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Playing in the Band - Let's Rock

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Playing in the Band - Let's Rock
I wish I had a talent for music. A proper talent, not just the piano grades that my father’s expense and my reluctance to learn got me. That piano teacher was a horrid man. I spent years trying to wriggle out of going to his gloomy, unwelcoming house. I feigned illness on Saturday mornings, or stayed quiet and hoped my twelve o’clock lesson would be forgotten about but my ploys never worked and I would have to endure a miserable hour with the creep. And for all that, I still can’t play Fur Elise at the correct speed or Chopin’s lovely waltzes without constantly checking my finger positions. No confidence and certainly no natural talent, unlike some others in the family.
My son plays by ear. I was trying to get to grips with a Mozart piece on the piano in my usual slow, clumpy way. He just comes along and plays it, as easily as you like, because he knows the tune. I used to love hearing his electric guitar or bass coming down from his attic room. One day, he was belting out the intro to the Moody Blues ‘Story in Your Eyes’ and I nearly burst into tears at how perfect it was. His college was doing an entertainments evening and we, his parents, were invited to attend. We knew he was taking part, but didn’t know what he would be doing. I was unwell, full of a cold and full of appropriate medication to get me through the evening. I was not going to miss this event. He took to the stage. He was on bass, playing with a band. I recognised something he’d been practicing at home. They were excellent, well-rehearsed and ‘gelled’ together. I was relaxed into ‘Proud Mum’ mode when the scene changed and the spotlight was now on my son. The voice, I realised, was his, rocking 'Johnny B Goode' like a professional and making the stage his own. He was amazing. I don’t think I’d heard him sing since he was about seven. Here was a twenty-ish year old rock star making me tear-up like his first nativity. The things you miss when they grow up leave home and have kids. I think he’s still musical.
Our daughter is or was blessed with a wonderful, powerful singing voice. She reduced me to tears with a soulful rendition of Katie Melua’s ‘Closest Thing to Crazy’ in the car one day, just out of the blue. She had the same effect on her music teacher. She sang at home, so I heard her all the time and helped her to choose songs suited to the strength of her voice. Seeing and hearing her on stage held no surprises for me. I was ‘Proud Mum’ always, with lots of support. I’m sure I glowed with pride when others told me how her performance had blown them away. My response was always to say thank you and that everyone taking part was brilliant. She went on to do performing arts at college. These days, that fabulous voice is used for calling her children in from the garden or shouting for them to wait when they run ahead of her. I must ask her if she does much singing these days. What I’d give for her voice and a band to accompany me!
My wish came true, except it was my voice and I wouldn’t describe myself as a singer. I had a posh party for my sixtieth birthday a few years ago. As it was the ‘party to end all parties’ it was held at one of Blackpool’s finest hotels, I had live music from a local band and a nephew who is a professional musician. I wasn’t expecting to join the band on stage, but with some gentle persuasion (dragged up, no choice) and a compulsory funny hat, I found myself making a guest appearance. I think I was trying to sing ‘Rock the Casbah’ with the help of The Rattlers. I hope they were playing the same song. Someone somewhere has a video that I’ve never seen. Destroy it, please.
My own poem,
The Ballad of a Lady Jazz Singer
Jazz tempo piano and a bluesy guitar It’s two a.m. in the Ritzy Bar. Lorna sips gin through a long, curly straw As she sits and waits, one eye on the door. He said he’d be along to see her set But he’d promised before – never made it yet.
Perched on a bar stool, cigarette in hand, Minutes away from her spot with the band, She leans a bit further back in her seat And her red stiletto taps out the beat. She’s laughing and swaying, about to begin, Adrenaline rush, or too much pink gin.
She’s out of her mind, but not really crazy. Her vision is soft-focus, smoky and hazy. Tight black dress, short, strapless and low, Only put on for this kind of show. She clutches the mic stand, there’s a hint of a smile Then she bangs out a song in her Joplin-esque style.
Heat and smoke hit hard on her throat But she stays on key and keeps the right note. Much clapping and cheering, the Ritzy’s alive Lorna kept singing ‘til quarter to five Then staggered out happy in the dawning new day With her new bass playing lover leading the way.
 Pamela Winning  2014
Thanks for reading, keep safe and well, Pam x
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