This month’s journey back in time takes us to the very first edition of Strummin’, way back in 2002. For those of you who remember it, this article can bring back some nostalgia, like it did to me and Andrew Francalanza, a singer in the first edition during a chat I recently had with to refresh my memory. For those of you who do not remember it… this is what I recall…
Strummin’s origins were Albert Debono’s dream and in Summer of 2002, a group of 12 volunteers from the Diocesan Youth Commission started working to make this dream come true. We had little experience of organizing such events. It was no easy feat to set up a concert such as this with the experience of volunteers, and a lot to creativity had to be exercised to come up with solutions and deal with the obstacles encountered in pursuing this dream.
The first edition of the concert was held on the 23rd of November 2002 at the St Agatha School Hall in Rabat and the funds collected from the concert were donated to Suret il-Bniedem Foundation in aid of the homeless. Christine Francalanza hosted the night and we also had local artists Corkskrew accompanying the guitarists and also entertaining the audience with songs from their album Micromania which they were promoting at the time of the concert.
The concept of having a theme for a Strummin’ concert evolved later on. For the first editions of the concert, the criteria to select songs for the concert were related to their ‘strummability’ and how well-known they were. This was also because the audience was invited to sing along in what was termed a ‘mass karaoke’ – the audience singing to the songs being strummed. Probably it was because of this that we did not realise immediately that we also needed a solo singer to accompany the guitarists, and in the last few days before the concert, we had to make a lot of effort to find singers to do that!
When preparing for the concert, we were planning to have 200 guitarists on stage for the first edition. We never knew this would be the wildest of the dreams we had. For the first Strummin’, we had 15 guitarists. We never reached that number, but looking at the guitarists increase ever year, who knows… maybe one day… ?
On the eve of the concert, during our general rehearsal at the auditorium, we had an unexpected power cut, and while we sorted things out, we had to ask the guitarists to leave the stage and go to the foyer where together with David Schembri, who was teaching the guitarists that year, rehearsals continued there by candlelight!!
That was just a taste of the origins of Strummin’, and if I had to ask all those involved, they would come up with more anecdotes like these and how we sorted them out. Truly one memorable journey which I believe was totally worth it, as here we are, 11 years later, still pursuing and making this dream come true. Until the next ghost visits… Keep on Strummin’!