It didn’t look good on Saturday morning (19th July 2014). The forecast for torrential rain was accurate and it was doing just that as a band of gazebo putter-uppers, table fetchers and general helpers from Shrewsbury Morris assembled in Shrewsbury Square to prepare for the long-awaited Drum, Dance, Dyna-mix day of free entertainment. The idea, spawned from the highly successful 2013 Morris Day of Dance, was the brainchild of our leaders Ray and Bev Langton and a dedicated Working Group had spent six months planning it all. The aim was to create a day of free, varied entertainment for Shrewsbury to enjoy to go with all the other brilliant events that take place in our town.
….anyway, back to the rain. With cagoules and even bin liners as clothing much in evidence the stage at least began to take shape. We had magnificent help from our good friends at Shropshire Council who gave us power and a stage, from The Busk with Karen Higgins supplying two super gazebos for storage and St Chad’s Church kindly letting us have tables to hold food, water and kit (Morris teams and bands definitely do NOT travel light).
John, our sound engineer and member of our superb band, busied himself setting up the musical and sound side for the visiting musicians and before long the “arena” had been built and we just had to wait for our visitors…….still raining……now 9.30am….kick off due at 10am.
Then, at 9.55am il stopped pleuring and the sky actually got brighter. We always say that the sun shines, not necessarily on the righteous but most definitely on the Morris!
As our guests sorted themselves out, we kicked the day off with The Shrewsbury Bull and Pump Morrismen and The Shrewsbury Lasses performing their standard opening dances.
While we were doing that some rather large drums appeared and it wasn’t long before the Square (and people’s chests) were pounding with the awesome noise created by Kayobi Taiko, Wem’s finest. I’d never seen Taiko drumming before but here’s a recommendation…you so should….it is wonderful!
We’re thinking about doing Taiko Morris but that’s a work in progress (ahem)….back to the show…
Our delightful guests from Cockermouth in Cumbria, Belfagan Women’s Morris Dancers then charmed a growing crowd (still not raining) with their gorgeously hypnotic dancing and their wonderfully colourful and intricate outfits. Each of their dances told a story and the audience was entranced as they wove their Morris Magic on the wet flagstones of Shrewsbury Square.
With the elements still behaving themselves, the flying feet and the wagon-wheeling hips of Kickin’ Alice took to the slightly wet wooden boards on which they dance. These had dried sufficiently for them to perform but it was a close one. However, the show had to go on and they were amazing as always as they entertained with a mixture of slow and fast Appalachian Step Dances accompanied by their super band.
We then alternated between the various groups through the rest of the morning until our last guests, the superb Buffalo Gals Stampede had set up and were ready to rock Shrewsbury Square with their fantastic blend of old-time music, percussive dance and all round fun.
They ran through a terrific repertoire under a hastily assembled fourth gazebo…oh I forgot…it was raining again……while their incredible dancers Jacob Jones and Dan Eccles…otherwise known, somewhat unsurprisingly as Jake and Dan and the equally fantastic girls of The Buffalo Gals Stampede absolutely delighted the big crowds that had gathered to watch them. I’m sure their enthusiasm, humour and vitality forced the bad weather to push off and the sun actually came out and stayed out for most of the rest of the afternoon.
In a bid to entertain the town all day there was no lunch break for the hard-working performers….somewhat difficult as the gorgeous and varied platters of sandwiches from the fabulous Philpotts Shrewsbury Sandwich Shop started to arrive for everyone! Thanks Tony ))
The afternoon ran perfectly as all the wonderful artistes went through their various paces again and royally entertained a very big (by now) crowd. Kayobi Taiko got an extra crowd-pleasing, thundering set in and The Buffalo Gals Stampede gave the Square a great show, every one of their songs/dances being greeted by thunderous applause and loud cheers and whoops. Kickin’ Alice maintained a cracking pace and Belfagan Morris did Cumbria truly proud with their grace, precision and humour.
We ended the afternoon with our traditional wind-up dance of Steeple Claydon and a fabulous day came to a close just as……guess what……it started to rain again!
By now we didn’t actually care!
Job done! ))))
Thanks have been issued to all involved via a variety of outlets and some nice photos can be found on the links here to our facebook, twitter and, particularly our flickr pages.
If you were inspired to have a go at Morris Dancing with us, Shrewsbury Morris are holding Open Evenings at Sundorne School, Shrewsbury on Thursdays Oct 16th and 23rd from 8pm each night. Come and meet us, have a drink, meet the team (we’re really nice), see what we’re about and have a go. No experience is necessary and we welcome men and women from 16-75. It can’t hurt? )
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