Category Archives: amazing people

Hull Help for Refugees: A Night of Hull Talent

So often we read the horrific tales of refugees making their way to safety, some not surviving the journey. Hull Help for Refugees does everything it can to support those in need, not only here in Britain but further afield in such places as Calais and Greece.

On the night of January 28th, a cold evening with a scattering of stars marking the sky, the charity held a fundraiser at Kardomah94. It wasn’t an evening to wallow in misery. We can do that by watching the news. This was a night for likeminded people to get together and enjoy local music and raise some money for a fantastic cause.

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Emmie Craft opened the night with a cover of Guns and Roses ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. It was a fitting start for many reasons: it’s a popular and well-known song the audience could connect with; it highlighted elements of the images of refugee children shown on the slideshow which filled the brief intervals; it showcased Emmie’s fantastic, malleable voice. That opening song established the professionalism with which this young performer brings to an event, as well as setting the pace of the evening.

She performed a mixture of covers and own compositions, not sticking to one genre but mixing rock with modern and classic pop. What struck me the most was how much her own songs stood out against the cover tracks. One girl and her guitar, she owned the stage with her words. Singing about memories and love and the beauty of the world, she captured my full attention with an original track she has yet to name.

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One performer in, the crowd was surging, and the room was already buzzing with energy. Emmie had warmed the night, and we welcomed Warthilas to the stage. Warthilas is a man named Farid whose stage-name means Without Borders. His collection of songs were sung in English, Berber, Spanish and French, and his banter even chucked some Deutsch in there too. It took no time at all for the audience to join the stage: tapping feet, clapping along, singing the chorus of “Freedom” to one song.

The whole room became one body: a community brought together by the solidarity of passionate entertainment and a worthy cause.

Central to the evening, Little Crooked Weather took the stage; a stripped-back version of the main band, consisting of Will, John and Roy. I’ve seen the band in various guises – stripped right back to just Holly and Will, to the full six-piece ensemble – and timg_7074hey always deliver a fantastic set. Their sound is country, rock, folk. It’s catchy and soothing and possesses the soul.

Their sound has the power to engage with you one-to-one regardless of the size of the crowd. And I spend every set saying I love each song. My stand-out favourite is ‘Control Your Blues’ which I was blessed with having dedicated to me on the night. The guitar introduces the beat in which possesses your body, you’re swaying slowly to the sound, from one side to the other. Will’s deeply soothing voice enters your mind, releasing any negativity. You are liquid, floating above the floor as you are taken into the embrace of the music. And Roy’s harmonica is the final casting spell to take your mind drifting away.

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Sometime after performing this, they invited the next artist onto the stage prematurely. Cecil Jones, with his saxophone, was welcomed to join them. And his addition, which Will described as a battle between saxophone and harmonica, created such a powerful moment. The somewhat improvised instrumental with which their set finished lingered throughout the night, with people returning to it in their discussions.

And so when Cecil took to the stage on his own, we were all already enticed. His performance was a mixture of popular songs, with Cecil alternating between lead vocals and instrumental performance. Tracks such as George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ took on a new life, and brought every age bracket and nationality in the room together.

His final track was his own composition celebrating the twinship between Hull and Freetown, Sierra Leone. It celebrated the City of Culture and touched on the similarities between the two.img_7004

In a couple of the intervals, we’d had further entertainment from two young lads, Ronith and Shobal. They had performed a song together and Shobal had wowed the audience – shocking and very much impressing them – with his street dance moves and light-up shoes. As our final act, Rowland took to the stage, he was joined by Ronith. A young teenager, he’s not had many performances on a stage such as this, but his confidence was uncountable. Together they performed a couple of tracks, completely unprepared. It summarised the freedom of the night: it was one to celebrate any local talent that was willing to take to the stage. All the performers volunteered their time, and Rowland went that extra little mile to support another young and enthusiastic performer before completing his own set.

Mark Rowland’s sound has adapted over the last couple of years since I reviewed his EP. With a loop pedal, he is able to create a more layered sound, performing his own melodies and beats. His song ‘Bread and Butter’ talked to us about the need to embrace each other regardless of our background, and this ideology summed the evening up wonderfully.

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It was late by the time his set started, and as we’d had some young members of the audience, many of them had departed for the night. The handful of us who stayed until the end were able to enjoy his track ‘Tears Fall’ which was written with the current wars and violence in mind, and was first performed at his own fundraiser for War Child.

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I think Will from Crooked Weather actually summed up the night perfectly: “Eclectic, diverse and beautiful.” It was an evening of people who were enthusiastic both about music and the plight of refugees. The event didn’t pigeon-hole any aspect of the night. It was a night for everyone with the aim to support as many people as possible.

 

Thanks to all who attended the evening and donated money to the cause. Hull Help for Refugees raised over £400 with this event. To keep up to date with the work of the charity, please visit their Facebook page (link above).

 

Photos | © Melvyn Marriott

Hull Help For Refugees Fundraiser | 04.05.16

Hull Help for Refugees are always doing what they can to ensure they live up to their title. Last month, I visited their Spring Fete, and this month I was delighted to attend their Hull & East Riding Ukulele Night, hosted at Kardomah94.

It was an early start, and one I welcomed on a Wednesday evening. The sun shining outside, some would question the decision to enter the darkened back room of this venue, but with such lovely people inside it was impossible to stay away.

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I was welcomed by friends I’ve met through working with Open Doors Hull, a charity which aims to support asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers in the city, and sat amidst the busy room of personalities. It was the most bustling I have seen the venue, which I visit regularly for gigs and events.

There was an instant buzz, and during the first ukulele band – 13 members crowding the stage – the audience was clapping, singing and bouncing along. It was a fantastic way to start the evening, lifting the weight of the working day from our shoulders and bringing the entire room together.

Next up was a poet, Johanna, who read three poems: one about her husband’s job as a tanner in Hull, which had the crowd laughing; a more serious poem entitled “Refugee Baby” which fitted into the theme of the night; and her poem “On The Beach” which lifted the mood once more.

Another large ukulele group then took to the stage – apparently you can only Uke in large groups – and performed a range of songs which suited the diverse audience. I particularly enjoyed their use of the kazoo – well, four kazoos to be exact – which they used in a couple of tracks.

We were then entertained by a local theatre group who performed a snippet of their new production “Last Panto in Little Grimley”, which will be performed at the Lord Mayor’s Gala.

The final ukulele band performed after a short break, performing a full range of tracks. We’d enjoyed everything from ABBA to Bowie to “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book. And, as with the other bands, the entire room came together as one. It was wonderful to hear the acoustics of the room: the bass generated as people tapped their feet and vocals creating a 3D effect as they harmonised concurrently around the room.

 

What the evening was about was raising funds and awareness for the charity. I am delighted to announce that £690 was raised on the night, through ticket sales and donations.

But that is just a segment of what is needed. The current aim of the charity is to send a container to Athens to support the increasing number of refugees seeking safety here. It’s still possible to support the cause:

  • Donations of tents, gazebos, sleeping bags, clothing for all ages, food packages, sun lotion, toiletries and baby supplies are needed to fill the container. Donations can be dropped off at either UNISON 39, Alfred Gelder Street (Monday to Friday 9:30am-4:30pm) or Kingston House 50/54, Bond Street (Saturday & Sunday 10am-12pm).
  • Cash donations can be made payable to UNISON REFUGEE FUND (cheques) or via the gofundme page.

You can read more about what the charity is doing to support people here and on their Facebook page.

13 Years of BBC Introducing Humberside

Browse Mag - BBC Intro feature Previously, I have described an evening spent at BBC Humberside radio. This was all in aid of research for a feature celebrating the radio station’s thirteenth anniversary.

So, in case you didn’t read the feature in Browse Magazine, here it is:

The Hull music scene is a vibrant one, with an effervescent assortment of talented individuals. And thirteen years ago, two organisations established themselves as a means of reflecting exactly this.

One was the Sesh, the other “Raw Talent” on BBC Radio Humberside, now known as BBC Introducing Humberside.

Back in 2002, there was an eruption of guitar bands in Hull, mirroring exactly what was happening in the rest of the UK. But there weren’t as many options for these bands wanting to spread their music as there is now. If you were unsigned and under the radar, then getting your music out on local or national radio could be difficult. People simply wanted to trust that you were good enough for the masses to listen to. And so, in our very city, it was decided that this was a platform our local artists needed.

Streaming Lights in the studio (photo by Chris Pepper)
Streaming Lights in the studio (photo by Chris Pepper)

Alan Raw, known by the BBC as a session drummer in various bands as well as having taught camera skills previously in the building, was selected as the ideal face for the show. Speaking to him about this time, he told me that he was “in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing”. Performing with a recognised band who John Peel had introducing onto London stages, he knew what it was like to both be under the radar and well and truly in sight. So, needing “someone who knew all the bands and didn’t mind telling people how much they loved them”, Alan was a natural fit for the bill.

Alan Raw, host of Raw Talent & BBC Introducing Humberside (photo by Chris Pepper)
Alan Raw, host of Raw Talent & BBC Introducing Humberside (photo by Chris Pepper)

Stepping out from behind the curtain that hangs before most drummers, he joined producer Katy Noone and John Anguish (who, in addition to Martha Mangan, still manages BBC Introducing Humberside) and “Raw Talent” was launched. He turned up on his first night with a suitcase, rescued from a skip outside, filled with vinyl and CDs and was faced with somebody on the desk who he was told to watch, copy and then take over.

And since then, he’s become a recognisable name not only in the Hull Music Scene, but further afield, as he hosts both the East and West Yorkshire shows.

In the past, there has been a stigma around Hull, which has led to bands not getting the recognition they deserve. Alan Raw described the music industry in contrast to that of football, where you have talent scouts constantly out looking for the next big thing. “In music, we’ve not had that structure… BBC Introducing is that structure.” And it started right here in Hull, and has established itself as something significant in the last 13 years. New talent can more readily make it on to bigger and better things, with the help and support of their local radio station.

In 2007 the BBC acknowledged a national need for the huge amount of new music being produced across the UK to be recognised. From Guernsey to Merseyside, from Ulster to Leicester, from Sheffield to Somerset, there is now somewhere for local bands to share their music and engage with a wider audience. Just as the Sesh in Hull provides a weekly live gig where local bands can play, BBC Radio was now providing a way in which anyone could tap in and see what was on offer.

Emma Fee in the Studio (photo by Chris Pepper)
Emma Fee in the Studio (photo by Chris Pepper)

In addition to the local scene, this also opens up the opportunity for Radio DJs to discuss the music in their area and promote them further afield. If a Hull band is touring and has a gig in Oxford (for example), then the sister show can also showcase them, expanding their profile and introducing them to an even wider audience. And the aspect of live music continues to flow through the veins of the organisation, with weekly live sessions and opportunities such as performing on the BBC Introducing stages as such events as Bestival and Glastonbury.

It all starts with the Uploader, an award-winning tool which means any band can create a profile, upload their music and direct it to their local BBC Introducing show. From this too, it can be shared with national shows at the click of a button by Katy, Alan or Martha. This is precisely how MOTHER gained airplay on Radio 1 and secured a slot at Leeds and Reading Festival. To be considered for any of these opportunities, you must start with the Uploader, which can be found on the webpage www.bbc.co.uk/introducing. There are currently over 5000 tracks in the local Uploader, with varied playlists being shared weekly.

I shall conclude with the words of Alan Raw, summarising exactly what our local BBC Introducing believes: “Hull bands are brilliant. And they need to get out and find out for themselves that they can go anywhere and easily be the best band on the bill.” One stepping stone to achieving this is getting that feature on their local BBC Introducing Humberside.


A massive thanks to Katy, Alan, Martha and John at BBC Introducing for welcoming Chris and myself into the studio, and to Streaming Lights and Emma Fee for agreeing to being photographed. As well as huge thanks to Chris (Jemstar Images) for taking fantastic images to accompany my feature. 

Eve’s Fancy Year

I love fancy dress. And I do my best to give to charity. I’ve even dressed up for charity, raising pennies. But never – never – have I considered going to the lengths one woman has.

Eve Hazelton lives in Devon, working as a Director of Photography for Realm Pictures. I know her through a friend, and in the last few months I’ve been following her adventures and activities.

Because Eve did something amazing. Something brave. Something absolutely ridiculous!

On the 1st July 2014, Eve gave away all of her clothes – ALL of her clothes – in aid of the breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel.  And since then, she’s been living her life in donated fancy dress costumes from Smiffys.

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It started in May 2014, when she was asked to film the “Hilly Hundred” charity bike ride, spending a weekend with Kris, Maren, the Coppafeel team and their volunteer cyclists. Returning home, she watched a BBC documentary about founder Kris entitled “Kris: Dying To Live”. That was enough. She hadn’t simply watched something which made her donate a tenner; she’d met the people, seen the work they did and experienced the drive to improve the lives of others.

We all know someone is affected by cancer. I’ve lost two elderly relatives to cancer, and I’ve witnessed the devastation of sons losing a mother and even the desperate need to ensure a mother doesn’t lose a son. I’ve done what I could, donating to the cause and supporting the individual as best I could.

This wasn’t enough for Eve. She set her targets high, and she wanted to do something which not only raised money but awareness.

I was amazed at how she seemed to just get on with her life in fancy dress. Posting daily photographs and regular videos, she’s kept people updated with every moment.

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I assumed that, working with people in the film and media industry, they’d probably accept her outfits rather quickly. But she works outside of the country too, having to travel via airlines. Now, imagine walking through the airport dressed as Wonder Woman! “Getting through airports has been both the most fun and the most nerve-racking experience,” Eve explained. “The cabin crew seemed perplexed as I boarded, but simply joked that ‘I shouldn’t need to board the plane, as surely I could fly there’ – which I thought was quite nice.”

Not every experience has been so positive however. In her hometown, people are getting used to seeing her dressed in her various costumes – some much more extreme than others – but in other places they have been less inquisitive and more insulting. They’ve crossed the street to avoid her, shouting such things as “Go back to the loony house, you freak”, even suggesting that what she is doing is self-centred and not charitable at all.

Her husband, housemates, family and friends have kept her strong, reminding her of the reasons she is doing this. She even went to family funeral in costume. Selecting an angel, she admitted the fear in people taking it the wrong way. But the sister of the deceased was a survivor of breast cancer and gave her full support, alongside the rest of the family. It was this situation, Eve said was the most uncomfortable, followed by a Hannibal Lector costume which she wore around London.

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And every day, Eve is in contact with those who have donated through her website. She is told stories of those living with cancer, those who have survived cancer, and those who have lost family and friends because of cancer. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer: that’s a harrowing statistic. Coppafeel reminds women that you have to know your own breasts in order to be able to prevent late detection. Copping a feel of yourself could save your life. And the money Eve has raised, and continues to raise, will support those who do find that lump or bump which requires treatment. Put simply, Eve stated that “as long as they need money, I need to wear fancy dress.”

A few days ago, I saw another video pop up on Facebook, via a mutual friend. The video informed me that there were 100 days left of her Fancy Year. She’d raised over £9000, less than half of her target amount, and she was upping her game.

With three months to go, she needed to raise a further £10’500 in order to make that target amount. It was going to take more than simply dressing up.

Every day for the final 100 days, Eve and her husband are going to run 10k. That’s 10k for 100 days; one million metres. That’s incredible.

She’s going to face more weird looks as well as the risk of physical injuries. They are not trained marathon runners. They are two people who believe in this charity. And, although she is counting down the days until she can wear a pair of jeans, she is going to do this.

What she needs is your support. She’s stayed positive even though that cash-meter hasn’t been rising as quickly as she’d have liked. She’s had days where taking the photograph to share with those following and supporting her has felt like the worst thing in the world. But she’s driven and determined by this good cause.

I, myself, have vowed to donate from money I make writing feature articles for publications such as Yorkshire Gig Guide, giving the additional income I will make over the next 93 days, as the campaign clock ticks away to finality. It isn’t a lot, but it’s what I can do.

Fact is, charity can’t be a one man race. It can’t be down to one person having a crazy idea and making it a reality. Donate what you can – little or large – via the website. Do your part. In helping Eve, you help so many women.


And men, don’t forget that the same rules apply to you: you too can cop a feel to check for testicular cancer.