Pat, the star of my gig!

Dear all,

It’s been a good year for music thus far although, as usual, I’m not gigging (in a public sense) too much in January. There was one notable exception which was my live album recording in Stafford at the lovely Floodgate Ale House. It was a wonderful night (thank god) and producer Mark was impressed so I know I must have done ok (he’s not a man easily pleased…). Thanks to all those who came out, especially those who came quite a distance.

Other than that it’s been more of the teaching side of things with lots of lessons and my work in care homes which I love so much. As many of you know, alongside my touring and recording and whatnot I play a lot in nursing homes for those living with dementia. Yesterday was one of my favourite gigs ever. I played Fly Me To The Moon and I was playing the instrumental break between verses when a guy called Pat suddenly joined in and let loose with the words. He had an absolute monster of a voice which was in mighty fine fettle so I just strummed and he sang and the whole room of staff and residents broke into ecstatic applause with mouths wide open in astonishment. The sheer power and beauty in his voice was absolutely amazing. Happily, he wasn’t finished! A few more songs got the Pat treatment before the end and it was just magical. That is a gig I will absolutely not forget.

In addition to this, I did some training earlier this week in playing music on intensive care units for both newborn children and adults. It was a fascinating thing to look at the effect of music in yet another sphere, I can’t wait to give it a go myself!

So next up, Australia. They’ve been having a hard time of course with the fires although I’m on the opposite side of the country from the main danger zone. I sent an email to my old banjo student who lives in the ‘danger zone’ and he said that while it was extremely scary, it was heartening to see everyone pulling together. One of my newest songs, ‘Still A Town’ is about the community spirit evident in Stafford as the town centre continues to decline alarmingly. The strongest example is the iconic greengrocer with its beautiful thatched roof rather than standing empty is now a ‘social supermarket’. Stick with each other everybody.