BLOG: A Tale of Two Pastimes

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Michael’s written a little blog that explains why his mind may have been elsewhere in rehearsals:

My name is Michael Humphrey and I’m an acaholic. I love singing, and I really love singing songs with my friends without instruments. I’ve managed my addiction for more than a decade now without my career or my family suffering, but at the moment I’m on a knife-edge of anxiety.

The one thing that I can rely on to ‘keep me off the singing’ for a couple of hours is a football match. And even though I’ve only got free telly, at the moment there’s more footy on BBC1 and ITV than there are dooos and daaas in an In the Smoke concert. Problem is that we’ve only gone and scheduled a flipping brilliant concert (think 1966 if you’re English, think 2014 if – like me – you are not) on a big football night. So here is my guide to multi-tasking football and cutting edge a cappella.

    • 4:00pm – LEAVE WORK – feign some kind of acute illness and travel to London Bridge by any means necessary
    • 4:30pm – Ensconce yourself in one of the myriad pubs to watch what will probably be a belter of a game (my prediction is Germany v France)
    • 7:00pm – Skip the dull post-match analysis to go and find a kebab-esque meal equivalent
    • 7:30pm – Make your way to the Greenwood Theatre, with your ticket in hand (that you may have already bought from a group member at a cut price)
    • 8:00pm – Watch a brilliant first half of an a cappella show
    • 9:00pm – Watch a brilliant second half of an a cappella show, so scintillating you won’t even check your phone to find out how Brazil/Chile and Colombia/Uruguay are doing
    • 9:45pm – Stand up clapping at the end of the brilliant a cappella show and make your way back to the pub you were in to watch the second half…

…SAVE ME A SEAT!

Michael

Independence, eh?
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval)
Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)
www.ticketsource.co.uk/inthesmokeuk

BLOG: We’re picking up the pace!

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This week’s rehearsal saw us polishing all the music for the first half of our gig, including a revival of our Voice Festival UK and Choir of the Year sets (Michael’s Into the Void and Classic Rap Battle, André’s Wichita Lineman and Ed’s Sing a Song), while still leaving us time for a run-through of James’ Disney Medley – at the special request of Shirley, who has been practising being a cat all week.

With just two and a half weeks until gig night everyone is giving it their all, and we’re particularly excited about starting work on the physical aspects of the show at our extra rehearsal on Saturday morning. Just as long as André remembers the coffee.

Bring. It. On.

Independence, eh?
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval)
Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)
www.ticketsource.co.uk/inthesmokeuk

BLOG: Three weeks and counting…

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This week was all about the girls: we had a stonking new solo from Anna in Russian Roulette, Shirley-Anne taking on the female lead in No Air (both arranged by Michael), Mel giving it her all in Hazel’s Happy, Rachel and Lizzie mashing up Joel’s Fidelity/Pumpkin Soup… Katie was the only lady duetter whose partner was present and so who had to share – she and Michael are showing Hazel’s Falling Slowly who’s boss.

The girls also get all the best moves, not least Mel’s octopodeian Ursula impression for Poor Unfortunate Souls in James’ Disney Medley, which gave rise to handy choreo mnemonic ‘After the octopus, get into the bra’. Check it out on the video…

Independence, eh?
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval)
Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)

www.ticketsource.co.uk/inthesmokeuk

BLOG: One month until independence!

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Most productive. Rehearsal. Ever.

And at just the right time, one month before we take to the stage at the Greenwood Theatre…

As well as picking up two new arrangements (Happy and Falling Slowly, both by Hazel), we brushed up on Joel’s mash-up of Fidelity/Pumpkin Soup, put the finishing touches to Dre’s Wichita Lineman, resurrected James’ Dublin Sky and started work on body percussion for his new four-hander, Water Fountain.

We are so excited right now.

Independence, eh?
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval)
Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)

www.ticketsource.co.uk/inthesmokeuk

GIG: Friday 4 July – Independence, eh?

We’re pleased to announce that we’re returning to the Greenwood Theatre in London Bridge this summer, and tickets are ON SALE NOW!

With the possible exception of some Independence Day ‘humour’*, this is a no-gimmicks, straight-up, best-of evening of great a cappella. Expect some old favourites, recent favourites, not yet favourites (aka world premieres) and a Disney Medley. Oh yes.

Independence, eh?
Friday 4 July 2014, 8-10pm (bar open from 7.30pm and during the interval)
Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston St, London SE1 3RA
Tickets £10 (£5 concession or FREE for under-16s and school pupils)

Tickets are on sale now (no booking fees!): www.ticketsource.co.uk/inthesmokeuk

* It was the only date we could get the theatre…

GIG: February 7: Friday Night with In the Smoke!

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In the Smoke takes great songs you know and great songs you don’t and arranges them for a cappella voices, retaining what makes them great and adding our original style, flair and stagecraft. Our five new members will be taking centre stage for our first London gig since August, with a batch of premiere arrangements alongside some of your favourites.Doors open from 7pm for a 7.30pm start, with tickets on the door at £5. Rather reasonably priced bar available before, during and after.

www.inthesmoke.co.uk

GIG: VFUK TOMORROW AAAAAH

The last couple of rehearsals have been spent putting the final touches to our set for this years Voice Festival Community Showcase! It’s going to be great. We’ll be singing our most varied set yet, leaving comfort zones trailing behind us!

The details:

Sunday 26 January, 3.30pm (Box Office open from 2.45)

Sarah Siddons Theatre at The City of Westminster College, Paddington Green Campus, Paddington Green, London, W2 1NB

Tickets: Showcase Ticket Only – £7 (£5 concession) when bought online and in advance at: http://thevoicefestival.co.uk/events/community-showcase-2014/

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GIG: Joint evening with Aoide

We’ve taken a bit of a break over the summer, but we’re now rushing into preparations for our next venture – a joint gig with Aoide. Featuring original compositions, new arrangements and old favourites, it should be a really exciting evening.

Aoide are a contemporary choral group specialising in singing brand new compositions from a talented bunch of composers. We’ve been looking forward to collaborating for a while, and think it will be a very interesting clash of styles! Michael explained a bit more detail in his blog post, but essentially we’ve arranged and composed some new pieces for them, and they’ve done the same for us…

Including the world premières of compositions from James Crawford and Benjamin Woodgates, and new arrangements from Edward Thomson-Jones, Michael Humphrey, Edward Brightman and Andre Flemmings.

Image7.30pm, Saturday 12th October
Wheatsheaf Hall, Vauxhall, SW8 2UP
Tickets £5 on the door

BLOG: What do windmills have to do with it?

Just what should we call our fourth album? Discussions began almost as soon as we were on our way to France to record it. Our efforts began with an epic and entertaining quest to find a suitably cringe-inducing pun (does anyone know the French for fog?) – and it was only on our return that we realised that, whilst we might always associate this album with a week in France, perhaps no-one else would! The debate began anew and it seemed the task would not be easy, particularly when the shortlist of potential names started to outnumber the people voting. Much time was given over to discussion; names were suggested or vetoed, lists were shortened then extended again, and elaborate voting systems were devised only to be waylaid by last minute suggestions. The issue became too lengthy for our weekly business meeting (which we hold in the last few minutes of each rehearsal). Additional/lengthy/wardrobe items are often postponed and tackled during post-rehearsal drinks, and so the final album-naming decision happened in our local – The Windmill.

Every Tuesday, after rehearsal, we turn up, steal the comfy seats, move furniture around and make a lot of noise. ‘Wine club’ work out whose turn it is to get the wine, get confused, and end up with more than we planned (or that’s the official story). Several packets of crisps are added to any leftover cookies from the rehearsal and shared around. There is usually some post-match rehearsal analysis, classroom chat from the multitude of teachers, job updates from the freelancers and some karaoke-style harmonising with the background music. Some of us may be too busy to get to the pub or tired after a long day but there’s always good chat and a chance to catch up on the week just gone. The Windmill has also been an impromptu performance space; in fact it was where we unveiled this year’s competition set for the first time. Recently, our fondness for the Windmill has grown to the extent that there’s now a fairly regular pre-rehearsal session, so that those of us with spare time/marking to do/a penchant for Jessica Rabbit sandwiches might amuse ourselves between work and rehearsal.

So, all in all, it seems entirely fitting that our album is named after the place we spend most time together (well, apart from rehearsing, but ‘empty office’ didn’t even make the shortlist). If you missed the chance to buy The Windmill Sessions at our gig on Saturday, then you can buy it on iTunes, or from Amazon, or even listen to us on Spotify. Please rate and review us once you’ve had a listen!

–Hazel

BLOG: Greenwood Track List

Some people have been asking for the set list from our Greenwood Theatre gig – here goes!

First half

  1. Not Done Yet – Michael Humphrey
  2. You Make My Dreams – Hall & Oates arr. Andre Flemmings
  3. Ex Factor – Lauryn Hill arr. Michael Humphrey
  4. The Boys of Summer – Don Henley arr. Michael Humphrey
  5. Sophia – Nerina Pallot arr. Tom Searle
  6. Don’t Do It – The Band/Marvin Gaye arr. Michael Humphrey 
  7. A Place Nobody Can Find – Sam & Dave arr. Michael Humphrey
  8. Driving With the Brakes On – Del Amitri arr. Darren Chadwick
  9. Summertime – Gershwin/Lou Rawls arr. Andre Flemmings
  10. Teardrop – Massive Attack/Newton Faulkner arr. Andre Flemmings
  11. Don’t Stop the Music – Madonna/S Club 7/Basement Jaxx/Daft Punk arr. Edward Brightman

Second Half

  1. Get Ready – Temptations arr. Michael Humphrey
  2. Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan arr. Andre Flemmings
  3. Brave – Leona Lewis arr. James Crawford
  4. Walk Like an Egyptian – Bangles/Puppini Sisters arr. Andre Flemmings
  5. Thinking of You – Katy Perry arr. Michael Humphrey
  6. Hard Times – Gillian Welch arr. Michael Humphrey
  7. Rap Battle – Various arr. Michael Humphrey
  8. Don’t Stop Believing – Journey arr. Michael Humphrey
  9. Oh My Sweet Carolina – Ryan Adams arr. Michael Humphrey
  10. Love Shack – B52s  arr. Michael Humphrey
  11. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  12. Riverboat Song – Ocean Colour Scene arr. Andre Flemmings
  13. Give Me Love – Ed Sheeran arr. Andre Flemmings
  14. Acapella – Kelis arr. Michael Humphrey