What a sad, sad day.

First news I heard of the day was that the body of PC David Rathband had been found. The piece went on to report that concerns about his wellbeing had prompted police to visit his home where they found him hanged.

Throughout the day, opinions, news and revelations have been unfolding about the poor guys life and situation.

Whatever is true and whatever is speculation, one thing is sure- David Rathband must have had so much inner turmoil aside from the pain and nerve damage he suffered and things must have been so very difficult for him to make sense of his life after his injuries and to learn to cope with his blindness.

Sadly, it ultimately proved too much for him. Let’s hope his family are given some peace and whatever help they need……😦

Had a great first session yesterday of ‘Singing without Bars’. :))

Singing without Bars is a course of very informal singing for wellbeing sessions that Paul and I are delivering for a prison in the hope that we can use music to raise the aspirations of those attending. We have 11 prisoners signed up to complete a 6 week course and we had our first meeting yesterday.

It’s taken quite some time to organise and the security is something we will not easily become familiar with. Not just the locking of heavy loud doors every time you walk through them but for example…
…despite having the backing tracks of the songs we were intending to use cleared by security a few weeks ago, we arrived and had them confiscated. A bit of a curve ball but we decided there was nothing else to it but to do the songs acapella.

We had a great bunch of guys. Very interested in music and in singing and some great singers. Several are very capable and 2 or 3 in particularly have great voices!

Next session in a couple of weeks and we’re hoping we can get the CDs through security this time!

Stephen

WHAT a crazy day yesterday was!

We had been invited into the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 to be interviewed about the genre of Doo-Wop and to sing a few songs.

It was a really indulgent piece and a great feature for us. The show received loads and loads of great comments from people who love Doo-Wop and liked what we did.

As we left the studio, Kasabian were in the building to record a set for the Dermot O Leary show. They loved it and paid us loads of compliments. US? Kasabian stood in front of us saying how much they liked what we did! Pinch moment….

Our facebook, twitter, texts and emails have gone crazy and our website even crashed ! So, all in all – happy days…..

Back late last night and up early this morning. We have to be in Birmingham today to sing. Bim is in London so Richard has gone across to collect him and we will meet him there.

More about today later….

Ok, just posting about the happenings of the TestostaTones over the last few days…

Thursday we were down in Heathrow in Terminal 4 to do some flash mobbing in World Duty Free. Good times, great fun and gave out 450 roses. we had to be up at 2am though which wasn’t so special.

From there, we raced back up to Norwich (observing speed limits obviously) for our support slot to Miss 600. What a band! They had some fantastic songs and extremely tight and impressive sound. Great night for us to reach out with our original material and as a 5 piece sound… Big mention to Ryan at Norwich Arts Centre who set us up with one of the best sounds we’ve ever had…

Anyway, Friday – we were back at Heathrow for more flash mobbing. This time in Terminal5. GREAT day. Much busier and more vibrant and loved some of the reactions we got. Made some great connections there and some exciting and promising enquiries in the offing.

Got to say, we were very well looked after by the promotions company who organised the two days and had some lovely security escorts – although needing someone to accompany you to the toilet makes us sound like we’re being potty trained and we learned some eye opening lessons bout behind the scenes airport security including – don’t try and take decongestants through security check.

Left there just after 8pm Friday night and by the time we got back, we were ready for our beds!

Saturday morning, up bright and early ready for a long day meeting brides to be and vintage lovers at A Curious Party Wedding Fair. They are earning themselves a great reputation as event organisers and we really wanted to have a stall – even though we could have done with a day off. It was a great day, really cool vibe and spoke to loads of people with some good enquiries – thanks to all of you who came over and paid us compliments🙂

Letting our hair down tonight cause we actually have a Saturday night off! Won’t know what to do with ourselves.😉

Ok, so I decided I’d get on and vent…

After quite a negative online review from somebody re the TestostaTones BGT YouTube shortlistng – who has based it purely on the visual aspect of our video.

Firstly: we are not models. We don’t think so. You won’t – we learnt to live with that disgusting injustice a long time ago.

Secondly: we didn’t record this video for BGT. If we ever record video’s, it’s usually so that when Richard claims Stephen has stolen his harmony, we can produce evidence and prove one of them wrong.

Clearly we are not performing or dressed to impress and if there’s a coke can in shot and some tangerines, then maybe someone should recognise the product placement and send us a years free supply or something.

To be honest, between the 5 of us, we have varying degrees of annoyance about this. From ‘water off a ducks back’ to ‘actually, that was quite unnecessarily hurtful’.

But the real point is something far more distasteful and that is – it is not ok to belittle people or mock their talent…. If somebody is clearly not gifted then it is the responsibility of the producers to tell them so in early auditions and not set them up for humiliation and ridicule. For those who are doing it seriously, if it’s not your thing, don’t try and make it not others people’s thing either… Let them make their own decision!

As we’ve learnt from previous BGT’s, talent doesn’t always come in a size 10 or toned and tanned (Susan Boyle, Michael Collings) and if you are surprised that somebody is actually very good when they start doing their thing, then that says more about you than them. Don’t contribute to people trying to fit into the pressures of a skinny, white teethed mould.

We did actually have a different video submitted and BGT asked us for something else because they had licensing issues with the original video and couldn’t use it. That’s why we supplied this one – but only when they advised we’d got to second base.

Please keep voting for us if you like our music. It doesn’t matter what we look like or how we play the game. It’s a talent show and should be based on the talent we’ve submitted.

Anyway, gotta go and vomit up my dinner.

Ok, so last night was a long old journey home😦

What took us 2 hours to get down to the Isle of Dogs was nearly 6 to get back to Norfolk…

Pretty glad it didn’t make us late for the booking but still a bummer.

We were taking it pretty easy most of the way – mostly cause we were in an almost complete whiteout and couldn’t get much past 15 or 20 miles for most of the way but really annoying to be stuck behind somebody doing literally 5 miles an hour when it eases up.

Hey hum – really cool gig at a private address in the Isle of Dogs. We were booked as a surprise for a 30th birthday party. Singing in somebody’s front room (which somehow had great acoustics). Great crowd. Probably the most intimate gig we’ve done for a while but really great vibe and cool people…..

The TestostaTones are en route to the Isle of Dogs, London for a gig at a birthday party.

Waiting for the heavy snow to come as predicted by the Met Office but so far the roads are clear. Also pretty quiet in regards to the traffic which is good! Probably all scared off by the apocryphal weather report.

We’re all still verbally dissecting last night’s gig at Potters. We had a good night and really enjoyed ourselves. The facilities are really good and the team were friendly.

We aimed to leave at 2pm but, as usual, Richard was delayed (due to the loss of his jacket – not actually HIS jacket but one on loan from Bim! He had already lost his!).

We’re chatting in our usual manner which gives us all good, hearty chuckles. Twenty five minutes into our journey and we’ve already managed to drag the conversational tone down far enough to leave the professor’s head in his hands! His discomfort is eased by the best of Sam Cooke on the car stereo…

As it happens, we’ve arrived really early cause we didn’t encounter any snow, so we’ve stopped for a coffee….

Doo-Wop is a large part of my musical pastime.

The genre predates Rock and Roll and evolved from traditional barbershop and acapella.

the TestostaTones is a group that I have been building up along with my brother and two cousins for the last few years.

Last night we played at Potters Leisure. The place is amazing! State of the art sound system and a superb theatre. Great friendly staff too…

My name’s Stephen and I run various projects which explore how singing can benefit our wellbeing.

On Wednesday night, I delivered a taster session workshop for Livewell Suffolk, based in Ipswich.

Although we had only a few people come along, it was a great workshop – good atmosphere and a lot of fun.

I don’t actually mind leading workshops with a small amount of people. Usually, 10, 15, 20 or more is good because people who aren’t used to singing don’t feel too conscious then to sing in front of people they’ve never met before. So, I was a little concerned that the people attending might be a bit too shy to make some noise but we did some energising exercises that made sure we were all relaxed about being silly in public!

We did some holistic exercising based on posture, breathing, relaxation and energising.

Everybody seemed to enjoy and several of them wanted further information or places they could go to in order to continue singing.

So, all in all, I was really encouraged…

…More to come soon – busy week!