Friday, 31 March 2017

Friday Is Rock'n'Roll London Day: #DianaRoss & The Supremes Live in London

Friday is Rock'n'Roll London Day! Join the Rock'n'Roll London walk this (and every Friday) afternoon at 2:00p.m meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station



DC Editor Adam writes…


Spring, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Motown.

With apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson…


From time-to-time I update my series on The Great London Sleeves here on The Daily Constitutional. I'm in a quandary today with this one…


 

Not sure if it qualifies as a great London sleeve – the pic could have been taken anywhere.

As a great album, however, it is, for this listener, unimpeachable. And fascinating, too. It dates from one of rock and pop's twilight periods: it's 1968 and pop groups are getting bigger in sound and scope. Rock Opera is in the air and "prog" is just around the corner.

So what becomes of the pop group who can't, or simply doesn't want to evolve in such a fashion? What happens when critical opinion is leaving them behind, when fashion has turned its back? They go back, that's what, regress to a reassuring, tried and tested earlier model. In this case, it's back to the late 50s when pop was viewed as merely the youth branch of showbiz, with no potential to evolve, where acts would have their half dozen chart topping hits and then "graduate" into adult showbiz, cabaret, musicals and movies.

1968 was an uncertain time for singles bands, when the album was becoming king. And The Supremes were one of the ultimate singles bands.

The Talk of the Town was London's famous cabaret venue, established by Bernard Delfont in 1958 at the Hippodrome Theatre in the West End (a Frank Matcham designed theatre opened in 1900). Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald played seasons there. Ethel Merman made her only British appearances at The Talk of the Town.

In February '68 Diana Ross and The Supremes were in residence. Founder member Flo Ballard had been ousted and Motown boss Berry Gordy had changed the band's name from The Supremes to Diana Ross & The Supremes. New member Cindy Birdsong made her British live debut with the group on this album.

Both Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were said to have attended the shows and the album finds the group poised half-way between show tunes and pop. The album opens with the Rodgers and Hart number With A Song In My Heart (The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart had been the band's most recent LP, and the last with Flo Ballard). But the Live At London's Talk Of The Town album still has enough Holland-Dozier-Holland classics to keep the purists happy – Stop In the Name Of Love and Reflections, to name but two. There's even a nod to the locals with a medley of McCartney's Yesterday and Michelle.


As a music fan, I cannot remember a time when I did not love Motown

I was seven years old when my elder brother left home and he left behind two LP's that he no longer wanted: Beatles For Sale and the compilation Motown Chartbusters Vol.3. The latter featured three Diana Ross and the Supremes numbers: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with The Temptations), No Matter What Sign You Are and Love Child. I have been hooked ever since.

I was delighted a couple of years ago when The Supremes became the subject of my daughter's school homework. She was seven years old at the time and for Black History Month she had to find out five facts about a black musician or band. After rummaging through my LP's, she whittled it down to Billy Preston, Ray Charles and The Supremes. The Supremes came out on top. "Why The Supremes?" I asked. "Because they are girls," she replied.

The opportunity to discuss Black History Month AND Girl Power all in one simple lesson. And we got to listen to The Supremes – the band I had first heard when I was aged 7, too. It was the perfect Sunday morning.



One of my favourite music books takes its name from a Supremes classic. Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise & Fall Of The Motown Sound (above) by Nelson George was published in 1985.

My copy has a dedication on the first page, written by my girlfriend of the time, a fantastic and forthright woman called Sarah. She was clearly tired of me banging on about music…

 


Advice that I duly ignored. If I had taken the hint (!) I wouldn't have been able to help my daughter with her homework all those years later. And I wouldn't be leading the Rock'n'Roll London Walk this afternoon.

I've been talking about The Supremes (but NOT boring ANYONE to death, thanks Sarah!) for 41 years now. I'll be doing it again when we pass The Hippodrome this afternoon on the Rock'n'Roll London Walk. Come and join me.





Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk…





The Rock'n'Roll London walk is ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) you can buy a print copy on this afternoon's Rock'n'Roll London walk or download at the London Bookstore online: londonbookstore.myshopify.com








A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



Thursday, 30 March 2017

When Is A Free Walk Genuinely Free?

Adam writes…

When a tour is advertised as "FREE", is it ever genuinely free of charge?

Well, if you are under 15 and accompanied by an adult (or adults) then you can join a London Walks tour for free – handy to keep in mind with the Easter Holidays coming up.

Here's nine-year-old Isobella voicing-over a short vid for London Walks Ghost Tours (full details at www.walks.com)





There's one exception to this London Walks rule - on the 18th of June 2017 The Father's Day Special Rock'n'Roll London Walk will be free to all dads! Everyone else will pay £10.

And before you ask: NO you can't just dump the old duffer for his free walk and pick him up at the end. You HAVE to come with him! Spend some quality time with the old geezer and let him keep his wallet shut for at least two hours of his life.

The walk ends at Poppies fish and chip shop on Old Compton Street, Soho. Maybe you can convince him to spring for a Father's Day meal at the end of the walk. It's nothing less than you deserve for being such a kindly daughter/son.





Online booking is available for this London Walk via EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rocknroll-london-walk-fathers-day-special-dads-go-free


Go on, be nice to the grumpy old fart.



The Father's Day Special Rock'n'Roll London Walk takes place on Sunday 18th June 2017 at 2.30pm. Meet at Tottenham Court Road tube exit 1. 


For the full schedule of London Walks – all tours allow children under 15 accompanied by adult(s) to go free – visit walks.com


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

#LondonWalks Kids Under 15 Go FREE #SchoolHolidays: 7. Day Trips From London

Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker





 "What London Walks would you recommend for children?"




The "walks for kids" question is one we're asked a lot. The wide-ranging answer usually goes something like this (this is how I put it in a recent email to someone who'd popped that very question):

Generally, it should be said that the walks are pitched at adults rather than youngsters – but there are quite a few that do work for kids.


The last word…



And what about some of the Away We Go! – Day Trips from London that we do? Surely some of them would also be to your children's taste. The one to Richmond & Hampton Court of course springs to mind. As does the Oxford & the Cotswolds trip. I'd be very surprised if that one wasn't also more or less right for them. I remember being very interested by my first visit to a "university town" when I was a youngster – probably because I sensed that I was getting a sneak preview of my own future.



I have to say I think it's as much a question of the guide as the content. Katy's great with kids. Ditto "the world's greatest guide"* (Karen). In which vein, we had a "herogram" in a while back about several of the walks in relation to the writers' grandchildren. She sang the praises of all of the guides, but the really striking thing about the letter was that Hilary's Christopher Wren's London – Bloody, Flaming, Poxy London (for the record it only runs in our Summer programme) came in for special praise vis-a-vis the writer's grandchildren: how super Hilary was and how interesting she'd made it for the children. Now on the face of it, you'd think if there was any walk that wasn't right for a couple of kids it would be Christopher Wren's London – but Hilary managed to bring it off. More than bring it off – she clearly turned up trumps! Let me see if I can find that note.

Here's what she says:

'I have just returned from a week in London with my two grandchildren, J.J. and Suzanne (ages 10 and 9 ). Today I am going through all the memorabilia/ tickets,cards,etc. I am on my way to buy binders for scrapbooks for each of them.

'I am writing to you to tell you how much your walking tours enhanced our visit to your lovely city. We had such a good time with all the tour guides, and they each made my grandchildren so much a part of each tourI can't begin to thank each of them adequately.

We went to Windsor/Eton with Chris Green on Monday and that was the beginning of a fantastic week. Chris went over the list of walks with me on the train to Windsor and made suggestions of which tours would interest J.J.and Suzanne.

We loved the tour of Christopher Wren's London on Tuesday with Hillary. She really took the children under her wing and pointed out things that they could relate to. We ended up at St. Paul's for evensong And sat in the choir loft with the boys' choir. Fantastic!!!

The next day we went to Shakespeare/Dickens London with Jean Haynes who Quoted from so many poets that I wake up at night aware of her words. Wonderful!

Later that day we met up with Helena and met an old friend from the Windsor tour. We went on the London Walk and learned so much about the places where we had already wandered on our own. (We had picked up your brochure at St. Martin in the Fields on Sunday when we first arrived).

On Thursday we went to Greenwich , again with Chris, and were in for another delightful day. My son came in on Thursday evening and we took off on our own on Friday , but I just wanted you to know how your tours and guides added to our trip. I wish we had had another three weeks to really 'do 'the city. It was a marvelous experience.

My daughter and son-in-law are planning to go to London this summer and I have already given them your summer walk schedule. I thank you so much for your expertise. One very satisfied tourist, Peggie O'Neill'

 ----------------



*I'm not making that up. The classy old American travel magazine Travel & Leisure crowned Karen with that very laurel – "the world's greatest tour guide."





Accompanied children under the age of 15 go free on all London Walks

Full Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.





A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



#LondonWalks Kids Under 15 Go FREE #SchoolHolidays: 6. Along The Thames

Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker





 "What London Walks would you recommend for children?"




The "walks for kids" question is one we're asked a lot. The wide-ranging answer usually goes something like this (this is how I put it in a recent email to someone who'd popped that very question):

Generally, it should be said that the walks are pitched at adults rather than youngsters – but there are quite a few that do work for kids.



In this post I'm going to suggest the Along the Thames Pub Walk

Now don't be shocked. People do bring youngsters on that one. It's the one pub walk we do where it really is okay to bring them...okay because the first pub has a marvellous riverside terrace (indeed, if it's low tide they can go beachcombing!), the second one is right next to a delightful and funky old (and extremely kid-friendly) cafe...and the one we end at has a great yard (the pub is the last remaining galleried coaching inn in London and the yard was the coachyard). 

The pubs aren't the reason for bringing the kids on that one of course – but the point is they can be accommodated on that walk because of the terrace, cafe and yard. The reason for bringing them on that walk is that it's a great walk – I can personally guide 52 different London Walks and that's my favourite walk of all! There's a great deal on it that appeals to all ages – e.g., the stunning replica of Sir Francis Drake's 16th-century ship The Golden Hinde, the great views across the river to London, the brilliant replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, etc. Indeed, everybody is also taken with – repelled by but taken with if that's not too much of an oxymoron – the shrivelled corpse in the iron gibbet at the Clink Museum. It ain't real, by the way...well the gibbet is, but the victim isn't. But it's awfully realistic!








Accompanied children under the age of 15 go free on all London Walks

Full Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.





A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.



#LondonWalks Kids Under 15 Go FREE #SchoolHolidays: 5. #Greenwich & #Westminster

Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen David Tucker





 "What London Walks would you recommend for children?"




The "walks for kids" question is one we're asked a lot. The wide-ranging answer usually goes something like this (this is how I put it in a recent email to someone who'd popped that very question):

Generally, it should be said that the walks are pitched at adults rather than youngsters – but there are quite a few that do work for kids.


I think another one that works for kids is the Historic Greenwich walk (it goes on Monday mornings). It of course starts with that wonderful boat ride, which is always fun. And Greenwich is so compact the walk down there is eezy peezy time-wise – and there's a great deal to see. 







Ditto the Old Westminster Walk (which we do every Tuesday afternoon, every Thursday afternoon, every Saturday morning and every Sunday afternoon). 









Accompanied children under the age of 15 go free on all London Walks

Full Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.




A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.