There are few things in life that I envy. But seeing and hearing a group of high calibre musicians playing together always hits the spot. There is something magical about the relationship between a collection of instruments, in the hands of musicians of wildly differing ages, joining together to create magic for a moment in time. I find it very emotional and always wished that I was amongst them to experience that sense of oneness.
I am a great fan of the BBC Four series Transatlantic Session, now unbelievably in its sixteenth year. Its musical directors are Aly Bain, the great folk fiddle player and the multi talented dobro king Jerry Douglas. They bring together a group of Celtic connected musicians from Ireland, Britain and America...
They all stay in an old farmhouse, deep in the highlands of Scotland, and weave their magical musical connections. At its best it is sublime. What I love about it is their overriding manifesto rule for all taking part, ‘Leave your ego at the door’, and they seem to do just that. It comes through and is an utter pleasure.
Sadly we designers cannot experience the same close creative collaboration in the moment or indeed our friends the illustrators. Theatrical ensemble actors get very close to it. But musicians have the lion's share of this special closeness. Here are two links to Transatlantic Sessions that I particularly like. Give them a whirl. The first is the delightful singer Eddi Reader singing Aye Waukin-O, with Paul Brady on backing vocals.
The second features Liam O’Maonlai, the one time lead singer in Irish band Hothouse Flowers – for whom I designed an album cover and spent a slightly bizarre afternoon with Liam in the Portland Turkish baths followed by and evening at the opera. But more of that another time.