“We’re just so happy to be gigging!”
Musicians: Najwa Ezzaher (vocals) and Matteo Grassi (guitar)
Bridgeside Lodge had very kindly put up two gazebos in their garden for our Spitz event on Thursday. We had already had to move our event by a day to accommodate the rainy weather, so the threatening clouds had us all a bit on edge. Najwa and Matteo joined us for their second BSL gig, and had prepared a set of wonderful feel good classics. They gave it their all, saying: “We’re just so happy to be gigging!” BSL staff brought our extra speaker up to the second floor so residents could sit in the common room, warm and dry, and have perfect audio! Najwa chatted to her audience throughout, despite not being able to physically see many of them. As the music started, some residents braved the outdoors or sat on the balconies, and we even noticed residents opening their bedroom windows for a better listen.
D came down to sit in his usual chair in the ground floor common room. The musicians played his favourite song, Guantanemera. Although he is very rarely verbal, D seems to understand everything that's said to him. Hearing his song, he broke into the biggest smile. This was the first time I’d seen him so animated. Another resident who surprised us was M, whose wife was visiting him in the garden. M is only middle aged, but sadly had a stroke and has suffered from brain damage. Najwa asked him about his favourite music, and was told he loves Eagles. While she sang Hotel California to him we noticed a transformation. He was suddenly smiling and looking around at us all. Each time ‘California’ came up in the lyrics he would repeat it to us — we had never heard him speaking before. It was a very moving moment.
For the second half of the concert we had a larger outside audience. Najwa surprised S by singing her her favourite song. S had asked Najwa to sing Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ at their last gig, and although Najwa did an amazing job, she said she wanted to practice it for S. It’s fair to say that Whitney herself would have been proud of Najwa’s cover on Thursday. S was even more thrilled when Najwa called her our “Superstar songwriter!” As S is one of the youngest at BSL, Najwa suggested they do a couple of pop songs for her at the end. Groups of kids walking along the canal path opposite cheered and waved as we all danced and sang along!