Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas Songs, me and Mari Wilson, Metronomy and more

This is such a wonderful time of year. The old year draws to a close, the nights get longer and longer as we head towards the winter solstice, and certainly my thoughts turn towards the new year and all the wonderful things looming.

This year though there's such a lovely run of shows with Mari Wilson and I, and the utterly fabulous Alastair Gavin on piano. Singing with one of your best mates is one thing, but when those best mates are some of the best singers in the western world, it just makes it all a total joy. We opened at Crazy Coqs on Sunday and had such a terrific show. The audience went bonkers with joy, singing along to the Christmas songs and laughing at all the shenanigans. There's more this week and next before I get my break-ette for the holidays. Here they are at the bottom of this blog - Brighton this friday 12th December, The Vortex Jazz Bar this coming saturday the 13th, Altrincham on the 17th, Greenham on the 19th and Maidstone on the 21st.

And in my time there've been 2 Christmas songs. One I wrote with The Three Courgettes and I still love it and remember it with great fondness. It was originally recorded for the Zee Christmas album, when we were on Island records. Which feels like a very long time ago.

Then a couple of years ago, we took my version of Joni Mitchell's classic Christmas song, River from Stockport to Memphis and added the Northampton Royal and Derngate Gospel Choir at Simon Wallace's Underhill Studios with choral director Gareth Fuller's help. That's here -

There've been some fabulous films around. Mr Turner is worth the length and the James Brown film made me ring Jessica Lauren in the middle of the night to talk funk.

So the Christmas wreath is on the door and a little tree is my this week's purchase, and I'm clearing shelves and preparing for the dance between the years where New York City beckons -


Here's to joy and peace for all. Namaste.

And here's a metronomy video I love…..

Our Christmas show dates 

Monday, 1 December 2014

100 Years of British Song and Christmas show coming…..

Such a joy to be part of Ian Shaw's wonderful night of 100 years of British song at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last week. Not least of all because my mates were there. Claire Martin and Mari Wilson and I managed to get a good catch up backstage, as we all had to be there all afternoon for sound checks and run throughs. And a total delight to meet Elaine Delmar. 

Mari Wilson, Elaine Delmar and I in the Green Room
Now I saw Elaine Delmar sing in what feels like 100 years ago, at a jazz festival night or something in Holland Park. And it was wonderful and a lovely summer's evening and when everything was finished and we went down to get in the car afterwards there was - parked beside my tatty old semi solid Toyota, a roller. A super dooper silver roller. Beautiful motor. And it wouldn't start. And my shabby piece of you know what Toyota started first time. So out came this man to ask for a jump start. And he didn't even have his own jump leads! So. Yes. I gave Michael Winner a jump start.

Back at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the dressing rooms were a riot. Hairspray and coat hangers, gossip and heels. Shared with Claire, Elaine, Melanie Pappenheim and Georgia Mancio. I had been in the other dressing room but it was gloomy and I can't do gloomy rooms. They are bad for the spirit. This room was also gloomy to begin with but Elaine had demanded a dressing room table with lights which had been miraculously provided so I slipped in there instead.

Judith Owen, Jumoke Fashola, Elaine Delmar, me and Sumudu
The concert itself was lovely. It's always fabulous to get to hang out with a bunch of singers who's work you admire and appreciate, and its rare. You're not usually on a bill with a bunch of other singers. Comedians get to hang together, as do musicians, but its a much less common experience for us. And the Green Room was full of happy snappers once we'd gotten our stage kits and eyelashes on. The girls had IT that night. And the band were so lovely. They played for everyone and for hours and gave it such joy and finesse. Salut to Barry green on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Dave Ohm on drums. And the lovely pianist Jamie Safirrudin (who played with me on the Isle of Wight last weekend in Ventnor Arts Club) played for Ben Cox and Jumoke Fashola introduced the night for the London Jazz Festival. Ian Shaw was magnificent, held the whole thing together with vision and generosity, and sang like a demon himself into the bargain. And right slap bang in the middle of the night Julian Clary came on and did a stirring version of Bowie's hot becoming Major Tom right there win front of our eyes…….

Just like the old days - Julian and I under the clock!
We'd even managed, Julian and I, to get a bit of shopping in before the show and after the sound check and I got a rather splendid necklace - which was a good job as I discovered when we got back to get ready that I'd left the one I was going to wear at home……

Natalie Williams, me, Mari Wilson, Judith Owen and Georgia Mancio in our frocks (and the necklace).
And now we're heading towards the Christmas show, Woman to Woman dust down their jingle jangle hats and prepare for a nice run of dates including London, Altrincham, Newbury and Brighton. Here's a video of the first time we took it all out at the Pheasantry.

And here are all the dates coming up - hope to see you there.
So, as the year winds towards the solstice and the longest night, sayonara and namaste - enjoy this coming season however it moves you, and goodwill and peace to all. And if you're looking forward, here's the link for Valentine's day at The Purcell Room


and for 54 Below in New York on 2nd, 3rd and 4th of January. Barb x