Back with a swing!

For our first free concert since February 2020 we feature Ali and the Swing Cats on Sunday 28 November 2021, 3.00 pm in St Mary’s Church, Main Road, Westonzoyland, TA7 0EP.

Ali and the Swing Cats play their own versions of those amazing tunes collectively known as the great American songbook.

‘With its haunting melodies and interesting lyrics, this wonderful music was written between the 1920s and early 1950s’, says Ali Foyle, the group’s founder. Composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Jerome Kern often wrote these tunes for the musical theatre and films. ‘They were written for stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the songs were then picked up by many of the top bands and artists across America and Europe. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong became international favourites by performing this music- the pop of their generation.’

Ali explains that the band was formed as a quartet in early 2020. ‘But we managed only one gig before lockdown! 

‘Then over the summer of 2021 the revised trio line-up emerged and the band is now playing at private parties, weddings and village halls across the South West.’

Featuring Ali Foyle on vocals and jazz violin, the songs are given a new lease of life, some with sounds reminiscent of the Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli Hot Club de Paris era. ‘Others get the more gentle, smooth jazz treatment,’ adds Ali, ‘and you’ll also hear the odd Bossa Nova as the band extends its music adventure into the 1950s world of Antônio Jobim.’

With pulsating rhythms, swinging base lines, soaring solos and polished performances, the band will have your feet tapping along with these old favourites.

The full band line-up is: Ali Foyle (jazz violin/vocals), Nick Strong (piano/ bass), Al Falkingham (guitar/vocals).

We are very pleased to be putting on concerts again. However it’s not quite back to normal, for this concert at least – in order to keep everyone as safe as possible we are going straight through with no interval to avoid too much milling about. We regret that we shall not be providing refreshments on this occasion but please bring your own tea and cakes if you want! As a courtesy to each other and to help us provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone, we are encouraging the wearing of a face covering at least until seated, unless exempt for medical reasons. And there will be a QR code for checking in.

There will be no raffle but we are encouraging donations to help with the artists’ and other costs. Finally, we are restricting numbers so that social distancing can be observed.

More concerts are being booked from January to June, for the last Sunday of the month with the exception of March when it will be the third Sunday to avoid Mothering Sunday.

Those wishing to come to Ali and the Swing Cats are asked to contact Frank Challenger on 01278 699071 or email  so that Music on the Levels can control numbers if necessary. 

Next two concerts postponed

Music on the Levels announces that the concerts scheduled to take place on 29 March and 26 April will now not take place as planned.

‘We have taken the decision reluctantly’, says Music on the Levels committee chair, Paul Smith, ‘but think that it is the best interests of our audiences.

‘We have taken seriously the advice from the church about not serving and sharing food during the current coronavirus outbreak and also considered that many of the people who come to concerts are among the most vulnerable in society.’

There are two further concerts in the season, on 31 May and 20 June and the committee will decide whether these should go ahead next month.

It is hoped to present the postponed concerts in the next season. ‘We appreciate the effort that has gone into preparing for these concerts’, says Paul  ‘and in particular the work of the students for the Platform for Young Musicians.’

The world in Westonzoyland

Someone said “if something needs to be sung about then Reg Meuross has a song for it!” And this proved to be the case on Sunday 23 February in St Mary’s Westonzoyland.

IMG_4650One song, entitled Tony Benn’s Tribute to Emily Davison, recounted the story of the brave suffragette, who in 1911 hid overnight in a broom cupboard in Parliament so that she could give that as her address when she appeared in court the next day.

In another, Reg Meuross took on the persona of the City of London.

Yet another, celebrated Ida Lewis who died in 1911and was at one time the best-know women in America, a lighthouse keeper famed for her heroism in rescuing people from the seas.

Then a wonderful flight of fancy with the song, Leaving Alabama, in which he imagines a meeting between Hank Williams and Dylan Thomas.

A ‘real’ encounter is described in his Phil Ochs and Elvis Eating Lunch in Morrison’s Café.

And he even had a song about Westonzoyland. Challenged by a resident in 2010 to write a song about the village, the composition became a moving tribute to the many who fought and died in the Battle of Weston in 1685, and travesty of justice that followed.

Between songs, Reg regaled the near-capacity audience of around 160, with anecdotes- amusing and informative by turns.

A memorable, moving and momentous occasion.

Platform for young musicians: a concert in two halves

Sunday 29 March 2020 at 3.30 pm in St Mary’s Church, Main Road, Westonzoyland, TA7 0EP.

The first part of the concert features musicians from Bridgwater and Taunton College. The students are this year completing the performance pathway on the level 3 Music Technology and Performance Extended Diploma.

Ophelia (Fee) Buckton’s performances reflect her classical training and her new-found interest in jazz. “I’ve been playing the trumpet for almost nine years now”, says Fee, “and then I was introduced to the world of jazz and I’ve fallen in love with it!”Fee_5445

She will be presenting the classical Carnival of Venice by Jean Baptist Arban, followed by a jazz piece, Blue Bossa by Kenny Dorham. “This earned me the offer of a scholarship at Leeds Conservatoire!” Says Fee.

Fee will be then joined by Millie Lintern on ukulele to perform one of their own original numbers and a modern cover of a classic standard.

Millie will be off to study in York and she and Fee “hope to continue making music together for many years to come.”

Devon Salinas specialises in flamenco guitar.

“I will be performing is a song called Asturias by Isaac Albeniz”, says Devon, “followed by a flamenco piece called Gratitude by Amin Toofani.”

Devon has taken full advantage of all that is on offer at the College: “I’ve had the opportunity to perform in various places, ranging from charity shows to classical concerts performing with high level performance singers.”

Like Fee, Devon has had an offer of a place at Leeds Conservatoire and is positive about his future.  “One of my ambitions in life I hope to encounter is to spread my passion and love for music to the world. I also hope not to take a single moment for granted because life is too short not to have fun.”

After the interval, the platform will be given over to the South West Music School (SWMS). “We operate on a virtual basis across the South West region”, explains Tracy Hill, the school’s General Manager, “providing mentoring, workshops and master classes to talented young musicians aged 8 – 20.”

As a Centre for Advanced Training, SWMS is part of the Department of Education’s Music and Dance scheme.

“We work in partnership with schools and others to deliver a supportive, bespoke programme that students can access locally,” adds Tracy. The School has around 80 students coming from all backgrounds, on one of the five programmes on offer.

Performers will include:

Aisha Hall  – who plays piano, guitar, bass, drums and also sings. She is a Core student at SWMS and a songwriter/composer.

Aisha will perform Automne by Chaminade.

Harrison Pawsey, who plays trumpet and piano, is on the Performance Development Programme. He has recently discovered the joys of the synthesiser and the church organ, and plays in two orchestras, one ensemble and a rock band. He writes his own compositions for piano. His two great loves are music and comedy particularly when they are combined. Fellow Bristolian, Bill Bailey, is one of his heroes.

Harrison will perform Billy Joel’s Piano Man plus a trumpet piece.

Amélie Donovan is another Core student. At eleven, Amélie began teaching herself the flute. Now at seventeen, she has achieved ARSM diploma with distinction. Alongside music, ballet is one of her biggest passions and she enjoys exploring the relationship between both. She is a member of the National Youth Folk Ensemble, and has recently won at the Two Moors Festival.

Amélie will be playing: Walter Gieseking – Sonatine for Flute and Piano, David Heath – Out of the Cool and Christian Le Delezir – Epave.