I hope these musings find you keeping well, having survived lockdown #1 & #2 & #3 with your health and wellbeing intact. Many people have learned new skills and taken up new hobbies whilst they’ve been on furlough.  I’ve got to be honest and say that whilst I’ve been as busy as ever, I’ve struggled through Lockdown #3.  I’m sure short days and cold weather has contributed to that. Emmanuel has only been open for 12 Sundays this past year though we have been livestreaming every Sunday.  You can follow the service on the Emmanuel YouTube Channel  from 10.30 am.

THE END IS NIGH Emmanuel will re-open for Public Worship on Sunday 18 April  2021. This will give many of us the opportunity to get back into some normality as lockdown continues to ease and we gain more confidence to be ‘out and about’ after being in isolation for so long.

There’s no doubt our world has faced unprecedented levels of disruption these past 12 months and the challenges for all of us under Lockdown have been immense. Not least for those of you who live on your own, and not forgetting, of course, our key workers. There are four in my house and, if you count me, that’s five. As you might expect, it’s been pretty stressful at times. The National Day of Reflection, on 23 March 2021 was a reminder of how many of us mourn the loss of family and friends in the most painful of circumstances.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about music and upcoming events. simply because there haven’t been any. What a challenging year it’s been for those in the hospitality and entertainment industry. I’ve enjoyed several online and livestreamed events which have been good value and a great way to support favourite artists.

However. all that is about to change!

GIG IN THE GARDEN 2021 My tenth annual Gig in the Garden takes place on Sunday 11 July 2021.  We have three fabulous artists to enjoy with a mixture of Americana/Country, Folk/Blues, Swing/Jazz/Reggae and classic songs as we welcome back Billericay favourite Lauren Housley, introduce the vibrant Georgia and the Vintage Youth along with Joe Slater. There will be a reduced number of people in attendance as we seek to follow government guidelines which may still be in place in July. Be sure to book your tickets soon!

THE PANTALOONS: PRIDE & PREJUDICE I’m delighted to welcome the marvellous, madcap and crazily inventive Pantaloons Theatre Company back to Billericay to perform their own twist on the Jane Austen classic ‘Pride & Prejudice’ in the Rectory Garden on Sunday 1 August 2021. There will be a reduced number of people in attendance as we seek to follow government guidelines which may still be in place in August. Be sure to book your tickets soon!

HOUSE GIGS I’m hoping to arrange a couple of House Gigs later in the year.  I’ve no shortage or artists want to play, it’s a case of whether people will be comfortable about packing into my lounge as they did pre-COVID. Perhaps a COVID passport might not be a bad thing after all!

I’ve been busy writing articles, some of which you might find interesting on my website.  Do have a browse if you have some time to spare! 

MY BEST SONGS OF 2020 Make yourself a brew, open a can or fill a glass and sit back and enjoy some fabulous (mostly British) talent for an hour or so!

TAPESTRY: CAROLE KING At a time when many of us are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the release of Carole King’s unforgettable 1971 classic ’Tapestry’ I thought it would be interesting to post Jon Landau’s review from the 29 April 1971 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine to see how it’s stood the test of time. Tapestry earned the Grammy for Album of the Year at the 1972 Grammy awards ceremony.

EMMANUAL AS A VACCINATION CENTRE I hope many of you have been able to receive your first, if not your second jab.  Emmanuel has been used as a vaccination Centre since December and this is an article I wrote for the parish magazine which might be of some interest.

WHY WE’RE OBSESSED WITH MUSIC FROM OUR YOUTH This article by Kelly Jakubowski, assistant professor in music psychology, Durham University, was first published in The Metro. I guess many of us knew this already but it’s still an interesting read.

RICKY ROSS TALKS LIFE, MUSIC AND FAITH The frontman of Scottish pop rock band Deacon Blue has spoken about the importance of his Christian faith. Ricky Ross said his belief in Jesus Christ has carried him through life, providing hope.

GEORDIE IS THE MOST POPULAR ACCENT  So the research concludes.  I actually think a Mackem accent is more pleasing to the ear, and a superior accent all round,  but I’m happy to reflect in the glory of this research!

DAN WALKER: MY CHRISTIAN FAITH IS WHAT MAKES ME TICK One of the most recognisable faces on television talks to us about his faith, handling criticism and what makes a person remarkable.

Who have I had on repeat in recent weeks?   

Neil Young: Young Shakespeare
Megan O’Neill: Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty
The Teskey Bros: Run Home Slow
Bruce Springsteen: Letter To You
Jessie Buckley: Wild Rose
Mica Paris: Gospel
Maggie Rose: Change The Whole Thing
George Benson: Weekend In London
Chris Stapleton: Starting Over
Rob Halligan: Always Heading Home
Deacon Blue: Riding On The Tide Of Love
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
The Only Ones: The Only Ones
Happy Mondays: Greatest Hits

And Finally 

HOLY WEEK Will soon be upon us and Emmanuel remains closed. As last year, there will be a mixture of pre-recorded and live services. Details can be found below. You can find our website here and our YouTube channel here Holy Week Is an emotional rollercoaster. It causes us to rejoice, lament, weep and rejoice again. But it’s a week we, as Christians, should never avoid. May I encourage you to ‘make time’ for God this Easter and journey through Holy Week, from the: Praise of Palm Sunday; Poignancy of Maundy Thursday; Sorrow of Good Friday and the Joy of Celebration on Easter Day.

THANK YOU For helping to keep music (and theatre) live in Billericay. Being an independent promoter isn’t easy nowadays, with more and more venues closing down. I really appreciate your continued support.

Don’t forget I’m always happy to catch up for a coffee/beer/curry – whenever that is allowed!

Be sure to be ‘in touch’ with me, if there is anything  I can do for you at any time. I regularly post on Twitter and Facebook

With my best wishes to you and your family for a blessed Easter celebration!