Cartoon Jazz At The Colston Hall

Cartoon Jazz At The Colston Hall

While all the excitement was going down in London yesterday I was closer to home for something a little bit different, something a little bit fun and a little bit completely awesome.

I’m talking about Cartoon Jazz at The Colston Hall, Bristol.

It was the first time I’d stepped inside this well known Bristol building and I wasn’t really sure what to expect – essentially the Colston Hall is a big hall (makes sense really), it’s not quite as grand and comfortable as a theatre but from the moment you see the stage you can see why it was the perfect venue.

Seats raked up showcasing the choir who were made up from various smaller choirs (including my Mum), most from Bristol and some further afield from a whole range of ages and in a dazzling array of cartoon bright colours.

The show itself was made up of cartoon songs (many of them Disney) rejigged to give them a jazz edge – some of them were pretty special – Under The Sea from The Little Mermaid and a couple from The Jungle Book. Some didn’t work quite as well – Let it Go from Frozen lacked the power it has in its original form in a jazz arrangement.

I have to give a nod to the band as well, who were awesome! I mean whats not to love – saxophone, trumpets, clarinet, flute, piano and more 🙂

But overall Cartoon Jazz was a fun hour or so, putting a very different twist on some favourite cartoon tunes.

Cartoon Jazz was part of Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival.

My Handy Dandy Guide To Booking Theatre Tickets

My Handy Dandy Guide To Booking Theatre Tickets

I love going to the theatre so much but I’m quite picky about where I like to sit and now that most ticket agents provide interactive seating maps you could say I’ve got even more picky.

So this is my handy dandy guide to booking theatre tickets – also known as how to get good seats at the right price.

Ready? 🙂

So you’ve picked the show and date – all is well and there are tickets available the first thing to think about is who to book with.

Ticket Agent

This might seem like a no brainer – go with who you trust, But. But. But. But. Every ticket agent has a a different selection of tickets available (you can’t generally book the same seat with two different ticket agents as far as I’m aware) so I always look at a few namely:

  • Theatre box office
  • See Tickets (no interactive ticket map – boo)
  • Ticketmaster (using less and less as they’re shifting their focus to music events)

There are also others who generally have good deals but watch out for their booking fees as this can so often eat away at the savings using them (seriously I’ve seen booking fees upwards of £7 on some of these ticket agents making them considerably more expensive so I don’t personally use them – the ones above range from £0 – £2.50 aprox.)

Word of warning: make sure whoever you buy from is a STAR ticket agent and all should be well

Choosing Seats

Ah, yes – the interactive ticket map – I love this service now offered by many ticket agents – no longer do you have to rely on a computer to tell you which seats are the ‘best available’ – especially as my idea of the best available doesn’t normally match what the computer thinks.

I love that the interactive ticket maps allow you to select the area and the individual seat without having to focus on the price (they show this too) but I don’t look at this first.

I always sit in the stalls and normally as close to the stage as I can for a couple of reasons – I’m reasonably tall so the front stalls seats have plenty of legroom so I don’t get cramped and they just so happen to right in front of the orchestra pit (I love looking down at the orchestra – you do not know how much I would love to experience being in the pit during a performance! :D)

Back to the point, the interactive maps show the available seats and the price – what I now do is do some view checks. I now use two websites to check if a seat is worth booking.

Theatremonkey

I discovered Theatremonkey when I ran a musical blog and they have the most comprehensive London theatre seat maps which indicate at a glance which seats are worth buying and which ones are best avoided. Tip avoid the red ones and try and go for the green ones.

Steve also gives summaries of the reasons seats have been highlighted the way they have – it’s a must use resource.

And if you’d rather look at the maps in book form then the Theatremonkey book is a very wise buy indeed (disclaimer: I was sent a copy but I’d recommend it anyway!)

Seatplan

I only discovered Seatplan yesterday but from what I can see it’s another very useful resource allowing users to post reviews and even photos of the view from the seat.

It’s not exhaustive and there are very large holes in some of the seat plans but being able to see the view before you buy is very helpful and help you decide if the ‘restricted view’ in spite of discount is worth going for.

Together these two resources can help take the guesswork out of choosing which seats to book.

Do you have any tips for getting the best seats at the best prices?

That Jesse Bloke Is The New Name Of Books 4 Teens

If you’ve seen my Tweets this afternoon you’ve probably been wondering what on earth I’ve been playing at…

Oh you haven’t? Don’t blame you really hehe 🙂

But for those who are curious as of today Books 4 Teens as a blog no longer exists – and the domain will at least soon point to this blog instead (as soon as it all goes through that is).

That Jesse Bloke is essentially becoming the new name of Books 4 Teens, for a while I’ve wanted to include more personal posts on the blog but felt that the name kind of got in the way so I started a second blog, this one.

But then I felt that this blog also had numerous mentions back to books as well and constantly referred back to Books 4 Teens so it made logical sense to combine them (I won’t bore you with the details) – combining them on this blog means I can talk about more than books and also not neglect one community over another.

This blog is essentially going to be about everything that interests me and YA and MG books will remain a key part of this. 🙂

I’m also combining my other accounts as well, all my YouTube videos (once I’ve sorted it out) will appear here and I’ll be updating the links soon.

My book review policy remains the same but the email address has changed – it’s now hello@thatjessebloke.co.uk

I hope you’ll stick around but if not I understand 🙂

The Virgin Violinist

So a couple of years ago I found out about Lindsey Stirling – those of you who follow me on Twitter will probably know that I am just a little bit obsessed with her music. Above all she introduced me to the violin and what a versatile instrument it is.

So me being me what do I go and do?

I go out and buy myself a violin, I go and have a lesson or two and then as a result get my local violin shop to take a look over the violin and get it in the best possible playing position (I don’t do things by halves hehe)… (this violin has been all over the country on a journey all of its own without me which I won’t bore you with).

Then I gave up.

But I never stopped listening to Lindsey and I never stopped wanting to play and a couple of weeks ago I could bear it no more – my violin had been sitting in it’s case next to my chair for too long = it was time to do something about it.

I couldn’t afford lessons (they’re aren’t that many teachers around me and they charge very high rates) and I already have piano lessons so couldn’t justify the cost. But I stumbled on violinlab.com – a comprehensive violin video training library which can be used along established books like the popular Suzuki books and well, lets just say I couldn’t resist.

4 weeks later and I’ve renewed my subscription for another month and I can honestly say I am loving learning the violin. It’s such a different instrument from the piano and it’s fair to say I’m a little addicted to it. 🙂

With this in mind I decided to launch a new YouTube channel to chart my progress with the violin (and I completely understand if you’d rather stay away from it) where the plan is to upload one video a week to show the latest progress. I’m keeping it separate from my piano channel for this reason and I’ve created a separate Twitter account so I don’t inundate you all with tweets you’d rather not hear about…

What do you mean I do that anyway? :p

So if you do decide to watch please cover your ears…

I won’t post progress videos on here (you can thank me later) but they will be on the channel which you can follow at Virgin Violinist and on Twitter @VirginViolinist

If you could play any instrument which one would you choose?

And what’s stopping you? 😉

Stop Dreaming, Start Doing

Ok, so I just thought of this post so it’s sort of not… perfect but I also thought that if I don’t go ahead and write it then I won’t do what I’m planning (because they’ll be no-one to hold me to account – not even my own words) and that would be a shame.

You see since I was very young (not as young as some admittedly – 11 if we’re going to be accurate) I’ve wanted to be a writer. At the time I wrote a short story called ‘The First Terrible Christmas’ – it was a story about a family called the Backflips (I still can’t believe that I and my family can still remember the name) who basically had a terrible Christmas – yeh, I can’t say titles are a strong point.

I showed my then teacher and she allowed me to type it up and the school bound it with red card and one of those black plastic spirally things.

Anyway, since then I’ve finished one (yes, only one) story – it was for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a few years ago. That’s not to say I haven’t had ideas – I have – and I’ve tried to write them… getting as far as about 1 or perhaps 2 pages before I kind of run out of steam and stop again.

So I’ve decided to try again but to maybe not set my sights so high, maybe try something a little bit more manageable. So instead of aiming to create a novel I’m going to try and create a short story series. I’ve got an idea for a character and I kind of know what I want to do with them.

The only plan I have with this is to post it to Wattpad – considering it almost encourages serial posting the format kind of fits with this plan. I’m not sure how good this will be, it could be a complete and utter disaster waiting to happen but if I don’t try I’ll never know and I feel like I have to try.

I think it’s finally time to stop dreaming and start doing!

What dreams do you have and have you done anything to make them happen?

Into The Woods – A Review

At the weekend I toddled off to my local cinema to see Into The Woods – apart from the trailers I didn’t really know a huge amount about the film before I saw it. Sure I knew it is Disney (win) and I knew it had something to do with fairy tales (win, win).

So I felt fairly confident that I would really enjoy it. But did I?

I’m honestly not so sure…

Into The Woods - A Review

The story basically follows a baker and his wife as they attempt to lift a curse which has been preventing them from having a baby. It takes the couple on a journey onto the woods which will bring them into contact with some very recognisable and familiar characters and their stories.

I will say that this was quite an interesting idea and I quite liked how the writers managed to hang the familiar stories off of this new one and this did keep me interested for about half of the film but then things did unfortunately start to fall apart.

For an idea which did show so much promise it’s such a shame it really didn’t pull together into a very engaging story. After the original fairy stories have run their course you’re left with the main story which sadly did leave me a little on the bored side. 🙁

It got to a point where the story wasn’t really holding my attention and I started to notice *shock horror* just how uncomfortable the seat had become.

But lets not forget Into The Woods is also a musical and somewhat unusually for a musical film it does feel like a musical – musical. By that I mean that the music is very similar to what you’d expect to hear in a theatre musical.

I did like this aspect and the main tune I did find myself humming for the next few days.

Overall, Into The Woods was a nice idea and did have an all star cast it’s just a shame that the story wasn’t strong or tight enough to run the course.

Have you seen Into The Woods? What did you think? Would you like to see more of these things that vaguely resemble reviews here?

My Not Really A Review Of Google Chromecast

Just before Christmas I invested (actually I don’t think invested is quite the right word) in a Google Chromecast.

I was looking for something that would allow me to watch things like Netflix and BBC iPlayer on my TV without shelling out for a new smart TV, paying a subscription or buying a smart box (or other expensive smart device).

I took ages making my mind up as this small device costs £30 and I couldn’t be sure from the box if it would actually be up to the job. It sells itself by saying stream things from your mobile or computer to your TV.

Now this does nicely sum up what this little fella can do but doesn’t really explain why it’s so good.

My Not Really A Review Of Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast looks a bit like an oversized USB stick, it plugs into an available HDMI port on your TV and has to be plugged into a power source.

It’s actually powered by USB so if your TV is lucky enough to have a USB port you can plug the power cable straight into this – no need to remember to plug it in all the time (yay!) Alternatively you do get an adapter in the box so failing this you can plug it into the wall.

Setting it up is relatively straight forward, you need to download an app to your phone, tablet (android or IOS) or computer (via Google Chrome) which will link your chromecast to your phone – when you see it happen it almost feels like wizardry (well, maybe not but it’s certainly a little strange).

Once it’s all setup you’ll start seeing pictures appear on the TV screen when it’s on the correct HDMI channel.

Then all you have to do is download a Chromecast compatible app like YouTube (you’ve probably already got this one installed) or BBC iPlayer.

Once you’re into the app you simply tap a little icon to connect to your Chromecast and then effectively your phone (or tablet etc) becomes the controller. You browse for content using the apps and then when you find something you want to watch you ‘cast’ it (push the button) to send it to the TV.

Importantly though – it’s not streaming through your phone, your phone is just telling the Chromecast where the content is you want to watch and the Chromecast fetches it.

And I have to say it all works rather well, I’ve yet to try Now TV through it but I love being able to watch my favourite shows (currently Pretty Little Liars and House) certain YouTube videos and be able to easily catch up with my favourite shows on BBC iPlayer videos on my TV.

My highlights of the available compatible apps are:

1) YouTube
2) Netflix
3) BBC iPlayer
4) ITV Player
5) NOW TV

It can also cast your mobiles screen to the TV if you so wish to do so. It’s a shame that currently 4OD isn’t on there yet but I’m sure they will follow suite soon.

🙂

My December On Instagram

December for me was a really quiet month on Instagram for me. I guess with it being so cold I didn’t venture outside as often and I’m not one for taking photos of people…

Mainly as I’m not a fan of having photos taken of me so I don’t want to give other people an excuse to turn the lens on me 🙂

The month started out and end funnily enough ends with a chocolate orange.

Probably not surprising for December there’s a picture of my Christmas tree or more precisely a dangly decoration.

Of course the other much more well lit tree is the tree between Bath train station and the coach station. The one set of lights shown are also from Bath – it was from the night we visited the Bath Christmas market.

Never Too Late (Grade 4 Piano)

Happy New Year everyone – I’m so sorry it’s been a little quiet around these parts over the last few weeks – I’ve been a *ahem* little busy launching a side project and then there was Christmas and New Year.

Enough with the excuses already :p

Today is a very quick post of something I have been meaning to get back to in almost a year. The last time I posted a piano video was almost a year ago and it was the last one I thought even came close good enough to post but now I’m finally happy with one I can share.

It’s not perfect – I’m sure I hit the wrong chord at the end but I thought with the new year it’s about time I uploaded one and here it is.

It’s a grade 4 piece of music from the Trinity Guildhall 2012-2014 piano book which me and my teacher have been working through in the last year.

There’s one more piece which is almost ready, which we started just before this one which I hope I’ll be able to share with you soon!

Ever since we started going through the grades (admittedly skipping grades 1 and 3) my teacher has been gently trying to persuade me to take the exams but I’m still not comfortable performing in front of people so this is one way I can 🙂

Christmas Traditions Tag

A Christmas tag… I don’t mind if I do 🙂

Before we start a shout out to Danielle of Underland to Wonderland for including me on her list of people to attempt this tag (it’s also a great blog with wonderful photos and if you like Disney you’ll be in good company… so you really should go and check it out!)

1) When does Christmas start for you?
I LOVE the Christmas period but for me it doesn’t really start until much closer to the day. I tend to put my tree and decorations up two weekends before the big day (so not the weekend just gone but the one before) but then I do leave them up until the weekend following the 6th January!) so that’s kind of when it starts for me 🙂

2) What is one Christmas movie you must watch?
I haven’t watched this one in years but it’s still my favourite Christmas film and that is Miracle on 34th Street. There’s just something so magically special about it.

3) Do you bake a Christmas cake or buy one?
Personally I buy one. It’s just me on my own so making one isn’t really very viable but Mum bakes one every year and they totally beat the bought ones hands down.

4) When do you put up your Christmas tree?
I’ve already kind of answered this one in the first question 🙂

Bath Christmas Market 2014

(Not my tree hehe 🙂 )

5) Do you have a real or fake Christmas tree?
I have a small artificial tree for logistical and price reasons (I live in a top floor attic flat). But I love the smell of real trees so it’s always nice to go back home to one at Christmas.

6) When do you start playing Christmas music?
Beginning of December is normally when I permit myself to put the Christmas music on but when I was younger this would be a lot earlier. I remember one year the Christmas music came out in August – what were we thinking! hehe

7) Do you use the same Christmas decorations each year or buy new ones?
Same every year – though for some reason the tree always looks different… to be honest there isn’t room for much more on it!

8) How do you spend Christmas Eve?
I normally watch a film and track santa… because I can :p

9) Advent calendar or no advent calendar?
I do try and remember to buy an advent calendar but every year I forget – though in work I am sharing a Transformers calendar, hehe.

I really want to try the Hotel Chocolat advent calendars one year though.

10) Do you leave a snack out for Santa and his reindeer?
I so want to say yes to this…

Used to though…

And in return he’d switch on the Christmas lights and turn on the fire – good times 🙂

11) How does Santa get into your house?
In my parents house down the chimney, in my flat with a magical key!

12) Mince pies, yay or nay?
Oh, yay – definitely yay.

The fruit, spices – nom, nom, nom.

13) Snowballs, eggnog, or mulled wine?
None of them – I don’t drink! It’s Appletiser, orange juice and hot chocolate for me over Christmas 🙂

Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

14) What scents remind you of Christmas?
Clementines, gingerbread and peppermint.

15) How do you spend Christmas Day?
Christmas Day is normally spent with my immediate family – it doesn’t really have a fixed plan but generally includes breakfast and gifts. Helping out with dinner… and then dinner. The afternoon is normally really chilled out – could be playing (or watching) games, watching TV – we generally don’t watch the queens speech and tune in a bit later.

As it’s so late I’m not going to tag anyone but if you’d like to… I tag YOU! 🙂