Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chris Jarvis

Was it really seven years ago? We were in the middle of recording a bunch of songs which eventually emerged as Songs from The Blue House's 'Too' and amongst the fiddles, banjoleles, dobros and a Fisher Price activity set included on the overdubs we had decided that what we really needed for one song was a Parisian-sounding accordian. As you do. La Mulley recalled an old folk club friend of her Dad's and calls were made, directions given, and vague “We want a sort of Parisian-sounding accordian” noises were made in his direction. To the studio came one Chris Jarvis (in the company of his very jolly partner) who unpacked a massive squeezy thing that had lots of keys and buttons which he strapped himself into before settling down in the recording booth surrounded by mics of various elevations and patiently bellowing back and forth while engineer Steve Tsoi tweaked various buttons and faders, grimaced at flashing lights, and grunted in the way that only studio boffins in advanced states of concentration can. After about twenty minutes of puzzlement and eyebrow raising on our side of the glass Chris helpfully pointed out that accordians are prone to be very slightly off key over the course of three octaves and we should probably stop worrying about the fine tuning we striving to achieve at our end.
With the barest explanation of what we were after he then listened carefully to what we'd already done and rattled off a couple of takes. We made some more suggestions, he nodded patiently, and tried to make happen with his fingers what we were trying to hum, sing and, in lieu of any real knowledge about the mechanics of this fiendish (and rather cumbersome) instrument, mime. The procedure was repeated, we got three songs down, he seemed very happy to have helped and toddled off into the wan and unseasonal Essex sunshine. That was the only time I met him and, until today, I must confess that he'd pretty much dropped off my radar. He didn't, as a number of our sessioneer waifs and strays do, join up full time or come out to gig with us on special occasions, and he became a virtual footnote in the accounts of our musical (folk) odyssey. Sadly, Chris passed on recently after a long illness, and so, belatedly - far too belatedly - I'd like to say thanks for one fun day, and to ask anyone who has enjoyed that swirling, fairground sound on “Forever” to raise a glass and toast Chris, who played for the fun of it, shared his talent without reservation, and who still brings a little unseasonal sunshine into the room whenever that musical snapshot of one afternoon in Essex moves some air through speakers around the world.

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