Friday, 30 December 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

In case you have nothing better to do on this coming New Year's Eve you might be tempted out to The White Hart in Ashton Keynes to witness one or two or three of our brethern in another guise strutting their stuff as members of the renegade Party band, The Barking Chickens. They are due to deliver their steaming set of popular tunes from yesteryear mixed in with much tomfoolery and prizes for best dancing and heckles from 9pm onwards, so make sure you get there early to have plenty to drink before they get on.

As you can see, the date has already been highlighted as pretty much the only thing on the calendar in January (apart from our first Workshop on Sunday 22nd January from 5 - 7pm) which just shows how bleak January can be . . .

To liven things up we have the arrival of the vanguard order for the first TMAK47 Calendar. This has already received rave reviews by beholders of the first batch, despite the rather obvious comments from wives and assorted disparagers who snorted "it's a bit like the Calendar Girls except luckily they kept their clothes on"!

We should have the remainder of the main order by the time this post hits the e-streets and will have more information on pricing and availability.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Beer & Carols 2011

A little belatedly, but we received this email from the lovely Shirley Danby, Vicar of our Parish:

"a big thank you to you and the Magnificent AK 47 for coming and singing lustily tonight - it was a lovely community occasion and several people would like it next year and some interest in Beer and Hymns too (in "my place" with beer I heard from one person!!). Please pass my thanks to the guys and to Chris for coming a fair way and I hope they enjoyed it
Have a good Christmas and once again a big thankyou. Shirley"

Well, we think it was a great time had by all, from the daft headgear (can you spot "Chicken Head Stu" as he shall be known from now?), through to the very big smile on Chris Choirmeister's face, particularly during the Malpas Wassail.

Indeed, many thanks to all who took part and helped us end the year on a major high, great to see Nigel of Oxford and the Stroud Crowd, as well as the Swindon 3 and Cricklade 2 (a fair result!).

Wassail!!! Hah!

Monday, 26 December 2011

A message for the SpookMeister

Funny some of the things you can find on the internet.

This is one of those odd moments when you come across stuff and you think, "Hang on, I know some of those people in that YouTube thingy", you watch and, yes, you do know them and then you realise there's something a little odd about it. See if you can spot the continuity blooper, bless 'em.

The bottom line is, Happy Birthday SpookMeister General and keep on singing and inspiring us all.

To see it in all it's glory, click

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A message from Santa

Received via text now that he has a moment to relax.

"Yo ho ho. Well done my lads. M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S!!

I can tell you that I've been following your progress throughout the last year since you came to my attention when one of my helper elves told me about you. He had heard via the grapevine that there was a bunch of blokes who had taken to rejoicing in Blokeyness and the joy of singing in harmonious unison together (well most of the time).

Thanks for my T-Shirt, although I must confess that it is a little on the snug side and I can only suspect that it was one of the leftovers that would suit a careful lady owner, but I am pleased to wear it under my regular outfit to show solidarity with the chaps.

Have a great Yuletide, you were truly Magnificent the other night in the pub, "Wassail!!", remember to take your own T-Shirts wherever you are and enter the next competition. Just about to run out of credit on my phone now so must go but have a wonderful 2012 and enjoy all your serious silliness.


Thanks St Nick, I'm sure the Blokes will enjoy your message and will be suitably inspired.

P. S. This posting was in no way influenced by just a little too much Christmas cheer ;-)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Mother's Jam

In a slight change from bringing news about All Bloke singing, we are prompted to mention one of the most delightful non-Bloke Choirs that we have come into contact with over a period of years, namely Mother's Jam.

One of their members, Vanessa Lafaye (Great name btw!), is the driving force behind the magnificent Singing for Laughs concerts in Marlborough where we made our proper performing debut getting on for 3 years ago. We are already looking forward to revisiting in February for what has become a staple event in the town. Can you believe it that tickets are already available and they expect to reach the 180 capacity very soon so don't delay ordering, contact Tel 07967985046 or email

More info can be found at the Mother's Jam website.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

“Victorian Christmas” at Holy Cross Church, Ashton Keynes

We are very privileged to have been invited to perform at the Ashton Keynes Village Choir's Christmas Concert at Holy Cross Church on 10th December.

The evening will have a “Victorian” theme and also a bit of "Georgian"! We plan to perform Tsmidao and "Down to the River to Pray", with some seasonally themed variations on the usual lyrics so pay attention!

The choir will be singing a number of traditional carols to tunes which were popular during Queen Victoria’s reign, and also performing music which, although not necessarily written in the 19th century, would have been popular with audiences of that time. The programme includes Zadok the Priest and Panis Angelicus (which you may remember from the TV drama “The Choir”) plus loads of favourite Christmas songs. They will also bring you seasonal thoughts and stories with a selection a readings by local ‘celebrities’.

Thanks to Heather Milnes their Musical Director for allowing us to sneak in another chance to perform acts of pointless grandeur in public, this time with (jingle) bells on!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mraval Jamier - Questions and Pronouncements

Questions have been asked about the precise nature of the words for Mraval Jamier. This has prompted much consulting of ancient texts and academic research of the most prestigious kind and has resulted in the following presiding judgement:

Incantation (Verse) 1
Mraval jamier (and that's all there is for the first verse)

Incantation (Verse) 2
Ghmets mai i ne bos X2 (the vowel sound in bos is half-way between boss and boast)

Tsveni sitsostkhle (for the sound after sitso and before le (as in lay) just start with an s and chuck in as many consonants as you can in one glottal movement)

Incantation (Verse) 3
Mraval jamier (and that's all there is for the third verse)


An example of this in all its glory can be found at from the High Lords of all Spookyness themselves.

Many thanks to the learned Doctors of Spookyness and their diligent acolytes for their pursuit of the truth in deciphering and pronouncing on this important matter. Needless to say, their precise identity shall remain cloaked in secrecy to preserve the mystery and so as not to undermine their credibility as ordinary Blokes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Where were you when? And the winner is?

One of the highlights of our recent Pow Wow was the announcement of the winner of our "Where were you when?" T-shirt competition.

It was a very keenly fought contest with entries from quite literally all over the world. The ultimate winner was of Absent Bob and his helicopter in the desert with his suitable look of pointless grandeur. Typically enough being "Absent Bob" he was, er, absent, but we drank his prize in his honour (don't worry Bob, your two pints of Stroud Brewery Budding is still behind the bar waiting for you).

Joint 2nd were Stuart in Tokyo

and Cricky (Chris A)'s Nephew in Sydney (allegedly. . . ).

Thanks to all who took part, especial thanks to Cricky for organizing the T-Shirts.
Here's to the next season's competition.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Pow Wow 2011

On Sunday night we held our very first "proper" AGM, or in the language of The Magnificent AK47 Charter (our constitution), our very first Yearly Pow Wow.

Everyone was very respectful and serious about the discussions, despite the promise of being fed as soon as we finished, which perhaps helped to focus some of the debates.

In short, we have a number of tweaks to the Charter but were able to vote on accepting it in principal and were able to vote on some of the Officers.

More soon, but thank you to all who took part in a Magnificent afternoon and evening that shall live long in the legends of Blokedom around these parts.

Yuletide 2011 tracks on Soundcloud

Another excellent Workshop session on Sunday, along with all the other goings on of Photo Shoot and Pow Wow. It was amazing that with so many crammed into the pub that we managed to pick up the basic of five new pieces, some of them our trickiest yet.

Chris Samuel has very kindly put some rehearsal tracks together and these can now be found at towards the bottom of the list.

We have taken what he sent us for the Malpas Wassail and copied it a couple of times to lengthen the piece so that you have more of a chance to get into the Wassiling mood.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sing your socks off

Recently received from Lisa Samuel, Mrs Chris.

"Stuck for interesting holiday plans for next year? Yourselves, and indeed your better halves, might be interested in the following:

The Sing Your Socks Off team - Chris, Dee, Fran and Elaine are at it again. We had such fun in the Czech Republic in 2010 that we've decided to go back next year.

This lovely country is accessible with convenient, cheap flights, great value food and drink and a real sense of adventure as we head eastwards into the Bohemia region.

We'll be staying in Litomysl, a beautiful city about 150kms east of Prague. In 2010, we all stayed in the YMCA Europe Training Centre, which also houses the workshop rooms. For 2012, we'll be offering a choice of accommodation, at both the YMCA and also the Aplaus Hotel - a gorgeous 4 star hotel in the town that we spent quite a lot of time in!

Find out more from"

Sounds like fun although this would contravene the edict of only having the diary full to June next year!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Where were you? Down Under

A rather late entry for this season's T-shirt competition and an interesting one as this is an entry by proxy (the fine print in the terms and conditions has been scoured and could not find a clause that specifically excluded such an option).

Chris A posted the T-shirt to Zurich where it was picked up by his brother-in-law who was on business there. He took it back to Johannesburg where it left with his nephew, Brad, for Australia the next day (he was taking place in an international future problem solving competition which is surely pointless grandeur in itself).

On the way, they stopped off in Sydney from where these pics were taken which has a pleasing degree of moderately pointless but wistful grandeur together with outstanding iconic architectural placement. Together with being in the land of our artist forebears, this is surely a worthy entrant.

So, the scores are in

1. The Location - 4.0 (Iconic to say the least and despite no visible signage as irrefutable proof it could probably pass the "can you prove where it is test" but still unfortunately has to be docked 0.5 points. Rules is rules . . . )

2. The Pose - 3.5 (Not bad for a young'un - close so to pointless grandeur)

3. The X-Factor - 4.0 - (the spectacular views and the story of how it got there)

Making 11.5 -
making the highest scoring entry from someone who has not even been in the same country as The Magnificent AK47 yet received - can you beat this?

More photos from St Georges

Remember the old days when you carefully took precious photos, winding on the film, posing, clicked on the shutter not knowing whether you had captured something worthwhile or had inadvertently got a pillar sticking out the top of someone's head? Remember how you had to then send off the photos and wait for sometimes weeks before they came back only to find they were truly rubbish?

How times have changed! Now you can see seconds after you take the photo whether it is worth keeping or not but it still often takes weeks to come back from the metaphorical processors before you can share them with the rest of the world.
Such a thing has happened with the latest batch of photos from our recent triumph at St Georges in Bristol except this time it was more getting around to the quality control and finally posting them to Flickr. Anyhow, these can now be observed in all their serious silliness at

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Calendar Photo Shoot + Workshop + Pow Wow

A busy day ahead for our valiant blokes

14:45 Muster in The White Hart
15:00 Start the photo shoot, pints in hand - Sprogs first (see below)
16:45 Finish photo shoot
17:00 Workshop with Chris
19:00 Finish workshop and get suitable refreshments
19:30 Begin Pow Wow and finish as soon as possible to start the meal along with much mingling, drinking, some singing and who knows what else
22:30 We get kicked out of the pub, and rightly so, it being a school night!

Magnificent Sprogs Photo shoot
We thought that we would like to take the opportunity to get some photos of the mini Magnificents, the Magnificent Sprogs, so please bring anyone falling into this category, ie your kids, wearing T-Shirts. There may well be some spare T-Shirts to borrow or purchase if they don't already have their own. We can take some photos of them at the beginning of the session and they can then disappear home.

Pow Wow
We thought that we should go for the following agenda
  1. Pre-amble about transitioning from de facto to actual
  2. Constitution - discuss and approve
  3. Elect officers
  4. Plans for the Group
  5. Award of the prizes for the T-Shirt competition

Here's looking forward to a unique afternoon / evening!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

3 sleeps till Pow Wow

It is now only 3 sleeps until our very first official(ish) Pow Wow.

Now we nearly have a grown up constitution we need to do some things that will pass for being semi organized, which hopefully we can just about cope with doing! We are taking advantage of the Workshop we have had scheduled for a while to combine it with a semi official photo shoot for our first calendar (!) and then hang around for an evening meal together and a chance to talk about our ethos, elect some officers and then get on with drinking, eating and hopefully a bit of impromptu singing and possibly one or two other surprises.

The plan for the day is as follows:

14:45 Muster in The White Hart
15:00 Start the photo shoot, pints in hand
16:45 Finish photo shoot
17:00 Workshop with Chris
19:00 Finish workshop and get suitable refreshments
19:30 Begin Pow Wow and finish as soon as possible to start the meal along with much drinking, some singing and who knows what else
22:30 We get kicked out of the pub, and rightly so, it being a school night!

Looking forward to an entertaining afternoon and evening. We'll report back afterwards, hopefully with the odd photo or two.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Where were you? Windswept sprog and dog

Clinging on to his dad for dear life so he doesn't get blown off the hill, Young Simon can be seen next to Big Mike who is proudly bearing his chest which bears our glorious T-shirt.

You can get a flavour for just how windy it was up there by checking out their pooch and his flying fur!

Apparently this was snapped at OS Grid ref NY347051 or more commonly known as LOUGHRIGG FELL which allegedly is at an elevation 1,099 feet making it officially a mountain, which interestingly enough, would make it tenuously linked to the lesser known Hugh Grant film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

So, the scores are in

1. The Location - 3.5 (High winds, spectacular views of the Lake district indeed, but, another photo with no visible signage a irrefutable proof of the location so unfortunately docked 0.5 points. Rules is rules . . . )

2. The Pose - 3.5 (good gritted teeth pose which comes close so to pointless grandeur)

3. The X-Factor - 3.5 - (the spectacular views, sturdiness of Mike's pose and the flying pooch all add to the aura of Magnificence)

Making 10.5 -
making the highest scoring entry from someone at this height in the Lake District yet received - can you beat this?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Where were you? Sprog in the fog

If you look very closely you might see a small, child like creature in the middle of this impressive rockage. If you look even closer with the aid of some magnifying software to expand the pixels you might make out the nature of the print on the T-shirt to be the increasingly well travelled TMAK47 logo.

The T-Shirt wearing person in question is a mini Magnificent, Tomas son of Lars, or Larsson as he is known in their Swedish homeland which is where this photo was taken at the height of the Swedish summer, covered in fog! However with no signs in sight we will have to take his word for it although he does suggest visiting the location at As Lars mentioned in this message with the photo "the fact that Tomas is far away and small, just highlights the magnificence of the wild nature."

So, to the scores

1. The Location - 3.0 (impressive rock formation and allegedly in a foreign country but, another photo with no visible signage of irrefutable proof of the location so unfortunately docked 0.5 points)

2. The Pose - 3.0 (good use of waving arms as he is so faraway from the camera but somewhat difficult to make out if there is an expression of pointless grandeur or not)

3. The X-Factor - 3.0 - (fog in Summer brings back so many happy childhood memories for us all)

Making 9.0-
making the highest scoring entry from someone waving on a rock formation in northern Europe that has yet been received.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Another Bloke Band sails into these parts - Port Isaac's Fishermen's Friends

Another recent "Quick Straw Poll" has prompted half a dozen blokes to sign up for a night out sussing out one of the most famous Bloke Bands in all these lands, Port Isaac's Fishermen's Friends.

Famous for singing on the quayside of this extraordinary Cornish village they were catapulted to a certain level of fame by a prominent record deal and have continued to make their livings as before as well as squeezing in visits to festivals and concert halls up and down the land.

They are performing at Cheltenham Town Hall on Tuesday 22nd November and a few of us will be there, singing along to 2Haul Away, Joe" but resisting the temptation to burst into an impromptu rendering of "Let me through". As the tickets were being booked there were about a dozen left so if you still fancy seeing these guys in action try booking at and you can find out more about them at

We'll let you know how we get on after the event and hopefully return with some more inspiration for signing with beer in hand.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Where were you? Hanging around

. . . To be spoken in the hushed tones of Sir David Attenborough in the presence of gorillas . . .

"So, here we have one of those magic moments, a sighting of the rarest of beings in his natural habitat, a member of The Magnificent Ak47 who can actually sing! Swinging from tree to tree in search of his next meal and good company."

A full and plausible explanation for this shot has not be offered by the provider but allegedly it was snapped in the deepest tropical rainforest, somewhere near Newbury, Berkshire! The faraway look could be pointless grandeur or maybe he had just spied some exotic wildlife.

So, the scores are in

1. The Location - 3.0 (not every day you go to rainforest in the UK but, another photo with no visible signage a irrefutable proof of the location so unfortunately docked 0.5 points)

2. The Pose - 3.5 (good faraway stare so pretty good on the pointless grandeur)

3. The X-Factor - 3.5 - (given the logo on the T-shirt next to an actual hanging bunch of bananas)

Making 10.0-
making the highest scoring entry from someone in an tropical rainforest yet received

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Newsletter 2011 November

End of Term report (as submitted to the Ashton Keynes Parish Magazine November 2011 edition)

What we did next – our Autumn season continues into approaching Winter

We bid a warm welcome to our new recruits of whom there are many. We have been joined by a number of blokes from within the village and a couple of others who have strong ties but live just outside. We have also had an influx from Stroud where there is another pocket of bloke singing, although we are led to believe that they have blokes of all genders involved round their way. We have even had a couple of gentlemen from as far away as Oxford seek us out and come along to recent sessions. It is great to get them along and see them very much enjoying the group.

The infiltration by the Spooky Men’s Chorale

Since our inception we have been wonderfully directed by Chris Samuel who has been a longstanding UK-based member of the inspirational Spooky Men’s Chorale. We have now been infiltrated by another Spooky Man, one of the most recent ones who was plucked from the audience and “acquired” whilst on tour the night before they came to perform in Ashton Keynes. He not only brings added Spookyness to our ranks, the ability to sing very well, but he also has the most splendid beard, dramatically adding to our hairiness quota.

New material and our latest gig

We have now started work on a whole bunch of new pieces and we put many of the above elements together for the first time in public at our latest gig on Sunday 16th October at the Bristol Festival of Song event in the world famous St George’s Hall, just off Park Street. This was our most prestigious event to date in an exceptional venue that is continually being used for top flight concerts and a lot of programs Radio 3 are recorded there.

We were performing during a marathon three sessions that showcased the talents from over a dozen choirs from around the region, many of them extremely well established. It was quite a daunting prospect for our valiant blokes, especially the ones who’s SatNav insisted on trying to direct them to the wrong St Georges in Bristol – pure comedy if it hadn’t been so close to stage time!

However, with everyone who should have been there we amazed the audience by another act of audacious performance art, which involves the group storming on stage to the tune of “Let me through”, much to the utter astonishment of the choir that was still on stage at the time and the stewards who attempted to Shhh! us. Don’t worry, it wasn’t us just being totally impolite but part of the act. The Choir leader was in on the scam but his choir members weren’t, so they were as bemused as the audience until they realized what was happening and the joke became apparent.

The blokes, new and established, sung their hearts out and with a series of lightening quick costume changes, for which we are now rightly infamous, they continued to stun the audience with their vocal ability and sheer fun filled silliness.

More rave reviews

Well, at least one member’s teenage daughter who saw the performance in Bristol when pressed for an opinion described the blokes as being “Good”, which was followed by a less monosyllabic “and my mates thought you were really funny”, this coupled with some not inconsiderable applause could be construed as yet another set of rave reviews, but we won’t let it go to our heads!

More web stuff

We’ve somehow managed to sign up for a Twitter account so we can ignore that particular medium and concentrate on more interesting ones such as our continually updated website. This can now be reached by the slightly easier to remember and contains a veritable treasure trove of stuff about us. On there you will find a very active blog, updated at least once a week, links to videos on YouTube, some great pictures on Flickr and lots of audio material on SoundCloud.

Last few T-Shirts for sale and T-shirt competition still going strong

Our T-Shirt has proved so popular that we only have a couple left from our initial batch and would “suit careful lady owners” or the less generously proportioned bloke as we only have small to mediums left. If you are interested in these wonderful souvenirs, priced at only £7, then please contact your nearest bloke, or failing that via the website.

Our “Where were you when wearing your T-Shirt” competition continues with many increasingly exotic entrants from places as far away as Galway in West West Ireland, sunny Portugal, the deserts of Jordan and even Tokyo airport. There is still time to enter but obviously you will need to have a T-Shirt first.

Forthcoming dates

See our Upcoming Page

Come and join us

If you are a Bloke who might like to join in the mixture of heartfelt lyrics, (intentionally) “tricky” harmonies, occasional beer and magnificent silliness, then to find out more about “The Magnificent AK47” from or email

The Inner Circle
Sing Like a Bloke Chapter
Ashton Keynes
aka The Magnificent AK47


Just keeping a note of stuff we have done but so it doesn't clutter other pages but so we have a record of some of the many fun things we have done.


Sunday 16th October St Georges, Bristol as part of the Festival of Song
More details nearer the time but more info from their website, click here

Monday 20th June - Corsham Festival
19:30 for 20:00; on stage 20:20

We are delighted to be invited to play at the truly magnificent Ashton Keynes Music Festival 2011

Sunday 19th June
From 15.00; Family Prom, Festival Marquee - the Blokes should be in action around 17:00 but come earlier for the other fun.

Thursday 16th June
19.30; Village Voices, School Hall

See Links page for references to recordings of some of our gigs


Sunday 2oth November 5-7pm - Workshop with Chris Samuel

At The White Hart back room

Sunday 6th November 7pm - 5 - 7 pm - Flying Solo Special with Spooky Man Phil Venue The White Hart back room

A bit of a sing to try to remember all our material to be in tip top condition for upcoming events

Sunday 9th September 7pm - 8:15 pm - Flying Solo
At Ashton Keynes Holy Cross Church Change of venue from the original location

A bit of a sing to try to remember all our material to be in tip top condition for the gig the following weekend

Sunday 2nd October 5-7pm - Workshop with Chris Samuel
At The White Hart back room then stay on for Open Mic. Click here for a link to Google Maps or see,_Ashton_Keynes/Welcome.html

Flying Solo + Singing with The Siren Sisters - Sunday 29th May

We plan to hold a full rehearsal 7:15 to 8:30 in the Holy Cross Church, Ashton Keynes, to experience the accoustic and atmosphere, and also to hone our singing whilst operating without our Choir Meister. This should be viewed as a full Rehearsal for the Village Voices event, ie we will have to self conduct and be confident doing it.

Plan is to finish off by crashing The Siren Sisters rehearsal to spend 30 mins running through "Big Spender" with the ladies. Finish about 9pm for post sing pint.

Sunday 5th June 5-7pm for official full Dress Rehearsal, props and all, with Chris and then planned attendance at Open Mic. If need be we'll muster the troops for flying solo if Chris can't stay on.

Sunday 12th June we might do the same as Sun 29th May in the other pub or round someone's house, just to be honed to perfection (ahem!). To be confirmed.

Sunday 4th September 7pm - 8:15 pm -
Flying Solo ***** Change of time *****

At the new & continually improving White Hart
A bit of a sing to try to remember all our material then stay on for Open Mic (we might try to persuade the pub to do a meal for us like we have done before)

Sunday 18th September 5-7pm - Workshop with Chris Samuel
At the school hall
(The earliest Chris can do post Spooky Tour)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Where were you? Fossil hunting

An entry from the younger end of the Magnificent community amongst our many followers in the "not old enough to be able to avoid Dad so I might as well enjoy his daftness" group.

And here is a Magnificent example of this with one of Stuart's offspring sporting her very own TMAK47 T-shirt quite willingly! As you can see her brother has worn his so much that he has already worn away the logo! And also wearing one of the patented Concrete Hi-Vis jackets too.

So, to the adjudication.

1. The Location - 3.0 (trying to emulate Absent Bob with his helicopter in Jordan with all the sand but not the heat, although it could be one of his digs. However, no visible signage a irrefutable proof so unfortunately docked 0.5 points)

2. The Pose - 3.5 (very sweet sibling moment although not quite the require pointless grandeur)

3. The X-Factor - 3.5 - (if we had been told it was in fact concrete powder not sand we could have added an extra 0.5 points)

Making 10.0-
making the highest scoring entry from someone not old enough to order a pint in a pub so far!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Video evidence of St George's gig

Well, as they say, "the truth is out there somewhere" and in our case it manifests itself in more video footage of last Sunday's gig at the Festival of Song in St George's Hall, Bristol.

Unfortunately not all of the performance was captured by our source, but enough to show a classic start with the storming of the stage to the tune of Let me through and the utter amazement on the faces of the Gurt Lush choir as we marched on. We were very impressed with how they attempted to continue despite having their stage invaded by a dozen plus loons chanting!

See the rest of the material by tuning into our channel at

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Looking like a proper choir

Those of us who attended the latest rehearsal only the previous weekend, when we had a (Choirmeister Assisted) Flying Solo session, may recollect that it was not the best of run throughs we have ever had, and that was with our glorious Musical Mentor leading us, not some make do stand in! All of which did not bode terribly well for our slot at the prestigious Bristol Festival of Song in St George's hall.

Yet sometimes it is easy to forget just how far we have come as a group in the last year. Like the real troupers that they are, the entire troupe, new and old members, rose magnificently to the occasion and quite literally stormed the stage with a spectacular Let me through that completely baffled the audience and the choir performing in the hall at the time. Luckily most people got the joke pretty quickly and this set the tone for a terrific show.

Some of the singing was actually not bad at all, even rating a "pretty good" from one or two quarters, and the range of costumes and use of props just keeps getting better and better. Some amazing creativity and spectacular outfits all secreted onto the stage to be whipped out at the appropriate moment - so much to see, a veritable visual and audio feast.

One of the great things about living in the Digital Age is that it is so easy to capture events on reasonable quality recording devices for ready playback. We have had the good fortune to receive a number of terrific photos and videos from the gig and it is great being able to play things back and spot all kinds of little nuances that one missed at the time. Have a look at our Flickr photos from the event and watch out for more uploads on YouTube and SoundCloud as we progress material through our stringent quality control procedures!

All in all another tremendous performance. Well done lads!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Where were you? With Jordan??!

An entry from "Absent Bob", off on another one of his "archaeology expeditions" which we suspect is code for industrial espionage . . .

Anyway, his cover story goes "Al Jafr Air Base in Jordan, standing in front of a Huey (805) which we use for doing our aerial archaeology.

The rest of team thought I was mad - taking off my shirt to reveal the T shirt"

1. The Location - 4.0 (wow, Jordan! But no visible signage a irrefutable proof so unfortunately docked 0.5 points)
2. The Pose - 4.5 (looking as pointlessly grandiose as you can do in that heat wearing a black T-shirt, but he does have some impressive shades on to shield him from the desert glare)
3. The X-Factor - 4.5 - (a helicopter to match his T-shirt - top qualities)

Making 13.0-
a very high score indeed - can anybody trump a helicopter?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Overtone singing

We are always keen to explore the art and science of vocals and singing and this was recently received from Brother Chris A.

"A sprinkling of the Magnificent AK47 brotherhood recently attended a workshop on overtone singing in Bradford-on-Avon. As always, google is your friend but I've included a couple of video clips that do a good job of illustrating the techniques.

This first clip is remarkable in having such a range of styles sung by the same person. We were working towards the first style (khoomei) with varying degrees of success but it is exciting to hear those first overtones start to ring out. As with anything, I suspect they will strengthen with practice.

For those who want a more visual explanation, try this:

What's interesting here is not so much the technique proposed but the tool he uses to illustrate it. He has downloaded a spectrum analyser that he uses to show the overtones. This gives great feedback when experimenting. I looked at the application menu headers on the video and searched for them on google and came up with the app he was using: it's called Visual Analyzer and can be downloaded for free from I have just downloaded Visual Analyzer 2011 onto my laptop running Window 7 and it works really well. It is particularly interesting to move from the OOO to the EEE sound and see all the higher frequency harmonics growing in amplitude on the right hand side of the spectrum.

"And I love her" in Dag Kargyraa style anyone?

Chris A"

As Chris mentions, give the phrase "throat singing" a Google (other search engines are available!) or follow the suggestions from the YouTube site and you can wander off for a fascinating journey into the world of overtone singing.

You might also like to look at which has many links to other sites.

Not to be confused with THE Overtones, a popular vocal harmony group of a similar name.

See more at, they are supposed to be very good.

One more sleep until St Georges gig

If you are one of the blokes due to perform at St Georges reading this on Friday 14th thinking ""cripes, I thought the gig was on Sunday, Don't Panic! It is still on Sunday 16th, it is just that we don't believe anyone will be able to get a full night's sleep on Saturday with the excitement of performing in one of the UK's premier venues.

We've come a long way since our first humble, nay, shambolic beginnings just over three years ago.

Hopefully we will do ourselves justice, despite the somewhat ropey Dress Rehersal the other weekend, we are all anticipating it will be allright on the night.

We have a number of surprises for the audience planned and who knows, there may be one or two surprises for us when we get there. . .

So, T-shirts and hats at the ready, here's to a memorable evening pretending we are a real choir!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Festival of Song St George's Bristol

We are very honoured to have been invited to perform in the amazing St George's Hall at the Festival of Song in Bristol.

To quote from the website "Following a highly successful launch last year the Gathering Voices Festival of Song returns with a rich and eclectic celebration of the many outstanding voices (singers, ensembles and choirs) of the UK's premier 'City of Song'.

Within the wonderful acoustic and inspiring surroundings of St George's - the intimacy of which makes it the perfect setting for song - this 12-hour singing marathon traverses the whole spectrum of the city's choirs, the compelling culmination to the second ten day city-wide Festival of Song. "

We are due to be performing around 5pm. For more details of full line-up and running times see the Festival of Song website, towards the bottom of the page.

Sessions: 10.30am; 2pm; 6pm. We are due on around 5pm

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Where were you? He went that way . . .

Another photo snapped whilst Neil was recently in west, west Ireland, outside the posh quadrangle bit of NUI Galway (which stands for National University of Ireland rather than a mis-spelling of UNI!).

Having suitably embarrassed his daughter, who was there on an Open Day and hoping no one ever makes the connection between her and her loon of a father, Neil co-erced this unsuspecting student to pose with his sign. Needless to say we shan't be running a caption competition for what the bloke was thinking when asked to pose.

Scoring is as follows:

1. The Location - 4 (very posh building and it wasn't actually raining at that moment)

2. The Pose - 4 (not too high scoring on the pointless grandeur but acutely embarrassing for poor long suffering offspring and quite a good pose)

3. The X-Factor - 4 - (we like the classic use of double digit pointing and the obviously derogatory thoughts evident in the demeanor of the guy with the sign)

Making 12 - good score, worth the embarrassment.

Dress Rehearsal-Sunday 9th Flying Solo AK Church 7:15 - 8:30

England dumped out of the Rugby World Cup!

So, the dreams of World Cup glory for England are over for another four years, we can only say 'Good luck' to Wales
as the sole representatives from these isles.

Well, at least for most of us, Big Mike and Trevor + Chris S and Chris A excepted(Aus & Wal & South Africa respectively), it now means that we don't really have to get up so horribly early at weekends and can concentrate on singing in preparation for the amazing line up at the Bristol Festival of Song.

Sunday will be Dress Rehersal as much as possible with a large contingent due to attend.

Come prepared to sing

Let me through
Just because
And I love her
Haul away Joe

Down to the River (if we have time)
Magazena (just in case)

Bring all your props, ie Pirate gear + loud shirts, Big John will provide hard hats.

Let's make sure we do Chris proud and don't leave him looking like poor Martin Johnson

Not a happy bunny :-((

Friday, 7 October 2011

THE SINGING CURE - Weds 12th October

The Spookmeister returns for a workshop in Bristol

After this Summer’s sell-out Spooky Men’s Chorale Tour, Spookmeister Stephen Taberner returns to Bristol as part of the Gathering Voices Festival of Song to present a one-off journey into the various dimensions of musical ecstacy.

The workshop may include body and vocal percussion titbits, a choice Polynesian song, how to use blending to make a rabble into a luminous and angelic choir, a multi part pygmy extravaganza, secret ditties from the Spooky Men's Chorale (including tips on how to sob like a man), and maybe something infernally funky as well.

Stephen has an absurdly eclectic musical pedigree, and promises to ransack every musical area to give you a zingling tingling thingly feeling which will linger long after the evening has finished, and very probably an entirely irrational good regard for all humanity as well.

Workshop £10/£8 (students) only available on the door Weds 12th October

7.30 to 9.30pm

At The SoundWorks, Southville Methodist, Stackpool Road, Bristol BS3 1NW

More info from:
To reserve a place, or if you have any questions:

Stephen Taberner was born in New Zealand, but moved to Sydney where a perfectly unorthodox life as jazz double bass player and computer programmer was hijacked by an extended encounter with world music choir "Voices from the Vacant Lot". Before he knew it, he was a choirleader and then a singing songwriting double bass player.

As a massed choir leader Stephen is best known for his work with the Choral Sea in Sydney (1996 and 1998), and the Millennium Chorus in Melbourne (2004-6) and he is also notorious for his leadership of the Spooky Men's Chorale, which he formed in 2001. He currently directs the Spookies and three community choirs in Melbourne and conducts an increasingly bewildering programme of singing or songwriting workshops throughout Australia and the UK.

Thanks to our Magnificent Choirmeister Chris Samuel for tipping us off about this.