Chique at Kirkham and Chorley Live (with The Folded Arms) 6/7th October 2017
As expected, there was the usual shenanigans from us Chique birds!
Fresh from an opening night gig at The Black Horse in Kirkham where we were very well received, it’s time to ready ourselves to join John Reed and The Folded Arms for Chorley Live.
John has worked tirelessly to arrange these gigs, and must be commended to have managed to do so during some difficult circumstances. Matt has travelled some considerable distance to put his unique touch to John’s songs for all to enjoy. On this occasion, Jad could not be with us as he was out of the country.
Kieran drives us in this time, so after some careful packing of the required musical instruments (but forgetting a guitar stand), mic stands, water, crisps and the obligatory chocolate orange (which is still surprisingly intact!?!) we set off, Chorley bound.
John, along with Matt having done gigs the night before are now experts in Chorley’s car parks and one way system and provide us with the best car park directions for West Street.
We arrive following a lovely journey chatting about ‘Crimes that shocked Britain’, Harold Shipman and other “shocking” police investigations (very high brow stuff) whilst sampling Lidl’s finest 70% chocolate with orange, provided by Gary. The first incident of note is Emma realising she has not brought a coat. It is October. It is evening. It is raining. But no coat. This continues to niggle Emma for most of the journey/evening.
In the car park, we do as you would expect, and park. We then realise we are in the wrong car park. So, stood about in the rain, it’s out with the GPS to find the correct car park. Back in the car with Gary firmly in charge of the sat nav its off we go for a tour of Chorley town centre, once or twice. We find the correct car park and we’re back on track.
Meeting up with John and Matt, we begin to treck the equipment down to the first gig. A shop, Chain Stitch. It is amongst t-shirts, shirts and shoes that we set up in record time and prepare for our first set.
With Kieran (notes now at the ready) determined John will count in each song, we begin. The crowd are very polite and indulgent and swell in numbers as we go through the set. It’s a tiny PA and there are some big instruments, yet it does seem to work. Hats off to the young sound guy who’s name I didn’t know at the time, but have now found out. Danny Haydock.
Though most enjoyable, it’s all over very quickly and we must take down to enable the next artistes (not artists) to set up, and we’re off to the Royal Bank of Scotland.
It’s at this point that a well needed toilet stop must be made. The only option is to use the facilities of a pub. The pubs are bursting at the seams with people, literally crammed into every inch of space. Emma and I fight our way through to the furthest point (always a great place for the Ladies), only to burst through the door to find almost as many ladies on the other side.
This was however a rather jolly queue. Lots of chatter going on, the usual ‘gosh isn’t it busy… nice to see Chorley buzzing’ etc. Then, a business venture is proposed for opening a bar inside the Ladies! There are ‘Hurrahs!’ shrieked aloud at this suggestion and whilst the immediate view is that this is a great idea, it is soon realised that the concept may be flawed as drinking more whilst in this particular queue may have disastrous consequences!
Our wrist bands are then spotted as they say, ‘Chorley Live 2017 Artist’. We are asked to paint a quick mural! Well, not really, are we singers it is asked? We explain we are part of The Folded Arms and mental note is taken by all in the queue for when John Reed and The Folded Arms reach the dizzy heights of fame that are almost within our reach – they can of course claim they stood in the queue for the toilet with us. Being the envy of their friends, without a doubt.
Once we are finished with what we came for, we spot a beer garden and a possible exit without having to traverse through the sea of people between the ladies and the front door. We ask a couple of people if there is an exit that way, we are assured there is.
Out we get only to find there is a bouncer on the ‘Emergency Exit’ not letting people out that way. We appeal to his mercy, show him our wrist bands, offer to do portraits of his entire family (only kidding) beg him to let us out. He resists at first, demanding a watercolour of a favourite Moorscape… but concedes when we say we are in fact singers that need to get to our next gig. Just to get rid of us by this point, he sets us free and we make our way to The Royal Bank of Scotland.
When we arrive, the Red Rosettes, a ladies A Capella choir are doing an amazing performance near the deposit slips. They sound amazing and instantly John recognises a possible collaboration with them in the future… details are switched in the very place where you can uswitch your direct debits!
The ladies finish to great applause and it’s time for us to set up again at the speed of light. The sound guys this time are a father and son team who work very well together and manage to get everyone working with the minimal of fuss. There’s even enough time for the father of the team to notice that Kieran and his son are wearing the same shirt!
The set runs its course once again, receiving some very nice feedback.
The Red Rosettes have already been in touch with John so watch this space for something fantastic sometime in the future!
Hebden Bridge at the end of the month!
May 27 2017 brought together all the hard work of a number of musicians in a fantastic collaboration called Viva Musica held at The Fuse, in Partington.
As you would expect however, for us, this was not without incident, and the incident was of our making but more about that later.
Firstly, Friday night (26 May) saw us debuting our acoustic set. Not really having a name…. but trying out “Acoustique” instead of ‘the girls from Chique’ we asked the band gigging at The Steamer if we could steal half an hour to play in front of a crowd, to get ourselves gig ready for Saturday.
It was The Captain’s Crew who let us use their PA and take this opportunity, and on arrival gave us more thought for a name when it was said between band members ‘you didn’t tell me it was two birds…’. We later transcribed this into Two Birds and a Guitar. We think we may stick with this!
Six songs was all we had, so six song was what we did and these six songs took us way out of our comfort zone. We managed, with only a few fluffs to engage the crowd, who certainly weren’t expecting us to be there as this had only been arranged a couple of days before.
We have had great support and encouragement on this journey, and we were rewarded with a very good reaction on Friday. We were very relieved to see our fellow musician from The Folded Arms, Kieran appear with a spare guitar should the worst happen. Being still rookies in this area, this was most welcomed.
We received some great feedback, from The Steamer, and were asked to come back with more when we have it… something we are keen to do.
So, filled with relief and a fair amount of pride for what we had just accomplished, we head home to get a good nights sleep for Saturday night.
Is must have been the hottest weekend of the year so far, so sleeping was rather difficult coupled with being wired from the gig and the trepidation of what Saturday would bring.
Let me now take you on that journey with us – its been roughly seven months in the making.
We meet up in Blackpool and begin with ‘packing the car’. This is not a simple task. Kieran’s friend (now our friend too) Gary very kindly agreed to drive us, so, in the boot we needed to fit three guitars, an amp, 12 bottles of water, 2 mic stands, 3 guitar stands, 2 garment bags, Kieran’s gig bag, Kate’s gig case (small) and Emma’s gig case (massive!). It was very much like a 3D jigsaw, looking for things to fit into gaps to get the most from the boot. Amazingly we, we did it, taking photographs so we could pack it again at the end of the night.
So, its off to Tesco for lunch, and then we’re off.
The weather is baking hot once again, so its not long before the Terry’s chocolate orange segments have to be eaten before they melt! Quite simply, we cannot now go anywhere without a generous supply. Gary provides the first batch as Emma wrestles with her guilt over the massive case and the boot conundrum earlier.
Towards the end of our journey, the rain arrives and continues after we get there and throughout the undoing of the 3D jigsaw (not forgetting the massive case Emma has brought), but never the less, giddy with excitement we enter The Fuse, immediately see John Reed who considering all that has been going on looks amazingly calm and welcomes us with open arms (they will be Folded later).
The first sounds we hear are that of Duncan, John’s son rehearsing his amazing set and see how the stage has been arranged over the last couple of days.
After a little tune up, we have a rehearsal ourselves and acclimatise in the great auditorium, then its off for a look around to see what’s happening elsewhere. Jad is in the demonstration area entertaining and educating a crowd about the classical instrument the Tabla that he plays and clearly has a passion for.
Next up to demonstrate is Matt. We are still unsure exactly how many instruments Matt can play. I don’t think the number is quantifiable, because I’m sure he’s learning new ones every day. He played an amazing piece on the Uilleann pipes accompanying a recording he did where he played every instrument. It was incredible. Such a talented guy.
We were so relaxed, and had almost forgotten that we had to perform later at this stage and were really enjoying catching up with people. This of course includes The Lewinskies, here from Nova Scotia. A truly gifted couple who write and play their own unique style of music that is very powerful and beautiful and thanks to Twitter were befriended by John and made the trip to the UK especially to play their music and collaborate with other musicians.
Now it was time to soundcheck for real. It starts to sink in again that this is going to happen. We run through two songs and Alex, the amazing sound technician works his magic.
The other bands continue soundchecking and we disappear to move into our luxurious changing room. This is where the incident occurs. With a relatively loud scream/gasp Emma announces there is an uninvited visitor in her garment bag. Of the eight legged variety, only these legs are massive, have knees and possible dock marten boots on. Now Emma has a relatively good tolerance with these creatures, however she does have a size limit, and this one has surpassed this by quite a large margin. So, practically white and definitely sweating, Kate descends back to the auditorium to ask for assistance.
John is readying with rest of the The Folded Arms to sound check, so he calls upon Adam from Under a Banner (who we have yet to meet) to assist in our hour of need. Without fear, Adam immediately comes to the rescue (reassuring us very nicely that he understands phobias, as he is afraid of fish). At first our guest cannot be found. Was it my imagination Emma now wonders….. Adam begins, without the aid of a safety rope, to go through the contents of the garment bag. There are things in there that are not normally shared with total strangers, but this is an emergency. Adam is not afraid. Contents scattered but no show…. then, he shows himself, he’s running for the door (the spider, not Adam). Frozen with fear Kate watches on, emitting smalls squeaks as he approaches (again, the spider, not Adam. Just to be clear.). Skillfully he is captured by Adam and safely removed (even Adam said it was big. A Wolf Spider).
It transpires that this uninvited guest was a stowaway from Emma’s car earlier in the week when it first showed itself. We really don’t want to meet it ever again.
So, if our nerves weren’t on edge enough, this incident is in danger of pushing us over the edge, but we have work to do, so on with The Folded Arms soundcheck. Still sweating and reliving the event.
All soundchecks done its time for tea. John has arranged some fantastic catering so we are all well fed and its almost time for the evenings entertainment to begin.
We bump into Adam again, waiting in the wings as Under a Banner are the first to perform. We take this opportunity to introduce ourselves, sure at this stage that he thinks us to be completely bonkers. He is a gentleman about the whole thing and tells us he will not forget this gig in a hurry!!
Under a Banner are amazing. They play their original material to the delight of the crowd. However, the more we hear, the more nervous we are as we are to follow them! We sit watching, dreading the words ‘this is our last song…’. It finally happens so we must ready ourselves to begin.
Then its here. What we have been working on whilst still learning material and performing as Chique. We have always known the extremely high level of music that would be performed at this event, and we most certainly feel like the fish (sorry Adam) out of water, if only we’d had another 15 years or so to practice! The event is well attended, being recorded and videoed, so no pressure then! We begin with Budapest then Royals. We start to settle in and despite the nerves, we are really enjoying being a part of something so great. The crowd are friendly and indulge us, knowing this is only our second gig. Next up its Kiss Me, where Emma makes her tambourine debut. This is a roaring success, much to her relief. To follow are Sleeping Satellite, Moonlight Shadow (including Emma’s maraca debut) and our final song is George Michael’s Faith.
We are immensely proud of how far we have come, and will continue to pursue an acoustic set, and with the help and encouragement of our friends, we hope to do some small half hour sets at other gigs, just to improve ourselves.
The night then takes off with Duncan Reed performing his set to perfection (though we do unfortunately miss some of this, due to much patting ourselves on the back and emergency Prosecco as our reward for having the nerve to do what we just did).
Our good friend Kieran then entertains with the Cathouse Ragtime Blues Band, giving a taste of the American South stretching back to the 1920s, though he tells us they had to change a lot of the original lyrics as they were just too saucy and politically incorrect for todays audiences. The music is great fun to listen to and includes many unusual instruments.
Next up its Matt Steady. Its hard to put into words the contribution Matt has made to this evening’s entertainment. He guested on all the sets bar two this evening, playing a variety of instruments – there is photo of him at one of our very few rehearsals entitled ‘Multi-tasking’ where he is playing his violin with his bass guitar also there ready to go! As great a gentleman as he is a musician and another find by John via the means of Twitter Matt brought his own original material to his set and it was a pleasure to hear.
If this wasn’t enough so far, it’s now the turn of The Lewinskies. We were asked to provide some backing harmonies on one of their songs, and we did just that at one rehearsal the week before. They were thrilled with what this added and asked us to perform the song with them. Having met them only a couple of times, we had instantly felt a connection so we were more than happy to do this and to be a part of their amazing set. The title of the song we sang on was Birds Fly.
When we first heard them in rehearsal, we were literally blown (no pun intended) away by their style of music, the combination of the very different sounds of the accordion and acoustic guitar along with Kristen’s amazingly powerful voice. Their set is most impressive, powerful, passionate, thought-provoking, but still beautifully delicate and truly unique. They are also the loveliest people, who we hope to work with again in the future.
Then, finally, after what must seem like an eternity to John Reed (and Jad, the brackets not to detract from the importance and contribution of yet another super nice guy), its time for us Folded Arms to join him for the final set of the night.
John has written some very beautiful pieces of music and we have enjoyed being on this amazing journey with him. John is a selfless musician in the way that he welcomes all to join in with his music, in whatever way they feel. He allows complete freedom, does not make any demands, and just lets the music develop. It is this outlook that has openly encouraged us and the other musicians to try new things, and just to enjoy it and get involved. He had the vision and the commitment required to put together this wonderful night of collaboration spanning the Atlantic Ocean and around the UK and I know all those involved were very proud to stand up next to him in this set.
As with all of the collaboration pieces, there have been very few rehearsals, so for us to sing it live together was a wonderful experience that we will not forget. Our only regret is that it is over! There is light at the end of the tunnel though as John plans to do it all again next year – this gives us a little more rehearsal time!
We wish everyone the very best for their musical endeavours and simply cannot wait to do it all again. We have come so far in the last year, developing new skills and though our nerves have taken quite a beating – this can only be a good thing and make us stronger. Here’s to the next chapter, love Chique (#Twobirdsandaguitar) xx
Check out the Gallery for more photos.
Things are getting busy for us once again as we embark in new directions. Whilst first and foremost, Chique continues in its current format, we are always on the look out for new things and have other projects on the horizon.
Rehearsals are underway for an acoustic set on 27 May at an invitation only gig at The Fuse in Partington, Manchester http://usethefuse.co.uk/ We are performing with just a guitar, a tambourine and our voices. This is something that we have wanted to try for a long time, but it has been difficult to find the correct venue. John Reed has solved this conundrum for us and we are greatly looking forward to Acoustic Chique…Acoustique! This is our set list: Budapest, Royals, Kiss Me, Moonlight Shadow, Sleeping Satellite and Faith.
We are also singing as part of The Folded Arms, with John Reed on his original songs so lots of rehearsing to do.
Joining John for this festival of music, all the way from Nova Scotia are The Lewinskies, http://www.thelewinskies.com/ bringing their own original music for all to enjoy. If there’s time, there could be further collaboration here.
As well as all this we are greatly looking forward to appearing in the Blackpool Pride events this year on 10th June. We are performing twice. You can see us outside on the stage in St John’s Square and then in the Womens Area WOMAC https://www.facebook.com/events/1880941248828687 for some upbeat tunes and a good time!
If you cant wait until then, get down to The Steamer in Fleetwood on 28 April for a Chique night.
Chique in Todmorden
We had a very interesting, if not very very cold Saturday recently, when we met up with John Reed and most of the Folded Arms; Kieran, Matt and Ali.
John had seen a church that was often the setting for musical gigs and recordings and thought it a great idea to record two songs live, and this time with moving pictures!
The day began like many other Saturdays, very early putting loads of makeup on, doing ones hair (I could have made a pun that this was Kieran here, but I didn’t. #thecheeque!) loading the car with necessary equipment (crisps, toothpicks, Ibuprofen, Nasal spray and Sunny D, oh and a mic and stand).
Meeting at Emma’s, three of us travel down together. It is soon apparent that two of us have had particularly taxing mornings and it is only 8.45am. The traumas that had been faced already were the breaking of a prosecco glass (whilst cleaning used tea-bags, honest), cleaning up cat sick and the downstairs lights fusing. Ah, the glamour I hear you cry.
The next task was to fit all the equipment into one car, along with three people, a bit like the Krypton Factor. When successfully achieved, off we set. Chatting all the way there, making the journey whiz by.
We arrive at a beautiful location, and mesmerised by the building outside and in, unload the car and then really begin to appreciate the temperature! None the less, being the professionals that we are, we set up, and then begin star jumps down the aisle in order to avoid freezing.
All set, and still wearing our ‘outside’ clothes we begin to run through the numbers. Matt on violin and bass (not simultaneously) has never played these songs live with the line up so we have a couple of rehearsals. After someone (me) avoiding a potentially nasty head injury with a mic stand, we give it a go. The acoustics in the church are amazing and it really is a joy to make some music.
We break out the chocolate orange segments to really get us going, and decide to remove the ‘outside’ clothes and go for a couple of takes. This goes well, and we continue until the recording equipment needs a rest and a re-charge.
A good time for a sandwich from the lavishly stocked cool box (the irony not lost here), a pork pie (the pies have a dual role in this saga), a nice lemon slice, crisps and then the trouble starts when we break out the Sunny D!
With onlookers puzzled, Kieran, Emma, John, Ali and I revel over the Sunny D, a photo opportunity is upon us and the results are a true illustration of the mood at the time. Such excitement. Emma dons a blanket and we give a short rendition of an acoustic version of George Michael’s Faith, as we think it is particularly fitting considering the terrain and a pot of tea is provided for us by Jo.
With the equipment recharged, it’s off we go again. Second video this time, more movement, candles on sticks, things to knock over and fall over, even a bit of Quo (I think it’s the E-numbers). Emma and I get a little carried away and appear to be left over pawns from the musical Chess, there’s further pie incident when John cannot continue until an offending piece has been removed – can’t wait to see the finished result.
We truly have an amazing day, in a church I never knew existed, on a hill in Todmorden. We were looked after by Rik and Jo and Frank Roper from Local Sound Focus took some great photos of the day, some of which have already been shared, and in true Chique style, Emma found a Henry and did a spot of hoovering – it’s a wrap!!
With the signs of hypothermia now really setting in, we pack down and begin our journey home.
Things haven’t been plain sailing since, it took days before all digits came back to life and a couple of us have been suffering bouts of flu, however I know I speak for all when I say we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Chique xx