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The Star and Shadow
The Star and Shadow

It really took us far too long to get to The Star and Shadow, a volunteer run community cinema (and more), but then it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things so … I guess not a surprise.

It was an odd turn of events that finally got us there. For some reason Hazel had kept a promo poster for the Australian film Celia from 1989, I think she’d seen it at the time. I hadn’t even heard of it. But when we moved north the poster appeared and has been sitting on our bookshelf since then.

Celia promo
Celia promo

Last night Celia was showing at The Star and Shadow and given that we’d been looking at the poster of it for six months it would have been ridiculous for us not to head out to see it.

The cinema exterior is a little unprepossessing - no glorious art-deco palace but a former furniture showroom. But the exterior hides a charming space with a beautiful conceit - the seats were comfy, the beer was served in glasses, the volunteers were all lovely.

The Star and Shadow cinema interior
The Star and Shadow cinema interior

The film wasn’t too bad either although it sort of lost it’s way in the last third a bit, but worth catching if you get the chance.

I can’t believe we won’t be spending plenty more time at The Star and Shadow - it certainly seems to have the sort of programming that suits us - it’s where silent films get shown and where, in a few weeks time, we’ll be seeing Agnes Varda’s masterpiece Cléo de 5 à 7 again.

It’s been months since I posted here I really have to try harder!

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The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for brass, initially just those times when it turned up in rock music, but over time I came to love the look and the sound (and the history) of a brass band, so the chance to spend the day listening to brass bands wasn’t one I was ready to turn down.

I made the mistake of thinking that a few years ago and went to the world championships at the Royal Albert Hall - but a day of brass bands playing the same short piece wasn’t really the sort of day out for a casual fan.

But Brass in Concert has each band doing their own themed programme and so was varied - from a band doing a 27 minute programme about Anne Frank, with a contemporary dancer representing her ghost, to bands playing the themes to Eastenders or Tetris!

The Cory Band
The Cory Band

Now my ears aren’t so good that I can tell a spectacular band from a good one, so my opinions are all about how entertained I was.

Eventual winners, The Cory Band, squeezed Treasure Island into their 27 minute programme, and it was a treat.

Eventual last place band, Redbridge Brass, did a thoroughly enjoyable tech themed set with a hilarious joke iBand piece - maybe it’s triviality counted against them but I (and seemingly most of the audience) appreciated it.

The Tredegar Band had clips from the Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - so … a silent film with a brass band - that’s how to push my buttons!

The Tredegar Band
The Tredegar Band

All in all a lovely relaxing way to spend a day. This was also my first visit to the big hall in The Sage, and that was pretty special too.

OK - here’s some of my fave brass in rock music …

Possibly the finest moment in all rock music is when the French horn arrives in The Beatles For No One:

The Beatles - For No One

… or maybe when the trumpet arrives in Love’s Alone Again Or:

Love - Alone Again Or

… and here’s the (sadly no more) Hanwell Band playing with Robert Wyatt

Robert Wyatt - Now't Doin'

not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day

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Blue Plaque for Hilton Valentine
Blue Plaque for Hilton Valentine

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that The Animals were more than Eric Burdon’s voice or Alan Price’s organ ~ I have to admit that I sort of had. So when I heard that a blue plaques was being unveiled on Hilton Valentine’s childhood home I had to remind myself why I knew the name.

Now the first song most people hear by The Animals is The House of The Rising Sun which means the first thing they hear by The Animals isn’t Eric’s voice or Alan’s organ but Hilton’s arepggiated chords.

The Animals - The House of The Rising Sun

This morning I bunked off work for an hour and walked 20 minutes up the road to see a lovely little ceremony to unveil a plaque to Hilton Valentine, who died earlier this year at just 77.

Germaine Valentine speaking at the unveiling
Germaine Valentine speaking at the unveiling

It was a surprisingly emotional affair with Hilton’s widow giving a lovely and tearful tribute, and Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne reminiscing. Also one of Hiltons pre-Animals bandmates told a lovely story of them winning a basket of fruit in a battle of the bands competition and sitting on the stairs of 42 Coburg Street dividing the spoils.

Here’s a nice little report on the unveiling from ITV Tyne Tees.

Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne and Peter Elsdon of Hilton's first band The Heppers
Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne and Peter Elsdon of Hilton's first band The Heppers
unveiling ceremony
unveiling ceremony

Here’s a nice clip of Hilton for his last song River Tyne, with some nice shots of and on Tynemouth Pier.

Hilton Valentine - River Tyne
The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of This Place

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Andy and I visited the Discovery Museum which is housed in the former Co-operative Wholesale Society Headquarters for the Northern Region. It was a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours particularly in the galleries focusing on social history.

My favourite thing was the gigantic relief map (or model) made for the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition (described by Pathé as a miniature Wembley).

Five Minutes At The North East Coast Exhibition Newcastle (1929)

Here are a few sections running west to east.

City centre
City centre
Ouseburn
Ouseburn
Albert Edward Dock
Albert Edward Dock
North and South Shields
North and South Shields

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Before we moved to the North East we took a few trips up here and each time I’d post a pic of the beach at Cullercoats, and each time my pal Andrew would mention Winslow Homer, and each time I’d have to Google to find out who he was! I suggest you do the same because this is a quick filler post not me writing a biography!

I liked what I saw, I even tried (and failed) to copy some of his art (in my own scribbly ways) - but this isn’t about my half-baked attempts - this is about his lovely (and not half-baked) paintings.

You don’t see so many fisher folk on the beach there these days - mostly swimmers, paddleboarders and dog walkers.

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