It’s so very hard to describe the sort of week that it has been.
On one hand there is the selfish sense of total loss, lack of direction, drifting and a general sense of not understanding what life is all about because Myke is no longer there at the end of the phone line – even if sometimes he would refuse to pick up because he was deep in practice or building a train or listening to The Archers.
On the other hand the capacity of human kind to come together at times like this with warmth, understanding - united in their love for a man who touched so many lives.
Truly, one never really appreciates what one has, until it’s no longer there.
My Inbox is full of warm wishes of sympathy, as is Phoebe’s, and the tributes to Myke on Facebook and Myspace just keep rolling in.
So first, from Phoebe and I, a big thank you to you all. It is a comfort to know that Myke was loved and appreciated by so many people.
On Tuesday The Rawmarsh Mashers Gig at The Cross Keys in Handsworth went ahead as planned. I say as planned, but this was a meeting of the Handworth Club like no other.
I would like to thank Roy Blackman and the Members of the Handsworth Club for being so accommodating, and allowing their normally cosy gathering be taken over for what turned out to be a fantastic celebration of Myke’s life.
Thanks also go out to all of you who were able to make the event. It was to say the least a night I shall never forget, and one I think anyone who was there will ever forget. There are some pictures of the event on the Mashers Facebook and Myspace pages.
Contributing to the nights music were, Sue Sutherland, Roy Blackman, Toein’ In The Dark, Paul Pearson, Tina McKevit and Matt Hegarty, Louise, Rob Slow, John McCullagh and Brother, Karl from Earth Tales, the poets of the Crystal Peaks Writers. Thank you to you all.
Centre though was a typical Rawmarsh Mashers set. My Old Guitar, Rich Man’s Paradise, We’ll Have a May Day, Ordinary Man, I’m Glad To Be a Northerner, Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher, Drink Down The Moon and of course finishing with Bloody Rotten Audience.
For this was a celebration of my friend and Partner in musical crime. Complete with all the “Deliberate Mistakes” that feature in a Mashers performance.
But for me there were two stand out moments.
The first was being joined by John McCullagh to sing his (John’s) song, Dance On The Grave of Mrs Thatcher, and who was visiting the UK to see his Mum, all the way from Australia. The visit was a surprise so it had not been up to the last few days that we could advertise that he would be at the Club.
Myke never got to meet John and had to reply upon my stories from Facebook contact that I had.
It was such a priviledge to meet John in person for the first time – yet sad it had to be under such circumstances.
But we hammered out the song with real gusto, with the room erupting into voice during the choruses.
I’ll certainly not forget this completely unrehearsed performance, and I know John feels the same way.
The second stand out moment came when Sue Southerland joined me for Drink Down The Moon. And what a performance. Sue danced and sung throughout beside me making it one I shall cherish in my memory for the rest of my life.
Sue and her Husband Barry have been great supporters of The Rawmarsh Mashers, they have followed us to many strange and distant places and last year chauffeured The Mashers to the first Peterborough Folk Festival, besides undertaking the arduous task of roadying and photographing our exploits at the Wirksworth Festival. Thank you to you both – your friendship and support has been appreciated much more than we might at times have shown.
On a night of standout moments the most poignant moment for me came when Karl (from Myke’s rock side band Earth Tales) accompanied Phoebe in a couple unrehearsed songs. It was a moving moment that I for one will never forget.
Before moving on – if anyone happens to have any photographs from The Cross Keys please send them on to me.
And so to Thursday night.
Thursday night is the traditional meeting night of the Rotherham Singers Club. Myke had been a member of this group long before we got together, and had followed them around as venues changed from The Clifton, The Rotherham Rugby Club, and now finally coming to rest at The Bridge.
It was the Club where I cut my teeth, it was the Club that suffered the early Rawmarsh Mashers attempts at singing songs together.
It was also a Club that has not gone without it’s criticism on the pages of my Blogs. In recent times the music appeared to have become a secondary consideration, which is why the past year had seen The Mashers visits to the Club fall away to almost nothing.
But this Thursday was something special. The room was packed with friends old and new, all united by our love for Myke. Our Gill kicking the night off in typical fashion. Most poignant of all was the contribution of Theresa Daley who had been one of Myke’s closest friends and singing companions. Always a top “turn” was Theresa, accompanied on guitar by Myke. There is a track or two out there somewhere, and I hope to be able to add them to Myke’s page on the Web Site in due course.
But the lads of the Club did Myke proud, as did new comers like Phil Sinclair.
Phoebe and I would again thank everyone for turning out it was to say the least a very emotional evening. And thank you too by forgoing protocol and allowing me to perform three songs straight off, it was appreciated.
Two other stand out things occurred on Thursday night. First, Stan and I got around to burying the hatchet. Myke’s sudden passing demonstrates how we cannot take our lives for granted and that life is far too short to bare grudges. So thank you Stan for being there and for your banjo support throughout my set. I think “thank you” is the word! Or two words.
The second moment came right at the end of the evening.
The old chap that used to be The Star seller in Rotherham Town centre and still to this day makes his way around his old haunts in the evening including The Bridge, decided to join in the fun.
First he told a story about meeting Ronny Moore, the Rotherham United Manager, and how meeting his hero had moved him to song. The old fella then burst into song “Ronny Moore, Ronny Moore, Ronny Moore” you can imagine the rest, he then gave us what I think was an Elvis song.
These are moments that Myke would have cherished. Not because he would have known who Ronny Moore was, or liked the Elvis song, but simply because the contribution was so random and unexpected – he might even have sought out the key the song was being sung in and played along.
So thank you lads.
So a week full of memories that will be cherished – a week full of poignant moments, quiet reflection and thought.
A few business matters though –
Arrangements for Myke’s Funeral will not be known until early into this coming week. Be assured that details will be posted on all the usual places that I haunt you.
There is a page dedicated to Myke Masher on the Jmucreate site, HERE besides the recent photographs of Myke you’ll find the article run in The South Yorkshire Times and a track from his Rhiannon days.
In the week ahead.
The Rawmarsh Mashers plan to be at Nellie Folk on Monday; The Black Bull, Tuesday; and hope to get across to Last Friday Folk on, yes you guessed it, Friday.
There’s a new Open Mic on a Tuesday night opening at The Old Cricket Club, Wickersley. You can check it out HERE
I’ll do my best to keep all the pages up to date over the next few weeks but I hope that you’ll be patient.
Again thank you to you all.