ON CUE: JOE STILGOE SHARES HIS MUSICAL HITS AND MISSES...
A singer, pianist and songwriter, Joe Stilgoe's talents are always sought after. Constantly touring the world, he has pulled up to the keys at venues including the Royal Festival Hall and The Barbican, and wowed from from Berlin to Kuala Lumpur, and from Dubai to New York. Milton Keynes mightn't be quite as glamorous as The Big Apple, but later this month Joe will stop off at The Stables in Wavendon. It's a familiar haunt for Joe, but this time around he will be paying tribute to 100 years of Hollywood cinema through the music that aided and abetted its legend. Expect a sensational performance of some of those songs written for, and inspired by, some of the greatest films of the last century. www.totalmk.co.uk asked Joe to tackle our On Cue questions, and he kindly obliged... The song that first awakened your musical senses > Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis, or The Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney (delete whichever loses more points) Physical or digital - how do you take your music? > Both. Digital for pop and rock, physical for jazz and classical (so I can read the liner notes like a true nerd). The first time you thought 'Music - this is the job for me’? > When I first played in a big band, at university. I couldn’t believe anything
could be so much fun. And so LOUD.
Your best on stage memory…
> I’ve never performed Memory. NO, my best moment on stage is walking out to face the crowd the first time I played Ronnie Scott’s in 2008. I’d been dreaming of that moment for 10 years, and still I can’t really believe I get to play there.
And the worst gig you've ever done?
>The worst gig I’ve ever done was when I was house pianist at The Dorchester.
I played Liberace’s mirrored Baldwin piano, which was a tough one at the best of times. It failed me on this occasion, or, more accurately, I failed it.
Tony Bennett had just walked in, just as I was requested to play ‘Misty’ by a man in ornate and expensive robes who claimed to be a courtier of a Malaysian King. This is true. He put a £50 note on the piano, I started playing, Tony Bennett looked up in recognition of a song he had recorded many times, and we were away.
Then it came to the bridge, and my mind went blank. I played a lot of notes, not necessarily in the right order, but I had no idea what the tune was at that moment, and eventually stumbled back to the chorus.
I was crouching behind the piano, in shame and sudden loss of spine, as I crawled the tune to an undignified end. Mr Bennett was very gracious.
He winced but didn’t look my way, paid for his brandy, and walked out of the bar.
What made you take up the piano?
> My Dad played, we had one in the house, and I liked sitting down from a young age.
Which one song by another artist do you wish you'd have written?
> Oh wow, so many to choose from. Danny Boy is up there as the best tune ever written, but closer to my genre, I’d say ‘One For My Baby’ by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, or ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ by The Beatles. ‘You Never Can Tell’ by Chuck Berry would be up there too. So, 4 songs. Too many? I’ll take ‘One For My Baby’.
And one - by yourself - which holds special significance
> '( That’s The Way It Crumbles) Cookie-Wise’, a song I wrote using a line from the Billy Wilder film ‘The Apartment’. One of my favourite films, and also my wife’s, which she told me on our first date, so she was a little surprised I’d already written a song about the film. And, as it turns out, her (except it crumbled well in the end).
If you could step into the shoes of another musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
> Oscar Peterson. I’d try to play the piano as well as him. And maybe eat less.
Are there any current musical influences that you might look to?
> I’m obsessed with American jazz singer Gregory Porter at the moment. I think I told him when I saw him at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival last year. We ended up jamming Nat King Cole songs at 3 in the morning. I wish I had a better memory of this...
And any genre of music that you simply can't stand?
> I really struggle to see the point of most techno/ electronic dance music.
Finally, plug your date in Milton Keynes
>I love playing at The Stables. This will be my 4th time there as a performer.
The first was playing for John Dankworth and Cleo Laine’s Radio 2 programme ‘Live From The Stables’, which was a very special moment for me, 8 years ago, as Cleo had asked me personally to come on.
I was pretty nervous but more pertinently had run a marathon the day before so I walked on stage like Douglas Bader (and probably played like him, too).
That’s when the piano is a useful instrument, with all the sitting...The Stables is the best concert hall around, and I love the welcome I get there.
I look forward to seeing some familiar faces after the show.
Tickets for The Stables show on May 21 can be booked by calling 01908 280800 or online at www.stables.org