Tag Archives: music

Stretch Your Canvas

This is one of many lovely art works I’ve collected over the years, made by people who I work with who tell me they cannot draw. Apologies, I don’t currently know the name of the artist, but what we have here is a visual response to the question ‘what brings you joy?’.

A lot of my work is about encouraging folk who talk about creativity and innovation, to talk a little less, and do a little more. Take some action – convert your thoughts and ideas into objects and artefacts, learning from what that feels like. Something I observe in the work, is it needs repeated practice. Doing things differently often doesn’t come easy, and when you and I cannot respond positively to the ‘so when was the last time you did something you felt uneasy about?’ question, we undermine our ability to encourage, to influence.

In the coming weeks I am particularly busy, playing in the space where people’s desire to progress meets the stalling effects of uncertainty. For me – I feel better equipped to help people move through these feelings, into participation, when I am also pushing myself. In order to refresh this desire, at the beginning of last week I decided to take part in an open mic event at The Brook, a lovely venue just down the road from me. As the big day drew nearer I realised that this was no ordinary open mic night. A band called Love Zombies were visiting the UK to record a new album at The Brook, and the venue announced the band would be taking part in the open mic evening.

I arrived and the place was packed. I nervously approached Dan, who organises/encourages/sets up/pretty much does everything to make these evenings work well, and asked for a slot. 9.15pm it is then. At 8pm I take my seat and watch the venue come alive.

Love Zombies played first, then a series of talented local musicians took to the stage, as each one concludes their short act, my time of reckoning draws nearer. Heart thumping, 9.15pm comes and goes, things are understandably overrunning a little, it’s hectic in here. I lost my bottle at around 10pm, and went to find Dan to apologise before leaving. He said sorry for the delay, I realised I was being a chump, and we opted for a 10.15pm start.

At the reallotted time I took to the stage, nervously, and played two songs. I fluffed the first (When I Grow Up – by Tim Minchin), picked myself up and finished it, and the second (Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush – by The Reverend Horton Heat) came out better, in the right order at least! I did what I set out to do. Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, and I got it done. I’m as certain as I can be that further mistakes will occur in the coming weeks too, and I’m also certain that when someone asks me ‘so when was the last time you did something you felt uneasy about?’ I can respond positively, currently, and authentically.

Whatever you’re up to this week, go well, have fun, and maybe even make a mistake or two? 😉

Music to Die For

Today is my birthday. Somehow I’ve made it to 48, the age Mum was when she died. Today is a day for celebrating, for being happy, and thinking ahead.

If I have a faith, it is in people – past present and future. My funeral won’t be a religious affair, so in place of hymns, there will be music instead. Currently, here’s what will be on offer and why:

1. I Fought The Law

Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun 
I fought the law and the law won

This song is carved into the heart of my late teenage years. Mum died just before I turned 19. She not only endured my interest in the punk movement, she encouraged it. The prospect of stomping around Croydon in shiny black ten hole Doctor Martin boots sporting a black Harrington jacket and a bad attitude is what used to get me out of bed on a Saturday morning. That and the fact that my £1 weekly allowance was enough to get the bus to and from town, buy a copy of the Cost of Living EP from Virgin Records, and have change left over for a Mars Bar. Happy days.

2. Rock O My Soul

My soul is weak
Rock my soul
And thou art strong
Rock my soul

Before Elvis and The Beatles, there was Lonnie Donegan. Donegan was born in Glasgow in and began playing in London clubs in the late 1940s. With his simple guitar rhythms, powerful voice and rock solid band he chalked up 24 consecutive top 30 singles. This quote of his speaks volumes to me in terms of making music accessible:

“In England, we were separated from our folk music tradition centuries ago and were imbued with the idea that music was for the upper classes. You had to be very clever to play music. When I came along with the old three chords, people began to think that if I could do it, so could they. It was the reintroduction of the folk music bridge which did that.”

My Dad grew up listening to Lonnie Donegan, and as is the way, so did I. In my teenage years, my interest in Donegan waned in favour of bands like The Clash and The Damned, and when Dad died in early 2012, I rediscovered Lonnie Donegan’s simple power, and humour. Listening to his music has been a significant part of evolving grief into cherished memories.

3. The Garden

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
The way you live, the gifts that you give

In the fullness of time,
It’s the only return that you expect

Earlier this year I took myself and two very close friends off to the O2 to see Rush on their Clockwork Angels tour. We took the riverboat down to the venue, treated ourselves to seats right down the front, drank beer, spilled beer, and watched the band play. This song was a highlight and since that day it has pencilled, painted, inked and now tattooed itself into me. I love this song because it reminds me of my shortcomings, and of how far I still have to go. I love the idea that life is a garden to nurture and protect.

I have much nurturing to do. I’m off to do some now.

Have a great day.

There are successful bands all over the world with average guitar players, and singers that can hold a note, but every great band seems to have one thing in common. This post is for drummers and percussionists everywhere. To those who keep the rhythm, so the rest of us don’t have to.

Heroes – Debbie Chrissie and Annie

Here’s the latest in our Heroes series of blog posts. Today’s guest author is Ailsa Suttie, and she’s kept her thoughts short and sweet. I appreciate the simplicity of this post and the lovely personal nature of the whole series. If you fancy taking part, get in touch and tell us about your hero, it’s as simple as that. Take it away Ailsa:

Debbie, for beauty, for talent, for giving me a direction when I didn’t know I needed one. For giving me the confidence to unleash my vocal chords on the frightened citizens of Glasgow.

Chrissie, for inspiring me, for being part of my art school portfolio, and for opening my teenage eyes to the fact that it’s ok to go up front and stand out.

Annie, for daring, for challenging, for breaking ground and for continuing to do so today.