Sign up for our Newsletter
Stay up to date on exciting projects and upcoming events from the Hegsy & The Elements.
Fulfilling a Dream – Performing with 2 choirs and a Grammy Winner
It will be 16 weeks on Monday since Lockdown was imposed in the UK.
I know I’m not alone in saying I’ve never experienced anything like this and, as you are reading this, I hope you are doing so with a healthy mind and body and are staying safe.
For me it has been a bittersweet time – fiscally things are challenging however creatively they could not be better.
As a singer/songwriter the majority of my income stopped overnight. I know I’m not alone with this challenge. The energy created by a crowd enjoying live music is contagious and I miss it so much. I am heartened that someday this will return as Rock’n’Roll will never die!!!
The Celebration of Celtic Americana Voices
I was so lucky, as on March 12 I sang and hosted ‘The Celebration of Celtic Americana Voices Event’ at St Andrews Church in Cardiff.
The event brought together the music, cultures and food from Wales and The Southern States of America.
Food was provided by my mate and co-event organiser, Darren Beach, from Soul Sauce Caterers. Inspired by the music of the event, he created a menu of Welsh Tapas dishes created specifically for the event. Combining traditional dishes from Wales with The Southern States of America and WOW!!! The food was out of this World!!! Having a sweet tooth, I was particularly taken by the Welsh/Mississippi Mud Cake -YUM!!!
Music was provided by Nashville Grammy Winner Mike Farris, Llantrisant Male Voice Choir and Cardiff Methodist Community Choir (CMCC). I was also so proud to perform a set of my music with Al Steele (Piano & Guitar) and Heulwen Thomas (Fiddle).
We had the privilege of performing ‘My Country’, from the “My Truths” album, with Llantrisant Male Voice Choir. They formed in 1898 and are one of the oldest and most respected Male Voice Choirs in Wales.
It has always been a dream for me to perform this song with a Welsh Male Voice Choir of this calibre as the song celebrates Wales. What a thrill and what a great bunch of guys. I’m truly thrilled!! Now all I need to do is persuade Mike Peters from The Alarm to join me on the lead vocals and my life will be complete!!
I was also honoured to perform ‘Giant’ (also from “My Truths”), along with a brand new song with the incredible CMCC. They are so much more than a choir. There are so many characters in this choir with such distinctive voices creating a huge sound and you cannot take your eyes off them.
Gauri Taylor Naylor, who is a Preacher at Cathays Methodist Church, leads the choir. This incredible lady also helps to run a Food Bank in Cardiff and an organisation called SEEDS, a social enterprise, set up by survivors of Domestic Abuse, for survivors of Domestic Abuse.
I met Gauri last year and she kindly invited Al Steele and I to watch a rehearsal of their original show “Shout”. This incredibly passionate musical show is about the issues within society seen through the eyes of the Food Bank, its staff and its clients. It covers issues such as mental health, domestic violence, poverty, special needs, and so much more through song. I was moved to tears watching this show and it inspired me to write a brand new song, “You’re The Only One”, which we performed at this event.
The song says thank you to the perpetrators of experiences that, whilst creating hurt, pain and anguish have also created opportunities for growth. From a personal perspective, I have learnt to be grateful for the hardship I have endured. Put simply, had I not endured my experiences, then I would not be living the life I now enjoy. I have gratitude for the trauma that has led me here. I had so much fun getting to know and rehearsing with these guys and subsequently, some friendships have grown.
The whole show was BSL (British Sign Language signed by my mate Liz May.
I met Liz last year when she worked on the “Your 80’s Live Show”, where she appears in each of the 25 films interpreting each song so that it can be enjoyed by deaf and the hard of hearing.
Liz has become a great friend and taught me how deaf and the hard of hearing can “feel” music through BSL along with the vibration of the music. Liz also taught CMCC the BSL for ‘You’re The Only One’ which the guys absolutely nailed on the night along with a storming vocal performance.
Liz signed for every musical act throughout the evening and was incredible. She is amazing!!!!
I’m still pinching myself that Mike Farris headlined the event. Mike was touring the UK and we contacted him last year asking if it would be possible for him to headline this event and, he kindly said YES!!!
Mike has won 5 Grammys and entertained the crowd with a sublime performance. It was a thrill to see and hear Mike singing in this beautiful venue and he thrilled the audience and made lots of new fans!!
For an event finale, Mike was joined by both choirs, Al, Heulwen and Myself where we performed a version of ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.
To perform with all these voices in such a beautiful venue was literally a dream come true. You can see the performance here.
This event was organised to raise money to keep St Andrews Church open and we hope a DVD of the event will soon be released. Massive thanks to everyone who took part and worked on the event especially, Darren Beach, Matthew Tyler-Howells, Mike Helier and the guys from Moving Music, Luke Davies and Cardiff TV, Des Kitto, Angela Grech, Matthew Nash, Tim Jenkins, Beth Morgan, Jane Coles and, of course, Nicola Shanahan. The event would never have happened without you – thank you so much.
Mike Farris also kindly joined me on my Saturday morning Radio Show, Your 80s with Hegsy, on Radio Cardiff. This appearance came about following a chat on the merits of the music from this decade. Mike kindly chose 5 songs from the ’80s, which we played, then spent an hour chatting.
You can listen to the show here:
Unfortunately, 48 hours later Mike was on a flight back home to Nashville as the true extent of COVID 19 started unfolding.
Running with Mike Peters
The COVID-19 Lockdown has created a time none of us has ever experienced. The World has quite literally changed.
Like so many others, my income is generated from bringing people who love live music together. Literally overnight this stopped and I have no idea when I will be able to perform again. I do know, however, that I will perform again, I just don’t know where or when this will happen.
Let me tell you, Rock’n’Roll will never die, it’s just taking a little rest at the moment.
I have seen much good come from this crisis and so much positive change I truly believe will make the world a better place. I have viewed this crisis as an opportunity to grow, both creatively and personally. Keep an eye out for details of what I’ve been up to on future blogs.
I love that so many artists have broadcast shows from their homes. My 2 personal favourites have been Mike Farris (of course!!) who continues to shine so brightly from his Nashville home. I urge you to watch and listen to this guy and allow his music into your life.
Please click on the link below to one of his recent shows.
I know I’m always banging on about The Alarm, well Mike Peters and his wife/manager/keyboard player Jules Peters have been broadcasting spectacular Saturday “Big Night In” shows live from their home in Dyserth, North Wales. They continue to entertain and inspire.
If you listen to my radio show you will know how often I play their music!! I have loved The Alarm all my life, Mike and Jules Peters are both heroes to me.
This lockdown has given me time to spend more time running and I have reacquainted myself with The Alarm’s back catalogue in order to boost my training.
I implore you to listen to the albums, “Strength”, “Eye of The Hurricane” and “Poppys Coming from the Sky” which is a live album recorded with a full orchestra and choir at The Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
Their music is as equally inspiring to me today as it was when I first fell in love with their sound in the ’80s.
The keyboard riff intro of ‘Knife edge’ from the album ‘Strength’ transports me back to 1985 when I used to listen to the album time and time again.
‘The Spirit of ‘76’ was an anthem to my friends growing up in Cardiff. ‘Walk Forever By My Side’ is a song that helped change my life. In 2017, we performed this song 24 times in 24 hospitals across Wales over 5 days as we raised money and awareness for the “Inhale The Music” Charity supporting The All Wales Cystic Fibrosis Centre. We had the privilege of performing the song at The Tour Finale Show in University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff with Louise Ryan Vocal School. You can hear our version of the song here. We posted this track on Friday 19th June which is Wear Yellow For CF Day…This the picture!!!
‘Rain in The Summertime’ still stands up as a classic Alarm song, so much so that The Killers performed it at Cardiff Castle last year as they warmed up for their Headline show at Glastonbury the next night.
‘One Step Closer’ is written and sung by Dave Sharp the band’s former guitarist and was always a live favourite. I was amazed when Mike Peter’s declared to The Millennium Centre on “Poppys Coming From The Sky” that it was his favourite Alarm song.
All these songs running through my head as run, evoking so many memories, bringing a huge smile to my face making my daily exercise enjoyable, almost meditative.
I have seen The Alarm live more times than any other band and every time they deliver. You must go and see them once things settle – I guarantee you will book to see them again.
Mike Peters is the Welsh Springsteen and is my hero. His work rate is phenomenal and he always produces quality music. I hope that one day I get to shake his hand, thank him for the endless inspiration he has given me and dream of performing with him. I wrote ‘My Country’ with his voice in mind to sing the 2nd verse and harmonise on the bridge and chorus. What do you say, Mike?
Now go and listen to his music – I’m off for a run!!!
Your 80s with Hegsy – https://matthewsnetmedia.co.uk/your80s
MATTHEW’S Media Networks – https://matthewsnetmedia.co.uk/
Llantrisant Male Voice Choir – https://llantrisantchoir.com/
Cardiff Methodist Community Choir (CMMC) – http://cmcchub.com/
Soul Sauce Catering – https://soul-sauce.co.uk/
Mike Farris – http://www.mikefarrismusic.com/
The Alarm – http://thealarm.com/
St Andrews URC Church – https://standrewsurccardiff.co.uk/
Listen to Hegsy’s show “Your 80s with Hegsy” every Saturday on Radio Cardiff between 10am and 1pm UK time.
98.7FM in the Cardiff, UK area / live.your80s.co.uk / TuneIn Radio App for iOS and Android
Stay up to date on exciting projects and upcoming events from the Hegsy & The Elements.