Tuesday, 21 November 2017
The unique Guitar Social Open Mic Night!
Not sure where to start really I have so much to say about my experience at this open mic and the night was very close to my heart. One reason being, it was organised by my good friend Thomas who is the founder and director of the fabulous The Guitar Social. Secondly I got to witness the results of some amazing charity work I am hoping to get involved in and hopefully after reading this a few of my lovely readers will want to as well.
First some background information on The Guitar Social company and the concept of it all. The Guitar social was set up by Thomas Binns a guitar teacher who relocated to London from up North, definitely the Norths loss and the Souths gain. The idea behind it was to be able to give group guitar lessons at an affordable price and, well make the experience more social (the clue is in the title). By joining one of The Guitar Social courses not only do you get to have guitar lessons, but hopefully make friends with people with similar interests and get involved in weekly activities and social events. Furthermore to make sure everyone feels comfortable there are different levels of guitar classes ranging from beginners to advanced. On top of all this there are also weekly workshops including jamming sessions, song writing sessions and finger picking lessons. I experienced The Guitar Social community first hand when I joined in 2015 on the beginners course. It was a great experience, I made great friends, started a band, and got to experience camping The Guitar Social Style. To summarise its a great community to get involved in, a lot of hard work and preparation goes into classes, events, workshops and you won't be disappointed if you join.
This Months The Guitar Social open mic took place in the basement room of The Roebuck, Hampstead Heath, which was a really nice intimate space. I arrived early and was surprised at how fast the room started to fill. Soon the corridors were filled with musicians practising for their performances, I thought this was great and made me smile because it reminded me of a scene from one of my favourite films The Commitments (which is a must watch by the way). From the first performance the respect in the room was high everyone was silent and very supportive. The variety was great from Radio One live lounge worthy covers to original classics. Some acts featured songs they had written and worked on in The Guitar Social songwriting workshop which was a great insight into the outcome of taking part in one of these workshops.
One of the many highlights from the night for me was an instrumental guitar piece performed by William Goodfellow. With the help of his loop pedals he captivated the room and with the silence of the audience it was quite a haunting piece... definitely a hair standing on end moment for me. As much as I love lyrics I do enjoy some instrumental pieces, I find them very raw and they leave little room for mistake so they can put a lot of pressure on a player at times. To hold a crowd and keep them interested when it is just you and your instrument is not an easy task and this is why this performance was one of my highlights. Like many of The Guitar Social performers he finished his performance and left the stage oblivious to how good he actually was. More highlights included a family performance, they were like the Von Trapp family (but way cooler) and we got to witness beautiful harmonies from the brother and sister. The wonderful Eric finished the night off demonstrating his excellent slide skills playing some cool blues on one of his handmade cigar box guitars. I have to add I also won the raffle (proceeds going to the guitar social foundation) and got to take home my very own handmade guitar courtesy of Eric and was even given a quick tutorial by Eric on how to play it.
Now I come to the main highlight of the night (and I think everyone that attended would agree), The Guitar Social Foundation performance. The Guitar Social Foundation is a charity ran by The Guitar Social which offers free guitar tuition to those who might benefit from it most but may not be in a position to pay the cost of guitar tuition. This cause is very important to me and I believe music therapy can really change peoples lives and its a career I hope to go into after my studies. Thomas and the team work in a variety of settings with different groups that a third party referrer has suggested may have a need for it. The main aim behind it is social connection and what this can do for peoples health and generally happiness. Being part of a community, having a hobby and having friends around us are sometime things we take for granted, as not everyone has these things. It was a beautiful thing to see this group who have only been learning guitar for 10 weeks have the confidence to get up and perform. Lead by Thomas and with the support of the crowd the groups performance ended in a singalong with the whole room singing together, we had our own Guitar Social choir. The smiles on the faces of the performers said it all, the moment was heart warming and it actually started to feel like Christmas ha!
I am going to be Interviewing Thomas for the blog and hopefully getting lots more info for any of you guys wanting to help or get involved with The Guitar Social Foundation.
Also you can find out information on guitar lessons and joining one of The Guitar Social courses. If you are thinking of learning guitar, improving your skills or just getting involved with a guitar loving community there really is only one place in London and its The Guitar Social.
Further reading and watching 😃
The Commitments movie