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About


Schwa: an unstressed central vowel (as in a mom e nt a go), represented by the symbol ə in the International Phonetic Alphabet. The most common vowel sound in English, and the one that nobody seems to know about. A trio of musicians and writers from West Yorkshire - we are Schwa.

Peter writes, Richard plays, Jacqui sings: we share the desire to meet and engage with people, to share what can be expressed, and to make great music from what can’t.

We get inspiration from the usual inspiring places - the world (and its inevitable parlous state), nature (the memories of which sustain us, the peril to which propels us to… devise feature-length performance pieces), past poets, future voices. And music - from Franz Schubert to Viv Stanshall, Trevor Watts to Tom Waits, June Carter to Cartola.


‘Schwa make musical magic happen’ - Jenny Harris, Producer Leeds 2023

‘Mixes the deadly earnest with the beautiful and the absurd’ - Better Than Telly

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LATEST

PETER SPAFFORD PLAYS MONOCHROME

Monday, 6 May 2019 from 20:00-22:30

Jolly Boys Brewery Tap Wakefield

43 Northgate Wakefield WF1 3BH

Monochrome is an intimate monthly piano night curated by musician Ric Neale at The Jolly Tap in Wakefield. At each show Ric does a support slot before a featured artist plays a set on the piano in the bar. The show starts at 8pm and it's PAYF.

This months special guests is our Peter, playing songs that Schwa don’t let him do. Obviously the thought of having a whole 45 minutes to himself was enough to scare the staves off him, as he is roping in our Jacqui to sing a couple; Owen Spafford will play fiddle on a few others, ceremonially occupying the vacant space left by the absence of Richard. Even Richard thinks this is a fine idea - get along!

 

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We had a fantastic time with Dales Jam at Caroline St Social Club on Sunday 7th April - and a great turnout for Dales Jam, who mostly play up Skipton way. Anyone interested in joining Dales Jam should contact Richard Ormrod at rinkadon@yahoo.co.uk - Dales Jam is always on the lookout for new members!

Most exciting for Schwa was getting to hear our songs arranged for a (very) large ensemble: Breathing from Arrivals & Departures and Autumn Birds from A Lark were particularly successful, and Dales jam played extended instrumental versions of Owl and Two Pewits. Owl was dedicated to the trombonist and tubaist Gus Stewart, a stalwart of Dales Jam since its inception and the brains behind the Dales Jam youth initiative, RAMjam, who sadly passed away in February this year.

As a result of this event, Schwa has invited Dales Jam to come and play on the finale of our gig at Heart in Headingley, on June 22nd. It will be a corker!

After hearing these pieces played with so many instrumental colours and textures, Schwa is really keen to record some more orchestral versions of our current songs… Watch this space!


Our Coastival gig in Scarborough on Sunday was a lot of fun - playing in the Spa, looking out over the Sun Court, we delivered A Lark to an audience from as far afield as Wakey and Bempton (no puffins, alas!). A new addition to A Lark is our “What is a Bird?” number - a bit of audience participation is involved. We ask people a simple question on index cards: how to define that fine, feathered fraternity? And then Jacqui and Peter deliver these definitions over a rousing calypso rhythm. An added bonus on Sunday were these beautiful pictures of fantastic birds, drawn for us by four talented young artists: Rowan, Maisey, Max and Sam; we think they’re FAB!

 
 
 

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