Category: Covid-19

‘Holy Joe’ a charity song for the homeless

‘Holy Joe’ a charity song for the homeless

A bunch of musicians, not sure if that’s the right collective noun, who are also mates of mine have released a song called ‘Holy Joe’ to raise money for the homeless.

I wrote the lyrics and I’m hoping with a little arm twisting on my part you might be persuaded to open your purses and wallets and direct a bit of your hard earned in Joe’s direction. If you’d like to cut to the chase, skip the rest of the story, and hear the song just click here. That’s fine with me.

Just before coronavirus hit, I’d started writing songs with an old chum of mine. His name is Simon Webb. He’s conducted the Cats orchestra, was the musical director for The Who’s Tommy when it appeared in the West End, and scored and played the music for Sir Nicholas Hytner’s celebrated Royal National Theatre production of Henry V. On occasions he can be found playing keyboards in deafening rock bands.

For reasons best known to himself he said he fancied writing some songs with me. I sent him some lyrics which by my own admission were mostly terrible, but Holy Joe had something about it. It’s a simple song about a homeless man I’d seen drifting around the streets near where I live in London.

Here’s a snippet:

My name is Joe, Little Joe Monroe

No one asks, no one says hello

I’m just another drifter, just another drifter in the snow.

Simon wrote some beautiful music that perfectly complements the words and there we were with a lovely song, unsure what the hell to do with it.

It was staring us in the face for weeks, before we finally realised it would make a perfect Christmas song and a fine way to raise money for the Joes and Janes of this world who are destitute.

Time and talent

Because of the pandemic, musicians, actors, bar staff, waiters and in fact everybody involved in the night-time economy have had a dreadful year. Many are suffering right now, but only in extreme cases does their suffering match the suffering of those who live on the street.

Simon started putting together a pretty sophisticated demo of the song and sent it to the musicians he regularly uses for his projects. Despite some of them having a tough year, they all agreed to give their time and talent for free.

Lockdown meant they couldn’t all get together in a room to record the song, so they recorded their individual parts at home and sent their musical brilliance to Simon who wove the whole thing together like a wonderful musical tapestry.

It sounds like making the record that way is incredibly easy, but trust me it’s not. I got Simon to explain how it all works but he started talking about musical stems, digital audio workstations, deverb, gating and logic and frankly I got a little lost.

Donate and share

To finish, if you like the song please donate what you can and share the link with your friends on social media. Every penny will go to a homeless charity. Early in the new year we will divvy up and let everyone know where the money has been placed.

Please make a donation here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/holyjoe

You can also listen on Spotify.

Want to know more about the band?

 The Spiderhawks

Robert Hart is the singer. He is currently fronting Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and has toured with Bad Company and The Jones Gang, the group run by Faces tub thumper Kenney Jones.

Guitar player Jay Stapley’s credits include Roger Waters, Mike Oldfield, Scott Walker and Shakin’ Stevens, but I like him best because he played guitar on perhaps the finest British film: Withnail and I.

Drummer John Trotter sent his drum part all the way from Australia where he now lives. John has worked with Robbie Williams, Hot Chocolate, Cliff Richard, The Corrs, Georgie Fame, Ruby Turner, The Three Degrees, Boney M and The Platters.

Sax player Al Stewart has worked with Tom Robinson, Cliff Richard, George Michael and Bert Weedon (Google that name kids).

Pete Jagger played the harmonica. He’s a singer and guitar player who tours extensively playing his own brand of folk, blues and ragtime.

Steve Stapley and Lynda Hayes provided the backing vocals. Lynda has sung with Barry Manilow, Nik Kershaw, George Michael, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, Meatloaf and many others. Steve is a gifted singer songwriter. He sang in the rock choir on Evita for the film and soundtrack album and has worked with Sir Tim Rice.

John Gordon played bass, is one of the funniest people on the planet, and has worked with Alan Price and Wanda Jackson among many others.

Please make a donation here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/holyjoe

A testing experience

A testing experience

The teenager and several hundred (honestly, I’ve no idea) of her closest friends are due to meet up in Devon later this week and as you can imagine the Devon Parents WhatsApp group is in meltdown. There’s only one topic of conversation and that’s making sure the little darlings are tested for Covid before setting off. We don’t want a bunch of mini-adult super-spreaders infecting the delights of the English Riviera.

Well, her result is in and so is mine.

Yesterday she signed-up online, admitted she had no Covid symptoms, but found they were happy to test her anyway. For reasons I won’t trouble you with we are currently living in Essex and the walk-in testing station is located at a car park in Newham. Mrs Preen was having a troublesome day at work so I volunteered to accompany the teenager. This seemed like a job for Uber and moments later Karmin appeared in his beaten-up Prius, said he knew exactly where the testing station was, and off we went.

On arrival, the teenager bolted in. Not normal behaviour.  She may not have liked the idea of having a giant Q-tip rammed down her throat but the thought of spending any more time with her parents when there were hi-jinks to be had in Devon made it a pretty compelling assignment.

Waiting outside I started chatting with the bloke on the gate and asked, fully expecting the answer no, whether I could get a test. Sure jump right in, knock yourself out he said, or words to that effect. I had no symptoms but wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I’d just eaten a pork sausage sandwich for lunch.

So, I too bolt into the testing station in search of the teenager who is currently self-administrating her test. She shows me how to do it and jams the giant Q-tip right down my throat, this has me gagging and heaving up some of my delicious lunch. This she finds entirely hilarious. We put our swabs into a red solution, seal up the vials and hand them in. All done and dusted in just ten minutes.

Karmin is still waiting outside and he takes up back to the leafy ‘burbs of South Woodford.

This morning the teenager and I both got the good news, we are neg.

As I speak the Devon Parents WhatsApp Group is once again pinging into action. Other results are in and it looks like the teens are good to go. Good luck Devon, you’re going to need it.

Last clap for carers?

Last clap for carers?

A little London lockdown 29.5.20

  • We clapped for carers last night, perhaps for the last time. Though I have a suspicion we’ll be out rattlin’ those pots and pans again before we’re done with this damn virus.
  • The picture you see was taken outside the Catholic care home at the end of the street.
  • I’m no Christian but this is a beautifully run place and we always look forward to their Christmas and summer fund raising fetes.
  • The daughter volunteered there for a while, dishing out dinners to the old and frail.
  • When I irritate the daughter, she threatens to have me incarcerated there. Who knows could happen, but not yet please.
  • Lockdown restriction are being slowly lifted, we can now meet up to six friends or family members in parks and private gardens.
  • My friend Simon will get to see his new grandson Frankie. Lovely.
  • Went to see Alfie and the boys at Convent Garden market to pick up the fruit and veg for the week.
  • The strawberries are spectacular. Mrs Preen set fair to make strawberry jam.
  • Strawberries mean Wimbledon and summer means cricket and the Chelsea Flower Show, but not this year.
  • So many activities that are part of the London summer scene are nowhere to be seen.
  • The weather continues to be spectacular. No rain, but after the UK nearly sank beneath the waves in one of the wettest ever Autumns, I’m good with that.
  • Yeah you’re right, that is Rusty. Rubbish at social distancing.
Thames path to Putney

Thames path to Putney

A Little London Lockdown 25.5.20

  • I took the bike to Putney along the Thames path.
  • Just started using the Strava app, thanks to Gyuri.
  • 23K 1 hour 50 mins
  • Lots of toddlers and families about so low speed.
  • It’s not a clear run to Putney, you have to get off at certain points and use the road, but it was a beautiful day (26c). Sun, sun, sun.
  • It felt a bit like the High Line in NY, but somehow lower.
  • Lots of little gardens along the way.
  • On the road near Albert Bridge I saw a young couple riding a Vespa
  •  And I thought…
  • It’s a beautiful sunny bank holiday, you’re young, you own a Vespa and you’ve got your bird on the back.
  • Does life get sweeter?
Strange Battersea wildlife
Mud Larks
Michael Caine owns a flat in that building. Not many people know that. Well he used to, we did and interview with him there in 1999.
Battersea Powerstation. Who’s going to buy all these flats?