LADY FOR TODAY CONCERT
DATE: Friday 20th Oct 06
VENUE: WOODFORD COMMUNITY CENTRE,CHESTER ROAD WOODFORD, Nr Stockport.
SUPPORT ARTISTES: SAD PIG
I think most people know how this event came about.... but just in case there is anyone out there who didn't hear the story.....
It all came about because I went to have lunch with Graham (who now lives in Portugal) + Judy & Dave Hancock & Dave Hughes - the organisers of Porky's Folk Club near Stockport, Cheshire that I played for over 20 years. This is a quote from the press-release I wrote about it for the advertising for a folk festival program up there....
"I have this theory..... that women are born with a gene that most men simply don't have and very few are able to understand.... the handbag gene. It's the gene that turns ordinary, sane women into quivering masses of protoplasm at the sound of the word Gucci, Radley, Hidesign, Enny or Tula (amongst others...). What did it for me in this case, was good old Gucci.
What has this to do with this gig? I will explain....Take one retired folk singer living in quiet obscurity with a secret vice - expensive handbags. Take three club organisers determined to drag her out of retirement and prove she was wrong when she said 'Never AGAIN!'. Add to this a visiting guitarist/singer friend who now lives in Portugal and just happens to be over doing some gigs and staying with said organisers (equally determined to drag her back on stage). Stir well together with a darned good lunch, amiable conversation and you can see where this is leading can't you?
The truth is, Rosie Hardman - my enfant terrible-alter-ego - got highjacked with the words 'Come and do the gig and you'll be able to buy that Gucci bag off Ebay'. Protestations that I could no longer stand up because of arthritis were met with 'We'll get you a stool'..... 'I can't play guitar any longer' with (from Graham Cooper) 'I'll come over and play for you'..... 'My throat muscles aren't in trim' with 'Practice then!'.... I tried, I REALLY tried, to resist but the vision of that Gucci bag floated before me like the serpent with the apple disguised in soft lambskin leather...
I knew I was lost when I said 'I'll think about it'. As we left Dave & Judy's that night Coop said 'Don't think about it - just DO it'. On the way home I asked my hubby, Rob, what did he think and, much to my amazement he said 'I'd do it!'..... and when I rang up next morning and said 'yes' the reaction was quite something to listen to! So the next day I visited Ebay and I bought the Gucci bag (tan leather, Horsebit Hobo if you really need the gruesome details) - so I couldn't back out of it....."
This was followed by a few hairy months trying to get my voice back into shape.... the first time I attempted to sing one of the what-are-now-termed 'Power ballads' I have to confess I wondered if emigrating might be the better option.... but no.... determined to see it through I steeled myself and practised each day and gradually the sound changed from a a hyena being garrotted to something resembling a human being.....
In the summer we moved house and my mind, for a short while, turned to the packing and unpacking of 85 packing cases.... and all the usual chaos that accompanies such a major change in life... but once that was done the concert seemed to approach with alarming speed. I was getting emails from Graham in Portugal, telling me that he was enjoying learning the songs - but that I sang in a key that was threatening to wreck parts of his body that he'd rather keep in one piece....
Eventually the 18th October arrived and I packed up guitar, clothes, hubby and dog in the car and off we went 'up north' for rehearsals.
The next two and a half days were spent getting the songs together and I have to confess they were all too short for me as they were really enjoyable. I've worked with a few people in the past but in the main they were all absolute perfectionistsand could be pretty uptight about it.... and I wasn't used to Graham's laid-back "it'll be fine - just ENJOY IT" way of working - but boy, was it catching... I finally got used to not arguing when I was told 'That's enough for now - save your voice.' As it turned out, he was quite right... left to my own devices I would probably has rehearsed us out of house and home and had NO voice left on the night.... whereas I think everyone who was there would agree - I certain DID have the decibels back when I finally got on stage!'.
Finally the day arrived. One of the BIGGEST events of the day for me was a personal, rather than professional, one though. For four years I have been working, on-line, with a lady who has since become my best buddy anywhere. Some people don't believe that you can work up a 'real' friendship with someone you've never met but I can tell you for sure - they are WRONG. I teach graphics on-line these days and Jeaney Borland, from Glassford in Scotland, came on one of my courses and we never looked back.... We would love to have physically met before - but the fact that she is in a wheelchair with MS and I am both riddled with arthritis & permanently working prevent us from jazzing around the country to see one another... NOTHING was going to stop Jeaney getting to this gig though, once she knew it was going to happen. We talked about nothing else for months and we were like kids at Christmas when the day finally arrived and, accompanied by her brother Billy and sister-in-law Christine, she packed up and came south.... The pictures on the next page speak for themselves - we wouldn't have changed places with anyone in the world that day.
When it comes to fans though - I must have THE BEST. They came from everywhere - and I MEAN everywhere.... some travelled the day before and stayed in hotels overnight.... some flew in from airports around the UK after work (!) to Manchester Airport....they drove from all points N, S, E and W - some up to 10 hours on the road.... they came from Germany, the Channel Islands, Canada and even Brazil! To say that I was touched is putting it mildly. Everyone was there - from my brother in law and his wife to my ex-roadies, swimming pupils, old friends and neighbours - too many to mention by name.
We had a 'Chance to Meet' session in the afternoon, complete with catering by the lady who caters for the Poynton Festival (great it was too) and it was super to meet people who, up to that point, were just names in my email Inbox!
'Sad Pig' (Judy Hancock and Dave Hughes) opened up the night with a superb set (see piccies) and then finally it was time to get the first set under way. The reception I got was truly moving... no artiste could have ever had a better audience! It felt VERY strange, after a 14 year break, to be getting on stage again but fortunately I have never suffered from nerves in my life on stage and I'm too old to start now... I was just itching to get going! The sets went all too fast....
OK - there was the occasional dropped or croaky note, forgotten word etc etc etc - but I don't think anyone noticed and if they did, they didn't care.... we had a BALL.
We ARE hoping to do another concert around the same time in 2007. We're not sure WHERE yet - I would like to do one in the Midlands if possible. If there are any folk event organisers out there who would like to organise a concert for Graham and I, do get in touch - we'd love to here from you. It DOES need to be a CONCERT venue though - to seat at LEAST 250 people in comfort... and preferably with a really good p.a.system - though one could be hired if necessary. I AM keeping a Mailing List of people who would want tickets though - so if you haven't got your name on and want to be notified - email me! let's make the NEXT concert a night to remember too!
THE CD OF THE CONCERT IS DUE OUT SHORTLY!
Sue Holton, Gill & Brian Morrison, Derek Schofield, Alex Garroway, Pam Thompson
and all who sent photographs that have been used on this page.
BLESS YOU ALL for providing me with a great record of the event!