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Celebrations of Dave's Life and Music - 19th, 20th and 23rd March 2005
When news of Dave's death reached people in England it was hard for them to believe it had really happened - he was so vital, we thought he'd always be there. Although Dave and I had lived in Malta for two and a half years he had kept in touch with everyone and we'd also performed with our band Mandala MALTA at Glastonbury Festival last year.
Old friend, music journalist and writer Phil Strongman, felt we should have a celebration in Dave's honour and with the help of our mate bass player Mat Sargent, set about organising it. The 100 Club kindly offered themselves as a venue for a get together of the many musicians Dave had worked with over the years, along with friends and family members. Dave had always thought there was something magical about the number 23 - so when Phil called to say it was booked for 23rd March (even though he'd tried for the 21st) we both felt everything was 'as it should be'!! (More about this later.)
We also wanted to have a kind of 'Rainbow Picnic' - out in the open - Glastonbury style - child friendly. So after talking to Sam Hermitage and Jean Vidler (of our band Now Age Radio and the Green Futures Field Glastonbury), it was suggested that we spread the word and all meet up near the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park (which is next to the river) on 19th March. See who came and what happened.
I flew to England with a case full of sweaters and my winter coat - "It's freezing here!" everyone kept telling me. "Make it good for the 19th Dave." we kept saying. The day came - the sky was clear blue, the sun shone down on us and the temperature shot up to what one might expect on an English summer day. People came in shorts and strappy tops - perfect picnic weather!!
Next to the Pagoda was a small hill, so Val, Dave's sister and I decided to set up 'camp' on the top, on the basis that everyone would be able to find us there. Well they certainly did - in no time at all there were about a hundred people - rainbow-eco warriors, kids, musicians, family and old mates.
Jean brought packets of birdseed with her, with the idea of creating a mandala on the ground, (which could subsequently be enjoyed by the birds!). She got all the kids together to help and they created a beautiful patterned circle around a small tree, with the seed plus feathers, twigs and leaves collected by the children. Raga brought a rainbow-coloured South American ceremonial flag, so we stood a picture of Dave on it and people left offerings of fruit, flowers and herbs.
I was so happy that our dear friend, Hopi Indian Elder, Roy Littlesun, (with whom we have participated in many Peace Ceremonies over the years) had come along, and he offered to perform a farewell ceremony for Dave. Then we were joined by Raga's friend, a Tibetan monk bearing bells and drums, who also offered to participate.
After a couple of hours of picnic-ing and talking, we gathered in a large circle. Roy talked about Dave - how he had met him and the experiences they had shared. He then put down a small piece of material and asked us, if we wished, to each put a small personal thing on it, which we would tie up in a bundle and float down the river. The haunting sound of bells and drum floated in the air as we left our offerings. Next Roy invited anyone who wished to speak about Dave to do so - which many of us did. He lit up his ceremonial pipe and offered it to all of us in the circle. (Non-smokers and children were anointed with it on both shoulders.) Rainbow warrior Phoenix started a beautiful chant - about how spirit never dies - it is old and strong like the mountain - and goes on and on!
Roy gave me the bundle and took my hand - we all joined hands and he led us round into a spiral on top of the hill - all singing - then he took us down to the river's edge. Once we were all there he told me to throw the package into the river. It was low tide, so I ran and threw it and it caught the edge of the flow and was carried along. Roy started to sing "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!" We joined in. It was the first time I realised the spirituality of the words of that song.
We made our way back to the top of the hill and Pok and Clive Space Goat and other musicians started to play. Suddenly someone called out, pointing at the sky - "Look, look!" We all looked up - on one side of us was the sun, on the other the moon was rising and there, directly overhead, was a rainbow. Everyone shouted -
The next day, the 20th, was open house at sister Val and brother in law John's. Many members of our big family came - nieces and nephews and their partners, great nieces and nephews, an Uncle and cousins, my Mum and Sister, schoolfriends who played with him in his first band - The Frinton Bassett Blues. A friend he used to babysit (now father of three) accompanied by his Mother, who had known Dave since he was a kid. We all reminisced, looked at photos, listened to his music, laughed and cried.
The 100 Club followed - 23rd March at 1.00pm. Old friend of Dave's, Hawk, a superb graphic designer, had created the invitations, with words about Dave on the back by Phil Strongman. You didn't have to have one of these to attend, although a few went out before the event - but on the day people took them as a memento. Hawk had also blown up some huge pics of Dave from various points in his life and stuck them up around the club. Jay Strongman started things off, DJ-ing music which had influenced Dave, music he'd played, produced, written etc.
The crowds began to gather. Some of the family and many friends, plus musician friends he had played with and/or recorded and produced over his long career (well he started very early!). From the school band through the soul, punk and new age musicians, right up to the last band he'd recorded before departing for Malta in 2002. Frinton Bassett Blues, Polecat, Sex Pistols, Captain Sensible, Cannibals, Blob Hotel, Splodgenessabounds, Sea Horses, Space Goats, New Age Radio, Mandala MALTA were all represented - and so many others - what a gathering! Later in the afternoon many people got up and 'sang a song for Dave' - including Gary Lammin, Mae McKenna, Darryl Bath, Jamie Woon and Mike Spenser among others.
Dave believes that MUSIC CAN HELP SAVE THE WORLD and I'm sure he's still working on it! With his inspiration we'll be continuing the good work at our company 'Mandala' - so the story continues!
Kathy Manuell Goodman