Katie Webber: Musicians share their energy and enthusiasm with audience

Torbay Weekly

A passion for wellbeing with Katie Webber:

I went to a really lovely event last Friday evening, in Broadhempston Village Hall.

Some of the talented local jazz musicians I have been lucky enough to sing with a couple of times, guitarist Joss Kidd and drummer Ronnie Jones, were playing with a saxophonist who is, by all accounts, pretty famous.

From what I can gather, Simon Spillett is a regular at Ronnie Scotts, which, if you know anything at all about jazz, will tell you how revered he is.

A wonderful double bass player called Ron Phelan had travelled from Somerset to complete the band.

The night had been organised as part of a local tour. Sadly, all but one of the other dates were cancelled because of Covid.

Everyone who made it on Friday, and I’m happy to say that the room was pretty full, was clearly delighted that this show was able to go ahead.

Because I had been singing on the previous occasions that I had heard Joss and Ronnie play, I hadn’t seen them in their element before.

These are two 40-something men who have day jobs, in teaching and communications respectively, who gig at weekends.

Having now seen them at their best, I can’t understand why they are not full-time musicians.

Of course money changed hands, but it was clear to see that all four men not only loved what they were doing, but somehow needed it for their own sense of wellbeing and joy.

Ronnie told me afterwards that they had all been running on adrenaline.

It certainly looked exhausting from where I was sitting. Perhaps they were all making up for the time, and gigs, lost over the last 18 months.

I decided to write about this because the couple of hours I spent immersed in their music was one of the biggest contributors to my own wellbeing last week.

Being welcomed into a new space, decorated prettily with fairy lights, tablecloths and garden flowers, meeting new people with a shared love of music, watching friends doing what lights them up, feeling that shared energy and enthusiasm that comes from being part of a live audience watching a live performance.

It took me out of myself and made me smile. One of the more romantic pieces even made me shed a tear, it was played so beautifully.

The event doubtless gave the wellbeing of the local community a boost too.

I get the feeling that Broadhempston is the sort of place that is close knit anyway but, like us all, these neighbours and friends won’t have been able to spend much time together in recent months.

As well as the memory of a magical evening, my biggest takeaway from Friday is that you just don’t know what might be happening at the end of your road.

A woman on my table leaned over during the second number and whispered: “Are we at Ronnie Scotts?” To be able to travel 10 minutes from home and witness entertainment of such a high standard is something pretty special.

I, for one, intend to go to as many local gigs as I can in the future, partly because I realised during lockdown how much I miss every part of the experience, and also because the more we all show up for things like this, the more the part time performers who have put years of work into honing their craft will have the opportunity to share it with the world, which can only be good for the wellbeing of everyone involved.