6th February 2018
So, here I am, as your new host, who is delighted to have been asked to join in the running of this long-standing local music club. Well, my first ever night as host was great fun, and I was made to feel most at ease by all of you who came along. Especially as I was taking the place of my dear friend, Mike Aldridge, who is stepping down after years of loyal support.
Billed as a 'Blues Night' I, therefore, opened the proceedings with my self-penned song "Blues is a Country", my own rally cry for the forgotten heroes of the Country Blues, whose influence is so often around us, but never really fully credited. One of those heroes being Arthur "Blind Boy" Blake, whose mirthsome little song celebrating the sins of the flesh, "Diddy Wah Diddy", I did follow with. And I gave a nod to another Blues legend, Big Bill Broonzy, by top and tailing the song with a piece of his guitar blues boogie. I also threw down the gauntlet in trying to fashion the evening's most stretched out, and ever-so-slightly-self-indulgent, ending to a song. I have recently attracted a degree of opprobrium for this habit of mine, so I felt I had to fight back! Ha! Ha! Only joking, of course, as I only wanted us all to fill that room with love!!!!!
Anyway, the stretched lips from certain quarters of the audience began to relax as I put down my guitar and proceeded to introduce the fine gathering of performers, starting with Manus & Paul, who laid down some infectious electric blues. Paul on electric Fender Bass guitar was a cool foil to Manus, who rung out some beautifully cooking blues on his Fender Telecaster. Their songs were the classic "Drown In My Own Tears" (written by Henry Glover), Cream's version of "Crossroads" (written by Robert Johnson), and a lovely 12-bar instrumental jam to close their fine set.
Then Simon played a beautiful and sensitive set, including gentle readings of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis", and you can't have a blues night without a nod to Memphis, can you? But then he topped this with a fine and fitting tribute to our dear friend, Chris Liddiard, by playing one of Chris's many simple and beautiful songs, "Someone Like You". Chris has been such a supporter of the local music scene and so many of us owe him so much. So, Chris, if you are reading this, I hope you are well and I want to say how much I have appreciated your efforts over the years.
Chris Martin is one of the most prolific songwriters on the local scene and a staunch supporter of so many open mic nights in these parts, so it was a pleasure to introduce him as he played guitar and sang his songs of experience including "Many Ways To Pay", "Life Ain't Been Easy". And then he did something really special as he sat at the old bar-room piano and poured his heart out on the beautifully chilling "Right For Me".
Penny then returned for her own set, accompanied by the wonderfully talented Keith Willson, who played some fantastic blues piano. Penny just gets into the classic blues with a heartful of soul and is always great to have along at any music evening. It was a classic set covering "Careless Love", "Walking Blues" and "Stormy Monday".
Lisa has been a regular performer on the open mic scene for many years and it is always a joy to hear her voice and accompaniment playing her sweet sounding Martin guitar. She covered two classics, one sung by her idol Elvis, "I need your love tonight" (written by Sid Wayne and Bix Reichner) and the incomparable "Georgia on my Mind" (by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell). That brought back sweet memories. And so it was an absolute pleasure to join her for a duet version of my father, Gerry Lockran's song "The Lifeline", a song about helping each other through the tough times.
I've known Helga for about 12 years and she has always been so supportive of so many music events locally and so I was delighted for Lisa and her to perform "Carrie", that most uplifting Joni Mitchell song, and The Everly Brothers bittersweet but upbeat "Gone Gone Gone". Then Keith once again provided fantastic accompaniment on guitar as Helga, on flute, and he treated us to an instrumental blues.
It is always great to welcome new talent to any of our open mic nights, and we were treated to a fabulous set by a young guy named Chris Shepherd, who played a beautifully resonant guitar and augmented his fluid playing with tapping and percussive slaps around the body of the acoustic. He covered three songs by Newton Faulkner, including "Teardrops", "Clouds" and "I'm not giving up yet". I've checked Chris out on Facebook via his 'Chris Shepherd - Guitarist' page and I think we need some more talented young performers like him to come along to our music nights.
Our dear friend Clive then stepped up to treat us to a sweet interpretation of Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain", a song that never loses its resonance.
Tonight was a joy for me, not least because we were treated to some lovely female voices from Penny, Lisa and Helga, and so Ella took her turn and sat at the piano and enchanted us with her sweet and special blues. Ella is a wonderfully engaging performer and her "Sporting Life Blues", Bonnie Raitt's "Love Me Like A Man", and Chris Smithers's "I'll guess you'll never know" captured the evening's mood so well. Beautiful, Ella!
Keith Willson then took the stage with his guitar for his own set, after providing so much great accompaniment, and laid out a melange of blues and jazz to close the evening so wonderfully.
So thank you all for your support. It was great fun hosting and I look forward to doing so again.
But I will see you for the next session which I understand is hosted by our dear friend, Chris Martin, who is deserving of the same generous support.
Until then, you all take care.
23rd January 2018
Another Tuesday and a bunch of musicians turn up to play at the Six Bells Pub in darkest Chiddingly. It was my turn to be “in charge” of proceedings although as always, proceedings have their own ideas about that. Along with the usual suspects (you know who you are) it was nice to see Pat and Natasha. James the poet made an unexpected appearance and we had a return of Simon Scardanelli who has now moved into the locality. Particularly pleasing was a visit from Ivor Game who had driven from Watford just to play and was very much enjoyed.
I started the evening determined that we would all get three songs, which we did. My opening song involved the Kazoo and even that failed to put people off, indeed, rarely for the winter we had an audience!
Manus followed with a Jazzy version of Summertime, his own composition Ambivalence and then You are my Sunshine I guess this was Manus’s attempt to fight back against a cold, drab January. Natasha was next so we listened to her charming vocals and gentle guitar playing while she sang Clydewater and Lily of the West.
Ivor Game, a singer songwriter, is a newcomer to the club and having travelled a long way to be with us I gave him an extended set. His short punchy songs quickly connected with the audience and we all enjoyed his performance. All the songs in his set are listed here, many with links to Youtube or Soundcloud; You Lovely You, Small, You’re the One, Together, Beautiful Umbrella, Water and Wine. Enjoy.
Pat followed Ivor and she gave up Joe Hill and The Seed Man, both of these are great songs and beautifully sung unaccompanied. Time for our own resident singer songwriter Chris Martin who was also our soundman for part of the evening his homespun tunes were Ghosts, Tick Tock and View from a Window.
Simon Scardanelli is a professional musician and it shows. If only we had time to focus exclusively on music maybe we could all match his confident delivery but I somehow doubt it. His songs are powerful and can be amusing.. Tonight’s offering included Whirlwind, Jesus and the Moon, and What Good is this old Guitar (a Hoya – Clapton owned one). Check out the Spotify links if you use that service.
James is a poet but an English teacher he met in a pub told him “this is not poetry, its verse” - well that’s English teachers for you. Does anyone really care what the definition is? No, we just enjoyed the words and the poetic delivery and we gave that an A* (bollocks to English teachers). His poems, verses or whatever were 2017, Hot Tap and Beard.
For those fed up with guitars we had reached a point in the evening when it was time for a change. Ella took to the piano and sang for us Who knows where the time goes, Danny’s All Star Joint (doink, doink) and Hurricane. Ella’s playing in particular was spot on this evening; she is getting some great sound out of the battered Six Bells piano these days.
Clive started with Going up the Country, the Canned Heat classic, Where can I go without you, by Nina Simone and finished with his own composition “Runaround” which I thought had something of a 50’s vibe to it.
Last but not least was Jason Loughran. Jason’s songs were The Heart of Saturday Night (Tom Waites), his own song A Little Soul and lastly a song by his dad, Jerry Loughran Blow Gentle Wind of Life. I am pleased to say that Jason will be standing in for Mike Aldridge who has to cut down on his performing due to problems with arthritis and other bone problems. We wish Mike well and hope he will be able to come along from time to time, even if he is unable to play.
So, what of my three youtube videos? The first is one of the most beautiful songs on that platform, the second, a misplaced Christmas song, disproves that the Americans don’t get irony and the third is a really sweet gospel song that will make you want to hug a homeless person (obviously not the one with the dreads by the station or, thinking about it, the rather smelly one by the card shop, or the one with the mirror in front of him who spends all day looking up…….. Oh, forget it).
All the best,
After the intensity of snow, gales and rain, and of Christmas and the New Year……….. this was a mellow winter evening. We had a nicely rounded number of twelve spots and we began, as usual, with the host opening the evening. I started the session with a Joni Mitchell song ‘Urge for Going’, an atmospheric early song about winter from 1966, then in a very different style, a traditional Irish song that just rolls along: P Stands for Paddy.
Jane followed playing lap-slide and singing Santiago Blues, which is more of a walking song, relating, as it does, to those on the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela. Her second song by ‘The Master’ (as she called him) was a Leonard Cohen song: Dance me to the End of Love.
Chris Martin followed and introduced us to his battered panda friend Panyan, with whom he shares a big birthday later in the year. Life’s a Race, his self-penned song about cycling ‘Life’s a race and the miles roll by …..’ was his first song, performing solo with guitar accompaniment. Keith Willson joined him with spoken words from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Nice words, very reflective: ‘The flower that has blown forever dies’.
Taking the stage alone, Keith went on to sing his song about Jesus, ‘Who’s that hippy in the picture’. He says he meant no disrespect, but he had Jesus buying a gun. Not the usual kind of song that gets sung about Jesus: ‘What happened to Jesus? …. Jesus just grew up’. He followed this cynical song with a love song called ‘The worst thing’ totally changing the mood.
Keith was still in demand (he’s a very versatile musician) and provided an improvised piano accompaniment to Simon on guitar singing ‘After you’ve gone’, first sung by Marion Harris in 1918. Simon gave Keith the chords, and with no previous rehearsal, they conjured up a nice jazzy version of the song. Music to smile to. Simon followed this with ‘Caledonia’, a Dougie MacLean song.
Kevin Jones, a newcomer and another songwriter chose not to sing his own material tonight, but sang ‘You’ve got a Friend’ written by Carole King and released on her first album Tapestry. James Taylor also released the song (which became a hit) as a single in 1971 and the song may well be more strongly associated with him than Carole. It suited Kevin’s voice as did ‘It Doesn’t Matter’, a Buddy Holly classic.
Jayne Ingles made one of her very welcome appearances this evening, singing Paul Simon's "Kathy's Song" ‘I hear the drizzle of the Rain’ … 'like a memory, a memory it falls'. She then gave her version of the classic ‘Summertime’.
Singing two of his own songs, Manus was next and gave us some technical background about 5-7s, a pattern of syllables. ‘Lightening in the Grease’ or the ‘devil on two sticks’, related to the Diabolo, a juggling device with a double-ended spinner operated with two sticks joined by a length of string. It is thought to have originated from an ancient Chinese yo yo and was first mentioned in the West in 1792. His second song ‘The Air Gap’ was all about painting ourselves into corners.
It was lovely to see Summer here for the first time. Accompanying herself on guitar and getting over some initial nervousness, her voice came through clear and strong as she sang the Dolly Parton song made famous by Whitney Houston ‘I will always love you’. She went on to sing one of her own compositions ‘Modern Day Prince Charming’ about her own aspirations for just the right man to arrive in her life: ‘When you took my hand, and we started to dance, I thought you were so cool ….’ I hope she joins us again soon.
Sylvie followed Summer and after an attempt to use the microphone, decided to abandon it, singing a personally significant song that compares the elation experienced at the first fall of snow with falling in love. Two romantic songs in succession in totally different styles from very different generations, but both so poignant.
George and Mary changed the mood again and sang ‘Little Old Drinker Me’ with lyrics that mused fondly over grapes growing in the California sun from the distant city of Chicago. They then sang the second Leonard Cohen song of the evening: ‘Tonight will be fine’, which reflects on a very intimate moment.
Clive brought the evening to a well-rounded close, singing only one song, for which Jane, Chris and myself were collected up and handed words for the chorus of ‘Goodbye Stranger’ by Supertramp. Released on their sixth album ‘Breakfast in America’ this was a far greater success for them in the USA than back here in the UK.
And so it was, we arrived at the end of another very enjoyable evening of varied material, including several musicians performing their own songs.
With endless gratitude for Simon setting up, Chris running the sound desk with Clive’s assistance and everyone who helped put the equipment away at the end of the evening.
See you next time.
Tuesday December 12th.
As is quite usual for this time of the year, the weather had been playing tricks with us. Yesterday's layering of snow had frozen solid, turning every surface into a dangerous risk.
By this evening it had all begun to melt away, but a number of people were worried - quite rightly- about venturing out, so we were a little bit low on numbers tonight. -- But it didn't matter, because we had enough players to fill the time in the first half, and then we had a special Guest Band for our 'Christmas Party Night' to take us through the rest of the night.
This was 'Buckler's Light. Sue Buckler and Paul Vaughan. Tonight they were here playing just as a duo, without their bass player and drummer. The full band goes by the name of 'Buckler's Reel'.
As host for the night, and with Christmas in mind, I decided to begin with Queen's seasonal song, 'Thank God it's Christmas', by Roger Taylor and Brian May. I followed this with my own seasonal song, 'Home for Christmas'.
Having got that out of the way, it was time to bring on the next volunteer, in the shape of Manus McDaid. He had arrived tonight without any of his instruments, thinking that he would not be playing, but luckily, he was able to borrow Simon's guitar to give us a couple of numbers in his terrific jazz style. -- Firstly, 'Fly' by Steve Winwood, and then 'God chose the colour'.
Keith Willson was at number three ( not at number two, as originally planned) -- My fault ! -- I can't count.
With his resounding voice and guitar, he sang two of his own compositions, 'Too sad to sing the blues', and 'The worst thing'.
Our expert sound desk man, Chris Martin, took the floor to sing his own compositions as well, 'It's only my time', accompanied on vocals by one of the famous 'Martinettes' -- Lisa Jackson , and afterwards, 'Little red car'. Chris was wearing a very cheerful Christmas hat. Some of us others were sporting similar headgear as well.
Simon Watt was up next, with his guitar still intact and re- tuned, after the loan to Manus, and we heard him play 'God's Christmas Card', ( The Penguin song), and 'A tribute to Councillor Roy'. Both of these are Simon's own songs. He told us a brief history of 'Councillor' Roy. -- Roy Martin, who was an elected member of Polegate Council, and a very popular chap. He was a regular player at The Six Bells for a long time , before he died at the age of 88, a few years ago.
Following this, Sylvia, in her unique style, sang us her ditty about drinks of all kinds, to the tune of 'In the bleak midwinter', and then' Snow on the garden fork'. -- An appropriate story for the weather conditions.
It would soon be time for the band, but first, there was just time for Jason Loughran and Lisa Jackson to have their turn, and they did a couple of lovely songs, including 'Everybody's talking at me'. With their harmonising, and two guitars, they go really well together.
At this point Richard brought in several plates of Party Food ! -- Kindly provided by the pub. We had sausage rolls, garlic bread, chips with dips, mini pizzas, and mini sausages! Yum Yum ! Thank you !
So now after waiting patiently, 'Buckler's Light', -- Paul and Sue -- began their extended set with 'Boys of Ballycastle'. Paul is on guitar giving terrific rhythm to Sue's excellent playing on electric violin. The soaring sounds of her slightly echoing violin were stunning, and I found them quite hypnotic. ( Or was it the beer) ?
They launched into a great selection of numbers, including 'Galway girl', 'Tom Paine's bones', 'Glass of beer', and John Prime's 'Paradise', -and then a couple of reels. By this time, Sue's energetic exciting electric playing, had taken it's toll on her violin bow, and it rapidly began to disintegrate, leaving a frothy tangle of horsehair dangling from the bow , with only the thinnest of strands left on it! Cleverly, she managed to carry on right till the end even though it was on it's last gasp, and she continued to be able to play great sounds.
The music was really rocking, and if we were younger and fitter, we would have been up on the floor dancing and partying, but -- we are not young and fit, so we stayed in our chairs. (Rocking chairs )? ?
They threw in a couple of 'obligatory' Christmas songs, followed by Kirsty McColl's 'England 2 - Columbia 0', and the Chip Shop Song . Adding to this, they gave us their versions of numbers by The Proclaimers, The Waterboys, Jonah Louie, and Greg Lake, finishing off with 'Fairytale of New York' by Kirsty McColl and The Pogues.
Thank you Paul and Sue for coming to entertain us tonight !
So, as always, it was a good night. Thank you to Simon and Chris, and thanks to all of you who bravely came out on this wintry night.
The next date is Tuesday January 9th. See you next year !
Happy Christmas !
28-11-17 – Story Songs
Picking up on a variation of a theme, I was invited to receive the baton and run with tradition in presentation; of set music genres/styles, variously and intermittently programmed throughout the years, at the club. So, having announced the [advisory] road map of proceedings I kicked off with my own road trip offering, 'Yellow-jacket' – a Stephen Fearing song followed by a New Orleans thing, 'Storyville' by Robbie Robertson, played in dropped D and open G-over-D tunings, respectively in these arrangements for solo performance.
Jane followed me in the Americana with her lap steel, slide guitar, performing 'It Stoned Me' by Van the-Irish-man Morrison and 'Bobby McGee' [trad-arr], supported by Martin on alto-saxophone. Then it was George, Mary and Jack [electric bass] performing 'Sway' and then Jack's own Latin tinged 'Thank You For Calling' before Keith Wilson came on mic continuing with the self-penned song agenda with two story-songs of his own: 'Tale Of Two Acorns' and 'Terrible Portrait'. And, as if to expand on this trend of personal creativity, Chris Martin then gifted us with a particularly poignant acoustic performance of 'My Mum Alzheimer’s And The Care Home' followed by a similarly articulated, sensitively treated, ballad to the dispossessed simply entitled 'Paul' – enough said.
Jayne picked up her guitar and gave us 'Dixie Chicks' and then a personal homage to the mega stress factors of rearing four daughters [‘especially that youngest one …’] conveyed fluently through her maternally cathartic song, 'You Worry Me'.
In a change of pace Jamie, a newcomer to the club, ably encouraged by C M, gave us 'Hallelujah' and 'Hotel California' which saw Martin sitting in again, which in turn moved me to join in on a bit of slide [albeit non-transcribed] guitar, to add a bit of air to the mix; and as Simon subsequently assured us in his respiratorial resonances – 'tunes help you breathe more easily' … indeed they literally-in-context continued to do just that with his tuneful renditions of Kate Wolfe's "One More Song" and with the cut-time [alla breve] emotional intelligence of 'Help'. Clive followed this, coming in at ninth with a well-received performance of set pieces; a couple of songs often associated with the singing of John Nicholls, 'Over The Lancashire Hills' and 'Red And Gold' – the later having been originally composed by the singer/songwriter Ralph McTell.
And then, to extend an hitherto Aeolian metaphor of breathy tunes [sans guitars at last], Ella sat down at the house piano to sing a breezy number of which, regrettably, I didn't quite catch the title but certainly came to again on my return as she proceeded with a beautifully modal take on the, still rather emotive, story of 'Lord [and Lady] Franklin' and the historical significance thereof in what had turned out to be the perfect penultimate performance prior to the novel instrumentation of the concluding female/male duo, 'Moonbean' [sic] comprising of vocals/electric-guitar and upright double-bass. They concluded with their own, young-spirited version of the standard 'Autumn Leaves' with a noteworthy bass solo to see us melodically home after enjoying what had turned out to be an eclectic evening of musical styles and genres in balance with each and all under the banner of a preset theme which could well have seemed a bit restrictive in its scope – Creative Freedom will always find a way!
14th November 2017
I clocked in early for a chicken pie with veg and after the sound check sat back and waited for the players and fans to role in. First to show were the four white horsemen of the apocalypse - ok, it was just four of the regulars from the White Horse evening, which no longer resides at said venue - after a nomadic period of pub hops they’ve now settled at Deanland. Anyway, a splattering of regulars and a couple more horsemen rode in and we were ready to ride.
9 acts and 11 players, so time for three songs each. 8:45 and I said ‘Good evening’ and opened with my open mic night classic, ‘I like to be sad’, which closes with the immortal words, ‘Now would you like a proper song about sadness and loss, or should I just clear off cause no one gives a toss’. Not a murmur from the stables, so I launched into ‘Journey’, my newest composition, followed by ‘What’s in a life’, which bemoans that open mic phenomena of men tuning guitars… and as the song says: ‘For (rude word beginning with F)’s sake just tune up before you go on’. After this warning, I can report that there was very little machine-head twiddling on stage and nearly everyone sounded in tune!
Time for some Jazzzz, ‘nice’ - Manus flew into ‘Little Wing’ and then gave us his Vladimir Putin inspired version of Blueberry Hill - yes, there really is a version by Vlad on You Tube https://youtu.be/IV4IjHz2yIo and to close we got a bit of Stones and ‘Honky Tonk Women’.
Country pickin’ time: it was great to have Glyn back at the Bells - he was joined on ‘Country Cocking’ by Paula with tambourine and BVs. ‘Big River’ is my fav Johnny Cash song and Glyn did a great version for me. He called his capo a ‘cheater’, the only other time I’ve heard it described as such is on a live Grateful Dead album, ‘Bear’s Choice’. To close a great set of Americana, we got ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ - ‘You know, feelin' good was good enough for me’.
Paula paying her first visit to our little evening, started with ‘Drift away’ and then played one of her own compositions, ‘I wish’, in which she wishes to be ‘the girl of your dreams’. Food and drink featured in Paula’s third song, which seemed to revolve round a jug of red wine.
George & Mary (two voice & guitar): John Prine’s ‘I know one’ - Phil Ochs’s ‘There but for fortune’. For their final number, Luther Perkins (ie Glyn) joined them on Johnny Cash’s ‘I still miss someone’.
Simon was on the desk tonight - thanks. Three self-penned ditties, all with his unique underlying humour. First up, he regaled us with ‘Too much snow’ complete with Dylanesk kazoo solos. ‘The Togglers Anthem’ was prequeled with a rambling story of a 17 year old Simon, a chap called George, a boat, some scaffolding, a van and a unique AA type service for cars and boats that didn’t float for long. Simon’s closing song was called simply, ‘Kim Jong-Un’ and was about a rocket man. I suggest he watches out for men with umbrellas and young woman who approach him in public places.
Clive and his Rhythm Devils gave us Canned Heat’s ‘Let’s work together’, and we did - Horseman corner were fired up and banging away on a malaise of rattily percussion instruments. Question: Is percussion instruments an oxymoron? In a world of covers, it’s good to hear folks play their own songs - Clive revisited his younger days with an early composition, ‘Two sides’ and reckoned bar an octave on the voice it would have sounded the same back in those halcyon days of his wild youff. Tabacco Road, complete with enthusiastic percussion section drew down the curtain on Clive’s set.
Jason and his Ovation gave us a bit of Leadbelly - ‘Take this hammer’ - some Beatles: ‘You’ve got to hide your love away’ and for his finale, the Stone’s ‘Wild horses’ - them horses are just crazy and they get everywhere.
The last of the horsemen sang about Love, Heart, Blues & Hurt: Andy (12 string) & Marilyn (6-string) opened with ‘I love you and you don’t love me’ followed by ‘Open season of our heart’ and to finish, Dylan’s ‘Living the blues’ which segued into ‘I don’t hurt no more’.
Nearly bedtime, which meant a bit of ‘Toast for one’ https://youtu.be/mhnIUH7cW90 from me, with Simon on BVs, dancing & lead kazoo and the audience on ubiquitous shaky percussion stuff and some lead guitar. 11:00 and I said goodnight - we packed the PA and the horsemen flew away. x
CLICK ON THE PCTURES FOR A FULL SIZE IMAGE
31 October 2017
The veil was thin, the night was dark, pumpkins were glowing and there was some silliness at the folk and blues evening. I had created some atmosphere and dressed up for the occasion as did some other guests. It’s one of the few times of the year when it’s ok to join in with the children, even if we then went on to sing songs about death, murder and gruesome things. I checked back to discover that it has been 11 years since Halloween actually fell on a Tuesday, but could not say whether that would have been a ‘Bells’ night, it may have been the one in-between.
As is customary, being host for the evening, I started the evening with ‘I am stretched on your grave’ a traditional song which was interrupted by my failure to connect the bouzouki to the sound system, being preoccupied with the Irish whistle that I played as an introduction. I moved on to Iris De Ment’s song ‘Let the Mystery Be’, an upbeat song about whether there is life after death. Apparently this is currently being used as a theme to a TV series, HBO’s mystery series ‘The Leftovers’.
Jane from Wadhurst, new to the venue, took the stage next playing bluesy high-action slide guitar and singing ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘When you’re Strange’. The guitar and sound system were somewhat at odds with each other, but in the end, all was well.
Following Jane with more bluesy vibes was Manus supported on bass by Paul. Manus gave us some of his distinctive guitar work also playing some slide tonight, very nicely complemented by the addition of Paul’s bass on ‘I’ll Put a Spell on You’. He followed this with another laid-back blues version of Ray Charles’s ‘Don’t let the Sun Catch you Crying’.
George and Mary were up next. They had gone the whole hog arriving in costume with wonderfully painted faces. I didn’t recognise George until I saw Mary. Her hair was a giveaway even though she had coloured it grey. Paul also supported them on bass. It’s very nice to hear a bit of bass. It really fills out the sound. They sang ‘The Road to Hell’ and Jesse Winchester’s ‘Ghosts’, with joyful lyrics moaning and wishing his haunting ghosts would die.
Clive went on to sing ‘The Witches Promise’, a Jethro Tull song and very appropriate too. Clive is very good at finding and singing songs which suit the changing seasons. He told a joke about his cat, jumping up onto the hob while he had left the kitchen to check out the contents of the pan, becoming a ‘Hob Goblin’, haha. With a different animal in mind, he went on to sing ‘Boris, the Spider’, a Who song.
Chris Martin had donned a mask and wig, with additional sunglasses, to join in with the Halloween theme. I daresay we would not have known it was him except that he was stationed at the sound-desk for most of the evening. ‘Who’s idea was it to wear this mask?’ was his comment from behind the false face having made his way through two of his songs: ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Sanity’. Chris has sung whilst wearing a mask before. The addition of air holes had not made this experience much better, it seems, but there is something weird about looking at someone whose face you cannot see.
Sylvie interrupted the sequence of singers by giving us a poem, and something of a quiz at the same time: ‘Droplets in this World of Time’, speaking of the immortality of the muse and the mortality of man. That’s deep, Sylvie. Within the poem were references to some immortals like Dylan Thomas, Mozart, Oscar Wilde, Enid Blyton, Elvis and Monet.
I think Simon followed Sylvie. It was a little hard to be sure, but a young man looking very like him took the spotlight next. He started with a ‘hippy ghoulish’ song by Jon Betmead, telling of how the clean white sheets became red with blood following a murder: ‘I locked her in my big-house til she lost all her mind…..’ . Simon thought the content was worrying and I think he’s right.
Putting his own gruesome and terror inducing content into a version of Stormy Weather, Simon continued with a song about glistening entrails, the dead rising from their graves being very vexing and something about raining toads. With a red moon in the sky it’s the apocalypse ……….. We were doing Halloween and Simon was giving us the End of Days. Scarey.
Another scarey sing-along followed as Frank Xerox sang Ghost Riders in the Sky, a cowboy ghost song which attracted the wailing of ghost riders in the audience. Covered many times and apparently among the top 100 Western songs of all time, it was written in 1948 by American songwriter and tv/fim actor Stan Jones with the full title of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend’. Frank continued with the song ‘Delilah’ made famous by Tom Jones. The name Delilah is associated with treacherous women because of the Bible story where she destroyed Samson. The song was written by Barry and Sylvan Mason with music by Les Reed in 1968 and it won the Ivor Novello Award for best Music and Lyrics in the same year. Following its great success for Tom Jones, it has become the anthem for Welsh Rugby Union. ‘I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more’. The audience participated and there was some demonic cackling (Helga?) at the mention of laughter. Madness and murder.
Lisa and Helga changed the tone completely, performing together, they sang ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ (made famous by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant), both playing guitar and with some lovely harmonies. Their second very beautiful song was a version of Sandy Denny’s ‘ Where does the time go’. Lisa brought her very personal style to the delivery of the lyrics and fingerstyle guitar and Helga added some fluid and sensitive flute.
Geoff, who is not a regular, stood up to sing ‘How to Save a Life’ which tells of drug addiction leading to death. This song by The Fray appeared on their debut album of the same name in 2006. ‘How did I go wrong, I lost a friend …. and I would have stayed up all night had I known how to save a life’. Sobering for sure. There may have been gremlins out to play. Certainly something affected the sound on Geoff’s guitar. He sang ‘Mack the Knife’ to follow. The song was a hit for Bobby Darin in 1959 but actually comes from ‘Die Dreigroschenoper’, known in English as the Threepenny Opera. The song was written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and Elizabeth Hauptmann. The musical drama premiered in Berlin in 1928. It speaks about sharks teeth and blood in the water, bodies oozing life and ‘cement for weight, dear’. Oooooo, not nice.
Mike Aldridge began his first song by saying that Bob Dylan had taken credit for it, but the song was much older. ‘In my Time of Dying’ also known as ‘Jesus Make Up my Dying Bed’, is an old gospel song inspired by a passage from the Bible in Psalms 41.3. It was first recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in December 1927 having been published at least as early as 1925. Dylan’s version recorded in 1962 did a lot to popularise the song. Led Zeppelin also claimed the song on their sixth album ‘Physical Graffiti’ in 1975. His second song, ‘Masochism Tango’ a Tom Lehrer song, suited the evening well: ‘Kick me once again …. If you smell something burning, it’s my heart …….. fracture my spine and say you’ll be mine …..’ sounding like a short horror film.
Keith Willson had waited for the last spot and only sang us one song. It was however, written about a real life murder which happened across the road from him when he lived in Brockley. The woman concerned had sent her man with £8 to buy weed in Deptford. Apparently he had a good night out (on £8?) and when he eventually came home she stabbed him to death. Very vivid.
Chris persuaded me to round off the evening with a final song, so I sang the traditional ‘Parting Glass’ which says goodnight but also acknowledges those who do not rise again. ‘Come fill to me the parting glass, goodnight and joy be with you all’.
I was very pleased that nearly everyone had chosen to sing songs that related to the theme of Halloween and especially those who went the extra mile and added costume and make-up. Very nice, it’s good to have things to laugh about especially in the midst of murder, death, witchy, scarey and ghosty things. Thank you everyone for making the evening so enjoyable, Simon for setting up, Chris driving the sound system and Clive being assistant sound engineer.
See you all soon, Ella
As the evenings shorten and the nights draw in we once again find ourselves singing with our friends in a room with darkness outside. Somehow this seems right to me. Fortunately at the Six Bells crowd control is not an issue and each performer was allowed three songs.
As MC I started the evening off with You got a friend in me, Girl from the north country and Love is the sweetest thing. Manus, having joined our committee ran the desk and, having been given much conflicting advice, gave us a great sound.
Chris Martin came next with his self penned songs Xeroxed Armies, Ghosts and Standing room only. Manus left his sound desk work to follow Chris and gave us Woodstock, Gone with the wind (Joanie Mitchell) and, at the end of the evening, his own composition Dr John.
Mary & George were next up and from them we learned that Bob Dylan’s Don’t think twice its alright was based upon an old English ballad called “Who will buy my chickens when I’m gone?” sadly, they performed the former so that question remains unanswered. This was followed by Ian and Sylvia’s hit song Four strong winds and John Prine’s The glory of true love.
Terry Lees played an interesting selection, Blind Blake’s Police dog blues, The Ballad of Long John Dean and Mark Knoffler’s In the Heartland.
Sylvie was in singing mode this evening (instead of Poetess mode) and gave us Danny Boy and Sing me a song Mr Bloom, which she told us was used in the cult American series “The Twilight Zone”, I can’t imagine a sinister version of this song but I am assured that is the case. Weird!
Clive always comes up with some good tunes so we started off with I could walk 500 miles followed by John Barleycorn (Yes a real Folksong at the Folk Club, a rarity these days).
Ella took to the piano with Love me like a man followed by the Neil Young song Like a Hurricane. Sorry your picture is a bit out of focus Ella, it must be the Twilight Zone.
Mike started off normally enough singing Big Bill’s Midnight Special then the performance seemed to be taking on an ornithological theme when he started by telling us all about his attempts to photograph waders . This in turn led to Diving Duck followed by Poisoning pigeons in the park. Mike is running the night next time.
Thanks to everyone who came along and played.
September 19th. 2017
For some of us who are members of the team who help to run the club, the evening began earlier than usual, with us sitting round a table in the bar ( with a beer ), having 'A Meeting' to plan the events timetable for 2018. Yes !! We are so very well organised, that we actually plan for the following year in advance! -- What's that I hear you say? -- You wouldn't have thought so ?? How dare you ! Simon is the brains behind all the forward planning and the website, and in fact I would go as far as saying -- Simon is the brains. (Full stop).
Tonight was one of our famous 'Theme Nights'. We feel that it's a nice idea to have the occasional one, and they are meant to encourage players to venture out of their comfort zone and try something that they might not otherwise do. Sometimes they work well.
The chosen theme this time was 'Songs from Films'. Well, -- whose silly idea was this one ? -- Ahh - it was mine, wasn't it! I thought it would be a very good subject for a theme. There have been countless good films over the years with great soundtracks, and a wealth of songs to choose from. So we began.
As host for the evening, I started up with a change of plan to what I had intended to sing. It would have been something from the film 'Easy Rider', but I found out earlier that there would be a couple of other numbers from the same film, so I chose instead, 'The Rose', from the film of the same name. Starring Bette Middler, the story is (loosely) based on the life of Janis Joplin.
It's difficult to choose a 'Favourite' film. Can you have lots of favourites? - I have lots. My second offering was from the soundtrack of 'Local Hero'- the story of big industry being stopped from developing in the west of Scotland.
Music for the film was composed by Mark Knopfler, and I did his song which Gerry Rafferty sang, 'The way it always starts'.
No one ever really wants to be second, but tonight, Simon actually volunteered to be. He told us he needed to get away early because he was suffering with a 'Man Cold'. Not as serious as 'Man Flu', but still needing sympathy. He is obviously a fan of children's films, as he gave us 'You've got a friend in me', from 'Toy Story'. In contrast to that, from the tough film 'Cool Hand Luke', we had ' Plastic Jesus'. Even with his blocked sinuses,and his nasal tones, his voice sounded just as good as ever.
Ruth, who has played at the club in the past, came on at number three, and said that usually she played keyboards, but is now on guitar as well. (not at the same time). She sang the sad 'Sweet Old World' by Lucinda Williams, followed by 'Boulder to Birmingham'. -- That is, Boulder Colorado, and Birmingham Alabama, - not our Birmingham.
Next up was our chief sound desk expert Chris, surrendering to the theme night, and playing a couple of covers of someone else's compositions. 'Born to be Wild' by Steppenwolf from' Easy Rider', and then 'The Young Ones'. I'm pretty sure that Chris was not a fan of the film starring Cliff Richard, but more of a fan of the other 'Young Ones' -- Ric Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. Chris played both these numbers with his red hot guitar with distortion effects and tremolo. He tells me the make of guitar is 'Shadow', made in West Germany, and he's had it for 30 years.
Manus always gives us something to concentrate on listening to, with his excellent jazz guitar work. This time he gave us a medley of three songs from films of the same name. --Eponymous!
'On a Clear Day', Days of Wine and Roses', and 'Autumn Leaves'. Then we heard a great instrumental number, which I've forgotten the name of. -Sorry!
Ella had said that she would not have time to stay, but actually she did stay for the whole evening,even though she didn't play tonight, and she waited patiently to help pack up at the end.
Mike was next up, and he told us of this song which has been featured in a number of films, some dating back to the 1940s (and earlier)? I don't remember that far back !! -- But I do recall it being in the film 'Oh What a Lovely War', and 'Me and my Girl' The song ? - - ' When You wore a Tulip and I wore a red Rose'. Mike's second number was 'Que Sera Sera' from the film 'The Man who Knew Too Much' starring Doris Day and James Stewart.
We were visited tonight by Frank Xerox who took to the floor and gave us his take on a couple of songs. First, was the 'other' one from 'Easy Rider' - 'The Weight', followed by Bob Dylan's 'Just like a Woman', with a nice harmonica finish. -- Ah, but was that ever featured in a film ??
Roy Champion, who had been waiting patiently through all of the evening, kindly took to the piano to give us a dose of culture, with a piece by Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856). It's not just modern musicians who die too young.
And that rounded off the night nicely. We could have had a bit of time to fit in a quick second song each, but we decided just for once to finish at a more sensible time.
Thanks to everyone as usual, and see you next time we hope.
Personally I am quite partial to a good shag and so with this in mind check out the first of my YouTube videos (here), of course I don’t have the energy to participate in that sort of activity these days. No, I find playing at the Folk Club far more relaxing and so it was this Tuesday.
I started the evening off with a Lucinda Williams song, Sweet Old World (this was a song that featured of my YouTube selection last time). This was followed by a little Dylan and Knopfler and the evening was launched. We had ten players by 8:30 so I decided that we would go for three songs each and this is what we did – it filled up the evening nicely.
Chris Martin followed me in the second slot, always difficult as the audience has yet to warm up. His songs were Life Ain’t Easy, Life’s a Race and Your Gone, all self penned. I have to list all of Chris’s songs or I get pestered by emails until I do (he will probably pester me anyway until I put links to them now).
Manus then played us two instrumentals and a complicated cover of the old Irish ballad Blackwaterside. The Irish Ballad was also a feature of Ella’s set, so it was. I particularly liked As I Roved Out. The use of the bouzouki fits in very well with these tunes and is a favourite of Irish band.
James Morris is an old friend of the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club, he has hosted many of our sessions in the past so it was a treat to see him back. James is a singer songwriter and he gave us three of his songs Give Me all your Love (I’ll give you all of mine), Mandolin Strings and Sleep in the Morning.
Terry Lees is another old friend and it is always a pleasure to listen to him. Even Terry could not resist an Irish tune with Planxty Irvine, I asked for a request, it was a long time since I had heard Terry play Joshua Gone Jamaica, in my view Terry’s version of this song is about the best you will hear. Fortunately he could remember the words. Bravo!
Another very talented singer songwriter is Keith Willson his songs are witty and well crafted. I particularly liked The Acorn a deep and allegorical song that you need to think about. His other more light hearted offerings were Lives you could have tried and Jesus Just Grew Up.
Keith and Terry teamed up with Penny and they gave us a jazzy, up tempo set that included Stormy Monday, Walking Blues and Bring it on Home to Me. Great toe tapping stuff.
Calling any impresario’s out there – Sylvie has written a musical and needs some cash to launch it into production. She got short shrift from Andrew Lloyd Webber but as this work involved ten years work she is determined to see it performed. If any of you reading this blog have an empty West End Theatre here is your chance. Sylvie’s song was The Tunes That Set Us Dancing, also self penned.
Clive Woodman then brought the evening to a close with Something for You, Truly Wonderful and Fields of Gold.
In my opinion this was a nice evening, we had a quiet listening audience and some truly wonderful (to borrow Clive’s song title) performances. Next time we are aiming for a film song night and to inspire you see the second of my YouTube videos starring Claire and her Dad – Sweet!
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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