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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Funky shirt Friday

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

AM musicians: Ben Hazleton (double bass) and Preetha Narayanan (violin)

PM musicians: Nat Keen (guitar)

Today's session was slightly different as we'd invited our talented camera wizard Hannah Lovell to capture some of the day's interactions as well as interviewing me about my work at Bridgeside Lodge.

JC arrived into the dining room in style and was sporting a beautiful African shirt as well as his trademark straw hat. Hannah was tasked with capturing some of the song-writing session that I led with John and I was completely confident that he would come up with the goods under the pressure of being filmed. Such is his passion for playing music that I don't think anything could distract him from the thing he loves most of all. I then went about demonstrating our collaborative process by asking JC to come up with a setting for our story, after a short pause we'd established the name of the principal protagonist (Bad Joe), the location (Memphis, USA) and of course the brand of car (Chevy). I began with a simple vocal melody which JC picked up quickly and began joining in whilst energetically strumming. Following this I would ask him to take the story up into verse two and so the tale would continue...

I was keen for Hannah to capture GH, who has recently been amazing all of us with not only his love of singing but his propensity for retaining melodic and lyrical information to the point of reciting entire verses with only the shortest of cues from a guitar chord or song title.

He didn't disappoint us and with his characteristically powerful tenor voice he sang 'And I Love Her' (a Beatles favourite of mine, and his apparently). This uninhibited voice has not always been apparent. We have known GH for 4 years and would often see him falling asleep and showing minimal interest in our presence. Gradually as our engagement with him increased, we noticed that he would greet us with a nod, however, the real change has occurred in the last 6 months and has been quite astonishing. Without us realising, GH had been learning the songs that we sang to him and began to sing them back to us in his powerful, booming voice. Not only this but he has recently started to request music when he notices us there, "Handel', 'West Side Story' etc....He appears to have found his voice and is growing in confidence each week, this transformation in turn has been noticed by staff members and the wider BSL community.

Joining us on the sofa was IF who was proudly demanding everything that we play be of Scottish origin, fortunately for everybody she seemed excited and willing to collaborate with GH by singing a Scottish poem which seemed to fit in with the Beatles melody, sort of.

DW had obviously got the memo from JC as he was also sporting a beautiful Ghanaian shirt given to him by a doctor of his. I played some jazz standards for him and Hannah captured our rambling conversations about Jazz, politics and the photo book he invited me to flick through.

The following Monday would be Valentine's Day and we had organised for musical performances in communal areas as well as asking residents for any words on love that they might like to share. The idea being that us musicians would weave these words into a piece of music or simply read them as stand-alone poems.

Stay tuned for what occurred!

Bridgeside Lodge activities coordinator Yvette discussing love with residents JC and DW in anticipation of our Valentines Day celebrations on Monday 14th.


In the afternoon, Ben and Preetha took the musical reins with an eclectic mix of Indian Classical music and jazz numbers.

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