Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Back to the Bandstand

It's great to see Lightwoods Park Bandstand being used to its full potential again...there have been five Bearwood Shuffles, a wedding, Birmingham International Jazz Festival makes a return this month with the Jazz Ramblers and we've even seen morris men dance around it at Lightwoods Park's May Day Festival.

We're not the only ones thinking this way. We recently found out that The Other Way Works have created a Bandstand App featuring amongst others our Bearwood bandstand.

We spoke to Katie Day, Artistic Director at The Other Way Works, to find out more about the app, what she loves about bandstands and to get details of the Bandstand Audio launch in Lightwoods Park. Very exciting!

Bandstand Audio sounds like a fascinating idea. Please tell us more about the concept and where the idea originally came from.

Back in 2005 I made a site-specific audio theatre piece with a couple of friends called Wapping:audio. It was a guided walk around Wapping in east London. I've wanted to make similar work since then, and have been looking for a good opportunity.

I started noticing bandstands, and once you start, you see them everywhere.

I decided that I wanted to make a new audio theatre project for bandstands, but where the listener could only hear the piece when they were 'on location' at the bandstand.

I decided that the best way to do that was to use the GPS function in smartphones. Since making Wapping:audio in 2005 the technologies available have developed so much, so I thought I'd make use of the incredibly powerful devices that we all carry around with us - our phones.

So we have created the Bandstand App, which is now available to download (its FREE!) on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The app contains recorded audio theatre experiences written specially for individual bandstands, influenced by local history research and conversations with park users and local groups.

The Bandstand App invites you to bring these structures back to life by visiting a bandstand, listening to our stories contained in the app, and creating a new performance which places you the listener at the centre of the action.

We hear that there is going to be a Bandstand Audio launch at the bandstand in Lightwoods Park.  Please tell us when this is going to be and how Bearwood can get involved.

We are celebrating the launch of the Bandstand app on:

(drum roll.....)11th July 2013, 3-7pm – Lightwoods Park Bandstand, Bearwood, Sandwell
(we will be on the grass next to the bandstand)

You are welcome to drop in and join us in the afternoon or after work, enjoy some light refreshments, try out the audio experiences on the Bandstand App for yourself, and meet the artists behind the App.

If the summer is kind to us and the weather is nice, why not bring a rug and a picnic along and enjoy the park for a little longer.

Please RSVP to info@theotherwayworks.co.uk to let us know that you are joining us.

Please bring your iPhone or Android phone along if you have one (or can borrow one), and a pair of headphones. If you get a chance, download the Bandstand App in advance. We will have some MP3 players and headphones available to allow people without smartphones to listen to the audio experiences on the day. The event will be outdoors, so dress appropriately for the weather.

It will be great if you can make the launch events, but if you can't come then you won't miss out. You can download the app and visit the bandstand at any time to listen. So pick a sunny day and head over to the park to try it out. Don't forget a pair of headphones.

What do you particularly like about bandstands and why did you chose the bandstand in Bearwood?

Bandstands are a bit enigmatic - lonely, often empty stages, in parks and squares up and down the country. They seem resonant with what used to happen there in their heyday - music and dancing - and also ripe with possibility for what could happen there now.

The Lightwoods Bandstand is a beautiful, if slightly faded, example of this. I love the ironwork of the railings and the details on the pillars.

We are lucky to be working with Black Country Touring on this project, and they were keen for us to create an experience for this particular Bandstand.

Tom Naylor

We hear that local musician Tom Naylor is involved in the project. What role did he play?

We were really pleased to be able to get Tom (aka Mr Naylor) involved with the project. Our writer and researcher Katherine made the connection with him through the Friends of Lightwoods Park.

The story that we have written for Lightwoods Park references lots of the different types of people who use the park, and we really wanted to include the skate/bmx ramp in the story somehow. We had an idea for a skater character, and approached Tom to write some text for this part. He came up with some great stuff that Katherine was able to weave into the story. We also got Tom to perform his own text, so he features in the final audio as the skater.

What are the future plans for Bandstand Audio?

We are keen to create more original audio experiences for more bandstands in Birmingham and the Black Country, and beyond. We are also hoping to do a project in the future with local groups around Bearwood, where people can create their own responses to the Bandstand, and we'll create a similar kind of app to host these images, stories and sounds.

Further info at

Bandstand Audio
The Other Way Works
Black Country Touring

You can also follow Bandstand Audio on Twitter and on Facebook

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