Curtain up on the concerto for trombone, welder and shed

Gail Brand and John Walpole in Thackray's Workshop, Brawby, North Yorkshire
Gail Brand and John Walpole in Thackray's Workshop, Brawby, North Yorkshire
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IT IS quite probably one of Yorkshire’s - if not the country’s - more unusual entertainment projects but its reputation brings art lovers from around the country to North Yorkshire.

The Shed is a micro arts venue which for many years has been the melting pot for ideas that have entertained audiences to great acclaim and encouraged people to venture out of theatres in towns and cities into the countryside.

Simon Thackray, Ryedale's top rock promoter

Simon Thackray, Ryedale's top rock promoter

This year, The Shed, started by Simon Thackray, marks its 20th year. In that time it has encompassed a diverse range of music, poetry and comedy events.

Music makes up a significant part of the schedule but it is Mr Thackray’s talent for a wacky concept that has marked his venture out as something different. From knitting and bingo to playing music from a skip, The Shed has seen it all.

Often ideas are created, brought together and performed at Brawby Village Hall, which is only 22ft by 26ft, but performances have been held in other venues with audiences around the land able to experience The Shed’s work.

Its latest art event involves a trombonist and a welder. Entitled Shed Builder the work will have its World Premiere of Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3, on Monday, October 8, at 11pm.

The road programme will look back at twenty years of The Shed and special events with archive recordings and interviews with Mr Thackray and members of The Shed audience talking about some of its creations including Mrs Boyes’ Bingo and jazz musician Lol Coxhill playing in a skip.

The programme will include the first broadcast of Shed Builder - a new improvised art event, performed and recorded specially for Jazz on 3 in the agricultural engineering workshop of J.Thackray & Sons Limited in Brawby, near Malton. 

It was recorded in one hit and features Gail Brand on trombone and John Walpole on welder, hammer and pillar drill.

“I just put a trombonist and a welder together to see what happens,” Mr Thackray said.

Mr Thackray said: “The Shed was created initially for me to run two charity concerts in my local church and it grew from there.

“The first concert in Brawby village hall was the singer songwriter Labi Siffre (Something Inside So Strong).”

When he put on his first two events he decided to create a poster for them - and his own shed door was to become his trademark.

He walked out into his garden, armed with a camera, and took a photograph of his shed door. Someone had the bright idea of saying ‘why don’t you take your shed door with you’ to the gigs and since then it has been at the back of the stage for every performance.

Over the last two decades there have been some memorable moments. Sometimes Mr Thackray’s ideas can seem a little different to say the least. But they are often a way of grabbing the attention of audiences.

His decision to put saxophonist Lol Coxhill in a skip generated many column inches and three camera crews were dispatched to watch him playing from a skip, giving vital publicity.

Other success stories include bringing together Mrs Boyes, a local bingo caller from Malton and an improvising percussionist.

The basic premise was to have Mrs Boyes bingo calling while the drummer, Mark Sanders, played what he wanted to play. Mrs Boyes’ Bingo now has a bit of a following.

After twenty years Mr Thackray still says he has plenty of ideas that he is keen to get involved with - its just a question of waiting for motivation to strike and a bit of cash to come through to support the ideas.