January, or rather a ‘short January’ lasting from New Year’s Day to the Thursday before the last weekend of the month, is traditionally blocked out in working musicians’ diaries as ‘No gigs – catch up with everything else’. I got my tax return done rather earlier, but did fit in restringing two of my instruments (the acoustic violin seems to have been last done in August so can wait for some months for a new set) and getting my good violin and viola bows rehaired. However, exceptionally, I also had three paying gigs during ‘short January’ (besides a gig last Saturday and some career development activity, which can have separate posts).
First up was a winter wedding, on the 5th. This was my first quartet job with Giardino Strings but without maestro David Giardino leading or indeed present – though with such a busy organisation such performances are not actually unusual, and in high season there are often two or more separate ensembles working under the Giardino brand and oversight. Thankfully there was no outside component to this wedding! It was in a hotel from which I suspect you could have seen the Bank of England by leaning out of a front window. And which was also probably the most imposingly (to my socioeconomic unrootedness, terrifyingly) posh place I have ever been inside. I arrived and was asked by one of the front of house staff ‘Are you with [the gypsy jazz combo playing in the lobby / restaurant] or the wedding?’. Resisting temptation to try and get on the jazz gig, I was directed to the lifts and fifth floor. Where there was another permanently manned reception desk in case anyone had got lost on their way up! And so it continued …
Scheduled for later on the 5th, but eventually put back a fortnight, was my return booking to freestyle electric violin over liquid drum’n’bass at the Sacred Moon Parties run by self-proclaimed witch Sharmayne (Wicca or pagan are probably the terms I’d be more likely to recognise). Next time I am definitely booking myself in for a mini head massage if the therapist is there again!
On Monday 14th, Kindred Spirit Duo had a first for, I think, both of us in terms of actual paying work – a funeral and wake booking! A very elderly Irish Catholic lady who loved music and dancing (and by the sounds of it getting up to mischief … ) had finally shuffled off and her daughter, organising the funeral Mass and wake, had decided – and stuck admirably to her decision – to have a celebration of her life rather than a mourning of her death.
Our requested contribution to the funeral itself was ‘Lord of the Dance’ as the coffin went out. Readers familiar with my church musician family will be amused that when Elaine and I ran a couple of verses beforehand for the sake of security, she thought I was counting in ‘double time’ – though I did actually have to reduce my initial tempo somewhat to avoid the song becoming a tongue-twister! (both of us sang, it being difficult enough to lead a congregation without a vocal mike anyway; though in practice I think a lot of them were somewhat startled by my fiddle sawing and foot-stomping and not very committed to joining in … )
For the wake we were doing fairly standard Irish folk song / fiddle tune / standard cover material. While it was a fairly small gathering rather than the monumental debauches of Irish Catholic wake legend (I was a little disappointed no one danced, though it looked like they might at some points!), we were very well appreciated and gave out countless business cards.
Available for parties, weddings, funerals, bar mitvzahs …