The funeral of guitarist Bernie Pallo took place at nine o’clock in the morning but despite the early hour, there was an excellent turn out. Friends and family came over from France to join many of his colleagues from Meals on Wheels and fellow musicians were there in force. His brother Jean talked of the early days when he and Bernie were encouraged by their father to study music. They both started on piano accordion but their musical paths diverged eventually. I also said my piece and was followed by Bill Peters from Meals on Wheels.
Afterwards we went to the nearest pub for breakfast. This happened to be the William IV on Harrow Road where proceedings were interrupted from time to time by a very determined food-seeking Jack Russell terrier. My daughter Elinore decided that as it was pretty dirty and obviously hungry it was probably lost so she took it along to the nearest Mayhew animal centre where they told her that they would try to find the owner but that in the meantime, they would name the dog as they always did when animals were brought in. No surprise then to find that the dog had been named William the fourth.
The next day Jean and his wife and a few of Bernie’s friends, including Gordon Smith and I, gathered to scatter his ashes. The following evening, we put on a musical wake for Bernie. The basic line-up was myself, Jim Mercer and Dino Coccia. We were joined by Jon T-bone Taylor, Todd Sharpville and Big Joe Louis, with other guests including bass players Pete Duke and Brian Diprose, who had all worked with Bernie over the years. It was very much a last minute operation because for some reason I was reluctant to organise it, but I’m glad I got it together.
To turn to other matters, last Sunday I went along to The first fund-raising session for the newly formed National Blues Archive which aims to gather material on the early days of British blues among other things. It intends to do for British Blues what the National Jazz Archive does for Jazz. They will probably be doing more fundraising sessions in future at the Coach & Horses in High Road Leyton. What surprised me about it was the quality of music played there and also the fact that there were some great young guys. Considering that I was bemoaning the state of blues in London not too long ago, I was really pleased to get such a shot in the arm.