Hall Blog - 2010

The whole year's events now in one document.  

Hall Blog - Jan 2010

Although our Lottery funded work is now complete, click here to read the blog, our other work continues as ever, and I've been asked to continue this news blog. So, here's our first monthly report for 2010.

January saw the delivery of an additional 30 chairs.  We've been in need of additional seating for some while because of the increasing number of 'sell out' events and the creation of the new balcony space. The opportunity to purchase them at a knock down price  (Good old EBay) was something we couldn't resist.

The balcony is now up and running and providing the best seats in the house ! After some gentle negotiations with our friends in the Petherton Combined Arts Society, we are now storing their new demountable staging for them and using some of it to provide tiered seating up on the balcony.  A mutually beneficial arrangement which we are trialling for six months.  Balcony seating is available to 'Friends of Petherton Arts Trust(CLICK HERE for membership form);  also our volunteers (we don't give them much !) and members of the Combined Arts Society.  

The chaps (and lady) from our 'Buildings Group' have also been busy, working to plug the many sources of unwanted fresh air (drafts) in the hall.  We hosted a day's course in the Autumn of last year when two consultants gave lectures and demonstrations of the 'Problems of Heating and Insulating Old Buildings' using the Hall as their subject. The resulting documents made quite depressing reading for us, we are spending most of our heating budget keeping the surrounding streets of South Petherton warm - (Perhaps THAT'S why we haven't had as much snow as the rest of the County !)   The main window has now got a new roller blind providing blackout and insulation; a number of holes in the glass have been temporarily filled with polycarbonate, pending our ever getting the £5,000 necessary to replace all of the cracked and missing panes and the whole of the top of the window now backed with polyfoam insulation. Not the prettiest of repairs, but we've already noticed a difference.

January saw us hosting the first Pantomime in the village for 15 years. Cinderella was a great hit and almost every available seat was sold over the run of five performances.  Lovely to see lots of youngsters in the audience too.  

Our opening musical event of the new season was by Dervish, an absolutely thrilling night of Irish music from this amazingly talented six piece group.  There wasn't a toe left untapped by the end of the evening.

Hall Blog - Feb

It was a strange and somewhat depressing start to the month at the hall, with customers loathe to venture out into the rain and snow!

The lovely ladies who use the hall for their Belly Dance classes each Thursday evening between 6.30 and 9pm (two classes- do come along if interested ladies)  had arranged a Hafla evening with dance, food and stalls to raise money for the 'Support the David Hall' fund.  Sadly there was a very muted response and we had to cancel the evening.  A great shame as they had put in a lot of work to make it happen. 

Our next event on Sunday 7th was Session A9, to my mind one of the best evenings we've ever had at the hall.  What incredible musicians and a great bunch of chaps. They played their socks off and reduced a number of us amateur musicians to tears of despair.  How DID they play that fast .. and so well!  Again, much to our great surprise, we had quite a few unsold tickets, which was an absolute shame, not only financially for us but also for our many regulars who didn't come and who I know would have just LOVED them. Pete really does know his stuff folks so DO please try groups he recommends, you won't be disappointed.

Then we had news that due to personal reasons, one of the members of our following event (Helen Watson, Mark Creswell & Dave Bowie) was unable to play, so we had to postpone them until the Autumn.  Much despair up in the office by this juncture folks. And you think we have a good time doing this !

THANK GOODNESS for Martin Simpson on Sat 20th. 

Always a great favourite at the Hall, Martin gave us a terrific 'hanging from the rafters' sell out evening's entertainment with his amazing repertoire of songs and phenomenal guitar playing.  What a Star.   Martin was absolutely delighted with the wonderful reception he received and has already agreed to come back in Feb 2011 bringing along with two other extremely fine musicians - watch this space folks.

IN THE HALL.

Apart from our regular musical events, the hall is used for many other activities as well.  On Saturday 27th, our local MP David Laws had booked the hall for the lunchtime slot.  The election must be getting closer folks because his 'guest speaker' was the former leader of the Lib Dems - Sir Menghis Campbell. I was at the door and said 'Hello' to a familiar face.  It took me a couple of minutes to realise that it was another of our favourite local political celebrities - Lord Paddy Ashdown !  

Hall blog - March

2nd March - Scambusters - The Musical.  A jolly afternoon event for the over 60's of the Parish, put on by various of the public services - Police, Fire and SSDC Trading Standards - to highlight the dangers posed for our more senior citizens.  According to my Mum it was very well done and much appreciated by all who attended !

4th March  Fred Wedlock.  What a shock to hear of the death of one of our region's favourite folkies. Fred has appeared at the hall a couple of times and his blend of daft stories and silly songs were much loved by all.  really nice guy who will be sadly missed.

Behind the Scenes A small drama in the bar kitchen this week, when a heavily overloaded cupboard threatened to fall off the wall !  Urgent repairs by a less than chuffed Chairman (the worlds worst DIY'er ) initially only made things worse when, in taking the damaged cupboard off the wall, he knocked the other cupboard off its supports and it fell off as well (full of pint glasses !).  Happily the cupboard is now restored to its rightful place and is securely fastened once more (the Chairman's blood has also been wiped up).  

When a place is run on a shoestring, it's often the small things that become major problems.  For the past few months our printer up the office has been playing up.  As we've expanded our activities, it's just not been man enough to cope and has a required a regular thumping to make it go.  Tremendous news then to hear that our good friends at the District Council Community Development Group have kindly agreed to assist us in the purchase of a new and much more robust A3 one. Grateful acknowledgement also goes to Ian Hines, director of Lynx Copiers Ltd in Yeovil who has given us a discount as we're a charity. We still have to find £580 to pay our share of the costs but the lovely folks who work so hard organising our coffee mornings and other fund raising events have seen to that. It was delivered on March 24th and once we got it up to the office - quite a struggle up the narrow staircase with four blokes treading on each others toes and using much bad language - it was immediately put to good use.  It's just what we needed so many thanks to all concerned.

More sad news for the region - We heard today (March 5th) that Exeter's Northcott Theatre has been taken into administration. This, unfortunately, is not the only venue likely to be in trouble over the coming months as threatened reductions or cancellation of their grant support come to fruition.  (Update 16/3/10 - extra money found - CLICK HERE - would that we could find such generous people !) The current financial crisis and subsequent cutbacks will probably fall more heavily on activities such as the 'The Arts'  than other services. Whilst some will say that this is fair, it will not seem so clever when there's nowhere left to go for a good night out at the theatre.  Here at the hall, despite our labour force being largely unpaid, we still have to find some £38,000 per year (£100 per DAY) to keep the doors open. If we had to pay all the folks who give of their time for free and had to function as a professional venue we would have to charge some £8 per ticket EXTRA ! Makes you think, doesn't it ?

This months events.  Our 'big names' this month - The Eliza Carthy Band and Lau - were predictably sold out and thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. However, we're trying to broaden the range of entertainments we now put on and I was hugely impressed by the jaw dropping abilities of the other acts we had on this month.  

Firstly there was the 'So So Circus Theatre' performance of 'The Hot Dots'.  These amazing young people balanced, bounced, jumped, twisted and juggled their way around the hall is fine fashion. It's one thing to see this sort of thing on the TV but you get no idea of the speed and sheer skill involved until you see it up close and personal.  Definitely NOT to be tried at home and certainly not by anyone over 25 !!  Our new raked seating capability was also brought into play and greatly improved the visibility for our audience.

I strolled down to see Chumbawamba on Wednesday 10th.  It was a bit of a risk for us to have a mid-week event but it went well.  I have to confess that the last time I was aware of them was probably ten years ago when they were loud, rebellious and electric.  Quite a pleasant surprise then to enjoy their new style of more subtle social comment, excellent harmonies and really tuneful melodies.  They were accompanied by 'O'Hooley and Tiddow' - at first sight, two bizarre and slightly alarming ladies in gentlemen's evening dress and slicked over Brylcreamed hair.  However, I warmed greatly to them as their performance progressed and was thoroughly won over by the 'Banjo song' - you had to be there !

I was also delighted to be there to see Koshka on Sat 20th.  Three unbelievably good musicians - a violinist and two guitarists - all with immaculate musical credentials. We were treated to a virtuoso display of various musical styles, from jazz Django Rheinhart style to achingly beautiful melodies, all with a 'gypsy' theme. Yet again I went home asking myself "Why, oh why do I bother even trying to play the guitar ?"  Just brilliant !

Finally Breabach on Saturday 27th gave us a most enjoyable evening of Scottish 'hooligan' music. It's great to see how many younger bands are now getting into folk and keeping the traditions going.  Two bagpipes, whistles, fiddle, guitar and double bass filled the hall with sound and energy.

Hall blog - April

I've just discovered a new web based radio - FOLK RADIO UK - which puts out non stop folk based music of a really impressive quality.  It's a Bristol based and is now the first thing I start up when I switch on my PC.  No adverts or unnecessary chat - fabulous !

Sat 3rd. If you went away for Easter and got horribly wet and cold then I'm going to add to your pain by telling you that you missed an excellent evening with one of our local superstars -Reg Meuross !  Reg has been a great friend to the hall over the years and I can never understand why he doesn't enjoy considerably more National or even International fame and acclaim than he seems to get.  Apart from writing large numbers of terrific songs, he's also a superb singer and entertainer. Reg brought along a new name to me - Bethany Porter - and I was incredibly impressed with the extra dimension her fantastic cello accompaniment brought to the proceedings. Although only marginally taller than the instrument she plays, Beth already has an impressive pedigree, having played with Eliza Carthy; Bellowhead; Babel; The Stringbeans Quartet and has recorded with numerous acts including Jim Moray & Kula Shaker. Definitely someone I shall look forward to seeing again.

Sun 18th  Back in circulation after a visit to France with the South Petherton Twinning Association. Twenty four of us went to our sister village of Javene in Brittany, met old friends and had a really great time. (Anyone living in TA13 post code area interested in joining should give me a ring -01460 249009 - and have a chat.)

Consequently I missed the Battlefield Band and John Tams and Barry Coope.  Reports back from those who did attend tell me that the Battlefield Band were on top form, raising the rafters with their usual blend of foot stomping melodies and rousing songs. 

I also had an email from Sally Tams (lovely wife of John) thanking us for 'a spectacularly good night' so I was doubly sorry to have missed that as well.

Thurs 22nd Always something different at the hall these days !  A few weeks ago we were approached by a group of some twenty or so Cornish Young Farmers who are raising funds for a hospice down in Cornwall by doing a 'charity cycle ride' around the country. We agreed that for a nominal sum they could bed down overnight in the hall. They were in need of refreshment when they arrived last night after 70 miles of pedalling and so were sent off to the village pub to recover until the regular Wednesday night line dancing class had finished.  It seems that the local brews are very agreeable to our Southern neighbours because they didn't get back to the hall until nearly 11pm.  Unfortunately, we'd forgotten to warn the line dancers not to set the alarm system, so the cyclists had a somewhat sobering shock when they got back in and the sirens promptly went off !  We're not sure whether it was that, or the cider, or the 70 miles, but they all looked somewhat bleary when they set off this morning nearly an hour later than intended.  Anyway, good luck to them on their return, we hope they all make it back safely.

Sat 24th. Quiz night at the hall.  A HUGE vote of thanks to Mike Marshall, our genial (and thoroughly entertaining) quizmaster for giving us such an enjoyable evening. Mike and his two helpers gave their services for free and enabled us to raise more than £200 towards the 'Support the Hall fund', money which will go directly towards the cost of our next project.

Blimey. Our fame spreads. We've just taken an on line booking for a Fairport ticket from a chap in NORWAY ! Tor, if you read this, WELCOME.

Sun 25th Performers Night.  Another very interesting night at the hall with perhaps our widest and most eclectic selection of performers yet.  I arrived to catch the last number by Chris & Ollie who were performing a version of 'London's Calling' on double bass and ukulele!  Amazingly it really worked.  Then, Declan and Brendan (both VERY young but also very talented) newcomers to our sessions did a very creditable spot on keyboard, guitar and ukulele. (Suddenly everyone's playing the ukulele)  The younger of the two (sorry guys, I didn't get to sort out who was who) also had a really good voice. Great things in prospect for these two if they persevere.

There were more than a dozen acts, with one other newcomer to our venue worthy of mention. Exeter based Rosie Eade, a young lady with a beautiful voice who is going to be performing at Glastonbury this year.  Worth looking out for.  AND ALL THIS FOR FREE (well a voluntary donation anyway) - we must be mad !  Only one slight grumble - some early performers tend to do their spot and then go home without staying and supporting the other acts. Fair play folks, us muso's must support one another.

Hall Blog - May

Mon/Tues 3rd & 4th. FAIRPORT CONVENTIONThere were no Bank Holiday blues round our neck of the woods folks ! Two consecutive sell out nights at the hall with our mates Fairport giving their all as ever. Great stuff.

Mon 10th. Late breaking news about the LUKA BLOOM  concert scheduled for the 21st May.  Due to medical problems (tendonitis) Luka has had to cancel his UK tour. We're in the process of contacting all our ticket holders to arrange refunds.  This is a real blow as we were really looking forward to hearing his lovely brand of 'soft' music. All being well we'll try to reschedule him for the end of next year. 

Tues 11th.  Anyone who has read Charles Dickens' 'David Copperfield' will appreciate that trying to tell that story in less than two hours, in a confined space and with a small cast, is not something for the faint hearted !  All praise and credit then to the performers and crew from the BRISTOL OLD VIC THEATRE SCHOOL for their astonishing performance in this adaptation by Alastair Cording.   Director Christopher Scott kept the audience fully engaged throughout the evening and his extremely talented (student) cast were first class.  Really well done.  This play is being toured throughout May and June so don't despair if you missed it here. It's well worth a journey to catch it.  It was also only the second time that we've brought our raked seating into play and the audience were unanimous in their appreciation of the much better view that it affords. 

Fri 21st.  Our much awaited concert by LUKA BLOOM was cancelled due to his having problems with tendonitis and consequently being unable to play.

Sat 22nd. I've been out of circulation for a while so missed the gig by BELLA HARDY and ANNA MASSIE.  Sadly, it seems that so did quite a number of our other regulars ! Whether it was the gorgeous weather over the weekend or the European Cup final on the telly I don't know, but these two talented young performers didn't get the audience numbers we'd hoped for !  A great shame.  Reports back from my contacts who did attend say that it was a very enjoyable evening.  

Hall Blog - June

Sunday 6th - Open Gardens Day in Over Stratton.  Somebody up there loves us !  A beautiful day with a few clouds, but warm and DRY - the very best possible combination for wandering around, meeting other people and admiring the lovely gardens on display. Wendy had bribed, bullied and generally cajoled these good people who live 'over the border' (well O.K. the A303)  into allowing us to invade their privacy for the afternoon and it was universally agreed to be ' a good thing'.  The amount of effort that had gone in to making the gardens ready for the day was obvious.  My favourite sign seen in one garden, which for me summed up the whole ethos of the event perfectly said "The object of our garden is to make you feel good about your garden"  Brilliant.

The object of the day was, of course, to raise money to help us keep the David Hall running and so I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to hear that we'd actually made just over £1,000 an absolutely stunning result.  HUGE thanks to everyone who participated. 

Sat 12th.- Martin Carthy.  An excellent evening, with Martin in fine form giving us a varied selection of traditional songs and tunes.   Despite competition from our opening World Cup match against the USA (1-1) which meant that we had some empty seats, I'm prepared to bet that our audience went home a lot happier than the people up the road in the pub watching the match on the telly - will they never learn !    

Tues 22nd.  Steve Knightley. Presenting a mixture of old favourites and brand new 'three week old' songs, Steve gave our almost full house a superb evenings entertainment, proving yet again that he's much, much more than half (one third) of 'Show of Hands'.  I am an enormous fan of this man. His stage presence is commanding; his between song interaction with the audience leaves you feeling like he's an old friend telling you stories about his life.  Add to this, his biting lyrics (for example 'A.I.G' - Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed - incredibly appropriate as today was budget day) and fine musicianship and you have a great night out. He sang a couple of numbers without the assistance of his amazing sound system and, when joined in the chorus by the audience, allowed the hall to demonstrate its own wonderful acoustics - incredibly moving.  I heard one member of the audience say to him after the performance "Please don't make me cry in front of strangers !" I knew exactly what he meant.  One of my favourite evenings of the year so far.   (AND France got duffed up by South Africa in the World Cup - it doesn't get much better than this.)

Weds 23rd. Well, we can't be accused of not getting them young ! The local infants school are having work done on the classrooms so in order to assist we kitted out the hall today as a classroom. Bless. The little ones were as good as gold (I'm told).  Lets hope they tell the parents what a nice place it is now.

Sun 27th.  A deathly hush settled over the land. Not a soul stirred. Despite the clear blue skies all we could hear was a few muffled sobs as England supporters came to terms with the enormity of how badly their team had played.  MEANWHILE, down at the David Hall ......... An admittedly small, but nevertheless jolly talented band of musicians had a really nice evening !  New faces and new songs made for a relaxed and very pleasant Sunday night's performers night.  There's one on the last Sunday of each month, admission free.  Nuff said.

Hall Blog - July

Summer's properly here and consequently for the next couple of months we tend to have fewer events on - everyone's at the beach or folk festival! However, that doesn't mean that here in the hall we no longer have anything to do. The deadline for our next (Autumn) programme is looming and yesterday I saw the draft copy back from the designers prior to going to print.  It's looking really exciting.  

We know that the next couple of years are likely to be difficult, what with global financial crises etc. but we're determined to do what we do best, which is to present the best acts we can afford.  We're also trying to broaden the range of events offered - more tricky than some might imagine !  We, of course, have our loyal folk music followers, but for ages I've wanted to try jazz and classical events.  However the main difficulty is that we don't necessarily have the same depth of knowledge about what's really good in those spheres as we do for the folk world. So, it is with great anticipation that we are announcing a collaboration with Sherborne Jazz club who are co-promoting two events with us on a trial basis - Gilad Atzmon and The Orient House Ensemble and Iain Ballamy with The Dan Messore Trio. Jazz buffs in the region are going to hopefully be very pleased with us and we look forward to seeing lots of new faces at the hall.  

Sat 10th. One of the key 'secrets' of successful physical comedy is that you have to be extremely talented to get away with being silly. The New Rope String Band were here last night and gave a masterclass in how to do it well. Although Vera, the fourth member of the band was missing, having given birth just two weeks ago Pete, Tim and Jock the remaining three members of the group - and very silly boys, reduced us to much hysteria throughout the performance. We also trialled our new 'Friends of PAT can bring a child free' promotion and I was delighted to see that the younger members of the audience, although initially slightly bemused at so called adults being daft, very quickly fell into the spirit of the evening and enjoyed themselves along with the 'grown-up's'.  Hugely entertaining stuff and I very much hope that we can get them back sometime.  

Weds 14th.  Carnage at the Hall - Dozens found dead in the bar !  Yes, nasty news from Jo, one of our volunteers who was doing a clean behind the bar.  In one of the remoter corners she found evidence of woodworm - lots of holes and quite a few bodies of emerging beetles. This represents both good and bad news, bad in that we have an infestation, good in that they are hopefully being killed by the jollop we put onto the holes last year.  Anyway, it looks as if we will have yet another job in the near future as the bar isn't terribly good behind the scenes so we'll be getting a quote for replacement shelving and possibly a new top.  Any carpenters out there ?  

Weds 21st.  Many thanks to our volunteers for a splendid turnout this afternoon. The new Autumn programmes arrived yesterday from the printers so it was all hands on deck today to 'stuff' some 1500 envelopes to be posted out.  Copies will be available from the box office next week but we won't be taking orders from the public until week commencing Sun 1st August.  We're also going to hand deliver copies of the programme to every house in TA13 (South Petherton) in a couple of weeks time along with the TA13 magazine. 

Amazing and splendid news!  Over the past couple of weeks we've been in discussions with Steve Knightley. He's in the process of planning a new 'live' CD and wants to record it at two venues - one of them being the David Hall !  The evening will be December 9th and tickets will be limited.

Sat 24th.  I sadly wasn't around to see The Demon Barbers Roadshow, but feedback from those lucky enough to go indicates that the lads and lassies from this amazing, energetic and highly talented group were on top form.  If you've ever seen the speed and complexity of their  'rapper dance' as they hurtle round with sharp blades in their hands, then like me you'll marvel at the fact that they all still seem to have both ears! Fantastic stuff.

Hall Blog - August

August 1st.  Back from Alicante at 4.30pm, on line and enabling the new David Hall Autumn programme details by 5.30pm! There's dedication for you.  Yes it's difficult to be away at this time of year. If it weren't for the blue skies, warm sea and golden sands, I wouldn't bother.  However, in the spirit of bringing you the best entertainment going, I dragged myself back.

This Autumn's programme is a belter, not least because of the variety of events on offer as well as the various offers we're trying. Additional details and exciting news will emerge over the next week or so as I get back into the routine, catch up with the news and gossip and sort out the website.

Weds 11th.  Well, it's obvious that our new programme has struck a chord! Tickets have been flying out of the box office.  Steve Knightley is already sold out, with the second night of St Agnes in December rapidly going the same way.

Really, really rotten news this week for our incredibly hard working chums Luke and Camilla from the Brick Theatre project. For the past six months we've allowed them to borrow some office space from us whilst they worked their socks off developing an exciting project to bring together several hundred young people with older folks from the area to record and document memories of the war and its effect on the region. There were to be all sorts of exciting 'spin offs' with schools and activities throughout the region and, having read the project brief, I was truly convinced that it was going to be successful. We had been 'given the wink' by the Lottery funders that the project was good and understood that the project stood a good chance of attracting a grant. We were consequently absolutely gutted to hear that on a minor technicality (which we're hoping to challenge) the project would not after all get the money. Such a huge disappointment.

Sat/Sun 14th /15th.   If you had wandered past the hall this weekend, you would have seen the boys and girl from our 'buildings group' hard at work on the side of the building. Lime pointing is tediously slow and quite difficult so a big Hurrah to them for their good work in repairing the side pillars. Not obviously glamorous work but oh so necessary for the long term survival of the hall.  Also many thanks to Bradfords the Builders Ltd of Ilminster who very kindly made the scaffolding tower available to us at no charge.

No shortage of interesting private events this month !  A hall hire by a Shakespearian Actor making a promotional video saw one of our very own volunteer am-dram queens co-opted onto the stage - No names, but she's more often seen in the box office. A new career beckons mayhap ?

Sat 21st A private hire birthday party also proved that the hall is SO versatile.  Forty guests and a great disco kept the hall rocking and left both participants and volunteer bar staff in a somewhat fragile state the following day. Happy Birthday Sharon & Phil.  Great fun ! 

Mon 30th.  The raffle tickets have arrived and we're ready to go!  It's taken slightly longer than I would have wished but we now have a licence and may legally sell our '21st Birthday' raffle tickets.  With a first prize of 2 tickets permitting the winner plus a friend to come to 21 events next year we think that this will be a very desirable prize. The second prize is six bottles of wine, so either winner will have a jolly good 2011 to look forward to. Tickets on sale HERE or at the hall. All proceeds will go towards the upkeep and improvement of our favourite venue.

Hall Blog  Sept.

Sat 4th.  Well what a very strange week this past one has been. After three weeks of absolute mayhem on the ticket booking front, with all previous records for sales being surpassed, the bank holiday arrived and it seems the entire country vanished ! The phones fell silent, emails stopped and I was starting to think that nobody loved us any more. Then I saw the appalling ticket sales for an event at one of our much larger local venues (no names but it's in Yeovil) and realised that the last week of the school holidays, immediately following a bank holiday, is not the ideal time for putting on a gig.  Which is a shame, because tonight we had two of the North East's finest singers with us - Bob Fox and Billy Mitchell. 

Bob, of course, is a regular at the hall and always very welcome. He'd been telling Billy, who had not been before, what a wonderful venue we had and how we managed to attract people from all over the region. Hmmm!  Anyway, despite having driven for some 7 hours from South Shields to get to us they put on a terrific performance to our small but select audience. Bob and Billy are great mates and have a terrific rapport on stage and we all had a really great evening. We must try to book them at a better time of the year next time round.

Sun 5th. Ignore all pessimistic remarks (above) concerning people not loving us.  I've just heard that a wonderful lady called Helen from South Petherton has just very generously given £250 towards the 'Support the Hall' fund. An absolutely lovely gesture and one which will permit us to finally replace the vandalised notice board at the front of the hall.  These things cost a fortune and the mindless yobbo's who thought it would be 'fun' to rip open ours and try to set light to the backing material little realise how many curses and generally bad thoughts they have engendered over the past twelve months every time we've had to battle to open and close the damned thing. The Parish Council have already contributed £200 towards its replacement so we can now go ahead and order one. No more soggy posters - Hurrah ! THANK YOU both.

Fri 10th.  Coo ! is perhaps an inappropriate expletive with which to start this paragraph, as I may well risk being bitten if I use it on Oct 16th.  I've just added An Audience with Sharandy and her Birds of Prey' to our events list ! Certainly another 'first' for us and potentially a thrilling family evening when Sharandy and her team bring along their beautiful feathered friends for a talk and fly around the hall.  Understandably, only limited admission on this one so spread the word and bring the kids.  (Thinks. Perhaps this should go out on twitter.) 

Sat 18thA barnstorming evening with  Little Johnny England who proved once more that Folk Rock is alive and kicking.  

Weds 22nd. The Birds have flown !  Sadly, we've just had a call from Sharandy (see above) saying that due to circumstances beyond their control their evening at the hall has had to be cancelled. However, Sharandy has now promised to bring along a couple of her birds for the December coffee morning.

Our new notice board arrived today, it's lovely !  Can't wait to see it installed.

Sat 30th.  Well, that's our 21st Birthday celebrations week been and gone .. and I missed the lot !  I was away for the first two events - Gilad Atzmon (our new collaboration with Sherborne Jazz Club) and Spiers & Boden but was looking forward to getting back on Friday in time for one of my all time favourite comedian/folk raconteurs Richard Digance.  However, a certain cheap Irish Airline lived entirely up to their reputation for incompetence by delaying my return flight from Seville. Apparently, some bright soul up at the front end of our plane had 'inadvertently deployed the emergency exit slide!' back in the U.K.  Not entirely re-assuring!  A six hour wait in a closed departures lounge not only meant we didn't get back to South Petherton until 3am Saturday, but the fat bloke behind me who kept sneezing gave me his rotten cold so I was laid up all day with man flu and missed King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys as well.  I will have to talk to someone who DID get to see the events for their feedback.  Anyone reading this who wants to drop me an email to tell me what they thought will be very welcome. 

Hall Blog - Oct

Sun 3rd. Great News with which to start my last week as Chairman of the Hall.  I've just read an email from the Lottery fund responding positively to an application I made a couple of months ago.  Last year's BIG Lottery Grant plans included provision for a sliding wall up on the first floor balcony to enable the area to be closed off, creating a meeting room and rehearsal space.  However, this plan had to be abandoned as we over-ran our budget by a considerable amount. The requirement remained however and my new application approached the problem in a slightly different way as I had subsequently found mobile screening which would not only serve the original purpose, but also enable us to use the main body of the hall much more flexibly. In addition, I asked for some other equipment to permit us to run meetings and seminars more professionally and requested money for the completion of a shower room up on the second floor so that artistes could have a better facility.   I am suitably chuffed to report that the lovely Lottery people said YES and we can proceed tout-suite.

Thurs 7th.  It's lovely to be able to report each small step forward in our work to improve the hall.  Today, we saw much needed repairs to our main front doors. One hundred and fifty years of usage had left its mark and one of the hinges had come loose in the stonework.  The hinge has now been properly repaired and refixed, the doors rehung and proper 'crash bars' fitted to give us better security, both from intruders and in the case of a need for an emergency exit. David and Brian also did sterling work and fitted our new notice board. Well done one and all.

Sat 9th. Well our birthday celebrations may have officially ended last week, but what a party we had with CHRIS WHILE & JULIE MATTHEWS tonight. Their fan club (me very much included) were out in force enjoying a fantastic evening with these two lovely and very talented ladies. Excellent harmonies, gorgeous lyrics and wonderful tunes, many from their new album 'Hitting the Ground Running' gave us all a night to remember. We now just can't wait until they return in December with St Ag! 

(Update) - here's Chris & Julie's account of the evening from their blog - Now suitably cheered up and revitalised, we headed off to one of our favourite gigs, David Hall. What a great place this is, community based and run by volunteers who are always so delighted to see you and look after you from the moment you arrive until you drive away at the end of the night. There is no doubt this is a special venue but the audience that we're privileged to play for each year are the best you'll find anywhere. From the moment you step on stage they are so energised, cheering every song, singing every word and truly having the best time. We are so lucky to not only play this venue but to have such brilliant, loyal followers, thanks South Petherton you really are the tops.

Mon 11th.  A good turn out for our Annual General Meeting.  The past years finances have been satisfactory, we invested over £10,000 of our own P.A.T. trust monies into the improvement of the hall and still kept our heads above water. I stepped down as Chair at the end of my three year tenure, but will still be doing this blog to the best of my abilities until perhaps another board member chooses to take it over.  Many thanks to all on the Board and the many dozens of volunteers who have made (and continue to make) the Hall such a superb venue.

Weds 20th.  Absolutely kicking myself for not getting down to the hall last night to catch the Dorset Corset performance of 'Frankenstein - The Year Without Summer'.  Director/writer Helen Davies and her colleagues left a mighty impression on the audience and I couldn't talk to anyone who had seen it without being bombarded by superlatives. 'The best production they've ever put on here' seems to be the consensus.  Well done to the actors involved.  

Hall Blog - Nov

Mon 1st.  Despite a turn out of more than 200 hundred protesters, the majority from the Arts world in Somerset, the County Council today confirmed that its Arts budget  for 2011 would be cut completely.  Although not unexpected, this is a huge blow for many of the venues and organisations across the County who had been bracing themselves and planning for a 26% reduction over three years ! 

We, in the Petherton Arts Trust, had to face a similar crisis three years ago when our revenue support from the District Council was withdrawn, leaving us with a shortfall of £11,000 per year. We 'bit the bullet' and, by a combination of self examination, re-organisation and adopting a much more business like approach, survived.  In this respect, the David Hall is unaffected by the latest news, as we are now completely 'self-funded', i.e. we manage to just about break even over the year once our 'other' fund raising efforts (coffee mornings, the 150 club etc.) are taken into account.  However, we are far from complacent and intend to continue to push hard to bring you the best acts we can afford. There's tough times out there folks, so do please continue to support us.  We've survived 21 years so far and it is our intention to continue for a long time more.

Tues 2nd. Following the departure of Tony Charman we have a new 'Chair' and three new Board members. Anne Shirley has stepped up and bravely volunteered to be Chair for the next three years.  We are also very pleased to welcome new members Kate Vanovitch and Tom Davies in addition to saying hello to someone who has been around for many years in the guise of Chair of the Petherton Picture Show - Ian Wilkinson.

Thurs 11th.  Well, a bit of quality reviewing for a change! I was unable to see O-Region's 'Superstition Mountain', so asked one of our volunteers (Kate) to give me a review. As the good folks of Cornwall might say, "Yer Tis".  
Superstition Mountain was a great example of travelling theatre: three unflagging performances combined with an ingenious use of set and film. The three brothers (real and fictional) from O-Region told a ripping yarn of fraternal feelings at their best and worst “ well, mostly worst. Whisked from debt, drugs and drudgery in a Cornish scrap yard into a Wild West adventure, the fictional brothers yield to temptations and treachery, but their humanity is salvaged by the warmth and humour of actors Simon, Dan and Brett Harvey.  
Nice one Kate !

Sat 13th. QUIZ NIGHT.  A thoroughly enjoyable and sociable evening with our genial and excellent quizmaster Mike Marshall.  Mike is a super chap who donates his time to us for free and ensures that the questions are always not quite what you expect. A full house too.  Thank you Mike.

Sat 20th. Oh what a night !  The Kathryn Tickell band at their absolute best, playing to an enthusiastic full house.  A full variety of melodies showing the full extent of the band's versatility. We never got the rules to the sheep/cow game (you just had to be there folks !) but there will be plenty of people in Somerset tonight trying to think of some.  As you will know, we are justifiably proud of the hall and it's superb acoustics. Last night there were moments when Kathryn was dueting on violin with her brother Peter to a quiet accompaniment by guitar and accordion, when the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. A friend of mine whispered in my ear "THIS is why we do this" and I knew exactly what he meant. Marvellous.

Kathryn also very kindly drew our 21st Anniversary raffle. The lucky first prize winner was ticket no 248 and the second prize went to ticket no 329. Congratulations to both and commiserations to everyone else. All monies from the raffle will go towards supporting the Hall and putting on more fantastic evenings like tonight's. 

Hall Blog - December 

Ooh the hall can be a chilly place when the heating's not on and there's only a couple of poor souls around ! NEVERTHELESS, the action behind the scenes is currently red hot as the deadline for the new season's programme looms large. Where does the time go ? It seems only five minutes ago that the last one was giving us headaches.  I've had a sneak preview of the upcoming events and as ever am quietly confident that there's something in there for everyone.  It's likely that the actual printed programme will hit the streets just after Christmas so keep an eye out. In the meantime, January's events are already posted so there's no excuse for anyone to miss out on a cracking start to 2011. 

Thurs 9th. STEVE KNIGHTLEY Why has there suddenly been a  big thaw in the area of South Petherton ? Could it be due to the heat and enthusiasm generated by the audience at this, this first of our year's BIG THREE evenings ?   Steve used the hall to record part of his first 'live' album and it should be a beauty. This guy as such a star and I  just can't wait to hear the results on CD.   Now all we have to do is to re-stock the bar, have a quick mop round, reset the seats and await our good mates St Agnes Fountain who should arrive around 5pm tomorrow. 

Sat 11th  What a FANTASTIC couple of evenings we've had ! We always say that Christmas hasn't properly begun until St Agnes come.  Despite poor Chris While having a streamer of a cold, the Aggies were in sensational form, much to the delight (sometimes, especially on Saturday, quite rowdy delight) of everyone attending.  They have asked me to pass on their thanks to everyone who attended. The Hall is genuinely one of their favourite venues and they've already agreed to come again next year on the same two evenings. However, PLEASE don't ask about tickets until the Autumn. 

Sun 12th.  BIG PROBLEM at the Hall. During the past three nights there has been an increasingly strong smell of paraffin in the hall.  Investigations have shown that the last bout of really cold weather have caused a very small hole in the base of our outside fuel tank.  A small amount of fuel leaked onto the ground and the smell got into the hall. Whilst there is no danger and the leak has now been sealed we do need URGENTLY to replace the tank - at a cost of £3,000. We run on a shoestring at the best of times and this unforeseen expenditure is going to stretch our finances badly. If you love the hall as much as we do please click on the button on the front page and use Paypal to contribute to the emergency fund. If we can't resolve this problem quickly and the leak re-occurs we will have to close the hall and that could mean permanently.  

Mon 13th I heard on the news this morning that some 20 million people tuned in last night to watch the finals of ''The X Factor''.  Makes you wonder why more people don't get off their proverbials and come to see really talented musicians performing doesn't it ?

Fri 17th This year's David Hall prize for heroics in the face of adversity must go to our guests Malinky who drove over 300 miles in atrocious conditions of snow and ice all the way from Darlington (Co Durham) to perform for us. Now when I say 'us' I do mean the rather small number of brave souls who abandoned the telly to get down to the Hall. Two band members made it with only about a quarter of an hour to spare but undaunted they entertained the already sitting audience with their sound check.  Malinky have just won the Scottish Folk Band of the Year award and I have to say, it's thoroughly deserved. They gave us a cracking couple of sets, there was dancing at the back of the hall (and not just to keep our feet warm) and much enjoyment all round.  Many thanks to the group and we hope to see them again in warmer circumstances. 

Weds Dec 22nd. Much activity in the hall as we take delivery of the new season's programme and begin sending them out to our 'Friends'.  Bookings will commence tomorrow for Friends and on the 29th December on-line.

Mon Dec 27th. The thaw set in big time and the layer of ice at the bottom of the fuel tank holding back the leak started to thin.  However, with dedication well above and beyond the call of duty, board member David spent the day in freezing wet conditions bailing out the drip tray and somehow arranging for an emergency call out by someone with a couple of temporary reserve tanks. We are now safe from leaks but temporarily without heating ! However, we are being re-connected on Thursday so that our New Years Eve event should be able to go ahead.  

Tues Dec 28th Another marathon effort which took place over the Christmas period was the upgrade of our web software - something which I've been putting off for a couple of years!  Three solid 12 hour days in front of the computer with everything that could go wrong, going wrong and interrupted only by a visiting granddaughter needing to use my study as her bedroom. Annoyingly (but thankfully),despite several hundred ˜behind the scenes' changes, the site looks almost identical to previously. However, it's far more secure from attack and just as importantly, the new season's events are on and ready for booking.  Now to sit back and await the flood of eager customers.

Fri Dec 31st.  NEW YEARS EVE PARTY.   What a cracking evening !  We'd been a bit worried in the run up to New Years Eve because the atrocious weather had meant that we only had a few advance bookings, the fuel tank crisis still loomed over us and the food organisers were in a state of mild panic trying to guess how many to cater for. However, as usual, the good faeries who keep an eye on us ensured that all was well on the night. We catered for 60 and 54 turned up, which meant that there was space for much energetic dancing to the music of Kay and Gerry (Geroka minus Rose), the catering was more than adequate and there were 'seconds' for those who could manage another slice of carrot cake.  I was off to Bristol airport at 7am on the 1st so snuck off after the food interval, but departed with every confidence that we'd seen off the old year with its mixed fortunes in fine David Hall style.  And now to 2011 ....

 

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