Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Devils Lake, ND

Suitably Hallowe'en, we were at Devils Lake, ND for the last two nights... splendid concert... people had come from far and wide; in fact, two ladies in our hotel always travel 70 miles and stay the night for the concerts in the series... great to chat with them over breakfast.

More excellent coffee! Liquid Bean satisfied our needs....
...and now having reached Williston, ND, Books on Broadway has done the espresso thing for us!

We are engulfed by small people dressed up bloodily... luckily the locals are all candied-up, so we are ignored!!

We were in Williston, ND seventeen years ago - I wonder if anyone will remember us from then!
We have a workshop in the am, and the concert later...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Redfield, SD and 2 games nights

Redfield, SD was a fine smaller community, and we had an excellent afternoon in its company... often replete from sweetmeats after the concert...

Wonderful... and then it was games time!
There firstly was a pool table in the bar where we ate (and drank) after the concert (Joey's Bar should you wish to know)... honours were pretty even in this endeavour; and the ribeye steaks were quite brilliant, and rather big, too... We were two-thirds of the clientèle of the bar!

After a four-hour drive to Devil's Lake, ND, where we perform tomorrow... it was time to hit the lanes.
None of us felt we were on top of our game in this, having not bowled for some time...but Richard excelled himself... the scores were...

    Richard Bryan     130
    Michael Steffan     113
    Chris O'Gorman     96     
    Mark Fleming     86

Oh yes indeed, I was quite the rustiest of the lot... Mr 'strike' Bryan however, led from the off, and never let go his stranglehold... fine rearguard attempt to catch up from Mr Steffan, but Richard was unassailable.
Also we wondered if it was Ladies' Night at the lanes, as we were the only guys there...
After this excitement, it was straight to Proz (pronounced prose!) for an all-American supper...

More exploration of Devil's Lake tomorrow... and even a concert...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fergus Falls, MN

Splendid driving form Chris and Mike brought us the nearly 600 miles back to Minnesota... and a wee bit tired were delighted to find the hotel had its own restaurant & that it was open... Glory.
The slight bad news were that the band were due on in an hour.  Now the band were fine, but the tables to eat on, were situated right next to the stage... and these guys have clearly decided that silence is for wimps and play impressively loudly... continuing their endurance battles from all day, Chris and Mike saw the band through their first set... (Richard and I retired!).

Having driven so far, we had a whole day here at Fergus Falls, which was excellent. The young girl at reception clearly decided I needed exercise and told me it only took 20 minutes to walk into town... no worries:- 45 minutes after setting off I was having my (well-earned) double espresso and European-style sandwich... all splendid.  Less splendid was the I'm-sorry-we-will-be-closed-on-the-26th-and-the-27th-October sign on the wonderfully-packed bookshop... best in the area, it crowed, but shut it remained... ah well... The hour and a half walk was worth it for Café 116 - terrific...

On to the gig itself, a great hall, with great staff, and lovely people who looked after us well... and bought CDs too... hoorah.  One woman waxed lyrical about The Four Freshmen - we apologised for not having room for every group in a two-hour concert... and told of the songs of theirs that we could have done... I think she was happy!

We all enjoyed Fergus Falls - especially Mike whose birthday it is today - he was presented with a bottle at the end of the concert and everyone sang him a happy birthday...

On to Redfield, South Dakota for an afternoon concert....

Friday, 26 October 2012

Ogallala, NE and Concordia, KS

Another two delightful gigs... one in Nebraska & one back in Kansas...

...and of course lots of new Interstates and highways to explore... lucky old Mike and Chris to be able to drive these roads (& lucky old Richard and me who cannot drive at all!)

Two excellent schools with well-equipped theatres and very efficient (young) techs... how brilliant!
...and we sold more of our new songbook!

...a few Sam Adams' Black lagers after the gig... & we are ready to sleep before our 8-9 hour drive...
back to Minnesota tomorrow.... Fergus Falls to be specific...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Miss Kansas

Oh I forgot to say, our concert in Pratt was introduced by Miss Kansas, Sloane Lewis, who comes from Norwich (KS, natch.); & she insisted on having a photo with us!

She is a fine pianist, and would have played, but they could not get the piano on stage...

another convenient prat

My Kansas store....

Pratt KS

Home of the Beavers

Lovely evening at Pratt Community College - good theatre excellent lighting and sound team - thanks, Misty - all splendid.

We got a fair number of photos with us with 'Pratt' in sight...


This was TLQ's first ever fauré (sic) into Kansas... we think we only have Utah and Alaska to go and we have the full set....

Off to Nebraska next (tho' we do come back to KS after tomorrow)...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Peace, man

We had a fascinating day in the Transcendental Meditation capital of the USA, Fairfield, Iowa...
Many have visited here - Oprah, Stephen Fry (but many others who are not on TV).... there is a Vedic village, and a TM University.  A very cosmopolitan community live here from all over the world.

...must not forget to say that the Stephen Sondheim Theatre here was terrific; lovely acoustic - brilliant for a fairly small place to have such a splendidly-equipped theatre...

All good, and the wonderful Café Paradiso also gave us a proper expresso... which helped us prepare for the 8 hours in the car to get to Kansas.... we are now right in the middle of the USA.

Tonight we have a concert in.... wait for it...


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Spam Museum & Watertown WI

Well, we were there; four plucky Brits enjoying the wonders of the Spam Museum at Austin, MN
...hope that's given you a flavour of it; careful - don't sample too much!
Very pleased that pride of place as the funniest Spam moment ever was the Spam, spam, spam sketch from Monty Python - how terrific...

Once we had dragged ourselves away from here, it was on to Watertown, WI; sorry Minnesota, we did bring our rain over for you (it had not rained in the state for months until we arrived!), and thus the weather improved as soon as we achieved Wisconsin  - the sun was shining everywhere (to quote our recently-published songbook).

Another excellent concert in Watertown, people friendly, and technical staff great - and the audience sang along in Lion Sleeps Tonight much to their own surprise...

Onwards and south-westwards... Fairfield, Iowa tomorrow...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Blue Earth, MN

Concert no.2 passed off as easily as no.1:- another packed house enjoyed the music of vocal groups past and present. The lighting guy was extraordinarily splendid and well prepared...
...and I must tell you that on this tour we are unveiling our new book of arrangements, as published by our agents, Edition Peters: The Great British a cappella Songbook - I shall surely mention this once more. (We are dead proud of it, after all...)
In this US show we sing Danny Boy and Oranges and Lemons from the book...

We have already sold a few on this tour - hooray.
It is available right now via Edition Peters' website.

Contents of it are:

Pastime with Good Company - Henry VIII
Greensleeves - trad. English
Oranges and Lemons - trad. English
Myfanwy - Mynyddog / Parry
A Man's a Man for A' That - Burns / trad. Scots
O Danny Boy - Weatherley / trad. Irish
Pomp and Circumstance - Forsythe / Elgar
A Foggy Day (in London Town) - Gershwins
Hush Macushla - Cantabile - The London Quartet   all arranged for SATB... go on, you know you want to!

We're off to Watertown WI in the am, tho' we might just have to sample the delights of the Austin Spam Museum... well, you would, wouldn't you?!

Friday, 19 October 2012

After The Goldrush - new download

Other platforms will be available soon {Spotify, Amazon} - but right now...

After The Goldrush is downloadable from iTunes

er... rush to get it!

Ortonville MN

...and here we are in the USA.
First gig has been and gone, and very well it went too.
We have a guest singer too!
Steve is on pre-paternity leave, as his wife will give birth during this tour, (much good luck to them), and so we are joined by young tenor Chris O'Gorman.

His first concert was a great success & he did a fine job; as often on these tours, we were singing in a school, but an excellent place to sing it was (again, as often, the stage doubled as a basketball court!) - splendid acoustic.
Coupled with a tremendous crowd of people from far and wide to hear us celebrate vocal groups from across the decades, and across the world...
One down, eighteen to go... it's off to Blue Earth MN now...
more US adventures to come...

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Dewsbury, Yorks.

A day trip up north for a lunchtime concert in Dewsbury Town Hall.
Wonderful old-school tradition of municipal music season (not so usually seen these days); and many turned out on a sharp sunny day for lunch and our concert.

Having celebrated the Yorkshire Calendar Girls in the RAH a few days before, it was good to be in God's own county.  (Tho' Mike did remind them, before his rendition of Myfanwy that, of course, Wales is God's own country).

Great hall to sing in, tho' with a squeaky-to-the-foot front stage; undoubtedly safe, but still a bit disconcerting...
...dis-concert-ing!! Geddit?

Excellent pint of Yorkshire beer (Black Sheep should you wish to know) on the way home.

Soon to be off to the USA for a mid-west tour; & to take a peek at the elections over there...

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Tim Rice new show

Not wishing to boast - though perhaps that is what this blog is all about! - but the eminent lyricist and our old friend Tim Rice asked us to sing on a second demo for his new musical, with young composer Stuart Brayson, From Here to Eternity... for those who do not know the novel or the film, it is based in and around the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which dragged the USA into WWII.

The show is destined for the West End in the middle/autumn of 2013... can't wait! I know which theatre it will be in, but I'm not certain I am allowed to tell you!

But for the moment we provided vocals for this demo of the song, The Boys of '41 which will hopefully help this massive new première - Tim's first new show for 10 years...

new downloads available

Hooray - more fun for all...
Two older albums are now available for download; eventually they will be on all platforms, but for the mo'

In Cambridge on Amazon

And Now on iTunes
...this also mentions the possibility of downloading Music of the Night...

The eagle-eyed of you might notice that not every track is there on these CDs; there will be more releases soon... including individual live tracks which we are presently 'finding'... and/or cleaning of noise (you know the thing, exuberant audiences!!)

Have fun reliving Cantabile-The London Quartet.... or just go and discover if you have not heard these before...

Friday, 12 October 2012

They flew to Bruges

A lovely Bruges Blog
...apologies if you are not fluent in Dutch/Flemish... (There is a photo.)
...but I am told it is a positive thing!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Seasons of Love

Fabulous charity evening at the Royal Albert Hall a few days ago...
Lovely array of stars, and a gloriously moving & life-enhancing show for all.
Lynda Bellingham, Janie Dee, Jennifer Ellison, Jan Harvey, Julia Hills, Sue Holderness, Lesley Joseph, Gay Soper, Hannah Waterman, June Watson, Stephen Tomkinson, Christopher Timothy, Peter Skellern, Richard Stilgoe, Edward Baruwa, Tiffany Graves, Patrick Doyle, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Tim Firth, Alan Titchmarsh, Tabitha Webb, Debbie Kurup, DMJ & Willy Russell... were all there live; John Alderton, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie & Patricia Hodge all appeared on film with messages of support.

Also on film was Neil Sedaka, who was clearly delighted that we sang his song, Calendar Girl... we were delightfully aided in not looking too dreadful in our 'dancing' as we were joined by the gorgeous and talented, Rossana Stocchino & Lucie Waugh, who danced beautifully.
We also sang Scarborough Fair (in our great John Rutter arrangement) with the excellent harpist, Vicky Lester.

Another wonderful moment, when a young tenor from the West End Chorus, Ian, stepped in at just a few hours notice, and sang the absurdly hard song, 'Til I Hear You Sing from Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies - terrific job to learn a song over night & do it so amazingly in the show

The show was a celebration of the work of those WI Calendar Girls who we know from the film and stage play, but are real splendid Yorkshire people whose calendar has to date made £3m for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research...
The audience, it was clear, loved the film, the play and these amazing fund-raisers.
The evening culminated in the real Calendar Girls, along with their photographer Terry Logan, coming onstage, and being the recipients of the first Baker awards, which will from now on be awarded annually for people who do great things for fund-raising.
The 'Girls' were tickled pink when the postman from their village of Cracoe, who had only been to London once before ("It's all right", he said when asked by Alan T. how he found it)... very moving and funny all at once.
Indeed we all sang Jerusalem together at the end it all...

Hugh Wooldridge as ever, did a wonderful, efficient job devising and directing all this, and getting it to work in the RAH over just a few hours... super MD: Kevin Amos, wonderful choreographer: Kevan Allen.

PS: lovely also for me to hear once more Make Our Garden Grow from Bernstein's Candide, which we had sung at our wedding...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Blieskastel, DE

Another excellent a cappella nacht organised by Peter Martin Jacob & Magenta, this time in Blieskastel... with some new and some old friends...
Lovely to see our Belorussian friends, Camerata, and to meet the male quartet Die Bogarts who are based in Berlin.
A packed crowd enjoyed all three groups & cheered us to the rafters...
A terrific evening, and lots of convivial meals too!
Delightfully, we're back in the same hall in Blieskastel, doing our Best of British show on Valentine's Day next year... How romantic!

In the last few days we have been rehearsing, and are now looking forward to our bits in Seasons of Love at the Royal Albert Hall tomorrow evening... at 6pm... along with Stilgoe and Skellern, Janie Dee, Stephen Tomkinson, Lynda Bellingham and Alan Titchmarsh amongst others, as well as the City of London Philharmonic and our old friends the West End Chorus...
We're singing Scarborough Fair as well as the Neil Sedaka hit - Calendar Girl - the evening is in aid of Leukaemia charities, and some of those Calendar Girls will be there...
Climaxing with that great WI hit... Jerusalem!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Brugge (anag...NOT!)

Two contrasting, tho' both excellent, experiences in the Netherlands and Belgium...
On the Dutch reclaimed coast to the west of Rotterdam, we had a splendid a cappella time at the Theater Twee Hondjes (Two Puppies' Theatre!)... singing Madrigal to McCartney - Back in Holland!
...and great it was to be back in a Dutch theatre.
There was a wonderful moment in this show, when Bob accidently stood on a prop - he was not affected by this, except that it was a car horn; the timing of which was quite excellent, & thus we others did all find it rather funny... we managed to sing the next song, I am delighted to say!

Then, after a day off in Rotterdam & Bruges (how lovely!), joined by Chris Hatt we performed a Best of British show at the Stadsschouwberg Brugge... Chris once again brought his whole family, wife, kids and parents too.... fantastic...
...and to a packed house once more, complete with an after-show dance for the audience (it's becoming a bit of a habit!) - wonderful theatre... as you can see; and we had a forest of union flags waving away at our Land of Hope and Glory (spoof) at the end of the show...

PS: Theatre in Bruges is in Vlamingstraat... so I felt at home!!