to the quality of the cover versions they produce week by week on our televisions.

The album justifiably deserves to do well, and give an excellent bunch of musicians a bit of recognition in their own right, rather than just as the Strictly Come Dancing house band.

You can find the album in a number of places, including from Amazon – buying from the link below gives us a little help funding the site here.

Tonight Thank God It’s Them…

This is a little tribute to any Youth Leader, who having been asked to contribute to some Church event, has found themselves on stage with a number of semi-unwilling members of their youth group, feeling like they’re doing a solo, and yet somehow managed to pull it together in the end.

As a background to this clip, this was filmed at our village concert, and the Youth Group decided to sing a song which they had done as part of a Christmas production they had put on in aid of the Congo appeal a few days before. Prior to this they’ve been having real problems with the backing track, and as our clip commences, the backstage guys have just about got it sorted.

Tonight Thank God It’s Them, Instead of You from Richard Peat on Vimeo.

All credit to Cathy, the youth leader here for keeping it going as it all starts to go horribly wrong…

Buy this Record

So are you fed up with X-Factor winners getting the Christmas number one spot? How about this as an alternative?

This is the latest album from Voces8, who we went to see in concert on Tuesday night, and who were fantastic! The group is run by two brothers, Barney and Paul, who are also the sons of a couple of friends at Church, the concert on Tuesday being a fundraiser for the St James’ conservation appeal. Paul has said that he’s been offered odds of 25 to 1 on actually getting a Christmas number one, but he’s hopeful to do well in the classical chart. To buy or download from Amazon click the picture above, for which we get a small referal fee. Alternatively you can also pick up a copy of the album or the single from iTunes.

Catch Up

Okay, another bit of a gap in blogging, and another catch up!

Pregnancy wise, Beth has been back and forth to the hospital several times over the past couple of weeks with stuff related to the gestational diabetes. The dietary stuff didn’t overly work – indeed her blood sugar seems to go all over the place whatever she has actually been eating, as a result the hospital have given her insulin which she uses to bring her blood sugar back to acceptable levels. However as a diabetic, albeit a temporary one, we have had to notify both the DVLA, and the insurance companies for the cars. For the moment it is just a note on the policies – whether there is any change in premium is dependant on whether Beth’s blood sugar settles down again after the birth.

One thing I didn’t comment on last week was the final of Last Choir Standing. Unlike some of the shows of this ilk that we’ve watched, we actually had some idea what was happening being members of the choir. Pretty well from the start of the final stages, I’d been pretty sure the final two choirs would be ACM Gospel Choir, based our of the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, and Only Men Aloud, a modern twist on the traditional male voice choir from Cardiff. However things were thrown somewhat into disarray by the shock exit of ACM in the semi-final. Now I don’t know quite whether the guys from ACM got over confident and were caught out by the other choirs improving more, or whether they just had a bad night, but it did seem to thrown the competition open a bit. However by the end, despite some stunning performances – the improvement in Ysgol Glanaethwy, the youth choir from Bangor was amazing, and I’m still very impressed that a youth choir would attempt and produce such a fantastic performance of O Fortuna – but the ultimate winners were a well deserved Only Men Aloud. If you want to hear what some of the music was like, ACM Gospel Choir have an album newly released – although listening to it I can certainly hear the voices of some of the judges as a couple of things they spotted are present on the album.

Reality TV wise we’ve also had the finale of this years Big Brother. What perhaps is most interesting about this is that it was a bit of a bad night for the bookies as there was no clear winner. If you compare the final percentages for the 2008 finale with the results in 2007 you can see that each evictee on the final night was within a few percentage points of staying it – and the final winner was decided on only about three percent of the vote compared to a lead of over twenty percent last year – really it could have gone to almost any of the final five. Quite what will happen next year I don’t know – the programme got lower ratings than ever this year, and the show isn’t the guarantee of even Z-list status it once was. As this Times article from today quotes Craig Phillips winner of the first series:

“I speak to a lot of Big Brother contestants from the past few years and they’re all struggling. They can’t get work in the media but they can’t get a ‘normal’ job in a supermarket. It’s not going to be all red carpets for this year’s winner.”

I doubt they’ll drop the show before it’s tenth anniversary next year, but quite what it’s longevity will be after that I don’t know.

Patronal Festival Weekend

Along with our annual trip to see the Tappers, this weekend was also pretty busy as it was our patronal festival weekend at St James. As part of this on Saturday we had an evening from The Madding Crowd, a group of performers from Winchester, and then today we had the annual opening of the Church Tower, and a mini fete up at the Church.

The Madding Crowd primarily perform a selection of music originally written for the parish bands who in days gone by would have provided the musical accompaniment for church services in the days before the pipe organ. They augment the performance with readings and dances from the same period, drawing heavily on the work of Thomas Hardy, indeed drawing their name from his fourth novel. It was a great evening, and showed up some music that perhaps we could use in the Church choir – and some of the dramatic interludes showed up that very little has changed in the Church over the past hundred years – people still moan about the Rector, and choir practice hasn’t changed much at all, even if the instruments and the clothes have!

The main village fete alternates between being hosted by the Church and the school, so in years like this when it is the turn of the school, the Tower Opening and Mini-Fete are one of our major fund raising efforts for the year, especially important in a year like this when we have a big campaign in progress. Thanks to the vagaries of the British weather, even in July it can involve a lot of prayer for a nice day – and since all the way through this week there has been rain forecast for this afternoon, it was great to have such fantastic weather. As a result we got a lot of people through the doors and climbing the tower, and fingers crossed a goodly amount of money for the conservation appeal.

Needless to say I was around with my camera, so I’ve included a set of pictures below. As you might have noticed if you follow my Flickr stream, I’ve started to take a picture or two with the much maligned camera on the iPhone. Although some aren’t going to win any awards, especially in poor light, I have to say that some, in particular this one and this one are a lot better than I perhaps would expect based purely on the specs for the camera on paper.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Stop in the Name of Love

Sometimes there are times when you really feel for people organising live shows, Friday night was one of those nights. Over the years we seem to have turned into one of the many Basingstoke Tappers groupies, and have been along to every summer show they’ve done for the best part of a decade. Reading through the programme before the show started, Tracey Kinchenton’s introduction was bemoaning the fact that several of the dancers had injured themselves, and also that Matthew Winchester, one of the singers for the evening had also had to drop out. However they had managed to get a singer called John Amobi, who had had a number of lead roles in West End shows as a replacement. However the problems hadn’t ended there, in the week before the show, and after the programmes had been printed, Steve Pert, who is as much a part of the shows as the dancers themselves, was diagnosed with glandular fever and had also had to withdraw. They had managed to get previous vocalist June Boyce along in his place, but needless to say at that short notice it had thrown the whole programme into difficulties as June had to do songs from her repertoire with little time to learn the numbers against which the dancers would be dancing.

The problems were probably more apparent in the first half, where the vocalists came and did songs on their own, plus we also had a little of the first night nerves as things perhaps didn’t seem quite as polished as in previous years. However I don’t quite know what happened at half time, but the second half was way better.

One of the things we really noticed this year, was how things have progressed. The third of the singers on the bill was Francesca McMahon, who has grown up as one of the Basingstoke Tappers. A few years ago she made her first attempts at singing on stage at a Basingstoke Tappers show, since then she has come on leaps and bounds, and now sings regularly, and looks set for a good career in the business. What she has which the other vocalists don’t is the fact that she can dance in with the rest of the dancers, and is perfectly capable of pulling off a pretty complex routine, whilst still giving a great delivery on the song.

Another noticeable change is in the number of boys Tracey has managed to recruit. A few years back there were just one or two, now she has sixteen, and a number of them are good enough to be able to dance on their own, so we had one number with John Amobi and all sixteen doing the Temptations classic My Girl, and the two most experienced as front row dancers elsewhere.

They weren’t the only talented men on the stage. All the way through the show we were wondering about the slightly odd staging at the back of the stage – at the end we found out why it looked odd. Tracey had managed to get her son and a number of his friends who spend a lot of their leisure time hanging out at the various skate parks around the town to come and participate in the finale, where they rode their bikes live on stage performing a number of the tricks they practise in the park live on stage. No offence to the dancers, but in that finale I really can’t tell you what they were doing as I was watching the fantastic performance from the guys on the bikes! As Tracey said in her introduction to the finale, she wanted to prove that not all young people are hanging around on street corners drinking – slightly ironic considering that the town mayor who had made a speech just before the item had talked about attending a conference where one of the subjects was precisely that – anti-social behaviour from kids.

As you may know, this isn’t the only dance show we’ve seen this year, a couple of weeks ago we were down seeing another great show involving a friend of ours down in Plymouth. Although the two shows were rather different in scale and content, one consistent thing between the two was that they both included a tribute to Thriller, the Michael Jackson classic that first came out twenty-five years ago. Down in Plymouth what they produced was recognisably close to the original routine. The Tappers with a cast about twice the size produced something that was more inspired by, including a diversion into a Missy Eliot track (isn’t Shazam great) part way through, and a forest of dancing trees along with the ghosts, ghouls and skeletons.

All in all, despite the clear difficulties they’d had putting on the show this year, it was as much of an entertaining evening as ever, and we’re looking forward to seeing how Tracey and the Basingstoke Tappers better the bikes next year.

A Taste of Taizé

The Church at Taizé by RTPeat, on FlickrI was actually on iTunes trying to find if the Church of England were repeating their podcasting of the General Synod again – unfortunately not, they seem to have decided that making the proceedings available for download in a PC only format is better this year, hard luck for those of us using Mac’s!

Anyway, what I did find was that new for 2008, the Taizé Community have started a couple of podcasts. The first is their own, which is called Prayer from the Taizé Community, and is a ten minute weekly extract from one of their services. For those who are aware of the usual structure of their services it picks up from the Alleluia/Psalm, includes the reading in multiple languages, and then includes a couple more songs and prayers. If you want something a bit more for your Taizé fix, Domradio, a Catholic radio station in Cologne is retransmitting a complete recording of the Saturday evening service, which is also available on iTunes (although not surprisingly labelled in German).

In both cases the podcasts are a fairly good representation of a service at Taizé, so if you’re either thinking about joining a trip in the coming months, or perhaps want a little reminder, they are a great way to get a taster of the whole experience.