What A Weekend

Right then peeps, time to tell you all about the fabulous day I had on Sunday. I had been looking forward to it for quite some time but wasn’t entirely sure what the day was going to be like. After waking up at 6.30 to get the rather early bus into London, I arrived to find a text message from Fra asking if it was possible to move my singing lesson to half an hour earlier – luckily this was okay as I would have been most disappointed to have to postpone. My nerves really started to kick in when I arrived at Victoria  but they were mixed with excitement. After a brew and a little bit of shopping I found the correct train and started en route to my singing lesson.

A few texts were sent between Fra and myself during the journey, but instructions were clear and I made it to my destination and waited for Fra to collect me. We headed off and discussed various things – we talked non stop from the station to his house! Despite the fact that he was lovely and we chatted loads, I was still very nervous. I dont often sing in front of people so it is quite a big deal for me. Anyway, we got to Fra’s and discussed a little about what I wanted from the lessons and my singing history and then we began a number of exercises. To say I felt self conscious would be an understatement, but after a while it got easier and I really enjoyed the lesson. Fra was hugely supportive, explained everything really clearly and was very complimentary. I have lots to work on and I can’t wait for my next session (Sun). I just hope that he feels a bit better as the poor chap had a nasty cold. He moved my lesson because he is currently performing in A Winter’s Tale at the Landor Theatre. It is a new production and I recommend you grab your tickets quickly as it is only on for another couple of weeks and I really feel that new theatre should be supported. It has been getting some excellent reviews – promise me you will at least consider it!

My lesson was followed (after a few hours) by West End Fests. I don’t know how many of you have heard of this, but it is a charity event where all ticket sales (as well as a raffle/bar/CD sales) proceeds went to help support Cystic Fibrosis charities. The evening was held in St Pauls Church, Covent Garden and it was jam packed full of West End performers. All of them gave up their time to come and sing and it really was good fun. After a very near disaster (and by disaster I mean no MD!) a certain Mr Tom Deering stepped up and with no more than ten minutes notice backed all of the first half singers. For this everyone is extrememly grateful and I must say, had it not been pointed out, you would never have known that he was an emergency substitute.

Compere for the evening was Gary Tro and although the catchword of the evening was ‘shambolic’, the humour was made appropriate for a church and everything had rather gone to pot, he was extremely funny and made the whole evening hilarious. Somehow he managed to help everything to run (fairly) smoothly. All this said about the near crisis and apparent lack of organisation (due to unforeseen circumstances, NOT the organisers) I loved the fact that the event was spontaneous, random and ‘shambolic’. No one minded one bit and everyone got well into the spirit of things. With interval mulled wine and mince pies on top it was splendid.

Singers included the founders of West End Fests, Sabrina Aloueche and Parnell Page, both wonderful performers. Sabrina sang a couple of numbers with her powerful voice, including a fantastic version of Dina Carroll’s ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ and Richard Parnell sang a few numbers including ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaacs. This chap has the most incredible voice. You cannot help but listen and be amazed, at times he sounds more like he is playing an instrument than singing. He blew me away.

There was not one performer who disappointed and the audience was treated to the vocal talents of Hannah LeMade, Benedict, Tom Fraser, Simon Adkins, David Ribi, Tori Allen Martin, Steven Bor, David Hunter, Claudia Kariuki, Steven Webb, Ambra Caserotti, Emma Housley,  Greg Oliver,  Samantha Dorrance, Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen. I really hope I haven’t missed anybody and my sincerest and most massive apologies if I have because no one should be left out. But as you can all see, there was some serious talent and the night was jam packed!

I must include a note about David Hunter – he did a very *ahem* ‘moving’ rendition of ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. Yes, that one. From Jungle Book. But what a crowd pleaser it was and the audience revelled in it, clapping along while he played and sang. We were treated to some wonderfully inspiring dance to the lovely vocals of Emma Housley, choreographed by Ryan-Lee Seager. Other notable performances were from Benedict who played the piano and Sang ‘Can’t Make You Love Me’, Simon Adkins who bravely attempted ‘Til I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies and nailed it, Samantha Dorrance and David Ribi who sang ‘More Than Words’ and Let It Be Me from Dreamboats and Petticoats and a totally brilliant end to the evening was provided by Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen from Rock Of Ages who performed ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ with a twist. I would dearly love to give a special mention to everyone, but if I was to do that this blog would take me several weeks to write!

That said though, I must mention one more person. For me, the highlight of the evening was Simon Bailey. He sang a lovely duet with Katie Hall (who also sang a song called ‘Pulled’ from the Addams Family) which will be appearing on his album (see my previous blog) as well as one of his own compositions called ‘Goodbye’. This moved me to tears. In fact I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. It was written for a lost loved one and it was the first time Simon had performed the song – a new arrangement by Tom Deering. This too will be on his album and it truly is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I have ever heard. The emotion with which Simon performed it was also plain to see and I feel utterly honoured and privileged to have been witness to something so personal to him.

Below are some links to a few of the aforementioned performances, I hope you enjoy these.

David Hunter – I Wanna Be Like You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F6SLbmz5og&feature=youtu.be

Samantha Dorrance and David Ribi with Matthew Quinn – More Than Word: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&client=mv-google&v=sgdWrQ6egxY&feature=youtu.be&nomobile=1

– Let It Be Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&client=mv-google&v=HY89772DdeI&feature=youtu.be&nomobile=1

Simon Adkins – Til I Hear You Sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcC3Sj0SSQM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Benedict – Can’t Make You Love Me: http://a.yfrog.com/img841/4190/hwimpzrhbkdoyvsobcfhsq.mp4

The Finale – Jodie Jacobs and Tim Driesen, Don’t Stop Believin’ Medley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFJavIyzfTs&feature=plcp

Sabrina Aloueche – Don’t Be A Stranger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdzkz-NsJNI&feature=youtu.be

Richard Parnell-Page – Wicked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOqrDoClFVc

And finally (this last video is my own contribution) – Simon Bailey, ‘Goodbye’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJDZA0jfNPs

If you see this and I have used your video I hope you don’t mind and thank you so much – I wanted everyone who couldn’t be there to be able to enjoy West End Fests as well as those who were. I believe there will be another one in March (or thereabouts) so please don’t hesitate to buy tickets; snap them up as soon as they go on sale as it really is a great gig. I’ll definitely be going again. Congratulations to Sabrina and Parnell Page for putting on such a great event. Topped off, I might add, by the after show party in Roadhouse (also Covent Garden). I think finishing the night off by sharing chips with Tom Deering and Katie Hall, followed by myself and Katie dancing to Gangnam Style – we were throwing some serious shapes – was something I’m not going to forget in a hurry!!

Next weekend I am off to see Broadway to Bluegrass…Ish with Ramin Karimloo so I will be delighted to blog that afterwards. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this weekend, it’s certainly been a good one for me. It also gave me that chance to catch up with my lovely friend Holly and we had a great laugh so all in all I couldn’t have asked for more from the weekend. Remember, if you like what you have heard then follow West End Fests on facebook and/or Twitter so you get all the gossip for the next one and if you would like to hear more of Simon Bailey then go to www.facebook.com/simonbaileyinfo/ to get more details of his appearances and links to purchase tickets. His CD can be preordered at http://www.simonbaileyonline.com

Once again, thank you for reading, I’ve enjoyed reliving it all for you.

Keep Dreaming,


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