Sunday, 10 December 2017

German tourette

A return visit to the splendid small town in Germany, Pirmasens...
Once again bringing Christmas cheer to people in the new Arts Centre there.

Three nights there... and lovely it was.  We were looked after splendidly - hotel, food on tap etc -  & people were very kind, even when we mentioned Brexit (tho' some sniggered!)

Delightful to be joined on the last night by German agent Peter Martin Jacob & his husband, Sasha...

Here is the Town Hall Advent calendar - a glorious European tradition:-

In the bottom left-hand corner you can also see the top of the wonderful crepe stall, which served me the excellent After-Eight Crepe (hyphen is their addition) - glory!

Then it was north to Hamminkeln for a concert in a church - with such a fantastic acoustic... marvellous it was... A lovely Festive atmosphere, with two great friends, Carole & Birgit in the audience, along with newer friend Stefan.
Organisation terrific and attentive.
Hotel was also terrific, tho' we had to leave it very early - getting up at 6.25AM... probably normal to many of you, but pretty dawn-ish for me!

Now we prepare for our Christmas concerts in Belgium... home on Christmas Eve!

Friday, 10 November 2017

Send for Mr Plim

A delightful lunchtime in the company of Maggie Forsyth with Julian Forsyth and fellow members of the cast of An American in Paris at the Soho Theatre, watching a performance of Send for Mr Plim!, a comic cabaret opera from 1932 by Mischa Spoliansky, adapted into English by Julian Forsyth and Steve Edis. (German original: Rufen Sie Herrn Plim!)

We were in good company, as Barry Humphries (an expert in Weimar era music & cabaret), Jane Asher, Bill Patterson & Spoliansky's two grandsons were there too!  Sadly their Mum, Spoli, has died since the last production, but she was there in spirit, of course.

We, TLQ, played the management of the Wertheim's (the Berlin shop where this piece is set) in the production at Battersea Arts Centre in 1999; and it was wonderful to hear the score again.
Julian & Steve have added a prologue of Spoliansky music, with pithy, brilliant lyrics exploring the alarming atmosphere of Germany in the early 1930s.

The cast rehearsed all this in their spare time (of which there is not much when you are playing in a long show 8 performances a week!); and they were fantastic of course, looking and sounding ace.  Very much a workshop performance, but utterly compelling.
Let's hope this is the first of very many performances & it goes on to huge success.

Wonderful to see our old friends, The Forsyths & Spoli's sons.
A lovely way to spend a London lunchtime.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

August sunshine

Two delightful days in the August sunshine (tho' with a small modicum of rain...)
Firstly a shared gig in Dresden with the lovely Medlz, and another German band HörBänd...
As ever the concert was a splendid celebration of a cappella from three different standpoints.
We touched on Brexit and were given the usual mixture of laughter, confusion and hilarity!
A full crowd in the theatre had an excellent evening of music, culminating in an all-three-group rendition of.... (oh yes)... Stand By Me !

Here we all are, after it was done!

A possible lovely morning appreciating the wonders of Dresden was somewhat marred by torrential rain - but as we watch the terrible storms in the US & Caribbean, perhaps I should let that pass...

Then it was off to sunny England (near Luton) to celebrate the birthday of a very long-standing supporter of the group, Carol Jones... she first saw us in the late 1980s, and we sang for the assembled throng many songs old and new from all the years she has come to see us... one of her favourites Anthem from Chess & of course (it had to be)... Neil Sedaka's Oh Carol !
A lovely afternoon in the English sunshine with friends - what more could one ask...

Friday, 11 August 2017

Estonian adventure

We had a lovely trip to Estonia; sadly for three of us, our bags did not trouble the hotel with their presence! (Mike was the lucky one!)
The place was beautiful, Kuressaare, capital of the island Saaremaa about 4.5 hours from the Estonian capital, Tallinn.
...and it had a splendid castle with a moat too!

...and a windmill, as you do!

We performed in a beautiful church (Chris has put some photos of it up on Facebook): 
St Laurence Church - Laurentiuse kirik.  It had an excellent acoustic and was therefore a joy to rehearse and perform in.
We did find some clothes in which to perform, courtesy of the shop, Saaremaa Kaubamaja - not sure they had ever had people attempting to buy the same clothes before!

We had a delightful evening, our usual breadth from King Henry VIII to Billy Joel & The Beatles, and William Byrd, through Offenbach to Richard Rodney Bennett.  A very enthusiastic and happy audience greeted us...
..and we were well looked after by Festival director, Andres Paas, driver Kalvi Pöld, and especially by Maret Naagel, who did much for us, including liaising with the airport about our missing bags, telling us where to get stuff! & helping us know more about Estonian words.
Because, we did try some language out on the poor unsuspecting public.  As ever, Mike was in Dictionary Corner, but we all had a go... including singing a folk song in Estonian to end the evening... and marvellously, they got what we said and seemed delighted by it!
...and altho' mostly Estonian (this is very much an Estonian's holiday place), there were also Germans and French, and indeed a couple from just north of Birmingham, naturally!

Home now, and awaiting the delights of sharing the stage with Medlz in Dresden on the 25th... hooray!

...and for those who are interested; our pear tree has such a splendid crop, that I have preserved some for use later in the year... yummy!

(If this sort of thing does not indeed interest you, I apologise; normal service will be resumed next blog...)

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Save Kensal Rise Library !

A delightful summer evening in West London...
At short notice, only Mike & Mark could be there, but joined by our agent Robin Tyson and his friend Patrick Craig, we provided some musical elements to an evening of poetry and drama.

It was all about saving Kensal Rise Library - do go and have a look - and we were surrounded by many splendid performers and writers...
Just to reel the names off...

Tamsin Greig and Richard Leaf (Mr. & Mrs.); Haydn Gwynne, Lucy Cohu, Paterson Joseph, Ron Cook (Brilliantly Parker in the Thunderbirds film - my son loved that one!), Stephanie Schonfield, Ben Miles and Emily Raymond (another Mr. & Mrs.), Tim Lott, a young poet called Roxy, Gideon Coe (from BBC Radio 6) & Deb.... All marvellous of course...

Here's Mike and me with Tamsin Greig (with the side of Ben Miles head):

As the theme was Summer and Happiness, we sang two of our cricket songs! The Rules of Cricket (pastiche!) & The Ins and Outs of Cricket - Tea Towel... both went down terribly well...

Then to round off the evening we sang Sullivan's The Long Day Closes, in memoriam of local poet Heathcote Williams who has recently died.

Brilliant to hear these performers at such close quarters and indeed to be joined by Patrick and Robin... hoorah!
I hope they can get & keep the Library flourishing.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Return to Wolfsburg

A very quick return to Wolfsburg...
After having had a splendid time with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct in February this very year, we returned to do a full show of our own last weekend.

And people came too!  A lovely audience enjoyed our music and comedy... and we even gave them help with the rules of Cricket, with our Ins and Outs of Cricket (Tea-towel special!)
As ever a wide range of musics were on show, from Henry VIII to Billy Joel, and from French Renaissance dance (Belle qui tiens....Thoinot Arbeau) to the Can-can (Orpheus in the Underground)...
All was accepted and cherished by a large crowd, and we were looked after well by everyone at the theatre...

Here is a view of the Planetarium from the theatre, which lies atop a hill (with alabaster giraffe in the distance):-

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Lovely Spring day at Champs Hill

A beautiful spring day followed by a lovely evening at Champs Hill... in aid of Dreambuilding.

One of the many statues in the gorgeous Champs Hill garden, with colour all around.

I had a walk around the garden with the house dog, who found his rubber chicken in this particular flower bed; his search is about to begin below.

Walking around here put us in a good mood for our evening; the tickets had sold very quickly for the event... a lovely meal in the concert hall-cum-art gallery (& recording studio!); an auction... with auctioneer, Charles Collingwood... and then us to end the evening!

All terrific... great to see Charles Collingwood (Brian Aldridge in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, btw) & indeed his wife Judy Bennett (Shula in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, btw)... he splendidly shepherded the auction to collecting many thousands for the charity... a very successful evening for the new building for a local hospice.
We had previously met them both at our Cricket 'Rhyme and Season' evenings, as organised by the late-lamented David Rayvern Allen, at Lord's, Hambledon and elsewhere, where Charles, a keen cricketer himself always read/acted hilariously!

As ever, the Champs Hill room was a delight in which to sing, and the audience enjoyed music from Henry VIII to Elton John, via The Mills Brothers and Laurel & Hardy!

Chris Hatt was once again with us at the piano, so all five of us had a splendid time... Sarah-Ann was especially impressed with a bucket of sausages as big as her head!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Wemmel (Belgium) delights...

A lovely evening in the suburbs of Brussels...
Wemmel, where we had previously performed in late 2014, invited us once more to de zandloper (the hourglass) & we had a splendid time...

Splendid Eurostar (not at dawn!) and joined by Chris Hatt it was a quick jaunt to the north of Brussels.

The theatre has a new restaurant so we were even more blessed gastronomically than usual.

Wonderful again to have Koen on sound and lights, creating splendid atmospheres for us to dwell within...
Good to get our Beatles medley set on a train another outing after a a couple of years - all, indeed, you need is love!

Dear Belgium, we will keep coming back!

Friday, 24 March 2017

We went to a Wonderful Party...

To the glorious Claridges for the birthday of forever young (oh yes!) Lady Lita Young...
The Lady herself, Lord David Young and a large group of their friends celebrated this amidst the beauty and splendour of one of London's most adored Hotels.
They appreciated our Scarborough Fair (accompanied by Chris Hatt - hoorah) and our Lambeth Walk (both forwards and backwards!); but the main event was a concoction of the wonderful writer and old BBC hand, Simon Brett... excellent to work with him again.  He created a potted written history of the birthday girl using lots of different songs, entitled The Lita Suite:- again with Chris at the piano, it lasted nearly 20 minutes!  It was a great joy to be able to set such wit, and delightfully the audience enjoyed it immensely, and got all the in-jokes, of course...
A wonderful evening in central London.

More sombre thoughts had occurred as I walked through London on my way there, as the Trafalgar Square vigil was being prepared for, and a few streets were still closed around parliament... but of course, we persevered, and there was not a hint at cancelling the party.

Sunset over st James Park (with a small bit of policeness, still...)

Off to Wemmel (very near to Brussels) on Wednesday... hoorah for Eurostar!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Festival evening in Barnes

A lovely evening in Barnes (SW London, for those who need prompting) in a shared-bill concert in aid of excellent local charity FiSH

The theme of the evening was Thyme & Plaice... lots of food-related songs and pieces.

We were joined by the splendid baritone Richard Suart, with pianist Bryan Evans - both performing exquisitely, music by Coward, Lehrer, Flanders & Swann and an excellent drinking song by Ravel (Chanson à boire)... and also by the great Barnes Concert band, who played lots of music from films and shows... including Mary Poppins, Peanut Vendor, Chicken Run & Baa Baa Black Sheep.  The band are guided by musical supremo, Alan Goodall...

We sang Oranges & Lemons, The Java Jive, Scarborough Fair (joined to our great joy by Bryan on piano), That Cat is High and the Tiger Ragu (well, just Rag, actually!)

Delighted to have Anneka Rice in the audience (she is also someone who works with FiSH)
...and also to have our friend Carole join us - less travelling necessary than usual to a gig of ours!

We all joined together at the end, band, and singers, (conducted by Alan), to perform the Beatles' Honey Pie... a delightful end to a super evening; planned and created by our friend (dancer, choreographer, director  of stage works and of FiSH) Jenny Hughes, along with her splendid team.

Writing this whilst listening to the details of the Westminster terrorist attack... Ghastly business; glad I chose not to go by there this PM.  Thoughts, of course, run to those bereaved & affected:- hoping that this does not affect our posh gig in central London tomorrow...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

German adventures continue

Our second round of Stimmflut 2017 concerts, shared with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct were equally splendid...
We started in Emden in the far north-west (just by Holland); lots of Dutch-looking language around the place:

It was already good, but we honed our all-three-group version of Stand by Me  to perfection over the nine concerts of the tour... glorious it was!
...and we even did another three-group version of Sh-boom at the merchandise table.. hooray!

Viva Voce, who have organised these Stimmflut tours for a number of years, have built up an excellent following... it was great to bask in their glory, with enthusiastic and happy audiences.

In this port, there was a small area with an aversion to anchorage!

This blog has more photos than usual, but I have to say I was very amused at this one... of all the children's book characters on which to base your hairdresser, this one seems most ironic!

Then it was on to two nights in Lingen (Emsland) - with a beautiful old town square...

A lovely thing I saw here, was that they commemorated the Jewish citizens who were taken from the town to the camps in WWII - clearly a dark memory, but good that it is remembered for generations to come: below are a couple of these I found - they are on the ground outside the places these people lived.

...and a great shop sign for this Stimmflut tour...

( do women, of course!)

Then all the way down to Neunkirchen (quite near Luxembourg from where we flew home); a new venue for the guys, but no less enthusiastic... we had first been to this place in 1999... so great to be back so soon!

Here is a view out of my Hotel am Zoo, you can see the seal pool amidst the trees!

Thank you Heiko, Basti, Jörg, David & Mate (VV guys) & Paul and Julian (AI guys) - we had a wonderful 9 concerts with you, and enjoyed it all tremendously!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

DE & BE & DE again....

More adventures in Germany and Belgium...

The last of our first round of Stimmflut 2017 gigs was at Wolfsburg; having stayed off for ages it was raining there, so we got a rather bleak view of the Zaha Hadid Phaeno building... but we did see it!

The last of our first five of these was as splendid as the others... and in a theatre which we will re-visit on 20th May - so do come along and see us on our own!
But as ever, we did love our shared gigs with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct...
Here we are celebrating after the show (Paul from AI seems to have become a giant! Jörg from VV looks on...)

We have four more in our second round of Stimmflut gigs starting this Thursday... in Emden, Lingen/Ems (twice) & Neunkirchen... bit more driving on this tour! 

So on to Belgium after Wolfsburg, we had two concerts in Lommel (1st time) and Heusden-Zolder (for the 3rd time).
Both theatres run very efficiently & well and we were treated splendidly (food, as ever, a glory)... and we had Koen Dilliën being splendid on lights and sound... brilliant to have him with us again.
...and the wonderful Chris Hatt playing piano with us - what splendours... especially riotous Route 66 solos each night!
Both audiences were responsive and enjoyed our music, both serious and comedic.

Great to see our lovely Dutch friends Gertie, Gabby and Jolein on Sunday afternoon, and share a meal with them after, whilst listening to some splendid Belgian jazz...

In H-Z, it was good to see our poster given prominence in the gents loo... not sure if it was in ladies as well...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Harmony Tour of N.Germany

Five concerts on a tour of the beautiful north of Germany...
Sharing the stage, as part of Stimmflut 2017, with Viva Voce & Acoustic Instinct...

Both other groups wonderful and splendid in their own ways... Viva Voce, 5-part & Acoustic Instinct 2-part (beatboxing, but not only!)  We all joined together at the end and sang Stand by Me... marvellous.
The audiences have basked in a feast of vocal music; we enjoyed ourselves immensely - as this is the 10th year of the Stimmflut tour, Viva Voce who created this series, have developed wonderfully knowledgeable & enthusiastic crowds!
They loved all that we did - from 16th-century French music (Thoinot Arbeau's Belle qui tiens...) to Tiger Rag and Strangers in the Night... and finishing off with the German tongue-twister, wenn ich vergnügt bin muss ich singen.
Wonderful to watch and listen to the other two groups, Acoustic Instinct's dynamism, rhythm & fun; & Viva Voce's melifluous beauty & harmony (& fun too!)

We performed in Buchholz, Stade, & Wolfenbüttel (two nights...); tomorrow we complete this part of the tour in Wolfsburg - the only one of the places we have been to before (in 1999).
(More coming in March)...

There was a street in Stade which suggests (making sure you use German pronunciation) that there may have been a campaign to use more than 140 characters in communications, even many years ago...

Beautiful places indeed...
Stade (an old Hanseatic League port & once ruled by the Swedes and then the Danes)


Corny joke (another):-
Do you think they have any of the below in red?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Dinner for 4 in places beginning with 'B'

So two performances of Dinner for 4... in Baden Baden and Brackenheim...
Delightful both.

The audience sat at tables and enjoyed food and wine as we gave them Dinner for 4... and a great time was had by all.
For Baden Baden, we were in a hotel in the splendour of Rastatt, complete with red Baroque castle (our desires are widely known!)

As to Brackenheim...
We had not visited this venue since the year 2000 - well, Mike and Mark had! - such joy in inviting us back so soon!  The guestbook from that year with photos made us feel a wee bit worn! (Mike was reminded of his accident with a basin which flooded the hotel... they were amazingly pleased to see us return!)
But a full to the rafters house was full of joy and acclaim

A meal for the entire administration of the concert club after the concert was not only excellent to digest, but most convivial and happy!
Thank you to all who helped our evening be so terrific - Joachim, Martin, Christina et al....

Oh and a small thing I noticed in Brackenheim:
The bus stop outside the church was clear that anyone wishing the 666 route had to carry on with their journey...

Now we are back in Germany for five concerts shared with Viva Voce... more details anon!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

German joys... more to come

To Lüdenscheid for an a cappella nacht; sharing the stage with two other splendid vocal groups...
The Junction from the Netherlands
Bliss from Switzerland
We had previously shared a gig in the summer sunshine at Friedrichshafen, but it was a winter wonder this time.

Glorious, as often in Germany, to have Bettina looking after us - thank you... Our German agent, Peter Martin Jacob is slumming it in Los Angeles!

We had an excellent time in front of a very enthusiastic audience - they did especially enjoy our instructions as to how to make a cup of tea, but all was great!
We must give many thanks for Mike who so gloriously did our sound and lights, he was very kindly lent to us by The Junction... hooray!

Great to hear the other two groups of course... a feast for the audience of 120 minutes of a cappella...
As the final act of the night, we sang all together Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy - and marvellous it was!

And here is the view from my hotel window... a little bit of Wald for you!

We have lots more German splendour for the next two months... look on our site, but this week on Thursday and Saturday, we're in Baden Baden & Brackenheim doing Dinner for 4; then on to Buchholz, Stade, Wolfenbüttel & Wolfsburg for some more shared gigs...


Thursday, 12 January 2017

TLQ goes pop

Roll up, roll up...
Here is:  TLQ key #1
Get your TLQ logo'd USB stick.... only £7.50


Look at this beautiful thing; it is small and perfectly formed - only 4cm long and the size of the USB hole... and has 10 audio tracks (mostly a cappella), and a video... Ventura Highway

Rolling in the Deep
Another Day in Paradise
When You Say Nothing at All
Oranges & Lemons (no, this is not pop, except in a 'goes the weasel' sort of way)
Eternal Flame
California Dreamin'
With a Little help from my Friends
Tiger Rag (yes, jazz really...)
Killing me Softly
A Kiss from a Rose (this one with Chris Hatt on piano too!)

Produced and edited in his studio by Simon Wallace....

It is a 4GB USB, so could be useful anyway!
How could you resist!?

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy New Year

Two further nights of cabaret fun at The Pheasantry and 2016 was done!
Good to see, as ever, friends old and new and to bring the year to a close in happy surroundings.
Lovely atmosphere on the King's Road, and a festive feeling all round...

Thank you Alessandro on sound, and all the staff for their excellent work!

So, thank you, readers (!); good to share this blog with you... and here's to a glorious 2017...
...where there will, I promise you, be more blogs!