My Musical Journey
The set up started at 9.30 loading my car and the Marshalls van with Ben, Rick and Leroy - it's a full kit of gear with
PA and bunting
Stands and balafons,
A one man band and Baybeat flag
Banners, projectors, amps and a drum kit
Bamboos and child friendly musical sculptures
Tea bags and mugs, drums and cowbells
Staging for the 2 ramps, building for access
The 24 hour party, ready to roll
Apothecary arrival at 11 with four and after 3 hours of hard labour we are in and the space is ready to host 15 different hourly musical experiences. I love setting up spaces and creating the right atmosphere and getting the rig right. We work well together as a team and so know the order of things to do without too much meeting time. Many years of working together. Ben goes back to the Hothouse for a second load and Matt arrives at 2.30. Chris arrives from MainStage and using some of our gear and also some from Mike Sweetland he starts to create a 14m access ramp from the street and through a Fire Exit and a second ramp to take people down from the raised upper space to the bar and toilet. Ben and Matt finish off in the venue as I go to Market Square to start my musical journey.
4pm - Grey and chilly market square, windblown gazebo on top of the 'plynth' and 4 young singer/songwriters each due to play solo with their guitars. They are all there on time - Ben, Charlotte, Emma and Margaret - each collecting a listening crowd and singing with great confidence and presence. I play improvised accordion on a few songs and introduce and tell people about the start of the 24 Hour Party with Kelly and Keeley at a table handing out leaflets and chatting.
5.30 I head back to change into my one man band and out at 5.50 on the 800m performance walk down to Horseshoe Corner when I meet Anni and 15 singers.
6.00 we sing round the world joined (and led) by Matta from Greece, here as part of our British Council World Voice project. Singing in a circle to each other in the yellow city centre light songs from Senegal, Scotland, Polynesia, Australia, Greece and Ghana and more - at times joined by a quite fun and rowdy group of young teenagers.
7.00 Off with the band on my back and with my pink tights I wander round Lancaster's windy streets playing to a crowd outside a fast food place and making a short appearance at the Stonewall Tavern.
8.00 Back at the venue there are nine of us to start the hour long drone and my accordion bellows breath with a left hand fifth for the whole time while I walk around and encourage participation. By the end of the hour there are 36 of us playing together and with about nine horns the sound is rich.
9.00 I host the next hour of brilliant young musicians in 3 bands. High Expectations, Youth Orbit and Flood. Darren is the sound tech, it feels good and the music sounds ace. AND what is more, there is a full crowd.
10.00 Very happy to play accordion and piano on a couple of tracks with Paddy Garrigan as he entertains with fun tunes and songs before
11.00 Guns of Navarone, the ska band I have been playing in for almost 15 years, take the floor and the place is rammed and dancing and sweaty. A great hour long set of tunes from Miss Skalculation to Tequila with me on trumpet and keys. We pay tribute to the great Chas Ambler - the founder of the band.
12.00 A breather as Kollega hit some great grooves and keep the crowd in the place. It is hot.
1.00am is time for Frenchie to sing the songs that he has been writing with the people from the local homeless community and a few are along to sing with him. I play on most of the songs - mainly trumpet but a little piano.
2.00am is time to reset the room as we listen to Dave and Leroy create beautiful electronic sequences. We tidy up the stage, set up projectors and I connect with our international collaborators ready for the middle of the night sessions.
3.00am I am in my favourite mode of improvising topical songs with people. A small crowd of six to eight people are part of the hour including the rhythm section from a visiting band. The crack is good and the rhyme fitting - songs about the EU and exploitation at work keep us all amused.
4.00am I think this might have been my favourite hour as we connected with friends from around the globe and chatted to them and then listened and played along. Rafe started us off from San Paulo in Brazil and then eric from Taiwan via Facebook and finally Moritz from his home studio in Cologne.
5.00am was the most surreal hour as ben led a small group in improvisations to strange youtube films. Me and Leroy derigged and tidied as they played, and then
6.00 - was van landing and getting the space tidy and clear for
7.00 yoga - I tried to bend myself and relax and listen and focus on the sun salutations led by Sarah while Sam played lovely gentle music on guitar, gushing, keys and a final long gong bath!
8.00am - light outside as we danced and set up the space while listening to DJ Supreme Ash with his Hip Hop to Wake Up tracks and then
9.00am they came rolling in. Little kids in buggies with parents in tow - ready to play and investigate the great musical sculpture that is the Walking Down the Street Gamelan with anni gently supporting. I played along with Ben in a lovely groove based horn duo for a little while - all going so well !
10.00 and the percussion experiments turn into songs as Nicky arrives to lead - I sing along as I tidy up and help get the Dragon ready for the parade.
11.00 and a group of families arrive ready to get into Our Chinese Dragon and (stupidly) I take the head! Rick gets us organised and soon we are making loads of noise with drums, gongs and cymbals we head up to Market Square and round town drawing people to our final resting place in Dalton Square.
12.00 Folk O'Lune are out in force led by Ben Farmer and soon there are people dancing in the square. I join for a couple of numbers adding trumpet to the fiddles, guitars, accordions and more.
1.00pm We start with Imagine and finish an hour later with the Internationale. 25 singers sharing their political anger and frustration and solidarity as we sing anti-fracking songs, the South African anthem and much more.
2.00pm and Bill has created a brilliant hour of rocking singalong tunes, sharing words and humour with a lovely crowd gathered together in the square.
3.00pm and we are nearly done. I get out the drums and percussion and soon a jam is going with kids and adults and Matt who has driven top speed back from Leeds to play with me for this last hour. We finish with 3 accordion and sax tunes and then get ready to take it all down and back to Morecambe.
24 Hours of Madness Fun and Great Music.
And we hope to have collected £1500 - maybe more. Watch this space for the total!