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Murder Most Fun

September 26, 2014

I’ve shared the bill with some interesting fellow artistes over the years (The White Hart Morris Men spring to mind – read my blog about the wedding we both performed at here), but last weekend was the first time I’ve (knowingly!) worked alongside a group of murder suspects.

Big Adventures Theatre Company

It was all in the name of entertainment, of course, with the suspects being played by members of Big Adventures Theatre Company as part of a vintage afternoon tea.

Murder mystery afternoon at Fairlawns Hotel

Big Adventures were there to perform one of their excellent murder mystery shows, “Murder at the Redfriars Reunion”.  The venue was Fairlawns Hotel in Aldridge.

Fairlawns Hotel and Spa

The mystery, set in the 1930s, revolved around group of old pupils from Redfriars School one of whom had been horribly murdered after the previous night’s reunion dinner.

Murder at the Redfriars Reunion

Guests took on the role of detective and had to use their best sleuthing skills to work out “whodunit”.  My job was to keep everyone entertained between scenes while the suspects mingled with the guests to answer questions.  My songs from the 1920s, 30s and 40s fitted in perfectly with the Agatha Christie murder mystery theme and created the ideal atmosphere for all the budding Poirots present.

And this is me! Vintage vocalist Simon Partridge

Our hosts for the afternoon, Phil and Diana, had taken great pains with their decoration including floral table centres which incorporated school geometry equipment and an “old school tie”…

"Old school tie" flower arrangement

…and a chocolate pistol for each guest!

Chocolate pistol

I’ve known Caroline and Dave from Big Adventures for over fifteen years now and have worked with them countless times acting in many of their theatre shows and murder mysteries. I’ve even performed in “Murder at the Redfriars Reunion” on many, many occasions playing the part of the vicar, Reverend Chaste.  It was strange watching the story unfold as a spectator rather than an actor, but hugely entertaining.

Murder mystery suspects

The afternoon was a great success and the guests had a wonderful time attempting to solve the mystery.  Host Phil said afterwards, “The drama, along with Simon’s elegant vocals, made everyone’s day”.  They’re already planning another such event for next year.

And if you’re wondering who the guilty party turned out be I’m afraid my lips are sealed.  You’ll just have to book Big Adventures for your own murder mystery evening to find out!

Find out more about Big Adventures by visiting www.bigadventures.biz

Find out more about my act of songs from the 1920s, 30s and 40s by visiting www.simonpartridge.com

“My One and Only Love”

August 26, 2014

Ella Fitzgerald once said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing”.  She was absolutely right which is why adding a new song to my repertoire is always such a thrill.

My latest addition is the wonderful ballad, “My One and Only Love”, written by Guy Wood and lyrics by Robert Mellin.  Essentially it’s a case of “one song to the tune of another” since Guy Wood’s melody was originally composed in 1947 for a song called “Music from Beyond the Moon” with lyrics by Jack Lawrence.  The song was recorded by Vic Damone in 1948, but wasn’t a hit.

Vic Damone

It’s a pleasant enough song, but it’s main problem is that the refrain sits rather clumsily in the tune.  It wasn’t until Robert Mellin added new words in 1952 that anyone really took any notice.  The first major recording of  the new composition was by Frank Sinatra  who released it in 1953 with Nelson Riddle producing a typically splendid arrangement.

Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle

It has since been recorded by numerous artists including the aforementioned Ms Fitzgerald in 1962 (another Riddle arrangement) and even Sting in 1995 (for the film “Leaving Las Vegas”).  My personal introduction to the song was through Doris Day’s wonderful recording with the Andre Previn Trio for her 1962 album, “Duet”.

Doris Day's "Duet" album

Strictly speaking, of course, the song only has half a claim (ie. the tune) to its place in my repertoire of songs from the 1902s, 30s and 40s, but it’s such a beautiful number and an absolute joy to sing so it’s staying!

And  here’s a clip of me performing it:

(If you can’t see or hear the clip you can listen to it on my Soundcloud profile www.soundcloud.com/simon-partridge)

I hope you agree it’s an excellent addition to my repertoire.

To learn more about other songs I sing search for posts in the “Songs and Songwriters” category in the right-hand menu. You can see a complete list of my repertoire on my website www.simonpartridge.com

Time to Drink Champagne and Dance on the Table

August 11, 2014

Okay, so I didn’t see any actual dancing on tables, but there was certainly no shortage of fizz at Holly and Matt’s wedding at Kilworth House Hotel back in May of this year.

Champagne tower

I was there to sing at the post-ceremony drinks reception on the hotel’s wonderful terrace.  I’d got the gig thanks to photographer Yvonne Lishman‘s recommendation to the couple when she learned of their vintage theme for the day.  It was great to finally work with Yvonne having met a few times at wedding fayres.

I love Yvonne’s photographic style and I’m delighted to share some of her pictures from Holly and Matt’s wedding with you.

Kilworth House Hotel

Holly and Matt outside Kilworth House Hotel

The terrace at Kilworth House Hotel

Wedding  guest balloon release

Bride Holly wore a stunning 1902s-inspired dress.

Simon Partridge with bride Holly

Matt and Holly dancing

The sun shone and the laughter filled the air from beginning to end.  I serenaded Matt and Holly’s guests with an-hour-and-a-half of songs from my repertoire hand-picked by the couple themselves.

Simon Partridge sings for guests at Kilworth House Hotel

A fabulous, laughter-filled afternoon at a wonderful venue.  Congratulations to Matt and Holly and special thanks to Yvonne Lishman for letting me share her photographs of the day with you.

Simon Partridge with Holly and Matt

Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3: Teacakes and Terriers at Glasgow 2014

July 24, 2014

It has long been my considered opinion that one of the few things better than a Tunnock’s Teacake would be a dancing Tunnock’s Teacake. So imagine my joy when I sat down to watch the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games last night.

Dancing Tunnock's Teacakes at the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony

It may not have had the budget that the London 2012 olympic opener had, but it had more than its fair share of fun and the enthusiasm of the volunteers and performers involved was infectious enough to be classified as a notifiable disease.

Dancers at the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony

Karen Dunbar and John Barrowman Glasgow 2014

I’m not a fan of John Barrowman, but I jumped from my seat and applauded his fabulous kiss that was clearly aimed at the forty-two Commonwealth nations where homosexuality is still a crime.

John Barrowman's gay kiss at Glasgow 2014 opener

I could have done without Susan Boyle (fluffing her words and sounding awfully nervous) and Rod Stewart (just sounding awful).

Susan Boyle

Rod Stewart

But there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful about the whole thing, not least the genius idea of having Scottish terriers leading out each of the national teams.

Scottish terrier leading the England team

Of course, the main reason to be cheerful is what lies behind the fluff and glitter of the opening ceremony and that is the dedication and determination of the four-and-a-half thousand athletes who will compete in Glasgow over the coming days.

I salute each and every one of them (from the comfort of my sofa, of course).  With the news headlines so full of doom and misery it is their spirit that serves to maintain my faith that humanity is still capable of a greater good.

Enjoy the games!

Field of (Wedding) Dreams

June 30, 2014

The perfect summer wedding – a bright blue sky with whisps of white cloud; the warm sun smiling down on your guests; the heady scent of flowers and new-mown grass.  It’s the stuff wedding dreams are made of and fills countless blogs, magazines and Pinterest boards.

The perfect summer wedding?

And when Chris and Amie got married recently in Arlingham, Gloucestershire, they got just such a day.

I was booked to sing during the drinks reception and wedding buffet which were being held in a traditional pole marquee in the garden of groom Chris’ family home which just happens to be a farm.

Wild garden rose

The ceremony had taken place in the village church, St Mary the Virgin, which was literally next door to the farm.

Saint Mary the Virgin church

Being part of a farming family there was really only one way for Chris to arrive at church for his wedding:

Red vintage tractor

The bride opted for a slightly more traditional mode of wedding transport:

Vintage wedding car

After the ceremony guests made their way to the reception on foot and were welcomed in a manner that reminded me of one of my favourite books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden”:

Wedding this way -m vintage direction sign

The wedding marquee looked absolutely stunning with beautiful flowers outside and in:

Floral decoration outside the wedding marquee

Top table wedding flowers

Floral "chandelier" in the wedding marquee

Floral table centre

Each place setting was adorned with a single stem of lavender.

Napkin with lavender stem

Chris and Amie’s arrival into the marquee was greeted with loud cheers and thunderous applause.

The bride and groom arrive in the marquee

The atmosphere was delightful as guests chatted and the bride and groom mingled with the family and friends who had gathered to share their day.

The wedding breakfast buffet

The bride mingles with wedding guests

Chris’ mother had made a special request for the song “All the Things You Are” and I was delighted to learn it and sing it for her.  I sang for two-hours, but the time flew by.

Bride and groom Amie and Chris with Simon Partridge

A wonderful day and it was a pleasure and an honour to have been part of it.  Congratulations to Amie and Chris!

I f you’re looking for live entertainment for your won wedding, part or event then you can find out more about my services by visiting www.simonpartridge.com

London Vintage Wedding Fayre is a Knockout

May 19, 2014

The London Vintage Wedding Fayre took place on May 11th at York Hall in Bethnal Green.  The hall, world famous as a venue for boxing, was opened in 1929 by the then Duke of York (later King George VI).

York Hall, Bethnal Green, London

As with previous Vintage Wedding Fayres, organiser Hayley Turner had hand-picked a splendid selection of vintage-related wedding vendors of which I was delighted to be one.

Simon Partridge - Vintage Wedding Singer 1920s 30s 40s

The fayre showcased a wide range of wedding inspiration from dresses to decorations, photographers to phascinators (sorry).

The Vintage Wedding Fayre London

Here are a few choice shots from the fayre.  All pictures are by Kate Nielen.

Alissia Couture Boutique

Vintage wedding jewellery

The Great British Florist

Vintage wedding accessories

The Origami Boutique

Vintage wedding crockery

The Vintage Wedding Fayre takes a break now until the autumn.  Keep up to date with the fayres by following them on Facebook.

For more information on Kate Nielen’s photography visit www.katenielen.com.

Featured suppliers:

Simon Partridge – www.simonpartridge.com

The Great British Florist – www.greatbritishflorist.co.uk

Alissia Couture Boutique – www.alissiacouture.com

The Origami Boutique – www.theorigamiboutique.com

 

A Phoenix Rises in The Secret Courtyard

February 22, 2014

I know the title of this post sounds like an episode of “Game of Thrones”, but the story I have to share with you could easily come from the pen of a television drama writer.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Facebook may already know a little about vintage headband and tiara maker Sheena Holland and the grim saga that her life became towards the end of 2013.  For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick “Previously On…”

Sheena Holland has worked for fashion legend Katharine Hamnett and as a professional florist (providing flowers for HRH The Queen Mother, Elton John and Michael Jackson).  She’s even sung at The Brit Awards (backing Sting and M People).  In 2003 she began making one-off vintage headbands and spent the next decade building her business.  Clients included Alan Carr and singers Pink and Lily Allen.  Having latterly taken the plunge into high street retail with her own shop on Queen Street in Derby, in early 2013 she moved into larger premises where she expanded her stock range to include all manner of exquisite vintage goods.

Sheena Holland's scaffold-enclosed shop in Derby

At the beginning of October 2013 the building housing her shop was encased in scaffolding.  The motives of her landlords, Derby City Council, were laudable – to renovate the building, including offices above, for creative start-up businesses to use – but their execution left a lot to be desired.  And I mean a lot.

Sheena’s shop was almost entirely hidden from view to customers and trade plummeted.  I can’t say much more because there may still be further legal wrangles to come, but in spite the incredible efforts of Sheena and her many supporters the situation became untenable and Sheena was forced to close her shop just before Christmas.  In less than ten weeks, all that Sheena had worked so hard to build up had been razed to the ground.

Well, I’m delighted to say that, like the proverbial phoenix, Sheena has risen from the ashes and opened a new shop in The Old Blacksmith’s Yard, Derby and I went to pay her a visit last week to find out how she was getting on.

Sheena Holland's new shop in Derby

I say “new”, but this shop is actually 600-years old, or, at least the front of it is.  It was a merchant’s house and stood originally in the city’s market square, but had been hemmed in and hidden away over the years by neighbouring buildings.

The half-timbered merchant's house in Old Blacksmith's Yard

It was revealed in 1977 during demolition work to make way for the new Assembly Rooms and was meticulously dismantled, brick by brick and put into storage for twelve years before finally being reconstructed in 1982 in what became known as the Old Blacksmith’s Yard.

Old Balcksmith's Yard sign

Blacksmith anvil

Sheena’s new shop looks fabulous in this splendid “secret courtyard” just off Sadler Gate in the heart of Derby’s Cathedral Quarter.  The interior is just as charming as the exterior.

Vintage sheet music wallpaper

Sheena Holland's shop in Derby

Antique headbands

Antique and vintage jewellery shop

Vintage Oertling display cabinet

Vintage mirrors

The shop is packed with vintage loveliness and Sheena’s beautiful handmade tiara’s and headbands look great in their new home.

Sheena's wedding headbands

Sheena Holland's feather side tiaras

Vintage pearl side tiara headband

handmade wedding headbands by Sheena Holland

Feather headband side-tiara

Sheena has really made the shop her own – I love the vintage sheet music adorning the wall behind the counter.

Vintage sheet music decoarating the wall of Sheena Holland's shop

As if bouncing back from her previous woes to open a new shop in the Old Blacksmith’s Yard wasn’t enough, Sheena is now aiming to completely revitalise the fortunes of the whole courtyard by running a Vintage, Arts and Food Market there.  The first is on Saturday March 1st and Sheena is planning to make it a regular fixture.

I’m so pleased that Sheena has managed to find another outlet for her work.  Independent makers and sellers on our high streets are to be celebrated and encouraged and I look forward to seeing her business go from strength to strength.

Find out more about Sheena Holland by visiting www.sheenaholland.com.  Her new shop is at 10 The Old Blacksmiths Yard, Derby DE1 3PD and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am til 5pm.

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