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.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Where were you? Dr Sweeney on dry land

An entry from DR Sweeney although we are not sure if he was on the way to or from swimming the channel when the picture was taken.

The shot apparently shows him standing at a junction of three London postcodes and in the distant back ground you can just make out the Gherkin building.

Scoring is as follows:

1. The Location - 3 (interesting intersection of Postal areas, must be pretty karmic)

2. The Pose - 3 (not as pointlessly grandiose as he could be given but then he is in the centre of London so doesn't want to be looking too out of place)
3. The X-Factor - 3.5 - (we like the oppressive buildings bearing down on him and the use of Double Red lines to keep the near background clear of cars)

Making 9.5 - not bad.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Where were you? P is for Potato

Never having seen a Potato Market before it is tempting to say "only in Ireland" but it is in fact now disused and acts as a car park. So much for respecting historical monuments . . .

Snapped whilst on a recent sojourn with eldest daughter to inspect Galway University in west, west Ireland, this picture was taken on the return leg to Dublin whilst passing through Limerick.

Scoring is as follows:

1. The Location - 3.5 (it's a Potato Market!)

2. The Pose - 3.0 (whilst not as pointlessly grandiose as some other photos he is at least staring pretty vacantly into the far distance as if surveying on coming mastedons)
3. The X-Factor - 3.0 - (we like the sign overstating that it is is a Car Park but could do with a wider angle whilst not losing sight of the T-shirt)

Making 9.5 - not bad, approaching good.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Newsletter 2011 September

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

As we gird our girths and loosen our larynxes for a new Autumn Term, we thought it worth taking a moment or two for thoughtful reflection on the last year or so.

In the space of what seems a very short time it appears as though we have achieved a surprisingly huge amount, transforming ourselves from being a triumph of hope over adequate preparation, to being a triumph, at least over our limited expectations. It continues to amaze how the blokes turn up for the Workshops and even some extra sessions we had to organize to help them remember the words and tunes that they had forgotten since the last workshop.

So, in no particular order, here is a litany of the good things we have done this past year and a bit.

More gigs and return gigs, going as far afield as Bristol, and being asked back to Marlborough and Corsham, and having a great time at our very own Ashton Keynes Music Festival, not once but twice

Rave reviews, well, at least one person’s mum enjoyed the performances at the Ashton Keynes Village Music Festival, and most of the blokes’ kids have got used to the idea and aren’t quite so embarrassed anymore, so, which effectively count as positive reviews . . .

Setting up some web stuff, like a Facebook page and Twitter account (although in our defence as defenders of the “old ways” we haven’t used them much), posting quite a lot of videos on YouTube, a few pictures on Flickr, posting a good deal of audio material on SoundCloud, and continuing to update our BlogSpot, which has even been described as “mildly interesting and reasonably amusing” by one arch critic.

The Return of the Spooky Men’s Chorale was a particular highlight for all of us and to have the chance to dress up as Pirates in public again to accompany Kate Rowe and then get to do TWO songs with the Spookys themselves was a dream come true for many. We also organised some special beers, Spooky Brew and Magnificent Ale, to pour into the brilliant souvenir commemorative Spooky Beer glasses we commissioned for the occasion.

New logo, our very own T-Shirts and T-shirt competition, as (eventually) designed by the “Is it a Horse or is it a Camel? Logo Design Sub-Committee”, who did a magnificent job despite very minimal artistic talent (Chris A excepted!).

Magic Man Moments, like some of us joining in a Flash Mob in Bristol’s Cabot Circus, singing and splashing in the Daneway Tunnel, and serenading young(ish) ladies in Corsham, and many, many more.

So, much achieved, but more importantly much fun and friendship was had, and many a good song and ale or two along the way - who could ask for more?

Let’s see if we can continue into 2012 in a similar Magnificent vein!

A big THANKS to all the blokes and also to their better halves and various relatives who may suffer from over zealous singing along to practice CDs and being subjected to Dad dressing up as a pirate in public, AGAIN. Some people will never grow up and we hope The Magnificent AK47 are among them!

Forthcoming dates
At time of going to press, current plans for rehearsal dates include the following dates in the back room of The White Hart pub, High Road, Ashton Keynes, unless stated otherwise:

Sunday 2nd October – Workshop with Chris Samuel 5-7pm then hanging around for Open Mic

Sunday 9th October – Flying Solo, 7-8:30pm

Sunday 20th November – Workshop with Chris Samuel 5-7pm then hanging around for a drink and chat in the pub


Sunday 16th October at the Bristol Festival of Song event in St George’s Hall

Thursday 15th Beer and Carols, leading the singing in The White Hart - more details to follow

More information and up to date listings can be found at our newly instigated website at

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