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Brushing the dust off the old songs

I’m told the latest guidance from the government now allows live, “socially distanced” performances indoors, including wind and brass instruments played by professionals. This still wouldn’t allow many of the gigs I used to do, but hopefully it will open up a few more.

I joined five others for a gig last Sunday in Chalice Garden, near Cambridge. A traditional jazz style band. We were all a bit rusty so the band wasn’t as polished as it might have been but the event was a success, with many positive comments:

“Thank you for a fantastic afternoon. The setting, the weather, and the music could not have been bettered.”


and on Facebook: “Does anyone know what's going on in Challis gardens, the music is fantastic...We're in the garden next door, very much enjoying it.”


This was also the first gig for the staging company for many months – they’d normally have been working solidly through the summer.

New Orleans in Chalice Garden

The weather got hotter and hotter this week – breaking records for daytime and night time temperatures, so it was hard to sleep and sapped your energy. My wife had taken two days off work and we had planned a trip on Monday in our inflatable canoe / kayak from Bishops Stortford to Harlow along the river Stort. We’d parked at Harlow, taken the train to Bishops Stortford and planned to paddle back. It turned out that we had been a bit over-ambitious, what with the intense heat. Eventually we got back to our car 7 hours later, hot, dehydrated and exhausted.

The heat wave broke on Thursday so the gig on Friday evening, playing on a band stand at a food festival in Victoria Park in Hackney, was a bit of a flop. They’d carefully marked out zones on the grass for groups to gather apart from others, but there was nobody there to fill these zones! A small collection of people milled about, sheltering from the occasional rain showers, although they appreciated the live jazz band (clarinet, banjo and sousaphone). A couple danced, there was the inevitable request for a contemporary pop song that we didn’t know, a kind man gave us a tip and we felt lucky to be playing. We were due to repeat the gig on Saturday but it was cancelled on the day due to poor weather and we were re-booked for another day. Usually we wouldn’t have stood for cancellations on the day but in the current circumstances we are just grateful for the work.

A desolate food festival!

I’ve been busy writing and arranging numbers for my six-piece ‘Sunshine Kings’ jazz band, ready for our gig on Tuesday at Botany Bay Jazz Club in Enfield. It’s exciting to present the band with a new arrangement and see how it sounds played live – all the musicians are very good at reading and interpreting music on the spot.

And on the world stage, we are told that Russia has begun to roll out a vaccine, months ahead of any other potential vaccines being developed around the world. Apparently many of the usual testing steps have been skipped, causing alarm among scientists.

Also, quarantine is now being imposed on travellers from France and the Netherlands as of 4 am this morning, causing a last minute rush of British tourists to get back before the deadline.

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