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  • Writer's pictureThom Rowlands

I've been expecting you...

Updated: May 24

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar vocals) Pete Wareham (tenor sax)

Today I was joined by sax star Pete Wareham. His name has been on my radar for as long as I've been in London Town. I remember watching his band Acoustic Ladyland rocking out in a South London pub and on the Jools Holland show back in 2005, and then there was his other group, Melt Yourself Down, another high energy explosion of Jazz, Punk and inventive instrumentation. It was quite surreal to now be playing together for the first time, in a care home on a blustery Friday afternoon. This is the life of a musician, unexpected surprises.

My first thought was, right, let's get Pete to whack some sax on Big Joe's newest tune!....I had it finished, recorded, mixed, mastered and on my phone, ready for Joe to hear. We entered his room and he met us with a big smile, he was expecting us!. He'd met Pete before so no need for introductions. We began by playing J the recording which he instantly began (proudly) singing along to.......after it was finished, we decided it would be great to do a live version with Pete joining in on Sax. Here it is....

And here is the finished recorded track...

After the session, Pete commented on Joe's noticeable upturn in mood and energy...

'It was amazing to see Joe, he seemed so much more engaged and

excited than last time I was here, that must be down to the songwriting"

Next up we popped in to see JB who was just waking up. We patiently waited outside her room as preparations were made and she gradually joined us from her deep slumber. The turnaround was impressive, from sleep to audience member in a few minutes, I think this is testament to her love for music. As Pete and I played, JB's eyes were deeply scanning what was in front of her, a beautiful old saxophone with clacking and muffled pads and parts shining in the spring sunshine, a mahogany guitar with tightly furled strings around metallic tuning pegs and her partner, lovingly watching the session unfold. As in previous weeks, The Beatles All You Need Is Love seemed to resonate with her and with a tiny bit of encouragement, JB was able to sing the chorus with us. We finished the session with JB’s partner Sadik helping her to sing the melody to Pink Panther which Pete jumped on board with, adding some lovely idiomatic growling saxophone.

Next door we found Mr DG sitting with two close family members. They were lovingly tending to his needs and sharing in-jokes and memories about their shared childhood in Liverpool. We joined them and offered our services, mainly focussing on Beatles songs (his favourites). I imagine this combination of family, memory and song contributed to a powerful emotional release for DG who began to weep as the songs played. It was a touching moment, the music seemed to facilitate an important cathartic experience for the family which we felt honoured to be a part of. After the music, we chatted about life, growing up in Liverpool in the 60's and the changes in experience for teenagers from then to now. We were even treated to some anecdotes from one of the women who was godmother to one of Paul McCartney's family members!

We finished the day seeing P who was unusually in the communal area with residents DW, KN, IF and a few others. It was an unusually peaceful room, away from the radios, alarms and industrial ovens, at one point we even had a few rays of sunshine poking through. After a bit of rejigging of wheelchairs, Pete and I played a collection of jazz ballads, familiar songs and improvised songs which, of course needed to accommodate elements of IF's nationalistic Scottish vocal contributions!

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