MOR Music: Music on Rails – Spotlight on The Rodeo Falls

We recently caught up with The Rodeo Falls, who will be performing at our MOR Music: Music On Rails festival on Saturday 6 September. Here’s what they had to say:

What is the band’s background and how did you form?

© Glossy Onions Photography

© Glossy Onions Photography

With York being fairly compact and full of those “it’s a small world” stories, we all met through friends of friends and loosely spoke of getting together for a jam. A text message was sent out by Marck (vocals and acoustic guitar) to Bob (bass guitar), Dave (lead guitar and vocals) and Mike (drums) with a time, date and place to meet in putting together the band. Everyone turned up, we exchanged vows and the rest will one day be available in an anthology.

Why did you choose the name ‘The Rodeo Falls’?

There are meanings behind the name, with all four of us relating a different explanation of it. Essentially in a broad stroke it is getting back on the ride when you get kicked off, never giving up and having a “life is tough and so am I” attitude.

What attracted you to want to perform at the National Railway Museum?

Marck had previously been to a gig there by The Buccaneers and The Blueprints and the museum was ideal for a show on a bigger scale, which this will be and we knew we had to play it. Being regulars at MOR Music, when it was announced on Facebook that there was a book available to sign for bands interested in playing, Dave got in there pronto and The Rodeo Falls was the first name to go into that book.

What have been the bands biggest achievements?

Our debut album has just been completed and is called Better Broken, which alongside a live EP we recorded in 2013, showcases a wide pallet of styles we have within a pop/rock/funk garage rather than pigeon-hole. The biggest achievements really are the calibre and potential of the songs and the band as a song-writing team for future releases. Live shows have garnered rave reviews and being on the bill and playing a knock-out show at the Music On Rails festival will no doubt be an answer to the next time we’re asked this question.

Describe the band in one sentence?

“When’s your next gig and where can I get hold of your music?”

Click here for more information on MOR Music: Music On Rails

Posted in Museum news | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MOR Music: Music On Rails – Spotlight on Plumhall

We recently met up with Plumhall, who will be performing at our MOR Music: Music On Rails festival on Saturday 6 September. Here’s what they had to say:

What genre of music do you play and what/who inspires your songwriting?

© Mike Thrussell

© Mike Thrussell

There are layers of folk, Americana and pop in what we do. Our set is full of rootsy melodic acoustic guitar led big songs with pop sensibilities. Nick and I both take lead vocals at different points and provide vocal harmonies, so there’s always a fresh dynamic in our set. We both write songs separately and together, and one of our songs was written especially for us by Chumbawamba’s Boff Whalley.

Nick’s biggest songwriting influences have been Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Icicle Works, Neil Young and The Everly Brothers…and Michelle’s are Aimee Mann, Nanci Griffith, Kate Bush, Maria McKee, The Everly Brothers, Sarah McLaughlan and Annie Lennox…although the list is endless!

How long have you been performing as a duo for and what have been your biggest achievements to date?

We’re a real life married couple and met through the music scene, but were hesitant to perform together because we didn’t want to mix business and pleasure, but we couldn’t deny the musical chemistry we have together…and so far it’s been all pleasure!

We’ve had so many big achievements. Our first as Plumhall was being invited to

© David Crickmore

© Lee Walsh

perform Daydream Believer with Peter Tork of The Monkees. That was very special. We’re also proud to be Tanglewood Guitars endorsees alongside great artists like Paul Carrack, Imelda May, Billy Bragg and many others. We’re just about to release our debut album “Thundercloud” in the UK via SPLID Records and Proper Distribution. We’ve just had our very first national album review in R2 Magazine (4 stars! Very proud!) We’ve just discovered we’ve been shortlisted to the top 5 in two categories (Outstanding Band and Outstanding Songwriters) of the Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Awards 2014. The results will be announced on 8 August!

What attracted you to want to come and perform on the Director’s saloon at the National Railway Museum?

We love unique gigs, and where else would we get the chance to perform on a moving train carriage at the world’s greatest railway museum? Plus, York itself holds a special place in both our hearts as we cut our musical teeth in York separately many moons ago, Michelle in a duo called The Accidental Tourists with Barcode Zebra’s Charlie Daykin, and Nick with his brother as The Hall Brothers. It’s so good to return to our old stomping ground and perform in such a great space. In addition to all that, MOR Music have been wonderful supporters of Plumhall since we began. We’re honoured to have been asked to perform.

Are they any musicians on the line-up which you are particularly excited about seeing perform?

Boss Caine – great songs, and a real rootsy delivery

Barcode Zebra – We know the band pretty well, and they always put on a funky show.

All the acts are fantastic though -we’re excited to see as many of them as we can!

Finally, describe your music in one sentence.

That’s hard! We’ll let Miles Hunt from The Wonder Stuff and R2 Magazine do that for us:

“Both Nick & Michelle possess voices that could easily be the focus of the duo, combined they deliver a mighty force” [with] “Articulate, penetrating lyrics…. captivating melodies and irresistible choruses”

Click here for more information on MOR Music: Music On Rails

Posted in Museum news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Million Go Forth: Early Railway Excursions

This is a guest post written by Susan Major

PhD Excursion HandbillWhat was it really like for ordinary people? When I started exploring topics for my research degree I wanted to investigate what the new 19th century railways in Britain meant to the masses at the time, the working classes. I was studying with the Institute of Railway Studies at the National Railway Museum/University of York and keen to approach the subject with new eyes. People like Michael Portillo paint a picture of travellers sitting tidily in their railway carriages, consulting their Bradshaws, but was it really like that for most people?

After six years research on early railway excursions I can safely demolish a number of clichés and myths everlastingly reproduced in traditional railway histories. I was able to take advantage of the newly digitised British Library 19th Century Newspapers, an excellent resource for finding reports, accounts and advertisements across the country. I used this newspaper evidence to explore excursion crowds and their behaviour in the period from 1840 to 1860, when excursions were developing from an exceptional and dramatic experience into a routine occurrence. I also consulted the National Railway Museum’s unique collection of old excursion handbills in their Search Engine.

The new railway excursions of the 1840s made it possible for ordinary people in PhD Excursion HandbillsBritain to travel cheaply for leisure over long distances for the first time and return home. Their emergence caused great shocks to observers at the time. One of my most important findings has been the relatively minor role Thomas Cook played in mass mobility at the time, when compared to other agents, companies and organising groups. His market was mainly middle class, and mostly irrelevant to people who worked all week apart from Sundays and were subject to Sabbatarian forces preventing Sunday trips. Other excursion agents such as Liverpool-based Henry Marcus were much more important, carrying hundreds of thousands of people on ’cheap trips’.

There were frequent complaints about the level (or absence) of comfort. Many working class travellers were hanging on to the roof of a crowded carriage, endangering their lives, or enduring hours of travel in an open wagon in heavy rain, despite the recommendations of the 1844 Railways Act. The use of open carriages, supposedly to have disappeared after the 1840s, was frequent for many years after, although there were varying points of view as to whether it was preferable to travel in an open wagon, subject to weather concerns and jeering from spectators, or be cramped into a tight dark compartment with many others.

When large excursion crowds were expected at the station, the doors would be locked, leading to a dangerous chain of events. Stations were designed for small groups of middle class travellers to pass through in an orderly manner. This was often not suitable for the crowds on excursions and it was rare that railway companies made special changes to the physical space during this period to meet the needs of excursionists.

There was much evidence of a fear for personal safety, for understandable reasons. Railway companies and their workers were frequently unprepared and unskilled in crowd management and unwilling or unable to devote sufficient staffing or rolling stock resources. However despite the ensuing discomforts and danger, the masses clearly welcomed the incentive to travel away temporarily from their everyday lives into new spaces, at a cost that was affordable, by taking up these opportunities in their thousands.

I will be talking about some of these findings at the National Railway Museum conference ‘Making the Connection: Railway Records for Family History’ on Saturday 27 September 2014.

Posted in Museum news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The most dangerous job of all

Simon Batchelor, our Assistant Curator of Collections, continues to explore the impact of World War One on Britain’s railways.

Of all the tasks carried out by railway owned ships minesweeping was the most vital; it was tedious, it was relentless but most of all it was extremely dangerous and it had to be done every single day without fail, regardless of weather.

Even before the outset of World War One it was realised by all the powers that none had a navy large enough to maintain an effective campaign of marine blockade and that mine warfare would play an important role in any conflict. It was illegal to mine the national waters of neutral powers or international waters, so mines were laid off enemy ports in an attempt to prevent ships accessing their facilities thus starving them of necessary materials needed to continue to fight. No ship could leave port until the mine sweepers had done their job and declared it safe.

Continue reading

Posted in Museum news | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Conserving a model wagon

This is a post written by Museum Volunteer Philippa Beesley.

Volunteering in the National Railway Museum’s Conservation Department is exciting, challenging and essential for professional development. Despite being a qualified objects conservator, the work involves the new challenge of large objects of a technical nature. There is also the chance to deal with ethical issues such as operating stock.

Philippa working on Railway Models

Philippa working on Railway Models

Continue reading

Posted in Conservation | 6 Comments

Discovering my family history

In 2009, I finally became an Auntie to a gorgeous little boy called William. I began thinking about all the family stories and secrets I could tell him when he was older, however I knew next to nothing about my Grandparent’s background which triggered my research into discovering my family history.

Researching my family has become a great importance to me, as I did not just want to know what their names were, but I also wanted to learn about the types of lives they led. Whilst looking into Two Pa’s (my Grandfather) side of the tree I came across a family, who still intrigue me to this day. They were extremely unconventional and odd for a late Victorian to early Edwardian family (I won’t go into details).

Continue reading

Posted in Research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One year to research Crystal Palace subway

Today’s guest blog comes from Jules Hussey (and her colleague Sue Giovanni), on how Search Engine helped their ‘Inspired By Subway‘ research project on the Crystal Palace station.

One year to research a subway? That can’t be too hard, can it?

Crystal Palace subway isn’t just any old tunnel under the road – it’s a beautiful piece of Victorian architecture built in a style befitting the lead up to the Crystal Palace at Sydenham: a building that dominated the skyline across a huge sweep of South London for nearly 80 years. It took passengers from the High Level station, under Crystal Palace Parade (the A212) and emerged in the central transept of the palace. It was built specifically to handle the large visitor numbers expected at the Palace, but when the Palace burnt down in 1936, the High Level station was left without a destination and it was eventually demolished in 1961.

Crystal Palace subway

Crystal Palace subway (photo: by James Balston)

Continue reading

Posted in Conservation, Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment