• Nathaniel Keen

The Red Thing On The Wall

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

Myself and Graham decided today would be a top to bottom day so we scaled the stairs with our 'Big Guitar' (Graham's double bass). We found L in the hallway smiling and pointing at the fire alarm on the wall which triggered an impromptu jingle, imaginatively titled 'Red Thing On The Wall' to which L remarked 'yes'.

JC was next, we passed him his guitar and he was straight into singing a blues about Mississippi which we jumped on board with and it all got quite raucous which suited everybody's mood. After some Elvis from Graham and a long energetic guitar solo from JC I suggested that we take the mood in a different direction. I'd been learning a song called 'Georgie', an American folk song from the canon of music that voyaged across the Atlantic with the British Settlers in the 17th century. It follows a narrative and form that occurs in many other folk stories from the time and has a slightly more sombre theme to the bluesy songs we normally play with JC. Despite the diversion from Blues, he let us know that he really enjoyed the new direction. Here's Doc Watson's version of Georgie.

We then went to visit NL who warmly welcomed us in. From previous sessions we'd talked about his early memories from school and how inextricably linked they were to folk music from the British Isles which were commonly taught at the time. We sang 'Over The Sea To Skye', 'Loch Loman' 'Cockles and Mussels' and various other ancient melodies familiar to all of us.

We visited GH who was thrilled to see us...'yes! thank you!', she rapidly performed a perfectly executed 3 point turn in her wheel chair and gave us her cheeky smile. Graham sang her 'Lonesome Tonight', 'Crazy' and 'Young Hearts Run Free' which morphed into a free improvisation with harmonic and rhythmic interplay between us. I'm impressed and fascinated at how fluently we can converse with GH using music as opposed to with words. Musical interaction seems to bring her a freedom of expression that I imagine must be very relieving and restorative.

After this we visited R who appeared a little melancholic and pensive. After playing a reggae number we tried to find something more in tune with how he was feeling. I played an old English Ballad 'Micheal Turner's Waltz' which Graham joined in with on the harmonica, R seemed entranced by the sound and calmly conveyed to us 'that was beautiful'.

Towards the end of our day we played for J on the ground floor. I'd mentioned to Graham that he LOVES Bob Marley so we were both fully expecting to launch into 'Buffalo Soldier' or 'Exodus', instead J kept on saying 'Bad Boys' to us which was slightly baffling and disconcerting as I was pretty sure we'd behaved well. Anyway, It turns out there's a song called Bad Boys and he wanted us to play it. Neither of us knew it but 'Three Little Birds' went down a treat.

Our final visit was to EJ who seemed excited to see us. Graham sang some romantic songs from the 30's to which EJ lay back in her bed with a look of maximum relaxation on her face.

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