A Fistful of Spookies (UK) are the remaining members when The Spooky Men’s Chorale retreated to Australia after their sell-out 2015 UK Tour. A few wizened stalwarts loiter. Like a tide-mark in the enamel bath of song, this collection of UK Spooks are still keeping the flame of Spookiness alive in Britain, still bothering the locals, still looking for the plughole to Oz. Coming together from all corners of the country, they will reprise classics from the Spooky canon of testosterone-fuelled tunes and tomfoolery. Have you got your Thing with you? Would you like the Sweetest Kick in the Heart? And do you want to be in our Club (but definitely not our Men’s Group)? Few of these questions will be answered fully.
The Spooky Men’s Chorale hail from the Blue Mountains of New South Wales but are no strangers to the UK. This 16 strong all male outfit has been bewildering British audiences with their own unique brand of hairy harmonies and testosterone-fuelled tomfoolery since 2006. But for their legion of fans, the two year gaps between their summer tours have proved a long, long wait.
Sneakily however, the Spooks have been recruiting here along the way. The first UK Spook in 2007, another in 2009 and at least one each in ’11, ’13 and ’15 have joined the antipodean songsters and been inducted in the ways of Spookydom.
These six professional singers and choir-leaders are spread across the land from Liverpool and London to Oxford, Bath and Malvern and they have been performing as A Fistful of Spookies since their first outing at Bradford Roots Festival in January 2014. Numbers vary as any visiting Aussies and even Stephen Taberner, the Spookmeister himself – add to the group if they ever happen to be in the vicinity.
Half a dozen voices gives them vocal access to pretty much the whole Spooky canon, covering the six albums they have produced over the years, and the Fistful like to mix it up with songs from across the discography. The sextet gives a different, more intimate feel to the material – especially the love songs – but they can belt out the anthems all the same, and the manly sounds of Georgia, that helped to give the Chorale their sound are still very much in evidence.
As the full Chorale plays bigger and bigger venues, it also means that the Fistful can play the kind of spaces that the Spooks started out in, Churches, Village Halls and any and all fabulously resonant spaces they happen to stumble upon, much like The Queens Hall, Narberth, the base of the Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival.
‘The fun-sized version of the Spooky Men’s Chorale’ Mark Radcliffe BBC Radio 2
‘Heartbreaking. Hilarious.’ The Old Church, Stoke Newington
‘Wonderful … I laughed the whole time’ Sam Lee, The Nest Collective
The Oxford Gargoyles are Oxford’s internationally renowned student jazz vocal ensemble. Through a stellar mix of black-tie class, charm, and impeccable musicality delights audiences far and wide, and with toe-tapping jazz standards and grooving funk tunes, the Gargoyles will dazzle you with an unforgettable performance.
The Oxford Gargoyles are Oxford University’s jazz vocal group, made up of ten to fourteen students in Oxford. With a rich eighteen-year history, and over one hundred alumni, the group welcomes new talent each year, holding auditions each Autumn. The Gargoyles perform regularly in the UK, tour internationally, and put on a permanent two-week show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Oxford Gargoyles, Oxford’s only jazz vocal ensemble, were founded by Divya Seshamani and Hannah Harper in early 1998, the lovechild of a passion for jazz and an excuse to cover up the potentially antisocial habit of breaking into song at the smallest encouragement!
The group quickly gathered momentum: their first all-you-can-drink concerts at St John’s Auditorium were soon followed by recording dates, busking sessions, arts festival appearances and performances at college balls. It wasn’t long before The Gargoyles had achieved a reputation for their exciting, innovative and, of course, black-tied performing style.
The Oxford Gargoyles have toured internationally in North America and Europe for over a decade. In 2014 the group embarked on its first tour to Asia, performing thirty-three concerts across Hong Kong and Macau to sold-out audiences and enthusiastic press coverage. In addition to holding large public concerts, the group often sings at hospitals, schools, and care homes to fulfil its mission of giving back to communities and encouraging cultural exchange through music.
In addition to strengthening relationships between Oxford and other parts of the world and sharing new styles of music with young people, these masterclasses often spark new interest in a cappella singing. Come and enjoy the atmosphere and experience the wonderful voices of the spectacular Oxford Gargoyles, amongst other artists on Saturday 25 February at The Queens Hall, Narberth.
“With their perfect harmonies, timing and movement, the Gargoyles are the stand out a cappella group on the Fringe this year.” – Fringe review
“Charm personified” – The Times
Cor Pawb Bach is made up of some of the members of Côr Pawb, who will be performing on Sunday at this year’s festival, under the instruction of choir leader Henry Sears. Côr Pawb or Everyone’s Choir is made up of over 150 singers from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion ranging in age from 7 to 70+ who will also be joined by the participants of Span Arts’ Caring Choirs some of whom are over 90 years old.