You’ve Got a Friend in Music…aboard the Queen Mary 2!

I wouldn’t have been on this seven-night cruise aboard my beloved QM2 had it not been for music.

As some of you know, I sailed the world’s only ocean liner in 2019 on a World Voyage that took me to ports in 22 countries in 108 days. Needless to say, the cruise of a lifetime. And one that keeps on giving.

On my third night upon the ship three years ago I stumbled upon guitarist/singer Paul Garthwaite in the Golden Lion Pub. I missed only two performances in all those days, and some days saw him perform two or three times, often in the evening with Kathryn, his beautiful bride of twenty (if I recall correctly) years, a chanteuse of the highest order. Together they make magic. I became the groupiest of the groupies. All at a time when I was writing the first poems for My Body the Guitar. At a time when I knew I had to try learning to play the guitar. A time when I committed to the challenge. Four months later I acquired “Boner,” my Martin 000GT16, who kept me great company when the cruise ships were all moored sans passengers.

As did Paul who, drydocked with his ladylove with nary a gig in sight during the lockdowns, holding weekly afternoon Zoom sessions with friends, family, we groupies. For forty-one of the forty-three weeks, I hung out with Paul & Company and yakked guitarists, guitar music, guitar stories–and helped hold each other together in conversation amidst Paul’s “performances.” Through him I got to know Kathryn’s family where the dynamic duo were harboring–the generous Smith family: Doris, her mom; Peter, her dad; and the infectiously witty brother Jason. Paul’s dad and mum were always there–and we all grieved when Malcolm lost his bride of forever. Paul and Kathryn (who often admined the sessions and performed a few times) gave me the gift of family through the very worst of The Covid Era.

Concurrently, Paul produced a podcast series with me, My Body the Guitar, with eighteen poems from the eponymous book-to-be at the time, complete with recitation, often a discussion of the poem’s poetics, and, best of all, mini performances by Paul to illustrate the poem’s guitarist’s style, even as I was still writing the book. All the podcasts collected on “Music Muse” on my website. The first one spotlights Eric Clapton, in my poetry, on Paul’s guitar. Scroll down a bit to hit it.

Sunday mornings (my time), for almost as long as Paul’s Zoom series continued, Paul was also my guitar teacher. He understood how the guitar playing and my poetry were “talking” to each other, encouraging me to explore towards another of my “tonal poems.” I am forever indebted.

Let’s just say I had one was an immersive coronavirus experience. before re-emerging to the world at large. And the first Covid Era voyage I took that was a homecoming as you will see and hear. Thank you, dear readers, for letting me share my voyage, my passions, with you.

And now meet “Amythst Duo,” aka Paul and Kathryn Garthwaite.

It’s always a thrill for me to see Paul perform solo as he did twice during my week-long voyage, once in the pub as if for old times sake, and then back to the Corinthia Lounge where he picked up his 22-string guitar–the only one like on Earth. Kathryn’s family tell me they call the hulking acoustic guitar “Baby.” Ha!

The Queen Mary 2 is a cruise ship where music happens every day all day and well into the night. Whether it’s dancing to the ship’s orchestra in the ballroom or enjoying some jazz piano in the chart room, you’ll find something to tickle your musical fancy. New to me was the Irish duo, father and son Evan and Bayles who performed as the Newfoundland Duo in the pub and in the Corinthia Lounge throughout the week. Traditional Irish music was the fare, including “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” but alongside pop tunes such as “To Make You Feel My Love.”

Late night? There’s live music in the G32 Nightclub. Even when the band takes a break, a deejay steps up and keeps the music rolling as it did for this couple one night. No, they’re not part of the ship’s dance company, but passengers who cruise to dance!

And with the music comes the good people listening…along with the wait staff keeping us happy with beverages and snacks.

Friend Bob Baker, who was one of Paul’s Zoom groupies during the lockdowns. We finally got to meet in person!
Same goes for Bob’s wife, Kelly! Many hugs were to be had!
Kathyrn’s brother Jason (left) and her dad, Peter, hang out with me in the Corinithia Lounge as we wait for Amethyst Duo to begin their next show.
This is Hazel, the lovely,, wonderful waitress who plied us with beverages. We got to be friends since I also hung out in the Corinthia Lounge between shows to enjoy a cup of cappuccino while writing in my journal . I really miss her! A young single mother from the Philippines, she works long hours for weeks on end away from her two little ones who are being watched by their maternal grandmother. I have profound admiration for Hazel. A true sweetheart.
With my idols, Paul and Kathryn Garthwaite; photo by Hazel
My favorite photo of the voyage! With my tribe! Seated: Peter and Doris (aka Mum and Dad) Smith, Jason Smith, and moi. Standing: Paul and Kathryn Garthwaite. Photo by Hazel!

Anyone up for a cruise with me? I’m hoping to get back on board the Queen Mary 2 in December!

13 thoughts on “You’ve Got a Friend in Music…aboard the Queen Mary 2!

    1. Really? Material on ship and the web site tout QM2 as the only one…pointing to its four retractae stabilizers. Hmm! Regardless, she’s a beauty!!! Thanks for dropping in!


  1. Thank you so much for forwarding this wonderful “musing” on the fabulous cruise where we finally met in person……and for including us in your tale. We can only hope our paths cross again in person…..perhaps on the Grand Old Gal aka “The Queen of the Seas”. Enjoy your trip to Merry Olde England and please keep us appraised of your continued adventures. Much love, Bob and Kelly

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Hi Karla, When do you leave for Florida? Hopefully you won’t miss the Fall Foliage in the Northeast. While later than in years past, the maples have begun the transition from green to yellow, gold and burgundy; the first to prepare for Winter’s rest. Drive that Audi safely – there’s always that tendency to see just how fast they can go – and usually when a SC State Trooper has gotten his “Snowbird License” and is just waiting in the high grass. Stay well and hope to see you again in the coming year. Warm regards Bob and Kelly

    Sent from my iPhone

    Begin forwarded message:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob, thanks so much. How very dear of you. I know about those SC sher-reefs, they live catching us uppity Yankee birches. I am a conservative driver always, so Audi or no, I mind my speed, turn signals etc. Speeding is just stupid. More so in abhorrent SC, which has the nastiest stretch of I-95 the entire route home. Can’t get over how neglected the highway is through there. And they rarely clear debris like shredded semi tires, so it’s also an obstacle course. I hug the right lane most if the entire 1400 miles!


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