For 2015, we started with Jazz, then a classical music masterpiece to take your breath away; we had three films, The Rudes, a fungi trail and a harvest supper, we had crafty kids, and some of us got a bit of tech training…
Jazz Breakfast – 8 February 2015
Many thanks to Neil Partick his review.
Mike Hatchard, jazz musician and singer, played a nearly two hour set on Sunday 8th February 2015 in the tiny East Sussex village of Crowhurst. Mike is a jazz and popular music veteran. As a young man he was Matt Munro’s musical director, he played with Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, and in recent years he has been playing up and down the English south coast with Herbie Flowers, former bassist with Sky and session man on many a classic 1970s rock album.
Those who came to Mike’s Jazz Breakfast at 1030 am on a Sunday morning in Crowhurst Village Hall were served bacon butties and coffee before he took to the electric keyboard, opened up with Sinatra’s ‘Come Fly With Me’, and then provided the audience with a musical guide to some of the leading pioneers of 1920s jazz piano.
Mike plays with feeling and can sing often highly challenging and diverse material. A ragtime number associated with James P. Johnson and a boogie woogie tune popularised by Charles ‘Pinetop’ Smith were played with dexterity and gusto. Performing ‘Spain (I Can Recall)’) a Corea/Rodrigo/Maren/Jarreau tune that Al Jarreau normally sings is not easy, but Mike carried it off. George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch over Me’ was sung and played with great tenderness.
More striking still was his take on ‘The Dutchman’. The subject matter of this Liam Clancy folk number is a lifelong love ravaged, but not ended, by senility. Mike clearly loves this song deeply. It should have brought the house down. The audience were, I think, still taking it in long after he had moved on to the next number.
Mike has great rapport with the audience, regaling them with tales from the road, which in his younger years was often traversed by bicycle. Such was the sympathy that Mike created, he even got away with an embarrassing ‘comedy’ number from a very different era: ‘Have Some Madeira, M’Dear’, a tale of an old man seducing an underage girl with the aid of fortified wine.
At one point Mike brought on Crowhurst’s newest resident to play the trumpet. Paul Eshelby is a professor at the Royal College of Music. More importantly he is a sensitive as well as a virtuoso musician. I am sitting in a village hall with 50 people on a Sunday morning watching Paul play ‘My Funny Valentine’ to Mike’s skillful piano accompaniment and thinking that in many other Sussex villages this space would be reserved for amateur dramatics and the bingo. In fact the children’s club was scheduled to follow.
Toward the end of his set Mike picked up the fiddle and performed a couple of numbers in a swing style accompanied by Paul and Steve Savage, an accordionist. The three musicians’ feigned exit through the audience brought very loud applause and many, well-deserved, shouts for more, to which Mike responded by switching to an acoustic guitar to perform a French gypsy jazz number with Steve.
A great show. Look out for Mike performing with Herbie Flowers at the St Mary’s in the Castle in Hastings, and elsewhere on the Sussex coast.
Kreisleriana – 14 March 2015
A full house gathered in the Village Hall to listen to Crowhurst Community Arts’ latest musical offering. The occasion was the welcome return of Gina Beukes who last played here in 2013 as leader of the Barbican String Quartet. She brought a complete change of style with the three man show ‘Kreisleriana’.
Tom Stevenson, with his convincing Austrian accent, sensitively inhabited the role of the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler, telling anecdotes from ‘his’ life musically illustrated by Gina Beukes on the violin and Helen Leek accompanying with great sensitivity on the piano.
These two musicians clearly enjoy making music together and in the Cabaret Style positioning, in the midst of the audience instead of on the stage, the sound in the hall is excellent. The fusion of spoken word and musical example provided understanding and
entertainment in an evening of high quality music making.
We were diverted by the question of whether art is any less good if it is not what it is thought to be, and we were amused by the apparent application of a musical ear to the art of ballistics. We were also intrigued to discover that Kreisler never bothered to practise the violin, leading to a story about shaving soap and a violin bow. Professional string players when confronted with difficult music often jokingly ask each other “have you put the soap on your bow?” A soaped bow produces no sound so Gina gave an example of having to play at the extreme ends of the bow in order to avoid the soapy middle.
Sharp intakes of breath were heard from string players in the audience as Gina flawlessly performed Hora Staccato, a phenomenally difficult piece involving a bowing technique that few can master and murmurs of appreciation were heard from the audience at the end of the concert as the show finished with Dvorak’s beautiful Songs my Mother Taught Me.
And at the end of the evening we all went away humming the tunes we didn’t know we knew!
– Article by Richard Holttum, originally printed in Crowhurst News April 2015
There was a delicious, surreptitious hiss through the audience in response to the then-Prime Minister’s first soundbite, a surge of awe for the boozy club scene that proclaimed workers’ rights, and a die-in-your-seat moment for the beautiful rendition of Bread and Roses, achingly solo then gloriously collective.
Singalong aside, this was challenging subject matter and some edges had to be rubbed off to make it a 15 certificate. Maybe not true grit then, but true friends. And a fab soundtrack.
Jane first went through the basic potential of an iPad and its many functions and attributes. She then spent some time with each course member (with the others sitting in) to deal with specific queries, frustrations and ambitions. This enabled a wide range of topics to be covered, as well as meeting individual needs.
The Rudes – The Comedy of Babi Babbett – 30 July 2015
There’s a delicious sense of occasion as The Rudes arrive in the village. A few non-descript vans turn up around lunchtime, there’s some banging and hammering, a caravanesque stage and an enclave appear at the bottom of the Rec. As the afternoon progresses, you can hear singers trilling, testing the acoustics – yes, the valley echoes, yes, the plain projects.
By early evening, people are arriving with their chairs and their picnics. Olives and cheese, crackers and ham, wine and take-out beer from The Plough. (Whose booze will the actors nick?) By showtime, there’s a jovial crowd ready and waiting.
Commedia dell’arte is a very specific art form and it is The Rudes’ unmistakable signature. The very first second, you know this is something special. If you were lucky enough to be at the workshop in the Village Hall (some decade or so ago), you’ve already had a bash at the walks and the caricatures.
Painted faces, extreme wigs and marginal costume manoeuvres – a team of six play twenty or so parts and you don’t miss a beat as to who is who. The swagger, the arms, the screech or the fey… they mark each character, each ancient role. And never abandoning the (literal) slapstick.
We experimented with this at those workshops – say the words, clap the prop, no one will ever know. Truth is, with this troupe, you are absolutely supposed to know, and the slapstick is passed between the cast without any attempt at sleight of hand. The very heart of the format is a suspension of disbelief to make real the tiny cast, minimalist stage, almost zero props and mime.
Of course, the key to the shorthand is stereotypes. Which is a risk. The Comedy of Babi Babbett just skirted the abominable cliché, and the worst wince-enducing line came from a deliberately odious character, a chap who had as little control over his sexism as he had over his farts – relentless when agitated, the hooter on his belt in overdrive. Last year’s show managed slightly less well. The Chaucerian The Wife bravely included the rape scene but stuck to the historical denouement: a rapist exonerated and a rape victim saved from ugliness and wilderness by marriage to her attacker. A slightly troubling “happy ending” for a 21st Century audience that would have benefited from a Rudes-style anarchic aside to challenge the trivialisation of sexual assault.
This year’s coolest aside: the French assassin, prowling, sinister music, addressing the audience, heavy ‘Allo ‘Allo accent, “I cannod beleeve you are steell vatching thees crrraaap!” Oh… we booed!
Coolest mime: when the teenage runaway avoids discovery by denying her armful of suitcases with “I’m only miming”. Most powerful mime: after the bomb, everyone perishing in loud drawn out slow-mo, arteries spurting and internal organs spilling. Not a drop of ketchup required, just gruesome invisible gore. This is the skill of The Rudes.
Well (apart form a little bit of tidying up, and thankfully we had the foresight to avoid glitter!) you end up with 28 happy children who have created a whole array of amazing crafts as they ‘dabbled’ away with new skills and materials.
As the photos, show we had a rich selection of decoupage boxes and birds and picture frames as the art of cut and paste was crafted to make pretty decorated items. The mosaic tiling was very popular as children got messy with putty and created a picture or design using their imaginations and hundreds of coloured tiles.
The opportunity to make a festive table runner produced some amazing results and no doubt some well earnt praise will be given when family and friends enjoy their Christmas dinner table decorations. Most children might have already decorated a biscuit or cupcake before, but this very popular dabble table was a hit for all ages with its attractive edible treats and decorations.
Over 24 collage bags were decorated with scraps of fabric, many depicting a jungle theme, and the end results will bring joy to any shopper dodging the 5p plastic bag levy! A simple box of colourful beads and shells saw many variations of bracelets and necklaces being made… the more successful ones achieved when the child remembered to tie a knot in the elastic before holding it up to admire all their hard work!
My favourite item had to be the lovely wooden reindeer which were crafted from nature’s bounty of wood and twigs, with just a few additions such as a red pom pom nose, a jingle bell, wobbly eyes and felt ears. The children enjoyed using the drills and other tools on offer to create their fantastic reindeer friends – a new Christmas decoration and family heirloom!
The children had a fantastic afternoon, and I have to say the adults who helped had a great time as well, watching how creative our young people are and their delight in making something, learning a new skill and generally making a mess that someone else was going to tidy up!
A BIG thank you to all the Arty Farty committee who ran dabble activity tables and to the young people who worked so hard to make their wonderful crafts.
Cinema Theme Night – Some Like It Hot – 20 November 2015
Classic cinema, themed food, costumes… once a year, film night goes to another level.The village hall was beautifully decorated in stylised monochrome 1920s’ chic, and there was a supper of homemade pizza and salad nicoise, suitable for any Italian gangster feast (plenty of anchovies, plenty of garlic). We had flappers with sequins and feathers, beads and headbands; mobsters with slicked-back hair and ominous violin cases; and TWO sleazy oil magnates paying tribute to the disguise-within-a-disguise in the film’s final chaotic identity swaps. Silly? Us?
Community Carols – 16 Dec 2015
A truly lovely family festive sing-along. It was so great to see so many generations coming together to join in.
Thank you all for coming, see you same time next year.