(P.S. Bit o housekeeping has gone on - see right for new photos in Flickr, my 'Facebook' profile, and plenty more writing in the works...it's all about meeeee!)
Some people back in Oz have asked me on occasion whether I see any famous people around town, and for the last two and a bit years my answer has been mostly no. For some reason they just seem to elude me, maybe I don't hang out in the right parts of town or something, or with the right people.....
That is, until last Monday night....
It's a rainy blustery Saturday afternoon and I'm hanging out at this park gig funnily enough on the lawns of Alexandra Palace, the phone lights up and it's Paul, my occasional employer from Monday nights at the Black Gardenia. I stumble into an unfinished shed at the side....
"She mentioned 'Good Morning Heartache' the other day, so have a look at that one"
"Okay, no worries. Is she really gonna come down and do it?"
"I think so, yes."
"All right, I'll have a look at it. See you then."
Monday night, bout 10
"She wants to have a chat about it, figure out the key and stuff. Go have a chat with her."
So I leave Paul for a second and sit down next to her and her husband Ian, her producer.
"I don't know keys and stuff."
"That's all right, sing me a bit."
So I get the first phrase out of her and it's all good. My chart's in C minor, but I know now I'll be going to E minor, a major third up, another uncommon transposition. Semitone fine, fourth down no worries, even a minor third. But a major third? I fetch the chart and take it back to Paul's table and do the maths in my head.
Paul and I get back up for the second set and wend our way through show tune fairy land for a couple of numbers and then he brings her on, unannounced. She brings a stool. I noodle through the first eight as an intro, my head buried the chart, just hoping I get all the voices and tensions right....
She starts off mellow but really takes it somewhere, fills up the whole room and I follow, maybe a bit too hotel, not bluesy enough, but it works, more or less...a mass of applause for perhaps an unknowing audience?
Paul waits to the end of the set to announce who she is....
"And please give a big hand for our special guest tonight, Lisa Stansfield!"
And the audience is knowing! And I can put it on my CV!....
Housemate X has joined the fray, and while Paul goes to get some smokes, we wend our way down to the Groucho Club where Lisa and Ian have signed us in. Next thing I know I'm sitting next to her, just 'hanging out' with this world famous soul diva and Ian's keeping the red wine flowing. Paul eventually joins us...X and I don't say much, we don't have to, it all seems to be unfolding in front of us....
There's a break and Paul leans over, "See that guy at the bar? My brother in law used to work for him when he was Tommy Scott and the Senators!"
I didn't really register this comment until Paul said it again, and then Lisa goes over to the bar and it's none other than Tom Jones, and then Jools Holland!* All just standing at the bar at closing time like it's no-one's business. Wild!
The night comes to a close and Paul says, "I've got a present for you." He pulls out Lisa's album 'Real Love' and a pen, to which she happily signs - he knew for sure that Lisa was coming to sit in tonight and so he goes out of his way to buy a copy of her album for me - what a nice guy! What a night!
*For non-Brit readers, Jools Holland is a celebrity music TV show host, A-list without a doubt