Floating Music with Opal’s Comet


 – Alan Dearling

Very recently, I spent two and a half hours walking along the tow paths accompanying the Opal’s Comet narrowboat,  journeying from Walsden to Todmorden along the Rochdale Canal. It provided the floating stage for a live musical theatre performance from the talented group from Mr Wilson’s Second Liners.

The show featured songs and music written by Sonya Moorhead. Working the boat through locks whilst wending its way down the canal was all part of this colourful and unusual ‘event’. The music itself was played on keyboards, harp, cello, percussion instruments and many more with singing from Sonya and friends. It is from a newly composed song cycle to celebrate The Harbinger Fayre – from a fictional calendar that celebrates the arrival of Winter.  There is a sadness in many of the songs, but an underlying sensuous beauty as well.

The Opal’s Comet show is essentially created within the folk tradition. But Mr Wilson’s Second Liners are a colourful bunch of creators, including musicians who pay homage to genre-bending music ranging from trad New Orleans jazz through to folk and onwards to Rave…Leftism… and 24 hour party people. A great group of creative people.

video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ2pwy-NEx4



The Opal’s Comet crew engage in a waterway pilgrimage on the ‘Cut’, as the canals are often called. It’s a real life navigational challenge and the songs and spoken words provide a soundtrack as well as a travelling stage.  Each day the ‘voyage’ performing the original song-cycle and in locks and under bridges encourages the audiences to join in some communal musical celebrations.

Mr Wilson’s Second Liners describe themselves as providing:

“New Orleans meets 90s club classics…a rave funeral without the body.

A rabble of mischievous northerners, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners form a traditional New Orleans Second Line. However, this is no sombre occasion: Mr Wilson’s expend their collective musical talent paying homage to the diehard days of the Hacienda, ‘90s club culture and its greatest hero, Mr Tony Wilson.”

Part of their collective vision is of an anarchic, street extravaganza, bursting with colour and sound, rallying impromptu raves on street corners and rousing audiences young and old into a joyful frenzy. ‘Leftism’ is just one lively example of their work…





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