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