Piano in the Woods


It’s not often you get to go to a gig that you are partly responsible for! I found out about a project called Piano in the Woods about 7 months ago. Basically the guy who runs the Free Range events that I saw AMM at a few months ago put an old piano in some woodland near Canterbury and has been going back once a month to create performances around and including the decaying piano. I’d wanted to go but I kept missing the event announcements. Then when i went to see Hand of Stabs on LV21 I mentioned it to them as being a good project for their music. I had intended to do the whole Sam Bailey this is Hand of Stabs, Hand of Stabs this is Sam Bailey but with one thing and another I forgot – so I was over the moon when I found out that they’d managed to find each other regardless and that Hand of Stabs were going to be performing at the penultimate performance in the woods.

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So I set off to drive down to Canterbury but when I arrived the gates were closed and the sign said private! So I wondered for a while and then opened the gate and parked my car in front of a Land Rover and headed off down the path. After about 5 minutes I found the clearing where the band were setting up and then in a small clearing I found the piano. It was lying on it’s back – I think it’s normally standing but had been laid down in order to make it playable – as I understand it the keys stopped working after the first month in the woods!

I was a little disappointed that it looked like Hand of Stabs weren’t going to be playing with the piano but there was also a poet and a dancer scheduled to play so I figured it was still going to be a fantastic performance. It started a little late with Sam and the poet luke performing together. Sam played the piano while Luke read, what looked like randomly, from a book. This lasted for about 15 minutes during which I was sat on a log taking pictures with the 3 cameras I’d brought – my phone, an old folding camera loaded with black and white film and my digital. I was horrified when I got a card full message – the card was the only thing I didn’t check before leaving – but thankfully the card in the other slot had space on it!

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At the end of their performance we headed over to where Hand of Stabs were set up and they performed for about 15 minutes while the dancer danced around them utilising all the surfaces such as the piles of wood or trees around. The performance was  great if, as ever, far too short and as the applause died away there was a cacophonous noise from the piano that alerted us to the fact that we should all head back over there again.

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I got back in time to reclaim my log and sat down – as I did Hand of Stabs suddenly appeared with their instruments and set up just in front of me. They joined in with the final part of the performance with the piano especially Kevin the guitar player who rammed his guitar into the piano producing some splendid noises – the poet read and the dancer danced and a wonderful afternoon was brought to a climax.

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