Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Peckham Settlement Music Workshop

What a mixture of people used to come. A reggae band, with Philip Leo, a guy called Patrick who also had a great voice, a tall bass player called Trevor and a talkover guy called CJ Lewis (who later had a hit record), rehearsed there in the big room some Sundays. A singer with a beautiful voice who worked for American Express used to come along before church, and later a friend of hers called Anthony came too. A few times, a young Liverpudlian singer songwriter with a home studio turned up and spirited her away to record in his bedsit, but I think she sussed out his ulterior motive.
A guy who was a chef and who had played guitar with Billy Preston came along every week and played for everyone.
A woman who had ten children came to learn piano from me (God only knows how I managed to teach her piano, but I did). She had been having a competition with her sister to see who could have the most children. Her sister had eleven.
A sax player used to come to toot away in a room in the bowels of the building, and once a trumpeter came who tried to sell us all holiday property bonds (once he started his spiel, he couldn't stop: really spooky).
More people too; all of them used to turn up on a Sunday morning, and I was the workshop leader.
And don't forget Cecil! Cecil was amazing. He worked for the council, I think, and I taught him some singing exercises that he persevered with for about two years and by the time he finished he had a proper, resonant, beautiful voice that made people sit up and listen. He was so proud of what he achieved; he was wonderful.
Oh bless!
Some people can't see the point of open access workshops and they don't suit everybody. When the workshop lost its funding, I was sorry. There was always such a relaxed atmosphere. Some weeks we just sat and talked, and others we musicked for the whole three hours.
I think we might have even written some songs, but I've no idea where they went to.

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