Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two performances

And I learn that I can't tiptoe in cowboy boots across a wooden floor.

Sunday night I was the support act at Hitchin Folk Club, to the amazing Mr Dave Swarbrick. Swarb (as he is affectionately known by those who know him and those who don't) played amazing violin - no mean feat given his physical condition. He entertained with stories about the history of many of the tunes and chatted a little in between numbers, but mostly he just played with incredible dexterity.

I'm not a great one for violin on its own, and I must admit that I lost the thread of some of the tunes, and also found that violin without accompaniment does not fully sate my personal tastes, but it was still a good night.

My performance was obviously ok - for the first time ever I got whistles of appreciation! I sang a new song which I finished with. I'd only written it on Friday, but the audience seemed to like it. Maybe it's not always the quality of the song, but the quality of the performance. I certainly put my heart into it.

I sang a few songs of my own, and a couple of covers. Interestingly enough I had a discussion with the audience (I talk to the audience quite a bit) that I never thought I'd have in a folk club: 'do you want Snow Patrol or Eric Clapton?'. A vote was had and the show of hands was in favour of Eric. I sang 'Wonderful Tonight' but insisted that, as my music partner was absent, that the audience sing the guitar riff. It atually worked wonderfully - with a soft 'hm hm hm hm hmmmm, hu hm hm hm hmmm hm hm hm...' adding a lovely cadence to the song. Must try that again sometime.

After I had introduced Swarb I tried to creep back to my seat across the back of the hall... that's when I learned about my boots and the floor.

That was the Sunday night. On Monday, I had a very different performance to make. A poetic recital. I don't think I've read poetry out loud since I was at school, but considering it a 'performance' was fine, and I think I read it OK. It was the first time I've ever had any 'duty' whatsoever to perform at a funeral.

The funeral was of a family friend, Pamela Page Smith, who died aged 87 last month. I've known her my entire life, but then again - as is often the case - I discovered yesterday that I didn't really know her at all.

I learned a lot about her life; she used to be a BBC Concert Painist as well as a music teacher. Being a friend of my mother's, I guess we had a different kind of relationship, but in the late 1970's my mother and I did live with her and her husband for a short while. She put us up when we were 'between houses' shortly after my father died.

The interesting thing at the funeral was that many, many people subsequently mentioned when they lived with her and Erwin, her husband (departed 1993). Though she had no children, it seems their house was always open to visitors.

She left me her guitar (a nice classical) and mandolin. The mandolin is a lovely round-backed one, which used to belong to Erwin. He played violin and mandolin, she played piano (and a bit of guitar). What a musical, amazing pair they were in their day. I've never actually owned a mandolin before - believe it or not. I think it's time I learned to do more than strum a few chords. This one has a lovely tone.

So I have memories of them - musical memories. I often think of her at the piano and it was lovely to hear one of her pupils play at the wake afterwards. What a legacy she has left - thousands of people learning to play the piano. That's quite something.
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