Commoners Choir round up (feat. Reem Kelani, Stephen Hartley, Leeds Film Festival and George Orwell)

It’s been a busy few of weeks for Commoners Choir. Singing (and starring in) the Leeds International Film Festival, being part of the George Orwell Exhibition and……my best bit of all….doing a gig with the Notsensibles!

This flurry of activity started when we supported Reem Kaleni at a charity gig for a Palastinian Womens charity based in Sheffield. She’s planning an LP of cover versions and I don’t know why but I wasn’t expecting this one….. Reem is a force of nature (“voice of an Angel, swears like a trooper” as Mark put it) who had us singing backing on a few of her numbers. With very little prep, she managed to pull a great sound out of us and wore her Commoners patch with pride.

The film festival event was the public debut of a documentary by Commoner Phil Moody, aided and abetted by Commoner Carolyn Edwards, about the song ‘True North’ which we did with 2 other choirs at the start of ‘The Great Exhibition of The North’ in Newcastle. One of those wonderful events that you look back on with great pride, which this short film elegantly captures. It’s 20mins long so grab a cuppa and have a look.

Boff wrote a song about George Orwell and The Road to Wigan Pier for the set of food-based gigs we did earlier in the year called ‘More than a Mouthful’ (tea towels still available). With food poverty and foodbanks on the rise it feels like we’re ‘walking back to Wigan Pier’. So, when the curator of the travelling, Orwell inspired art gallery, asked us to sing it at the Leeds opening, we jumped at the chance. You can hear us and see the art here:

The next night we were up in Lancaster at an amazing Co-op they have up there – not the music one that the Lovely Eggs helped save, but another one with shared eco housing and an old mill (Halton Mill – where they used to make elephants) that’s been turned into an arts space. Our support was the Stephen Hartley band – ex of the Notsensibles who did a great set of new songs (and one old one) with loads of stories in between – mainly aimed at ‘Boffo’ as they were in the same class at school together in Burnley. He’s also been an A+E consultant in his time as well as running a record label, doing some printing and keeping an allotment. I got his book and what a great read it is!

So with one more gig to go (Hebden Bridge Trades Club – 14th Dec) it’s been another tremendous year for this raggedy band of ne’er-do-wells….heaven knows what we’ll be doing next year – what a joy!

Bob the Chiropodist

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