A PAIR of musicians who play regularly at the Sunday morning All-age Communion service at St John’s helped bring the curtain down on the fourth Big Burns Supper.
Mark Toner and John Taylor formed the Getz Group jazz band last year and played their first gig after being invited to take part in the fringe festival of music, theatre and comedy.
Organisers of the now regular feature in the Dumfries calendar were so happy with them that the band were asked back for a repeat.
At the Cairndale Hotel on Saturday afternoon in a performance billed ‘Smooth Jazz for the Bard’, the band struck
up again. They were one of a number of live acts across the town on the day the festival drew to a close.
Mark played piano and organ with John on saxophone and clarinet. They were joined on stage by guitarists Doug Taylor and Dave Mowett, with youngster Will Rickards on bass and well-known local folk musician Alex Cook on percussion.
The group take their name from American tenor saxophonist Stan Getz who forged his reputation in America from the late 1940s through to the 70s, best known for popularising bossa nova, a form of Brazilian music that fuses samba and jazz.
“The nice thing about Stan Getz is that you could always follow the tune whatever he did,’ explained Mark.
‘It is a very melodious form of jazz, we thought it would make nice, easy listening. You could get a few gigs, people would be quite happy to have that playing in the background at parties.’
It was after chatting following a Sunday morning All-age service in the church hall about 18 months ago that the pair decided to start a jazz band.
As well as making their debut at the Burns Supper they played later in the year at the Lockerbie Jazz Festival.
They have also performed at the Yellow Door gallery in Queen Street in Dumfries on a number of occasions and are booked to appear at the Lockerbie Little Theatre during the 36th Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival in late May.
A group of lantern bearers from St John’s shone the light of Christ at the annual Big Burns Supper parade.
About a dozen members of the congregation met up in the church hall before the carnival that wound its way through the streets of Dumfries, starting outside Moat Brae House and finishing at the bottom of the High Street, on 25 January, the birthday of Scotland’s national poet.
Group leader was Ann Toner, who attended a demonstration on how to make the lanterns before Christmas and then took a practical workshop for the volunteers at St John’s a week before the parade.
The lanterns were made out of paper, willow and a strip of LED lighting. A four foot lantern in
the shape of a cross was the centrepiece. It was carried at the front of the St John’s group by Eleanor Tofield.
Said Ann: “It was fun. We enjoyed the night walking along the High Street, showing the lanterns which we brought from St John’s, sharing the light of Jesus with the town of Dumfries.”
The parade featured 2015 lanterns, carried by numerous community groups and organisations, including the town’s schoolchildren, as a nod to the celebration of UNESCO’s 2015 Year of Light.
UNESCO is an agency of the United Nations. Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights, and freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.
The parade is one of the highlights of Big Burns Supper, a nine-day festival of music, comedy, theatre, cabaret, culture and fun throughout the town that runs from 23 January to 31 January.
The St John’s lantern bearers were: Ann and Mark Toner; Carol Finlay; Helen Paisley, Paul, Kim and Eleanor Tofield; Edith Levin; Anglea and John Taylor; Terry and Rosie Brown, and Diane Tyas.
A poem composed by a former inmate at HMP Dumfries has ‘wowed’ members of the Cake and Questions group.
The work, ‘The Day a Spake tae the Lord’, by a prisoner identified only as David, took the eye of Joan Warwick, who bought it when it was on display at a recent exhibition of prisoners’ art and poetry held at Kings coffee & book shop on Queensbury Street.
The poem struck an immediate chord with Joan as it was relevant to a discussion the group had just held.
Said Joan: “It coincided with our talk about God and does he speak to you through other people, and do angels look like us, or what do they look like?
The poem, which is written in the Scots language, tells of an encounter between two prisoners in a cell at Dumfries and, in a twist at the end, one of them ponders if the other was the Lord or just another inmate of the same name
Joan, of Glencaple Avenue, said: “I took a copy back to the group and everybody was so interested. They said more people really should see this. They were taken with it, as I was. It has a wow factor.
“At the end, you think, my goodness was that really the Lord or somebody called Lord. It’s the question of how God speaks to you.
“I got the impression this poem was written by a man who knows a bit about theology – about the Lord and the dispensing of forgiveness. He betrays quite a knowledge of the grace of God which is not understood by everybody.”
The work was one of a number of poems and paintings that were displayed in the prison last March at what is to become an annual exhibition of inmates’ work. It later was shown at the coffee shop after being selected by manager Helen Smith, a regular visitor to the prison in her role as pastor at the River of Life Church on Lovers Walk.
John Oates, the prison’s learning centre manager, said he remembered the poem and it just emphasised what quality work the prisoners produce.
He said: “The person who wrote this poem has since left Dumfries. He also wrote another that was called ‘Big Brother’.
“He had never done anything like this before, but he attended art, English and creative writing classes here. It is an example of the high standard of the prisoners’ work whether they are paintings or written work.”
The poem has been donated to St John’s by Joan, wife of retired minister Revd Gordon Warwick. It is currently on display at the back of the church.