Voltarol - related music

Monday, 3 November 2008

Further tales of Berkhamsted...

This was not what I had intended to be posting next but life often throws stuff at you that you weren't expecting...

During the course of writing my last posting (See Emily play) I made contact with Al Merritt (the drummer on the gig that I had described there) and sent him a link to the page. I soon received a reply from him which said (amongst other things)-

"...I read some of your blog this evening and I need to take you to task concerning the night at Berkhamstead Town Hall. You are quite wrong in your interpretation of the sequence that lead to Monty playing the bass. The unnamed bass player and I had played quite a few times with Monty and if anything he was impressed with this unmentioned player. Can I ask you not to go any further with that particular reminiscence until I have had a chance to talk to others who attended the concert. I will deal with this subject as quickly as possible and come back to you with further comments.

I replied as follows-

"re the blog:

I may well be wrong in my interpretation of events but I have carried that as an extremely strong memory for a long time. That's certainly the way things seemed to happen - so much so that I did not put in the usual caveats of - "it looked as if..." or "it seemed like...". However, I know from personal experience that truth can be a subjective thing that is often a matter of perceptions, so I welcome your version of events - you were, after all, a lot closer to the action than I was - and will happily post it on the blog. That, after all, is why the 'comment' box is a part of my blog. It is to allow people a place to state their own opinions, or, where necessary, correct me. Incidentally, if I'm not mistaken, the bass player was Alan Simmons,for whom I had considerable respect. I personally could not see what Monty was apparently complaining about and left Alan's name out of the recollection for that reason..."

A week went by and then Al sent me this -

"Here's the answer from 'the horse's mouth' via Mike Hennessey.

Hope that now clears up the matter.

Attached was this email from Mike Hennessey -

Dear Al:
I just had a call from Monty who says that (Votarol)'s blog is rubbish. What I did, says Monty, was just a gag. Alan Simmons is a very fine bass player and there is no way in which I would do what (Voltarol) says. If I had seriously thought that Alan wasn't measuring up, then the last thing I would do would be to deal with the matter onstage. But the fact is, Alan's playing was fine and what I did was just a joke.
And he sends his best regards to you, Alan and Brian.


This was my reply -

Dear Mike Hennessey,

Al Merritt has just forwarded your email to me and I have noted its contents and will of course post it on my blog. There was, I assure you, never any malicious intention in telling that story. I reported what I thought I had seen in all good faith, and I was not the only person in the audience to walk away from that evening with the same impression. In fact, hearing from 'the horse's mouth' that it was a gag makes me feel like a bit of a horse's arse, but a rather relieved one because I had thought less of Monty because of it. Please offer him my unreserved apologies and explain that his acting was as convincing as his piano playing! I genuinely believed that I had seen an altercation.



...and that was that, I thought. I'll eat my humble pie and move on. But never underestimate a nice bloke. By return I received the following -

Dear (Voltarol):
Many thanks for your message. I appreciate your response and I am quite sure that there was no malicious intent on your part. It is easy to understand how such an incident could be misinterpreted.
I will pass on your apology to Monty.
With best regards,


All this left me with rather mixed feelings. Should I have reported what I thought I saw without checking with someone first? Well - yes and no. If I had had any doubts about what I had seen then - no. But I didn't have any doubts at all so - if you are trying to be an honest reporter then you have to call it as you see it. And yet I had totally misinterpreted what I had seen. It just makes one wonder how many other 'truths' are out there that could be nothing more than a joke taken at face value. I'll just wipe the remains of the egg off my face whilst saying once again "Sorry, Monty".

Just as a reminder of what a fine musician he is, here are a couple of clips. First, here he is duetting with fellow pianist Billy Taylor on 'Joy Spring'

and here he breathes new life into Bob Marley's 'No Woman, No Cry' -

For further information about Monty Alexander, here's his website