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 Meruoss 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.

One or two dreamy smiling faces around the venue this afternoon.

Rising above the nearby site of the famous Battle of Sedgemoor, St Mary the Virgin at Westonzoyland offers a sanctuary very different now from that experienced by 500 rebels imprisoned therein and tremulously awaiting their fate in July 1685. Indeed, because this same church offers a monthly programme of live music with afternoon tea.

On 26 January, under the wings of angels in this most ‘splendid of Somerset’s perpendicular gothic architecture’ *, it was the turn of Swing Fever to entertain an audience of 150+. Many were already fans; this six-piece band has been around for many years and has travelled the world. One of its most prestigious gigs was Ned Kelly’s famous jazz club in Hong Kong. In recent years the band has stayed closer to home playing at many venues in and around Weston-super- Mare. Band leader and trumpet player Mac Kirby promised ‘Something for everyone’.

Their programme was varied: jazz (Duke Ellington, Kenny Ball, Johnny Dankworth and Acker Bilk); rhythm ‘n blues (Humphrey Littleton, a James Bond Pink Panther medley, Glen Miller’s Pennsylvania 6-5000/String of Pearls/Chattanooga Choo Choo) and some 60s pop – Billy Joel’s I (We) Love You Just the Way you Are. A 1930s-40s favourite too, It’s Only a Paper Moon. Anyone for a Strictly Quick Step?

Write-up courtesy Patsy & Robert Atkins (Polden Post editorial team & archive)

 . . . and a comment from Jenny McCubbin: The music sat surprisingly well in the church setting and the performers had an easy and unassuming style about them. A performance which had wide appeal judging by the full house, and clearly stirred some happy memories of dance hall days, looking at one or two dreamy smiling faces around the venue this afternoon.


Line up: clarinet and sax, Paul Kenward; trombone, Ian Hammond; piano, Colin Frechner; bass, Jim Pullen, drums; Dave Joyce; trumpet/leader, Mac Kirby.

More about Reg Meuross – 23 February 3.30 pm soloist of the year 2019 brings songs from his new album RAW along with old favourites, and he might even sing his as yet unreleased ‘Sing a song of Westonzoyland’ which he wrote in 2010 in response to a challenge from an audience member at the village hall.

The breadth and depth of Reg Meuross’s material is unparalleled in contemporary folk: songs about forgotten heroes, famous names, folk legends, the climate emergency, tales from the kitchen sink and news from the world stage; if something needs to be sung about then Reg Meuross has a song for it. Masterfully accompanying himself on his ‘44 Martin six-string guitar, harmonica, tenor guitar, banjo and dulcimer and captivating audiences with his beautiful tenor voice, witnessing a Reg Meuross performance is to experience a journey into the heart, soul and songs of one of England’s finest writers.

“…assured a place in the pantheon of great folk songwriters.” David Kidman, The Living Tradition

“Classic, with echoes of early Dylan, Tom Paxton and Leonard Cohen” The Guardian

“The remarkable singer-songwriter that is Reg Meuross” Sean Rafferty BBC Radio 3

Reg Folk East with harp RM_FolkEast_0020_LR

Photo: Rachel Snowdon

Admission to the concert is free thanks to a grant from Westonzoyland Parish Council and the generous donations from members of the audiences.

Teas are available at a modest charge to enjoy before and during the concert and are served from around 3.00 pm.

The church is open all day and features an interactive exhibition about the Monmouth Rebellion and the Battle of Sedgemoor, 1685.

There is no need to book; just turn up at the church in time to be seated by 3.30 pm. Contact Frank on 01278 699071 or e-mail for more information.