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It’s an Age Thing

By Mark

Well it’s that age thing isn’t it with music? The music business thinks that musical talent appears in your teenage years and disappears after 30. But it doesn’t, does it? Recently I’ve taken part in a rather nice idea called “Talent Is Timeless”. It was a nationwide competition aimed at people over the young and young middle-aged bracket. It asked for songs from songwriters and they would be judged by a panel made up of some industry insiders and well-known names. The organiser, an up and coming 20 something called Saskia Griffiths-Moore, thought she’d get a few hundred people interested, she got over 1, 500 entries. The prize was to record your song at the famous Abbey Road studios. But in a way the real prize was realising that many people over 45 were still writing and wanting to perform and the songs weren’t too shoddy either. In fact, the winner, by Fergus Neil, was defiantly better quality than some of the autotuned schlock on the radio.

Abbey Road: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Recording Studios by Brian Southall, Peter Vince and Allan Rouse

So, in an age of “Me-too” and over abundant woke-ism, the music business really should get its act together and not dismiss those middle aged and older who can still do the stuff.  It needs to realise that great songs can be written, great singers and players can still do their chops, even if they haven’t had the modern leg up of Performing Arts places at industry approved uni’s and colleges in the land.  Occasionally someone older does break through, for example Seasick Steve, a blues act that through a TV appearance was pushed into the limelight. But for far too long anyone even over 35 has been dismissed. Why, when the market for the middle aged and older music and money is so large? This includes the fan base that still will pay big ticket prices for those oldies to come and play live. Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant and many more all over 60 still deliver on stage. It just doesn’t make sense, to stop seeing them just because of their age.  So, come and support and investigate the older than 35 acts and you might just discover some amazing talent, even at the local open mic night. Me? I’m off to grab my guitar and practice my chops. Just as soon as I can get out of this chair. “Ooh me back!”

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Harry Potter and the Blog Post

By Yaseen

The Harry Potter series is one of the most popular book series in THE WORLD – and especially popular in our library. It’s amazing how magical the books are in their stories and in how they make you feel! I read each Harry Potter book as they came out when I was little. When The Deathly Hallows – the last book in the series – came out in July 2007, I read it cover-to-cover from breakfast until lunch!

Figure 1: The First Harry Potter book, The Philosopher’s Stone (1997)

So many people have read the Harry Potter books that they’ve been translated into almost 80 languages around the world, giving almost any child around the world the chance to enjoy these amazing books. Even special translations have been made, into Ancient Greek and Ancient Latin – two languages nobody speaks anymore! The first Harry Potter book, therefore, is the longest ever written work in the language of Ancient Greek.

Figure 2: The last Harry Potter book, The Deathly Hallows (2007)

There are seven books, nine films, three spin-off books, and a worldwide legion of fans, including me and lots of other people who work here!

I think the book series has been magical and instrumental in getting me into reading. Do you think it’s helped you too?

But what if you’ve finished all the books, like I did? Well, if you want amazing fantasy like in Harry Potter, then the next step for you is to read A Wizard of Earthsea written by Ursula Le Guinn, one of the first – and most brilliant – of fantasy novels.

Check out our copies of A Wizard of Eathsea here!

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That Spinal Tap Moment (Tales from the Frontline)

By Mark

Ah halcyon days of youth, eh? No rent to pay, no mortgages, no responsibilities, just you and your instrument or practicing guitar hero poses in front of the mirror. Then suddenly you get a chance to do that stuff for real in front of an audience! Yep that happened to me, I went from school band -in an idea form, to college band in reality. Wow!

This was of course some decades ago, but the memory of my first Spinal Tap moment still lingers.

Now before I go on, if you’re not familiar with Spinal Tap, it’s a legendary 1980s film. It should be rock education required viewing for any aspiring performer and indeed comedy film maker. It is a mock documentary of the fictional Heavy Rock band Spinal Tap, as they tour around the States. It’s done in a fly on the wall style and follows the hapless band through their tour. In this, bassists get trapped in props, they lose their way to the stage from the dressing room, they have scenery and logistics failures, they fight, show off and sing their classic songs, with such genre mickey taking as can be. “Big Bottom” was my fave. (This being in an era of such non-PC lyrics as Rainbow’s totally serious “All Night Long” line “Don’t know about your brain, but you look alright”). Anyway, you get the idea, hapless band, things going wrong whilst trying to be the rock stars.

So, the day comes and I get on stage for my debut in front of a crowd and we look like a cross between Metal heads and Status Quo gone wrong, but in our minds, we are Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy-rock gods!  We know we have a chance to impress, not just our fellow rockers but potentially any girls out there. We have the songs, we have the shapes, what could possibly go wrong?

It’s at this point dear reader that I’ll tell you about our plans for our never fail dramatic entrance. Most gigs I’d been to at that stage had bands coming into flash bombs (explosions on stage-and you didn’t want to get too close to them!) and a sea of dry ice. Not having any flash bombs, I did via my dad, have access to dry ice. So I enlisted the help of a friend to open the canister of dry ice that we have, using the protective gloves and no doubt it would envelope us and the stage and give us a certain awesome entrance. The thing is my friend opened the dry ice canister and then … nothing. It billowed out a bit, but nowhere near us. We’d struck our poses as our “roadie” grabbed a piece of cardboard and started to frantically shake it up and down to send the dry ice our way. The kerrang power chords of our opening number were accompanied by hysterical laughter from some of the audience and a rather pathetic stream of a small amount of dry ice. I’d forgotten two major things, like a wind machine or fan might have been useful and a small canister of dry ice wouldn’t really cover the stage.  I was crushed, embarrassed and internally promised never to work with damn dry ice again. I had my first Spinal Tap moment. By the way, the rest of the gig sort of went downhill from there, but at least I’d made it to perform on the stage, even if people thought we may have been a comedy tribute act!

Still, we weren’t alone in onstage disasters. According to legend, whilst rock icon Ian Gillan fronted Black Sabbath in the 80s for a while, he couldn’t remember the words to the songs. He installed a lyric sheet (or prompter) on the stage at Reading Festival. There was a case of a bit too much dry ice, as it enveloped the stage and his lyrics and he couldn’t see a thing, trying to waft it away with his hands, and I believe he somehow got through the show. Not sure if he sang the right words though!? Still comforting to know it happens to the big acts too!

Yep, go see the film or rent it from our Music Library. For others it’s a comedy gold film, for some of us more like an all too real documentary!

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Arnold Schoenberg

By Nonna

Welcome back…

Whether you’re superstitious or not, Friday the 13th for many people around the world means the unluckiest day, and for one classical composer, this widely feared date would result in a cruel twist of fate…

Today we introduce you to Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951) American-Austrian composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. Schoenberg was largely self-taught and by his twenties, he was earning a living by orchestrating operettas (a genre of light opera). At the same time, he composed works such as the string sextet “Transfigured Night”. He later made an orchestral version of this, which became one of his most popular pieces.

Arnold & Gertrud Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg with his wife Gertrud and daughter Nuria, arriving in New York on 31st October 1933

Now Schoenberg is widely considered to be one of the most influential classical composers of the 20th century. Bizarrely the composer was very superstitious and suffered from a life-long triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13). He would do his utmost to avoid this number. It has been suggested that he even deliberately misspelled his opera, Moses und Aron, as the correct spelling resulted in the title being 13 letters long.

Paradoxically on Friday the 13th, Schoenberg’s fear was finally realized. As it was Friday the 13th, he stayed in bed all day, anxious, depressed, waiting for the day to end and believing the worst was about to happen… And it did. Schoenberg died on Friday the 13th July 1951, shortly before midnight. Was this coincidence or fate? If that wasn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, it turns out the digits in the composer’s age 76 also added up to 13.

Many more interesting facts can be found in our reading suggestion available from the Music library: 

Stuckenschmidt, Hans Heinz, Schoenberg: his life, world and work

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Empathy…What is it?

Empathy…What is it? The word empathy isn’t used all that much. Maybe empathy is something we do a lot but don’t talk about a lot.

Here are some other words to describe empathy:

Feeling, understanding, compassion.

It can be small acts of kindness and thinking about others.

National Empathy Day is on Thursday 10th June 2021.

https://www.empathylab.uk/

Have you done any of the following today?

Talked to a friend who looked sad

Listened to a friend and tried to understand how they are feeling

Tried to solve a problem for a friend

Volunteered to help your teacher

How does being empathetic make you feel?

Sometimes reading a book about empathy is a good way to learn about it. Have you read any of these stories?

Footpath Flowers (click on the title for a link to the library catalogue)

It’s a No-Money Day (click on the title for a link to the library catalogue)

My name is not Refugee (click on the title for a link to the library catalogue)

There is even more information here!

Family pack and activities to download: https://www.empathylab.uk/family-activities-pack

Empathy Short Stories:  https://www.empathylab.uk/empathy-shorts

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Teen BookTalk

Teen BookTalk is for teenagers aged 13-17. It’s a reading group and a podcast for teenagers who love reading and want to talk about the books they’ve read.  

We record the meetings, strip out the visuals and upload the audio as a podcast on platforms like Spotify and SoundCloud. You can click on the link here to listen to the pilot episodes.

We do things a bit differently from most reading groups; we discuss every book twice. It’s up to each member to decide if they want to read the first few chapters or the whole book. 

The first discussion is just about the opening chapters, so members have a chance to find out if they like the book and whether they want to read the whole thing.   Two months later anybody who has read the whole book can meet up to discuss what they thought of it.  

This means that every month we will either discuss the opening chapters of a new book or we’ll discuss the book we talked about two months previously. 

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 30th June from 6pm to 7:30pm.

Any teenagers who want to take part in future episodes should email the library at  enquiries@libraryofbirmingham.com and put ‘Teen BookTalk’ in the subject line.

Any teachers who would like their students to take part as a group, discussing a book they’re currently studying, should email the library and put Teen ‘BookTalk CLASS’ in the subject line.

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“What do you mean you have to pay?” (or the economics side of things)

By Mark

Hi folks, there’s perhaps a more serious tone to this edition of Musical Musings but it’s important so here we go. Yep that headline, “what do you mean you have to pay?”, was the sentence from a bemused punter to me when a band I was in years ago, called The Valuable Fools played a support slot at The Robin (a fairly well known venue in Bilston near Wolverhampton). We’d just shelled out a fairly good amount on producing an album of our own songs.  We’d saved some costs by recording it at home studios and producing it ourselves. But still we had to pay for production of the CDs and that wasn’t cheap.

Not exactly flush ourselves, we knew we’d need to charge an average CD price for this album and set up a merch table. So, I was stunned when said punter asked for a copy and then asked why it wasn’t free? Needless to say he was a bit on the young side, but I explained about economics and making some money, through clenched teeth probably.

This something for nothing culture was at the start at the time and has only got worse, for many non-professional full time musicians and small time bands.

These days, sadly with the advent of streaming websites like Spotify, it only adds to that something for nothing mentality. Spotify and the rest have recently had their name called in a Parliamentary enquiry into just how little artists get from these sites. Spotify pays £0.002 and £0.0038 per stream, while Apple pays about £0.0059. YouTube pays the least – about £0.00052 (or 0.05 pence) per stream. Add all this up and you can see that streaming is not a great money generator for most acts.

It’s true some people in the music biz are well off, but for every mega act there are thousands of folk who are either just about keeping their head above water or actually running at a loss.

So, what’s an act to do? – well make money from playing live (at present because of the pandemic it’s not something that can be done) and I know things may change drastically if we can get back to a “normal”.

You wouldn’t expect a plumber to work for free, for publicity or the chance of exposure, but not only do some folks expect their music for free but others have expected to see live music for nothing. The number of acts I’ve known including ones I’ve been in, that have done gigs for free and petrol money is a lot.

Maybe at this end of things, we should go back to passing around the hat? Acts may get more money that way?

On the other end of the scale (and maybe things will change after Covid?) is the mega buck tickets of the NIA and NEC under whatever name they are under for the next 5 minutes. The cost of the best seats is usually from £120 – £180.00 or even a little more, meanwhile the rest of us have to play “What’s that dot on the stage?”, for £40-£50 quid.  Whilst at the same time being bombarded with over priced drinks and food ads.

Clearly the days when I first started to go to see chart acts at pocket money prices just don’t cover things anymore.

In recent times though, smaller venues have become more attractive, you can actually see the act and at a reasonable price.  At some I know of, Kings Heath’s Kitchen Garden Café and Thimblemill Library (a lovely library in Bearwood which actually does live music and cakes!), you also get to buy the CDs from the act and thereby support them and not Amazon’s profits and get to chat to them as well. Generally speaking, people at these gigs will buy the albums to support the artists and they understand that producing these things costs money. So in this case it’s a win-win situation.

Hopefully that sort of thing may continue to grow and then people won’t ask such dumb questions as the one I got asked.

Featured

One Man and his Prog

By Mark

Well, it’s usually that kind of bloke isn’t it? I mean middle aged maybe even older than that – furtively looking around the corners of HMV (when its’ open) or such. Carrying a large brown paper bag, looking like he’s just purchased a DVD or Blu ray of the dodgy adult variety. In fact, he was probably just getting a Prog album.

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Well, it turns out that the totally uncool and over the hill Prog scene has gone onto a bit of a revival in recent years. Whether that’s down to the under 35s investigating their dads or older siblings record collection, I don’t know.

For those of you who don’t know -Prog -or Progressive Rock was all the rage amongst serious rockers in the early 1970s. From around 1970 -1975 the world of elongated and complex keyboard and guitar solos going off in different tangents to changing time signatures abounded. The concept album was in its rise. The two biggest acts -Genesis had “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”, Yes, had “Tales From Topographic Oceans”. It didn’t just stop at the album either-Genesis’s lead singer Peter Gabriel dressed up as a Fox wearing a dress! (And you thought cross dressing began with Boy George?)

Then… Punk happened – 1976 rumbled into 1977 and suddenly most of Prog was commercially bulldozed into oblivion. That was that surely?

Well mostly “yes” (no Prog pun intended) and “no”. The early 1980s had an underground scene that took off in that part of decade and whilst the remaining members of Genesis carried on into mega pop song stardom, a band called Marillion started to get noticed and became one of the biggest groups in the UK. I’m pretty sure people of a certain age will remember meeting so many “Kayleigh’s”, named after their biggest hit in 1985?  Meanwhile, Prog bands and acts changed and incorporated some pop sensibilities to survive. This explains why in 1986 Genesis and their ex-singer Pere Gabriel were some of the biggest acts on the planet, giving even Madonna a run for her money in the charts and sell out tours.

And then… it all seemed to go quiet. But somewhere, not so long ago, small voices still fond of Prog found each other and somebody took notice. Suddenly Prog magazine, a monthly magazine came into being and it still does pretty well, it has a free CD of newer bands. Then an official Prog chart happened and it became OK to not carry out Prog albums from a shop (or online) in secret.

I certainly felt amazed when I took a chance on seeing 70s prog meisters Camel at Brum Town Hall in 2018.  Not only was the musicianship superb, but the atmosphere was great. It was a sell out, not bad for a band that hadn’t had a hit album since the late 1970s. I also recommend new Prog outfit Big Big Train, who also sold out the Town Hall in 2019 and have some mega fans and are also a very nice bunch, as I found out having a post gig chat.

So, can I recommend to those of you who’ve left their Yes and Genesis LP/CDs at the back of a wardrobe another spin? To those interested, how about trying out Big Big Train? I can also recommend you could scan our holdings in the Music Library. Colosseum, Camel, The Enid, Marillion, Steve Wilson are acts we have, to name a few.

And we promise we won’t provide a brown paper bag to carry them in!

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It’s The Beatles – But Not As We Know it

By Mark

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Ah yes, just what the world needs eh? Another book on The Beatles. But it’s not what you’d expect. I was drawn to this by the rave reviews it was getting including those music mags and newspapers book of the year awards.

Seasoned journalist and writer Craig Brown has done a new take on the Fab Four by looking at the timeline and the outer characters in their story.  It tells of the other public figures of the day and what they thought. Why did Lennon return his MBE and what did Aunt Mimi think? What did Leonard Bernstein make of them? Kenneth Williams? The politicians of the day?

It gives some fascinating stuff I’ve never read before -like what Mimi thought of Yoko. What Paul McCartney had to do to avoid fans every time he wanted to leave Jane Asher’s house (walk along a very narrow  window ledge and through a retired Colonel’s window!)

You do get to read some genuine letters and thoughts from fans and press interviews.  It gives an insight into the Beatles Tour in Liverpool and what to expect. It looks at the people in the shadows; Jimmy Nicol anybody? (he was Ringo’s tour replacement in Australia for a brief time). It also has some interesting contrasts, most notably a picture of the jolly smiling mop tops in the early 1960s and on the same page a shot of the bearded moustached, long haired, care worn and rather glum chaps in the studio in the late 60s. They aged remarkably within 8 years- the price of fame eh? Maybe they were also weighed down by the realisation of just how much their Apple business was losing after numerous failed projects by hanger on Magic Alex and the blatant shop lifting from their Apple boutique in London?

Perhaps one of the best bits is where Brown imagines a parallel universe, where it is fellow Liverpool group Gerry & The Pacemakers that make it to The Beatles level and not the Beatles. Actually, not that far-fetched a scenario at the time, as in the early to mid-60s Gerry’s lot were having a great deal of success.  In this fun “what if”, Brown imagines Lennon & McCartney touring Britain in their tribute to Gerry act , occasionally throwing in their own well-known tunes “Yesterday” and “A Hard Day’s Night”. “We sneak ‘em in, even if no one wants to hear em!” quips John. Brown then says Harrison went on to a session career and Ringo retired in 1966 and runs a successful chain of hairdressers throughout the North East!

It reminds you not only that fame is a fickle mistress, but The Beatles story was perhaps one we’ll only see once in terms of a band’s reach and a mark on the popular consciousness. Brown finishes his book in a countdown style, winding us back to that fateful beginning of four loud and scruffy young men onstage, swearing at the audience, turning their backs on them and generally larking around in between loud rock’n’roll numbers. It was November 9th 1961 at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. Brian Epstein, local record shop businessman has come along, drawn by curiosity. “They are awful” Epstein says to a colleague but adds “Let’s just go and say hello” and the rest is history. I’m sure most of us have an idea of where it goes from there, but this book takes the reader on some very interesting points along the way.

Craig Brown, One, Two, Three, Four – The Beatles in Time (This book is available for loan, click on this title for a link to the Library catalogue)

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Folk “it’s not all Shetland jumpers you know”

By Mark

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Birmingham Conservatoire Folk Ensemble photo: M. Winters

“Oh, folk music” you may say with a sigh. Now I know what you’re thinking. Music that is old and boring, usually about the wreck of some old ship in the 1800s or something, played by crusty oldies that wear Aran or Shetland jumpers and have fingers in their ears.

Yes, I’ve been there. But really, it’s not like that at all. Yes, there are some examples of traditional folk and if you look a bit deeper, you’ll find that it’s not like the stereotypical view at all.

Since the 1960s acts like Fairport Convention married folk to rock and they were in their 20s when they started that. The folk-rock boom in the UK continued into the early 1970s with Pentangle, John Martyn, Lindisfarne and Richard Thompson. All names by the way which you’ll find in our CD lending collection.

True the folk scene waned in the light of punk, new romantic, acid house and brit pop. But there was always an underlying audience in the folk clubs and small venue circuit for acts. Then in the 2000s something happened and groups of young 20 somethings and even younger started to discover folk again. Some even delved into the archives of old folk songs to rev them up with renewed energy for a new generation. Mumford & Sons, the mighty Bellowhead, ex Britain’s Got Talent Finalist Sam Kelly and a host of others started to get Radio play and playing to increasing aged, varied audiences. Folk festivals started to boom, and new songs were written that didn’t always include shipwrecks! Shetland jumpers and singing with a finger in our ear wasn’t a usual sight, but vitality in approach and song was. If you want to see an example of this energy, I’d urge you to see Birmingham Conservatoire’s Folk Ensemble – over 50 folks on stage jumping around and playing at the same time! Or you could look up Bellowhead’s live performances on you tube.

Our folk section has not just CDs but DVDs, books on the genre and songbooks so you can begin to play some of those trusty and true folk songs yourself. It’s all in one place in the Music Library so why not check it out. You may be surprised by what you’ll find!

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Scott Joplin

By Nonna

Today I’ll introduce you to Scott Joplin (1868 – 1917) an African American composer and pianist, widely known as the ‘King of Ragtime’ and most famous for ‘The Entertainer’ and ‘Maple Leaf Rag’.

Joplin was born three years after slavery had been abolished nation-wide, however, conservatives tried to keep African Americans at the very bottom of the social ladder. Despite being born into a family of poor railway workers, Joplin’s parents encouraged him to play the piano.

In his twenties, Joplin travelled to the Southern States as a touring musician. Having formed a band, Joplin attended the World’s Fair in Chicago, which bought ragtime into popularity. The fair discouraged the involvement of African Americans, they were forced into playing only in the saloons and cafés that lined the fair. 

A year later Joplin moved to Missouri, where he began publishing music and his “Maple Leaf Rag”, projecting him to fame and bought him some income. However, he never replicated this success and struggled financially for most of his life. Even his first opera, A Guest of Honour, was confiscated along with other belongings after he missed bill payments. 

Seeking a producer for a new opera, Joplin moved to New York City. When no one backed him, the composer took on the financial burden himself and published   “Treemonisha”. The premier was only seen by a small audience, with only Joplin accompanying performers on piano. Hugely unsuccessful, the opera was declaimed as a ‘miserable failure’ by critics. After this Joplin was bankrupt, discouraged, and descended into dementia as a result of neurosyphilis. He was admitted to a mental institution, where he shortly died at the age of 48 and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Fortunately, Joplin’s music was rediscovered and returned to popularity in the early 1970s with the release of a million-selling album!

Many more interesting facts can be found in our reading suggestion available from the Music library:

Curtis, Susan, ‘Dancing to a black man’s tune: a life of Scott Joplin’ (click on the title for the library catalogue and availability of this book)

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George Gershwin

By Nonna

Welcome back…

Could anyone, being rich and famous, die from a rejection? Well, this is a story for you to decide.

Today we introduce you to George Gershwin  (1898 – 1937) an American composer, pianist, and painter whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. His best-known works include the orchestral compositions “Rhapsody in Blue”, the song “Swanee”, and the opera “Porgy and Bess”.

Gershwin began his career as a piano player employed by music stores to promote and help sell new sheet music but soon started composing Broadway theatre works.  

At 38 Gershwin was rich and famous, leading an active social life but deeply unhappy! Yes, unhappy! He began to think marriage might solve this problem. Out of the blue in March of 1937 at a Hollywood gala, Gershwin met an actress Paulette Goddard and felt an immediate deep attraction to her. A brief romance followed with them secretly meeting at Gershwin’s home and in May they went on vacation together for two months. Very much in love, the composer asked for Paulette’s hand in marriage, but she was married to Charlie Chaplin at the time and refused to leave her husband, putting a sudden end to their romance. 

George Gershwin and Paulette Goddard

Stunned by this rejection Gershwin’s heart was broken, and his depression worsened. He began to complain of blinding headaches, and shortly Gershwin was diagnosed with a brain tumour. An operation was unsuccessful, and the composer died on 11 July at the age of 38.

Many more interesting facts can be found in our reading suggestion available from the Music library: 

George Gershwin: his life and work by Pollack, Howard (click on the title for a link to the library catalogue and availability of this book)

 
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Springtime Seed-Sowing

by Ged

This time of year is perfect for venturing into the wonderful world of gardening. People have found great solace in the outdoors and nature during the last year and, even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow seeds indoors easily. Most seed-sowing follows the same process and you don’t even have to buy seeds: You could save some seeds from a tomato or a strawberry for example.

The Library has lots of books about gardening for adults and children. Look under the dewey number: 635

One of the many gardening books available at the library.

Follow my simple instructions on how to sow some seeds then why not have a go yourself? You could read about what other seeds are easy to grow. Also there are inspiring TV programmes – like Gardeners World. Lots of famous gardeners started sowing seeds as children and got hooked on gardening and now they have made successful careers from being gardeners.

Another option, if you are lucky enough to have a garden, is to clear some ground and sow wild flower seeds – these plants are wonderful for all the important pollinating insects like bees and butterflies and they also look beautiful. Whatever you do this spring, enjoy the wonders of nature!

Summertime wildflower meadow

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Eggs, Eggs Everywhere!

By Jo

At this time of year supermarkets are chock-a-block with Easter eggs and like me, you may be partial to a chocolate egg or two! We all know that actual eggs are versatile and we can do many things with them– poach, fry, bake, boil and even race (remember those egg and spoon races in Infant school?!) But, is it possible to bounce a raw egg? My 5 year old and I had a lot of fun investigating…. 

For this egg-citing experiment you will need 3 things:

· 1 raw egg

· 1 glass or jar

· White wine vinegar (enough to submerge the egg)  

  • Carefully place a raw egg into a glass or jar. Fill the jar with white wine vinegar until the egg is submerged.
  • Leave the egg in the jar for 3 days. Each day check on the egg and keep an eye out for signs of a reaction!
  • Carefully remove the egg from the jar and rinse it under some tap water. Whilst rinsing, gently rub the outside of the egg, white film will come off leaving you with a translucent egg. Ask your child to describe the changes in texture, colour and size. Watch out for the smell! My son’s response was a resounding “ewww!”
  • With a plate or container underneath, lift the egg 1-2 inches in the air and gently let go. Boing!
  • Get ready for the messy part… it’s advisable to go outside! Try dropping the egg from different heights. When will it go splat?! 

For some cookery inspiration or science books, you can browse our catalogue and place requests for items by the Order and Collect Service https://birmingham.spydus.co.uk.

  So what are you waiting for? Get crackin’!

Did I mention Birmingham Libraries also hold a collection of awfully bad joke books? Request a couple or check out Dewey 827 or 828.92 in the Non-Fiction (Information) section when your local library reopens for browsing.

A Chocolatey Birmingham Heritage Week 9th-19th September 2021!

Did someone say chocolate? It is well known that the City of Birmingham has a very famous link to the confectionary titan that is Cadbury. Birmingham Heritage Week offers the opportunity to explore and celebrate Birmingham’s rich and diverse heritage of which chocolate is just one part!

The eagerly awaited annual festival returns from 9 – 19th September, revealing the city’s hidden stories and historical secrets. The BHW programme is packed with fascinating and varied events, delivered by local organisations and volunteers with a passion for Birmingham’s heritage and history.

During the 11-day festival you will be able to visit exhibitions, take part in walks and workshops, listen to talks or visit buildings that are not normally open to the public. Events will be in-person as well as online.

Calling all chocolate lovers: Roald Dahl Chocolate

Did you know that Monday 13th September marks the global Roald Dahl Story Day? BrumAnon explores some of Birmingham’s rich food heritage and on this day will be looking into Birmingham’s connection with the sweet stuff.

When: Monday 13th September, 11am ONLINE

Where:  The BrumAnon Facebook page

FREE, no booking required. For more information please visit the BHW website: https://birminghamheritageweek.co.uk/13-sept/roald-dahl-chocolate/

The Bournville Experience: Cadbury World

An exhibition about the Quaker ethics of the Cadbury family, how Bournville Village came to be built and of course chocolate! What items from Cadbury’s long history do you remember? Aztec bar anyone?! Enjoy reminiscing over Cadbury packaging and products from the early 1900s to the present day and be sure to cast an eye over the Gill Cocks collection, a display of over 400 items of Cadbury collectables and memorabilia!

When: Saturday 11th September 9:30am-11am

Where: Cadbury World, Linden Road, Birmingham, B30 1JR

FREE, no booking required.

Visit the BHW website for more chocolatey details: https://birminghamheritageweek.co.uk/11-sept/the-bournville-experience/

Please note that Cadbury World is not part of Birmingham Heritage Week and that free entry is only available to the Bournville Experience which is on the Cadbury World site. This event is part of Bournville Heritage Open Day on Saturday 11th September. Click here to view more of the fantastic free activities on offer in and around the historic sites in Bournville throughout the day.

Birmingham Libraries hold a variety of chocolate related material for children and adults. Find out how chocolate is made, discover the story behind chocolate’s best loved brand or enjoy a wealth of recipes perfect for every chocolate lover!

One of my favourite books has to be Michael Rosen’s Chocolate Cake– described as ‘a love letter to every child’s favourite treat’, Michael shares his memory of a chocolate cake from his childhood. The illustrations and hilarious prose perfectly capture something I think we can all relate to! 

Check availability on the Birmingham Libraries catalogue

Here is the man himself performing his poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BxQLITdOOc         

Be sure to enquire about the wealth of Cadbury’s related material that is held here at the Library of Birmingham. Our Archives and Collections team (situated on floor 4) will be happy to help but please note that some materials may require ordering in advance or a return visit to view, as stack items cannot always be retrieved on the day and access to the Wolfson Centre to see documents is by appointment only. Further information on archival services can be found here: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/archives

BHW: Events at the Library of Birmingham 2021

The Archives and Collections team are very excited about being able to host events again here in the Library of Birmingham Archives during this year’s Birmingham Heritage Week! On Monday 13th September, there will be a workshop on ‘Birmingham’s Early Maps 1731-1831’ in addition to a Pop-up Exhibition ‘Born in Birmingham 1914-1924; Lifting the Lid on Untold Stories’ on Friday 17th September.

Check out their blog (http://theironroom.wordpress.com) for a fascinating read and visit the Birmingham Heritage Week website for details of how to book on to these fantastic events – booking in advance is essential!

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