One of the suggestions put forward for a J Alphabet date was a romantic 'jog for two' down on the canal towpath followed by a well earned jug of Joules Pale Ale at our local brewery. I was slightly relieved when a well timed 'Junk to Funk' event came up at the school two of my daughter's attend featuring performances from the Jazz band that they both play in. I bought two tickets!
The Junk to Funk part of the evening was a fashion show. The jubilee inspired fashions were created using recycled materials and modelled by the girls who had designed them. Some of them were quite impressive - others seemed little more than ordinary clothing with union jack napkins pinned to them but it was still lovely to see the girls strutting with increasing confidence as the audience showed their appreciation with clapping.
On display at the front of the stage were two incredible Junk to Funk creations. The fantastically talented Kirsty Warner (a name to watch out for) whose photographs I have featured on this blog, had made a jacket out of teddy bears that she had purchased in charity shops. Just as a faux fur jacket it was beautiful but she had incorporated teddy heads in the design which made it look quirky and almost evil in a Cruella deville sort of way - completely original in concept and perfectly executed. The talent continued to scream out in the shape of a futuristic dress made of coke cans which looked part robot part fish. I'm not sure that sharp edges wouldn't rip your flesh to shreds if you actually tried to wear (and move in) such a garment, but it was visually stunning on the mannequin. This piece was created by the son of my dental hygienist. I actually can't wait for my next appointment so I can tell her how much I loved it (before I have to open wide!)
Although the event was named for the fashion show part, the majority of the evening was a musical showcase. The much loved, long serving music teacher (who also teaches my girls piano and has become a family friend) retired recently. We wondered how anyone could fill the shoes of a teacher that had become such a fundamental part of the music department, and indeed the school as a whole, but judging by the success of the evening, the replacement is doing a wonderful job. My girls adore him and my first impressions during the brief meeting I had with him when I brought Taylor's drum kit in to set up earlier in the day, were very positive. Since taking the post, he has formed a Jazz Band and a Glee club, both of which delivered performances.
The show opened with a lively samba drum piece leaving no doubt that proceedings had well and truly begun.
The jazz band featured my Taylor on drums and Charis on piano (she was very excited to be playing a grand piano even though it was possibly the most battered and un-grand grand piano I had ever seen). All of the members had clearly worked hard to achieve a level of competence in a style that, for my daughters at least, was different to what they were used to. However, with members of staff taking leading roles, it did somehow have the feel of a vehicle for frustrated teachers to live out their musical legend fantasies! Despite that, it was very enjoyable (although I must try and teach Taylor to stop pulling unflattering 'concentrating' faces as she drums!)
There were several solo singing performances, the majority of which, Charis accompanied on piano. I have listened to her practising these accompaniments at home (in fact she broke a low C string on our piano during one particularly enthusiastic session) but I was absolutely amazed by her performances on the night. It wasn't just that she played the pieces practically note perfect (I think I did detect one or two tiny mistakes), it was the way she supported the soloists, subtly emphasising notes when the singers went off key to help them find the melody again, keeping the timing and allowing the vocal to shine. She never once sought the limelight. In her very unassuming way she delivered what was needed.
I have so much respect for my daughter. She has a maturity, poise and confidence that totally belies her tender 15 years.
I didn't take my camcorder. Recording something necessitates watching the action through the screen (unless you have a well placed tripod or don't mind the inevitable 'drift' that you get when not monitoring hand held equipment). I hate how that detaches me from the moment. At the expense of having the recordings, which I would have loved, I stayed completely in the moment. On balance, I think I loved that more! Plenty of people did video. This is footage of Charis on piano and my niece on guitar singing Rhianna's Take a Bow (taken by Ella's mum - my sister).
A highlight of the evening for me was when Taylor's boyfriend, George, took to the stage with his theatrical friend Ollie for a 'showbiz' performance of Me and My Shadow. George has one of those voices that has lovely tone and timbre but doesn't co-operate in terms of staying in key! It didn't matter that it wasn't the greatest vocal performance of the night. For me it was definitely the most entertaining. Performed with panache and swagger, it provided me with much needed comic relief from the emotional roller coaster I had been on watching my girls. I could see Taylor watching her man with pride and embarrassment in equal measures.
During the interval, there was a raffle. After my success in the 'I' date raffle, George's mum (who was sat with us) said she wanted some of my luck because the first prize of £100 in Argos vouchers would be very nice. Would you believe it? She won first prize!! What's more, my number came up too!!! I won a trip to Wolverhampton Races. It is all a bit of a mystery because there was no information provided with the tickets but I'm sure we'll work it out! I had a big smile on my face and congratulated my husband on his raffle ticket buying skills.
The show overran the advertised finish time and daughter Ivy who was babysitting the little ones was waiting for us to get back so she could go to the pub with friends. I left my husband to wait around to pick up the drum kit and bring the girls home in the car while I made a hasty exit and ran home.
I had a really good time on my J date and I even incorporating some of the Jogging that I was trying avoid.
When my husband got home with the drums, the girls, the 'Shadow' (or the 'Me'!) and a mountain of chips, I had recovered from my impromptu marathon enough to enjoy a greasy supper and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the end of Taylor's A levels and a successful night.
For my 'K' date I am going to insist on something more intimate that does not involve a raffle. Any suggestions?