December 2008 - Concertina Band in Maidstone

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A number of the good ladies of Kettle Bridge Clogs have recently been engaged in a secret mission. Sandy has been teaching an ever-expanding group of dancers how to play the concertina. Before you ask, no they don't dance while they play. They have made such excellent progress that it was decided that they were good enough to play in public.

This fitted in beautifully with the need for Kettle Bridge to raise funds to help finance the programme of events for our Silver Jubilee in 2009. A cunning plan was therefore hatched for the newly formed Kettle Bridge Clogs Concertina Band to play some seasonal music in the lead up to Christmas around Maidstone town centre.

Sunday 7th December

After some intense practice, the band made its public debut busking in Fremlin Walk by the Christmas tree outside House of Fraser. The weather was sunny and (thankfully) dry if a little chilly. There were about a dozen musicians in the band including a few specially invited expert guests to swell the numbers.

After a successful stint in Fremlin Walk, the next stand was in the Mall by Santa's Grotto. The band had to compete against the Christmas muzak that the Grotto was broadcasting. In addition, the takings were nowhere near as good, so not such an enjoyable experience all round.

The final booking of the day was supposed to be in Market Buildings but this was deserted so we unilaterally decided to entertain the crowds at the top of Fremlin Walk. This proved to be a much better location.

Sunday 14th December

Our next outing was to have been on 13th but, due to the inclement weather, this was wisely delayed until the day after. This resulted in a reduced turnout but the lack of volume was more than compensated for by the skill and enthusiasm of the players. Or perhaps they were just getting the hang of the tunes having played them so many times!

Learning from previous experience, we settled by the House of Fraser Christmas tree. Two complete rounds of the repertoire were followed by a welcome coffee break in the HoF Caffè Nero coffee shop sheltering from the bitterly cold weather. Suitably refreshed, we embarked on another two repetitions by the tree.

Playing the same music over and over again is challenging but consider the poor hangers-on and helpers who had to listen to it. Most of the carols were lovely and up-lifting but I personally dreaded the Coventry Carol, which to me just sounds like funeral music.

I must also comment on John's music : not his playing, though. His sheet music seemed to have a mind of its own and tried to leap off his music stand at every opportunity. It is no easy task trying to peg the sheets back in place using fingers that have lost all feeling in the freezing cold.

Saturday 20th December

The wind was a factor for the third busking session, again held beside the Fremlin Walk Christmas Tree. Sandy was lucky to escape relatively unscathed when our advertising board flew off in the wind and narrowly missed her. The highlight of the day though was Pat's contribution of warming Christmas drinks produced from a flask.

Well Done!

I must finish with a big "Thank You and Well Done" to all who took part in the busking. As well as the musicians (especially the guests), don't forget the collectors, Alan and Peter, for all their efforts which resulted in a significant contribution to the KBC Fighting Fund. A special mention must go to Geoff for his Del-Boy like peddling of homemade sleigh bells. A simple but brilliant idea that swelled the coffers considerably and brightened many a child's Christmas.

And finally, a big "Thank You" to Sandy for patiently nurturing the KBC musical talent.

To quote Young Mr. Grace, "You've all done very well".