Deprecated: Hook custom_css_loaded is deprecated since version jetpack-13.5! Use WordPress Custom CSS instead. Jetpack no longer supports Custom CSS. Read the WordPress.org documentation to learn how to apply custom styles to your site: https://wordpress.org/documentation/article/styles-overview/#applying-custom-css in /home/storage/562/4295562/user/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 6078
Jack's Blog – News from Jack Foley

The Day I Met The World Cup Winners

At a recent charity event in London I bumped into Sir Geoff Hurst, the only footballer to score a hat-trick in a world cup final, a real gent and very happy to chat about his career and achievements, which I’m sure he has done many, many times since scoring those three goals in the 1966 world cup final at Wembley stadium to beat West Germany 4-2 and the only time England has ever won a world cup.

It was actually the second time I’d met him and I reminded him of the first time which was over 17 years prior. It was at a hotel called West Lodge Park in Hertfordshire shortly after I’d moved from Durham at the turn of the millennium. After my move I found myself working as the head gardener at the West Lodge Park, a beautiful hotel with 40 acres of grounds and a 17 acre arboretum just south of the M25. Gardening and tree surgery were my trade up until then and this is pretty much all I’d done since leaving school.

One sunny afternoon in the summer of 2001, I was cutting the grass on my mini tractor at the front of the hotel when one of the maintenance guy’s Paul came over to me and said “You like football, come with me, you’ll love this” not knowing what to expect I stopped my tractor and followed him to main hotel entrance, before going in Paul reminded me we were in our dirty overalls and not to linger too long and just pass through the reception and foyer and leave out of the back, still not knowing what to expect I followed him eagerly with a sense of excitement and confusion in equal measure.

On entering the hotel I found myself in the middle of a drinks reception and the 35 year reunion of the 1966 world cup winning footballers and there partners, completely forgetting Paul’s words and forgetting I was at work and probably committing a sackable offence I went straight over to Jack Charlton to have a chat, which like Geoff Hurst and Nobby Stiles he was more than happy to do. After a little while I made my apologies and went back to work.

My conversation continued with Jack Charlton the following morning while I was working at the front of the hotel and he was outside for a cigarette, talking about, among other things his time as the Ireland manager and the world cup of 1994 in the USA when England failed to qualify.

A happy and fond memory of my time as a gardener and one to share with my son when he’s old enough to appreciate it, I’m hoping by then England may have another world cup win under their belts!

Jack’s Personal Video Present

Welcome to a brand new Personal Video Present from me to you or your loved one, this unique present will consist of a five minute personal video message celebrating any kind of event or occasion with a song and a message of your choice. All for just £30.

Please allow 7 days from order to the date you would like the message delivered.

Click on the link below to leave order details.

http://jackfoleysinger.com/contactJackFoley.html

 

The Royal Yacht Britannia

Mid 2016 I was contacted by The Senior Theatres Programmer at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester, Matthew Eames to ask if I was available for an event in Edinburgh on Sept 22nd2018. All of my work is booked well in advance but two and a half years is quite unusual. It turned out the client was Trevor Jones from Manchester and he was planning a surprise birthday party for his wife Beryl’s 70thBirthday celebrations. Come Sept 22nd2018 Trevor had the surprise in planning for over five years! I was delighted to accept the booking and looked forward to hearing more about what was planned.

In April 2018 Trevor came down from Manchester to see me in London to chat about repertoire and the finer details of his closely guarded plans, that were top secret from all of the over seventy guests including his two sons who were completely in the dark. The plans were amazing and as he shared his vision of how he wanted the weekend to turn out I became very excited myself. The plan was to take Beryl and all the guests from Manchester to Edinburgh by first class train travel to a fully prepared and waiting Royal Yacht Britannia berthed in the port of Leith in Edinburgh.

The evening consisted of a drinks reception, followed by a first class dinner at which I would be performing a set of 45 minutes interspersed with the piping in and addressing of The Haggis, this was followed by everyone being asked to go out on the main deck where Her Majesty would stand fulfilling her royal duties, to watch the most incredible display by the pipes and drums of Black Watch on the dock side. The evening was finished off by a performance of the top selling touring theatre show Beyond The Barricade.

After initially thinking of flying to Edinburgh from Gatwick for the event I decided to take the train as the hotel Trevor had us all booked into was right outside Edinburgh Waverley train station, the five star Balmoral Hotel. On the journey on the way up I was beginning to doubt my judgement when the train I took on the morning of Sept 22ndfrom Kings Cross announced that because of storm damage the train was going no further than Newcastle, thinking quickly I decided on a taxi to Newcastle airport and a hire car to complete my journey to Edinburgh. Trevor and the rest of the party were in a similar situation on the west coast line and ended up getting coaches to the hotel, although everyone was delayed the event went ahead on time and on schedule, testament to an excellent travel agent and organiser of the whole event Richard Hunstone from Travel Talk ll.

I was able to get to the Royal Yacht about an hour before the guests to have a sound check and get settled before my special performance for Beryl and Trevor with all of there favourite repertoire with such diverse tunes as Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme to Amarillo and American Trilogy by Tony Christie and Elvis respectively, a very special moment was a request by Trevor for me to sing Love Changes Everything to Tony Ball a top after dinner speaker and the father of none other than Michael Ball who had made the song a huge hit in 1989. Tony was delighted and it was lovely to chat to him about singing and his boy.

After a late return to the hotel bar and a quick drink with a few guests it was time for bed after my 5am alarm call that morning. The hotel breakfast was stunning and I went for the full Scottish, which included the obligatory Haggis, my return train was at 10.30am and thankfully ran smoothly and on time with no repeat of the outward leg of the journey. I was home in Bromley by 5pm and welcomed by little Jack who was very happy with his cuddly Loch Ness Monster as was my wife Beata with the Scottish shortbread.

I look forward to the next one Trevor!!

Buckingham Palace

I was surprised and delighted to receive an invitation through the post to the Prince of Wales 70th Birthday patronage celebrations at Buckingham Palace Gardens on 22nd May 2018, the invite arrived by post from The Lord Chamberlain with the wording he was commanded by Her Majesty The Queen to invite me which made me smile I must say. The invite itself was on very fine stationary as you would probably expect from our royal family, even the envelope had a watermark! Inside the envelope as well as the invite itself were various instructions including travel and security details for the day.

On the day itself the weather could not have been better with beautiful sunshine, even the 30 minute train ride from my local station to Victoria train station and the short walk to the palace thereafter were a pleasure. There were around another two thousand people invited and we queued up outside the palace in our best clothes in a very calm and suppressed excitement British way! Two forms of ID were needed to get past the armed security on the front gate. Once inside and around the back of Buckingham Palace it was like walking through the gate of ‘The Secret Garden’, I was a tree surgeon and gardener by trade before taking up singing and was very impressed by the royal collection of trees and shrubs as well as the huge lake with its own island that sits at the bottom of the garden, it was also very interesting to learn of the history of the garden from James I in 1609 to George IV and our present Queen’s additions, the most surprising fact I learned was that during a survey by The London Natural History Society two species of fungi new to science were discovered.

The Garden Party itself was a real joy, from the live military band on the bandstand and the Yeoman of the Guard ‘Holding The Ground‘ to the pageantry and fine food – Huge tents were all ready for guests to take refreshments which consisted of an array of ‘crustless‘ sandwiches and sweet cakes and pastries each one better than the last, washed down with Earl Grey Tea.

After finishing my refreshments and waiting for the royal party to arrive it was a pleasure to chat to Dr Robert Winston about our mutual love of opera and our favourite productions and conductors who have graced The Royal Opera House stage (I hope he was able to get tickets for The Ring Cycle opening the 2018/19 Season). Another huge surprise while standing patiently on the sidelines was a meeting with The Duchess of Cornwall and a chat about her favourite ballet productions again at The Royal Opera House.

The afternoon was over far too soon and I couldn’t help but reflect on the train home of what my father would have thought of this boy from a Durham pit village at a garden party at Buckingham Palace with royalty!   

Brinsworth House

One of my favourite regular performances is for the residents of Brinsworth House in Twickenham. Brinsworth House is a residential home for retired actors and performers and run by the Royal Variety Charity. Set in over three acres of land, Brinsworth is a large mansion on the outskirts of Twickenham and for over one hundred years has become the home of many well loved performers who have spent their lives serving the entertainment industry. Built in 1850, the house has 36 luxury bedrooms, six separate living/ function rooms, an entertainment stage with bar area, a conservatory, library, restaurant, television rooms and even a hair salon. The home is decorated throughout to emphasise and represent its theatrical connection.

The concerts  are always on an afternoon scheduled for 2pm so a cup of tea and refreshment can be served after by the very professional and dedicated staff. A quirk of London transport means that although I only live 15 miles away from Brinsworth it takes me three trains and a bus to get there, I always like to get there early to have a cuppa and a chat to a few of the residents before hand and catch up with any news.

Occasionally I’ll be with a pianist and go through the sheet music and repertoire before hand so we are ‘both on the same page’ literally! Often however I’ll be performing to my backing tracks and Brinsworth is the only retirement home I know with not only a stage and baby grand piano but a full sound system with mixer and radio mics which makes my life a lot easier to just plug my tracks into, connect a microphone and have a sound check. I’m even provided with my own ‘green room’ to change and relax in before the performance.

A lot of my repertoire resinates with the residents as they remember well the old musicals and hits of the sixties and seventies as well as the classics by the likes of Mario Lanza. At my last concert I took the audience on a journey ‘Around The World’ starting from my home ‘Durham Town’ through the ‘Streets Of London’ onto ‘New York New York’ and ‘San Francisco’ over to Italy with ‘Nella Fantasia’ and ‘O Sole Mio’ then Ireland with ‘Danny Boy’ and with a generous helping of Musical Theatre favourites and Matt Monro hits in between we arrived back from our journey with ‘Green Green Grass of Home’.

A chat with everyone after and another cuppa rounds off a lovely afternoon and fills me with great joy to know that I’m singing to some of the best in the business, including Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, husband and wife who have been married for 64 years this year, who were big stars back in the day. It was Pearl and Teddy who represented Great Britain in the 1959 Eurovision Song contest coming in a wonderful second place with there beautifully synced voices performing ‘Sing Little Birdie’ catch them on youtube https://youtu.be/XWCocfbZOOs

I somehow get the feeling that we will not be winning or coming anywhere near second in the Eurovision Song contest anytime soon!

The Journey to my third album: ‘Here I Am’

It’s always good to have a strong sense of motivation when you’re working on something new.

The motivation for my 3rd album comes in the form of our little son Jack who is nearly two years old. He’s developed this wonderful, inquisitive (sometimes exhausting) personality, always wanting to try new things and always just loving life!

It’s been a few years now since I released a new CD. In 2013 ‘This Is The Moment‘ which was the launch of my solo career and ‘And I love You So‘ dedicated to my wife Beata, went on sale in shops and online (CDs, MP3s and Spotify).

So, my thoughts turned to a new CD when the baby was around a year old (to be honest the first year was a bit of a blur for me and my wife, but a wonderful blur filled with love, nappies and little sleep!)

Looking back, this was completely normal and the more friends and family we talked to, we realised that this wonderful experience of having a little person to care for was showing and teaching us some valuable and very important life lessons; things that were once not important to me became important and vice versa, creating an inner feeling that nothing had changed yet everything was different.

This had a big impact on my music making, especially my singing. My breathing was coming from a deeper, much more grounded place. The lyric and emotional content of the song came to life. What I’ve found to be the most important lesson; I became less concerned about what people thought of me, which reduces the pressure and opens me up to new positive feelings instead.

On top of these benefits, challenging situations became much easier to handle. It’s amazing what the motivation to lead a child through school, college and guide into adulthood can do to the psyche!

Whilst all of these feelings were changing, I happened upon a wonderful song called ‘Here I Am’ when I was chatting with a friend Allan Wilson*. We have collaborated on a couple of projects over the past few years; and he is probably one of the most prolific studio conductors in Europe, if not the world.

Allan regularly records with the Philharmonia in London and he suggested I listen to the music of Eric Genuis, an American composer whom he’d worked with (and recorded with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra) for his ‘The Winds Have Changed’ album. The words of the song and the ethereal feel were exactly how I felt about my little son who had overtaken my life forever. Allan was only too happy to talk to Eric for the permission to use his song as the title track of my third album and the perfect song to dedicate to our son.

Most of the other songs on the album are well known and have a meaning for me in my life which I’ll touch on another time, but the final song on the album is a little known song called ‘Thankful’ written by the incredible Canadian musician/record producer David Foster. Again, whilst searching for suitable songs for the album I was blown away by the words and soul-touching melody of this song.

‘Thankful’ sums up perfectly how I feel about what I have in my life today. It is so easy for us to dwell on what is missing and what we don’t have, but when we take stock and look around at some parts of this world, I feel truly blessed. As my Mother says: “there’s always someone worse off than ourselves!”

These feelings and emotions are not just granted to us either, they take work, sacrifice, patience and as I mentioned at the beginning, a lot of motivation.

So, thank you little Jack for instilling these new qualities in me, for your wonderful inquisitive personality each day and for motivating me to produce the third CD, without you it wouldn’t have happened.

* I’d like to add here that Allan Wilson conducted all the music for the Doha 2006 Asian Games, the London O2 Arena Premier of “Ben-Hur Live” in 2009 and his many conducting credits include films such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Nightcrawler, Fury, Elysium, Cloverfield, Sleepy Hollow, and games such as Fable, the Harry Potter series, Evil Genius, Call of Duty 2, Dead Space 3, Myst IV, Kinect Star Wars, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and many others.

Behind The Scenes

One of the many great things about my work is the variety of venues I get to perform in, from church’s and cathedrals built nearly 1000 years ago to ultra hi tech modern theatres. No matter where I perform I always get that special feeling of adrenaline ‘kicking in’ just before I go on stage, over the years I’ve learned to manage and channel that feeling and have it work for me and help me.

Once I’m set up at my performance venue I need to do a ‘sound check’, this is checking the volume and quality of my microphone against the band or backing track that I’m using, as you can imagine each venue is different and gives me a completely different sound, it’s great to have a sound person there operating the sound with there expert ears but often I am my own sound man and a walk around the performance venue singing a song or two before the audience turns up is a usual occurrence.

If I am being my own sound man then I’m also being my own ‘roadie’ which is not too bad usually, until I come across a venue thats on the second or third floor with no lift, which thankfully is rare but when this does happen I get an unexpected gym workout in before I perform!

I always like to arrive early to set up and sound check and I try to predict how the traffic will be before I set out, this doesn’t always work out as I do live not too far away from the notorious M25! There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re due on stage in an hour and you are stuck in traffic.

Once I’m set up and sound checked it’s always a bonus if there is a dressing room just to relax in, this isn’t always the case and the amount of times I have changed in the gents I have lost count.

I don’t like to eat anything well before I sing so for a few hours before I will just have a coffee and water, I like to feel that my stomach is empty as it helps with breath control.

This might sound strange but before I go on stage I try hard not to think of the imminent performance, especially the words, as I’m rehearsed and already know exactly what I’m doing, when the music starts I just allow it to happen, once I’m in full flow that ‘kicking in’ thing happens, it’s a safe place that hours, days and years of practice have got me comfortable with.

After a performance whether it’s one song or a two hour stint I always feel a sense of achievement and exhilaration, I make sure the person or persons who have employed me or I’m performing for are happy and pleased with what I’ve done, Its lovely to greet people afterwards and have a chat and a real bonus is signing a CD or two for people who want to take a little bit of the performance home with them.

Depending on where I have been it can be a long drive home, I don’t really mind this too much as with my evening performances there are not as many cars on the road and the traffic is quiet, this gives me time with myself to reflect and unwind, I like to review my performance in my head to see what can be done better for the next time or even find a little anecdote or story that might work again, having said that my first choice would always be an afternoon performance with a relatively short journey home to be back for my little boy’s bath time!

As I haven’t eaten for some time I’m usually quite hungry after performing  and I have to watch just grabbing the first thing I see and wolfing it down especially late at night, I often wonder if this was the late great Luciano Pavarotti’s reason for being such a big man, but to be honest with a voice like his that would be my last concern!

CD’s

Recently and after many requests I felt drawn to producing and releasing my first solo CD, the content and repertoire for my ‘This Is The Moment’ CD came quite quickly as the twelve songs on the CD are most of my favourites with a special meaning to me with there lyric, or like an old friend they had been there at a crucial moment in my life.

It’s not until you decide to do something that you realise how much work is involved, in fact deciding on the songs was the easy part, I then had to have my tracks produced in the studio by London Arrangements and once produced and ready I needed to rehearse them to make sure the feel and key were right.

On to the ‘Meat In The Sandwich’ which is the actual vocal recording at Kenilworth Studios, London, The whole process takes a lot of time and in a single four hour session with the excellent sound engineer and musician Chris Traves we would get perhaps two tracks down on tape, after a few of these sessions over the weeks the tracks are ready to be mixed and mastered and when all of this was done it was such a wonderful feeling of achievement and expression on listening back to the finished songs.

All of the music used has to be licensed and credited to the creators and all of the contracts and paperwork needed to be filled in and submitted well in advance of any CD release.

There is then the design of a CD cover, I had a photo shoot to get some shots for the front cover and album booklet, this was done on location in London by the master photographer Casey Moore, what a talented guy with such a refined eye.

The CD cover then needed to be designed and Rob Petrie of The Pet Shop Boys CD design fame was my man for this job.

The rest of the CD booklet and even a website had to be designed and created and the very creative and patient Martin Roberts of Carrdale was very accommodating and visionary with some great ideas.

The master copy was then sent to the replication company with the CD sleeve and booklet design and a wait of two weeks before the finished product landed on the doormat. Seeing and hearing the finished CD is a beautiful feeling and I knew the work of performance and promotion could then begin in earnest.

My second CD ’And I Love You So’ based on the theme of love came about shortly after the first and to have the two CDs side by side in HMV on Oxford Street was a sight to behold for me and something of a dream come true.

All of the hard work was very well worth it and I look forward to repeating the process with a third album soon!