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The Bruce Grove Bowling Band

Part of my life as a freelance jazz musician involves continually being on the alert for potential gigs. I’ve usually got a small supply of business cards in my wallet. If you make the right contact at the right time it can turn into a regular gig for you and fellow musicians, although in reality when you hand someone a card it generally leads to nothing. I had a game of tennis last week with a musician friend of mine in Tottenham (as usual I lost!). Afterwards we spotted that the cafe in the park was open so we stopped for a coffee and a chat. The cafe is set in the pavilion overlooking an old bowling green, which now has tables set out on it. We both agreed it would be a nice place for an outdoor gig so we suggested it to the people running the cafe. Oddly enough it was something they’d been thinking of doing as well, so by the end of the conversation with them we’d agreed to come back three days later with a band using local musicians we knew. We’d be the ‘Bruce Grove Bowling Band’. With work currently so short for everyone friends agreed to come and have a play just for tips.

The Bruce Grove Bowling Band

On the day someone pulled out, but I was able to find someone else to take their place (as a band leader it’s not an unusual situation to have to deal with). With no promotion it was just passers by who stopped to listen. The weather was glorious though, the few who were there were generous with their tips, and it was fun to be playing to an audience, but it wasn’t going to be a solution to our financial woes.

Three of us also tried busking in Kingston on Thames (which has a pedestrianised shopping street and a council policy that welcomes buskers). We all used to busk in days gone by and it used to be possible to make a moderately respectable amount from it, but we were treating it as much as a chance to get together and play as anything. In the event we made just about enough to buy us a pint of beer and cover our travel.

I did have one professionally paid gig on Sunday night at “The Ned” in The City which was very welcome. I’ve also got another visit tomorrow to Bay Jazz Club for the third time this summer, this time with the award winning trumpeter Enrico Tomasso and his band.

Away from music, we had a walk with friends on Hackney Marshes on Saturday, and I was delighted to score a sighting of two kingfishers on the River Lea. I’ve wanted to see a kingfisher all my life and this was my first time.

A kingfisher (not the one I saw)

We are told numbers of cases of the virus in the UK, although still relatively low, are rising steadily. Various parts of the country have tighter restrictions and there are ongoing discussions about what, and when will be applied nationwide to try to stem the rise. A new term has been coined – a “circuit break”. It’s not clear exactly what it is, and if it would have any significant effect, but I think the idea is to bring back tighter restrictions country-wide for a short period to bring the virus back into control. Many people have pointed out that while the testing and tracking systems are still not working as well as they need to this would just hinder the next wave of the virus for a week or two.


If only the whole word could somehow coordinate a total lockdown for two weeks the virus could be flushed out. Wishful thinking (and wildly impractical)!

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