Thursday, August 25, 2011

Humber Keels, RajRajRaj and Music hall

Wednesday morning was another talk at the Coliseum. A couple of years ago we heard Eileen Sherburn talk about the Tom Puddings which worked out of Goole carrying coal on the canals.  This year she was joined by her son Chris, (of conertina playing fame) to talk about The Humber Under Sail. Chris has bought and restored a Humber Keel, a square rigged barge, which have been trading on the Humber since the 18th century. The boat is beautifully restored having taken Chris the best part of 9 years, but took only 6 months to build in the 1920s. Chris and Eileen gave a great account what it was like to be part of the barge community. Eileen on the social and family side, and Chris supplying the technical detail on the boats (I know the difference now between a Humber Keel and  a Sloop....) and they were assisted particularly on how they were sailed by Eileen's husband and Chris's father  Goff who was a bargee and a very experienced sailor for many years. The boats were made different lenghths to fit the locks - a Sheffield boat was 61.5 ft long, as all the locks to Sheffield were 62ft long, allowing just 6 inches spare. Boats bound for Wakefield were slightly smaller, and known as west country boats...

Full of information and amusing anecdotes  - like the lock-keeper who trained his dog to pick up the lock pennies which the bargees would thrown them as tips, who told all new captains that his dog wouldn't touch silver. When they threw down a sixpence to test him, he would shake his head as the dog picked it up and say "he's never done that before".

After spending a very pleasant hour on my own in The Shambles, I met the others at the 422 and friends concert.  422 are a great band, and most of them are involved with the Folkworks Summer Schools which encourage young folk musicians. As well as playing themselves, they introduced a number of their friends to do short spots, including Sam Sweeney and Bryony Griffiths ans Will Hampson, as well as some of the youngsters from the summer schools, some still teenagers but with great musical ability. The middle spot was Raj Raj Raj who as well as being great musicians have some gifted singers:

There's another video of them playing here.

I left the concert at the interval and hotfooted it to The Metropole to see an enormous queue already formed for Cockersdale singing a tribute to Keith Marsden.  Keith was a member of the band and wrote some amazing songs, but sadly died in his early fifties in 1991. Keith's wife Val still sings with them, and although they help keep his songs alive, they are not alone, as they are sung by many people. There are many will sing "Bring us a Barrel" and state categorically that it is a traditional folk song, and will argue with you when you tell them it's not, when in fact it's one of Keith's. The concert was great, and they sang many of my favourites, from The Funeral Song (which despite its title is very funny) to the sad Willy Oil Lad which contains the wonderful lyric, "But he's clogs, and he'll always be clogs lass". As a clog dancer that appeals to me.

Another quick tea of fish and chips at our friend's cottage as we hadn't got time to walk the mile back to ours as we wanted good seats for The Music Hall, and knew there'd be a queue. Ably compared by Johnny Handle in his top hat, it featured many acts all performing music hall or comedy numbers, including Stanley Accrington, Peta Webb and her selection of hats, Green Ginger Clog Dancers and Cosmatheka. A good night, but perhaps not quite as good as last year, or maybe this year the novelty had worn off?

Down to the Late Night Extra for some more dancing to 422 and Will Hall, then the long walk home, past the outdoor session at The Middle Earth which is rocking whatever time of day or night we walk by it. Glad I'm not in the cottage next door!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, there's two small  pipe players who've been sitting by the swing bridge for the last few days. I had a chat with them, they're Irish and 10 and 11 years old. Very good players, and very cute. They seem to be making a packet, as all the Mums and Dad's throw coins into their hat. I hear rumours that they were doing the same in Sidmouth Festival last week. Good for them.

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