Samba Kernow – Highlights from 2004 onwards

2004 started out in sombre mood for the band. Late in February one of our most loyal and enthusiastic members, Nigel King, died. His brother asked us if we would help celebrate his life by playing during the day of his funeral on the last Saturday in the month. We played a slow maracatu outside the church as family and friends arrived, reducing to surdos only to mark the start of the service. We were told after that it was very reminiscent of deep tolling bells and certainly stirred up much emotion.

St Ives experienced snowfalls that day of over 2 inches – quite a rarity in West Cornwall, and the day turned into one of those never to be forgotten days when a local restaurant caught fire (thankfully closed for the winter) and 9 fire crews were called to the scene to deal with it. The sight of a funeral procession winding its way through the narrow streets with a jazz band at the front and a samba band bringing up the rear while brave, smoke­blackened fire­fighters and assorted astonished weekend tourists looked on was a bizarre and emotional experience that will never be forgotten by anyone who witnessed it.

Nigel King

Nigel at the 2003 Golowan Festival, Penzance.

Encontro Atlantico 2004

Wet weather put a stop to many of our Friday night busking sessions in the town but the sun remembered to show its face for the fabulous Encontro Atlantico 04 which took place in our lovely town of St Ives from 3rd–5th September. As many of you will know we attempted to break the record for "the largest simultaneous percussion performance" and those who gathered with us on Porthmeor Beach on the Sunday were thrilled to be part of this event which was linked to similar gatherings in more than 15 countries. The atmosphere in the town was great and several visiting bands took the opportunity to play in the street when they weren't taking advantage of one of the many workshops on offer. Hopefully, a further samba festival will be held in Cornwall in 2006.

Following hot on the heels of the Encontro was Samba Kernow's "first airing" of our latest project Samba Celtica which was performed at the Lowender Peran Festival of Celtic Music in Perranporth. Samba rhythms and Cornish pipers make for a heady mix and the magic was complete when a visiting troupe of Breton dancers in full traditional costume took to the floor to dance along. There were a few doubters in the audience at first but by the time we had finished they had certainly changed their minds, much to our delight! We will be building on the success of this formula ready for the 2005 St Ives September Festival and Lowender Peran in October.

Lowender Peran Festival

The final "gig" of 2004 was performed on literally the last day of the year when we busked around the town during the lunchtime of New Year's Eve. Along with thousands of other people all over the country we decided to collect for the Tsunami Appeal and in just two hours collected an amazing £1125. The collection was given to ShelterBox, based in Helston, West Cornwall.

2004 was certainly a emotional rollercoaster of a year for Samba Kernow. Thank you to all our friends and supporters who have helped us along the way – 2005 here we come!

Dee Brotherton

2005 Newsletters

Samba Kernow news - May 2005

At last we've had some glorious weather to get out and play. We've watched in envy as the southeast kept getting higher temperatures and dryer forecasts - but there again unlike West Cornwall they do seem to have had all the snow and probably get all the pollution! We started off the season in grand style with the recently revived May Day Parade in St Ives, all part of a wonderful day of celebration which is an essential day in the local social scene. It's a fine mix of traditional and modern and really makes us feel that summer is acomin' in. Samba Kernow members were joined by some our old friends from Drumba, based in east Cornwall and we were an impressive sight if onlookers comments were anything to go by. It always amuses us to see the smiles appear on peoples faces as they see the samba band come into view, especially if the brass band has gone off at its usual breakneck pace and opened up a gap in the parade!

We were out again on Spring Bank Holiday Monday and the crowds were even bigger, but this time it was one of our own busking sessions rather than a formal affair. We were wearing our brand new t-shirts for the first time - pink or green with the band name in fancy white lettering right across the bosom!

For those of you who know St Ives it's a tricky business finding places to play where people can gather to listen without causing a tailback of cars/vans/taxis/you name it and not block entrances to businesses, but with a combination of common sense, charm and local knowledge we usually manage to keep everyone happy. We played for about 2 hours and then went off in search of suitable refreshment feeling happy and exhausted but sorry for the surdo players who had to carry their stuff back up to the top car park!

Samba Kernow news - June 2005

The t–shirts had another good airing last month aboard the Russian tall ship MIR moored in Falmouth harbour – what a fabulous day that was! We must have done something right when we played in the Event Square at Christmas Xcause they asked us back again to entertain the crowds during the recent Tall Ships weekend. The weather was very dubious at first – most of us arrived through a veil of sea mist and threatening clouds (well this is Cornwall), but by the time we kicked off at noon the sun was out and so were the people. Two sets on the stage, a quick break and before we knew it we were on the launch across to the MIR "parked" off harbour – it was like a Samba Kernow day out, all that was missing was the squashed sandwiches and bottles of pop (ha!ha!). Jenny and Nicole were too busy eyeing up the talent to notice how much rigging there was to trip over but by the time St Ives Mayor Cllr Sue Holland arrived on deck we were grooving away to the sound of the sea, which was thankfully very calm! I'm not sure that the Russian crew quite knew what was going on, they just quietly and calmly got on with the job in hand and gave us a smile now and then. The Mayor stayed on board after we had gone back on shore to share "tea" with the Captain – honestly it was tea (she said). A final set back at the Event Square winding our way back to the stage and we were done – tired, happy and windburnt after a lovely day doing what we love, and playing samba!! The whole thing was rounded off with a cup of Pimms supplied by Sandra – well done that girl! The following weekend we were on home ground – the culmination of the mighty Golowan Festival in Penzance and the spectacular Mazey Day parades and Quay Fair Day. Lots of local schools spend hours making fantastic costumes and creations for the final Saturday and the effort is definitely worth it – the processions are very impressive. Live music is the glue which holds it all together of course – try dancing or even walking with a spring in your step without it, so we were invited to take part, along with many other local bands and some fantastic guest bands from as far away as North West India to add spice to the event.

Quay Fair Day, being a Sunday and the last day of a very busy Festival, was a slightly quieter affair concentrated around the harbour (or at least it was until we got there). A static spot this time giving us a chance to play to a gathered crowd instead of having to push our way through them which can be fun but a bit of a squeeze. The fantastic weather certainly did bring the crowds out to enjoy the boats in the harbour, the street market, the funfair, guided walks, live music and dance and they certainly uplifted us. Our performance was helped enormously by the two young people who came along to dance with us while we played – their energy was inspiring. A few drinks outside the Dolphin after as people drifted away marked the end of a busy weekend for Samba Kernow, but one in which we really felt part of the community because we were taking part, which is what local festivals are all about. Thanks to all you lovely people who came to listen to us and especially those who bought a CD! See you again soon.

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page last updated 2nd August 2005 © Samba Kernow 2005