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Guest blog: Andy’s Virtuosity gig in aid of MS-UK

In this guest blog, Andy Fiore tells us why he has organised an outstanding line up of blues artists for this weekend’s ‘Virtuosity in aid of MS-UK’ gig, with the proceeds going helping us support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS)...

This time last year I was getting ready for my first ‘Virtuosity in aid of MS-UK’ gig, which took place on 11 June 2017. It was a small but appreciative crowd that came along to enjoy a night of jazz at the Colchester Arts Centre, and this year I am planning on hosting a similar event, this time pulling in some blues favourites.virtuosity poster for blog_0.jpg

As a client of MS-UK, I know the good that the charity does to support people like me living with multiple sclerosis. I know the power of music to unite people and do good. I was a musician myself, so the worst effect of having MS is that I can no longer play any instruments. This is hard to accept, but I am determined to channel it into something positive and to keep my love of music alive. That’s where the idea for ‘Virtuosity’ came from.

The choice of musicians for this Virtuosity event was based on getting an international artist supported by a major local band and soloist so that the local acts would attract bums on seats for the main feature.

Geoff Achison and the Souldiggers just happened to be on tour in the UK at Easter and I know of them because of a Facebook link from Sam Kelly (the drummer of the Souldiggers). Sam is a professional session drummer and plays at West London jam sessions (when not on tour himself), where I used to go to play bass guitar when working as a software contractor there - until MS took away the control of my hands!

The genre was chosen by Geoff’s style of souly/blues/roots music. ‘It is blues Jim - but not as you may know it!’ - is a comment from Geoff’s web site which sums it up perfectly. I hope this will make it much more popular with the audience than pure jazz but still add that special touch created when playing excellent original material with such talented session musicians.

The support artists - of which there are many excellent ones in this part of the UK - were chosen from my past experience of playing blues based music around Essex. Tim Aves and Wolfpack are legends locally and the addition of the incredibly talented Martin McNeill on vocals, slide guitar and harmonica completes the line-up.

I have been overwhelmed with the support I’ve received from the local community. Colchester Arts Centre has once again hosted the event, and media students from the Colchester Institute are even coming along to record and edit the performance. I’m hoping it’s a brilliant night for everyone involved.

There are still tickets available for the gig, which is happening this Saturday 31 March...you can buy them online from the Colchester Arts Centre website. I hope to see you there!

Andy