I think I’ve said this before, but I play the piano more in Essex than any other county. Yet again I found myself behind the wheel driving towards that Dartford Tunnel and then into the depths of Essex. My destination was a private home in Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea. It was an easy journey taking me only about an hour and a half to get there.
I arrived nice and early and parked my car. Thorpe Bay is the posh bit of Southend and I couln’t help but notice how many beautiful houses there were. Once I had spotted the house where the party was going to take place, I briskly set off on a walk down to the main town. I had about two and a half hours to spare before I needed to show my face, so there was plenty of time to kill. The walk was around three miles and when I arrived in the main town centre I decided that I was definitely feeling hungry. I looked around and managed to find a Slug and Lettuce on Southchurch Road. Here I had a really nice cooked breakfast and I was ready to face the three mile walk back to the house at Thorpe Bay Gardens.
On arrival I was greeted with a smile by Zoe from ‘Canopies and Canapes’ (see contact details below this blog entry). Zoe was responsible for all the event planning and also for hiring me as pianist for this party. The event was the joint 70th birthday of Dave and Di, and they wanted an old fashioned pub style pianist to provide the entertainment for the party.
I love playing the piano for these singalong sessions, but you can never guess which way things are going to go and which song sheet is going to be their favourite. As always I asked if there were any Cockneys in the crowd, but there were only three which was quite surprising for a party in Southend. Essex has a large population of East Enders, and most of the audiences I play for in the area consist mostly of Cockneys. The first song sheet that I past around was made up of all the old London favourites such as “Lambeth Walk”, “On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep”, “Daisy and Knees Up Mother Brown”. This song sheet went down really well in spite of the lack of Cockneys amongst the guests. Everyone sang with enthusiasm and seemed to really love it. I then gave them a bit of a rest before handing out my second song sheet. This was comprised of slightly more modern numbers such as “Amarillo”, “Sweet Caroline” and “I’m a Believer”. Surprisingly, they weren’t quite as enthusiastic about this one and they didn’t seem to know the songs very well. This particular song sheet goes down a storm normally.
After the second song sheet I just carried on playing a mixture of music for about 2 hours. Loads of people took my business card which is always a good sign that they’ve enjoyed the music. It had been a really nice party to play for and everyone had been really friendly.
Here are the contact details of Canopies & Canapes: