One of our members...discontented with the pedestrian reporting of our concerts and outings (no offence taken), has taken to providing his own 'alternative' perspective on them.....
Now that you have found this page tucked away discreetly* in the back pocket of our website....we hope you enjoy his unique view of events.......
We begin with our excellent 2018 Land's End Peninsula Tour
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Tales from the Barmytone Section (3rd Edition)
Relax everyone! I might stretch the imagination a little bit, but no lengthy tome this time. Promise! Just a single reflection on the Gala Concert in Roche and, I hope you’ll agree, an interesting little snippet from a newspaper article to share with you.
What went through your mind when that storm struck on Saturday evening? I wonder? I mentioned my own thoughts to one or two of you soon afterwards……
We were into the final set, second piece, African Prayer. We’d made a spirited start in trying not to fall too far short of the wondrously sonorous native voices that would usually honour this anthem.
Unbeknown to us, in the sky high above us, and very much aware of our intention to include this item in our programme for the evening, the ghosts of tens of thousands of Zulu warriors had been gathering since soon after dusk, as one massive, seething, dark, impi, under the demanding, stern gaze of their great kings Chaka, Dingane, Mpande and Cetshwayo.
On hearing the first faint strains of our relatively feeble efforts drifting up through the evening’s heavy, humid air, the imposing Chaka thrust the royal stabbing spear to the heavens and in that instant the skies around us were torn apart by blinding, jagged forks of lightning.
The choir faltered, gaze wrenched from the podium to the windows of the hall. The lights flickered and electrical equipment shorted.
High in the darkness, Chaka then raised the royal shield and again instantaneously the massed impi hammered their assegais against long, cowhide war shields, and that thunderous rumble violently shook the air all around us.
The choir tried to compose itself, to deliver a stirring finish to a clearly distracted and unsettled audience. But we were soon aware of the low rumble now of torrential rainfall on the roof of the building and the ground round about it, with yet more flashes through the torrents. It seemed like the heavens had fractured and we were being absolutely deluged.
Simply the power of nature? Or had we somehow opened the floodgates to an overwhelming outpouring of tears, some of joy, more of sorrow, from the tortuous history of southern Africa?
Not far away, but drowned out to us by the sound of rainfall, a lone piper struck up a haunting lament; and the skies above us, slowly, began to clear.
Incidentally, ‘iZulu’, in the Nguni languages, means heaven, OR weather! Very apt in the circumstances don’t you think?
Anyway, on to the other item. An article on page 26 of the ‘I’ newspaper, last Saturday the 26th May - 'Sing the praises of the choir: just the thing for a healthy, happy life' - extolled the many benefits to be enjoyed from singing with other people; summarised in the article and apparently backed up by the findings of a number of research projects. The correspondent, Tom Bawden, reckons that there is a growing appreciation of singing in this country and, get this, asserted that 'more people in Britain now sing in choirs than play football'! ‘According to the Big Choral Consensus, 2.1 million people sing in a choir, while 1.85 million play football’! Apparently there are 40,000 choirs in Britain of one form or another, forty thousand! … Just a thought, but maybe we’d stand out from the crowd and broaden our appeal if we not only polished our singing, but gave singing performances while playing keepy-uppy?!? Thursday nights could be, say, 2 hours of singing practice, and maybe half an hour of ball skills and choreography? Who knows, could go viral! Let’s not dismiss the idea out of hand, eh?
Ah well, until next rehearsal then!
For now, as the Zulus and Swazis would say, ‘hamba kahle’ (pron: ‘amba gacklay’), goodbye or, more literally, go well.
(aka Steve Jefferson)
Wednesday 30th May 2018.
Teresa and I heartily agree with the sentiments you’ve expressed in your email. Teresa’s done the musical tour thing a number of times in the past, but it was definitely a first for me. I had no pre-conceived ideas of what to expect and just intended to go with the flow and try to make the most of the experience. We both thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend, just loved it! The music, all the crack with such a lovely bunch of people, so jammy with the weather, the whole bit, just loved it. Like you, Mick, we felt a little bereft on saying goodbyes and driving away from Dobwalls. We were ready for a good night’s kip, but we didn’t really want it to end. Only two and a half days, but it seemed so much more, it was so absorbing. Can’t wait to do it again! Brittany would be fine with us, confirm two advanced bookings, please.
A little deflated yesterday evening, but elated this morning, and not just because this was my first non-working Tuesday - this week marks the start of reduced working week for me, down to 3 days, Weds to Fri - but it was such a glorious morning and I went for a walk up onto Mutton Down and Bury Down above the village here, recalling the experiences of the previous days with a lightness in my step. Shared all sorts of songs with the birds, and a few deer, although ’Cornwall My Home’ was probably aired more than most. Brian, that was a masterstroke at the Minack Theatre! For you it was maybe pre-meditated, but for me it was like the ultimate in spontaneity. It just topped it for us, the icing on the cake. What a fabulous way close the musical part of the Tour. As a proud Cornish lass, Teresa was moved. A never to be forgotten moment. Mind you, that sort of wandering off stage still doing a bit could be something that we try at other events and venues?
Dave, totally agree with Mick, marvellous effort in organising it all so well and then making it run so smoothly. Supreme effort, even managing to extract the odd tenor and baritone from the pub to give the villagers some peace again. Thank you very much from us both, and Teresa.
Again, the choir would be nothing without the talents of Marcus and Suzanne. Still much room for improvement, Marcus, I’m sure, (where’s he going with this, he thinks) but I hope you’ve seen enough to fancy the challenge. I think the lads are up for it. And as I said to Suzanne on the Saturday evening in St Just, her work on the piano is a classy performance in itself. Suzanne, I particularly enjoyed your stonkin’ build up to the finale of ‘American Trilogy’, but then everyone will have their own favourites. Some of the harmonies gave me goosebumps, while some of the crescendos fairly shivered me timber!
Let’s not forget the fine soloists as well, including the rousing leadership of the Afterglow sessions by Colin. I just hope that there were one or two recordings, particularly in the kings Arms, that make it onto social media or even our website. Could do wonders for recruitment? They were absolutely cracking sessions. Sent the spirits soaring, for sure. There were visitors in the Kings Arms that looked like they just couldn’t believe their luck. And what about Big John? What a fantastic compere. The audience just lapped it up. Great communicator, although occasionally misused to devastating effect (Rafa to Arsenal?), though he did sort of make amends later. And hey, I’m not normally a name dropper, but to go on tour for the first time and be engaging with 'Shirley Bassey' no less. Wow! Life and soul. Kickin’ myself for not getting her autograph. They’re well matched them pair. Oh, and just for the record, ‘Shirley', ‘intense sausages’ was merely a culinary recollection, a passing gastronomic observation, shared with a select few over breakfast, you see girlo, as I’m sure Suzanne will attest.
Oh, and lest we forget, the bard, oh the bard, Roger, another the audience took to their hearts. And just when we thought we were seeing and hearing it all, Jerry introduces his breathtaking new stage act. The ladies at the back of the church weren’t the least bit surprised when I told them that he is a former Olympic gymnast, not at all. ‘What a wonderful side roll, exquisitely executed’, one opined. ‘And the nonchalant cushioned landing against the side of the piano, finishing film star-like, propped up on one elbow’, another purred. And her friend added, with a wee twinkle in her eye, ‘I’m just glad I had my driving glasses on and not my reading glasses, otherwise I might have missed that cheeky grin and saucy wink he gave the pianist as she looked down at him’. ‘I was stirred’, she admitted, rather coyly. Maybe it should become a regular part of the programme? Any way I hope you're recovering well from your exertions and that the paparazzi haven’t been pestering too much since. The price of fame, I suppose. The ladies of Paul were wondering whether there was an online fan club they could perhaps join?
Everyone will have their own favourite recollections of a fabulous weekend, and thanks to everyone for making it so enjoyable, including the ‘Crisp Munchers’ of course; loved the little message on Facebook. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for making me so welcome since joining the choir back at the turn of the year. Good move, Steve! One of my better decisions in life. I think Teresa might well be down for a bit of a chinwag next Ladies’ night.
See most of you on Thursday all being well.
Howay the Lads, and Lasses!
1st May, 2018
NEWS FLASH !
It is rumoured, although I have to say that I didn’t hear it myself, that BBC Radio Cornwall have broadcast an unconfirmed report of the discovery of a 5-section male voice choir in Cornwall, featuring top tenor, second tenor, baritone, barmytone and bass. It is apparently generating some excitement as possibly yet another first for Cornwall. A reporter and film crew have, so the rumour goes, been dispatched by the BBC to verify the story, as the county, nay nation, nay world holds its breath. The suspense…….
Meanwhile, from a top secret location, barely half a mile from the village of Xx Xxxx ……
(More) Tales from the Barmytone Section (2nd Edition)
A miscellany of recollection, reflection and wild creative excess following Loveny MVC’s beguiling performance at Treverbyn, which has, as I’m sure none of you will be surprised to hear, been met with a cacophony of international acclaim.
A notable first was entering the church while singing the first piece, Tibyay Payom. The audience were at first a little thrown by monks wearing bright blue blazers, but were soon receptive to the spiritual up-liftment engendered; a kind of gospel on dope. It could have gone badly wrong - in which case I, as mere messenger, having made the suggestion in the previous edition, would no doubt have been shot - but it didn’t. It was very well received and so a triumph for Brian, who’s pre-meditated spontaneity (?) at Minack (starting up Cornwall My Home while leaving the stage) was matched by spheres of tungsten from Marcus in actually giving it a go in a more formal setting. As the Romans would say, whilst violently hammering their right fists against left breasts, cracking at least two ribs in the process: Hail, Brian! Hail, Marcus!
I understand that when we next do something similar, Marcus is intending to introduce a Pythonesque twist. All choristers will carry a heavy version of the Holy Bible and, on every fourth step, will crash it against their foreheads, in unison! Won’t be a bad thing being in the union, in case there are any personal injury claims.
Once again we enjoyed some cracking performances from all the soloists on the night, in whatever form those contributions were delivered. I feel we should also recognise in this respect how the hosting vicar excelled himself during the evening, pre-ordaining pole position, first in line for the lovely spread laid on by the delightful Treverbyn ladies and, not content with that, claiming the first winning raffle ticket! Thought for the day: Social engineering, or Divine intervention? Discuss.
Unfortunately a few of the Boys were a bit naughty at the back of the church and had to be chastised by Sir. Suitably contrite, and lesson learnt, they were spared the cane. Can’t help feeling the problem will sort itself out if we can just get out a bit more, having been virtually holed up in the village monastery since the turn of the year (at least the abbot likes to have a different guest ale every few days, I suppose). Mind you, it subsequently turned out to be a night of mixed messages. We’ve since been told that we were wearing far too much clothing in the community hall and that future Afterglows would be enjoyed in beach attire and shades, while sipping flowery cocktails and the like (rubber rings and surfboards optional). It does worry me a little that this would perhaps be an over-acceleration of our social adjustment after so long in confinement. Perhaps these concerns could be noted, please, at the next committee meeting. Thank you.
I think I was the last of us to leave the hall after an enjoyable social. And, before anyone tries to suggest otherwise, after having only two-and-a-half cans of beer! Anyway, as I was going down the steps towards the road, I could hear what I thought at the time were strains of Wild Rover drifting on the night air from a gathering somewhere else in the village. But no, when I stopped and listened more carefully, the voices seemed a lot closer, but maybe just smaller? Moving towards the sound, I ended up leaning over a stone wall and looking down upon half a dozen garden gnomes gathered round a small solar light. They were swaying as they sang, with big beaming smiles under huge brightly coloured floppy hats, with sloshing tankards raised to the stars. I couldn’t help but laugh, at which point I was offered a wee tankard of the ‘clay country dew’, as they called it. I said I was familiar with the odd 'bucket of the mountain dew’ in Ireland, but hadn’t had anything similar in Cornwall. Amid the quick exchange of conspiratorial smirks, a wee tankard was charged and then raised up to me with the aid of a miniature fishing rod. “Back in one”, they chorused, and I duly obliged, before a sharp drawing of breath as the punchy liquid bit my throat and eyes began to water! Yep, just like poteen (pron: 'pot sheen'). I wonder if gnomes’ lower centre of gravity somehow helps them better deal with its effects? Anyway, when I could speak again, I learned from them that one of their number, a certain Jethro, was a bit of a composer and had, on the spur of the moment and in honour of the special little people who had accompanied the choir this evening, put his own composition to the tune of Wild Rover. They offered a full rendition on condition that I sank another tankard of the ‘clay country dew’. Curiosity was killing me as well, so I agreed. Their song went something like this:
Those little crisp munchers were ever so sweet,
When they came to Treverbyn we sang in the street,
We heard them tapping the tables and dancing around,
And we ended up jigging about on the ground.
And it’s… Yo! Yeah! Forever!
The Munchkin fan club are we,
They’re the loveliest daughters,
Of Jo and Loveny’s M D !
(Repeated with gusto)
Unfortunately, I then became aware of puzzled looks from Mellyn, Owain and Colin, sat waiting patiently for me in the car. I bade the little fellas good night, thanking them for making my day, sure that they’d party till dawn. As I moved towards the car they struck up again, with a familiar tune drifting over the wall, but with different words….
Good night, Munchies,
Come back soon,
You brighten up the room……..
As I gradually acclimatise to life in Loveny, I’ve come to expect the unexpected, and that it’s best to just loosen up and go with the flow. And so, to the Gala Concert we go. Back in the clay country so soon. Enjoy, but keep your wits about you. Be alert to seemingly innocuous approaches. “Tis heavy dew this evenin’, boy”, may lead to more than you bargain for. You’ve been warned, but let’s have a cracker!
(Aka Steve Jefferson)
25th May 2018
Treverbyn Church May 2018
Gala Concert Roche Victory Hall May 2018
Liskeard Wesley June 2018
Tales from the Barmytone Section (4th Edition)
And so, the show moved on to a concert last Saturday in the handsome Liskeard Wesley Methodist Church, with its grand, galleried chapel and excellent acoustics. The original building dates back to 1846 and the first few years of the 60-year mining boom in the surrounding area, centred on the town.
The world and its mother seemed to have decided that it was a must to get into town early for this much heralded event. Not long after six-thirty the police decided to close the main access roads to the town centre, redirecting traffic to alternative available parking in side streets and the like. By then the pavements of the Main Street were thronged with people, straining to catch a glimpse of their heroes in blue, and black - this eagerly awaited concert would also feature the wonderful voices and harmonies of Levowan XII. Many folk would take in the local carnival for a while before moving on to the main event. A palpable excitement hung in the balmy evening air, after a beautiful, hot summer’s day, with an atmosphere more akin to a latin fiesta. Those behind the development of Liskeard’s newest pub and eating house, The King Doniert, were in celebratory mood, having bust a gut to be open for business and the heavy footfall envisaged for such a prestigious event; and its rooftop garden terrace was packed with people enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the approaches to the church.
As the choristers began to emerge, in ones, twos and threes, into the Main Street, they were greeted with raucous adulation. The pavements were so packed that some had shinned up lamp posts or hung from road traffic signs to gain a better view, and it was really only possible to make headway by walking along the road itself. All the way, people were calling out and reaching out over the temporary barriers, seeking touch-hands with their idols, or thrusting out concert programmes to be autographed. One lady, visibly ecstatic (verging hysterical?) and quite possibly a little overdone in the sun, grabbed hold of my arm and wrenched me in close, enveloping me in a slobbery, voluptuous embrace, muttering something about how it was all reminding her of the Beetles first arrival in America! Wow, I didn’t quite see it that way, but it was a welcome given to us that will remain long in the memory, that’s for sure. Some of our number, having eventually made it through to and settled in to the church and church hall, went back out and mingled with the fans, sometimes mobbed in the process of handing out much sought after mementos of the occasion. Recalling the scenes now, it all seems so surreal!
Once the concert got underway, with some stirring performances, the programme seemed to be very well received by a very appreciative and responsive audience. The themed sets of music were enjoyed by both audience and choristers. Loveny, after some more classical favourites, sailed a set on the ocean waves, followed by a set of up-lifting numbers with more of a gospel feel to them. Levowan XII adopted a similar approach, returning to sea songs themselves with an infectious final set medley of Last-Night-of-the-Proms classics. They had the audience bobbing in the pews and foot stomping the boards to the ‘Sailor’s Hornpipe', while the chapel reverberated to the enthusiastic chorusing of ‘Rule Britannia’, accompanied by miniature Union Jacks and Cornish Crosses, waved to the sway of the music. To a great cheer, the nets in the roof space of this fine chapel were opened and a mass of brightly-coloured balloons and streamers drifted down on to the jubilant crowd, leaping into the air to meet their descent. As the crowd partied, exuberance intensified, the choirs took the stage together for a rousing joint finale of ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’, followed closely by ‘Hallelujah’; bringing the concert to a close, to rapturous applause. As the merry multitude spilled out into the streets, joyously wending their way home in the refreshing late evening air, the choristers slipped next-door to the Royal British Legion, joining some of the regulars there, to quaff an ale or two and enjoy the Afterglow; but not before savouring a buffet of culinary delights prepared and presented by the evergreen Loveny Ladies! Mmmmmm……thanks, ladies.
Members of the Legion committee seemed keen to have us back again to entertain their members, many of whom are apparently partial to ‘a good old fashioned sing-song’.
There was a presentation during the concert interval, with Chairman, Dave Williams, bestowing upon both Brian Carder and Ted Pascoe, Honorary Lifetime Membership of the choir, in recognition of their many years of past contribution to it. The delighted recipients were then warmly applauded.
Both choirs enjoyed this collaborative event and a number of choristers, from both groups of singers, later expressed the hope that we’d sing together again.
The only bum note of the evening (apologies in advance) was that our usually irrepressible and talismanic compere, ‘Big John’ (‘Two Scoops’) Ead (he of such presence, befitting of at least a couple of nicknames repeatable in polite circles) suffered a sudden bout of sickness and Aztec Two-step just before the concert and, unfortunately, we were all denied the pleasure of his engaging and inimitable banter. We did our best without you, mate, but we hope you’re right again soon.
Finally. Remember boys, what did Sir say about discipline? …… No. More. Messing. About. With. Laxatives!!
Ahh well, onward we go……
Tuesday, 26th June, 2018.
Tales from the Barmytone Section (5th Edition)
Sunday afternoon, 1st July 2018, on a glorious hot summer’s day, with the senses enlivened by all the typical sights, sounds and aromas of one of Cornwall’s busiest and most picturesque harbour settings, we performed on the quayside bandstand in Padstow, followed by an enervating afterglow in the beer yard of the Old Ship Inn. Standing on the bandstand under fierce mid-summer sun was a bit challenging for those of us thatchless and hatless, but at least we were also jacketless and in short-sleeved rig, and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon was had by all. Caribbean shirts and boaters for the next one anyone?
A wide arc of people, several deep, quickly formed in front of us, standing in the street, many of them staying put for the whole session. Many held aloft well-stacked cones of brightly-coloured ice cream (if only I could have smeared one over my frying nubby!) in salute to our renowned compere, Johnny Two-Scoops, resuming normal engagement out front (and later salivating over two scoops himself). Others used theirs to impersonate Roger the Bard’s flamboyant use of the microphone whilst regaling the gathered crowd with his customary wit and rhyme. And the performance went well, with the end of each number marked by generous applause.
Part way through, we were ‘Away from the Roll of the Sea’, and had just sung the line ‘a gull on the spar’, when something made me look over my right shoulder. My eyes were drawn to a solitary gull standing on the arm of a street lamp, high up against the corner of the building housing a fish ’n’ chip restaurant. With quick glances, back and forth between Colin at the podium and the gull on the lamp arm, it struck me that the bird was moving in an odd way. Faltering a little in disbelief, I realised that the gull was moving head and beak, body, feet and tail feathers in time to the music. In fact, it was imitating Colin’s movements in conducting the choir. Momentarily, the song just died in my throat when I then spotted a dozen or so seagulls evenly spaced along the ridge tiles of the roof of the building opposite ‘Little Col’. They were moving as one, perfectly synchronised, perfectly in tune with their own conductor on the opposite side of the street. Astonishing! I’ve no idea how long they’d been there, but we had an avian backing group for the rest of the session. Another first for the choir, any choir? As the last piece concluded and Colin turned and took a bow to the rapturous applause of the crowd, I glanced back to Little Col to see him spread his right wing before sweeping it quite theatrically under his belly as he rocked forward dipping his head. As ever, the gulls on the ridge opposite followed suit. In the street below, one little girl’s face lit up having seen it, tugging frantically at her daddy’s sleeve, clearly frustrated at not being able to grab his attention. Unfortunately for her, in that instant the gulls dropped from the roof in perfect formation, Little Col banking in sharply to secure his position as point of the arrow. Swooping low over our heads, they gave us a wonderful fly-past in appreciation of a decent performance well received, before climbing steeply to a high point over the centre of the harbour pool. Coming together briefly, they then flipped over, diving down in all directions to resume their strafing and thieving sorties against the hapless folk below. At least there had been a brief lull in the seagull wars, for as long as we had been singing.
Amazing things tend to happen when Loveny sing. Don’t miss the next event!
We wandered off, in behind the harbour front, where the landlord and staff of the Old Ship Inn gave us a friendly welcome. The tables in the pub yard were already filled with people, but once the sing-song began the access street was rammed with people as well. Some sang and swayed along with us, others filmed on smartphones. Loud applause greeted the end of each number, with The Wild Rover accompanied by exuberant table-tapping. We got the distinct feeling that this, to them, chance event would be a real highlight of their day, or holiday. They loved it, we loved it, and we must do it again soon!
The acoustics at the harbour bandstand were good, possibly thanks to the walls of buildings opposite, even with the background hubbub; while the acoustics in the enclosed beer yard were excellent. I’d suggest the yard is a potential concert venue, singing appropriate material. Tables could be bunched up a little to create space for us against the windows and more standing space at the back and in the street, whilst leaving gangways clear for people to get to the bar. Could be a great fundraising opportunity too. The response from the surprised visitors and locals alike was fantastic. One fella, sat behind us during the afterglow, said to me afterwards that we were the best choir group he’d ever heard in the pub.
Let’s do it again soon. Take the music to the people, in the street!
Ahh well, onward we go……
Wednesday, 4th July, 2018.