Guitars Save Lives
New Note Strummers
30 September 2018
This was an evening which indelibly demonstrated the power of music to change lives.
New Note Strummers is a guitar group whose members comprise people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. They are also a kick-ass rock combo.
One example will have to suffice to illustrate all the inspiring back stories of each player. Bassist Pat (subs – no surname) was street homeless in 2017. As he told the packed audience tonight, he was sleeping in the doorway of Robert Dyas on Western Road because it had a CCTV camera which afforded a measure of security from attacks. He was drinking heavily and he had never picked up a guitar in his life. Through Pavilions, the city’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation service, he found the New Note Strummers practice sessions, which happens every Friday in St Luke’s church in Prestonville. He now provides the rock solid underpinning for the band’s set of fiery covers – a skin tight rendition of Primal Scream’s ‘Moving On Up’ in particular lit up the audience – alongside well crafted originals.
The evening also included a fascinating interview with Jon Stewart, guitarist with 90s Britpop band Sleeper. He regaled the audience with fairly predictable anecdotes of rock and roll hedonism but also had truly insightful things to say about alternative recovery methods for people who find the AA 12-step programme too reliant on God and abstinence.
An uplifting night was rounded off with the veteran bass player Herbie Flowers who joined local group Sweet and Low Down for a gentle canter through some of the best known tracks he has played on. If the most famous of them all, Walk on the Wild Side, now sounds more like a stroll by the seaside it was also a sweet reminder that a long life might slow you down but it is infinitely preferable to the alternative.
This article was orginally published in The Argus.