The Grab Life By foundation comes as the ultimate tribute to the late singer of The Lapelles, Gary Watson. Set up by Matthew Johnstone, a local promoter and close friend of Gary’s, he first worked with Gary and a friend of theirs, Michaela McElroy on a project called The Spaghetti Factory. Set at Old Mill Studios in Strathaven, the Spaghetti Factory was a live music show hosted by Gary. He would interview the bands, and they would play a few songs in front of a live audience – all in front of a camera. Johnstone recalls that the idea came when they noticed that there was a lack of authentic live music shows in Scotland.
With a great passion for filming and music, Gary noticed a gap in the Glasgow music scene, and made it come alive. It wasn’t like your generic BBC-esque questions, Gary knew the good questions to ask musicians. He had lots of inspiration from 90s comedic homegrown shows. As I like to put it: it has the Jools Holland idea with the amateur Wayne’s World effect.”
While the show was an exciting new prospect; the charity, Johnstone says, is about getting youngsters on a platform in the music scene to give them encouragement to show them they can do it.
While the charity is still in its early days, there are plans to hold workshops that will allow young people to experience different roles, whether it be as the performer, in management or in finance. Another crucial aspect that they want to incorporate is to ensure those involved will have the opportunity to learn a new instrument. In doing this, not only will these children be learning skills, they’ll be contributing to the enrichment of the music scene itself.
Gary’s mother, Linda and his cousin Rosie are just as involved as I am. I’ve been meeting them regularly and they a great hands-on approach,” says Johnstone. “It is very brave what they are doing, considering it is such a massive loss but they agree with me just as much that Gary’s vision was stupendous and we need to bring it out in the open and change the Glasgow music scene forever.”
Their first fundraising event was on 2nd of October, which saw Broadcast host an all-dayer with both live and DJ set performances.
Singer of The Vegan Leather – a band that played at the fundraiser – Gianluca Bernacchi performed the eponymous track by the Lapelles, ‘Grab Life By’ at the Barrowlands with the rest of the band. The result was poignant and moving, as that would have been the first time – I’m sure of many – that Gary would have graced the Barrowlands stage.
There has not been a shortage of people offering to get involved and help with the charity, as the shocking loss of Gary is something that has made waves through the Scottish music scene. Next up, there are both plans for a gig on Guy Fawkes night and at Christmas, with a “slightly larger-than-life band” headlining the night.