On a Wing and a Prayer
In a moment of unparalleled rashness Marion Turnock and I enrolled for a Musicians’ Day Course with George Meikle despite the small print which included playing for the evening dance at Wing Village Hall, Milton Keynes, as a grand finale. A modest collection of music came whistling through the Internet – about a dozen dances, making a grand total of about fifty tunes to rehearse, some well-known but others less so; fortunately Marion had been to Musicians’ Summer School and some of the dances had featured in that.
There were nine of us in the ensemble which included a drummer and a viola player and our two electric pianos as well as the usual suspects on box and fiddle. Lubricated by tea and coffee and entertained by the odd wee story from George at strategic intervals, the day passed uneventfully in rehearsals until a halt was called at about four o’clock. Now then, Wing is by no means a mighty metropolis and a quick inspection of the two local taverns made it clear that we could not be fed until six, so we passed the time over a quiet drink and light conversation until dinner-time.
Have you ever spared a thought for the cross-eyed concentration going on up there on the stage whilst you’re gritting your teeth and/or smiling down below? If you’re a keyboard player you’re reading one line of music - the melody – and, if you’re on your own, harmonising by adding three lines of your own in an appropriate style, sometimes from sight…if you’re in an ensemble there’ll be scrawls of chord notation and alterations everywhere to ensure harmony rather than discords. All this and the need to keep half an eye on the dancers - are they comfortable at this tempo? - tends to keep the mind alive after the manner of a three-dimensional crossword; then there’s the little matter of keeping track of how many times through and remembering to play repeats… oh, and did we agree to play this one a conventional 1-2-3-4-2-3-4-1 or not?
Luckily George played half a dozen dances solo which enabled Marion and myself to take the floor for `Mrs.MacPherson of Inveran’ and other light classics, but by the time eleven of the clock came round we had just about enough left for `Auld Lang Syne’ and a drive back to Leicester and Nottingham.
Letter To The Reel Magazine
Andrew Patterson described the delight of a hundred dancers enjoying the fruits of George Meikle’s labours to create a superb band from an assortment of musician’s. I was equally amazed and delighted when I attended the recent Thistle Club dance in Wing Village Hall, just south of Milton Keynes.
Like Andrew I have danced to most of the bands in the South East and many others elsewhere in England and Scotland. Dancing to George and the musicians was as enjoyable as the best of those bands. The atmosphere in a village hall was of course different to St Columba’ but the enjoyment was no less. I am still amazed at the quality of the playing and would echo the thanks of dancers to George for his efforts that help to ensure we can continue to dance to high class live music.
I shall have to ask George how he finds the energy to travel, teach and coach and then play all evening. The Thistle Club dance coincided with his birthday week so he should have been taking it easy. As it was he did not find time to enjoy a piece of his birthday cake until he relaxed at 11pm before driving home.