September is well underway. Harvested golden fields shine out across the landscape. Early morning mists and dew fall on cobwebs like glistening jewels.
Bird song has changed – the robin and the blue-tit seem to sing a different tone; or perhaps I’m just noticing them more? An occasional skein of geese fly over our house, with their evocative calls, echoing in the still cool air. And the fruiting process in our garden abounds.
The abundance of summer is gradually drawing to a close – so wonderfully depicted in Keats’ poem:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees, And fill all fruits with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With sweet kernel; to set…
It’ s now only one and a half weeks until 17th May – Song Wave day! I have been rehearsing with my two singing groups. Just Singing is very small, there are about six of us singing “Stay” so we are doing the tune with two of us on the top part attempting to sound ethereal. We are going to meet at 10.40 at the Natural Crafs shop in Melrose. My friend, the owner, Catherine Bauer, says we are very welcome to go through the song while, Sandra (who manages the shop) is having her coffee. So that will be our warm up then it’s across the road to Marmions for 11 o’clock which, I hope will be packed, to sing and be filmed by my friend Sue Scowcroft. After that, if we feel up to it, we may go and sing outside the Co-op.
Smailholm Village Hall on a grey and damp evening. Often it is all shiny and covered in sunshine but not the day I took my camera!
My other group is The Smailholm Singing Group and I’m absolutely delighted that so many of them are going to sing “Stay”. It was twenty-one at the last count.
Ian and Fin helping with the chairs (thank you both). Fin has got distracted by the books and I think I surprised Ian!
It’s been interesting to see how easy (or otherwise) the groups have found learning the song. It appears that the chorus is very catchy and people pick it up quickly. There has been a bit of a struggle with the top part and also difficulties with the rhythm of the tune.
Here we are going through some of the bottom part.
They are enjoying themselves already and we haven’t even started singing.
Last week during our rehearsal in Smailholm, I got the”tune” people walking out the beat and it really improved thier understanding of the rhythm.
Here is a recording of Smailholm Singing Group trying out the the last bit of the song. Probably only for the second time. The top part haven’t quite got all the right notes at this point.
There are more people than this, the others are standing, inconveniently, in the shadows. (Or possibly on purpose?)
After that we all sang together and it sounded gorgeous with so many of us. I was very pleased. I’m also happy that people like it because you can never know when you are creating something how it will be received. So what a relief!
Two more rehearsals and then we will be singing in Keslo Square on Friday 17th May at 1.30. After that we will move around. Others places suggested by the group are the War Memorial, outside the Fishmongers and outside Lidl.
Do come and see us in Melrose or Kelso and even join in if you wish.
I mentioned in an earlier post The Scottish Mental Health and Arts Festival’s theme for this year is “Connected” and I would like to relate a couple of stories.
Jake Scott is one of the contributors towards “Stay”. He sings his own blues songs as Stoney Broke. I went to see him at The Barrels in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Tom Sykes, who recorded “Stay” with me came along too. We enjoyed his music. He has a lovely voice.
The basement room at The Barrels is like being in the belly of Berwick. The picture is me with Stoney Broke. Yes, it was a bit dark down there.
It was good to meet Stoney Broke and it will be great if he works on a blues version of “Stay”. That is the first CONNECTION. The other is of a more coincidental nature (if you believe in coincidence, which, actually, I don’t).
Both Tom and I were paid for our work on “Stay” and Tom was keen to plough the money back into music. He came across a guitar that was exactly the amount he had earned. It was privately owned so he went to pick it up from the musician who’d put it up for sale. They got chatting and Tom mentioned Song Wave. It turned out that friends of the musician had known Scott Hutchison very well and were, understandably, very upset about his suicide last year. I hope and expect there to be more Song Wave CONNECTIONS. I also hope that lots of people will sing “Stay” on 17th May and think about how poor mental health impacts on people’s lives. But also reflect on the joy that comes from singing and CONNECTING through song.