This is part of the magnificent restoration of Sir George Gilbert Scott's St Pancras Midland Grand hotel, now the St Pancras Renaissance.
I was on my way to the Illuminated Manuscripts exhibition at the British Museum one day when it was raining, and I cut through the covered portico at the westerly side of the building. I stopped dead in my tracks when I caught sight of the ceiling! With bells hanging from it! I thought of my Parlour band, and it occurred to me that any other music would be out of place there. What goes with this sort of splendour? Ragtime and Parlour, that's what.
So here I am.
With a new band-mate, the ever-grounded, ever-proactive Emily O'Hara.
We were given a room to leave our things in, and sort out music. Here we are sorting music.
Emily suggested that I make banners to cover music stands, so off I went to Shepherds Bush Market, where I found exactly what I needed. Felt! I don't want to sew, particularly, so I designed the banners on the back of a Music in Hospitals contract, inspired by 78rpm record label designs I've seen, and using Suffragette colours (Green, Violet, White = Give Votes to Women. Occasionally you'll find Edwardian jewellery in emeralds, amethyst and diamonds, meaning the same thing). Then I just got felt, and scissors and fabric glue. It was pretty much all free-hand, with a few little pencillings. I used an exacto knife too.
Emily O'Hara, John Baker, Simon Marsh
I think they're very pretty. Good idea, Emily!
We did all sorts of things. Songs from the forties, the thirties, but mostly the 20s and before. We got very good reactions to "Moonlight Bay" which really worked well. We did it all without amplification, and I could feel my voice soaring up to G. Gilbert Scott's ornamental, vaulted ceilings.
Emily in her turn did some of her Annette Hanshaw songs, impressive multi-talent she is. She's younger than me, slimmer than me, and plays the guitar. Aren't I the opposite of a diva to have her anywhere near me? Just needed to say that, you know. To be appreciated as the selfless one I really am.
Now. Debee here has come along, often at her own expense, to most of my gigs. She has taken the most stunning photos, and footage of me including those two clips of me singing at the Clerkenwell vintage fair sitting on the top of a piano. She has a creative, artistic eye. Most of these blog posts feature her work: the Lucky Dog Picture House, the Clerkenwell Vintage Fair, the Scoop gig...and many marvellous others from Passing Clouds and the Experimental Cocktail Club in Soho (which I didn't blog about, but which I give an example of below). If any musicians are reading this and would like to have something that really shows not only themselves in action, but the true atmosphere of the place, and moments of beauty and surprising, poetic and humorous juxtapositions, they need look no further than Miss Debee.
I was also lucky to have another photographer drop by, Commander Charles Giles, Retired. Pilot for the Royal Navy, and many other acheivements in sea and air!
I love how he's captured a camera-in-a-camera effect here.
Photo by Cmdr Charles Giles
Well in any event there was some talk of a possible engagement for the Jubilee weekend, so watch out for announcements, as they say.