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January 1998 - Newsletter 57

It's mid-January and the Christmas/New Year celebrations seem a lifetime away. All went well except that I had a monumental cold/flu/bubonic plague/South Korean Collapse Syndrome bug just when I needed to be on top form two weeks before Christmas. Not that I felt sorry for myself you understand well, not much. Thanks to all those front row folks who accepted my bugs with great stoicism and probably spent their festive season in bed with a raging fever. My only hope is that you were sufficiently recovered to see the New Year in with style.

HALSWAY MANOR WEEKEND 13th - 15th February
We have been fending off enquiries about what is to happen at this weekend gathering for months now. There's a very good reason for this, we haven't really thought about it until now. It's very difficult to concentrate on 1998 when 1997 is passing at a high rate of knots and other projects are looming alarmingly. However, you have been very trusting and I'm delighted to say that accommodation at the Manor has been sold out for some while. If you fancy a last minute booking though you might get B & B locally, several people have done this and apparently there are still a few beds available if you fancy it. Ring 01984 618274, this is the Halsway number and they will sort you out. What goes on? I suspect a fair bit of chaos, we don't want anything too regimented do we? On the menu so far are a Friday night dance, a Saturday night concert, a Yetties through the ages type talk by Bonny (our archives will be there for all to peruse through the weekend), music sessions (bring your instruments), a gentle Dorset concert (traditional songs, readings etc.), maybe a dance workshop (learn a few more maneouvres, steps etc) and singarounds in the bar (yes, there is a bar). Roland Birchby has already suggested one competition for the weekend the subject of which I'm not prepared to reveal now because some of you will instantly start doing some research. We shallprovide a prize for the winner. A bottle of my home made plonk or some such expensive item. The concert on the Saturday night will be open to those not booked in for the weekend so ring Halsway if you are interested in joining us for the evening.

1st Wednesday of each month, West End Hall

I must say we have had some cracking nights of late. You can keep the West End of that place the other side of Milborne Port for my money. The quality of musicianship and the variety of entertainment never ceases to amaze me. There's nothing I like better than listening in a state of wonder to the talent that just seems to pop out of the woodwork once a month. The youngsters are particulaly impressive. They start at the age of 5 so by the time they get to the ripe old age of 10 they are seasoned performers. It makes an old man (that's me) feel kind of humble. Shirley Marie, who some of you will know from Christmas concerts and club appearances, has a recording contract with a Canadian Company. But then she's proper ancient. At the age of 14 you expect that sort of thing. She has a lovely voice and personality and we wish her all the best. She certainly deserves it.

Of course we book professional artists too and on March 4th we have The Amazing Mr Smith. He has been a couple of times before and I think it's fair to say that he has amazed us all on both occasions. He is a brilliant guitarist with a completely zany sense of humour and so the evening is one of complete contrasts. On April 1st Pete has booked Timothy Van Eyken who is just about to go full time although he is only 19 years old. We have watched his musical talents develop from a very early age. (I was a guest at his Christening) and I think, over the years, he has tried just about every musical instrument on the planet. He has now settled for melodion, penny whistle and guitar. On top of that he has an excellent voice and at this very moment in time he is recording his first solo album for a record company based in Sheffield.

You don't need to buy tickets beforehand, just come along and pay your pennies on the door. Of course if you perform you don't pay so if you have some party piece tucked away in your bonce you might like to give it an airing. Our audiences are very friendly. We haven't had a lynching in years. It has been known for people to get lost looking for The West End Hal, so if you are in doubt drop a line and a stamped, addressed envelope to the P0 Box and I will send you a map.

We seemed to spend quite a bit of last year either, rehearsing, recording or waiting for new albums but the world doesn't stand still and those who have already purchased 'Folk Music of Old England' and 'Praise of Dorset' are already looking for more. This very encouraging. Thank you very much. So what shall we do? We have some ideas of course but it would be rather nice to know what you think. Have you a favourite song or piece of music that you would like to hear? If so then let us know but please bear in mind that we have certain limitations of larynx etc.

This is big thank you to all those friends of ours out there who organise bookings for us in their local communities from Lands End to John O' Groats (well actually we've never made the latter but you know what I mean). Not only do you keep us hopping about the country, turning a penny so to speak but there are an awful lot of charities who benefit from your labours. The hospitality that greets us is also quite overwhelming at times. I don't think that there can possibly be a friendlier bunch of promoters. Cheers to you and yours.

Sherborne Tourist Information: 01935 815341
Accommodation in Sherborne: Anne knobbs 01935 814579