The organ-grinder

His life and misadventures.

During <a target='_blank' href='https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iiVM_OFGh0'>a video shoot</a> in Barcelona.

During a video shoot in Barcelona. Image: Eva Muñoz.

Details:

Languages

Born

… amidst vexillophiles crying in the wilderness known as Belfast:

Mechanical organs

A Fisher-Price gramophone, apocalyptic experiments on the village church organ during the inevitable Tierkreis period, and meetings with street organs while playing in the Netherlands and Germany led to the writing of bog-superior arrangements for a Belgian organ manufacturer and unbelievably authentic Germanic numbers for a Swiss aficionado, as well as ultimately to this website.

Folkie/non-Western

Interviewed by Libby Purves on MidWeek (BBC) about the life of a busking recorder player. Played shō in the first English gagaku orchestra. Wrote a thesis about Maoism, spirit mediums, and the adaptation for guitar bands of mbira dza vadzimu music by Thomas Mapfumo et al. Trained a village merengue band during an extended stay in the Caribbean. As farmers’ band director, won a Dutch national championship & represented the Netherlands at a Swedish folk festival, dressed, obviously, in lederhosen:

Image: Swedish hay maiden.

Classical-ish

The best possible start, with Evan Watkin (“Learn it by heart so you can make eyes at the girls in the front row”; at 02:02 with the Beatles, playing from music). Mega-moment as child soloist in Bozza, “Hommage à Bach,” in the Großer Musikvereinssaal on ORF in Vienna. Solo trombone with Darwen and Luton town bands. Played for the British Queen Mum’s family in their palace at St Paul’s Walden Bury.

Swing/trad jazz

Incessantly active as trombonist/singer/glutton on the function circuit across the North European Plain. Support band for BB King. Curious episode with Chick Corea & the Scientologists.

Pop/rock

Juvenile Latinisms in Manchester with Fuze:

Ska and heavy in The Hague with Sans Rancune (trombone solo).

Theatre

Original music for productions of Čapek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots (Winchester) and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (Manchester). Original texts/music/direction for entertainments/shows featuring (Dutch) vocal curiosity shops like Chop Suey:

Variety

Burlesque bar pianist and cake fairy. Circus gigs. Jungle musician in a bawdy house around the corner from the house of one’s beloved Spinoza.

Teacher-creecher

Taught non-Western musics at the Guildhall. Ditto general music from Montessori to A-level at St Christopher School, Letchworth, whence a moving testimonial from Justin Thurgur:

Set up music department (and library) for international 6th form in a convent with 150 elderly nuns next to an unregulated pig farm:

Taught songwriting to Dutch teenagers with learning peculiarities: “Oranje, Oranje, Oranje,/Ze komen helemaal niet uit Spanje…”

Attempted to direct the a cappella enthusiasms of students at Barcelona’s splendid Industrial School:

Man shall not live by bellows alone

  • Managed the provinces for Warner/Chappell from a Mayfair meat cellar; insulted by star artist, Rolf Harris.
  • Did comms for Amoco & Deutsche Bank (retail)(North Rhine-Westphalia).
  • Introduced Indonesia and interactivity to Stork Ketels, Hengelo, a Dutch industrial and utility boiler manufacturer.

  • Infiltrated a Dutch supply-chain/factory-scheduling software startup, Fygir, The Hague, later SCT Corp, Philadelphia; delivered an apparently legendary (and successful) sales conference at Kodak HQ in Rochester, NY, addressing supply-chain management challenges in the event of an extraterrestrial invasion.
  • Moonlighted as footballer and pool ace at Queens’, Cambridge, while feigning bioinformatics expertise at another startup, Synomics.
  • Sang siren songs and did other, far less useful things at Kleinwort Benson Private Banking (London).

  • Set up, ran, and sold a franchise operation providing mainly white-labelled touring services to travel agencies and specialised clients (Barcelona/Western Mediterranean).