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  • Writer's pictureJames Hawken

What do we have left?

Well, memories. That's what!


A massive part of my personal and music life has been centred around a well known watering hole situated in a glorious part of Cornwall. The area known as Minions (probably from the Cornish word 'menyon' meaning stones, of which there are plenty, some formed into bronze age stone circles known as 'The Hurlers', the name of which has its own story), apart from being a fantastic place perched high on the 'granite massif', an amazing landscape full of breathtaking views, moorland and remnants of our ancestors, was home to the Cheesewring Hotel, the highest inn in Cornwall.


I say 'was', a catastrophic fire has completely gutted the building, the shell of which has been standing like the charred bones in a funeral pyre for the last year, seemingly without hope of resurrection. The vibrance of Saturday nights with locals dancing and singing to live music, the promise of hearty pub grub to the walkers and tourists after a day on the moors, the games of 'Euchre' (a card game, again with its own facinating story) and the bar room characters full of tales and opinions readily shared, are a thing of the past.


On a personal note Sarah and I have made some great friends since we settled in a village just 'down the road' (although my father's family for generations have lived in the local town of Liskeard, I was born and raised in Roche, near St. Austell). On a professional note, Jim and I (the James Brothers) have made some great friends playing our music there over the decades, we were there every six weeks for several years. It was a gig we always loved and the crowd was always 'up for it'! The atmosphere was always lively and joyous and even the grumpiest of drinkers would be 'taken' by the vibes and invariably ended up dancing the night away (closing time was always a little 'fexible').


As always with life spanning over many years, some of our friends are no longer with us. The last couple of years seems to have been particularly cruel in this respect! So, how do I process all this in my little autistic brain? I sit at the piano and 'let it all out' as usual, something I've done since around 11 years old. I didn't know how my thoughts would manifest themselves via the piano, and it turned out that the overwhelming emotion I was experiencing was 'sadness'. This became the dominant nuance of my playing and expression. Thus a piece was created, I was recording as I played as always. I think I would describe it as funeralaic (made up word), plenty of space in the composition for contemplation, simple chord structure and a bit of ambience (including a recording of the Cheesewring crowd singing 'Dirty ol' Town', a favourite of one of our missed dear friends).


So there we have it! Have a listen if you dare and have a tissue ready. I've used a box full!





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