Saturday, 16 December 2017

Sleigh - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 16

You don't see many sleighs around these parts .... so I'm heading off on a musical tangent for this one.

There was a brilliant programme on the BBC iPlayer for the last few weeks, about backing singers for the big rock and pop bands.   It's called "20 feet from Stardom" and was absolutely brilliant.   These singers, who have backed people like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and countless others are among the best musicians on the planet and vocally could out-sing any of the stars that they stand behind - but the conclusion of the programme was that for the most part they were happier out of the limelight.

One of the early stars was Darlene Love who was a part of the Blossoms in the early 60s - they were the girl voices behind Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones,  The Beach Boys and dozens more.   Darlene was also the main voice on Winter Wonderland on A Christmas Gift for you from Phil Spector.   Her first lead vocal was on the song He's a Rebel which was credited to the Crystals - lots of skulduggery was going on in the music biz in those days.  She went on into acting and still sings - an amazing voice.

Which leads me to today's prompt ... Here she is singing the wonderful Sleigh Ride with Ronnie Spector from the Ronettes - It's a live recording and I love the trumpeter doing the horse sounds :)  What a band.

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Friday, 15 December 2017

Tree Before Dressed - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 15

 Our neighbour has a Christmas tree farm - and I love having them there - it's like Christmas all year round.  Some of the big ones at the back will be sold off for greenery only, but at the moment there's a queue of people buying his lovely spruce trees.  There's a few sad wee specimens in behind the wall closest to us and looking for one to photograph today, I felt like going out and wrapping some tinsel around them to cheer them up.
The don't drop any needles and the smell is heavenly when we bring ours into the house ... I'll get up to buy one this weekend.

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Snowman - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 14

I had to get all the decorations out of the attic to find this wee fella - well, at least now I'm ready for the tree.

He's a bit demented looking, but this is definitely a snowman, an ornament from Belleek Pottery.

I've had a real laugh trying to hunt down some of these clues Julie, thank you for putting it together.   You've made me want to go out and build a snowman if we get more snow.  It's certainly cold enough for it here today.

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Mid Week Musings - Dec 14 2017

We've had great fun this week making a video in the house ...

We rearranged the studio, got every available camera and set to work.

The light was perfect from the morning sun until about midday
The music business has changed beyond all recognition in recent years - especially since the advent of social media, and it too is changing all the time.  It works well for younger performers who have grown up with social media but for older wans like ourselves it's much harder.

Recently I asked a friend if she'd got the new CD and she said :No, I'm waiting for it come up on YouTube so I can download it for free!!  Some friend I thought!!   But I knew she was only joking - still, that's the way a lot of people think.   CDs don't sell anymore - in fact our last album was probably the last we'll record in that format.  So video has become very important -for bookers in clubs, for people to listen to songs and possibly cover them - that's an amazing feeling, hearing someone else singing a song you've written - and for people to just use as a radio station.
After an hour or so the sun got too bright for a while,
before disappearing,
leaving a dark shadow in the opposite corner

The big white blob on the right is actually a light from the sitting room laid on its side
filling in the dark bit.

Goodness knows how it'll turn out - it'll take a few goes to get it right, but it's a fun process to be involved in.
Tom has film editing facilities in the studio and has edited several TV shows both for companies here, in America and in Hungary.

I'll let you see the final results when we have them.

As to the rest of our work, I'm really excited to tell you that I've been accepted on to a programme run by the British Lung Foundation, to train as a singing group leader for people with varying degrees of Lung Problems.  I'll be part of a very small team working in Northern Ireland.
Otherwise, things are winding down now for the holidays - apart from the daily instrumental and vocal practice.   Singmarra finished up last night - we head out for our Christmas dinner party on Friday and reconvene early in January with plans for a concert and for taking part in a locally written cantata for Easter.  Touring is also now finished for the year, and next year's tours are well booked up.  And the one to one classes finish today, with all my students ready to be entered for their exams in the Spring.

All in all it's been a productive year, in spite of, or maybe as a result of, spending so much time off the road.

Now I'm ready to get the Christmas tree up and start wrapping presents ... my favourite time of the year.  

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Favourite Christmas Recipe - Advent Day 13

In Holland and Germany special brews of beers come out for the Winter, stronger flavours more suitable for cold weather.  And among all the different tastes, smells and flavours that we traditionally have at this time of year, our own special drinks are equally perfect for Christmas and I get all excited when I see Baileys on the shelves.  

However, my favourite is sloe gin - homemade in Autumn, or leftover from the previous year.   On its own over ice, or a small drop in the bottom of a glass of bubbly is the ideal Christmas flavour.  

This is the remains of last year's Sloe gin - still yummy

The sloes were ready very early this year - we picked these on 1st October
They're still in the freezer but I'll get around to them early in the new year
and have a new bottle ready for next winter.
I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt  

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Christmas Bauble - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 12

I always think of baubles as being round, so this is technically not a bauble, but it is my very favourite tree decoration.  I bought it at a Christmas market in Germany 15 or more years ago.  It's a mini pyramid and works fully - if there is a heat source underneath it the blades at the top turn around turning the little roundabout below.

For three or four years in succession Tom and I did a December tour in Germany and over the years I bought many of these wooden ornaments.  I'm torn between wanting to get back to the Christmas markets and the other side of it - travelling in very cold conditions, including doing concerts outdoors ... not sure that I'm fit enough for that anymore.

I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Nativity - Advent Scavenger Hunt Day 11

I love the day of the Nativity Pageant in  Rostrevor - these photos are from a few years ago.  
We had a similar event on Saturday, although the donkey was double booked this year!  He had to do a pantomime up the road instead of bringing Mary up Bridge Street.  

Singmarra, the singing group that I direct have done the carol singing for the past few years - all our practices pay off in the end.  

Singmarra leading the way 
Mary and Jospeh being turned away from the Inn by the local butcher

After the parade

 I'm joining in this month with  Julie's Advent Scavenger Hunt