Village Green, Broadway, Worcestershire, 09 June 19

Gospel Bell were delighted to support the Pentecost Sunday afternoon event organized by Richard Becher and colleagues at the United Reform Church and the Churches together in Broadway. On cue, the sun shone and thanks to the meticulous preparation, kindness and sound balancing of Tom Prater from Broadmark Services, everything that was said, sung and played could be heard clearly across the Green and beyond, to the pubs and cafes where locals and visitors were enjoying the sunshine. Not only that, we provided musical respite to the brave souls completing a 52 mile walk – The Heineken ‘Race to the Tower’ is described as a Cotswold Way Ultra Marathon and all the participants – some looking much the worse for wear – were walking past. We enjoyed the dramatic reminder of the events of Pentecost, the song by Indian pastor Israel and his wife and the vibrant singing of Juliet Mukisa from Uganda – Juliet joined us for our second set.

Backstage on Broadway! Jackie (front centre) is holding Riley, our 11th band member today!

It is encouraging to read feedback from today: A lady called Phoebe posted the following comment on our Facebook page: ‘I happened to be visiting Broadway this afternoon and heard you guys playing on the village green. You made my day! I’m from the US, Kentucky and Virginia, and grew up listening to what you were playing. Loved it! ‘ Thank you Phoebe!

Our grateful thanks to the organizing team, the audience young and old – some clapping and dancing, some singing and others doing cartwheels and to the churches in Broadway for hosting the event. If we can assist next year, we’ll look forward to coming back!

All Saints, Mollington, 02 June 19

Eastertide is the period of 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday and Gospel Bell were delighted to participate in a Sunday afternoon Eastertide Celebration service at All Saints, Mollington – our second visit to this lovely old church. The vicar, Hilary Campbell led the service that included two GB sets, with warm appreciation from the stalwarts in the congregation who came to our last event. The closing responses included: ‘Christ has come to turn the world upside down – to over throw the present order with a revolution of love’. Our old Gospel songs mirror this statement and we would like to thank Hilary, the service participants and the team that provided a plentiful afternoon tea for their welcome and hospitality.

Left to right: Sean, Richard, David, Toni and Donald with Revd Hilary Campbell and one of the service participants (centre), All Saints, Mollington

On Sunday Pentecost Sunday 9th June, Gospel Bell will be performing on the village green in Broadway (2-4pm) at a community event organized by the United Reform Church and others in Broadway.

Somerton 17 May; Banbury & Deddington 19 May 19

Somerton Village Hall, 17 May 19

Gospel Bell had a busy week, beginning with a return to play in Somerton Village Hall at the regular social evening for locals. We played a 70 minute set and about 40 minutes in, the socializing turned to dancing and singing. Thank you to Naomi and team for a warm welcome, we always enjoy our trips to Somerton.

Our ‘ready to play the blues’ pose, Somerton Village Hall

Banbury Friendship Festival (BFF), 19 May 19

For the third year running, GB was asked to play at this delightful, cross-cultural event. This year, the venue was the Bridge Street Community Garden and the theme was ‘sustainability’. In previous years we were asked to play for 20-30 minutes but were delighted to have been asked to play for a full 60 minutes over the busy luncheon period from 1-2pm. The weather was fine, though we played under a gazebo (just in case!) and with the use of BFF’s PA system. This coupled with a good turnout – Donald, Jackie, Sean, Susie, John, Troy, David, Toni, David, Richard and Jay meant that we attracted a lot of attraction and immediate participation by the many young children who danced at the front, some accompanied by their parents. As ever, it was a joy to play at and support this event and several organizations came over after we’d finished playing to ask us to play at their events! Our grateful thanks to Sue, Judith and the entire BFF team for organizing this unique festival and making us feel so welcome.

At the Banbury Friendship Festival the band was big – too many of us to fit in one photo – apologies to Jay (saxes and flute) missing from stage left and Troy (Cajon) obscured by the dancers! (Thank you Hannah for your beautiful festival photos!)

Deddington Church, 19 May 19

Every year – immediately after our Banbury Friendship Festival slot, we head over to Deddington to play at the annual ‘teas in church’ event. This is the only regular afternoon tea gig that we play and the atmosphere and acoustics in the church ensure that it is a special event. Our thanks to all who drank their tea and ate cake slowly so that they could join in and to the vicar Annie for hosting us and Heather and her team for making us feel so welcome – thanks too for the delicious tea and cake!

Relaxing after our hour-long set with Revd Annie and her music-loving dog. Thank you Judy and Fiona for taking photos

Fund-raising concert at St James the Great, Claydon 26 April 19

Claydon, meaning clayey hill, is the most northerly parish in Oxfordshire, and the small ironstone church stands at its highest point. It consists of chancel, nave, North aisle and North chapel, and a low West tower with a saddleback roof. The original church had a 12th Century nave and North aisle and most of the changes took place in the 13th Century.

Claydon was originally a chapelry of nearby Cropredy, where the Bishop of Lincoln held a large manor recorded in the Domesday Book. In 1851, Claydon joined the chapelry of Mollington and formed a separate benefice. In 1996 these parishes joined with Cropredy, Great Bourton and Wardington to form the Shires Edge Benefice, and we are grateful to the Benefice Vicar, Hilary Campbell for inviting us to play.

This beautiful old church was full to capacity for the fund-raising concert in aid of the church and the event raised nearly $400 for this purpose.

Our thanks to Hilary and the warm and appreciative audience for making us feel so welcome. We’ll look forward to coming back!

Burns night weekend! 25-26 January 2019 in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire

Once again, the Silver Bough Ceilidh Band led by Donald and Jackie provided the poetry, music and dancing for Burns Night at historic Talton House, Warwickshire on Friday evening, 25 January 2019. It was pleasure to work with Piper and Orator Alistair Wilson again and we began the evening outside, welcoming guests with bagpipe, drums and flag-waving. Most enjoyed our loud serenade – just a few looked a little intimidated by our efforts! As in previous years, a full-house of guests enjoyed a lovely meal and afterwards, danced until late. We would like to thank the staff at Talton House for their hospitality and the guests for dancing to exhaustion point!

Burns night at Talton House, 25 Jan 19

Our Burns celebration weekend continued on Saturday 26 January when together with Alistair, we provided the entertainment, poetry and music for a fund-raiser at Bloxham School, Oxfordshire. The Great Hall looked fantastic and the event was beautifully organised and run by the School’s BTEC catering students. The large group of guests were clearly in the mood to enjoy themselves and danced with much enthusiasm until the caretaker arrived to lock-up! The band would like to thank the organisers, staff, catering team and students at Bloxham School for looking after us so well.

The Great hall, Bloxham School, Oxfordshire, 26 Jan 19

In the slightly amended words of the old Wizzard song, ‘We wish it could be Burns night every day’!

 

All Saints, Mollington, Christmas fund-raising concert, 14 December 18

The earliest parts of the Church of England parish church of All Saints, Mollington, date from the 14th century, but the font is 13th century and so it is thought that there may have been an earlier church building on the site. The tower was built in the 16th century and the building was restored in 1856. All Saints’ parish is now part of the Benefice of Shires’ Edge along with the parishes of Claydon, Cropredy, Great Bourton and Wardington.

We love playing in old churches (centuries of worship make them special places in which to play and sing Gospel music) and on Friday evening 14th December, Gospel Bell facilitated a fund-raising concert at All Saints. The small church had a near capacity audience tapping their feet or singing along with us. After a break for mince pies and a glass of wine, we sang the 2014 Christmas truce carols as featured in Donald’s ‘Story of the dancer’ prior to our second set.

We should like to thank the Revd Hilary Campbell, Vicar, Shires’ Edge Benefice for inviting us to play and all who attended last night’s fund-raiser – a lovely evening in a beautiful setting. Hilary’s comment was: ‘Thank you all for a fab time of uplifting music!’ Concert attendee Mike Duffin later emailed to say: ‘It was a very joyful and uplifting evening which I think everybody enjoyed.  It had the added advantage of raising some much needed funds for our church. My thanks again to all of you, I look forward to seeing you again in the future.’

Thank you Mike – we are already looking forward to a return visit!

Gospel Bell at All Saints, Mollington with Hilary Campbell (front row, left)

St Mary’s Adderbury Christmas tree Festival, 08 December 18

Gospel Bell were delighted to perform again at the annual Christmas tree Festival at St Mary’s Adderbury. As ever, the church looked really beautiful and it was a pleasure to engage Festival-goers with our brand of Gospel music. Over to our left, I noticed that a young mum (Emma) and her toddler danced during most of our set while her baby – too young to dance – but transfixed from the comfort of a pram – watched us intently. Our goal is to encourage all who attend the events we play at to participate – sing – dance and connect with the spiritual truths that our songs contain. Thank you Emma and your children for your joyful reaction to our music (others were shuffling their feet too!) and afterwards, for taking the lovely photo below. I especially like the fact that Donald’s head is suffused by Angels!

Silver Bough at Tudor Hall, November 18

The Silver Bough Ceilidh band led by Donald and Jackie played for nearly 200 teenagers at two socials organized by Tudor Hall school, Banbury in early November. We began by playing for a younger age group of around 80 children aged 12-13 on Sunday afternoon 11 November.

Sunday 11 November, Tudor Hall

A larger group of the older pupils from Tudor Hall girls school and Radley College boys school, Oxford enjoyed a social evening on Saturday 17 November – complete with mountains of Domino’s Pizza!

Silver Bough would like to thank the staff and pupils of Tudor Hall for making us feel so welcome and for the excellent hospitality and great dancing!

Allerford Village Hall, Somerset, 29 September 18

Gospel Bell played a concert set to a full-house in Allerford on Saturday 29th September. The event was part of Allerford’s first Music and Dance Festival and the audience came ready to sing! Donald began with one of his inimitable stories about the adventures of one of his guitars – was it really played by Elvis and later by Johnny Cash? The mystery remains and no doubt the story will continue! The band was ten-strong for this really special evening with young percussionist Dylan joining us for the evening.

Our thanks to Graeme Horn and Lisa Eden from Allerford for inviting us to play and for organising a memorable event.

Allerford Music & Dance week, 22-29 September 18

Gospel Bell are playing at the Allerford Music & Dance Week in Somerset on Saturday evening 29 September. The promotional material provides a nice summary of what we do: ‘The Vale Music presents Gospel Bell, who play uplifting, spiritual music from the American Gospel Blues and Country Gospel traditions. An infectious, singalong, toe tapping treat.’