Alan Dearling cogitates in suitable attire on the weekend before Halloween
‘Amusia’: I considered the meaning(s) of the word, and indeed what an event in that name might involve. Here’s one of many definitions:
“Congenital amusia, commonly known as tone deafness or a tin ear, refers to a musical disability that cannot be explained by prior brain lesion, hearing loss, cognitive defects, or lack of environmental stimulation, and it affects about 4% of the population.”
Four different posters proliferated around ‘The Valley’ in advance of this event, which was billed as the largest one so far organised in the name of the ‘Amusia’ collective group. They have their own Facebook site, but it is a tad difficult to find out exactly who is co-ordinating the proceedings. I had been invited along to take pics at earlier events in a range of venues stretching from Oldham to Halifax. And, in an on-line message exchange, had agreed to come along to the really rather spectacular Unitarian Church in Todmorden to take photos during the afternoon sessions of the event. I arrived just after the start time of 1pm, to see Rik Warwick heading off from the venue, apparently on a mission, despite the fact that he was billed to be the first performer in the 1 to 2pm slot. https://www.facebook.com/amusia.awareness
The second artist, Pip Fowler on auto-harp, stepped into the breach and after a sound-check, he took to the stage. The sound quality thanks to engineer, Dave, was great, employing the natural church acoustics to great effect. Some clever wordplay in Pip’s lyrics too.
After Pip’s solo performance, Rik arrived onto the stage area and played some intricate classical and popular acoustic guitar tunes, including his versions of ‘Tubular Bells’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Sadly, there was only a small audience, mostly comprised of other musicians. Subsequently, I watched and listened to two out of the next three performances which took place up until after 7pm. First was electronica from Torsk. He looked the part, representing some kind of dark persona from the Addams family!
Later it was the heavy, thunderous music of TV Face. Musically impressive and suitably loud…but sadly still not very much of an audience. TV Face Live video by Darren Green Films: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4Fo-WL9GNI
But then it seemed that there was no-one from Amusia on door-control, no arm bands and even no felt pen for marking the hands of paying and ticketed customers. This left the volunteer ladies on the Unitarian pop-up ‘donations’ bar in the unenviable position of dealing with the Amusia punters. After 9pm, sometime after I had left, I’ve been told that a lot of people did come up from the Golden Lion as that venue closed its doors for a sold-out ticket DJ event. I am also informed that there were still no Amusia staff to be found, including Rik, who seemed to be have some sort of role as MC.
The Unitarian Church usually has a strict 10pm curfew rule on account of noise affecting neighbours. This event finished at midnight, with the final band unable to play because of late running. It appears that later in the evening from about 11pm that there was friction over which punters had paid or not. Apparently, the fee for use of the Church from morning until when staff finally left after 1am on the Sunday morning was not paid. I’ve not been able to ascertain whether the performers got paid whatever they were promised. All rather sad when eleven acts were billed to perform…armed with, and offering an abundance of talent to share.
Here’s a personal view of one of the volunteers at the Church: “Whilst I understand that there was an intentional mystery surrounding the Amusia event at Todmorden Unitarian Church, for those of us who volunteered for 15 hours each from Saturday to early hours on Sunday morning, the most significant mystery was – who was the Event Organiser?
Confusion reigned from the late kick off to the well-beyond curfew ending. Such a great opportunity to host an event in our spectacular church was squandered with no arrangements for the door management or on the door tickets to name but one issue.
I hope this does not reflect on the people who voluntarily look after the Unitarian Church.”
It’s interesting to read how the Amusia event was billed in advance publicity – see below. Actually, it’s fascinating, quasi-scientific, but also very much tongue-in-cheek. But one questions if on this particular occasion it fulfilled what was written on the proverbial ‘tin’! (In the week after Halloween, Amusia were contacted for any comments, but didn’t respond).
“Amusia will be conducting a large scale safety exercise at the Todmorden Unitarian Church (behind Golden Lion) in order to maximise the safety and well-being of future potential Listening Test subjects at the adopted site. This 12 hour exercise is called a Site Installation Interface Trial and Safety Assessment All Dayer.
This exercise presents a simulated live music concert experience to trial participants who will undergo exposure to experimental and contrasting auditory materials. The Site Installation Interface Trial and Safety Assessment All Dayer this Saturday takes place at a time most commonly associated with Halloween celebrations and, as such, must be conducted accordingly as a Halloween special.
For the first time ever at an Amusia Site Installation Interface Trial and Safety Assessment the use of fancy dress will be in effect. Fancy dress will be encouraged for all on-site trial participants. Halloween cake will be available and Halloween everything. Trial technicians and psychologists may also take part in the fancy dress, but please be aware that this is large scale complex safety exercise and that very important and serious work must be carried out in a precise and professional manner.
Normal ecclesiastical operations may be disrupted during this time. Amusia wishes to thank the congregation, staff, volunteers and clergy of The Unitarian Church for their patience and understanding while we conduct these important safety trials with these experimental materials.
The Site Installation Interface Trial and Safety Assessment is a temporary state of experimental condition to monitor the safety and wellbeing of potential Listening Test subjects via a series of simulated live music performances. It is a potentially high-risk environment and must be delivered with the due diligence of a highly aware and communicative team working to the best of their abilities. The use of alcohol is advised for trial participants ONLY. Amusia technicians and scientists are STRICTLY PROHIBITED FROM CONSUMING ALCOHOL. This is not a joke and it is certainly not funny.”
The night before was a lively ‘live’ music night at Eagles Crag Brewery in their taproom extravaganza.
First up were Cobalt Tales – Pat and Nuala from Sheffield. Headlining was Nick B Hall, well-known as half of Plumhall. This gig was organised by Dark Matter Promotions in collaboration with the lads in Eagles Crag.