click here to view the poster

  
Everything & the Kitchen Sink - Out & About on tour
Everything & the Kitchen Sink is a performance art percussion orchestra - it’s made from discarded / recycled pieces of wood, metal and plastic which includes washing machine drums, a toilet seat, grain barrels, shattered cymbals and old drums, metal tubing, drainpipes and a kitchen sink. It’s played with wooden beaters made from broom handles. The sculpture was originally built in 2002 to highlight recycling issues, showing that things which could easily be classed as junk can be reused - if in a quite unusual way.

(click the image on the left to see the tour poster full-size)

   Everything & the Kitchen Sink video clip
 

 

   Radio
We were featured on the radio, on Preston FM's 'Up Front' show, on 19th August 2013.
To hear an edited version of the programme (only containing the bits about the tour) please click here.

 

 

   Recollections (and photos) from the tour, 2013

   Sat 15th June - ‘Big Local Hub’ opening, Blackpool
It was very windy today - we needed to keep an eye on swinging objects for safety. We discussed the possibility of removing some items in windy conditions for future events.
The noise levels got too high today with several children - in future we will enforce heavy-handedness limits and stop for a break if it gets too much.
We gave out many leaflets, and had lots of positive comments.
An interesting addition to the event was a passerby with a violin who joined in with us - dJohn accompanied her with his harmonica as well as the junk percussion.
There were 36 names on the signing-in sheet - I estimate that we missed a third to a half as many again, people who played with us then left before signing.
Several items needed maintenance before being re-used.

 

   Sat 22nd June - Claremont Gala, Blackpool
The weather today was dreadful - rainy, very windy. The gala organisers had cancelled everything on the gala field and moved the event to a social centre quite some distance away, having only a few stalls and cake tables inside. The procession happened as planned, but instead of leading crowds to the field, it led them most of the way and then back to the social centre again. We set up on the deserted school car park next to the play area / gala field, and attracted a few participants - 20 names on the sheet.
Several people asked us if the gala was cancelled, but one person whose children attended the school said that she had received a text message from the school that morning saying that the event was cancelled. Presumably all parents of schoolchildren got the same message, meaning that the majority of people wouldn’t have even bothered coming along.

 

   Sat 13th July - Fairhaven Lake, St. Anne’s
Beautiful weather today, this brought large crowds out. We had set up by 11am, and did a complete four hours responding to demand - we had a couple of five-minute breaks. Started packing up by 3pm-ish, and chatted to several people as we were dismantling who’d arrived too late. Gave out leaflets to them with details of the future sessions’ dates and venues, as we had throughout the day.
Sessions ran as per expectations - several extremely noisy (young) sections, and a couple of very rhythmically tight sections with teenage and older people who evidently had some percussive experience.
There were loads of beaming smiles on faces throughout the day, mostly from older folk (meaning, not young children - they smile all the time!) We had 104 names on the sheet, though yet again there were quite a lot of people who disappeared without signing in - maybe a third more?
Some people arrived specifically because we were there - the event was advertised on a website (though the woman who'd seen it couldn’t tell me which website) so local council support is effective. I got the feeling most people were there by chance, however, which is what we’d originally hoped for.
Early in the day (11.30?) a retired local resident walked over and politely started complaining about the noise, but quite half-heartedly (he’d assumed it was a band playing, or a very loud radio / car music system). We chatted about the ethos of the project, the recycling aspect, and the ‘doing something constructive’ angle, and he spent the best part of half-an-hour watching. Before he left he signed our comments book: “I came to complain and left a better person. Ted”.

 

   Sun 21st July - Tram Sunday, Fleetwood
The original booking was for the Marine Myths Festival, and this is what we printed on our publicity. That event didn’t go ahead, but as it was an add-on to Tram Sunday, we still went to Fleetwood as part of that event through liaison with Wyre Borough Council’s arts department. Our location altered from that advertised, so we sent out a new location by e-mail and Facebook - unfortunately, on the day it was an organisational nightmare and we ended up somewhere completely different.
This didn’t stop the day being a success, though, as we were completely inundated for four non-stop hours. It was impossible to ensure that we conversed with everybody who played with us to ask them to sign in, and we estimate that at least twice as many people than signed actually participated. The crowd totalled some 60,000 people, so we were told - there were 169 names on our list.
Three or four really good spur-of-the-moment rhythmic sections occurred when people with experience happened along, and there was spontaneous audience applause at the end of these, which meant the event had been momentarily lifted from a participatory one to a performance. As a contrast to this, there were frequent almost-out-of-control times owing to the large number of children having a whale of a time hitting everything at once as hard as they could, but at no point did it seem necessary to refrain any of them - participants and audience were all enjoying themselves. There was a crowd of about 100 watchers at nearly all times during this event, and - again - it was impossible to look around the crowd without seeing at least four or five people with ridiculous grins on their faces.
Warm weather, not bright sunshine - ideal conditions.

 

   Saturday 3rd August - Wyre Country Park, Stanah
Weather sunny and dry, brought a steady stream of people along to us - we were never too busy at one time, which was good. 77 names on our list, though there was a Wyre Borough Council park ranger there who had a hand clicker counter and he totalled 146 people; this confirms my suspicions about people joining in and then not signing their names.
(I was given copies of WBC’s evaluations and there were another five names on there, people who hadn’t signed in with us. From the 15 people who had filled in an evaluation, when asked where they had heard about the event there was a nice mix of ‘poster locally’, ‘online’, ‘local What’s On info’, ‘from friend’, and ‘found you by accident’).
One person arrived as we were packing away at just after 3pm, as she had seen publicity advertising the event from 10am - 4pm. Our original plan for all tour dates had been to have a specific break in-between a morning and an afternoon session, but we have found this to be impracticable - there is no real way to shut down and we seem to always have people wanting to play. We are going to do a four-hour block for all tour dates between approximately 11am and 3pm. We gave her a leaflet showing the next dates and venues and she said she would come along to one of those. (Several people who were there later in the day took leaflets in order to come to a future session).
Several people made a point of talking about the project’s origins today, interested to know how it came into existence, and many others made a specific point of talking to us before they left to say how much they’d enjoyed themselves and how unusual a project it is. On the whole it was quite a noisy day without many persons of rhythmic ability of note, though there were enough throughout the day to give us three or four extremely effective short rhythmic sections where the group at the time gelled well together, and were obviously listening to each other as they played. Most effective was a very sparse quiet piece of rhythm some ten minutes long involving about eight people that seemed to naturally occur, evolving from a noisy section then collapsing back into noise at the end.

 

   Mon 12th August - Ashton Gardens, St. Anne's
A fairly quiet day, though it felt like this one should have been one of the busier sessions. Both dJohn and myself had given out a lot of leaflets to advertise this date (I had worked at a St. Anne’s based fun day doing circus skills two days previously and told everybody who had attended about E&tKS). Having said that, there was a steady stream of people for most of the time. The weather could have been better - there were a few showers and it was fairly windy. We set up in a natural hollow in the grass so managed to avoid a lot of the wind. There were 82 names on the list, and - again - we seemed to miss quite a few people who played and left without signing.
Towards the end of the day we were visited by a ‘walkodile’ of thirteen very small nursery children accompanied by three or four nursery workers. Most of the children were initially nervous about participating, but in the end there were about nine of them very seriously hitting things with one stick each.
It felt like today was overall much more rhythmic than most of the previous days – there were many times where rhythms naturally evolved from one person striking up a steady beat, showing that these participants were listening to each other as a matter of course, rather than having to have it pointed out to them.

      

 

   Wednesday 14th August - Stanley Park, Blackpool
The weather today was quite good, though it drizzled a little towards the end of the afternoon. We situated ourselves at the edge of the children’s play area, so we were very busy, with people constantly being drawn over to us by the noise. There were 136 names on our list, and that was fairly accurate as Emma was acting as our dedicated name-getter for the day. Maybe several participants slipped through the net, but not many.
Several times it was on the point of being too busy; we tried to be as observant as possible to make sure children hitting things wildly weren’t causing any of the objects to swing dangerously or that they weren’t likely to hit anybody else, and I made a point of telling several of the children to hit things more gently. On a few occasions we stopped everybody from making chaotic noise and had a few minutes of ‘find-as-many-quiet-sounds-as-possible’ to calm everybody down a little. On a few other occasions I directed the group to play simple rhythms, as it seemed that certain groups that formed weren’t able to create anything remotely approaching a rhythm by themselves. Several nice comments were written in the book, and we had three very nice conversations with adults who were interested in the origins and aims of the project.

 

   Mon 19th August - Lowther Gardens, Lytham
There were quite a few people around who had specifically come to the event at 10am - this date was advertised well, with an entry in the Lowther Pavilion Summer ‘What’s On’ booklet. Luckily there are other things to do in Lowther Gardens, so people played on the park or went to the café as we set up. It was a fairly busy day, with 88 names on the list - again, at busy times it was difficult to ensure everybody who participated signed the sheet; maybe a third more didn't sign. The weather stayed dry and fairly bright all day, which I’m sure helped keep the people coming along.
Lots of positive comments in the book, but unfortunately we displeased the crown green bowlers who were staging a competition nearby. Five of them came across individually at separate times to complain about our noise. All I could do each time was apologise and explain that in my communications with both Fylde Borough Council and Lowther Pavilion during the organisational stage of the tour I had stressed the possibility of a noise problem, and that I had still been given the go-ahead - indeed, the staff at Lowther that morning had specified the exact location where they wanted us to set up. We got a “disgraceful” comment in the book (though I couldn’t help feeling that if the woman who wrote it had been there with her grandchildren, on a day when there was no bowling match, she would have been amongst the people who wrote comments like, “brilliant idea”, and “great fun”).
Two small groups of people with disabilities and their carers joined in today, and one of the carers asked about our forthcoming dates with a view to bringing along some of the other people from the organisation she works for. I gave her a leaflet with the dates.
Another couple of small repairs needed - seems like there have been one or two things to maintain on each of the events.

 

   Tuesday 20th August - Piazza, Cleveleys Promenade
Another great day, weather-wise. We weren’t sure what to expect from Cleveleys, knowing that it is an area in which retirees reside, but also knowing that it is a (somewhat sedate) place that attracts visitors. During the day we had a lot of what we assumed were grandparents with their grandchildren, many of whom were very young, alongside many holidaymakers (there were more out-of-town postcodes on our signing-in sheet today than at any of the previous events). We also had two groups of people with disabilities and their carers, as well as a mother with her adult blind son who loved being able to find interesting sounds, with a little guidance. He sat close by and listened for quite a while after participating. Another thing we encountered today, which hasn’t happened previously, was that we had a continual ‘audience’ of (mostly elderly) people who sat with an ice cream or drink and watched what was going on, then moved away. The venue was designed as a semi-circular performance space with surrounding seating, so it’s not too surprising that this happened - but it still felt a little strange that people just watched this obviously participative event. Chris Wyatt, Arts Officer for Wyre Council, met us as we were packing away and I mentioned the large number of watchers - he said that he would class them as having participated. I’ve noted them down separately.
There were 89 names on the list today, and I estimate that about half as many again got away without signing.
One interesting aspect of having an ‘audience’ was that at one point we had a nice bunch of children who with very little encouragement were prepared to perform a 'Stomp' style dance - this received a warm round of applause from the onlookers.
When I came to take some photographs I found to my annoyance that the camera’s view screen had been broken since the previous day’s event. Presumably something heavy banged against it whilst in transit, despite it being in its case, in the bag with the paperwork, and inside a plastic box. I took just a few photos in case it worked, and luckily it did. I had to replace the camera from the project finances, and this took us slightly over budget.
More running repairs necessary - some pieces of the framework needing welding, suggesting we had some participants today simply determined to break something.

 

   Sunday 1st September - Cowbell Radio Carnival, Blackpool
We included this event in the tour schedule as we thought we would be guaranteed a large crowd. Unfortunately, the weather was overcast and the organisers thought that had kept a lot of people away, and most of the people attending were there to see DJs playing sets and watch street dance performers so didn’t come across to see what we were doing.
We had several flurries of participants, mostly quite young children, and a handful of adult folk who joined in, but on the whole we were hugely disappointed with the number of participants. We were able to spend more time with smaller groups of players, though, and managed to conduct them in the creation of rhythms more often than we have been able to previously - as well as dJohn doing an impromptu ‘rhythms on the grass’ spot with several small children.
By the end of the day I was astonished to only find 29 names on the list - it felt like we had asked far more people than that to sign their names. I wonder if people have been signing only one name for their whole family? (And has that happened previously?)

 

   Sat 7th September - Market Square, Kirkham
Very wet and windy today, which we think kept a lot of people away. There were several dry spells (and a couple where the sun came out) which tempted people to join in, but on the whole the market square was quite deserted, with only determined shoppers passing through. We had 25 names on our list, but I’d estimate at least double that number as there were quite a few people who played with us but then, when the rain started again, dropped sticks and ran before we had chance to ask them to sign in. We also missed having any comments written in the book today, as the weather prevented us from leaving the paperwork out on view - it was keeping dry in the plastic-box-under-the-table.
The Lancashire Market that should have been happening consisted of only one stallholder, the others unfortunately having been put off by the weather. The square, which should have been hosting the market, was instead being used as a the car park it usually is and this impression of normalcy might also have hindered us. Having said that, I was unsure what to expect when I arranged this date of the tour; Kirkham is a rural town and quite small - we wanted to visit this part of the Fylde, though, thinking that people from the surrounding rural areas would have chance to come along as well. There were a few people who arrived early in the day who had come along specifically because they knew we were going to be there, so that idea was successful - if only on a small scale.
We had noise complaints from two shopkeepers (a travel agent and a pharmacist), to whom I apologised but explained that, despite stressing the possibility of a noise problem with the people at the town council with whom I’d arranged the event, we had been directed to be there. I passed those complaints back to the town council.


You wouldn't believe how many of these drumsticks, made from sawn-off broom handles, were broken during the tour!

 

   The total number of people who joined in:

855 people signed their names on our list.
We estimate another 353 didn't sign, making a grand total of 1208 participants.
Another 200 people (approximately) were an audience at Cleveleys.

The majority of participants were predictably from the Blackpool, Fylde and Preston areas.
T
here were lots of other people from the North-West of England, then a small amount from much further afield (including Glasgow, Newcastle, Nottingham, London, Cornwall, Ireland - and Hong Kong!)

 

   What some of those people said:

   Sat 13th July - Fairhaven Lake, St. Anne’s
“Amazing fun for my 18-month old boy! Loved it! Thank you.”
“I came to complain & went away a better person - Ted”
“One small step. It has to start somewhere with dedicated people.”
“. . . very creative and inspiring . . .”
“Gosh! That was fun! Thank you.”
“Perhaps I do have rhythm.”
“Great noisy fun, the kids old and young enjoyed it.”
“Nothing rubbish about this idea.”

   Sun 21st July - Tram Sunday, Fleetwood
“Good idea for anger management!”
“. . . Fantastic making noise and no one to complain.”
“Loved it. Great fun and easy introduction to the joy of music and rhythm.”
“Excellent idea, bringing people together.”
“One of the best things here and it’s free!”
“Never seen anything like this before. Thanks for showing it and letting us participate. Very innovative and schools would benefit from the creativity.”

   Saturday 3rd August - Wyre Country Park, Stanah
“Brilliant time. Relieved the stress of a working week.”
“My son had a fabulous time trying to make music. Great idea!”
“Great fun, anyone can join in.”
“All three grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Finally something to do that didn’t break the bank . . . thanks.”
“Awesome - discovered a rhythm I didn’t know I had.”

   Mon 12th August - Ashton Gardens, St. Anne's
“Wow - brilliant! Even in the rain!”
“A fabulous pop-up installation - the two boys I brought dropped their inhibitions and had a great time. Thank you so much.”

   Wednesday 14th August - Stanley Park, Blackpool
“Amy was chuffed to bits to find this in the park - great idea.”
“. . . fab idea . . . (but) provide parents with paracetamol!”
“Excellent fun for all the family.”

   Mon 19th August - Lowther Gardens, Lytham
“Even good for over-80’s - no age limit.”
“What a fantastic use of imagination. Very good fun - thank you.”
“Great thing to just turn up and join in.”
“Great workout to get rid of frustration!”
“Great fun for all and good use of unwanted materials.”
“. . . Kids had lots of fun and encouraged them to be imaginative and noisy!”

   Tuesday 20th August - Piazza, Cleveleys Promenade
“Great fun for all abilities”
“. . . girls loved every minute.”
“How exciting! We drove past and the four kids just exploded – we had to stop and loved it!”
“Something very different - my kids loved it. We live very close and my kids could hear it, so we decided to have a look.”
“dJohn helped my blind son and he thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“Looks and sounds brilliant!”
“Brilliant instruments! My two daughters had great fun playing them.”

   Sunday 1st September - Cowbell Radio Carnival, Blackpool
“Absolutely fabulous idea! You don’t see this everyday!”

 

   What dJohn said:

"I am sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. Looking forward to the last booking with Everything and the Kitchen Sink, my thoughts turn towards that thing called feedback. I am a fairly recent convert to the value of feedback. Most of the past twenty years or so I have spent looking forward, finding that the worry and pressure of wondering where the next payday is coming from overrides everything else. I used to think and feel that the feedback part of a project was simply the funding body celebrating what it / he / she / them had spent some money on, as my own new concern and worry about the next payday was kicking in. Am I suited to being self-employed? I have asked myself that question scores of times.

The Kitchen Sink tour has reminded me why I am driven to be some sort of community art worker. There is something special about turning up with an idea that requires people to find their spontaneity in order to join in. I believe that most of us live in a very controlled pre-planned way. Surprises are not a normal part of our everyday existence. I ask you, whoever (whomsoever) may find him / herself reading this: How much time do you spend thinking about what you are going to do?

As part of the Kitchen Sink tour I found myself witnessing again, as I have many times in my life, the sheer joy that people get from not just clattering some pots and pans or whatever, but having to make a spur of the moment decision to join in. The instant decision-making process is unexpected and therefore exciting. The positivity of the decision-making is linked directly to the professionalism and approachability of the art workers or musicians involved. So, being part of the delivery of a project like Tidal Beats’ junk orchestra tour you become used to sharing joy and meeting people being spontaneous, which is a privilege. Both pStan and myself have been around projects like this for many years and we both (I think) wonder why playing with Everything and the Kitchen Sink is not classed as a proper job yet?  Especially considering how many daft jobs there are.

Thank you Tidal Beats for employing this sensible drummer."
dJohn Morrow, September 2013

 

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