Happy to report that my first visit to Nottingham’s Guitar Bar was, in my terms at least, a success. Located within the interestingly named Hotel Deux, and close to the Forest Recreation Ground, site of the annual Goose Fair, and the Polish Club, fictional haunt of one Charlie Resnick, the bar is a relaxed and relaxing boho haunt (or was that just because this was poetry & jazz?) outfitted with ageing but comfortable settees and armchairs, and well-suited to smallish gigs such as this.
John Lucas led his fine little four piece, Four in the Bar (Tony Elwell, clarinet; Ian Wheatley, guitar; Ken Eatch, bass) through a number of jazz standards, accompanying Lydia Towsey through a good and often amusing set, before performing the same task when I took over the mike towards the end of the evening. Considering our only ‘rehearsal’ had been a ten minute telephone conversation the week before, it all went surprisingly well, not even the band setting off on a jaunty version of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ a poem too early – ‘Chet Baker’ instead of ‘Oklahoma Territory’ – proving in the least off-putting.
Like most visits to Nottingham, the evening afforded the chance to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in too long a time – renowned video and cameraman, and now hypnotherapist, Roger Knott-Fayle amongst them. One surprise treat of the evening was being presented (thank you, Shaun!) with a vinyl copy of Lee Wiley’s 1940s recordings of songs by Rodgers & Hart and Harold Arlen – this occasioned by the mention of Wiley in the poem, ‘Evenings on Seventy Third Street’, which I included in my last post. The other – and what an act of optimism this was – was being asked to dance to one of the band’s more uptempo numbers. Pleased as I was at the invitation, I thanked the lady in question profusely, indicating an arthritic hip as explanation.
The next day found my hurtling down to London on a relatively early train and hurrying up to the outer reaches of north-east London for a lengthy rehearsal with another excellent four piece band – this the one led by bassist Louis Cinnamo – which plays and provides musical backing at the Rhyme & Rhythm Jazz Poetry Club that meets at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield. By the end of four enjoyable, if taxing, hours, we had worked out a routine for nine poems, some of which I’ve read to music before, others which I’ll be reading to jazz for the first time.
The event is on Friday, 27th February, details here, and doubtless I’ll have more to say about it again.