I recently took part in a great event organised by my MA colleague David Llewellyn and his friend Stanley O Ayodeji. The night at the International Anthony Burgess Centre, in Manchester, was a book launch for David’s Jack Par(r) and Damage Limitation by Stanley. This was part of the first (and hopefully not the last) We4Poets event. 

A number of colleagues from the MA took part in reading short stories, poems and some performed live music. My involvement was not a literary one, but a musical one. I was ‘coaxed’ out of retirement to perform two (self-penned) songs.  When I was asked by David if I would like to get involved, I said I would love to. When he mentioned that he was looking for some variation in the line-up. I mentioned that I had written and performed my own songs a few years back. I thought this would be the last that I would hear of this, but when I saw David for our regular MA get together it was obvious that he was serious about me performing. So without a convincing enough excuse to get out of it, I was down to play.  

So a couple of weeks of hasty rehearsals was called for to get myself up to speed. When I was rooting through the songs that I had previously performed and deciding which ones I would perform I realised actually how long ago it had been since I had last performed solo. It was nearly 12 years ago. I wasn’t too sure why I had left it so long, I had every intention of getting back into it at some point, but I always found an excuse not to do so. In the time that I hadn’t written or performed, though I had enjoyed being a part of the Resound Community Choir, where I could hide behind a number of other talented performers. This time it would be just me and a guitar. 

The atmosphere of the night was welcoming and friendly. I knew most of the performers from my MA. It was good to meet Stanley and a songwriter called Tez Scatchill, who headlined the event brilliantly. I joined him to accompany singer Laura Sinclair on a cover of an Eryka Badu song. I say join in, I had to improvise by ‘miming’ as I realised that my guitar was so badly out of tune, but the song had already started and I didn’t want to delay the proceedings. I nodded to Tez to carry on without me. Which he did magnificently. This was not a great way of settling my nerves. 

By the time I was due to play the first song I realised that I would have to improvise and tune my guitar while introducing my first song. Given my nerves, I was all fingers and thumbs at this point. That’ll teach me to buy a new guitar and re-string it the week before. In the wait to get on stage, it had somehow detuned itself. Thankfully Tez was on hand to lend me his guitar for both numbers.

Given the issues and the need to borrow a guitar. I felt it went ok, though I was very rusty. I ended up doing two of mine ‘A Place in the Sun’ and ‘Betrayed’. I was reliant on my lyrics which I had propped on a stand. Next time I do this (or any other gig, which I hope will be sooner than 12 years) I will be fully conversant with my lyrics. This will help with the performance aspect, which I scraped by somehow, only just. 

It was nice to get positive comments afterwards, one guy who I didn’t know, said that I sounded a bit like early REM. A band I like, but had I had not directly tried to emulate.  

I really enjoyed being part of a great night and I think all that attended (and performed on) the night got something from it. It was good that David and Stanley also did well at the event. Their books seemed to be selling well, as too was Tez’s cd which I bought a copy of. It has certainly inspired me to get out and perform more often in the future. As well as finish of my novel which had indirectly led me to this moment. 

A review of the night can be found here:

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