Review from Huw Evans
Christmas Party capers
One of my favourite Christmas recollections is of the time that Tony Blackburn played Steeleye Span’s ‘Gaudete’ and on its conclusion remarked that he didn’t think it very Christmassy. You will have to have the strange convolutions of my brain explained to you to see the link with the Christmas party held down at The Works in Sowerby Bridge: some of the festive clothes worn by performers were definitely on the gaudy side and as all students of the English language know the origins of the word gaudy lie in the Latin ‘gaudium’ meaning joy. Not only that but the evening’s proceedings were a veritable cornucopia of Christmas cheer: all manner of performances from a seemingly endless supply of talent, vocal, instrumental and terpsichorean providing ample quantities of joy and rejoicing on all sides so that even Mr Blackburn would surely have appreciated it.
The programme, planned by Steve Harrison and Annie Dearman, flowed seamlessly through no less than thirty-two separate performances from a splendid opening with Pete Coe singing the rousing Sheffield carol “Sweet Bells” through to the grand finale of Pete, the Pit Band and the Ryburn 3-Step Step Dancers leading the audience through Wassail Song.
In between there were songs traditional and modern, sacred and secular, readings, recitations and story-telling. What price a version of ‘Ugly Duckling’ Danny Kaye never dreamed of, the cautionary tale of a (temporarily) flying baby, or the travails of a young lad whose ambition it was to be a pantomime dame? Or stories and songs from Gloucestershire, Wales and the Appalachian Mountains?
It is impossible to do justice to all the performances,but some still linger in the mind. Chris Coe and Annie Dearman sang delicately, precisely, beautifully ‘Westrun Wynd’ and, in the second half ‘Bonny Boy’. Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham, having endured a nightmare four hour drive, got to sing twice: you could have heard a pin drop. Chris Manners demonstrated his versatile dexterity as wordsmith and musician. Alice Jones, all sequins and feathered wings, pumped her harmonium and sang like an angel. And, of course, holding the evening together, was Pete Coe, performing solo, as half of a duo and as part of The Pit Band.
Who else? The Ryburn Three-Step Step Dancers (whose enthusiasm almost lead to their downfall when they discovered that the stage was smaller than they thought) and the Ryburn Longsword Dancers who knotted their blades into a semblance of a Christmas tree, Steve Harrison, Terry Evans, Tim Edwards, Gill Heritage, Pauline Jones, Sue Burgess, Sue van Gaalen, Phil Cerny, Tim Edwards, Sue Coe and Huw Evans. What else? Melodeon, tenor guitar, English concertina, fiddle, hammer dulcimer, harmonium, guitar, octave mandolin, harmonica and a virtual yoyo…
Seasonal celebrations for R3S started at ‘The Works’ in Sowerby Bridge on 16 December with the Folk Club Christmas party. Over 20 of our residents and regulars performed seasonal songs and novelties much to the delight and amusement of all who attended. As well as the singers and musicians, the Ryburn Step Dancers and the Ryburn Longsword Dancers gave flashy displays of fancy footwork and sword wielding, and the Ryburn Singers charmed us with their harmonies. And there were party food and mince pies as well!
Coming up in the seasonal celebrations are:
Saturday 19 December – Barn Dance with Steam Chicken and Lisa Heywood at the Waring Green Community Centre in Brighouse;
Thursday 31 December – New Year Ceilidh with the Black Box Big Band and Pete Coe at Greenhead College in Huddersfield (advance tickets only).
2 – 6 January 2016 – the 4 appearances of the Long Company Mummers, who are only allowed out at the start of each New Year.
To start the 2016 programme, the first guests at the Folk Club in the New Year are ‘Harp and a Monkey’ on 27 January 2016.
Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!