Our thanks to Rev. Alicia Baker and her colleague Rev. Guy (who stood in for me on bass while I was in California!) for inviting Gospel Bell to play at a Service of Animal Blessing and Harvest Festival at Hanwell St. Peter on Sunday 17 September 2023. We’ve played a few Pet service events now and the animals that come along (with their owners) seem to know that this is for them – they always seem to be engaging with our music and Donald’s pet-theme talks. As I returned from the USA later that day, it was lovely to see the photos and the picture below of Toni with a toe-tapping tortoise is my favourite!
Thank you Alicia, Guy and all creatures great and small for supporting the event.
Every two minutes, someone is diagnosed with leprosy. That’s more than 200,000 new cases a year. Although it is curable, millions of people worldwide are living with the effects of the disease, from physical disability to mental health problems, poverty and discrimination. Given these horrifying stats., we were pleased to support the fund-raising efforts of the United Reformed Church (URC) Broadway on Saturday 19 August. The URC Broadway building is such a beautiful space in which to play and with the front doors open, we could see the reactions of all those passing by and a few people came inside to listen. After playing for an hour, we ate cakes for an hour! Thank you for the invite and the opportunity to support this important cause.
The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Cropredy has a long and interesting history. The South Aisle dates from as early as 1050. The Sanctuary in it’s present form dates from the 14th century. The lower stage of the tower dates from 15th century and the belfry was added about 80 years later. The clock, with it’s 14ft long wooden pendulum dates from 1831. The tower has 8 bells, six of which were installed in the 17th century and the last two, Fairport and Villager were added as recently as 2007. These bells were named to reflect the good relationship between the church and local Fairport Convention annual festival.
Our thanks to churchwarden Verna Wass for inviting us back to play at the St Mary’s Cropredy Festival lunchtime concert. Opening each year at 12 noon, we think we are probably the first band to play anywhere in Cropredy during the Festival weekend and as we began to play, the sun shone on the Festival goers! Our thanks to all at St Mary’s and in particular Verna and Stephen for the opportunity to play at and share in these unique lunchtime concert event with excellent music and hospitality.
Megan, Adrian and Megan’s family have been hosting their lovely ‘Music in a Field Festival’ – completely free of charge for seven years and this is the first time it has rained on Festival day. Given the persistent rain, Donald and I arrived early to double-check that the event was still happening and yes it was – everyone was busy doing all they could to make this a joyful, family event – rain or not! The other bands, duos and solo artists playing on two trailer stages were all excellent as were our friends, ‘Sharp and Blunt’ one of the three Adderbury Morris dancing sides.
As several of the bands scheduled to play had pulled out due to the weather, we were given an hour-long slot and from our vantage point on the trailer stage it was lovely to see children and adults dancing along as we played – it even stopped raining!! We also had an amazing view of the surrounding countryside and we couldn’t help noticing that the nearest herd of cows weren’t dancing – they were wisely keeping their dry spot dry.
Our grateful thanks to Megan and Adrian for the invitation to play and for making us feel so welcome. We’ll look forward to coming back when the sun is shining!
The annual Shipston Proms (17 June–1 July) is organised by volunteers and this year, features more than 40 acts ranging from ska to opera. We were really pleased to have been invited by lead organiser Charlotte Haines, to play on the opening night of this festival of music billed as ‘from Classical to Heavy Rock’. The volunteer representing the Shipston Proms arrived early at our event and stayed until the end – singing along with everyone else in the main bar of the White Horse. This lady told us that the organisers had said she need only pop in for a short visit but she stayed on and later wrote on the Shipston Proms Facebook page: The Gospel Bell Blues Band sounded brilliant at The White Hart in Newbold this evening! Thanks so much for the feedback and to everyone who came and sang with us – it was a lovely event.
We’d also like to thank our friend, landlord John Harkin for hosting us and David Hucker who took at least one of the photos on our Facebook page.
We always enjoy playing Ceilidhs at Talton House and last night, we played outside with joyful dancing on the lawn! There have been dwellings at Talton House since before the Middle Ages. At the time of the Domesday book, Talton belonged to the church; there are traces of a medieval building (in the larder), and a Tudor farmhouse (in the attic). The main body of the House was built in 1714, the same year the false acacia tree was planted on the lawn. This tree is on the register of ancient trees. The Hall and first floor of the Wing are Victorian, and it was at this time that the park landscaping was carried out (ie. Many of the lime and chestnuts planted, and the water in front of the House made ornamental).
Our thanks to the residential group who booked us to play and danced with much enthusiasm and to all the team at Talton, led by Olivia and Barney Hatch.
The Parish Church of St John the Baptist has been a key part of Bodicote for over 800 years, supporting the community and enabling and encouraging people to worship God through prayer and services. The church serves a parish with a greatly increasing population that includes the original centre of Bodicote, together with much of Cherwell Heights and the new housing on Longford Park.
On Friday 12 May, we returned to play a fund-raising concert and as with last year, the Vicar, The Revd Sarah Sharp, Curate Revd Nick Fielden and ticket sales supremo Helen Hall made us feel very welcome. It was a joyful evening of singing together and the event raised £549.50 to help sustain the ministry of the church. Our thanks to Sarah, Nick, Helen and the whole team for a super evening, we’ll look forward to coming back again in 2024!
Photo left to right: Donald, Sarah, Toni, Nick, Thabo and Richard, Bodicote, Friday 12 May 2023
On Friday 31st March, Donald, Toni and Richard played a community concert at Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church, Birmingham. Revd. Neil Roberts and team had done a fantastic promotional job and the auditorium was full of people who sang with us.
Neil also doubled as bar tender in chief. The feedback was really encouraging: Neil wrote to say that everyone had enjoyed the event which had drawn a wide audience from the church and wider community centre groups. Neil went on to say: For us the important part of the evening is getting people together. Building and growing community is part of our mission here and your music and approach helps us to do that by offering great music, well performed, with a sensitive and interesting presentation. Having said that, we also ‘accidentally’ raised £200, which is very helpful! We’ll look forward to the next time!