The Seaside Steampunk Spectacular!

How do I even begin to talk about my weekend at the Seaside Steampunk Spectacular in Minehead? The first word I would use would be emotional – to the extent that this blog has been delayed in writing as I decided the best way to talk about one aspect of the weekend… but more on that in a few paragraphs!

I’ll begin with a summary of the weekend!

The Incredible Stage-Trike all set to go in Minehead!

Minehead is a wonderful little seaside town, with a lot of cute independent shops and a steam railway station (always a bonus to me!).

The weather was glorious, and with the talents of Ichabod Steam, Kiss Like Ether and Dr Grey and his Orchestra of One our on the streets entertaining, it was a wonderful set up to the event.

I found myself performing in various locations along the high street, from crowd shows in the square and in front of Ichabod’s Submarine, to close up by the station and outside a wonderful shop called Wombledon.

This is a vintage shop, a sort of Aladdin’s Cave of bits and pieces. The owner, Alison, had dressed the window mannequins in Steampunk attire for the weekend, and I couldn’t resist popping in for a look around.

On one of the shelves near the back I found a children’s magic set – but not like most I see around. Most are modern plastic arrangements, with the same half dozen tricks. This one was a wooden set, and the tricks so beautifully made that I couldn’t resist it – I even ended up using one of the tricks in the Sunday night variety show!

I got chatting to Alison, and found out that her father had been a magician, performing as ’Mr Fez’, and I even got a chance to see one of his business cards (perhaps if anyone remembers working with him or seeing him perform, you could leave a comment below!).

My relationship with this magician of the past was to deepen the next day, however…

We performed evening shows at The Regal Theatre on Saturday and Sunday nights – and I have to say it was a wonderful theatre with a crew who were just amazing. Even when one band had a particularly long and complex sound check (followed my traditional sound check of saying one sentence into a microphone), the sound crew remained calm and relaxed about the whole evening. So good was the venue and crew that I couldn’t resist chatting to them about taking ‘Very Christmas Story’ to the theatre (watch this space, we’re talking about it).

Then the evening show (and I know this is a performer’s cliche, but see the below quote from the Captain), had one of the best audiences I have ever had the pleasure to perform for (and I do have some that stand out in my memory). They were so buzzing with excitement, so ready to be entertained, that it made the evening a special one for all involved.

This cliche’s only cliche, ’cause it’s true. – Captain of the Lost Waves

Every moment, every aside, every ‘just for me’ comment that I slipped into the show that night hit a home run. Was I on form? Yes. Was I a better performer than usual? I don’t think so. I just think that some nights shine – as performers some nights our performances soar to new heights, and other nights it is the audience that pushes a show to greatness. I will take all the credit in the world for a good performance that night – the audience can have the credit for making the whole evening one of the special ones!

Then, after the evening show on the Saturday night, Alison from Wombledon came over to tell me that she still had some of her father’s old magic kit, and would I like to have a look at it the next day? (Of course I would!).

The next day, while performing throughout the town I stopped in at Wombledon, and spoke with Alison, who brought out a briefcase containing Mr Fez’s magic act. I pored through it, and I was close to tears as I went through it. It was overwhelmingly emotional to go through someone else’s kit. To know the bits I knew and to imagine them used, and to puzzle over and eventually figure out other pieces (and some are yet to be figured out!).

If you want to hear all about this fully, then have a listen to the episode of my Tales From The Road podcast, where I talk a lot about how this felt:

https://talesfromtheroad.podbean.com/e/a-torch-is-passed/

Overall, the Seaside Steampunk Spectacular was an incredible experience on all levels!

Hereford Steampunk Weekend 2019!

Greetings one and all to this week’s blog!

It was a long weekend, and I am now somewhat tired, but it was totally worth it to kick my Steampunk festival season off at the Hereford Steampunk Weekend!

Now in its third year (you can find out about last year’s event on an older Tales From The Road podcast episode), the event takes place at the Waterworks Museum in Hereford – and what a venue it is! The working steam engines throughout the site are a wonder to behold, and the staff and volunteers are all so welcoming that they make the entire event a treat.

Going into the weekend, I had made a couple of new additions to the Stage-Trike – minor ones ahead of some bigger additions I’m hoping to arrange as the season progresses.

The first addition for this weekend was a new poster advertising the audiobook (https://thelastairship.bandcamp.com/releases for anyone wanting the digital version), which also really smartens up the front of the trike as the old one was starting to look a little tatty!

The second new addition was in the Museum of Curios on the right-hand side of the trike – a 20 million-year-old fossilised whale ear bone! A fascinating find from Island Gems Fossil Shop on the Isle of Wight, and an interesting addition for you to come over to see when you see the time at events. Remember if you see me at an event, you can always ask for a ’tour’ of the museum, and I’ll show you the objects inside a little closer. If you have any ideas of other objects that should be in there, please leave a comment below to let me know!

The event itself was fabulous fun. As we had the fabulous Ichabod Steam and his Steampunk Submarine, Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show and Kiss Like Ether performing during the day, I just did a couple of juggling ’crowd’ shows and focused on doing more close up with the stage-trike which was a great little change of pace. Plus, my good friend Paul bought me a beautiful deck of golden playing cards which he gave me on the Saturday morning and which I wanted to use over the weekend!

I was also handing out the first of my free Spring/Summer 2019 souvenir booklets, and am working on a nice little routine involving that. They seem to have been really well received – and one trader even came up to me and said they would like to advertise in the next one, which is a good sign – and a great opportunity for me to thank all of those who advertised in this one and made it possible. It was lovely to see SteampunkdotGlobal, Lurcher Gallery and Amy’s Steampunk Emporium over the weekend, all of whom contributed adverts to help get the programmes printed.

The evening show on Saturday night was the highlight of the weekend for me. To start with I got to host the evening with Mr Alexander. I always enjoy crossing over with Mr Alexander on the circuit, his performance style contrasts wonderfully with mine, but our performing philosophies I think I can safely say cross over nicely, and he is the perfect example of a good old fashioned family entertainer. A joy for me to both work with, and personally just to see over the weekend and have a chance to talk about touring, magic, and life in general.

Me, watching my favourite of Mr Alexander’s routines. Thanks to Richard for the photograph.

The first act we introduced was Kiss Like Ether. Kris and Adrian are both fabulous supporters of all I do – they provide the music for series one of The Last Airship, the Tales From The Road podcast, and my audiobook.

Performing some magic for Kiss Like Ether and assorted traders and public.

I am currently editing two music videos for them, so I have seen them both in January, but after an enforced absence from the stage due to injury, it was a genuine pleasure to see them both back where they belong – and, as consummate professionals, they carried on despite the fuses going halfway through the set!

Next up was Ichabod Steam and Debbie with their new show, Ichabod Steam’s Dark Side. I want to say a lot about this show, but I also want to leave it for you all to enjoy yourselves! What I can say without fear of spoilers is that the music was every bit as good as you would expect from such a skilled musician, and the show is great fun.

The headline act was the Captain of the Lost Waves – in my opinion a performer beyond compare, whose musical skill, stage presence and all over performance is incredible – I highly recommend looking him up on YouTube, or getting a copy of his albums.

Overall it was a wonderful event, and thanks and congratulations on a successful event are due to all at the museum, all the volunteers, staff, traders and acts – but especially to David Smith who organised the entire event. He has his next event coming up next week -the Seaside Steampunk Spectacular in Minehead – I’ll be there, and I’ll be hosting the cabaret evenings on Saturday and Sunday night – so don’t miss out on those – remember www.gregchapman.net will get you all the information you need on this and all.of my shows this year.

Please remember you can support the second series of ’The Last Airship’, and all I do, at www.patreon.com/gregchapman.

Thank you all for reading!

Greg

Steam Trains, Stage-Trike, and Shortbread!

This Easter long weekend I dusted off the Incredible Stage-Trike and set off to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet for five days of fun and games at the station. The Railway is always a special place for me to perform – it is one of my most regular venues throughout the year, and so I know the people there well – and they know me!

The event went really well, and was fun as always. If you want to listen to me get over excited about a truly magical moment performing the ‘Chop Cup’ routine, then head over and listen to my podcast, Greg Chapman’s Tales From The Road, on your favourite podcast app, or right here:

A large part of the weekend was spend discussing the upcoming Isle of Wight Steampunk Festival to be held at the station in June – which acts will be there (myself, the wonderful Mr Alexander and Ichabod Steam and his Steampunk Submarine are confirmed, other acts to be confirmed over the coming months) and what exactly Steampunk is for those who didn’t know. Of course, there is always the struggle to define the Steampunk genre while allowing complete freedom within the genre, which is an interesting challenge.

Speaking of which, my other big task this week has been writing my souvenir booklets for Spring/Summer 2019. This is idea that started with my Christmas show tour in December. That being an evening show, I created a programme, and actually really enjoyed the process, but wanted it to be seen by more people.

At the same time I should have been preparing some new leaflets for this season – but I am very bad with leaflets. Either I end up with a whole pile of leaflets for different projects, or a flyer trying to cover everything I do in a couple of lines each, which I’m sure very few people ever look through, and which I always forget to hand out unless I’m asked directly.

The result of this was that I have put together the first Greg Chapman Souvenir Booklet, which I will be handing out free to all and sundry over the next few months until the end of September. A collection of wonderful businesses have booked advertising space in the programme to cover the cost of printing the 12 page booklets (initial print run of 1000 copies, but a reserve of funds to buy more as the season progresses depending on their popularity).

I have written a new story, I have a fantastic introduction explaining Steampunk – courtesy of The Captain of the Lost Waves no less – a new short story from the Ever So Slightly Exaggerated Tales of Mr Greg Chapman, and all sorts of other bits and pieces including details of various projects like the podcast and The Last Airship. Hopefully this will be a much better way to spread the word about all of the various projects – and will allow everything to reach a much wider audience as anticipation (hopefully) builds for the second series of The Last Airship!

More updates on everything soon, but for now, Goodbye, and take care!

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Funding Update For Series Two!

Current Funds Raised:

Basic Target: £0 of £2600

All-Out Target: £0 of £5500

So we’re gearing up for The Last Airship Series 2: Hunt For The Nautilus! We have big plans for series 2 – and we are filming as much as possible with real-world sets and miniatures to replace the reliance on CGI of series one!

This costs money though – to do most of what we want to do, would cost us at least £2600 from where we are now – and a lot more to do everything we hope to do in the series (about £5500!).

This series we are not currently planning a big crowdfunder, but are hoping to raise all the funds through three channels:

The Patreon page: http://www.patreon.com/gregchapman – the easiest way to directly donate, and to get advanced notice on some news, and additional behind the scenes information from as little as $1 per month!

The Last Airship Shop: The profit from every item bought from the supplies section of http://www.thelastairship.com will go towards the series! T-shirts, mugs, and more besidea can be found there!

Greg’s Audiobook: All proceeds from the sale of my audiobook, ‘The Ever So Slightly Exaggerated Tales of Mr Greg Chapman’, either at shows or as a download version at thelastairship.bandcamp.com, will go towards the series!

As of Friday 19th April I’ll be updating The Last Airship blog, and the pinned post on the Facebook page, to let you know how we are proceeding towards our goal!

My aim is to have the basic funding goal reached by 29th June – the day before my 34th birthday, and the day of the inaugural Bristol Steampunk Saturday!

The Beginning…

This morning Facebook popped up with a memory, showing me that two years ago today I uploaded the first ‘teaser trailer’ for The Last Airship, our Steampunk Webseries.

This was in the first stages of work on the first series. We had a concept, a basic script, and ambition, and we were ready to take some concrete action and get the series made.

I had compiled the first teaser using footage from episodes of my old ‘Condensed Histories’ series and short videos filmed with Lady Felicity at the Buckingham Steampunk Weekend, in order to give an idea of the feel of the show. This was to form the start of our crowdfunding campaign for the series.

Fast forward two years today, and we are in a similar position – ramping up preparations for the new series, trying to raise funds (not currently with a large crowdfunder planned, but through our Patreon account at https://www.patreon.com/gregchapman and our shop on https://www.thelastairship/com), and working to refine scripts and create props.

Although now we start with a series behind us, which we face the challenge of exceeding in the next series. We know what we did right… and what we want (and need) to improve on.

Between the series the crew, and especially Lupo, have worked hard to give the Skyvern an overhaul, and behind the scenes we are doing the same thing as we start work on the new miniature Skyvern prop to replace the CGI airship of series 1.

So now seemed the right time to also begin a blog, which alongside The Last Airship facebook page and Greg Chapman’s Tales From The Road podcast, will keep you up to date on all the latest news as we prepare The Last Airship to fly again!

Thank you for reading,

Greg