TNB Indie Arcade, Sheffield

The Nichols building in Shalesmoor just got twice as good

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

Since opening in 2011 in a vast former wholesale grocers in Shalesmoor, the Nichols building has established itself as a destination vintage arts and crafts emporium.

A few weeks ago, TNB Indie Arcade opened on the ground floor. At the moment it’s all about independent retail but one day it could host gigs, cinema, theatre and club nights.

I spoke to Matt Abbott from TNB Indie Arcade about his plans for the space, the latest on his musical projects and moving to Sheffield.

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

1970s caravan in TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade has been up and running indoors on the ground floor of the Nichols building since July. Is it a separate thing to the Nichols building and owned or run by different people?

The ground floor did actually exist as TNB Indie Arcade before we took over on 1 July. It was run by the same person that still runs the first floor, although it was more of a secondary overspill than it’s own individual space.

So since we’ve taken over, we’ve really transformed it into a unique business and it’s already starting to gather quite a distinctive and intriguing style. I think the centre pieces so far are the fantastic 1970s pop-out caravan and the old church pulpit that we use as the sales desk!

Also we’re conscious that each unit has a really imposing style, so that it feels as though every corner offers something completely different whilst still fitting in with the style of the whole room. It’s a fantastic project and we’re really pleased with how much we’ve progressed in the first five weeks or so.

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Yorkshire Tee at TNB Indie Arcade

Tell us about the sorts of retailers you’ve got in TNB Indie Arcade and what they’re offering.

We have everything from mini retro £1.50 greetings cards to fantastic antique furniture and original artwork. The vast majority of our dealers treat their units as hobbies so whilst it does provide a little extra income, it’s also a labour of love. And I think this is really reflected in the standard and the quality of the products that they bring in.

A&D Creations have a workshop here and make some fantastic glass work and jewellery. Steel City Retro are constantly bringing in a diverse range of records into the vintage caravan. Reverse Gear Interiors has some amazing furniture, and other units such as Love Me, Heartily Homemade, Northern Sewn and Cute as a Button bring superb home made gifts and decorative pieces.

We also have original artwork by Tracy White, MJT Artwork and Simon Abbott, as well as original photography by Gordie Cavill.

Also, we’ve recently added Yorkshire Tee, who are currently the most popular t-shirt designers in the city.

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

How have the first few weeks been?

They’ve been truly fantastic. Seeing the space gradually evolve day by day is really satisfying, and working so closely with the dealers gives you an appreciation of the time and effort and also the care that goes into their products.

It’s great socialising with customers and meeting so many talented people. And let’s face it; turning up to work somewhere like TNB Indie Arcade doesn’t really feel like a proper job! We’re very lucky to be involved.

As well as the retail arcade, it sounds like you have plenty of other interesting spaces in the building. What are your plans for making the most of them?

We do have a shared courtyard which is currently used for fairs and events. However we’re running a few small events in the retail arcade, and our long term plans include extending into the cellar. It’s a superb space, reminiscent of The Cavern or a much larger version of Club 60, and there’s fantastic potential down there for film screenings and alternative club nights.

The evening events will be an extension of the cultures that we celebrate in the daytime retail space; vintage and alternative lifestyles, and particularly 1960s Britain. I’m a huge fan of the Mod scene and so I really want a few Northern Soul-driven Quadrophenia nights in here eventually!

The first event that we’re running is on Tuesday 18 September and will include spoken word sets, acoustic sets, ’60s DJs and most importantly, cheap alcohol.

The main Nichols Building has been open about two years now. How is it going – I expect there have been some ups and downs in that time?

I can’t personally speak from experience, but obviously a good proportion of our trade is down to the Nichols building having already been established as a great vintage space. People know about the Nichols; they just don’t necessarily know about the ground floor. But obviously we plan on dramatically changing that!

I thought I recognised the name Matt Abbott. Are you the same punk poet/frontman from Skint & Demoralised?

I am indeed. To be honest we won’t be writing or recording as Skint & Demoralised any more after the release of our third album The Bit Between The Teeth in April, although I still regularly perform punk poetry sets and have several new writing projects in progress.

I’m working on a new album and this time we’ve brought a third writer on board, so it’ll be different to S&D. Apart from that, I can’t really divulge much information at this stage I’m afraid!

Finally, did you think twice about moving down to Sheffield from Wakefield? And have your impressions of the city changed since you moved down here?

No, not in the slightest. Obviously I love Wakefield because it’s my home town, and I still spend a decent amount of time there, but I’ve been utterly infatuated with Sheffield since I started coming here at the age of fifteen and I’ve always wanted to live here.

I live with my best mate, who’s also the other half of S&D, which is obviously great fun. And to be fair I probably know as many people in Sheffield as I do in Wakefield because we were always considered a Sheffield band as much as we were a Wakefield band.

As you know; Sheffield is an absolutely wonderful city and I’m really enjoying my time here so far.

@TNBIndieArcade on Twitter

TNB Indie Arcade on Facebook

TNB Indie Arcade

TNB Indie Arcade

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Five festivals not to miss this autumn in Sheffield

I love the summer in Sheffield but apart from during big events like Tramlines, the city can seem quiet during July and August. Then the holidays come to an end, the students return and before you know it, Sheffield has become home to a run of festivals stretching well into November. Here’s a round up of what’s going on:

Sheffield Food Festival

14-16 Septembersheffieldfoodfestival.org

This three-day festival has moved from July and is now slimmed down from a full week in 2011. There is still lots going on this year, with a themed menu of city centre events for all the family including demonstrations, tastings, workshops and of course an opportunity to gorge on lots of delicious local food and drink.

Don’t miss: The Sheffield Breweries Co-operative (Peace Gardens, Friday 14-Sunday 16 September) Your chance to meet the brewers and drink the beer from nine of our local breweries in a Peace Gardens marquee. Have all our best-loved Sheffield beers ever been available under one roof before?

Festival of the Mind

20-30 September | sheffield.ac.uk/fotm

This new festival hosted by the University of Sheffield could prove to be one of the stand-out events of the year (I should mention that I have some involvement with it though so I am probably a bit biased.) Sheffield’s creative community and academics from the University are coming together to put on over 50 events. There are some intriguing and wonderful collaborations, including Do It Thissen, a celebration of Sheffield’s post-punk music scene, 50 Ideas for Sheffield and virtual art gallery Computer Love.

Don’t miss: The Arrivals Zone. The brilliant Sheffield Publicity Department hosts a dream tourist information kiosk outside the train station in Sheaf square. Expect more than just leaflets about our galleries and museums.

The Last Laugh Comedy Festival

2-30 October | lastlaughcomedyfestival.co.uk

Toby Foster is going solo with this year’s comedy festival and it is now known as the Last Laugh Comedy Festival instead of Grin Up North. You probably won’t notice too much difference though: it’s the usual programme of comedy, from performances fresh from Edinburgh to full-blown arena shows.

Don’t miss: My friend who went to Edinburgh this year recommends Pappy’s sketch troupe, nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award this year (12 October, The Greystones) and the excellent storytelling standup Elis James who is charming, engaging and above all, hilarious (19 October, The Lescar).

Octoberfest

11-13 October | bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/200811octoberfest.html

South Yorkshire seems to be getting its fair share of BBC events this year, what with The One Show in a very wet Endcliffe park last month, Richard Hawley’s Magna show on 6 Music this weekend and now Radio Five Live is popping over the Pennines for a weekend of events and live broadcasts. Radio Sheffield is involved and the press release says we can expect ‘an eclectic mix of news and sport programming, audience debates and interactive activities in venues across the city’.

Don’t miss: A live audience broadcast of Fighting Talk.

Off the Shelf

13 October-3 November | offtheshelf.org.uk

At 21 years old, is this the oldest festival in Sheffield that is still running? This festival of words includes the usual mix of more well-known faces (Richard Wilson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Stuart Maconie, Peter Hook and Simon Armitage) and topics closer to home (Tracing the Sheffield Jungle, A Sheffield A-Z, Sheffield Stories, Big Sky – Stories from the Edge).

Don’t miss: Praise or Grumble with SRSB. Did you know the radio football phone-in was invented in Sheffield? Or more accurately, by legendary former Radio Sheffield sports editor Bob Jackson, as he lay sunbathing one summer in Cyprus? The Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind’s Mappin Writers host this event with Bob as guest speaker (Saturday 27 October, 2pm, 5 Mappin Street).

And there’s more

There are also some other festivals taking place over the next couple of months in Sheffield including the fourth Celluloid Screams horror film weekend at the Showroom (26-28 October) and the MADE Entrepreneur Festival (19-21 September).

Although there isn’t too much overlap between the festivals I’ve mentioned, they do seem to be tightly packed over a few weeks. Would it be better to move one or two of them to the spring instead?

Seth Bennett interview

The Radio Sheffield sport reporter on bleeding blue, red…and Brian the Blade

Seth interviews Joe Cole

Seth interviews Joe Cole

Ever since the days of the Bob Jackson‘s Praise or Grumble I’ve been a big fan of the football phone-in on Radio Sheffield.

Bob is now retired but the station’s football coverage continues with Football Heaven five nights a week and Praise or Grumble on Saturday teatimes.

For the last 13 years, Seth Bennett has been working for Radio Sheffield and for as long as I can remember, he’s been regularly presenting their football phone-in.

You may not have realised, but Seth left continuing employment at Radio Sheffield over the summer, only to come back as a freelancer via his company FourFive Media. He can still be heard at least three nights a week hosting Football Heaven, as well as on the Football League Show, BBC Leeds and Sky Sports.

For me, Seth is one of the big talents on Radio Sheffield so I decided to put to him a few questions and find out more about his times covering our local football teams. He explains below about his affiliation with Sheffield, its football clubs – and the current threat to Radio Sheffield that could see its sports coverage affected by cuts resulting in Wednesday and United’s away game commentaries covered by the home club’s BBC radio station.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Sheffield, Granville Road to be more specific. I went to St Marie’s Junior School at Fulwood and then on to All Saints secondary. We did move out to Todwick when I was 10 and I have lived out in that area ever since.

I am very much a Sheffield lad and I am extremely proud of the city and the way it looks these days. It is amazing to think of town now compared to town when I was 10, where going through the hole in the road to see the fish was the highlight, however the stench of urine was the trade-off.

Did you support a football team as a child?

As for football teams I can say with hand on heart that as a kid I went to both United and Wednesday. This is not me copping out of the answer but the truth. I actually owned both shirts – the yellow Wednesday Brazil away shirt and the red, white and black thin stripe United shirt.

As to who I support these days I would say for the last five years if there was a team I was going to pay to watch, I would have chosen Doncaster Rovers. I have a big soft spot for them and they played some great football under Sean O’Driscoll.

My utopia would be to see the steel city two in the premier league and first and second, but which way round would I want them to finish?

How did you get into sports broadcasting? What is the best and worst thing about it?

From being a kid it is always what I wanted to do and I had a spell as a 17 year-old working at the Children’s Hospital Radio, but I was awful. It didn’t stop me trying though and when I was 18 I had no clue how to get into it and so I elected to take a year out to be an au pair, I ended up in New Jersey. I didn’t come back for two years because I had so much fun, it was a real life experience.

Whilst I was over there I was dared to phone in the ‘Iceline’ which I did, I was bored and anything was more entertaining than doing the ironing! Anyway they seemed to keep me on the line for a while and then we talked about the NHL and I did them a round-up of what had been going on. Turns out now I realise that they were just very short of callers so I was better than nothing, but only just.

I really enjoyed the whole experience and so I called again a few times and one day I called the office and had a chat with Jamie Campbell, a thoroughly nice guy and asked him how to get into radio he gave me plenty of advice. I am not sure exactly how it came about, but I was invited in by Colin Hazelden who had a brief spell at Radio Sheffield and when I went to the studios I was offered the chance to cover the Steelers.

The deal was if I turned up to the games and did a post match interview then took it back to the station and edited a clip, then they would pay me £15. I was stunned they were going to pay me to cover sport. From there it developed into doing Saturday sports news and then covering football.

I suppose that brings me on to the best and worst things of the job. The best part is being out and meeting people, I love talking to people be that supporters or managers or players. You end up making relationships that last a life time. The football world is the biggest gossip shop going and so it is always very interesting to speak to people and find out the latest.

The worst bit is the number of hours that you work, people seem to think that we have a big production team, but for the longest time it was just Paul, Andy and me and 60-70 hour weeks were the norm. That in itself it was never a problem, but it is the bit when you get home and the phone continues to ring, you can’t ignore it because what if that is the BIG story.

The number of phone calls that end between Paul Walker and I with, “I better go I am getting the look!” Our partners are incredibly understanding, but it must drive them up the wall.

Interestingly since the advent of social media our jobs have changed massively, mostly for the better, but I think sometimes the very personal criticism is hard to take especially when it involves your family. That said overall it has been a job I have loved for 13 years and everyday much to my wife’s frustration I have been happy to be at work.

How long have you been on Radio Sheffield? What are your most memorable moments so far?

My first piece of Radio Sheffield work was in October 1998 I was 20 years old and it was an interview with Don McKee the former Sheffield Steelers coach. Since then I think I have presented every single show on station from the Breakfast Show to the new music show to the gardening phone in, it’s all part of the education.

As for memorable moments, I have been to Wembley twice, the Millennium Stadium four times and commentated on Doncaster Rovers lifting the third division and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Away from footy I have really enjoyed the Sheffield Steelers grand slam in 2001 and Clinton Woods becoming world champion.

I think my favourite moment was Doncaster Rovers beating Leeds at Wembley, but the Sheffield United cup run under Neil Warnock was special. I was the pitch side reporter and I was being driven on to do increasingly outrageous things and which included nearly getting thrown out of Old Trafford in the build up to kick-off because I wasn’t meant to be pitch-side. I somehow talked my way around it. The BIG highlight was Wednesday in Cardiff, I have a lot of friends from that SWFC team and to see them win in the way they did was amazing.

You left Radio Sheffield over the summer to set up your own company but haven’t really been off air. Why did you decide to leave and how is FourFive Media going?

After 13 years with one brief seven-month break I had to decide what my next move was, whether that would be to remain at BBC Radio Sheffield for the next 30 years or whether it was time to push myself and try to do something else. I love Radio Sheffield and Football Heaven, in fact I think the weeknight phone-in is me at my most comfortable on-air.

However I think my favourite time presenting it was when Paul Walker and Luke Wileman and I double headed and presented together. There were three very different dynamics, but three good mates who worked really well together. I thought it was a great show then and the chemistry was outstanding, but we have never quite been able to get back to that for a few reasons, one was that we all grew up and got responsibilities that meant coming into work on your day off to present the show was just not going to happen anymore. I miss those days because we used to laugh so much.

Luke is one of the most straight laced people you would ever meet, but would have a habit of saying the most outrageous thing usually with a swear word in it just as an interview was coming to an end and then point at you and start laughing. At which point I was meant to speak, but I would of course be laughing for no apparent reason.

I also knew that with the budget cuts coming, the chances of doing more than football were going to be few and far between and I really enjoy doing the ice hockey, basketball and boxing. But the feedback I was getting was that the station couldn’t afford my time to do that stuff, I was needed just to do football. I love football, but I am a sports journalist and the test you get as a broadcaster doing different sports is important.

For most people me leaving Radio Sheffield hasn’t happened yet, because I have continued to work on a freelance basis three nights a week, which has been great. I am very grateful that has been the case because I love the show. The bosses have been good to me and it is great to still be able to work for them, what the future holds I don’t know, but as long as they want me on the radio then I will continue to do the show.

The football phone-in was pioneered by Radio Sheffield as Praise or Grumble back in the 1980s and is as popular as ever now, running six nights a week. Why is there such an appetite for it in South Yorkshire, especially given the varying fortunes of the Sheffield clubs?

We are bunch of nosey parkers and we have six teams that we all seem to take a keen interest in the fortunes of. It’s strange because even on a quiet night, people always want to talk. It’s great.

Brian the Blade talks sense. Discuss.

Brian is very funny I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times and it has been good fun. People think he is a plant and we pay him to come on to stir things up. I can assure you we don’t, he comes on all on his own.

He knows a lot about football and as he tells us he knows a lot about the local football scene. I think more importantly than that he likes to get people talking and if he can say something that can stir the pot then he will, sometimes at the expense of himself.

I enjoy him as a caller because he takes it usually in the right spirit, at least twice a season he makes a formal complaint about me and tries to get me sacked, but most of the time we do ok.

If the BBC’s Delivering Quality First proposals go through, we could see drastic changes to Radio Sheffield, in particular to the sports coverage. What concerns you most about the possible impact of this?

In my opinion the proposals are disappointing because I have fought for 13 years of my life to give the listeners in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire the best product we can, but now for that, in grand scheme of things to go by the wayside is upsetting.

Not being able to travel to watch your local side play leaves you with only half a story, how can you be a journalist and deliver stories if you can’t watch the team play away from home? It would also force Radio Sheffield’s hand as to what games we cover and potentially it could mean we have to put up four commentary teams to satisfy other station’s needs, doubling the cost of our current commentary costs.

I accept and understand there need to be cut backs and that will hurt somewhere along the line. But this idea seems flawed and I really hope the people of South Yorkshire speak up and tell those at the BBC Trust who will make the decisions that they should think again.

What can people do to comment on the proposals?

Got to the BBC Trust website and tell ’em what you think whichever side of the fence you are on. It is a consultation so please give them something to consider.


Thanks, Seth.

As well as away game commentaries being hosted by the home club’s BBC radio station, the proposed cuts to Radio Sheffield could also see networked afternoon shows coming from Leeds and a cut to Sheffield-based evening programming, including the show that champions new local music, BBC Introducing Sheffield.

The window for commenting on the proposals closes on 21 December, 2011.

Comment on the proposed cuts to BBC local radio

DIY summer at the Site gallery

DIY summer at Site runs 23 August-7 September

DIY summer at Site runs 23 August-7 September

Those summer nights

If you think that everything grinds to a halt in Sheffield over the summer with the students away then think again.

Tonight the Site gallery hosts the launch of DIY summer, a series of workshops, talks and events hosted by some of Sheffield’s most creative folk.

It runs from 23 August to 7 September and the programme of events includes a zine library, tree rubbings with the excellent Sheffield publicity department, t-shirt printing, a collage party, a gig poster exhibition and more.

You can pop down during the day to help with the DIY collage and browse the zine library, and then come back later for the launch party. Tonight’s do includes live music from Real fur, live art on the walls and windows from Sarah Abbott and a Thornbridge bar.

DIY summer

DIY summer programme (PDF 2.7MB)

Tickets for launch night and Facebook event

What I liked about Tramlines 2011

Some of my festival highlights

So it is all over for another year. In terms of numbers, Tramlines is now around the size of Glastonbury, attracting an estimated 150,000 people over the weekend. The crowds were treated to the usual mix of musical genres, with most tastes catered for in some shape or form. I’ve picked out a few aspects of the festival that I really liked this year…

Friday night

Kill your darlings Kid acne exhibition

Kill your darlings Kid acne exhibition

It was an inspired idea to schedule the free launch of Kid acne’s new exhibition on the Friday night of Tramlines. If you don’t think you know who Kid acne is then you will have certainly seen his work around town. The launch was the perfect warm up to the festival, with live music, drinks, a look round his exhibition and loads of familiar Sheffield faces. Then there was plenty of time after to go and see more music, including Heaven 17’s homecoming performance in Barkers pool.

The Folk forest

The Folk forest in Endcliffe park

The Folk forest in Endcliffe park

A haven away from the city centre and well worth a visit even if you weren’t a folk fan. What’s not to like about lying back under the trees with the sun shining, listening to live music while enjoying a local beer? The heaving centre of town over Tramlines weekend isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and the enchanting Folk forest in Endcliffe park did a good job of widening the appeal of the festival to an older – and younger – audience.

The Busker bus

The busker bus

The busker bus

A handy way to get around and also a venue in itself. Watching someone perform against the backdrop of a vibrant Sheffield through the window was a brilliant combination. Half the fun was just turning up and seeing who hopped on to perform: it could have been anything from big local names to great new music or even an X Factor boy band fresh from the main stage.

More people and more venues

This year there were even more venues involved across a wider area of the city, including some of the more suburban pubs and cafes. And seeking sanctuary in the cathedral for some lovely acoustic music was a magical experience (plus having a drink in the pews was also quite good fun). More venues over a wider area meant more people, although this didn’t stop Tramlines still being a good place to bump into random friends.

Great weather

The sun over West one

The sun over West one

There’s no denying that a weekend of sunshine makes all the difference and this year the weather was possibly the best yet. After a very light shower on the Friday night, the sun shone on both the main days which would have no doubt encouraged even more people out.

The Tramlines brand

This year the visual identity of Tramlines was given an overhaul and it was a big improvement. Sheffield agency Peter and Paul designed a new font specifically for the festival, which was used on all the promotional material and also picked up by other outlets. The poster campaign featuring familiar and unfamiliar Sheffield faces shot by photographer Sean Bloodworth also looked great around town. It all made for quite a distinctive campaign that communicated one of the main selling points of Tramlines; that it was free for everyone.

A boost for the city centre

A busy Soyo

A busy Soyo

The experience of a trip to Sheffield city centre is a bit patchy to say the least. Many of the shop units stand empty due to the recession or in anticipation of Sevenstone construction starting, which has left it all a bit in limbo. Tramlines resulted in the streets being packed with people and local businesses doing well out of what would otherwise have been a quiet summer weekend. Anecdotal evidence suggests that trade was busy – there were reports of one bar running out or beer and another making more over Tramlines weekend than they make in a month.

Good beer

With an official festival brew in the shape of Tramlines ale, other local breweries like Thornbridge taking part and many of Sheffield’s real ale pubs on the circuit, there was no reason not to steer clear of the keg lager, even in the main stage areas.

Same again next year?

Overall it seems like Tramlines 2011 was another success. Some people were wary of the impact of a big sponsor coming on board, although this didn’t seem to make a discernible negative difference. Others are still expecting to see a lot more bigger names playing, even though this would be hard to manage at a ticketless, free festival.

For me Tramlines isn’t just about seeing big bands, or even being regimental about the music you do try and see. The friends I know who enjoyed it the most are the ones who got out and about and threw themselves into what and wherever their weekend took them, whether it was a rammed and sweaty pub or the tranquility of the Folk forest.

How do you think it compared to previous years? And what would you suggest for 2012 – is there anything they should keep, ditch or should be doing?

The Radical departures What I learned from Tramlines 2011 blog post is a good read and has some useful tips for if and when the festival returns in 2012.

The main stage on Devonshire green

The main stage on Devonshire green

Tramlines 2011 is here

Nat Johnson at Tramlines 2010

Nat Johnson at Tramlines 2010 and performing this year on Saturday night at the cathedral

Making the most of a weekend of free live music

So Sheffield’s busiest weekend of the year is here in the form of Tramlines. If you haven’t already then have a look at the listings to find out who is performing and when.

There are 70 venues so there is plenty to see, however it is likely that some will be running at capacity during busy periods and for the most popular bands.

My advice based on previous years would be to get there in plenty of time and be prepared to queue to get in. In the past, when one band finished playing, lots of people would leave the venue, giving other people the opportunity to move inside and get a good spot for the next one.

Remember that the festival isn’t just based around Devonshire green. The Tramlines footprint for 2011 is even bigger than last year, and the list of participating venues stretches as far as Heeley, Greystones, Sharrow vale and Kelham island. This should help spread the crowds out and ensure that you get see your share of live music.

If you use Twitter then keep an eye on the #TramlinesTraffic hash tag. The organisers will be using it to keep people updated about the queues and business of venues and they are hoping that people will join in to keep everyone informed.

Busker bus at Tramlines 2010

Busker bus at Tramlines 2010

Finally, if you haven’t been on the busker bus then you have missed out. As well as being a practical (and free) means of getting around, it is a venue in itself, with a programme of acoustic and unplugged performances running Saturday and Sunday.

Last year I overheard one old couple on there sat behind me discussing whether they should go round and do another circuit of the city. They were loving it.

You won’t have heard of every artist playing, but nearly every major genre of music must be catered for at some point over the weekend. And it isn’t just about seeing big bands: for me it is as much about mooching around town, stumbling upon some new music and supporting what is becoming one of the most high-profile events in Sheffield’s calendar.

The weather forecast looks OK, so have fun and soak up the atmosphere on the one weekend of the year when Sheffield feels like a completely different place compared to at any other time of year.

Shake Aletti at Tramlines 2010

Shake Aletti at Tramlines 2010 and appearing on Saturday at the Harley

John Shuttleworth performs in a Broomhill residential home

A special gig from Sheffield’s versatile singer-songwriter

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

It is 3 o’clock on Friday and instead of contemplating a post-work beer in a Broomhill pub, I’ve taken the afternoon off and am settling down to tea and cake in a residential home round the corner.

I’ve got good reason to be here at Lifestyle house. As one of the many events at Broomhill festival, Sheffield’s very own John Shuttleworth is putting on a couple of low-key afternoon performances. The gigs are for the residents of the home but there are also a handful of free tickets available to the public.

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

Versatile singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth

John Shuttleworth is a likeable comedy character created by comedian Graham Fellows. He sings gentle observational songs about life, with accompaniment from his retro portable keyboard. You may have heard him on his own Radio 4 series, on TV and also in a couple of full-length feature films. If not, read his entry on Wikipedia and listen to some of his songs below, you’ll soon get the idea.

His lyrics have plenty of local references (“She lives in Hope, but she used to live in Barnsley”) which makes them even funnier if you’re from or know south Yorkshire.

The annual Broomhill festival is in its 37th year and is firmly established. As a result it manages to occasionally pull in high-profile acts like this which you might not expect to find at a normal community festival: at his last Sheffield show, John filled the city hall. In addition, Graham Fellows has links with Lifestyle House, as his parents are both residents here and he also went to King Edward VIII school, which is just next door.

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

Performing to Lifestyle House residents

The average age of the people in the room must be about 80, but he goes down well. Early on in the set we get to hear the Shuttleworth favourite Two margarines and it is soon clear that the songs and talk in between work brilliantly in this setting. You’re never quite sure whether the lovely old people understand that he is a comedy creation or instead just see him as another eccentric afternoon entertainer.

The residents provide plenty of good banter, although when one old lady says “I’m not going to answer any more of your questions”, you realise they don’t all suffer fools gladly.

Halfway through we break for tea and cakes, served to us using classic Beryl ware hospital/residential home crockery. After some mingling John then takes to his keyboard once again to play Shopkeepers in the north, near-Eurovision hit Pigeons in flight and a sherry-fuelled I can’t go back to savoury now. One old guy has nodded off but everyone else has been thoroughly entertained.

A small crew recorded the performance for another John Shuttleworth film, which will be worth looking out for. Some photos are below.

Queueing up outside Lifestyle house

Queueing up outside Lifestyle house

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth performing at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth mingling with Broomhill residential home residents

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

Damien Johnson enjoying John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

Tea and cakes - John Shuttleworth at a Broomhill residential home

Afternoon tea at John Shuttleworth's Broomhill residential home gig

Peace in the park and Weston party 2011

Free fundraising festivals this weekend

Keep your fingers crossed for good weather this weekend as there are two good outdoor events to look forward to, and both are raising money for good causes.

On Saturday, Peace in the park (also on Facebook and Twitter) takes place at the Ponderosa in Upperthorpe. This annual community festival is now in its eighth year and donates any money raised to nominated local and international charities.

Expect live music across various stages, a cabaret bar, DJs, a kids area, cycling activities, the healing and learning area and you can even get involved in a world record attempt.

Driftrun: organising and playing Weston party 2011

Driftrun: organising and playing Weston party 2011

And the following day just up the road in Weston park is the second Weston party (Facebook).

Last year, this post-Tramlines afternoon of live music took place over August bank holiday weekend. This year, the organisers Driftrun have moved it to June, but the idea is still the same: a chance to see local bands play outdoors while you relax in the park with your picnic.

Artists playing include Alvarez kings, Playground mafia, Jon Windle (ex-Little man tate), Driftrun plus Steve Edwards. Once again, there will be a collection to raise money for Sheffield Children’s hospital.

At the time of writing the weather forecast looks pretty good for the weekend, let’s hope it is right.

Weston party 2011

Weston party 2011

Sensoria 2011, Sheffield

Sensoria 2011 programme

Sensoria, the UK's festival of music, film and digital

The festival of film and music

Sheffield’s spring festival of film, music and digital returns for 2011, bringing together events, gigs, screenings and exhibitions across a packed ten-day programme.

The opening day on Friday is now of course a public holiday, so if you want to avoid a certain other event taking place that day then why not visit the Devonshire street party and market? And later on, a free festival of live music kicks off at the Washy, with sets from the Violet may and Pete David and the Payroll union over the course of the weekend.

On Saturday, a secret location plays host to a (Re)mixed in Sheffield warehouse party. It features plenty of great artists like Toddla T, Heaven 17, I monster, Lords of flatbush and Asbo a-go-go.

The Bibliotheque discotheque event (Tuesday 3 May) sees a disco of sorts located in the Central library. I recently heard a good documentary which gave an insight into the world of library music. It is amazing just how many of the TV themes that were originally library tracks we’ve sub-consciously absorbed into our national psyche. The library disco should give a glimpse into this world.

You may have seen a big screen in Tudor square for the snooker and Sensoria will also continuing this with its very own Screen on the square. Each day has a specified programme of films, including Sheffield on film from 6pm on Wednesday 4 May.

Excellent Sheffield-based photographer Shaun Bloodworth has his first solo exhibition as part of the festival. Underground, running 28 April-16 May at Bank street arts, documents the electronic music scene since 2005.

If you’re a musician or filmmaker then Sensoria pro (5-6 May) has now been expanded to two days. And at 6pm on Thursday 5 the Electric works hosts the launch of 2 weeks 2 make it, a music video competition.

Speaking of competitions, throughout the festival you can also see an exhibition of entries to the Thornbridge/Sensoria beer mat competition in the Winter garden. The winning mats (below) feature lyrics from Sheffield bands Pulp, ABC, the Human league and Artery, as well as some local photos. You may have already seen in pubs stocking Thornbridge beer.

These are just a few of the events taking place. Visit the Sensoria website for the full listings.

Sensoria beer mats

Look out for the Sensoria beer mats in Sheffield pubs

Made in Sheffield week on Sky

Sheffield’s music legacy

Starting tomorrow on Sky arts is Made in Sheffield week.

At 9pm each night a TV programme relating to Sheffield’s musical legacy will be shown:

The documentaries, made by Sheffield vision film maker Eve Wood, are getting their UK TV premieres. They tell the story of the Sheffield music scene from the late 70s through to Pulp’s legendary appearance headlining Glastonbury in 1995.

Made in Sheffield focuses on the early electronic scene while the Beat is the law covers the 80s and 90s, including how Thatcher’s Britain influenced music from the city.

If you haven’t got Sky then you can also buy copies of the documentaries from sheffieldvision.com, Rare and racy and Record collector.

Made in Sheffield week on Sky arts