Tuesday 21 May 2024

Music may just save your life!

 On Friday night, we did a small scale showcase gig to say thank you to our friends for their support. One of the friends we invited was Connie Abbe, who sang with The False Dots 2011/2012. The last gig Connie performed with us was for The Mill Hill Music Festival in 2011, at The Mill Hill Sports Club

Fortunately footage of this was preseved for posterity. Shortly after the gig, Connie got offered a gig as backing singer for Sudanese Rapper Emmanual Jal on his world tour, and sadly for us departed. 

We haven't played with Connie since, as she's been very busy, but when she showed up for the gig, we soon decided that it would be lovely to do a number together. Our friends were given a treat

Music is the one thing in life with no downside. As a musician, playing with talented people such as Connie, and the other members of the False Dots, Fil Ross on bass, Graham Ramsey on drums and Tom Hammond on Trumpet is the most joyful thing in my life outside of my family. When we play as a band, I enter a rather strange mental state, where I am focussed on nothing but making sounds that will make the world a little bit better, for a short period. When people come and see the band, I hope that they leave with their head in a better place than when they came down. 

Our ethos as a band is to try and make everyone feel as if they are part of the event. We like to send people home happy. Of course not everyone will like or get our particular brand of music, just as I don't love every artist, but we have always had a bit of a following for our live shows and we always seem to get a great reaction. For many years, I didn't realise how important this was. Recently I was having a chat with a mate who said "Why do you keep on doing gigs, you are never going to be famous, you are far too old?". I was quite taken aback. I glibly replied "Same reason as I still make love to my missus, even though I can't have kids, because it's fun". I didn't give it a second thought at the time as it seemed to answer his question. 

When I got home, I thought about it. The last year of the band has been the busiest for gigs since the early 1980's when the band was touring. It is no real coincidence that this has coincided with me having a cancer crisis last year. The band has been busy since lockdown ended. Part of the reason for this was that during lockdown, the son of our drummer took his own life. We saw it as essential to do two things. One was get him out and playing to try and take his mind off the horrible tragedy that had befallen his family. The second was to try and write overtly fun songs, that would make him smile at rehearsals. There has always been an element of humour in the songs of The False Dots, but we went into overdrive. The songs are not comedy songs, but they will make you smile if you get the references or recognise the scenarios we sing about. When lockdown lifted and we started playing to audiences again, we found that the new material was incredibly popular. As I struggled with my health issues, having a band to focus on, gigs to do, songs to write, etc, managed to keep me focussed and positive.

Our first gig following my surgery on the 9th August was on the 15th September at The Dublin Castle. I asked my surgeon if it was OK to do it. He said "Yes, if you are mad". I took that as a yes. In truth I probably wasn't physically ready, but the mental lift, feeling I was still human, vastly outweighed the soreness and tiredness of playing a gig when not physically fit for it. 

I've often wondered what I would do if I hadn't started playing in a band. I cannot envisage a different life to the one I've got. I suspect there would have been a lot more drinking, a lot more drugs and a lot more self destructive risk taking. I suspect I'd have passed away long ago, of boredom, if nothing else. You may say "But what about your wife and family?". I met my wife at a False Dots gig in 1985. I owe the band a lot. We all have our different beliefs. I am not a theologian, but I believe that God (or call it the Universe if that works better for you) put us all here for a purpose. I believe that my purpose was to play music in a band called The False Dots. Whilst the band itself has never set the charts alight, if I look at all the great things that have flowed from it, I can see no other logical conclusion. It spawned Mill Hill Music Complex studios, which have helped launch some of the UK's best artists. It gave me a family. It has created a community that is amazing. I've lost count of the number of brilliant bands that have formed under our roof. 

My son said to me after the gig on Friday that he was so pleased to have seen Connie play with us, as people had always talked about how great she was, but he'd never seen her with us. It occurred to me that in 40 years time, my kids will look at the clips they took, when we are all gone and be reminded of happy times, just as I look back on videos from the 1980's with my sadly departed parents. You don't have to play music to appreciate it. Think of the dances you've had, the parties you've attended, the songs you've sang at Football, the tunes and hymns played at funerals for loved ones. Music is the soundtrack to all our lives and it is there when the credits roll.


If you enjoy reading the Barnet Eye, please have a listen to my band, The False Dots on Spotify and give us a like.

You can come down and see what it's all about at The Horn in St Albans next Thursday

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