Whit Friday, Saddleworth

Yesterday I took a trip to Saddleworth for the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests with my friend Tom, who is always running around the country/world finding fascinating traditions and events (I’ve previously joined him for the Chicken Races in Derbyshire).

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Every year about a hundred brass bands come from all over to Saddleworth to compete in these contests, which are held in the various villages in the district. Each band performs two pieces – one as they march and a showpiece – in every contest they enter.

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I went to Lydgate, Uppermill and Dobcross, which are all beautiful. Dobcross is so pretty – the contests here were held under a tree on the little village green.

dobcrosstreeCongrats to big winners Black Dyke Band, featuring Damian Wileman – also of Cornerstone Brass, who joined us for Roving Women and who we’re looking forward to playing with more this year, including at Tramlines in July.

Next gig though is tomorrow at the Harley in Sheffield, supporting Rozi Plain. We’re on stage at 8:15.

 

#SaveDevSt

I’ve contributed ‘March, March’ to the #SaveDevSt album, which is available as part of a crowdfunding campaign to protect some independent businesses on Devonshire Street in Sheffield. There are more than 40 bands on the album, including Big Eyes Family Players, 65 Days of Static, Hey Sholay, The Skipping Forecast and Magpies. Find out more here.

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Roving Women Returns!

Big news, Connie fans! We’ll be performing our ‘Roving Women‘ show at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Wed 1 July!!

It’s part of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, which this year features the likes of Richard Herring, Wolfgang Flür from Kraftwerk, Tracey Thorn and I Am Kloot. The Trades Club is an ace and much-loved not-for-profit social club and I’m rather excited about playing there.

MORE INFO AND TICKETS

Altogether now, People say…

Nat as Connie

I went to the park yesterday

Because I thought I could avoid politics in the park. I tried to leave politics at the gate as I walked in and smelled the flowers, saw the grass – and for a moment I saw happily that the people in the park were just people, not voters.

Like everyone I know (yes, I’m one of those people with a completely left-wing social media feed who doesn’t seem to have a single ‘out’ Tory friend) I’m devastated by the result of Thursday’s election and terrified for the future. I spent Friday grieving; I wept for the NHS, for the poor, the hungry and the disabled, and for the many people I’m worried will actually lose their lives – not just what little quality of life they have – because of the people in charge of our country. Then I had to pull myself together and focus on Saturday’s gig, and in doing so, told myself to take a break from thinking about it (as much as possible) for a couple of days.

Yesterday was Sunday and day two of trying (and mostly failing) not to think about our new situation. After I’d seen Gareth off at the station, I went to the Millennium Gallery to look at a photography exhibition. It was great, except a photo of Cameron and his family took me by surprise and I hurried past as if it was a spider. I went home and tried to take a nap – we were up late – but I couldn’t sleep, so I set off for the woods.

On the way there I felt a pull to the park – my brain said it needed an open space to be in, to find some kind of perspective – so I headed to the middle of the field and sat on the grass for a while. It felt good to be in the midst of so many different groups of people and I wanted to be around them all, not alone in the woods just yet. Other people were on my mind, not just me. Unlike some. And so, though I had tried to leave it at the gate, politics found me again, in the park.

On Friday, a part of me was scared of being really upset for a couple of days and then slowly beginning to get on with stuff as usual; an act of acceptance, submission. I keep finding myself making painful ‘jokes’ now; the clock in the living room stopped and I blamed the Tories. A friend told me about the free dental care she gets on the NHS as a new mum and I told her they’re taking it away (she believed me for a second, and why shouldn’t she?).  But every time I say something like this, my stomach lurches, because it’s not a joke. When I decided to take a couple of days to not solely dwell on the news and its consequences, I was also making a vow. I was telling myself – take a break now, because there’s going to be lots to do over the next five years.

I don’t know what I’m going to ‘do’ yet, or how much I can help – I’m listening to other people’s ideas and waiting to see where I can fit in – but whatever happens, I will do more than moan.

Later, in the woods: white noise on the bridge, a bluebell path, two hearts carved on a tree, wet dog footprints but no dog.

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Don’t give in
Be kind

The Gentle Good at 99 Mary St

Enormous thanks to The Gentle Good, 99 Mary Street and our wonderful audience for a perfect evening, just what we all needed I think. And TWO magpie protest songs to boot. Such an honour hosting Gareth here in Sheffield and an absolute pleasure to sing with him. Safe journey back to Cardiff, Gareth!99 Mary St

Pic by 99 Mary Street. See more pics over here. And if you missed it, have a listen to Gareth’s Welsh playlist.