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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 29 October 2003


The company for whom I work has a social club, which has many off-shoots including many sports and performing arts subsidiaries. I'm a member of the music recording section, and as such, I am in contact with other like-minded people, with the occasional opportunity to attend talks by industry experts and the like.

Back in the middle of October, a request was sent by one of the organisers of a series of 'creativity sessions' to ask for members' help in providing a musical accompaniment outside the venue before and after, to invite people in, bring attention to the event, and emphasize the unique nature of the sessions.

I was keen to get involved - especially since Suzi is a talented singer, and it would have been a fantastic first outing for monster gratis. However, it happened to be the week that Suzi was going to Scotland with some friends, so couldn't participate.

This left me with a dilemma - do I let the opportunity pass me by, or make my first ever solo performance? The only criteria for the sessions was that the music had to be acoustic, which wasn't a major problem, as I can play the guitar. However, I've never had much practice at singing and playing at the same time, which could result in significant embarassment. That said, the venue was amazing - the lower ground floor reception of a unique building in Aldwych - and it would certainly be a piece of history if I could say I sang and played there.

Fortunately, there was one fifteen minute session available (the others were half an hour, which I thought would be too much for my nerves and fingers!) at half-past eight on the Wednesday morning.

I chose four songs; "That's Just Me", "Devil City", "What Do I Have to Do?" and "When Baby Comes To See Me", and did as much practice as I possibly could before the event. It had been a long while since I'd spent any length of time with my acoustic guitar, so my fingertips were a bit painful after a few evenings of solid practising.

Three out of the four songs were ones I had written, but that still didn't stop me needing the lyrics in front of me, in case my concentration on making sure I was playing the right notes distracted me from what was supposed to come out of my mouth. The fourth song (What Do I Have to Do?) is a long-time favourite of mine - it's originally a Kylie song from 1990, typical of the Stock Aitken and Waterman productions of the time, and I can't explain my affection for it.

The performance went reasonably well - I could be heard above the clattering of the main door to the car park, the 'ding' of the lifts and the general hubbub of people passing. I took the opportunity to bring my minidisc recorder with me (I tend to bring it with me everywhere, if I'm honest!) but unfortunately, I stashed my bag behind where I was sitting, so the singing is very indistinct - if anything it demonstrates the amazing acoustic environment in which I was playing.

There were plenty of mistakes - I don't envy those musicians who perform in front of a willing audience of thousands; they can't just stop and start again when they play a wrong chord!

You can hear a short extract of the performance here (size: 292k)

I plan to upload the full versions of the performance when I have a little more bandwidth (the two renditions are 11MB each!)

All in all, though, I think it was a success. Nothing was thrown at me, and the lady who was handing out leaflets while I played seemed fairly appreciative. She even bought me a coffee, although this was before I started playing!

So now I have performed live - in spite of the nerves and apprehension about the performance, it definitely inspired me, although I think it'll be a while before I take up busking...


Posted by james at October 29, 2003 6:00 PM

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