• Nathaniel Keen

Dub-reggae-opera

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar, voice) and Graham Hughes (bass, harmonica, voice)

Myself and Graham began the day by visiting JC who greeted us warmly as always. We chatted about the demise of Arsenal football club and in response we all agreed to play some blues. After the first chord jangle JC cried out 'oh yeah!' and the song morphed into an impromptu tribute to Cricklewood (where he'd grown up). After we'd finished the 'Cricklewood Blues' he gave us a big grin, 'great session guys, thank you'.


We moved in to the lounge area where we found L tucking into some grapes. Graham and I played through some folk songs (English, Scottish, Irish) which L seemed moved by. He explained to us; 'It's strange, I feel all of these songs are deep inside my memory...'. Having grown up in New Zealand, where the influence of settlers from the British Isles was strong, he was taught a large repertoire of folk songs in primary school which were visibly transporting him back to his youth. It was a special moment when L began to sing along with us with excellent musicality and a beautiful tone.

We entered the 2nd floor lounge and found NJ, MB, and M who were working on repotting some plants. Graham had prepared a few Elvis songs by request of M last week. MB turned from the window, gave us a big grin and a regal hand gesture of approval whilst NJ assumed his usual role as the Bridgeside lodge resident percussion genius. MB asked us 'do you know any opera?' so we proceeded to segway into a dub reggae version of 'nessun dorma' to which M piped up in her cockney accent from across the room 'that was luverly'.


As we made our way downstairs we paid a visit to G who we know is a connoisseur of all things Beatles. I sang him a less famous song called 'And I Love Her'. This time he didn't sing along so maybe I finally found a tune he doesn't know. He gave us a thumbs up and a short clap of approval as we went on to play for EJ who curled up into full relaxation mode on her bed as she listened.

We finished the day by visiting J on the ground floor. As soon as we played the opening few bars of 'waiting in vain' by Bob Marley, a beautiful, warm smile spread across her face. It's very powerful and moving to witness just how important her emotive connection to music is. J's pure positivity was being transmitted to us and we played through several disco and soul classics before ending for the day.




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