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Nina-A Story About Me And Nina Simone

Nina-A Story About Me And Nina Simone is on this week at the Unity Theatre.
Devised by Dritero Kasapi and Josette Bushell-Mingo the show blends superb music, brilliant singing and righteous anger against continuing racism and violence against the black communities across the world. From 60s civil rights struggles to the present day, it’s a thought-provoking and at times an uncomfortable ride. Delivered to perfection by Josette Bushell-Mingo it’s a tour de force performance packed with the best of Nina Simone’s substantial back catalogue.The production, music and lighting are fantastic. It’s showing tonight and until Saturday. If you can get a ticket go along it’s superb.

@unitytheatre or http://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk for details

Performance photos by Simon Annand.29497282_10216086028882909_3122694837715861504_o[1]29473058_10216086152045988_5021663216883728384_n[1]29513019_10216086151405972_6757070063074803712_n[1]29497697_10216086152606002_5275749419076026368_n[2]

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One Day All Press Calls Will Be Like This! The Alehouse.

I’ve been to a few press calls in my time, mainly from the venue side of things and they’re all pretty similar. Sandwiches, wine, juice, a few speeches, photos and interviews.

For the Press call for The Alehouse, which opens at The Dome Theatre, Grand Central Hall on Renshaw St. tomorrow 25th Feb., we were treated to a private lock-in at the characterful Dr. Duncan’s on St. John’s Lane. A full cast of characters performed a series of snapshots from the play using the pub as scenery and props. Real drinks from a real bar were served and, well sandwiches too and we took photos and interviewed the stars in a relaxed atmosphere.

The play centres around a motley crew of ne-er do wells at the Alehouse (perhaps based on the Deysbrook). Characters you’d recognise from almost any old school boozer in suburban Liverpool, carry the play through a series of often hilarious shenanigans as the story develops. Expect to laugh along with a scally wide boy, barmaid with a heart, randy granny and the beer swilling abject of her desire, a woolyback bully, a tourette inflicted  ex-soldier and a drunken priest.

The language is occasionally a bit choice and a bit near the knuckle at times, but is nothing that would be out of place in a genuine setting and indeed, this adds to the authenticity of the whole thing and is a reflection of the real characters the play is based on.

Originally written by Furlong & Powers it’s been updated by Philip Olivier and Jake Abraham who also star, alongside Lindzi Germain and George Wilson and the venue will help generate a very different theatre experience, with a late bar and a live band playing after the show every night. The aim is to entice “non-Theatre goers” to get off the sofa and venture into the theatre and away from their comfort zones and I believe that once the word gets out there will be queues at the box office.

Tickets available from http://www.ticketquarter.co.uk

 

 

My Highlights of 2015

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My favourite gigs and events from 2015.

 

It’s traditional at this time of year to reflect back on the year we’re leaving behind and so, here’s my top 5 list of gigs and events from the year just ended.

In no real order because as I was trying to sort through my random memory bank I couldn’t quite agree on a right order!

My year began helping legendary street artist Whoam Irony as he spray painted Ethel/Muriel onto the Ethel Austin building on County Rd. Walton, (above). I’m amazed at the skill involved in creating these massive works of art and Irony created this wonderful piece on a very shabby, rundown building. I still pass it frequently and it still impresses me almost a year later.

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Over the water at the Williamson Gallery in Birkenhead a wonderful couple Davy and Kristin McGuire staged a mightily impressive exhibition and event called Perfect? A talking statue, scary exhibits, fairies dancing in jars and a selection of dance troupes entertained on a wonderful night of art, music and dance that will live long in the memory.

 

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The sheer number of music festivals in Liverpool means another year of wonderful music and unique collaborations and at this years Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF) a local women only performance by the Sense of Sound singers wowed the Sunday afternoon crowd, culminating in Jayne Casey, (above) belting out a timely and enthusiastic Woody Guthrie song All You Fascists, Bound to Lose! Wonderful!

 

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I was offered a couple of tickets to see The Peking Opera Company’s production of The Warrior Women of Wang at the Echo Arena Auditorium and went along not knowing what to expect. To say I was blown away is an understatement. A stunning spectacle that assaulted every sense possible. The music, singing, dancing and acting were incredible and the colours were so bright that everything has appeared in black and white ever since.

 

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I went to Sound City for the first time this year and with a few very minor reservations it turned out to be a classic weekend. On the first day I attended a talk by Edwyn Collins where he talked about his life in the music business and his ongoing recovery from a stroke a few years ago. He then gave a short performance, accompanied by a string quartet and long term collaborator Carwyn Ellis that was of such breath-taking beauty and intense passion that I and other grown men and women around me were reduced to tears. What a way to start a festival!

So, that’s my top 5 in a year peppered with highlights! A vintage year, or just the norm in Liverpool? I’ve only been back here for about 20 months now and I’m gobsmacked at the quality and quantity of art and music on offer. I could’ve done about 20 to be honest, Vic Godard was awesome, Belle and Sebastian, the Tea Street Band, the Three Queens, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon to mention just a few. I’ve particularly enjoyed watching young groups go from strength to strength, especially the Floormen, Brasshaus, Mersey Wylie, Stealing Sheep and too many others to list here and I hope to see more of the same in 2016. I think it’s going to be a very interesting year!

 

All photos are my own. You can see more pictures on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think. Graham Smillie 1/1/16

 

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