St Laurence Catholic Church, Petersfield
Journey to the Light
Acoustic Concert Tour
Gerry Coates came from Kingston on Thames to entertain parishioners at St Laurence's church hall recently. Invitations to the event had gone out to other churches in the area there was a great turn out. "It was lovely to see so many people of all ages and from many different churches gathered together to be inspired and entertained buy this charismatic poet and musician," says Susanne Ashcroft of St Laurence's.
Gerry sang songs in many styles of music, some very funny, some very poignant. Several were based on his recent trip to Lourdes with his wife. He was very impressed with the teenage helpers there and felt that sometimes not enough is said about the many good things young people do for our communities.
Suzanne adds: "As one of our audience said, he did not know what to expect but thanked Gerry for a thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking evening.
Gerry was holding this event to raise much needed funds for CAFOD, a Christian charity working to help the poor and disadvantaged around the world. His pot was bulging with notes at the end of the evening suggesting that despite the credit crunch there are people willing to dig deep and help those in desperate need.
For more information about Gerry and his tour dates please see his website at gerrycoates.com
Journey to the Light
Acoustic Concert TourWell, I'd been phoned from the mainland and told I just had to see this guy tonight. I don't always listen to my friends but tonight I'm glad I did as instructed. Two guitars stand waiting on an empty stage, then Gerry strolls on wearing a shirt so yellow bright I wish I'd wore dark glasses! Am I going too dazzled by the shirt or his music?
He opened with an amazing brand new song. Telling us God is Everywhere and without a pause introduces the second tune about his best pal and mate Jesus is my Friend. Gerry seems to enjoying himself and starts the first of many stories explaining the background to the foot tapping, almost reggae style of The Beggar Wore Brand New Shoes, the punch line of which was worth the journey to be here tonight alone.
A moving love song Do You Remember Me? about an elderly couple's day out when they were teenagers at the seaside in 1949. Any sadness or tears immediately disappear as Gerry romps into a frantic version of Who Are the Bank Robbers? an hilarious skit on banks and their appalling lack of customer service!, not forgetting their inexcusable role in Third World Debt. Blind Man follows an emotional story of Gerry's encounter with a blind stranger on a South Texan Beach. I'm walking on that beach with Gerry by the end of the first verse. He's pulling me through a gamut of emotions, the songs twisting and turning in my mind.
Gerry's answer is the slums of Mexico City and Calcutta and a plaintive ballad about the inspirational work of Mother Teresa. Next we're off to the States and the fast moving story of the injustice served on a young man as He Stopped to Help an Old Man and his conversations with Jesus in a death row cell. Spattered throughout the evening Gerry intersperses the songs with a selection of his poems from his trilogy of books A Series of Poems From A Catholic to a Friend. I went home with all 3 titles. It's the only way to remind myself of all the journeys Gerry's music took me on tonight!
A rocking Lead Me To Heaven is followed by Gerry using his acoustic guitar as an African drum as he closes the first half with an amazing story of a journey to a poverty filled village in Mombasa and his encounters with the contentment of the unspoiled children in Hand of a Child. I'm wondering do I need my passport to get through the second half?
Like the interval bell at the theatre, the thundering chords of Beneath Gods Wind find me racing back to my seat. Reminding us again of Gods presence throughout the world Gerry follows up with the fastest ever spoken version of Our Father you're ever likely to hear, no disrespect here just a reminder to Slowdown in our lives and especially in our prayers to God. Another brand new song The Young Priest Came to the Parish the story of the wind of change which we have to strive to accept in order to progress.
Following a poem about the election of Pope Benedict Gerry reminds us in song of the amazing life of Pope John Paul. Message From Heaven follows, a plaintive song, I heard Gerry singing after communion at Mass last Sunday. Beggar in a Church Doorway asks directly about our charitable abilities and our responses in a face to face situation of someone needing our help! We are then asked to pray not to God, but for God for his disappointments with some of our actions here on Earth none the less so, than the title of this song They're Killing in Bethlehem. Have You Ever Seen A Miracle? reminds us that we in fact see miracles every day of our lives and runs straight in to Forgiveness a fast styled twangy, finger picking, country song.
Gerry round off the evening with The Greatest Gift a reggae/calypso song about the wonderful work done by our priests and nuns. I'll Remember You In My Prayers finally closes an evening that's given me much to think about!
His music is a mixture of influences from Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, ZZ Top, Bob Marley, Willie Nelson and Harry Belafonte. Gerry was seated throughout the entire concert creating an informal, intimate, almost, sitting round the camp fire, atmosphere.
If you hear he's heading your way pop along and try his music out, something for everyone and so many messages and reminders about living our Christian lives.