A big thanks to our new blogger Liz Austin for allowing me to publish this, first posted on her Facebook page: Liz's Jukebox Grapevine
On Saturday 11 September 2021, I held my first ever gig at my home as part of my 50th birthday celebrations. Scheduled 2 weeks before my birthday, it was the only date I could book musician William Harper from Kent.
His own songs, which can be found on the CD ‘It’s Only Taken Eleven Years’, are fantastic but he also does a wide range of covers, so I was sure there would be something for all my guests.
I had hired a gin bar and so the plan was to have the gig on the drive. The weather was dry, but it was cold with the odd strong gust of wind early on. On the morning of the gig William messaged me to see if he could bring his new girlfriend, Kelly. William had a gig in Nottingham in the afternoon before playing at my house in the evening. When they arrived, Kelly got her ukulele and banjo out, so she could join in. Bargain, I got two musicians for the price of one.
It was about 7pm when William started to play and although the gusts of wind had gone, it was colder. He started with his own song ‘Either Side Of Love (Part 1 – Reason)’. I think it was a slightly nervous start but with his second song a cover by The Kinks classic, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, he had my guests hooked. Each song ended with a good round of applause and my cousins’ daughter even had a little dance. She was really excited to meet and hear a musician, even if she is only nearly 4 years old.
The first set continued and contained Williams own songs, ‘Committee’, ‘I Swear’, ‘High Time’, ‘The Stand’ and ‘Young and Old’. As William progressed through his own material, he would introduce each song with a little story or background information, which kept my guests interested and watching. Covers also included ‘Walking On The Moon’ and ‘Far From Home’ by Levellers. Kelly joined him for the final two songs, one called ‘Adventure’. A guest said “she had the voice of an angel”.
It was quite a bit later when William started the second set and it was now cold and dark outside, so after singing Happy Birthday, we decided to continue the gig inside. It started with a Bowie cover, ‘Rebel Rebel’.
Next came a bit of a sea shanty, ‘The Ghosts of Lomea’, which William asked my guests to make ghost noises when he gave the nod, and we obliged. For me and a couple of my guests, he did a brilliant cover of ‘Oblivion’ by Terrorvision followed by his own song ‘Arthur’s Dog’. If you include a song about dogs in your set, you have to balance it with a song about cats, so did another fantastic cover of ‘Love Cats’ by The Cure. Again all these songs had bits where we all joined in.
There is a bit of punk/rebel in me, so at my request, William played ‘Love Song’ by The Damned. He followed this by a cover of Joe Jackson’s ‘Is She really Going Out With Him’. It was then back to his own material with ‘Bigger Problems’ and ‘Proud To Be A Weirdo’. The introduction to ‘Bigger Problems’ made everyone laugh as it’s based on conversations he overheard, while the back story to ‘Proud’ is about murdered school girl, Sophie Lancaster, but it’s not a sad song.
The finale was a rendition of a Beatles cover, which I had never heard before. Once again, Kelly joined William with her banjo and the pair had a good laugh singing it. They split the audience in half and had us joining in too. In all, a fantastic gig and night that I will never forget. Thank you William Harper and Kelly Simpson. Can we do it again sometime.
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