Today, Eric Roche would have been 38. He already had Haverhill Arts Centre booked for a gig to celebrate. Sadly, he died too soon. So instead, the venue decided to put on a Tribute gig, which would act as a benefit gig for his family, and the bookings co-ordinater at the venue, Nick Kemble, set about booking lots of Eric’s friends to come and play, and ended up with a stellar line up – Max Gilkes, Ravi, Stuart Ryan, Steve Lockwood and Chris Newman, Boo Hewerdine and me.
Max kicked things off with a solo set, followed by me – I did Grace and Gratitude, which just before I went on I decided I’d segue into ‘Deep Deep Down’ by Eric, which is usually in G and had to be in Bb, to fit over the Gminor of Grace and Gratitude. I followed that with a version of ‘Lovely’ with Steve Lockwood on harmonica, and then did People Get Ready, started solo and was joined by Steve and Chris, which was great.
However, the more keen-eyed of you will notice a glaring omission from my set list… who was the gig in honour of?: Who have I written a tune for that I’ve played at every solo gig I’ve done in the last 5 months? How on earth did I forget to play my tune for Eric???? what on earth was going on in my head when I was thinking back stage ‘hmmm, what shall I play?’ – sometimes, I amaze myself with my own sieve-brain-ness.
Anyway, I came back on during Steve and Chris’ set to play a funky blues with them, and again during Stuart Ryan’s set to play an uptempo blues with him and Steve. And then finally at the end, I sat in on the last of Boo’s tunes, and we all finished together with a version of ‘The Water Is Wide’ – a folk song that Eric played regularly, and recorded a lovely version of.
All it all, it was a magic night – everyone played well, the venue was packed, the sound was great, and they sold tonnes of Eric merch, meaning a healthy chunk of cash goes to his family.
Don’t forget to go and buy his CDs, especially ‘With These Hands’ – it’s amazing. I’ve had a few people mention with some surprise that they’d bought things on my recommendation from the blog that turned out to be amazing. Believe me, i ONLY recommend things here that I think are genuinely marvellous. I’ve got lots of lovely friends who make CDS and write books and stuff that are fine, but aren’t world-beating, so I save my recommendations here for things that are magical. Eric’s CDs are just that – magical. Do yourself a favour and get one.
It was a real privilege and an honour to be a part of the gig, to help support his family, to play with such great musicians, and to contribute my noises to a celebration of a life well lived. If you were there, thanks for coming – all of us who performed had a fantastic time.
(oh, and Nick did a great job of the compering… ;o) )by