Busking for Change

On Friday 16 May the Skiffle Express ventured on to the streets of Sevenoaks to bring skiffle to the citizens of the town. The event was part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2014 and as well as the band there were volunteers on hand from Sevenoaks Area Mind to talk to passers-by and to provide information on this year’s campaign. The weather could not have been better and there was soon a good crowd building up to listen to the music. It was the first time that the new song ‘1 in 4’ written by the group had received a public airing and it proved a great success. The band played many of the songs in their repertoire and lots of the audience joined in using kazoos and percussion instruments the band had brought along. The session lasted an hour and many people stopped and enjoyed the music, and more importantly found out about this year’s campaign. Everybody had a great time and the band are looking forward to performing again soon…...

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Recording session on 2 May

A few members of The Skiffle Express travelled to a recording studio in Thornton Heath to record three of their songs – ‘Mama Don’t’, ‘Time to Talk’ and ‘Worried Man Blues’. This was organised by Eddie Armer of The Lonnigan’s Skiffle group. This was a unique opportunity for the band members to experience being in a recording studio environment. A CD will be produced in due course, which will be used for promotional purposes –something to look forward to – we can’t wait to hear it! While we were there, we were all interviewed individually and recorded on video. We all had to give our reasons for being involved in the Skiffle for Change campaign, and the benefits we gained from performing our own music. Some photos and videos will soon appear here on our...

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Pilot event on 25 April

This was held at the Sevenoaks Community Centre, and was a complete success, we had great positive feedback from those who attended! As this was a pilot event it was basically a trial run, to see how plans for what we will be doing at the eight venues we are to visit this year would work. Although we had a positive feedback, a few areas needing attention did arise such as timing etc., these will be discussed at the next Steering Committee meeting. We began proceedings with an address by Libby Notley, who gave a short talk on what Skiffle for Change was about, and our involvement with the ‘Time to Change’ campaign. This was followed by the first song from the Skiffle Express called ‘Freight Train’. We saw a video by Ruby Wax about her mental health experiences, followed by an address given by Chris Morgan. We had a break for refreshments before the Ambassadors began ‘face to face’ conversations with visiting members of the public, while Eddie Armer of The Lonnigan’s Skiffle Group ran a Skiffle workshop. We managed to conduct over 50 conversations towards our target of 1,000 during this campaign. The event was rounded off by The Skiffle Express performing two more of their songs, ‘Mama Don’t’ and a song specially written for this campaign called ‘Time to Talk, Time to Change’. The audience joined in dancing and singing to these songs. The whole event was recorded on video, and a photographer was present. If, what we all experienced on this day was anything to go by, our ‘tour’ of Kent will be amazing. Let’s hope we drive our message home, and create a greater understanding of Mental Health among the general public.    ...

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Our band, Skiffle Express

The Skiffle group at Sevenoaks Area Mind began as a humble music group, which was conceived out of a realisation that music is a powerful and therapeutic medium. Many service users here have a deep in ground love of many genres of music, and find it both relaxing and mood enhancing. This group takes place every Friday afternoon, and is open to anyone wishing to participate. The group began about three years ago, when members were invited to bring in CD’s of their favourite songs to share with us. We would then discuss what we had listened to, we also did musical quizzes, which we found very entertaining and mind stimulating. As the general public became aware of our group, many kindly donated instruments to us which have been used to great benefit by all members. We were not now only able to listen to music, we were also able to play along to it and make up our own interpretations. Members of this group steadily grew in number. As well as Sevenoaks Area Mind service users, we also had visits from enthusiasts from outside the Centre, both members of the public, and from other Day Centres which did not have this resource and came to join us from time to time. For well over a year now, we have had monthly visits by The Lonnigan’s Skiffle Group, who have been teaching us about the origins of Skiffle, what the songs are about and the sort of instruments used. Some of us have played some sort of instruments in the past; the lead member of the Lonnigan’s – Eddie Armer, has encouraged us to start playing these instruments again, or try something different such as harmonicas and other instruments used in Skiffle. There was a report published recently, supporting the fact that playing, or learning to play a musical instrument sharpens the mind as well as boosting one’s moods. For the last year (2013 -4), we practised a number of Skiffle songs each week as, not only are they great fun and very uplifting, we were planning to give a performance at Sevenoaks Area Minds Summer Bar-B-Q. We enjoyed the preparation for this event, it gave us a sense of purpose and a target to work towards. Things were going very well, we’ve even given the band a name, ‘The Skiffle Express’. The Bar-B-Q was a great success, the weather was good to us, we played six songs, and everyone enjoyed the live entertainment we offered. As newly established musicians, after a short break, we then had to prepare for our next event, which was to be held at the Sevenoaks School on 22nd November 2013 together with the Sevenoaks and Tonbridge Rock Choir. This was a concert organised to raise the public’s awareness of Sevenoaks Area Mind, the work it does for people with Mental Health problems, and to raise funds to further the valuable work it does. As we prepared for this mammoth event, a feeling of excitement and a lot of nervousness prevailed as the time drew nearer. On the night, The Skiffle Express played three songs which included its own arrangement of two Christmas Carols. Once again everyone enjoyed our performance, and we were on a massive ‘high’ for a long time as that was...

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