Thursday, 4 August 2011

Village Newsletter - 2011 06 June

Taken from the August entry to the Ashton Keynes Village Newsletter

June was certainly an eventful month for our intrepid Blokes, being quite literally full of events! It began early just before June got started when we had one of our infamous Flying Solo sessions when we attempt to rehearse material without our leader Choirmeister Chris Samuel. Previously these sessions have had mixed results ranging from the sublime to the sonically “challenging” as those intentionally tricky harmonies have proved just a little too much when not adequately directed, but we seem to have got the hang of things now. We made a great deal of progress, in particular some of the Blokes taking up conducting duties for the first time in their singing careers.

The following week we held our regular workshop session with Choirmeister Chris and managed to hone some more material and even got the stomping right in Satisfaction without anyone falling over because they started on the wrong foot. The session was topped off by a run through of Big Spender with some of the Siren Sisters conducted by Graham Loveday. Then it was off to the Open Mic night in The White Hart and some hearty renditions of Concrete, Haul Away Joe and a very heartfelt Tsmidao.

The Ashton Keynes Music Festival was looming and a very important moment for the Blokes, our first actual public performance without Chris conducting us, which made for a very nervous moment too. As we gathered together in one of the classrooms it made for a very strange site with a dozen and a half burly blokes all dressed in black apart from their lurid Caribbean shirts singing a Georgian hymn in a room full of tiny chairs and tables – but the last minute bonding paid off with a storming show. Right from the off the audience did not know quite what they were witnessing as Neil Burston introduced us and explained why were flying solo whilst the rest of the blokes did some very loud and distracting limbering up exercises.

The show continued at a tremendous pace with introductions from Big Mike Grier, resplendent in Georgian gangster outfit, and then conducting duties were handed over to Martin Hawes, one of our contingent from out of town, who ably lead proceedings until his over enthusiastic conducting caused the penguin attached to his arm to dislodge itself – you really needed to be there to witness this and Andrew Levens' wooden leg and Jon Hughes' pirate ship – an unforgettable spectacle!

The final moment came during the mass encore when the blokes subverted the proceedings by performing their two lines of “I'd like to teach the world to sing” in deep Georgian style whilst holding Cocoa Cola bottles – quite a contrast to say the least and an interesting end to a very emotional evening.

However, our valiant sonic voyagers did not have long to recover as we returned to the Festival Marquee which saw our very first, ramshackle public performance just over three years ago. Yet again we marched into the tent and then to the amazement of assembled masses we started to wander around the tent, singing as we went with consummate style until Chris forgot the words to the chant he was leading! Recovering well he managed to get us on the stage for some more hearty renditions in a strong set that included a blistering version of “(I can't get no) Satisfaction featuring Lars Frimert in particularly fine voice and benefitting from the opportunity to unburden himself in front of several hundred people. We ended with a now traditional audience participatory number, Down to the River to Pray and headed off for a well earned rest.

However, we couldn't relax for long as we had a final engagement for the month at the Corsham Fringe Festival performing in St Bartholomew's Church in that lovely town. Despite it being foul weather the Blokes put in a fantastic performance, possibly one of our best yet judging by the audience reaction and the recording of the event. Afterwards we had yet another special Magic Man Moment when a lady in the pub spotting that we were clearly all dressed alike and somehow part of some group ended up asking us to sing her a song. We had the perfect piece for her being as she told us she was “a Capricorn called Beverly”, and sang a superb conversation stopping version of Tsmidao, a fantastic moment to cap off a very busy month.

Hopefully by the time you read this many of you will have attended the concert in Holy Cross Church being given by our inspiration The Spooky Men's Chorale and a memorable event it is likely to be.

Come and join us

Suitably inspired from our various performances and the Spooky Men' s Chorale, 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 us.

Forthcoming dates

At time of going to press, current plans for rehearsal dates in the Ashton Keynes School Hall, 5-7pm unless stated otherwise:


Sunday 7th Aug 5-7pm - Flying Solo + more official Pow Wow, aka AGM?

At the new & improved White Hart

A bit of a sing then a more formal discussion about things

Possibly stay on for Open Mic

then a bit of time off for good behaviour until

Sunday 4th September 5-7pm - Flying Solo

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

Sunday 18th September 5-7pm - Workshop with Chris

At the school hall

Sunday 2nd October 5-7pm - Workshop with Chris

At the school hall then stay on for Open Mic


Sunday 16th October St Georges, Bristol as part of the Festival of Song

More details nearer the time

More information, links to many recordings and up to date listings can be found at our regularly updated website at

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

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