Dumfries and Galloway
The Friar's Case Hotel is a beautiful, small and old-fashioned red stone hotel just outside Dumfries, set in lush woodland on the River Nith. Martin, Scott and myself went for a walk to steady our nerves and a huge owl skimmed the lower branches of the trees by the river, almost like an omen of learning and wisom.
At dinner we played a game or two- favourite songwriters, the song we wishes we'd written, that sort of thing. The fifteen songwriters visibly relaxed and we began to laugh together, always a good sign.
The next morning, the workshops began. I was cruel. I got my groups, split into two, tow write songs in half an hour, then play them to the other half, who then had to do a cover version. I strode round, timekeeping in a gently bullying way, and it worked- amazingly enough! I started seeing the people in terms of colour, accidentally pitting two pale blues against three reds: but it seemed to work.
The afternoon was spent wroiting songs for the competition. Luckily, Scott and MArtin were the competitive ones. I suggested to my group the we wrote a spoof publicity song for the Dumfries and Gallowway Tourist Board (is there one?) and we got to work, writing dreadful puns (thanks for your input Liza P!) and cheesey hooks. At one point I dashed out and grabbed a handful of leaflets from the hotel's display to boost our content!
We had a urried rehearsal outside. Where was Steve? We couldn't find him anywhere and decided to go ahead, standing in the grass strumming in a parody of the Sound of Music. we got to the end bit: 'Our Sol-way Firth', where we built up a cheeky barbershop harmony, 'Our-Sol, Our-Sol, Our-Sol...', when bang on cue, Steve came leaping down the slope from behind a bush with his guitar, singing his harmony and co9mpleting the song. Eat yer heart out, Maria Von Trapp!
The evening concert was brilliant- started off by Liz with her hilarious songs, and running through anyone who wanted to sing and play. Alistair played a song of his own comosition for the firat time ever, other played infront of an audience for the first time, Andrew Bailey, the organiser, played and sang his song (bless his cotton socks), and then it was time for the competition.
The three hotel guests were commandeered to become judges. Martin's group went first, singing a gospel song with a preacher section featuring Jim Byrne, and a walkabout; next up with Scott' group, who sang a layered harmony song about inspiration and floating. Then it was our turn with our silly 'Dumfries and FGalloway' song, or 'D and G' as Liz had re-branded it. We pretended that some guys from the tourist board had popped into the hotle for a coffee, heard us playing, and commissioned our song.
All the puns were there: Alan's joke about the weather and the sun ('even Robert Burns') jokes about meeting sheep in the Baa, all that sort of nonsense. But it was a hoot to play.
The judges had fixed themselves, and each song got one vote, until the bar manager leapt into the fray, appearing from the gloom by magic, and voted for 'Dumfries and Galloway'. So we won a million pounds each, of course.
What a mad weekend! It was great, with all sorts of sub-features such as the profiteroles with unintentinally sour cream (following broccoli and stilton soup: maybe the idea will catch on?) and lots of supportive ceativity, questioning of ideas, and laughing.
Naturally, it was knackering, but I can't wait for next year!