It’s been quite a year for most people I know so far – perhaps that is the way, the older you get? I’m not sure but certainly this time of year (I find) is a time of contemplation.

I’ve been listening to quite a lot of tango music recently and writing some. It’s all perception ofcourse, aspiration and whether you want to pack away your accordion and pens (in my case) on listening to Piazzolla, Carlos Gardel, Walton or Finbarr Dwyer or try to be inspired and keep chipping away at my rather clumsy attempts at writing.

I’ve also been to Dimbola Lodge in Freshwater, IOW and heard extracts from the book ‘Silent Music’ – one of the things that came up was the connection between Music and Love.

Fascinating.

I’ve decided to take a bit of time out after some more health issues that need exploring which may explain the cancellations of my concert performances off-island recently. I’m still teaching (mostly here and by skype) but everything else is on ‘stop’. Nothing too worrying, just me needing some time out.

Two nights ago, a very old friend and female accordion player I grew up playing with (from when I was 12), died.

Her name was Caroline Judge and while she wasn’t a full time player / performer (in professional / concert folk stage terms), she was full on in that she and so many of the amazing musicians I grew up with and was inspired by, have continued to play as a natural part of their everyday lives in sessions, with friends. . . at home, in bars, local halls and supporting, organising and nurturing others of all ages to play and love music . . . . and the traditions of these islands and our forefathers.

‘Forefathers’ is an interesting term – maybe it’s because it’s Thanksgiving this weekend that I’m conscious of that. Sometimes it does me good to think about history and those who have gone before; their lives, successes and failures in pretty tough circumstances.

Caroline’s late father, Paddy, was the same, as were her mother and sisters.

Mad about music.

You didn’t and still don’t have to understand music notation or have read a book about music or feel ‘good enough’ to love and play¬† and enjoy music.

Caroline and her wonderful family, along with so many Irish and second / third generation Irish people I grew up near were addicted to singing, playing and dancing.

Brilliantly.

Ofcourse we practised for competitions but we ate music for breakfast, lunch and tea because we were all passionate about it and loved to share it with our friends, even if it drove our families up the wall with the same 4 bars / lines over and over again.

I heard a discussion on the radio today about the usefulness of taking a degree as part of one’s career. Only one person mentioned the word ‘passion’; mostly it was about money – getting it, earning it and getting ‘up the ladder’.

I switched off.

Many years ago, I happened, after a phone call one night, in Hastings and a chance meeting via Roger Wilson with Sally Barker, to make music my career.

Instead of teaching Art.

Caroline and countless others didn’t. They had families and jobs in offices and industry.

Yet they kept their music going through their children and communities, making it fun and fulfilling.

They still do.

In the last few years, we have all re-connected and, like all good friendships, we continued where we left off and played more music.

For love and with no agenda. They still astound me with their quality of playing and their love – and their commitment to encourage everyone to join in, learn and have fun with music.

Music and creativity is in all of us. It doesn’t depend on anything apart from love and confidence.

A few nights ago I happened to be talking to 2 doctors in the Yarbridge Inn, Brading. A very interesting discussion.

And we toasted the idea that all anyone needs is human touch, kindness, understanding and love to realise their true potential.

And to heal.

Caroline has revived memories to me about why I play and love, really love music deeply. I’ve never been interested in half measures and I hope I always have intense feelings about creativity, nature, and communities even though I was always amazed at how loving and forgiving, un-competitive and undisturbed by petty politics Caroline seemed to be. She was a superb accordionist, rock steady and played music you could dance to and rely on. I never worked out (and still can’t) how she ‘did it’. Maybe that’s what makes the world so special.

May she rest in peace now.

Have a listen to the new Rant CD (esp track 4). It’s astonishing. As is Vasen’s ‘Mindset’ (esp track 14).

Cup of tea and some sea air now.

Have the fairest day.

Love Karen x