Live From The Sound Lounge!
Finally, a change of scenery and a break from the damned DIY.
Last Saturday night Sadie played a livestream on Facebook and Instagram as a fundraiser for ResonanceFM, a London independent radio station that has been a supporter of her music for a number of years.
At this point I should explain, if I haven’t already?, that my wife is a singer-songwriter and composer for theatre and we have our own record label: twouptwodownrecords.com, that we manage on a part-time basis.
The music has taken a back seat recently as this move to France has taken up all our resources, energy and time — and I’m still working full-time, of course even though my company doesn’t know exactly where from.
I have become a ‘digital nomad’, relying solely on a laptop and good wifi connection to do my job. I could be in Barbados for all they know.
A year before the pandemic, I actually achieved my dream of working from a beach, when I spent a pleasant day on the beach in Dubai filing my stories.
It was a long way from when I started in journalism, in a dreary newspaper office in York and later Doncaster.
We are also in the middle of applying for our carte de sejour, or residency permit, which necessitated a mid-week trip to the local DSS office in Saint-Amand-Montrond, about 25km away, that at least broke up the monotony of structureless days working from home.
The woman in the social security office was very helpful and patient as Sadie struggled with her French, that is good, but has been acquired from studying drama in France and working in the theatre for many years, so not so useful when it comes to applying for a social security number from the State.
I sit and smile politely at the woman, understanding nothing of the bureaucratic interpretations. For all I am aware Sadie could be arranging for me to become a permanent resident in a care home.
We leave with more forms and instructions and are informed to come back at the end of March.
As with other musicians and artists, 2020 was not a great year for Sadie, but from the beginning of lockdown in the UK last March she has been playing regular livestreams and released three singles, which has managed to keep her in the spotlight, to a degree.
Luckily, she brought her guitar and I brought over basic audio equipment to put on a livestream event. She hadn’t played since September and was a little apprehensive about performing again but she agreed to my suggestion that it would be for a great cause and we would be giving something back to the station, who are struggling for funds.
Besides, what else was there to do during a curfew?
We chose to put on the gig in the master bedroom that we have been renovating. For one night it became a Sound Lounge and we setup the stage in front of the old fireplace and added fairylights to enhance the mood.
Earlier in the day we had rented a floor sander and stripped floorboards so the space resembled a fancy studio in Shoreditch. The acoustics were pretty good as well. The hardest part of sanding the floor was lugging the machine from the car and up the stairs, and I was only thankful that it was not a blazingly hot day.
It was the opposite in fact, with temperatures down to -7c in central France, very unusual, we were told from the few people we had actually interacted with during the week. We have also run out of wood and contemplate breaking up the wooden furniture to keep warm.
Luckily I find a modern paraffin space heater, made in Japan, in the basement, left by the previous owner, which I refuel and get working so it warms up the Sound Lounge ready for the gig. Sadie hates it, the heater, not the gig, as she believes the toxic kerosene will kill her, which it will if she drinks it, but luckily we are not at that stage yet.
It also reminds her of her childhood in a cottage in Cambridge, memories she tries to forget about. The intoxicating paraffin smell reminds me of ‘summer’ holidays in a caravan in Filey on the North Yorkshire coast that didn't end well either.
Sadie plays for about an hour, an informal acoustic set of her own material streamed live over the internet and viewed by over a thousand people from all over the world. Afterwards we drink wine sitting on the sofa in our newly renovated Sound Lounge responding to the comments received on the livestream, which were overwhelmingly positive as everyone is craving some kind of live entertainment, or at least a break from binge-watching Netflix.
It’s a magical evening, in a beautiful space that we have created, and we agree to do another one soon. Sadie, who is much more in touch with the ethereal than I, said she could feel the spirits in the room welcoming us, pleased to have new life, warmth, music and a renewed creative energy in the old house.
Even the cats liked it.
The next day, Sunday, we continue with scraping the walls and knocking out the fireplace.