I had the pleasure of welcoming some fantastic guests to Phoenix this morning.
First up I was joined by blues/soul singer Rhonda Merrick, along with her partner Ritchie Swann. Ritchie’s band Loose Change accompanied Rhonda at last month’s Brentwood Festival, and it was fascinating to hear how not just their diverse styles of music but also their different technical backgrounds have come together to produce a great result. Rhonda talked about being brought up near New Orleans in one of the poorest parts of the USA, where hurricanes such as the devastating Katrina were a regular occurrence, and how a rather well known uncle gave her a love for music which remains deep in her soul.
As well as singing Rhonda’s also a passionate songwriter, and in 2011 she set herself an incredible challenge that has led to her making a film, Strict the Movical, which may even feature her visit to Phoenix! Rhonda explained how she based the idea for this movie-musical around a song she wrote the day Amy Winehouse died, named after the notorious 27 Club (to which Amy’s name was sadly added), and she sang the song live with a depth of passion that was wonderful to witness: Feelgood Saturday 10 08 13 Rhonda Merrick 27 Club2
Later I welcomed two of the organisers of Essex Dog Day, Sarah Courage and Ian Twinley. Sarah and Ian are members of the fundraising committee of the charity behind the day, PARC Essex, and they described the excellent work PARC does supporting families with children with special needs. PARC welcomes children from across Essex and beyond with physical and learning difficulties, providing a whole range of services such as activities clubs and holiday respite at its purpose built centre at Great Notley.
The August bank holiday weekend sees the third Essex Dog Day, with the aim of raising £50,000 to support the work of PARC, within the beautiful grounds of Ian’s home, Crix, near Hatfield Peverel. Sarah and Ian described how this’ll be a fun-packed day for everyone – not just dog owners – with competitions, displays and a whole range of classes to suit every dog imaginable – including “dog most like its owner”! There’s also going to be a raffle with a very special first prize, so it’ll be well worth the effort to travel up the A12 and help support an excellent local charity.