Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Charity Library Concert

I am the youngest of five siblings. Nobody in my family has ever taken up a musical instrument or performed on stage. My father listened to Beethoven and Caruso. He was an electronic engineer and my two brothers took degrees in electronic engineering.

'Daniel. If you studied as much as you played guitar you'd be going to Oxford.'

My dad never did understand what literature and music meant to me. When something fell apart he would always suggest that I take up engineering.

'Dad. I spent three years studying English. Not engineering.'

So I took up guitar teaching.

'Daniel. How are your finances?'

'Okay. I have twelve lessons this week.'

'Do you have enough to support yourself?'

'Yes. But I need to find ways of making more money.'

'Why don't you try engineering?'

This cycle would continue for another decade. I would make albums and write articles. Organize events that never seemed to profit. I was stuck in an invisible circle of my own creating.

'What are you working on Daniel?'

'A new album. It will be my best yet.'

'There's no money in music.'

'That's why I'm only making fifty copies this time.'

'What about the seven-hundred you have in the attic?'

'As I said. That's why I'm only making fifty.'

We would always laugh about this. I can hear my father now and see him smiling. His beard is untidy, he is wearing his blue sweater. I inherited his green one when he died. One remembers the voice of a lost loved one that always stays in ones head. The sound and texture of it. Its notes, timbre and dynamic. A rhythm played harmoniously without conscious breath.

'You need more lessons. Why don't you advertise?'

'I do. But it's more important to retain the students I already have.'

My father was always problem solving with his children. This was not always entirely effective.

'I am an engineer and we engineers like to find practical solutions to problems.'

'But I'm a musician. Not an engineer.'

So I carried on making music; and so my father kept suggesting I give it up. I wish my father could have been there at the concert last Saturday. With his grandchildren helping to put out the programme sheets on the chairs. It was a beautiful summary of all that a community-minded musician can achieve. We had a full house of appreciative listeners. Ever vigilant, my mother Carole volunteered on the door. The chief executive of The Winch gave a speech. My students attended and were happy. Supporters of the open mic were taking drinks out for the interval.

Then we had that grand piano dominating the centre of the room, a great pianist at the helm and two poets dressed up for a concert. Knowing me, knowing you; they were dancing once again, as the dancing king and queen.

Daniel and Angharad are available for your event:

Angharad and Daniel
Saturday April 21st, 2018

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Community Volunteering

The inter-generational mix we had last Thursday, at our open mic, was an incredible moment for me as a community volunteer. I believe free access to local libraries can be life changing for people: young, old or middling. The unique combination of grime, folk, pop, rock, classical and poetry that occurred was more than art; greater than music; far more significant than an open mic. It was a community of people engaging in a cultural exchange. This is exactly what we had envisioned when we originally discussed the plans for the event. Pictures or videos do not do justice to it. Come along to one of our open mic events and see for yourself what a difference giving folks a stage to perform on can make to a group of individuals.

For an entire decade, I performed for myself and for my own selfish reasons. This meant that I could create art from life: and I am grateful to everyone who supported; especially those attended gigs or purchased music. But what happened last Thursday has changed my entire perspective as a musician. Of course, I will continue to create songs, write poetry and compose instrumental music for a public. However, now I can see that my social, organizational and communication skills can be used for the power of good, I am further inclined to employ myself towards actions that benefit directly society.

I am grateful to all those people in my community who have steered onto this path: a winding road that I continue to tread with occasional side-tracks and mishaps.

Swiss Cottage: a Communal Space