Singing boogie woogie woogie on the floor
The health statistics look more promising every day, and I hope you've all managed to enjoy this week's new found freedoms and a splash of sun. If you are uncertain what you are now allowed to do and what is still banned, that doesn't surprise me. As usual, the government's ability to communicate clearly is severely lacking. As far as I can tell, you can now meet in groups of up to six outdoors, but must still maintain social distancing, and right now you cannot go to a pub, not even if it has an outdoor garden. Instead of being told to stay at home, the instruction is now stay local. What does local mean, and will police slap a fine on you if you drive beyond the imaginary dotted line and it isn't for an eye test? On that question, I have no idea. Absolutely no idea. Just like Boris, I haven't got a clue.
A musical Easter Egg
I can't give you a chocolate Easter Egg, but here is a musical treat instead, courtesy of Samuel Edwards. Samuel has recorded some of his original stuff for acoustic guitar for us, unplugged and sitting in front of the camera in the living room, and I've thrown in a couple of flashbacks to the Wheatsheaf as well. Take it away maestro.
Big thanks to Samuel for this lyrical feast. Remember, if anyone else out there wants to record a short unplugged piece for us over the next month or so, get in touch, let me know what you have in mind, and whether you'll need cameras etc. So don't be shy when you could be a star. Okay, what about being a shy star?
A platform for music
Do you want to see hyperactive music fans, the orginal Siri, the genuine Mary Poppins, two old-school punks singing the blues, and not forgetting a troll? Yes, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I've had a Jaegerbomb and started hallucinating, but no, I only ever made that mistake once and I was seeing rainbows for the next three hours. Never again.
It is all to do with Platform 88. It is an idea that the Yamaha keyboards company came up with a few years ago, and in the UK they worked with TFL, (London transport). Yamaha provided several ruggedised pianos which have been sited in various train stations around the central London area, along with skilled musicians on hand to keep things moving. The idea is to positively encourage people passing through the station to have a go at tickling the ivories and some of this was live-streamed. In this wonderful Mary Poppins collection, which looks to me like it is filmed in St Pancras station, the on-hand pianist is the enormously engaging, encouraging, mischievious, and talented Dr K, (aka Brendan Kavenagh) wearing his trademark black hoodie. And I love the troll at the end. The troll is brilliant. I want trolls at our gigs.
This is the spirit of live music, simple unrehearsed enjoyment and real people. What's that? Don't be silly, of course Mary Poppins is a real person. Anyway, I love the way Dr K overcomes people's inhibitions, and if you look at some of his other videos you'll see everything from senior citizens having the time of their lives reliving old tunes, to classiclal musicians being encouraged to play Debussy in the style of jazz or ragtime. And all the time in the background you can see so many people of all ages stopping, listening, filming bits of it on their phones. There are no barriers, (apart from ticket barriers, obviously). This is what music is all about.
What's on the calendar for this summer?
I was disappointed to see that the Charlbury Riverside Festival has been called off again this year. The uncertainty of what the legal requirements for shows will be this summer makes it really difficult for event organisers who have to risk money and book stage gear, marquees, barriers, portaloos, you name it. In the case of Riverside, they have said obtaining event insurance this year is an insurmountable problem for them, but they will be back in 2022.
On the other hand, the Cowley Road Carnival seems to be going ahead on Sunday 4th July. A post on Facebook from just a few days ago says "This years Carnival is all about celebrating with your family and friends at home and in your neighbourhood. We are organising a parade of eco floats which will be decorated by local artists, schools, and other groups in the community."
Elsewhere in Oxfordshire, the Cropredy Festival organisers say they are "cautiously optimistic" that the event can go ahead this year, with dates listed as 12th to 14th August. Likewise, the Truck Festival is also optimistic about being able to go ahead on the weekend of 23rd to 25th July, and it has already sold out of tickets and has a waiting list. The Cornbury Festival is scheduled for the 9th, 10th, and 11th of July, and they are also now advertising the event as going ahead, although with reduced capacity, and they say further restrictions may include requiring festival-goers to provide vaccine certificates or pass a covid test.
I think vaccine certificates are going to be a pointless and socially divisive exercise, and I don't think they will bring any health benefits. However, renewed calls for them are being fuelled by armchair warriors who have proclaimed themselves scientists and voice their expert opinions, unfettered by any actual knowledge, experience, or data. Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable about asking people to provide medical data to get into an event, and I'm not sure why people think you need a passport to get into a festival but not for getting on a bus, visiting a supermarket, or crowding cheek by jowl onto Bournemouth Beach. I would be really interested to know how you feel. Would the presence or abscence of vaccine passports affect your attitudes to going to gigs or festivals again? If you have strong feelings either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts, and if you have any medical or scientific training to underpin your position, even better.
If Deep Purprle played Vivaldi
Let's finish off with another guitar prodigy. This is Laura Lace from Latvia, and somewhere on YouTube you can find an older video of her on stage playing this piece in the school concert. The sound on this newer video is much better though, and the camera angles let you see the intricate fingerwork which I am sure will be of interest to the guitarists out there, and be a source of wonder and amazement to the rest of us, (as always, apologies for the irritating YouTube ads).
That piece of music is Summer from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, but I think I could so easily have said it was an obscure piece called Le Quattro Stagioni, a song about pizza toppings, by Deep Purple, and most people would say "Oh yes, I thought I recognised it from somewhere". So next time you see the Confused Dot Com advert on TV and hear this music playing in the background, you can casually say "Hmm, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, 3rd movement I believe, written almost exactly 300 years ago you know,... that part of the piece symbolises the onset of summer thunderstorms." That will leave your friends scratching their heads at your surprising hidden depths, and wondering if you were fibbing all these years when you told them you were a punk rocker.
Happy Easter, don't eat too many eggs
Keep well everyone, and keep up the good habits, the masks, the hand washing, all of it, and please don't hesitate to get vaccinated when you get the chance. We are well on the way to beating covid so don't give up now. Keep yourself safe, and keep those around you safe,