Missed my self-imposed update deadline yesterday as the weekend seemed to get somewhat eaten up by all things musical.

In my search for a musical arranger for the Rink song, I trawled a few friends and acquaintances and have come up with someone who specialises in vocal arrangements from the 30’s and 40’s. He hasn’t actually attempted a bigband arrangement before but we figure it’s got to be in a similar ballpark so we’re gonna give it a go. Having said that , my preliminary sound sketch of the song left a lot of unknowns, so I felt duty bound to have a stab at laying the counter melody lines down myself first to give my willing volunteer something more substantial to go on. That has meant dusting off my keyboard skills and simulating a host of instruments which I’m hoping real musicians will play somewhat better on the final recording. The brass sounds on my old Yamaha sound kind of cheesy, but all in all it does at least give a better idea now of how the complete song should sound so I’m hoping it was worthwhile.

Last week, to sort of round this aspect off, I was checking out record players on ebay. I’m quite taken with the idea of getting a little sixties portable one and having two of my 6th formers carry it around town – open it up and then play the record that we will, by that point, have made. I’m thinking that having them sing the song as a duet will be conceptually joined up – and in the finished piece I can inset them singing inside a circle that’s positioned above the record player. There are a few other objects like this that will be filmed for one screen of the installation. I like the idea of informing the future by making something that is seemingly of the past.

The Manfreds fit into the above category. If you’re too young to remember them just YouTube Manfred Mann. I have mentioned them before – but (tada!) my latest update is…I can now announce that perseverance does sometimes pay off. I have the management thumbs up to hang out with the guys before their gig at the Sage in Newcastle and video our chat for the project. They represent one aspect of what the Rink became; a venue for passing stars on their way to sixties fame. It must have been interesting times. You had the likes of Manfred Mann singing 5,4,3,2,1 – already the theme tune for Ready! Steady! Go! – breezing through the town and making the girls scream…whilst the next night the same crowd might well be trotting round the floor in a more sedate style. For a while the two worlds co-existed rather than collided. For me it will be a strange experience to interview them as I remember watching them on our two channel black and white tele when I was but a wee snip.

And then there is the Canadian connection. I managed to set up an interview on Skype the other day with June and Charles who now live near Lake Ontario. Charles was stationed at Catterick and used to bus it or hitch a lift to the Rink dances. They married then emigrated in 1959 and don’t regret leaving but still have fond memories of the place. When they have occasionally returned, they are not impressed by the way Hartlepool had its character ripped out in the name of development. I ask them about the atmosphere of the place they remember, a town that was buzzing with industry. As we talk something crops up that I hadn’t thought about before; the smell of the place. A mixture of steel works, gas works and breweries; a unique perfume of industry.

Now Hartlepool has a shopping centre and a marina – but most of the marina shops are closed.

The Skype picture was a bit fuzzy, and their voices intermittently took on a ghostly transatlantic cyber tone – but it sort of added to the charm and spookily looks like archive footage, which is an interesting twist. Thanks folks.