Join the live chat here https://www.facebook.com/stevie.paige
MY BLOG: Every day for a year.
Day 54. ‘Gold in a brown paper bag’
Breathing out on a cold June morning, I could just about write my name in the haze. Leaning against the outer wall of the recording studio I waited, a little nervously for the arrival of my keyboard player. My esteemed colleagues of all other instruments had already arrived, and the ‘Rev’ as he was known, was overdue. Recommended to me by a musician I hold in the highest regard, Mr. Andy Cowan, I felt ‘mostly’ okay about the choice. Informed that he was a Hammond specialist, I screwed my face up as I recalled the ‘cheese factory’ sounds of elevator music, and decided this was a piano only booty call. In the distance, I could hear the spluttering sounds of a car lacking a little love. As the delivery mode inched ever closer, it became apparent this was my chap. Rolling to a stop at my feet, I considered its occupant and was filled with misgivings. A rather tired, disheveled and haphazard appearance, he oozed ‘disorganised’ and ‘flustered’ by the bucket. The car door opened, squealing in pain as it dislodged from the hinge. Disengaging from the car in his ‘mad professor’ persona, he suddenly became aware of my presence. “You must be Stevie.”
I paused momentarily weighing the possibility of, no, I am not, before etiquette snapped back into gear. “Indeed I am, and you must be Mick O’Connor.” “On a good day,” he chortled. Dragging his various keyboards from the car’s back seat, I glimpsed what appeared to be cigarette burns in the ivory. Catching the look on my face, he laughed in boisterous fashion, “I hope you don’t want the middle ‘C’ it doesn’t work! My eyes growing bigger by the second, I ushered him toward the impressive line up of musicians awaiting our arrival and wondered how I was going to explain this ‘anomaly.’ Stumbling our way in, an array of chaos, the ‘Rev’ was greeted warmly and enthusiastically by the fellowship. My agitated state easing a little, until he started setting up the Hammond. Muffling my alarm, I said to him politely, “oh don’t worry about that, just piano will be fine.” Having pegged me from the getgo as a little inexperienced, he smiled indulgently and chuckled, “yeah, just let me have a little bash and see what you think.” Taking his place alongside Rob Little on bass, Mark Kennedy on drums, Paul Williamson on sax and Anthony ‘ToK’ Norris on trumpet, they roared into life on my first song. Rarely stunned, my skeptical nature was knocked out of the park and I suddenly became painfully aware of how much I didn’t know. How in the blazes was I going to match that? It was unlike anything I had been privy to before and so began the education of a lifetime. These exceptional musicians schooling me in a “welcome to the big time” lesson I will never forget. Fixated on the filthy Hammond beast, I listened intently as he layered grit upon my rather pristine sound in extraordinary fashion. To date, no one has had more impact on me or my musical style. It was the ‘Rev’ above all that forced me into a complete relearn of all that I knew, it was the most daunting experience of my life. Bestowed a chain award for ‘female vocalist’ that year, still ranks as my most surprised, but proud moment. It sounds very cliche the old, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but never a more salutary lesson was learned. These days if I am presented with the unexpected, I rub my hands together in glee unwrapping each box with a positive and open mind. Ya just never know!
Thanks for listening!