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Song project is a clever take on an old tradition

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

Performers in the St Ives Song Project. Colin Sanger

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THE ST IVES Song Project, brainchild of Dave and Dee Brotherton, brightened a dull December evening at the Arts Club recently. And, unlike some 'talent' shows, this one was about real musical ability: no faux emoting or boring 'journeys'.

The seven performers had each written two musical pieces, 14 new and original songs, impressive enough: but they also arranged the works for accompanying musicians and vocalists.

Opening the evening, Toni Carver's 'The Commando Shanty', told of climbing commandos learning and rehearsing their skills around the rock faces of Penwith before taking on more challenging ascents in the Second World War, getting the evening off to a great start before Fred Williams stepped up with 'Vivimos En Santa Ives' in Spanish with his own accordion accompaniment.

Fred has a highly individualistic style, rare ability to write amusing music and a quirky delivery that cannot be ignored. Mike Silver's 'The Spirit Of St Ives' had a warm, comforting feel, like ripples lapping across the harbour on a sunny evening.

Merv Davey, with his harp, maintained that peace, lifting our spirits with 'Reun Porthia' (St Ives Seal) before Vaughan Bennett stirred our laughing gear with his brightly irreverent 'Who Flogged The Hake?' Dee Brotherton's 'Porthia' in Cornish introduced a reggae rhythm which she clearly enjoyed writing and performing while we, of course, enjoyed listening.

The early evening closed with Dave Brotherton's 'Goodnight Cornish Souls' remembering St Ives folk lost with the Titanic.

Never predictable, Dave created a New York jazz feel with Mike Silver's guitar and Dee's harmonising.


In the second half of the evening, Merv Davey's 'Penguize', introduced pipes to the evening before Vaughan Bennett set us laughing with recollections of 'The Cock Robin Choir', and Toni Carver put into musical verse and Celtic spirit what attracts so many to our town and what the evening epitomised, its 'Creative Heart'.

'Barmy Town', Dave Brotherton assured us, was not a rant but don't be shy about it; some things deserve ranting at … and some a laugh, like Fred Williams's well-crafted and brilliantly delivered 'To St Ives Upon The Train'. Mike Silver's 'The 7th Son' told of a man who, for less than honourable reasons, didn't like St Ives before Dee Brotherton's 'Yn Tre Vaughan' almost closed the evening with a stadium anthem… except we were in the Arts Club: still, your correspondent, Judy Browne (with an 'e') sitting nearby, and the rest of the audience did our level best to rise to Dee's rousing melody. And, this being St Ives, the audience demanded an encore of 'Porthia' before setting off into the night feeling a whole lot better.

It's easy to take for granted a wealth of creativity and inspiration derived from the energy and life of where we live.

The St Ives Song Project offers a clever take on a tradition: showcasing local talent and, with its well-staged format, delivering a complete evening of great entertainment.

Of course, nothing happens unless someone gives their time and support so we need to thank not only Dave and Dee, and the performers who showed just how much real talent is around us, but also the support of FEAST, Hobgoblin Music, Cornwall Community Grant Scheme, The Painted Bird and Alban Roinard of St Eia Films.

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  • agantavas  |  December 28 2012, 5:37PM

    The St Ives Song Project is now available on DVD! Recorded live on Saturday 8th December and featuring all the new songs written especially for the occasion this unique recording is available from the St Ives Times & Echo office, The Painted Bird, The St Ives Visitor Information Office, The Harbour Bookshop or online from http://tinyurl.com/cpogw4z Please support your local musicians - thanks!