Latest News

  • September/October 2020 Newsletter
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 6 Oct 2020
  • Club's YouTube Channel
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 27 Aug 2020
    Club's YouTube Channel

    Our new YouTube channel has been running for 2 months and already has had 1,595 hits and 50 hrs of viewing. We'd love more viewings and subsribers. Please make our day by viewing and subscribing.

    Click the link below to access the channel.

  • Madame Butterfly
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 15 Aug 2020
    I went into the room where I practice and discovered this musical butterfly settled on and studying my piece for Tuesday night.
    Miriam Umpleby
    Lovelly photo, Miriam.
  • Playing for the Birds
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 15 Aug 2020
    Playing for the Birds
    This note (!) from Viv who, with her friend, Rosie, had a mad idea to play out in the wilds on Ipstones Edge, Staffordshire Moorlands. She said: "I envy my sister playing the Uke!
    Hoped to charm the adders but only managed to attract this little beauty!"

  • Limerick Competition Winners
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 9 Aug 2020
    Thanks to all of the members who entered the limerick competition and also the majority of our members, who voted. There were seventeen entries with some excellent inclusions.

    The challenge was to write a lockdown limerick with 50% of the marks based on the result of a vote by member and the other 50% split between accuracy of the meter and relevance to the subject.

    The resulting first and second position got the same number of votes with the winning entry first past the post on the ‘relevance’ mark.

    Well done Steve Houghton and Lily Lynch. The winning limericks were:

    “Stay at home”, Boris said, “if you please”,
    “That’s the plan for this virus to ease”.
    So we closed the club room,
    And subscribed onto Zoom,
    Where we still can enjoy a good squeeze.
    Steve Houghton.

    There was a young lady from Stoke
    Who started her life as a bloke
    In lockdown he changed
    Had his parts rearranged
    And ‘he’ became ‘she’ when he woke.
    Lily Lynch

  • July Club Night
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 9 Aug 2020
    July Club Night
    Julie Best,  our guest of the evening.

    What a great boon Zoom has been in so many ways – it enables certain TV programmes to continue, families to keep in touch, meetings of multiple people to take place, including our committee meetings, and enables our club nights to go ahead. Of course it’s not the same as being with our friends but better than nothing.

    Just a quick click of an email link and we are in. We have a good opportunity to have a peep in members’ houses too – an added bonus. I have had struggles with my lighting up to now and it is not helped by my lovely son opening and closing the shutters all night and demanding cups of tea!

    Our guest artist for this Zoom night was Julie Best. She hails from Cumbria and is always popular at our club. As I entered the meeting John Jones (left) was playing introductory music, a lovely medley of ABBA music.  The Zoom night started with playalong pieces  – Our Love is Here to StayMy Way and Strangers in the Night  led, as usual, with the very competent Paul Hobbs. Steve Hughes continued with Caravan and Chattanooga Shoeshine Boy playing his four-row Cavagnola button accordion. He was followed by Paul playing Early in the Morning and Carrick Fergus. Next was Miriam with I’d Like to Teach the World and Yours and then Ann Millward (below/right) playing The Entertainer and Wheels. Finally duo Betty and Ken played Have I Told You Lately that I Love You and May Dance.

    Then it was time for Julie Best to bring the first half of the evening to an end. She treated us to Sharp Shooters, Croq Musette, Cavana and Adios Muchachos

    After a short tea Mike Richardsbreak Norman Brown continued with Do You Want Your Old Lobby Washed Down (?) and Any Dream Will Do. Mike  was next with Whip Jamboree and Ride On with the added value of him singing the lyrics. Geoff followed playing Sands of Islay and Answer Me, then Richard with Emperor Waltz and Bluebells of Scotland.
    We welcomed two extra visitors to this Zoom night, Rob Howard from the Stockport club with his wife Marge. (Another benefit of Zoom – they could just zoom down to Stoke travelling on their settee!) Rob had brought his accordion and played I Will Wait for You and Windmills of Your Mind.  John Jones then returned to play Who’s Sorry Now, Lipstick on Your Collar and Roses are Red.

    Finally, before the return of Julie came a production number from Tony who is really delving into all the possibilities of Zoom these days. This time, possibly inspired by the famous  revolutionary video treatment of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Tony (left), with split screen, appears playing multiple instruments accompanying his own live vocal, giving us My Way.  After a false start he gave an impressive performance although he assures me that he is not giving up the day job just yet. 

    Finally Julie closed the evening with Summer Holiday, Mexican Hat Dance, Take Me Back to Sorrento, the Jimmy Shand Polka, Hungarian Dance no. 5, and a couple of encores – Clarinet Polka and 12th Street Rag. It was an absolute pleasure to have Julie as our guest. She had a varied and enjoyable programme and had a great rapport with the audience. We look forward to seeing her next time soon.        Lily      
  • Guess Who !
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 9 Aug 2020
    Here are pictures of four of our members taken in the last century with compliments of Paul Hobbs from his photo archive for us to identify  -  the clues are here .....

    To the left, often erroneously called the ‘chairman’ and a master of organisation, our mystery person cuts a suave figure in this picture. Although he has a lot of silver threads among the gold these days, his style is still there, as is his mastery of the chairs.

    To the right we have a mysterious looking fellow who has spent much of his life behind prison walls and apparently a moustache (jobwise of course). These days he fills his spare time developing his improvisational skills.

    In spite of rumours over many years with regard to toupees, wigs and hair dye, this gentleman (left) seems to career through life in defiance of male pattern baldness. We could therefore assume that he might have a picture of himself in the attic.

    Finally (right) is a man who is undoubtedly the longest standing club member in living memory and holder of many offices. He entertains us often but in this picture he has yet to discover the existence of his unbelievable singing ability.                                                                                                                                                 
  • My Music
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 9 Aug 2020
    My Music
    MY MUSic
    -or something close to it!    by Barry Tunnicliffe

    Chairman Steve asked how we set about trying to choose/arrange music for our male voice choir.

    Good point. First let me say I have sung male voice for about 50 years. I always had an interest in singing back from the earliest days as my mum always sang at home, we went to church each Sunday and she came from a musical family.  My granddad was a flautist and bandleader and all his family played piano/violin/accordion/sang. I would, when young, frequently sing with friends and harmonise in sheds, entries, kitchens, anywhere we could find, until someone’s mum told us to clear off.

    I still had an interest in my early teens and would seek out ‘gospel’ meetings which often had ‘quality singers’. They would let young people in free but you had to listen to a preacher first. Later, when moving around the country in my career I always joined the local operatic/musical group to socialise with my wife. The number of times they were doing Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, and the number of rehearsals for it was unbelievable – I reckon I knew everyone’s lines.

    Moving to Stone to establish our printing business, I joined the newly founded Stone Male Voice Choir. The musical director was a police superintendent with good musical knowledge, piano skills, and the ability to mould a group of men who had no musical training into a choir, was fantastic.  Great times. Great experiences. Great friendships and memories.

    We had a number of MD’s following the superintendent’s death and I became chairman of the choir. Music selection was very much the prerogative of the MD. He chose what was suitable and within the members’ scope from the material available for male voice choirs. Before subs were introduced the music had to be purchased by members themselves as all concerts were for local charities.
    MDs regard the choice of music is theirs or they will not take it on. They often have concerns when joining massed choir concerts which means taking on pieces not of their, or the choir’s, choice, especially when it has to be purchased.

    I am now with the City of Stoke on Trent Male Voice Choir (below). We have a music committee and do offer suggestions, but still the MD has the main say.  Changing MD is a major disruption and once we had a younger, very musically qualified conductor but his style did not suite the majority of the established choristers, many of whom had years of experience but not a great deal of reading ability. He thus ‘left’ and the prior MD stepped back in to refill the role. I am sure that a new MD with a ‘new style’ will cause many retirements in an aging choir, a dilemma for future progress of the choir.

    As a member of the choir music committee I owe a great debt to North Staffs Accordion Club for my music development, and particularly the use of MuseScore. This has enabled me to produce choir pieces with 4-part sound files for learning by the more ‘progressive’ choristers.

    All our music has been purchased or licensed and therefore legal – rightly so.

    I have started conversation/mailing the Music Publishers Association about how to approach music production/arrangements of published pieces and when agreement/payment should be established. I have had some very helpful ‘guidance’ from them, quoting the law and how it applies, and the best way to tackle what we are trying to do without contravening the law. Basically, one should purchase a copy, arrange/make your software copy/mp3, present this to your committee, and then approach the publishers for a licence. Some will oblige, some may not.  Recently our choir acquired a lovely Welsh piece, with Welsh lyrics. I made a translation into English and changed the music in MuseScore to inject more harmony in places, to show to the committee prior to purchase. We agreed to a fee of £70 for the licence with the publisher and, as a printer, I could get the music printed for £75 – about £1 per copy.  Try to get past the ‘agency type’ publishers, who act on behalf of the original publishers.  You would more than likely have to cover the cost as if they sold you their version in quantity, and may be asked that they take over your arranged script for their own distribution.  You may have to print on the version ‘supplied strictly for the use of……..’ which often happens when they supply it free. Whatever happens talk to them. Establish that you are not a commercial profit-making organisation and raise monies for charities, but have regard to the fact that they are in the business of supplying sheet music for profit.

    In conclusion I have, particularly during this lockdown period, found great interest in ‘arranging’ possible new pieces for the choir. In that I am not a qualified musician I work by ear and logic and the experiences of the many years ago when I used to sing in harmony with my friends.

    Thanks to the accordion club I have this new ability to write and print music using MuseScore, all this happening at the right time now my voice and breathing are on the wane and I need to be at home, caring for my wife. Living in an apartment one has to be aware of noise so I have a Roland reedless accordion with headphones. I now usually arise about 6am and have a squeeze before getting breakfast at 8ish. I can play as loud as I like and they all sleep on!  Mike Richard’s backing tracks have been great for a new approach and I play the melody to the harmony track but I must say, with my limited talent I find some of the pieces ‘a bit tricky’. To overcome this, I have downloaded a free app called ‘WavePad’ which allows me to reduce the speed. It’s great. My lovely wife sometimes finds me asleep with my head on the accordion (must put a pad on it). But I enjoy it.

  • June Club Night
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 9 Aug 2020
    June Club Night
    June virtual Club Night     by Steve Hughes

    Our guest for June, Stefan Andrusychyn.

    On an evening with thunder and downpours for some and blazing sunshine for others we had a good turnout to our June virtual Club Night with 24 of our members turning ‘out’ on Zoom. The themes for the evening – English and American music. 

    We were pleased to welcome as a guest Stefan Andrusychyn, who, with a slip of the hair clippers, and a razor to cover the damage, had ended up with a skinhead cut.

    Prior to the earlier start time of 7 pm, Mike Richards gave background music, playing Dream, I Love Paris and Fly Me To The Moon, enjoyed by the early subscribers to the event.

    We started the night with some communal playing led by Paul Hobbs taking the ‘live’ role. We played She’s a Lassie from Lancashire (Staffordshire actually), Slow Boat to China (but not until we are rid of covid 19) and 94 Summer Holiday (no chance this year) – comments by Ann Millward who chose the music of this month.
    Tony Britton was number one on the list for the solo/duet session and played the Titanic Theme and Phantom of the Opera. As usual he had put a lot of work into the performance and had a suitable backdrop for each piece on this occasion posters for the film and musical.
    • Moira Hague followed with Leaving Lismore , The Rowntree and When the Battle is Over on the Northumbrian Pipes
    • Geoff Capewell. American Patrol
    • John Jones. Dambusters and Lipstick on your Collar
    • Mike Richards, this time with Moon Dance and Sweet Georgia Brown
    • Miriam Umpleby.  English Country Garden and What a Wonderful World. For the latter she sang a duet with herself having pre-recorded the melody and singing the harmony live!
    • Betty Nixon and Ken Hall played English Country Garden and Brahms Lullaby which brought us to Stefan’s first spot. 
    Stefan, playing button accordion, the B system, explained that his main accordion had developed a fault and that he was having difficulty in having it repaired due to the lockdown.  He reverted to his Zonta byan which he has been trying to sell but was having difficulty in doing so.  He gave outstanding performances of Vivaldi's Spring and Misty, and these, together with the later ones he played, we have recorded and included on our YouTube channel, Accordion TV – North Staffs.
    Following the short break
    • Paul Hobbs began with I Don’t Know How to Love Him and Breaking up is Hard to do
    • Steve Hughes. Streets of London and Amarillo
    • Peter (vocals’+’!) and Viv (accordion). I am Sailing and Rambling Boy.  For the last piece Peter surprised us all by accompanying on guitar. None of us knew that he could play an instrument other than band percussion ones!
    • Richard Millward. Carolina Moon and Lambeth Walk
    • Ann Millward. I left My Heart in San Francisco and Winchester Cathedral
    • Norman Brown. Any Dream will Do and Schnewaltzer
    • Greta Moseley. American Patrol and Maggie
    This brought us to Stefan’s final spot and he gave a wonderful performance of:
    Classical Sonatina Oblivion and Rossini's Largo Factotum
    To end the evening all the club members present joined in to play Apple Blossom Time, If I knew you were coming
    Paul Hobbs
    I’d have baked a cake (if I could buy the flour) and Obla de Obla da.     Paul Hobbs once more, did the ‘live’ playing and all the others joining in muted with any unlikely (?) mistakes going unheeded.
    I wish to thank everyone who contributed in make the evening a success within Zoom audio parameters.  Every report I have received suggests  that it was thoroughly enjoyed especially with Stefan’s brilliant playing as guest.
    The following day I had an email from (Lichfield) Paul:
    During the last 10 minutes of the club night, we had a massive thunderstorm and Chris said that the front door was actually rattling and moving.    You may have noticed how the room “lit up” from the lightning several times  -   the only reason the noise didn’t disrupt was due to the mic being muted.
    The storm went on till after 11.00pm.
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