Reporter joins geriatric jam session

I confess this was the first gig I had ever played in a care home setting and I was surprisingly nervous, writes Ham&High reporter and guitarist Tan Parsons.

Wartime numbers are not at the forefront of my musical repertoire and, for the most part, I nervously chugged away on my guitar in accompaniment to Fortune Green councillor Russell Eagling’s more confident piano playing in one of the main reception rooms at Henderson Court in Hampstead.

After a hasty rehearsal, we had patched together an hour-long set comprising everything from the Hippopotamus Song to Jerusalem and Cwm Rhondda. My rendition of Edelweiss turned out to be a gentle alternative to some of the more rousing tunes and, later on, one audience member, kindly asked for the name of a Red Hot Chilli Peppers song I had picked out in my moment of solo glory.

It was the first time I have been involved in Mitzvah Day and it was great fun to see our audience joining in so lustily – most singing, some on drums, some on cymbals and there was even a mouth organ picking out a solo tune at one point. Since the last of my grandparents died in 2005, I’m sorry to say I have had practically no meaningful face-to-face contact with anyone over 70. It was a genuine pleasure to mingle with such a varied group of people from the elder generation, bonding over what was in essence a musical jam session.