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The Garry Blakeley Band

The Garry Blakeley Band

Garry Blakeley, Magical Master Fiddler at the Stables Theatre

Review of Garry Blakeley’s show ‘Celebrate’ at the Stables Theatre, Hastings on April 26th.

We came to ‘Celebrate’ on a damp, misty night at the end of April to be whisked away by Garry Blakeley and his Band, first to Thomas Hardy’s Day and then to the Celebration of the May. The show was a telling, a singing and a playing to celebrate the changing seasons, woven together with glorious fiddle playing backed by the excellent musicians in Garry’s Band writes Angie Phillip.

Stories about Thomas Hardy, pictures and verse about the changing seasons and the story of Jack-in-the-Green by Rose Blakeley were bound together by the music, which was all either arranged or composed by Garry.

Garry Blakeley

Garry Blakeley

What a huge talent from a man, who says he is never satisfied with what he achieves. Garry’s compositions and arrangements are masterly and prodigious, his creativity overflowing and delightful. In performance, he requires every note, every cadence, every rhythm to be perfect and yet when we listen we don’t notice the technique, we hear only the pure sweet notes.

Some pieces were lyrical. There was one piece in particular in the second half of the show where the notes soared, slid, quivered. When Garry plays, there is no longer a man and a violin, they fuse into one, into sound that carries you with it as he speaks to you through the music. Other pieces were so infectiously rhythmic that there was not only a clapping of hands and tapping of feet in the audience around me, but actual bouncing up and down as  people danced in their seats.

It was fitting to take a step back to Thomas Hardy’s time reminding us not only of what the people did then, but showing us that we’re not so different now. It reminded us, too, of our mortality, our fragility, our transience set against Nature which wheels and turns eternal. As Rose Blakeley writes:

Rose Blakeley

Rose Blakeley

…I wonder, to me, now what will befall?

As I stand here alone, I, one so small

But I hear your words, as the great boughs sway –

Then in your emerald arms I gently lay.

(from The Green Man)


Jane Downes

Jane Downes

As I type Rose’s words, I hear Jane Downes’ voice as she spoke during the performance. She has a memorable voice, perfect for narration. Words that Jane speaks that you think you’ve forgotten are somehow still there long afterwards. Maybe it’s the clarity of her speech, but even more, I think, it’s the warmth in her voice that reaches you.


The Band deserves special mention. Edd Blakeley, Garry’s son, played superbly on bass guitar and keyboards, as did Jon Ewen on drums and Phil Hudson on guitar. They grinned at each other as they played, perfectly together, enjoying each moment, giving it all they’d got. It was a wonderful performance.

The theatre was full and as I listened to people around me in the bar in the interval, I heard two of Garry’s violin pupils chatting about how wonderful he was. You hear about Garry all over Hastings in music circles. He is the master fiddler widely revered, who always has time for people and everywhere I go, I hear how much he is appreciated.

Jill Levick - winner of the best dressed Green Spirit

Jill Levick - winner of the best dressed Green Spirit

I looked at the audience, too, to see who might win the prize of Rose Blakeley’s art work for the best dressed Green Spirit. We found the drummers, from  ‘Section 5’, who started the second half of the show, all dressed in green and looking spritely. There were others, too, with flowers in their hair and many dressed in green, but in the end it was Jill Levick who won the prize. It was the ears that did it. She was attired not only in gorgeous green with shiny skirt and leafy top, but she had the right ears!



Drummers from 'Section 5' who appeared in part of the show

All too soon it was over and we left with spirits raised, steps light and heads full of music. I heard someone say as they left ‘Superb! Wonderful playing!’ while other comments echoed the same. It had been a night of celebration.


Garry Blakeley’s next events can be found on his website:

CDs and track donwloads can be purchased at

and Garry’s full catalogue can be found here.



Posted 21:29 Monday, Apr 29, 2013 In: Music & Sound

Also in: Music & Sound


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