One day many years ago I had something done to my teeth. I forget what it was (there are so many possibilities), but as usual it involved sitting still for quite a long time, and to distract me from the discomfort of it all, my dentist, Ross, put some music on.
It so happened that he chose an album by Mary Chapin Carpenter, which was why I ended up in the Theatre Royal during the Norfolk and Norwich Festival last month. I am not a great concert goer, but this one was exceptional because of the quality of the songs, and for some reason I hardly thought of my teeth at all. According to my cousin Mark – who is a constant concert goer – it was one of her best performances.
There was a warm-up artist, and her name was Emily Barker. She was part of the reason I went to the concert, because I had been so impressed with a song she sang that accompanied one of the Wallander series. It was called Nostalgia, if I remember rightly. It brought it all back.
In the video that I found after falling for Wallander, Emily was accompanied by The Red Clay Halo, and I fell for the video too. Also the name of the group. It’s strange how one thing leads to another. In Norwich Emily did not bring the Halo but was accompanied by Lukas Drinkwater, another talented musician I had never heard of. There are so many of them. If it had not been for my dentist, I would never have heard of him.
The same could not be said for Barb Jungr, who I heard for the first time the same week, singing Bob Dylan songs in a tent the end of the evening. I was introduced to Bob Dylan back in the 1960s by a temporary friend who I have not seen for well over half a century. I bought my first Dylan album without having heard a single song of his, and was bowled over totally and immediately. Great lyrics, great tunes, great singing technique. If I were to say it changed my life, you might think I was exaggerating. But it did.
Barb sang quite differently but also brilliantly in jazz/cabaret style, accompanied by keyboard and bass. It was a marvellous evening, and her versions of songs I knew well were riveting. She was also witty and fun to be with.
She opened with the relatively recent Things Have Changed and ended with one of my old favourites, Chimes of Freedom. In between came the rarely heard but quite outstanding Blind Willie McTell – plus many others, of course. I wish you could all have heard it, but I understand some of you don’t like Bob Dylan songs. What’s the matter with you?
Why do I bother writing all this down? Because – as I say – I was musing on how one thing leads to another, and how you never have any idea that it’s going to happen. So thank you Ross, and thank you Colin, my temporary friend. And the rest of you, of course.