"I've never sung before"
Updated: Mar 24
Musicians: Nathaniel Keen (guitar) Kat Eaton (vocals)
Today I had the pleasure of teaming up with Kat Eaton again after our last scheduled session was scuppered by a violent storm. With no such hiccups impeding us this time, we arrived in good spirits for our lateral flows and catch-up chin wagging.
A few minutes earlier, as I'd entered Bridgeside Lodge (BSL), Fatma had ushered me into her office and enthusiastically introduced me to Jess, the daughter of new resident J on the third floor. J, according to her daughter was quite the wild, swinging 60's chick back in the day and had a hip music taste to boot. These initial meetings with family members give us a chance to describe the work we do, as well as to understand a little of the character of the new resident and their music tastes. In a period of transition that must be daunting for both residents and family members, I like to think that we can help bring a sense of comfort and positivity knowing that BSL is a place of creativity, growth and fun.
Given her daughter's animated description, Kat and I made a beeline for the new resident who we were both excited to meet. J didn't disappoint and she hopped up to greet us enthusiastically. Together with her daughter, they had transformed the room into a beautifully relaxing space with carpets, plants and lamps tastefully placed around. We introduced ourselves and were invited in to the cozy space. J and Jess sat on the bed facing us and as we played and J's frantic talking and fidgeting gradually slowed as she became totally immersed in the music, both appearing to relish the moment of calm and serenity. We were playing "A Case of You" which like many of Joni Mitchell's songs seems to possess the powerful ability to transport the listener into a deep reflective and nostalgic state regardless of which era you were born in. It seemed to have this effect on J and as she clasped both hands close to her chest, I couldn't help but imagine that this song resonated deeply with some part of her life.
After the music had finished, both mother and daughter expressed their gratitude and were keen to find out when we, or other Spitz musicians would be back to play for them, we assured them, very often.
Next door we found K and her sister Zeeta. We entered the room and I played 'Michael Turner's Waltz' which K always seems to enjoy, often slowly moving towards the sound hole of my guitar and rocking gently with her ear side-on to the guitar. Following this piece, K began to hum, gravitating to one note which, we in turn improvised around. It was nice to musically take our lead from K, focussing on textures, drones and simply enjoy the sensation of hearing 3 sounds merging together. Zeeta clearly appreciated this moment of relative tranquillity and enjoyed listening to our trio weave some weird and wonderful, wandering soundscapes.
Later on we visited LY for whom Kat and I had played on previous occasions, often exploring the folk traditions of his childhood in New Zealand and chatting endlessly about all manner of interesting topics. Today however something seemed different. We tried to engage through music or conversation but his mind seemed to be in a different realm and there was very little in the way of interaction. Although we found this change challenging, there was a moment of lightness when I performed a ludicrous glam rock windmill action with my arm and LY gave us a very cheeky and welcome smile. As we prepared to finish and move on, there was a moving moment when he sighed and said
'oh.. it's so good to see you guys again'
Next we saw JC, I was excited to see him and as I entered his room I Iet out a 'whoooop!' which caught him off guard and I heard a small whimper of surprise. After that initial shock, he realised it was fun time and called out 'WELCOME ABOARD!' and so the entertainment began. We enjoyed continuing an ongoing role play game where JC and I are in a band, touring around the country, playing at different venues. I ask JC to announce each song before we play, and at the end he talks to our audience about the next dates on our tour. He seems to relish this role and his introduction spiels have become longer and more elaborate each week. This time we had Kat with us on tour, and during one song, she received a text (real life) with an offer of a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, upon hearing this JC and I concluded that she had passed the audition and could now join our band.
We ended the day spending a lovely moment with ML. Obviously we played some Elvis, the only man ML appears to have any interest in and I encouraged Kat to up the volume of her singing as ML struggles to hear well. Now that she could hear the music, I suggested that she could sing along with Kat and then, sure enough we heard ML's singing voice for the first time as she faintly whispered along to 'I Can't Help Falling In Love With You' whilst gazing into Kat's eyes. After a big encouraging applause from all of us, ML then revealed to us ...'I've never sung before'.