Saturday, 30 June 2012

PLAYING TONIGHT!: Bearwood's very own orchestra

Following hot on the heels of the Bearwood Shuffle last Sunday, St Mary's Church hall will again be alive with live music from our very own Midlands Fretted Orchestra.

You'll be able to hear the guitars, banjos, mandolins and other fretted instruments play at St Mary's Church on Saturday 30th June at 7.30pm.

The orchestra usually plays classical, folk, blues, popular, world and contemporary stuff so there will be something for everyone.  And this time, they will be performing with the Elmfield Community Choir.

It's £6 on the door for adults and kids are very welcome too, for free.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sweet Sixteen!

Not only is Conor Rabone a very nice young man (ooh...behave!) but OMG he's talented too!  He's only 16 as well! 

Have a look at the brilliant video footage Jonathan Couch took of him at last Sunday’s Shuffle and you’ll see why we think Conor should go far.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Bearwood Shuffle #3 Review

Music reviewer extraordinaire and our favourite dapper chap The Baron has done a great review of Bearwood Shuffle#3.  Have a read fellow Shufflers!

The rain stayed away (just) but thankfully the crowds didn’t and the relocated Bearwood Shuffle(moved from Lightwoods Park bandstand to St Mary’s Church Hall...thanks to the threat of rain, rain and more rain) saw an excellent turn out.

With five great local bands and nearly a dozen local stalls this Shuffle had something for pretty much everyone.

Musically all ears were catered for. Singer songwriter Conor Rabone kicked things off withsome surprisingly mature self penned stuff and gorgeous four part harmonies with his band The SemiTones. Save yourself a fortune this summer and go and see this lot instead of the Beach Boys.

Less For Murder’s musings on life, love and relationships were hugely enjoyable, darkly humorous in places their take on marriage, kids and getting older fills a gap in the musical landscape. It’s not just de yoot that get’s pissed off with stuff.

With a member of UB40, Pop Will Eat Itself and Broadcast in the line up The Peaky Blinders qualify as a bone fide Brum Supergroup and, suitably enough, their set plucked jazz, soul and bosse nova classics from the archives receiving a rapturous reception from a packed hall. If Brian Travers (UB40’s sax symbol) ever decides to give up music a career in stand up surely beckons...

Another newcomer now and Rob Bushell brought things right up to date with a set that flirted with pop, R&B, hip hop (in a Jay Sean/JLS stylee...yep...stylee) and street beats.

Finally The Stacks closed the whole show by almost literally blowing the roof off the place. Indie rockers with nods towards the Arctic Monkeys and The Enemy they’ve got the kind of energy that could power a small town. There...that’s the energy crisis sorted then.

Away from the music the stall holders were filling wardrobes and bellies in equal measure with tasty treats and cool clobber...I picked up a particularly neat me...cravats...the next big thing. Possibly.

So for the third time the people of Bearwood (and further afield...there were visitors from such exotic places as Harborne and Digbeth!) came together for a chilled out afternoon of Shuffling. What’s next? Watch this space!

PS: Thanks to all involved, Bearwood Promoters, the stallholders, the bands, the bands’ families, St Mary’s Church...but most of all to everyone who came out...blimey, this is starting to sound like an acceptance speech! But yeah, ta everyone!

Update on Sign the Andy Hamilton Petition!

Coral and Phil Musgrave have been really busy collecting signatures for the 'Andy Hamilton:Dedicate Lightwoods Bandstand in his memory' petition. 

They had a brillant time at the Bearwood Shuffle yesterday and collected loads more signature including Brian Travers of UB40.  Birmingham royalty nonetheless!

Coral and Phil would like to get signatures from everybody in Bearwood so please click on this link which will take you through to their online petition.  Make sure you do it today and get everybody you know to do so too.

Please don't forget if you can make it and work doesn't get in the way (boo!) to get yourselves along to the free Andy Hamilton tribute concert tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 26th June) at Birmingham Symphony Hall.  Doors open at 1.45pm. 

You'll be able to see great photos of the great man himself taken by Smethwick's own Russ Escritt.   Russ' photos sum Andy up beautifully, click on here to see why.

Friday, 22 June 2012

NEWSFLASH! Bearwood Shuffle moves indoors!

Due to the continuing uncertainty over the weather and the distinct moistness of the ground (wet bums are never a good look) the Bearwood Shuffle’s relocating this weekend...shuffling you could St Mary’s Church (just off the High Street, opposite Argos). 

Timings remain the same (2pm - 6pm), we’ll still have the bands and the stalls...all that’ll be missing is the rain...and the moist bums of course...unless you're into that kind of thing.

See you there! 

Andy Hamilton MBE: A Celebration of his life

It has recently been announced that there is going to be a celebration of Bearwood’s jazz legend, Andy Hamilton’s life this coming Tuesday afternoon, 26 June, at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.  Andy passed away aged 94 earlier this month.
Being resident jazz musician at Bearwood’s Corks Club the ‘grand elder statesman of the Birmingham Jazz scene’ will always have a special place in our hearts.
Musicians including the Notebenders Big Band, the Blue Notes, David Murray, Jean Toussaint, Gary Crosby, Nana Tsiboe, Helen McDonald and Winston Clifford will be performing and paying tribute to a true legend.
You will be able to see photographs by Smethwick's own Russ Escritt of Andy’s gigs with the Blue Notes and guests from various gigs in Bearwood too. 
If you want to say your own goodbye to Andy you will be able to do this after the concert and a collection will be held for several organizations that he was closely involved with.
Admission is free to all on a first come and first served basis. Doors open at 1.45pm.
Andy Raphael Thomas Hamilton (26 March 1918 – 3 June 2012). RIP.
P.S. Don’t forget to come to the Bearwood Shuffle on Sunday and sign the petition to get Lightwoods Park Bandstand named after Andy Hamilton.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Bear for Bearwood!

Bearwood needs more bears!  If you think about it apart from the bears on the Bear Pub which look onto the High Street their presence is sadly lacking in the wood!

We need more we tell you and that’s why welovebearwood are 100% behind Keith Bracey’s idea for a big bear at the entrance to Lightwoods Park.

Keith told us "I know Sandwell MBC are looking for suggestions for the proposed new gateway to Lightwoods Park.... why can't Bearwood have a bear statue on the corner of Hagley Road and Bearwood Road, where the awful toilets currently are as a gateway symbol to Bearwood?"

"Bearwood is particularly lacking in public art, in fact I can't think of any off the top of my head....I envisage a bear standing on its hind legs welcoming people to Bearwood, much like the fibre-glass statue of King Kong which stood in Manzoni Gardens in Birmingham City Centre in the 70's."

Keith went on to say "If you google 'Birmingham's King Kong Statue' you will see the size and scale of the statue which is similar to that which I am proposing for Bearwood". 

We found this footage which shows King Kong in Birmingham in 1972.

Goldilocks might well be terrified (she lives in Abbey Road don't you know!) but we’re all in favour of the idea. In fact we can’t bear to think of any other option for Bearwood’s gateway.

The campaign starts here!

Heartbreak Productions We Applaud You!

Our latest Bearwood All-Star has to go to the very talented Heartbreak Productions troupe and their entertaining performance (there was singing, dancing and acting!) of Much Ado About Nothing last Thursday evening in Warley Woods(14 June). 
Although the play was set during WWII the weather conditions were more suited to WW1...images of the Somme sprang to mind as the cast bravely endured the elements! 
The wind howled and the rain got heavier and heavier throughout the evening and even though the performers were acting out in the open they didn’t stop once!
Real Bearwood bulldog spirit!
Heartbreak Productions we applaud you! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Bearwood Shuffle...a Sneaky 'Peaky' at our headliners!

Yeah!  Only 4 more sleeps to go until this Sunday's Bearwood Shuffle.  Not long to go now folks!

Headliners are the Peaky Blinders and welovebearwood were lucky enough to catch up with one of the band members, Richard March, to find out more about them. 

Richard, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview with welovebearwood.
Can we start by asking how long have the Peaky Blinders been together for?
We started the band earlier this year, we had been working together on a different project and we enjoyed working together so much we decided it would be nice to carry on!
The Peaky Blinders have a really eclectic sound – how would you describe your music?  Who are your influences?
We wanted to do something using acoustic instruments and we all loved the 1950s rocksteady/bluebeat style of Jamaican music, stuff like Baba Brookes and Tommy McCook, mixed in with some jazz/blues/skiffle type grooves. The band’s line up is double bass, 2 guitars and sax, plus we have guest vocalists and percussion players.
It's going to be a blinder - here's why...

Do you have an album out?
We are yet to record any material although we plan to later in the year!

What does 2012 hold for the Peaky Blinders?
As for the future, its hard to say because we are all busy with other projects as well – Brian has been on tour with his band UB40, Tim is doing some shows with his band Seeland, myself and Andy have been doing some shows together as well with another band called The Major Toms, but whenever we are available we get together and enjoy making music together.

Richard on the double bass and Brian on the sax
Where else can we see you play?
We are appearing at the Mostly Jazz festival at the end of the month and at the Botanical Gardens on July 8th as part of Birmingham Jazz week.
Are you looking forward to this Sunday’s Bearwood Shuffle?
We are looking forward to playing in the bandstand, and hope that the weather is kind and there is a good turn out! But on a more serious note, it would be great to see live music regularly appearing at the many bandstands in parks around the country.
People are very quick to bemoan the lack of opportunities to see live music and complain about the lack of venues so it would be great to see these spaces used in the way they were designed to be.
What’s the strangest venue you have played in?
The oddest gig we have played recently was at a prison but we’re not allowed to talk about it! And Brian has just been in Samoa playing at their 50th anniversary of independence!
 What does the phrase Bearwood Shuffle suggest to you?
I’m not sure, is it a local dance move?  Hopefully on Sunday we’ll find out!
Cheers Richard!  Sunday is going to be amazing!

P.S. Did you know that the name the Peaky Blinders refers to a Birmingham street gang who were around in the Victorian times.  Here's what they looked like....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sign the Andy Hamilton Petition!

It was a very sad day in Bearwood when jazz legend Andy Hamilton passed away so it was truly fitting that at the recent Lightwoods Park Festival tributes were paid to the great man.
Coral and Phil Musgrave (pictured above with the welovebearwood poster!) have had a lovely idea and would like the Lightwoods Park bandstand to be named The Andy Hamilton Bandstand.  They’ve produced a petition and over 700 people have already signed it!
We’d love to see loads more people get behind the idea and sign the petition.   
See you there!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Where's welovebearwood?

with Bearwood Promoters Esther and Janet
See you at the Bearwood Shuffle on Sunday!

with lovely Crafty Muthas Erin Power
 Erin  designed our wonderful welovebearwood poster!

with Cherie O'Sullivan, Lightwoods Park Project Officer
 Thank you for doing such a brillant job looking after Lightwoods Park

Friday, 15 June 2012

Who needs Glastonbury?

With just over a week to go till Bearwood Shuffle #3 welovebearwood can tell you now Bearwood’s in for a real treat !

The line-up’s confirmed and as they say in that famous chocolate advert ......the Bearwood Promoters team (cue dodgy French accent) “really are spoiling us”. 
Here’s welovebearwood‘s low down on the bands that will be performing at the Lightwoods Park bandstand on Sunday 24th June.
Less For Murder              


The Stacks
Rob Bushell
Conor Rabone and the Semi-Tones

wait for it......
the headliners are......
The Peaky Blinders (featuring Richard March of ex-Pop Will East Itself and Bentley Rhythm Ace fame and Brian Travers of Birmingham’s favourites UB40 nonetheless!) 

Glastonbury?  Who needs it eh?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


What happens when you mix 150grams of Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory finest Belgian chocolate

with lots of welovebearwood's favourites chocolate maltesers and sprinkle lots of chocolatey hundreds and thousands on top?

Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory's Malt-pleaser double chocolate bar of course!

Here's Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory's owner Jenny with it.

Definitely the lighter way to enjoy chocolate.

It gets a big Bearwood All-Star from us! 

P.S. If this is making you hungry check out Charlie's Mom's Chocolate Factory facebook page by clicking on this link you'll be putting in an order before you know it!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Come what May day....

Despite the threat of yet more rain (seriously...enough already...oy vey) the annual Lightwoods May Day Festival finally took place yesterday. A strongman competition...

...BMX displays... on the bandstand, food, stalls...oh...and some bright hot orange thing in the sky too. It BURNS! Yes. Sun. Blimey.

Saw some great sets from the lovely 360 - the finest purveyors of goodtime skafunkapunkreggae around, Mel Day (lead singer of Soul Survivors and a jolly friendly chap too), Colin Hall's Rebel Soul (with some cracking Dexys covers and a glorious run through Teardrop Explodes' Reward...bless my cotton socks) and a closing performance from Bearwood's very own reggae legend (and the day's compere) Mr Dennis 'Musical Youth' Seaton. Loved the cover of Good Thing Going and, of course, the specially adapted Lightwoods Park version of de Yoot's Pass The Dutchie.

The whole day was devoted to the memory of the late, great Mr Andy Hamilton who no doubt had a hand in keeping the rain away. There are moves afoot to get the bandstand in Lightwoods Park named in his honour and given its recently revitalised role in hosting a wide range of top notch musical events recently (the next one's the Bearwood Shuffle on June 24th...sunshine guaranteed) we can think of no finer honour.


Friday, 8 June 2012

Bearwood Bakes

Jo-Ann Lloyd contacted welovebearwood to tell us why she loves Rachel Gandolfi’s cakes.  One look at Rachel’s facebook page and we could see why.
We decided to contact Rachel to find out more.....
Rachel.....your cakes look amazing.  How big a part of your life are they?
“I now work full-time as a Town and Country Planner and I’m a Mum to Luke (12) and Chloe (8) and aside from running a bit, I do a lot of cake-baking in my spare time.
 I’ve always loved cooking and baking and my parents were always encouraging my brothers and me to get busy in the kitchen when we were growing up, but I only started selling cakes a few years ago. Since then I have done 7 weddings, probably 20 christening cakes, hundreds of birthday cakes and I feel like I’ve sold millions of cupcakes!
I set up my own website and went under the name of ‘Flutterby Cakes’ but I couldn’t keep up with the orders and so I took the website down before Christmas last year. I sell my cakes at the Bearwood Handmade Fayres which the Crafty Muthas set up and these have proved incredibly popular.”

We have seen you before at the Crafty Muthas’ Fayres.  What do you like about the fayres?
“I am one sixth of the infamous Crafty Muthas, and those Crafties have helped me through some pretty rough times in recent years.
 I always have the front table at the fayres so that people are greeted by cakes and other sweet delights as they walk through the door and I have had so many lovely comments about my cakes, it always overwhelms me. At the fayres I also sell bags of fudge, rocky road, shortbread, Viennese whirls, butter tablet and spiced nuts and jam, chutney, larger cakes and muffins. But the thing I sell most is cupcakes! “
We love cupcakes – what kind is your best seller?
“The people of Bearwood can’t seem to get enough of them! Most people go for the classic flavours of vanilla, raspberry and chocolate but Guinness with cream cheese frosting is also popular and I am always trying new flavours.
I recently made white chocolate and cardamom and it was fantastic, and other slightly less common cakes I’ve made include, whisky and burnt butter, ginger treacle, courgette, rosé cava, blueberry and lime, earl grey tea, tequila and lime, chilli chocolate and Jack Daniels. I love trying to come up with new flavours of Christmas cupcakes!”

How do you make them taste so good?
“People tell me that my cakes are ‘special’ but I don’t do anything different than anyone else, I just enjoy doing it and I am a firm believer that if you are going to do something, you should do it right. Especially if someone is paying you to do it! “

Do you have any tips for fellow Bearwood bakers?

"There is one thing that many people forget when making cakes – the vanilla. Always remember the vanilla, particularly in buttercream!”

So how’s the future looking for your cakes and how can our readers contact you?

“At the moment I take orders for weddings and larger events (and I’m pretty cheap!) but I don’t really take any more orders for smaller birthday cakes etc. I don’t advertise and all my orders came from friends or from people who have bought cakes at the fairs or through word of mouth. So if anyone reading this needs a wedding cake or a bunch of cupcakes and you would like to get in touch, please feel free to give me a call or drop me an email and I’d be happy to bake you some cakes!
 You can reach me on 07929 748237, or

What’s your connection with Bearwood?
“I moved over to Birmingham in 1997 from Northern Ireland where I grew up, to attend Birmingham University to do a Postgraduate degree. After University I fully intended to move back to Ireland, but low and behold, I met a French man! As such, I ended up staying here and we set up home in Bearwood before our second child was born. I’ve lived in Bearwood now for nearly 9 years in the same house and I have to say, I do love it and I don’t get homesick for Ireland anymore. “
Why do you like living here?
“Part of what I love about Bearwood is the people –there are some wonderfully creative, eclectic and interesting people living in this town and I have made some amazing friends since living here.”
What’s your Bearwood All-Star?
“I also love Warley Woods and for me, nothing beats running up through the woods in the morning when the sun is shining through the trees. I feel lucky to live so close to two glorious parks.”
How do you see the future of Bearwood?
“As for the future of Bearwood, I think that there is so much enthusiasm and community spirit in the air now, and so many people are putting an incredible amount of energy into proactively planning for this town that it can only result in a positive outcome. It’s a shame that we weren’t successful in the Portas bid, but even without that, I can see good things on the horizon. I have to say though, the money would have been well spent on improving the High Street so fingers crossed for round two. “
We love to ask everyone this question....what makes Lightwoods Chippy’s chips orange?
“As for what makes Lightwoods Chippy’s chips orange, is it that they’ve all been tangoed?”
Thanks so much Rachel.  Any last words...
“Here’s a picture of me in standing beside a huge chocolate baby in Brussels! I love cake, but I love chocolate too.
I wonder if Jennifer Emmanuel (Charlie’s Mom’s Chocolate Factory) could make me one of these? “ 

Wow!  What a brilliant idea – you’ve heard it here first Bearwood!

Everybody's Shuffling!

Yeah!  Bearwood Promoters have confirmed the new date for Bearwood Shuffle#3 (whoop! whoop! drum roll!)'s going to be on Sunday 24th June 2012.  Make sure that you put that one in your diary! 

Once we have more info, we'll keep you posted with the line-up and what stalls will be there.

P.S. Bearwood Promoters in their wisdom have made alternative plans just in case the weather's bad (when is it going to stop raining??!!) and have arranged that the whole Shuffle (shufflers and all) can relocate to St Mary's Church just off Bearwood High Street instead.

Couldn't resist this's how to do it Shufflers!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Where's welovebearwood?

with Bearwood Chapel's Pastor Dave and Rev Ian Hendry


We heard the phrase ‘Bearwoodstock’ on the Bearwood grapevine but had no idea what it was all about.  Was it bears dressed as hippies or hippies dressed as bears? We like the idea of both!
 As you can imagine all kinds of images kept conjuring up in our minds so we knew we had to find out more and decided to contact Mark who runs the Bearwoodstock events.
This is what Mark told us about how it all started...
“In the very beginning of this, my partner ran a Pub in Smethwick, The Dudley Arms and we used to do a Barrel Push once a year around pubs in Smethwick and Bearwood to assist local people. What I do now is a continuation of that.
With that in mind around four years ago I had decided to organise "a gig" to raise funds for a charity. I mentioned this to a few friends over a drink in The Bear Tavern one evening, they too agreed it was a fun idea. As it happened at that time one of my pals "John the Gardener AKA Farmer John" had some connections with Marie Curie and gave me their local contact's details. So we had a cause to work for.”
Santa's bed push for Marie Currie
Like your style Mark, we get all our good ideas whilst we’re at the pub too!So what about the name Bearwoodstock where did that come from...
“As happens in pubs with people chatting it was also decided that "The Gig" should have a name. As this "Gig" was going to be a mini music festival and was going to be in Bearwood it seemed the logical step to call it "Bearwoodstock". For those who don't know Woodstock Festival was probably the origin of all music festivals across the globe.”  Aahh, it all makes sense now!"
So have you raised any money for other charities?
“Sadly on September 11 (9/11 easy to remember) that year my partner lost her mother to Alzheimers. It wasn’t a hard decision to hold the next "Bearwoodstock" in aid of The Alzheimers Society.”
Last year's push for Help for Heroes
Where can Bearwood folk find out more about Bearwoodstock from?
“I built as a way of keeping people informed about all the events that are organised as part of fund raising for the year's chosen charity. There are videos, photos and text for people to see and read at
Setting up for Bearwoodstock II
What plans do you have for 2012?
"This year’s events centred are in aid of Guide Dogs for The Blind. The first of these events will take place on June 16th 2012 and is a "Bed Push" around Bearwood / Warley. People will know it’s us as the bed itself will look more like a Dog's Kennel (there is a connection here as its in aid of Guide Dogs).
The second event which, as with all events are open for anyone to join in, is a Golf Tournament organised by "Taffy". This will take place at Brandhall Golf Course on July 7th 2012. It will Tee of starting at 10 am. Entrants will need to pay their own "green fee" plus £6 to the charity.
The third event this year will re-introduce the Bed on August 25th 2012 departing from The Bear Tavern at noon and heading to Harborne and back.
September 22nd 2012 is the fourth event which is "Bearwoodstock" This takes place each year at The Bear Tavern. This year’s acts are, John and Susie (an acoustic duo), Lost Horizon, Loud Noises (a punk rock band who have played every year), The Sharp Darts (another talented local band) and the whole night ends with The Trevor Burton Band. Doors open 4.30 with the first act on stage at 5pm. Admission is £6 for an all day wrist band.
The final event is on October 5th which is a show incorporating A Drag Queen, A DJ and a Comedian or two. Again this will take place at The Bear tavern. Details will go up in full at as I have them.”
Wow!  You are busy!  Do you have a team of people to help you?
“There are several local people who make all this happen so in no particular order there’s Farmer John whose van does most of the Donkey work, Taffy who has helped with contacting Bands and is "the creator" of all the disguises the bed has had, Les who I have done 2 cycle rides with, Stokes Cleaning for donating Raffle prizes, Willy for recording and uploading the live video, Adam the DJ from The Bear for acting as M.C. at Bearwoodstock, Mark B for the loan of guitar amps and drums, Tim for the loan of lighting each year, Sue for her efforts fund raising, Klunk for being Klunk, Sandra the Boss at The Bear and anyone I may have omitted. Thanks also to anyone who has taken part or contributed in any way.”
Adelaid's David Williams at Bearwoodstock
Is it ok if we ask you a couple of questions about Bearwood?  What do you like about living here?
“What makes me "smile" about Bearwood is my partner. Outside of that I am pleased that both Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods are being used in a positive manner. “
Mark added..."Having said that, I have applied to both bodies with a view to setting up a stall at their events to promote both mine and a friend’s local Businesses and been told "NO" for a variety of reasons by both. I have also asked Warley Woods again this year if I can take The Bed to "Picnic in the Park" As of May 30 2012, NO REPLY. It appears to me that both venues are being run "By The Committee"who are being too selective or is it "Jobs for the Boys"? That removes the "Smile" somewhat for me. OK Off the soap box now. " 
And finally our favourite question that we like to ask everyone.  What makes Lightwoods Chippy’s chips orange?
“As a calculated guess the orange comes from Food Colouring or perhaps a spice, say Turmeric perhaps??” 
Thanks Mark – definitely an A+ student! 
Remember Bearwood to watch out for Bearwoodstock events coming soon!
P.S. Mark told us about his 2 businesses too - Replacement Vertical Window Blind Slats and aCoolWeb.  Please have a look on our Trades Directory for more details.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Andy Hamilton RIP

Sad news during the weekend about the death of legendary jazz saxophonist Andy Hamilton who played in Bearwood every week for a gazillion years. On top of acting as Errol Flynn's musical arranger, promoting gigs in Birmingham (including giving Steel Pulse an early break), setting up a community music group and recovering from a diabetic coma in 1986 he went on to record his first album at the tender young age of 76, making it the biggest selling jazz release of the year. He continued to play and inspire other musicians right up to the end and is no doubt carrying on in that great gig in the sky. RIP.