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Thursday 8th March 2018
So, we're getting nicely settled in in Blackpool and I felt it was high time to reactivate this website as I've been namedropping it, but until this morning there was just a solitary page to see. Do feel free to browse around and see what there is. Though we're heading in a new direction, this does not mean we're abandoning the various artistes we've featured so far - far from it! Click "artistes" above and see who we have been championing over the last few years... hopefully you'll find something to enjoy. I also note that today is "International Women's Day" and you will quickly notice that most artistes we've championed so far are female.
I want to take this early opportunity to thank the various artistes I have met so far in Blackpool. They have been wonderful - friendly, accommodating and welcoming. All have asked me "Why Blackpool?" and the simple answer is, I like Blackpool, I feel a sense of belonging here and I love the creative vibe and spirit and wish to become a part of it. After years of being stranded in an area where there is bugger all creativity, Blackpool truly feels like a breath of fresh air.
I'm gonna give a shout out to a quartet of Blackpool talents who I'm sure will pop up in here many times in the future. If you have yet to do so, check 'em out!
Dawn Mander (photographer)
Kate Yates (photographer)
Robin Ross (screen printing artist)
Linda Hampton (actor, writer, singer, director)
I also must make a special personal thanks to Ann O'Donnell - owner of Clarron House on Leopold Grove which became my home from a home I no longer could call home from where I was able to find my new home!
Right - that's the niceties out the way. Let's get on with some actual NEWS.
On Tuesday 6th March I attended an evening hosted by Form at Bootleg Social entitled "Works In Progress" where we witnessed two pieces - in progress - upon which we were invited to make our own critical comments to the artistes on how they could improve or develop their ideas further.
First up was Martha Pailing a performer split between Blackpool and London who specialises in spoken word theatre giving us a taster of a piece entitled "Background People" which was entertaining, if sometimes confused, a point that was discussed at length following Martha's spirited performance. Given the appropriate tweaks, "Background People" should be raher entertaining. Martha was followed by Blackpool based Sean Patrick Brown with a thoughtful well staged and crafted piece called "Self Creation", an exploration of a battle he successfully fought against the dreaded depression. This was very well received as it appeared to be well formed with all the vital elements in place.
An enjoyable evening, the first of a great many I'm sure in Blackpool and it was great to have a catch up with Linda Hampton and chatting with a writer called Laura who went along not quite knowing what to expect.
It's all happening in Blackpool you know and you'll get to read and hear more about it here.
Monday 12th March 2018
Today we all awoke to the news that Sir Ken Dodd had passed away aged 90 and I don't deny feeling a pang of sadness. The guy was a legend in his lifetime and it seems funny how I lived for 11 years in his beloved Liverpool and now here I am in Blackpool which he regarded as his second home.
I caught one of his shows during his final Blackpool engagement at the Grand Theatre in October 2017. I guess it was one of those rites of passage as I was also mindful that my Grandparents had seen him live back in the 1970's and enjoyed his work over their lives along with millions of others. I have to confess I did not manage to sit through the entire show as the seat I was in was a real bum-number and I was tired, thirsty and hungry. I did see the first half and enjoyed it. What was fascinating to behold was how Dodd did his stuff - a true professional in every sense of the word, keeping the audience spellbound and laughing throughout.
It is true that Dodd was one of the very last of his kind - an all round entertainer who had spent years honing and perfecting his craft to the degree he could entertain any audience anywhere. He did the years of graft before fame beckoned and today's younger talents would be wise to follow his example as sadly Simon Cowell has brainwashed an entire generation into believing they can be famous in an instant. However, as Susan Boyle proved, if you haven't had the years of experience and apprenticeships behind you, then you're gonna have problems.
Dodd was just a month away from his 90th birthday and I was absolutely staggered by how active, agile and physical he was. I was only half his age but I find performing for just one hour onstage totally draining so had absolutely no idea how on earth Dodd could still keep performing his legendary 5 hour plus shows aged 89. Watching him in performance was an object lesson in professionalism I now feel privileged to have witnessed.
It wasn't the first time I had encountered him in person either. Ten years earlier on 7th August 2007, I was on my way to a band rehearsal walking through Liverpool city centre and noticed a bit of a crowd. I went to see what it was all about and there was Ken Dodd, armed with his tickle stick wandering around, chatting with locals accompanied by a TV crew. I took a handful of quick snapshots on my mobile phone then had to move on as I had a band waiting for me. Here is one of those photos.
Doddy will be missed. Was certainly one of a kind and the least I could do was acknowledge his passing here.