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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Locomotive Blues

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar)

It was the Friday after our Monday performance in the garden which the BBC filmed so I was keen to chat with everybody about how it went. With the focus of the feature being on JC, I went straight up to visit him with the aim of playing him the clip from my iPad and talking about the experience. He mentioned that he'd really enjoyed it and that someone had already shown him the clip in the morning so he was keen to get on with playing music together instead! I proposed that we could try composing some music from scratch and asked him to come up with a theme. Song number 1 was 'Locomotive Blues', a steady rocking blues about travelling across the plains and seeing the world go by. Song 2, the key words were 'garage' and 'Georgia', a classic story of unrequited love set in a service station. Song 3 (perhaps my favorite). I asked John for some words.....'I was on TV......and they spotted me', seemed like a perfect angle so we continued in an ambient, folky style with chorus of 'I've never been on the BBC, only John has been on the BBC'.

I then sat with M playing some jazz ballads, she faced opposite and calmly listened in silence. Perhaps because I was sitting close and without much external distraction, for the first time I felt that M was completely present and engaged in the music. Later on, when I passed her again she made a point of thanking me.

In the living room there was a haircutting session in full flow and other residents were deeply engrossed in a crime drama on TV so I left them to it. Activities co-ordinator Yvette suggested I play for C next door who firmly told me that he wasn't interested and that he's listening to Bob Dylan.....I offered to play some Dylan but understandably he wanted the real deal. He's clearly into music though, maybe next time.

I then visited a lovely man called T who I'd not met before who enjoyed a melody that I'd learnt from Ali Farka Toure. From there I entered the kitchen where I saw DJ sat by the window. He'd been on incredible form for the BBC filming, he resembled Fred Estaire with his nimble footwork and played percussion like Tito Puente so I was keen to show him a video of himself. He couldn't quite believe he was on the TV but seemed buoyed by the whole thing. We played some chirpy jazz tunes together. As usual I was impressed by the fluency of DJ's communication through rhythm. Suddenly S joined us and DJ gave up his seat for her as she quizzed me on my knowledge of Roy Orbison and Gilbert & Sullivan, which was shamefully lacking.

I finished the day with EJ. This was special as Layla (her carer) joined us and for a while we sang for a while as a trio with EJ and Layla supporting each other with missing lyrics here and there. We got talking about EJ's time in Egypt and how I played in a Moroccan band which they were both a bit suprised by. EJ seemed intrigued and curious about how musical genres are all connected and give us lots of information about historical and cultural context. She asked me if we could talk more about it next week, so I look forward to that.

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