Todmorden U3A: Listening to the musical stylings of Neil Smith

Keith Coates with Neil Smith and  guitar. Photo by Roger Howard
Keith Coates with Neil Smith and guitar. Photo by Roger Howard

At our June meeting Neil Smith offered us musical entertainment of a delightfully different and varied kind.

These unusual experiences include being Molotov-cocktailed in Belfast, a performance for Blair and Clinton that was interrupted several times by an argument among their aides, avoiding a honey trap in a Moscow hotel, being bodyguarded by a Greek national hero, ‘Tassos’, and just missing the chance to go to Hamburg as a fill-in guitarist for The Beatles. Neil has played for people such as Elizabeth Taylor, The Queen Mother, the Red Army in Transylvania, and General Sheikh Mahtoum III. His performances around the world at embassies are innumerable and include an encounter with an embassy 007 who quizzed him on the USSR and Arabia.

This wonderfully varied anecdotal talk was punctuated by lovely short excerpts on the guitar – Greek dance music, Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto, the March of King Brian Boru and others. Neil’s talk was well balanced, delightfully engaging and a tribute to good musicianship.

Our homegrown showcase speakers have been Alan Fowler (social history) and Nigel Plant (photography).

Alan’s knowledge and expertise are prodigious, and his group’s main focus is on the history of 20th century northern textile towns. They make use of autobiographies and mass observation documents.

They have a current ambition to study Todmorden local papers from 1918 as a turning point in the town’s manufacturing life.

Nigel is an experienced photographer with 20 years’ experience of clubs at national and international level.

Sometimes the group runs sessions on camera technique (filters, tripods, range, shutter speed etc.), but generally bases sessions on looking at members’ photographs. They also mount their own occasional exhibitions in the information centre, and organise outings.

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held today (Thursday, July 20) in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45pm.

This meeting will include our AGM, followed by a talk by Geoff Tansey titled ‘Food: Wars or Peace? Challenges and Opportunities in 21st Century’.

Our contact details are (website), (email), or (phone) 01706 812015.