November 22, 2016

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016) Death of A Ladies Man

Read this obituary as published in The Lynn News
Cohen, with Suzanne

The name of this website ('Bard on the wire") is a homage to  Cohen's famous song Bird on the Wire. Here's my tribute to the Canadian folksinger, who die in November 2016.

Standing on Purfleet Quay by the statue of George Vancouver (born Lynn June 1757) and his painfully achieved coastal chart of North West America feels like the perfect place to remember Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen. It's all there. Cohen's use of water to convey the spiritual depths beneath urban experience ("Now Suzanne takes your hand/ And she leads you to the river/ She is wearing rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters"); that sense of a great outside world washing up  in the silt in every harbour ("heroes in the seaweed… children in the morning"); the spirit's life as a sea-adventure ("And Jesus was a sailor/ When He walked upon the water,") sudden epiphanies penetrating the clouds. ("And the sun pours down like honey/On Our Lady of the harbour.")
Countless bedsit dwellers all at sea in the 1970s tuned in to Cohen's life-buoy psalms. I always scorned the parrotry that he made 'wrist-slashing' music. It was the chirpy cheep cheeps that depressed me.
His lyrics were as deep as his voice later became. "I was born to this, I had no choice/I was born with the gift of a golden voice' he joked as he plumbed ever-lower registers in the autumn of his life. More like the rust-gold on an old sinking battleship.
Cohen faced the realities of love and mortality like some prophet off an Old Testament mountain, applying the scriptures once sung by his rabbi grandfather to illuminate real life. "Dance me to your beauty like a burning violin" was more Song of Solomon than Tin Pan Alley; "Hallelujah" as much actual gospel as gospel music.
He brought ancient wisdom to the relationships, gender and social politics of our day, gave them eternal context.  He inhabited the world of popular music for more than six decades avoiding the empty noise of its shallower vessels. He once quoted the Bible on  a passport application "If I forget thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."
He may not have had a secret chart for the 'smoky' life of the spirit but in his  20 album new-old testament, he has left one for the rest of us.  Like Vancouver he charted a complex and enriching map.

"Doin different - 39 new ballads from the East of England" by Gareth Calway (Poppyland publishing) is on sale in Waterstones, True's Yard and Hanse House.

A song from the loneliest room

A view of the studio albums, worst to best. (very unfair on 'Recent Songs' in my opinion and omitting the unmissable 'Live Songs' altogether, with its otherwise unavailable rough and ready gems like 'Queen Victoria', but really well informed and thoughtful.)

November 17, 2016

Children In Need Event At Princess Theatre Hunstanton

Never work with children or animals (in this case a splendid pantomime cow) they say -  and I usually don't. But they're wrong of course and it was a blast taking part in this genuine old time variety show. Lots of heartwarming talent - I think the big rock choir hymning Cohen's 'Hallelujah' behind the Victims of Time was a real getting out of yourself moment, as was joining in on Brian's Lyin' Eyes. All the glitz of showbiz of the dancing troupes, dance studios and the stage schools; the really polished Frank Sinatra routine, the multi-talented Rollasons with their amazing stage presence and basically everything. I hope I haven't left anyone out. I never expected to sing Queen (whom I cordially loathe!) in a full company at the end either and I even enjoyed that. All the stage technicians and managers who worked so hard and of course Gemma Parsons the director and the excellent compere Steve Knowles. (It was a world away from the last work Steve and I did together, playing Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry VIII in 'Tom and Harry'.)  So much hard work behind the scenes to make it go with a swing and raise that money for the cause.  And a lovely appreciative audience joining in and clapping along. Very proud to have been involved. 

To help this wonderful charity, I will be transforming from the mild mannered clean-shaven middle of the road citizen you see above to the mediaeval apologist for King John you see below.

Here's the running order of the full show.
It looks like a lot of fun!
JAE Dance Studio Adults 
Too Darn Hot (TAP)
Steve Knowles (In front of Reds) - Welcome and Introduction
Rock Choir 
Introduce Rock Choir
Rock Choir  - 15 min set
Finishing with Proud – Anna Hallard
Reds Down Rock Choir Exit
Steve Knowles – Introduce Brian
Reds Up (Ist Cow)
Brian – Acoustic Guitar (10 mins)
Steve Knowles - Introduce JAE Dance Studio
JAE Dance Studio – Evergreen (start offstage)
Reds Down 
Steve Knowles Introduce Cliff
Cliff Rat Pack Set (13 mins)
Steve Knowles Introduce JAE Dance Studio
JAE Dance Studio – Windy Washing Day (start offstage)
Steve Knowles to introduce Victims of Time announce end of Act 1
Victims of Time
Close House Tabs
Leela - Trapeze Routine
Steve Knowles Welcome Back
Tommy Rollason 
      Juggling Act
Steve Knowles – Introduce Rollason Stage School Street Class promote Panto
Rollason Street Dance Routine
Lucy Rollason and Cow – Promoting Panto with Script
Lucy Rollason – Songs from Panto
Interlink into
Rollason Stage School – Mary Poppins etc.
Reds Down
Steve Knowles Introduce Gareth Calway
Steve Knowles introduce Sean ‘Rollo’ Rollason
Sean ‘ Rollo’ Rollason
10/15 mins Act
Rock Choir – 15 min set
Dance With Me Tonight (Hand Jive) Finale and Bows – ALL ON STAGE TO DO HAND JIVE  
Steve Knowles -  Thank Yous and Goodnight
Full Company - Don’t Stop Me Now with RC
Close House Tabs

Children In Need 2016

Once again the Princess Theatre is proud to be supporting Children In Need – We have a great cast of local artists to entertain you with comedy, music and dance in our special variety show

Friday 18th November 2016 - 19:30

HIs Badness

Sedgeford October With Winter Geese

"Sedgeford October With Winter Geese." The full photoshoot for the cover artwork is below. You can read and hear the poem in its glorious digitally recorded autumn collage at the link above. 

A corner of a Norfolk field that is forever Europe. And one of the loveliest corners of England.