As a music fan, musician and music blogger I hit the trifecta when I was invited along to the Hudson Taylor guitar masterclass at Aloft London Excel. It was part of the ‘Live at Aloft Hotels – Spotlight Series’ taking place at Aloft London Excel throughout the month of November.
This isn’t something that was just happening in London, because as part of the brand’s global music programme, each Aloft Hotel in Europe, Africa and the Middle East is inviting a local, up-and-coming artist to create music-inspired experiences for guests, fans and visitors over the course of a month. It’s quite a cool idea and my experience was an enlightening one, not to mention that I was able to explore parts of the modern and elegant Aloft Hotel itself.
The guitar masterclass was just one part of the Irish folk-pop duo’s residency at the hotel. They also performed an exclusive acoustic set earlier in the month and will end the residency with a secret fan gig on the 27th November.
So who are Hudson Taylor? They are brothers Alfie and Harry Hudson-Taylor from Dublin, Ireland. Their debut album, ‘Singing for Strangers’ is due for release in February 2015. Having recently supported Jake Bugg on his UK tour and released their single ‘Chasing Rubies’ on 19th October, they’re only just getting started.
The Aloft London Excel hotel is modern, trendy and easy to get to from the DLR at Prince Regent. It’s more or less on the doorstep. After some drinks in the bar downstairs, we headed up to the masterclass where a few press, competition winners and special invited guests entered the room, helped themselves to nibbles and drinks, met Hudson Taylor and jumped up on to one of the twelve stools placed in a circle in a private room. We each picked up a very nice Taylor acoustic guitar, and got ready to play some music. Some were complete beginners and others had played before, including myself. All we needed was a campfire and we would have been all set.
The atmosphere was relaxed and really good fun. Mostly because Alfie and Harry were very friendly, funny and patient with us all! They took time going around and spending time with each person as we learnt chords and eventually one of their songs. We had quite the orchestra by the end of it.
It was a nice introduction to playing guitar and everyone felt like they had achieved something by the end of the class. It helped that they were accommodating to the differing levels of ability. Both Harry and Alfie were full of anecdotes and information on the history of guitars and music, so it wasn’t all about guitar playing techniques, which meant that the class wasn’t too heavy going. I enjoyed the story about their Grandfather who although disapproving of them not going to University, told them that the one good thing about playing an instrument is that you can always teach it to people. I guess it rang true when they were faced with a room full of eager people.
One of the highlights was when Harry revealed his folding travel guitar. It was quite impressive in itself, but the story of how he acquired it was far more so. Whilst playing at a BBQ out in LA, non other than Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi fame was watching. He appreciated their playing and busking skills and so handed over the folding guitar as a gift. Not a bad story to tell!
All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night and I hope there are more of these type of events because you never know who you will meet or what new skills you might learn.
With 100 hotels open now and coming soon in 14 countries, I would imagine that they will see these Spotlight Series as a success and continue to bring new music to audiences around the world. For more info on the Aloft Hotels and where you can stay around the world, just visit www.alofthotels.com.
To hear music by Hudson Taylor go to www.hudsontaylormusic.com.
photo credentials: www.marenfarra.com