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Kettle Bridge Concertinas

Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK

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Busking In Maidstone, Kent - December 2008

Original photo: Steve Cordery
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Kettle Bridge Concertinas had only been playing together as a group for a couple of months when Sandy suggested we go busking in Maidstone town centre during December. With much encouragement from Sandy & Pat, we agreed to give it a go. We were all well aware that this would be our first experience of playing in public.

There was a lot of practice ahead for several of us. From the beginning of September we could be heard repeatedly playing a number of Christmas carols – Christmas definitely came early in our houses that year. Fiona, MF-D, Pom, Sally, Sandy, Sue, Tricia and Trina would be playing the melody lines with harmony added by John, Pat and Chris. It was agreed that we would play each carol through three times; the first time everyone would play the melody line and then play the carol twice in parts, playing quietly at first and then more loudly on the final rendition.

On December 7th 2008, after some intense practice and with lots of nerves, the concertina group made its public debut. Sandy had arranged for us to play in a two locations in the centre of Maidstone, starting by the Christmas Tree just in front of the House of Fraser in Fremlin Walk. So we met for a welcome cuppa in Costa Coffee just prior to playing.

Then we took our places by the tree ready to start. We had agreed that we would wear rag jackets (with lots of layers of clothes underneath) and Christmas hats. Some friends and partners also agreed to come along and collect. They too wore rag jackets with tinsel decorated top hats. We did make a very colourful group.

We played through our programme of seasonal music once and, with confidence increasing, we moved to our second location, this time in The Chequers Centre. Being indoors we thought this would be warmer and better for us but finding a suitable location proved difficult as we had to compete with the piped Christmas music coming out of Santa’s grotto. So, in the end we decided to return to the outdoor Christmas Tree in Fremlin Walk. It might be colder there, our fingers may be getting numb, but we could at least hear what we were playing!

Overall, our first busking session was a great success. We had all increased in confidence and, also, more importantly enjoyed ourselves. So Kettle Bridge Concertinas decided to undertake more busking sessions on 14th and 20th December 2008. On these dates we chose just to stay by the Christmas Tree. This was the start of our annual tradition.

Altogether we raised approximately £350.00 over these three occasions. It had already been decided that any funds raised would be given to Kettle Bridge Clogs to support their Silver Jubilee trip to New England, USA, the following year.