Jessie Grimes - Trailblazer

Till lockdown stopped everything in its tracks, clarinettist Jessie balanced orchestral work with a real dedication to teaching and being an animateur, planting seeds of interest in classical music for those who might never readily encounter it. Then something entirely new took root which has developed an avid following.

In Jessie’s own words:

'Jessie’s Homemade Garden Jam is a live chamber-music concert series presented from our tiny South London vegetable garden. We showcase some of the UK’s finest musicians, alongside garden-themed games and a good dollop of audience participation. A neighbour described it as “Monty Don meets Jools Holland” and that just about sums it up!

The first concert happened almost by accident in Summer 2020. I offered to use our vegetable garden as a Covid-friendly venue for a City of London Sinfonia ‘Comfortable Classical’ live-stream. It inevitably rained, but the ensuing concert – with me enthusiastically interjecting vegetable facts, my wife Emma turning the camera away from the players to focus on flowers and bees, and a bassoonist in the shed – was an instant hit.

What followed was a series of eight episodes plus a Christmas special. We raised £1000 for Help Musicians UK, gave friends a chance to perform for the first time in months, and built a loyal following of fans, both online and over the fence!

I’m so excited to be launching Jessie’s Homemade Garden Jam Season II this year with a whole new series of Sunday afternoon concerts. We have a brilliant line up of world-class musicians, including soprano Ailish Tynan, the Piatti Quartet, trombonist/composer Callum Au and pianist/composer Yshani Perinpanayagam – it will be bigger and better than ever before!

The episode below is brass quintet garden mayhem! Poddington Peas with split pea shakers, Groundforce quiz, a dramatic reading of a Miffy’s Garden and a vicious fraternal potato hunt with tuba soundtrack (tuba and tubers, GEDDIT!).’

Reflections from Jessie: