Emma Ballantine

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Singing in the Street

Nothing like a Jubilee jam to remind you what really matters

In spite of all the planning and plugging that goes into most performances, sometimes the best gigs are the unexpected ones - the ones where you end up borrowing a guitar on the spot or throwing something together with people you've just met. These moments often stay in your memory far more vividly than the ones you had in the diary three months in advance.

This weekend was a good example. My a cappella group, Click, had been booked to play at a street party for the Jubilee, and after we'd sung we got together with another group and put together a scratch covers band comprising several guitars, bass, a cajon and a saxophone (plus about seven different vocal parts thanks to all the singers involved!)

It was quick and dirty: an hour or two hastily assembling a set list, scrawling lead sheets onto scraps of paper and carving up solos. There was no time to agonise about our 'image' or what our 'influences' were. When we didn't know the exact parts, we improvised. When we couldn't find a proper guitar strap, we improvised.

The result ought to have been a shambles, but everyone threw themselves into it with so much energy and enthusiasm that it worked. With no pressure to be perfect, the solos were braver and the moments when everything clicked were less expected and more exciting. More importantly, the audience had a ball! We had kids dancing in the street, old men singing along and even the approval of the slightly intimidating reggae band that was pitched up next to us. No one minded the slightly ramshackle approach

12.02am 6th Jun 2012