Sometimes you just have to concede that amazing things do happen. We had an inkling he might show up at the gig but we had no idea of who or what he might bring with him. Cally Callomon, along with Gabrielle Drake runs Bryter Music which oversees the affairs of the estate of Nick Drake. Cally had driven up from his Suffolk home to be with us at the first of three SOLD OUT North East performances of ‘I saw Nick Drake’ which featured four of the UK’s foremost emerging artists – Katherine Priddy, George Boomsma, Luke James Williams and Aaron Duff (aka Hector Gannet) who had been brought together by DBTR to perform songs by and inspired by Nick Drake – a major influence on them and of course many, many musicians the world over.
So when Cally arrived at The Engine Room, North Shields carrying a guitar case we all wondered if he was intending to play us a tune or two. It turned out that on his way north he had called into the luthier to pick up a guitar he had left there for some renovation work. It turned out it was only Nick Drake’s guitar! – the actual Martin D-28 he had used on the recording of Pink Moon and on the so called ‘final five’; Black Eyed Dog, Rider on the Wheel, Hanging on a Star, Voice from the Mountain and Tow the Line.
To say everyone in that room was astonished is an understatement. Cally opened the case and there it was. The musicians were sound-checking at the time but everything stopped as people crowded around and stared at what is a precious gem of music history, right there in North Shields on the floor of The Engine Room. Cally took it from the case and one by one the musicians tentatively took hold of it and had the honour of strumming a few chords on the very guitar, once owned by of one the most influential musicians of the last 50 years. (below left Cally with Katherine Priddy and right with Luke James Williams)
After some discussion Cally gave permission for George Boomsma to perform the opening song of the second set with said guitar; his version of Drake’s ‘Place to Be’. When Tyneside ‘word tinker’ Rue Collinge introduced the set and explained that Cally Callomon had brought with him Nick Drake’s guitar and that George would be playing it for this one song there was an audible gasp from the assembled ‘Drakeheads’. Then a reverential hush descended on the packed room and when Boomsma played those first notes it felt as if the spirit of Nick Drake was in the room, willing George on and enjoying the fact that his music has stood the test of time. It was pure magic, a moment which I’m sure will live with everyone who was present at The Engine Room, North Shields on Thursday 14th October 2021.