Flea!

madame-celine-played-by-hester-goodman-ukulele-orchestra-of-great-britainRelaunch Thursday 5 January
Ballroom, Bull Hotel, 7-9pm

Flea! No, don’t flee. Come to the public launch, relaunch, of the community opera first mooted in 2015 but put on hold when an application for a grant from the Arts Council was unsuccessful.

The principle funds are now in place, thanks in particular to the Electric Palace, and the show is on, scheduled for May 2017.

Andrew Dickson

Andrew Dickson

Written and composed by Andrew Dickson and Sally Vaughan, the musical tells the story of Madame Celine, ring-mistress of an extraordinary flea circus, and her introduction to the ukulele. Hester Goodman from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, plays the lead. The director is Niki McCretton from the Stuff & Nonsense Theatre Company and Anna Golding of the No Limits Dance Group is the choreographer.

That comprises a seriously talented and accomplished group, but a people’s opera needs people. Roles are available on stage and off for a wide variety of participants, actors, musicians, singers, set-builders, helpers of every kind.

Visit www.ukuleleopera.org.uk for further information.
To register your interest email info@ukuleleopera.org.uk

By |December 31st, 2016|Music|1 Comment

The Mouse Outfit

Electric Palace
Saturday 17 December 8pm
Tickets £10 (18+)

Preview by Jonah Corren

The Mouse Outfit are consistently said to be destined for greatness. The unique brand of hip-hop they produce leaves no questions as to why.

Formed eight years ago by music teacher Paul Hooley (known in the band as ‘Chini’) and musician James Defty in Manchester, they subsequently recruited an impressive roster of musicians by hosting live jamming sessions to meet local talent.

These days, The Mouse Outfit is a nine-piece band held together by Chini on the keys, Defty on the bass and percussion maestro ‘Pitch’ on the drums and MPC. Their live shows are fronted by renowned rappers ‘Dr Syntax’ and ‘Sparkz’ who have featured on several of their album tracks among a plethora of talented artists.

To have these guys in Bridport is an absolute coup, and they would be recommendable to any fans of hip-hop or generally excellent music. Booking in advance is a must.

By |December 12th, 2016|Jonah Corren, Music|0 Comments

Dub Pistols

Electric Palace 21 November 2015
BR Rating ****

By Jonah Corren

Everyone who’s ever been to a festival knows who these guys are. Not all of them can remember what they sound like, or why they loved them so much, but they know they did, and that’s why the Dub Pistols’ gig saw people making their way to Bridport from all across the county. And they were not disappointed.

Most notable in the band’s set were Dub Pistols classics such as Mucky Weekend, which the audience reacted to fantastically, singing along to the catchy lyrics. Another clear-cut favourite was Alive which featured a thumping bass line making dancing easy and enjoyable, and yet another catchy chorus which the audience were invited to sing part of, in a routine exercise which really showcased the group’s vast experience and talent. One really impressive brass-coordinated number included a selection of fantastic trumpet solos showing the breadth of the band’s repertoire and genre span.

Dub Pistols brought an infectious energy to the Palace with upbeat music given a creative edge by impressively fast and lyrical rapping from key vocalist T.K. Lawrence. Front man Barry Ashworth contributed his ever-powerful vocals and possibly even more powerful stage presence. These two MCs showed fantastic chemistry, backed up by brass, guitar and percussion. At one point Ashworth wore a pair of pink sunglasses borrowed from one of the audience, and I even caught the trumpet player doubling up his instrument as an air guitar. For the encore, T.K. entered the stage wearing a huge sombrero, with fake ammunition strapped to his chest.

After the set, Barry Ashworth could be found behind an impressive array of merchandise. “It’s been a mucky weekend,” he said. “Last night sold out, and tonight was just off the scale. Everyone was just rocking with us.”

If you do spot these guys on the line-up of a festival or doing a show nearby, they’re really worth a watch. But make sure you throw yourself into the experience as much as they do.

By |November 23rd, 2015|Jonah Corren, Music, Review|0 Comments

Meet Andrew Dickson

Andrew Dickinson2By Jonathan Hamer

On meeting Andrew Dickson, the award-winning film and theatre composer, actor and playwright, I was immediately struck by his sense of calm and openness as he flung open the front door of his peaceful new home near the centre of Bridport. To talk at length to Andrew about his career was a privilege and education for me especially since I recently finished an MA in Composition for Film and Television at Bristol University and want to embark on my own career in composition.

Andrew’s first musical steps came with guitar and piano, which he had learned by ear as a child, leading his teachers to believe that he had been reading the music and as he put it, “sort of cheating.” He couldn’t be bothered with learning to read music, which put an end to his formal musical education. This DIY approach became a common thread through the interview, revealing the natural talent behind his flourishing careers in music and theatre.

Through his passion for skiffle and growing love of drama, Andrew started performing during the folk boom, in London and around Coventry and the midlands. He also began a life-long side-career in teaching by entering teacher-training college and later working at a college for maladjusted students in what he fondly looks back on as a time of, “education as it should be,” perhaps making up for his loss of faith in the formal musical education he had received in earlier life.

Andrew recalled the start of his writing career in drama during a two-year stint at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, where he combined his love of education and drama through writing plays for children and composing songs and incidental music to accompany the performances. From this opportunity, sprung many more in fringe theatre groups and poetry shows around England, including the celebrated People Show.

As he became more prolific as a composer his work led him to a particularly interesting play by John Burrows called War Time Stories, about what the threat of a nuclear war does to a family. This play prompted Andrew to begin writing his music down as he scored the play with a string quartet, which then led to him becoming more comfortable with an orchestral palette, learning the capabilities and sound of a huge range of instruments.

It was from this work in theatre that Andrew then got his break into the world of film when Mike Leigh attended a play in which Alison Steadman (his wife at the time) was performing and admired the music, which Andrew had written. Mike had just finished production of Meantime (1983) and after a viewing session, asked Andrew if he would like to score it. This was the beginning of a very productive partnership that saw Andrew write the music for six Mike Leigh films over the course of two decades, the most recent of which is Vera Drake (2004).

Mike is well known for his rigorous rehearsal schedule in which actors explore and develop their own characters until a script evolves from such improvisations together with Mike’s ideas and direction. Andrew’s collaborative process with Mike was clearly just as creatively rigorous for Andrew recalls Mike being very precise about his vision for the film and, “supervising every semi-quaver”, which although demanding, pushed Andrew to write music he hardly knew he could.

Andrew remembered a particularly intense period of writing for High Hopes (1989) in which Andrew would write some twenty tunes on piano or guitar for particular scenes and characters and Mike would then come down to Andrew’s old house in Eype to hear them and pick one out of the twenty. Despite the pressure that Andrew was under, they became close friends and the results speak for themselves as Andrew was awarded the European Composer of the Year and the BFI Anthony Asquith Award for his score of High Hopes and went on to write music for many television programmes and work with other film directors, including Goran Paskelavic and Noemi Lvovsky.

Strangely enough, Andrew admitted to not actually being a film lover or a great film goer. That is certainly unusual for a film composer, but Andrew believes it may have given him a slight edge as he wasn’t aware of the baggage that comes with film music and as he put it, “gave me a certain naivety that was useful and that I played on”.

When watching Leigh’s films, his use of silence and emphasis on dialogue and ‘kitchen-sink realism’ is very apparent and very reminiscent of the stage so here in could lie the secret behind the success of Andrew’s and Mike’s partnership.
Andrew Dickinson
In general, the main lesson for a budding composer to take from Andrew is that success lies in putting yourself forward and trusting your ability to learn and to adapt creatively. Andrew attributes much of his success to mere luck but he also recognizes that like his approach to learning and teaching instruments, which is just pick it up and go with it, success in larger and more daunting projects comes from this spirit of inquisitiveness and self-belief. The picture of his wall inside his music room shows that he practises what he preaches. As Andrew puts it: “It’s amazing what you can do if you assume you can do it.”

By |November 12th, 2015|Music|0 Comments

Hank Wangford & the Lost Cowboys

Hank Wangford

Hank Wangford by Alison Lang

Bridport Arts Centre
Friday 4 September 8pm
Tickets: £16.50/£12

Preview by Lawrence Hansen

Hank Wangford gets the Bridport Hat Festival off to a rollicking start with a gig at the Arts Centre. He appears with four all-star hard-core country musicians, including B.J. Cole, a leading UK exponent of the pedal steel guitar.

Hank is passionate about country music and enjoys playing to non-believers. His many jokes – e.g. sidekicks Bad Breath and Manley Footwear – should not obscure his devotion to this quintessentially American folk tradition. Even the New York Times commented that his music ‘still has the bite and twang that has been drained out of so much Country music’. At the age of 74, Hank still records and tours vigorously. Under the no-hall-too-small programme of the National Rural Touring Forum he has appeared in some 300 out-of-the-way venues.

He is also the founder of the Nude Mountaineering Society and continues to serve as its president. His inspiration was George Mallory who climbed without trousers in the Himalayas. Membership couldn’t be easier: find a peak somewhere, remove your clothes, take a selfie and send it to him.

Hank is the guitar-playing alter ego of Dr Sam Hutt, a sexual healthcare specialist who has helped to develop clinical practice in poor countries such as Bosnia and Transylvania. He’s a genuine English eccentric in the tradition of, for example, Sir George Sitwell (who painted his cows in blue willow patterns as part of a landscaping scheme) and Lord Berners (who had Penelope Betjeman’s horse in his sitting room for tea).

However, it’s Hank who’s coming to Bridport on Friday with his uniquely amusing Country and Western act.

By |August 31st, 2015|Music|0 Comments