Six Bells Blog: 2 May 2017
I was advertised as a cowgirl for this evening’s open mic session, so arrived looking a bit western to add a bit of atmosphere. I have to note that there was an inclination towards check shirts, cowboy hats and cowboy boots which is an effort I really appreciated. Fairly low-key, but then we are British aren’t we and pink fluffy hats and sequined tasselled jackets may have been a step too far. Special hat mentions go to Jayne Ingles, Chris Liddiard and Chris Martin.
I have to say that from early in the evening, I had the film ‘Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid’ on my mind. I think it was due to there being several Dylan songs and the sound-man Chris Martin, wearing a very western man-in-black combination which, down to the hand-made boots, could have had him wandering through the background of the film even though he was wearing a bowler hat. As a result, I had to select a video of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ from the film. There is a sense of brutal realism to the film-making.
On a much lighter note, I started the evening, accompanying myself on bouzouki, with ‘Killing the Blues’ which I know from the Alison Krauss and Robert Plant version, followed by ‘Did I shave my legs for this?’ by Deana Carter. Then we moved swiftly on. The evening was very much about moving swiftly on, because so many people turned up to perform, which was totally brilliant, but not without its difficulties. I have to apologise to everyone who sang and played who may have felt they were bundled swiftly into the spotlight and promptly out of it again. Ending up with a list of 17, it’s just not possible to have every one play between 5 and 10.
Manus followed me with the first Dylan song of the evening ‘Don’t think Twice it’s Alright’ and then played a piece in his jazz guitar style by pianist Erroll Garner. I didn’t catch the name, but it was beautifully executed.
Keith and Chris, otherwise known as ‘Hemlock’ gave us a duet accompanied by both on guitar of ‘Good Morning America how are You?’ or more correctly ‘The City of New Orleans’, written and immortalised by Willie Nelson. They continued with ‘Leaving on Jet Plane’, written by John Denver in 1966 and made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary.
The second Dylan song ‘When the Deal Goes Down’ came from Joseph. This song is from Dylan’s 32nd album ‘Modern Times’ released in 2006. He followed this with ‘The Weight’, a song by The Band released in 1968. For a drummer he seems to get on well with the guitar.
Chris Liddiard took the spotlight after Joseph, flaunting rather a good hat and cradling the guitar he brought home from Florida in 1980. Tim Izzard was due to accompany him, but this was not to be. Chris sang ‘I love you Because’, a Jim Reeves song and one of his favourites, clearly and beautifully. His second song, ‘The Day I Struck Gold’, another tuneful ballad, was apparently recorded by one of his White Horse friends in Nashville.
Chris Martin gave the mood a shake-up with the help of Lisa Jackson and Jayne Ingles singing ‘Songwriter’. He introduced this as a ‘fluffy’ song prompted and encouraged by Jayne. Martin n sax joined Chris, together with Lisa and Jayne on his second self-penned song ‘The Man’, written for Johnny Cash. The sax and female voices weaving around Chris’s lead was very rich and textural. Very nice, a ‘song about freedom and the price that people pay’.
Jayne followed Chris with the support of bass player Stewart Grimes. In the key of D she sang ‘Grandpa (tell me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)’, a song by the Judds' released in 1985. The bass filled out Jayne’s guitar accompaniment wonderfully and this continued onto her next song ‘Jolene’. This Dolly Parton song was released in 1973 as a single and as title track of the album. It must be added that Jayne was wearing an impressive western hat and a check shirt, giving us a very country and western performance.
Terry Lees changed the style again with his unique guitar style playing the ‘Roving Gambler’, an ‘oldie’: ‘I am a roving gambler, I've gambled down in town, Wherever I meet with a deck of cards I lay my money down, Lay my money down, lay my money down’. He followed this with a medley of traditional Appalachian tunes, very fast …. sooo fast, foot-tapping dancing music. He mentioned an Appalatian tune called ‘Grace Valley’, which was in there somewhere I guess.
Several solo spots were then condensed into a spontaneous band that included Chris Mansell on guitar, John Oddie on slide, Stewart Grimes on bass, Martin on saxophone and Terry Lees on guitar. ‘Corrinna, Corrina’ could be remembered as a Dylan song. He recorded a version of the song on his second album ‘Freewheelin’ ‘. The song dates back to early in the 20th century and was first recorded in 1928 by Bo Carter, but there were many variations of the song before this time. So it says here on the interweb. Chris took the vocal on this one and John sang on the next one: ‘Angel from Montgomery’.
I’m unsure what the third song was because I cannot interpret my writing, but I can remember some very nice solo spots from Terry, John, Chris Mansell, Stewart and Martin (and Manus joined in at the end on piano too). Very nice indeed. Stewart’s bass playing was excellent. I hope he joins us again at the Six Bells. He plays a very lovely six string fretless bass which I heard him say to someone, allowed greater expression. I think we probably noticed. Thank you Stewart.
Natasha brought us back to a very different vibe. She plays in Uckfield and is performing at the Uckfield Festival later in the year. She sang a Mick Hanly song; ‘Past the Point of Rescue’, with her lovely voice ‘Last night I dreamed you were back again …’. ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ was her second song and she said that she’d only printed it out that day to sing as a country song. I wouldn’t have guessed.
‘The Calm Before The Storm’ ‘ was Simon Watt’s first song…. ‘ Easy does it darlin', let the good times roll’. Simon usually has some interesting piece of information or story to tell, but everyone was moving on and off stage too quickly tonight it seemed, so he moved smoothly into his next song: ‘One More Song’… ‘I was in a run-down bar in San Diego …’ . I’m under the impression that Simon probably knows many country/bluegrass or similar songs, (I could be wrong there) but he didn’t convince us of his western convictions by the wearing of a hat, or a checked shirt. Perhaps he left the cowboy boots in the car too.
Pat, who usually performs in Uckfied, like Natasha, sang two songs ‘a cappella’ following Simon. The first was ‘The Ballard of Joe Hill’. Like many old or traditional songs there is real history to this song which I will share with you. Born Joel Emmanuel Hagglund in Sweden, Joe emigrated to the USA when he was about 23. He became involved in the Industrial Workers of the World, organising workers and writing political songs, speeches and satirical poems. He was executed in 1915 unjustly (probably) accused of murder. The trial was a big media event in Utah at the time. It is believed that he may have chosen to be seen as worth more to the labor movement as a dead martyr than by remaining alive, so he did not testify at the trial and did nothing to seek a pardon. Perhaps you all knew that, but I found it interesting. I don’t know how he could have written his own ballad if he was dead, but perhaps he did not die.
Pat’s second song was ‘Scarlet Ribbons’, a song written by Evelyn Danzig in 15 minutes in 1949 with lyrics by Jack Segal. Following its first release in 1949 it went on to become a ‘standard’ recorded by many different artists.
‘Country is not country without sad songs’ said Michael Aldridge, and so he sang ‘Blue Dream’, followed by a Hank Snow song: ‘I’m Nobody’s Child’. Definitely sad: ‘nobody wants me ‘cos’ I’m nobody’s child’. Boo hoo. ‘Sometimes it gets so lonely here, I wish I could die’. Very, very sad. Mission accomplished in the sad song department I think Michael.
But we’re still moving on quickly and must stop weeping, dry our eyes and pay attention to Caroline who sang two wonderful songs accompanying herself on banjo, starting with ‘Grandpa, tell me ‘bout the good ole days’ mentioning a version by the Judds. Followed by her self-penned song ‘Emily’. Caroline gave us the story of the song which was written following an experience she had in Australia. In a little fenced area she saw two graves. The story was that two girls had traveled 12 miles by horse and sought a cup of tea at a house. The owner of the house was not at home. One girl went off to walk in the woods, the other dressed herself in the man’s clothes and went on to play with his gun. By some terrible accident she shot her friend. One of the graves belonged to the girl who was shot and it was believed that the other belonged to the friend who shot her. That was the content of the song, sung to some very nice banjo playing and suitably sad judging by Michael’s standard.
Clive forewent his position on the running list to give Jason the opportunity to sing. He had also encouraged Lisa to get up to sing, but she decided to give it a miss this time around. From Dylan’s album ‘Nashville Skyline’ Jason sang ‘Tonight I’ll be staying here with you’, followed by a Patty Griffin song ‘When it don’t come easy’ from her fourth album ‘Impossible Dream’ released in 2004, in his characteristic emotional style with guitar finger-style accompaniment. Jason brings some very nice songs to these evenings ‘Sometimes it feels like you’re heading in the wrong direction… if you forget my love, I’ll try to remind you, stay with you, when it don’t come easy, it don’t come easy….’
Clive bravely went on to conclude the evening. It’s a tough time to play, when everyone else has played and most people have gone, but he did a sterling job singing ‘Blanket on the Ground’ a song written by Roger Bowling and released by Billie Jo Spears in 1975. His second song was James Taylor’s ‘Sweet Baby James’, title track of his second album released in 1970. ‘Goodnight you moonlight ladies, Rockabye sweet baby James’ and so the evening came to a close.
Well, it was going to be a long blog with all of those different musicians and a great variety of material. Thank you one and all. It was great evening (except perhaps for those few who got lost at the end of the running list), but there will be other evenings.
Endless thanks for Simon and Chris Mansell for setting up, to Chris Martin for the wizardry at the sound desk and Clive as well for helping putting everything back in the big black box at the end of the evening. Thank you to so many people coming along to share their music. All good, very good. See you all again soon I hope, Ella
18th April 2017
It was interesting to be presenting another evening at the folk and blues night.
Some recent issues, which have been mentioned to me, I cannot completely ignore and whether, or not, they play a significant part in our evenings remains a matter for conjecture so I will, politely, make a considered response.
So, with reference to this, I might make the personal observation that it would seem logical that anyone promoting live music events would not want their arrangements to conflict with other things going on. It is not as if there is an endless supply of participants and performers and it would seem more beneficial to give performers more opportunity by allowing them all to attend as many evenings as possible.
My own motivation for starting the night at the Six Bells was about creating an opportunity for people to play and we, Paul and myself, tried to establish a night which would consider and be sensitive to other events and make it easier, and clearer, for people to attend.
However, there is no specific criticism here and it is not for me to make a corporate comment about anything. I only have a personal opinion as I do about the other issue which seems to have emerged in recent times.
The onrush of technology has seen the opportunity to "download" tracks from other artists which have no singing on them allowing one to sing along with Benny Goodman's band or Glen Miller or whomever.
So you get the benefit of a mega-professional backing track to which you add your own dulcet tones. I must say I find this lacks a bit of creativity. As a Fine Artist I think that there are many more interesting things that we could do with this kind of approach....
Maybe a diamond encrusted dancing pierrot accompanied by nose flute and a downloaded backing of someone building a shed would demonstrate a bit of experimental creativity. I might find that more interesting than a shark in formaldehyde for example.
However, I like the concept that we maintain ownership of our performance. There are some performers who will make the effort to learn their own songs, and music, and this would seem to be an extension of what the nights are about, in that they encourage personal development as well as performance. In this way our pride in our own achievement becomes a significant element of what we are doing.
I would rather hear someone performing honestly as a result of their own efforts…obviously not everyone can be Rimsky-Korsakov…..but there are quantum physicists who may disagree…
So let's keep live music live....that's my opinion.....I prefer that the opportunity for authentic performance remains exactly that...otherwise we have no parameters and we might as well just have elevator muzak...or we could just stick a transistor radio in the middle of the room with a mike on it…. I once did this at the folk club with a singing mechanical pine tree…honestly…
However, none of these issues seems to have marred the excellent evening we enjoyed last Tuesday, nor dampened anyone's enthusiasm. It was a kind of, initially, slow build up to a fantastic night. A bit like starting the engines on a massive ocean liner, beginning with a gentle murmur building up to a mass of raw, pulsating drive, power and creativity. I enjoy writing these blogs…..
We had fourteen guests in all who performed in a variety of styles and an interesting range of material.
First up I would like to mention James Batten who read some excellent poems during the evening. I remember Mary Murphy, in earlier days, who would come, with Barry, also a great performer, and supporter, and read prose and poetry. As I said on the night, I never thought we should be restricted to music alone...
James's poems are personal, topical, humorous and intelligent as well as being entertaining and I am happy to encourage and enjoy more of this.
I would also like to give a special mention to Geoff Robb who played some lovely classical/jazz self penned compositions. I believe he is playing in Glynde soon so maybe look on the internet for info.
I started things off with a couple of songs. I played Dylan's "Sign on the Window" from "New Morning". It was a favourite of my ex-wife who passed away recently. I haven't played it for a long time.....
It's always good to see and hear Chris Martin and we have to thank him, in recent times, for such efficient and selfless management of the PA....he does a great job and plays some interesting self generated material.
Lisa Jackson played a couple of lovely songs as did Jason. Lisa has a clear and individual singing style which gives her performances some strength and authenticity. I know she works hard to perfect her delivery. Jason also runs the Elephant and Castle club, in Lewes, and I must encourage everyone to visit and support him. He also has a unique style and produces some technically adept and thoughtful pieces.
It is always nice to see Chris Liddiard who gave us three songs including one of his own. I still maintain that some of the best songs were written in the 50s and I think Chris might agree with me on that.
Simon Watt continues to be a cornerstone of the club both as Webmaster and performer and he kindly invited me to accompany him on "Six Blade Knife" which went ok I think.
In recent days we have seen Martin Passauer coming along and playing some excellent sax and flute and he played a couple of great tunes with John Oddie. They worked really well together and Martin seems to have a penchant for the blues and some sensitivity in support. John, as always, played and sang with some authority. He has a significant and comprehensive knowledge of blues music and its history.
Silvie has been coming quite regularly and she sings some lovely traditional folk tunes without accompaniment. I like the fact that she tells us the history of her material and her personal links with it.
I may be bit biased about this but I really love to hear Ella Moonbridge playing her bazouki. I think it defines her in many ways. I know she also plays piano but the bazouki provides some particular quality of its own. It has a North African kind of feel and I have always had a soft spot for that kind of modal sound. It is unlike any other instrument and it lends a unique aspect to her involvement.
The last time I attended there was a very nice chap called Mark came from Brighton with a great voice and good guitar. He brought a friend called Phil who played solid bass and along with John and Martin they played some excellent Country Rock to finish the night.
I must say that I also sneaked in on piano which I have been practicing and I think I did ok....I am alright as long as there is no one listening!
We did a few strong numbers....well why not....
And there you have it....another excellent night without digital enhancement.....just pure ability and interesting material.
You know I really do like the notion of everyone coming and performing their songs but I also like, just as much, when people play together as small impromptu combos. It gives the whole purpose another function and dimension which is about spontaneity and working together. It often leads to bigger and better things.....an extended purpose and potential.
So the whole creative direction consists of “all kinds of everything”…who does that remind you of?
Anyway, enough blathering from me.
I hope everyone had a really good night and I hope to see you soon.
Sun, zoom, spark.
Tuesday April 4th
At last, British Summertime has arrived, and we can get to The Six Bells before the sun goes down and we can enjoy the daylight delights of East Sussex, and find the village of Chiddingly, nestling in the middle of nowhere. -- -- Somewhere, though, that is worth finding. The evening begins as soon as you walk through the door. Everyone is welcome.
Having made sure I had got my pint from the bar ( plus a no- alcohol bottle for desert), I began my duty as host for the night with a couple of songs to start up. Earlier, I had seen that Stewart from Bexhill was here with his very fine looking electric upright bass, and he was offering to play bass for any of us who liked the idea. - I liked the idea. So he kindly joined me in doing 'Diamond Avenue' - one of my own songs, about the girl next door who goes off with a rich man,- but is she happy? We followed this with a song done by Lonnie Donnegan (years ago) - 'Seven Golden Daffodils' . It's a bit mean and miserly to only bring seven daffodils, isn't it ? That's not even a bunch.
Chris Liddiard had arrived early, so we thought it a good idea for him to play next, rather than wait longer for his usual later spot. He gave us two songs, including 'Loch Lomond' with an invitation to join in the choruses, which he split between the male voices and the female voices. We need to practice our Scottish accents. Thanks Chris.
Next up was Simon Watt, one of the mainstays of the club, who always gives a cool,calm, carefully crafted performance. His two songs were Lindisfarne's 'Meet me on the Corner' and Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waites. Good stuff.
Tonight we had a visit from Vanessa, Kevin ,and Neale who gave us two fine folk songs - 'Sheep crook and black dog' , and 'As I rode out'. Vanessa sang the lead, with Kelvin and Neale giving some fine guitar backing. Very nice.
After this, Chris Martin left his position as sound desk controller, and came up with his very nice (Red) electric guitar. Chris always, except on rare occasions, showcases his own songs, and tonight he gave us the electric versions of 'The Future's so vague', and then 'Sanity'. I'm glad someone can give us Sanity. Thanks for doing the sound as well tonight Chris. There is always a lot of microphone re- positioning and sound level adjustments to be made through the evening. It's an important job.
At number six on the list was Neale again, on guitar, but this time joined by Charlie, on Ukulele. The two instruments together made a great sound, and the lads made a real blues sound with 'St James's Infirmary Blues', and 'Death Letter.'
When they told me the title I said - " Pardon" ? " Did you say Deaf Letter?" -- "No- 'Death Letter." - "Pardon"?
It was at about this point when my running order list went a bit haywire, and I began to lose track of who should be on next. Some players had arrived early and were put on the list, and some were a bit later, and by this time, I was beginning to run out of brain function. So I apologise to those players who had to wait longer than they thought for their turn!
I think Manus was next, and he very nicely played us a couple of his own songs-'Cloud Atlas', followed by 'The Porsche and Ponytail'. - I want to know who owns the Porsche, and who owns the ponytail? Manus puts in some nice Jazz sounds to his songs. Cool.
It's good to see Chris Mansell around again, and he was joined by John Oddie, and also by Stewart on bass, and Martin on saxophone, ( he also played flute later on) and they made a great sound together. Chris also gave a tribute to the late Chuck Berry - by playing a Bob Dylan song! -- 'You ain't going nowhere'. If the Grammar Vigilante gets to hear of this he would not approve of the double negative. As has been said before, if you ain't going nowhere, you must be going somewhere.
Lisa Jackson had been very patient, and as always, played in her distinctive finger picking style and sang her own version of The Everley Brothers' 'Let it be me', and then her nicely re-worked take on Stephen Stills' 'Love the one you're with'. Always nice. Thank you Lisa.
Another 'Female' voice came after Lisa, in the shape of Caroline Mary. She was joined by Martin on sax and Stewart was there with bass, and she brought us two of her own songs- 'Open Mic Song' and 'Do you love me still?' - Yes I think we do. Very nice songs.
Then came Mark, on guitar and singing, with backing from tonight's House Band, and we heard two of his own compositions: 'Midnight Train' and 'Won't be back again'. - I'm sure he will be back again.
Mike Aldridge was waiting in the 'Dark side of the room' and emerged from the shadows to play us his tantalising 'Masochism Tango'. -Ouch! In a senior moment, I've forgotten what his other song was. -- Sorry! -- But thank you anyway Mike.
John Oddie had been busy with backing some of the earlier players, and now he came back to do his own two numbers, with some of the others backing him this time! He did his great version of 'Angel from Montgomery', and a Howlin'Wolf song,' Howlin for my darling'.
Last but not least was Mike's brother,Bob who finished the night with a great song, and followed with the lovely instrumental 'La Paloma'. It made us feel as though we want to fly off to Spain. -- Adios!
For now, it's more like Hasta la vista than Adios, -- but just time to say thanks to everyone who came tonight, we hope everyone always enjoys coming. Also, sorry to those who couldn't get a turn, especially Jason, James , and Sylvia.
Better luck next time maybe.
21st March 2017 -
Well hello everyone.
It is something of a surprise to be writing for you again…..
Just to explain the title….where I come from (no sarcasm please) there was a tradition that if you didn't know someone you just called them Billy and there was a chap, who lived near us, who always called me Billy. Even after I told him my name he still kept on calling me Billy?? I was only little at the time but when I asked my Dad he told me that this chap called everyone Billy…I never understood this and it was probably a formative aspect of my personality….maybe he knew something we didn't…which is a definite concept to ponder on these long lonely nights without a complete understanding of space and time…. hmmmmm….
Anyway this particular aberration may have been the reason why, after watching the new Dr Strange movie….I have many of the original comics illustrated by the brilliant Steve Ditko….I found myself deciding to come down to the Bells a bit earlier to have some chips, as all "pretend" Billy's do. Little was I expecting that the host for the evening, John, was not feeling well and so I decided to stand in and also assist Chris Martin with the PA. I was also informed that we were also expecting some guests, who had been promised an extended set, so I was praying that we did not get an invasion of extraterrestrial Folk and Blues musicians all wanting to do "Sad Eyed Lady". You have probably heard of them. They are called the "Interstellar Sad Eyed Lady Choral Singers" famous throughout the universe and beyond. Luckily they already had a booking near the Horse-Head Nebula so you can imagine my sigh of relief…phheeewww..I said.
So, back to the deep end….
It was a well attended night and we had a total of 12 sets of performers some of whom formed themselves into accompanying friends.
Our visitors, Paul and Pam, had come all the way from Northampton and were very capable performers who played a good range of what I might call Folk/Jazz and Blues. Paul was a very good "finger style" guitarist and Pam had a great voice. They did five numbers in their extended set which entertained us for about half an hour and they were very well received and appreciated by all. It would have been nice to let them play some more but, as is often the case, in extremely popular Folk and Blues clubs, we had many other avid performers waiting to go on so I had to make an executive decision….so I hid behind the bar….
The club has many regulars now and that is testament to the popularity and success of the overall approach…it has a family feel but I am also aware that there are often new and welcome faces.
Our retinue consisted of Chris Martin, Helga, Lisa, Ella, Myself, Clive, Simon Watt, Chris Liddiard, Jason, Mike Aldridge and a chap I met for the first time called Manus.
It is quite interesting, and a happy fact, that the quality of all of the music performed at these sessions is particularly high, and it is clear that all performers want to produce a worthwhile performance which comes from careful consideration and practice. That is one of the things which makes it all work…. people take it seriously enough which comes cross to all of those participating. In that sense the general level of performance is lifted by this hidden understanding and collaboration.
I would like to mention Jason first as he runs a session at the Elephant and Castle which is the first place that I played in Sussex all those years ago. He is a sensitive and technically capable singer, and guitarist, and I must try to get along to his session at some point.
Manus was also very good and played some excellent finger-style guitar and Clive responded to the recent demise of Chuck Berry which was appropriate for the time. I used to play lots of Chuck Berry as a young band member without realising who he was!!
Helga and Lisa played some tunes together and also did their own thing, all very capable and enjoyable, with Helga supporting Lisa on flute. Helga played a couple of guitar songs and Lisa sang a lovely self-penned number.
Chris Liddiard is a regular member of the night and he performed some excellent, sensitive pieces. I really like Chris's taste in songs as it often reminds me of stuff that I like and am very familiar with. Some songs never leave you, right from childhood, and I am, sometimes, astounded that I still remember the words to songs which were in the charts when I was at school. Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Bobby Vee, The Ronettes……
Simon Watt played some good numbers and no-one can deny his long time support for the club and his efforts with communication, and the website, and it is the same with Chris Martin who has become a pivotal element of the evenings. I would, personally, like to thank him for managing the PA on the evening and providing an excellent sound for us all as well as playing some good numbers. Chris is a tireless songwriter and is devoted to playing and recording his own stuff which is only to be applauded and respected.
Ella Moonbridge has also become a welcome and talented member of the steering group and she opted to play piano tonight and did so with grace and sensitivity. I also like the Bazuki she plays and the original sound, and interesting diversity, it brings to the evenings.
Mike Aldridge rounded us off in his inimitable style and it is great to see him coming along and playing some compelling numbers. He is a very good finger-style guitarist and has a solid sense of the blues and some other generic elements of music.
I also played a couple of songs at the beginning, as usual, but I feel what is important to me is that I can say that we have kept all of this going for 25 years which must be significant both, in itself, as an achievement but as a reflection of peoples involvement and interest. I will also take the opportunity to gloat a little and say that I am not aware of any other Folk and Blues evenings who can boast such longevity. The reason for that is fairly simple, and obvious, in that the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club is, probably, the best Folk and Blues club in the known universe and beyond.
They say that, if people are listening in outer space, then one of the first things they will hear from Earth is "Muffin the Mule", from the 1950s, well….. as they are bombarded with Blankety Blank and Z Cars…..they will eventually hear the dulcet tones of Myself, Tim Kent and Dave Dyke, filtering through the ether at which point they will probably rush down to Earth with bouquets and chocolates and celebrate 25years of brilliant, high quality entertainment. Mind you, it will probably be another 50,000 years before they get here so we will need to keep the kettle on. On the other hand we may have already taken the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club to them and that will save them the petrol or dilithium crystals or whatever they use…..
So…You're never alone if there's someone else there….
Bye Bye Johnny…
Bye Bye Chuck…
Spread the love….
P.S. I never actually got my chips…….
7th March 2017 Hello, I’ve been studying the mu (μ) major chord as part of my mission to compose the next great song.
Once a year they let me out of my cage and allow me to run a songwriters night at the Six Bells and last Tuesday (7/03) was the big night. The 12-bar boys had headed for the hills in search of the mysterious fourth chord and the covers brigade were at home, hard at work in front of the mirror, honing their latest version of ‘Summertime’ and in the process searching for even more emotion than an X-Factor wannabe - those bloody fish keep jumping, but not at the Bells, well, not tonight anyway.
I dug out my Bowler hat and bounced between desk duties and the MC role, which I delivered in the style of Kermit the Frog - ribittt. We had 20 artistes in the room and 17 of them gave us a couple of their own compositions. Where else in East Sussex on a damp Tuesday night can you get 31 different original songs and 3 poems all delivered with style and panache by their authors?
As MC, I got to launch the show at 8:40pm with my song about playing open mic nights, ‘I like to be sad’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB_yroI1VwA I’d finished a new composition earlier in the day and gave it a first outing. ‘What’s in a life’, is about how many times we do things in an average lifetime. The final verse asks the pertinent question about how long I’ve spent listening to men tune guitars. Yes, I know, it’s a challenging and profound art form this song writing malarkey.
I’m not going to attempt to critique each act, but I really enjoyed the evening and genuinely thought the overall quality of the compositions and deliver was really strong. Here’s a list of performers and their songs for PRS use.
Manus: ‘Handing it over’ - ‘Ripping through the grain’.
Jayne: ‘Raven’ (lyrics by husband, Stuart) - ‘You worry me’.
Chris Liddiard: ‘My sweetheart’s heart is sweet enough for me’ - ‘What might have been’.
Tim played guitar for Chris L on his second song and then stayed on for his own couple of songs about life on the road in the good ole US of A: ’26 days on a Greyhound bus’ - ‘Painting America’.
Chris Mansell had launched the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club on the 26/02/92 and it was great to have him back with us after a brief sojourn: ‘Strangers’ - ‘Mystery man’.
Bob: ‘Centuries’ - ‘Medal’.
Lisa: ‘Mid-winter mist’ - ‘There’s only your guitar between us’.
Trace: ‘Lonely is the night’ - ‘To hell and back’.
Silvie (A cappella with small tambourine): A tribute to Rabbie Burns - 'The last farewell'.
Simon (assisted by Ella & Silvie on percussion): ‘Too much snow’ - ‘Take my hand’.
Helga: ‘Monday morning love crash blues’ - Helga’s second song was actually a translation into English of a traditional German song.
James gave us three of his entertaining and amusing poems: ‘Earth’ - ‘The beard’ and his third poem was about life in Chiddingly.
Ella: ‘Leaf in the wind’ - ‘Rain over the hills’.
Clive: ‘There goes that girl’ - ‘Made of gold’.
Jason: ‘Song for our dead heroes’ - ‘The day that I found Fafaia’.
Keith was our final performer: ‘Jesus just grew up’ - ‘In my mind’ which is also the title of his next album.
11:30pm and a big thank you and goodnight - I’ll be back next year, if they let me - so get writing. Thanks to the Six Bells team - a special shout out to Simon for the photos and for setting up the PA and Ella for helping me configure the stage (adjusting mic stands etc) to meet the pernickety requirements of the prima donna songwriters.
PA away and out of the door at 12:15am. xxx
The evening started with the team building task of setting up the PA. This was quickly accomplished proving that we are all getting better as sound engineers. Chris Martin had the job of driving the desk and the sound was first class throughout. That’s good because if the sound is right it makes everything a lot easier. We are not supposed to notice but Roy provided some background piano music while we were getting organised, Roy is anything but an exhibitionist but he has a light touch and can certainly play. Perhaps one day he will overcome his shyness. We all have to make that leap Roy!
I started off with the Louden Wainwright song The Doctor followed by an old country number She thinks I still care. Then we had Jane & David, infrequent visitors to the club but very welcome. Great rhythm and pace were the hallmark of their set which included Sail this ship alone, The first cut is the deepest, Wade in the Water and later Some Boys. Great vocal control from Jane and some mellow guitar by David – what more could you want?
Then came Ella’s turn. Ella’s first song was After the Gold Rush which sadly all went horribly wrong. We all know what that feels like - don’t we! Undaunted she tamed the unruly piano with a far more difficult number Danny's All Star joint, a Ricki Lee Jones song. With great character she had another go at After the Gold Rush later and this time she nailed it. Hooray!
Clive was next with Come and take me to the Mardi Gras (which my spelling checker wants me to turn to Marigolds) with a sneaky bit of additional cajon playing by Manus. Being something of a folk song buff he then played Is it Summer so Soon (The skylark song). Manus followed with The First Time Ever I saw your Face, Strolling Down the Highway and later Days of Wine & Roses. These were after the style of Bert Jansch so not the easiest of arrangements!
Helga attacked Me and Bobby McGee with gusto and then went on to Carrie, the Joanie Mitchell song. Later she played flute alongside Keith on a blues number – good stuff Helga.
The sound man then took the stage, Chris Martin the clubs legendary singer songwriter gave us Standing Room Only, Living in a Funked Up Country and later Diary. Chris will be running his annual Singer Songwriter night next time so you have two weeks to brush up your own tunes (or better still write a new one).
Chris Liddiard came next, as you probably know, Chris suffers from Parkinson’s and last night we got a glimpse of how difficult that can be. However, we will learn from that and make adjustments so that we can help Chris get to the stage with the minimum of effort in future. In front of the microphone Chris still comes over perfectly and he gave us four songs My Sweetheart is Sweet enough for Me, When I Grow too old to Dream, Goodnight Irene and Auld Irish Waltz.
Penny Payne has a fantastic voice and looks so relaxed in front of the microphone, add Keith Willson on guitar and great things are guaranteed – on this occasion C. C.Rider followed by Summertime. Keith then played his own compositions Like You Could Have Tried, The Slow One and Baby Steps. Awesome jazz chords – how does he do it?
This week I have put an eclectic mix of YouTube videos on the Homepage, Jazz, Blues and Classic Rock – something for everybody. I hope to see you all again in two weeks time for another great folk night. Remember to bring your own songs and ignore the road closure signs.
All the best - Simon
'What a brilliant evening! There was a wonderful selection of different performers, styles and content.
But before I continue with a run-down of performers, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to Simon Watt, who set up the sound equipment during the day taking the pressure off the evening. For this I am especially grateful because Simon has been rather poorly. I must also thank Chris Martin for tweaking the quality of the sound, doing sound checks etc and to Clive also, who with Chris, manned the sound desk during the evening. All of these efforts paid off big time because we had good sound consistently and no nasty feed-back.
As is customary, as host, I started the evening. I was in a ‘traditional’ mood and sang ‘She moved through the fair’ and ‘Singing Bird’ (traditional Irish) accompanying myself on bazouki. We moved swiftly on with Simon at second position singing ‘All around you’ involving a long cold winter and a two slice dinner, a Lonesome Brothers song. This was followed by ‘American Boy’, an Eliza Gilkyson song.
Simon often has an interesting or amusing anecdote to share. This evening was no exception as he told us about the Bruce Springsteen song ’41 Shots’ which he read about in Springsteen’s biography. Apparently a black man was stopped by police and as he looked for his identity to show them, they thought he was going for a gun and shot him 41 times. 41 times?
Because of this song the police refused to guard Bruce and he received letters of abuse from Republicans. Ricki Lee Jones sings a similar song where the young man was shot dead as he reached for his ID, because the police thought he was going for a gun. Maybe it happens too frequently.
Chris Martin followed with ‘King of the Flies’ from his album Standing Room Only, watching the traffic flow ….. He said he had trouble finishing it. His second song was ‘View from a window’ which is a song from his album of the same name and is indeed about the view from his window. Apparently Chris is in the process of recording another CD with the assistance of ‘Banjo Dave’ on vocals. I’m sure we will hear the new material all in good time.
Terry Lees had chosen to join us for this evening and shared two songs with his characteristic guitar style which is always a treat to hear. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ was his first song, followed by the Dylan song ‘Buckets of Rain’. He let us all know about The Bob Dylan Story which is on at the Winter Garden, Eastbourne on 25th February. He’s going, how about you?
I like the Bert Jansch song ‘Blackwaterside’ and do a very different version from Manus, (mine is a very simple version!). Manus has a complex guitar style which is probably more jazz orientated. I love the song, so very much enjoyed hearing it. His next song was ‘The Blues Run the Game’ a Jackson C. Frank song covered by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davey Graham.
Helga followed Manus on classical guitar and sang for us the anthem that arose in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall went up. Helga had made a translation from the German into English. Translated, the song means ‘Take Heart’, so a song of optimism in adversity, and particularly poignant for her which I believe she communicated to us all. Helga completed her spot with St James Infirmary. This song has several different versions and the last time two people sang this same song on the same evening, there was no very obvious conflict, they sounded so very different.
More reverb next for Penny, accompanied by Keith Willson and singing an early blues where the ‘apron strings were wearing through’. I apologise for not getting the title. It was not remotely obvious that they had not performed this song before given the confidence of its delivery. Her second song was ‘I went down to the river to pray’ a traditional American song which was popularised in the 2000 film ‘Brother Where Art Thou?’
Richard and Liz followed Penny and preferred to perform totally acoustic. They have been to the Folk and Blues evenings before, but we haven’t seen them for a while. Welcome back. With new strings on his guitar and having only heard the song a week ago, practiced it for the first time this evening, they were, according to Richard, out there without a safety net. Liz has a lovely voice and I don’t think we noticed the guitar slipping out of tune as they performed the 1944 Leadbelly song ‘Where did you sleep last night?’
Liz left Richard to take the part of a lovely young lady to sing ‘Maids when you’re young never wed an old man’, a humorous traditional Irish song.
Next up was another duo, Kim and Lee, who had come along for the first time from the distant seaside resort of Hastings. Yet another different style. Lee played guitar and sang while Kim played flute and sang harmony, giving us ‘Really don’t mind’ from Jethro Tull’s fifth album Thick as a Brick (1972). They followed this with a self-penned and delightful ‘The Gnome Song’. Beautiful atmospheric flute with Lee’s guitar and voice …. searching for a sequinned gown. I hope they find their way back another time.
The lovely Lisa followed with a version of Elvis’s ‘Don’t be Cruel’. It didn’t sound anything like Elvis, of course, but was beautiful and atmospheric. Her second piece was the spirited Johnny Cash song ‘The Ring of Fire’, without the rather Mexican sounding trumpets and with a much more imaginative guitar accompaniment. Thank you Lisa. It’s always good to hear you sing.
Clive took the spotlight next and sang ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ an up-beat blues written and recorded by Tommy Tucker in 1963 (apparently). I don’t know how many of us have heard of Tommy Tucker but it has been recorded many, many times by different people including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder – a whole lot of people we certainly have heard of. Great song Clive. He followed this with ‘The Path of Love’ a beautiful, wistful Beth Neilson Chapman song. Very nice indeed.
Keith Willson followed with another change of style. Keith writes all of his own material and he began with ‘Requiem’ from his ‘Calmer Waters’ cd: ‘Close your eyes, we’re all here’. A very atmospheric song followed by a different mood: ‘Maybe I deserve to cry, maybe I deserve to crawl …..’ in the lyrics of his second song: ‘The Worst Thing’. Keith is one of the few guitarists who doesn’t ‘plug-in’ and thanks to the technical skill of the sound-team, there was no feed-back from the two mics! Wonderful.
The mellow vibe continued with Bob Aldridge who sang ‘Rock-a-Bye Sweet Baby James’ from the James Taylor’s 1970 album of the same name. He went on them to sing ‘Desperado’, from their 1973 album also named ‘Desperado’. Mellow and more mellow.
Jason Loughran followed Bob and continued the vibe with his own song from a few years ago: ‘Strange Sailings’. Maintaining the mellow and maybe melancholy mood, Jason then sang Jim Coce’s song ‘Time in Bottle’, a song he was re-introduced to by a friend. The song is about valuing time and it went to the top of the US charts in 1973 when it was released. Tragically Jim was killed in a plane crash later that year making the song seem at this distance, to have a prophetic quality.
Enter Mike Aldridge and the mellow bubble was popped by Mike’s first country song, a Hank Williams song about wedded bliss and how once the first six months of marriage is over, if you can survive the following six months then ‘you can take it’ for the rest of your life. Some may remember the final song of the evening, the one that Mike sings about friends sharing things, an irreverent little ditty by Tom Lehrer: ‘ I love my friends and they love me …. Whatever we get we share’.
And so we ended the evening with a smile on our faces. What a brilliant evening it was. Thank you to everyone for joining us at the 6 Bells Folk and Blues. See you soon, Ella'
I thought that it was going to be a quiet night. The first couple of weeks in January are usually a bit bleak and deserted, and people are recovering from whatever they've been doing, or the weather is bad, or they are just in hibernation mode. As it turned out, we had pretty much a full evening of music, even though we had nowhere near a full house of people. We were very thin on the ground, especially because we were missing three of our main colleagues -- Ella, John , and Chris.
Fortunately, we had some re-enforcements in the shape of Keith Willson and two of his friends, Jim Neale, and Tim Izzard. Keith had brought with him his electric keyboard as well as his guitar, so with Jim on violin and guitar, and Tim on Drum Box ( Cajon ), I knew that we were going to be alright on the night.
Simon had very kindly as usual, set up the sound kit earlier, so we were able to do a sound check while Keith and his 'Trio' rehearsed a couple of numbers. As they were all set up and all warmed up and all comfortably in place on the floor, I decided that it would be a shame to move them off and disturb them, so I got them to launch the evening, instead of me. I was deserting my post as host. Normally, it's the host who starts up, but not this time.
Anyway, it was a great way to begin, because ' The Keith Willson Trio' gave us three or four great songs, including 'Brighton Rock', 'Trees', and one about a man climbing a rusty ladder. Keith changed from keyboard to guitar, and Jim changed from guitar to violin. Tim stayed sitting on the Cajon.
So then I came on, with a song that can only be done in early January -- 'Happy New Year' by Abba. I know it's ten days late, but I have to do it each year. When is it too late to wish people 'happy new year' ? -- After NINE days!
My second song was The Doobie Brothers' 'Listen to the music', which is what we want everyone to do. Then there was time to actually fit in a third song, which I chose at random from my book, and it turned out to be 'Far away in Australia'. I first heard this song done by the Irish singer Christie Hennessy many years ago.
Next up was Simon Watt, who as always, played some real cool numbers. And again, there was time to do three songs -- 'Devil Baby' by Mark Knopfler, 'Beggars and Mules' by Danny Schmidt ( who Simon has met,-- and says he's a nice guy ). - Who ? Simon or Danny ? -- He followed these with 'Annabelle' by Gillian Welch, and Van Morrison's 'Sometimes we Cry'. Hey, that was four songs Simon! ( I had lost count by this time) !
It was good to see that Chris Liddiard was able to come and play again tonight, in spite of having trouble with his teeth ! -- and he did 'Jigsaw of Life', and 'When I Write you a Song', followed by the clever and funny 'P.C Blues'. - We all still have troubles with our computers! -- And with our teeth !
At number five on the list was Mike Aldridge on his usual good form with a great choice of songs including 'Blue Dream' , and an excellent version of 'Don't bring Lulu'. This was the 'clean' version he says. He knows another one with more 'Adult' lyrics.
Helga had been waiting patiently for her turn next, but we had to put on The Keith Willson Trio first, because Tim (Cajon) was having to leave early. So it was nice to have a second chance to enjoy the three of them again, and with changes from guitar to keyboard again and from violin to guitar again, and still the same Cajon, they gave us some more nice sounds.
Now it was Helga taking the floor, and she herself had three different instruments. Her flute, of course, and two different guitars. She had earlier been accompanying Mike with the flute on a couple of his numbers. She did a good take on the story of 'Matty Groves' (Fairport Convention are well - known for doing this song). And she followed with Joni Mitchell's 'Carrie'. - Nicely done, but I always think this song somehow belongs to Ella.
There was an extra player up next, in the shape of Mike's brother Bob. Bob has played for us before, and is always welcome to come and give us more. Tonight he did a great version of Mark Knopfler's 'Romeo and Juliette' from Dire Straits, and a Brownie McGhee number. I'm sorry Bob, I don't remember any more facts about the songs, but they were well done. Thank you.
By this time, we were looking at the clock and thinking maybe we should finish early for a change. Everyone had had three or four songs, so we decided to let Keith Wilson finish us off. Playing solo this time, he sang us two more of his own songs - 'The Worst Thing' , and 'The Slow One'. This gave me the feeling of a late-night London 'Cool Jazz' club atmosphere. -- 'NICE'.
So, after all, it was a very good night. It always is.
Thanks to everyone who came, and also to those who helped pack up afterwards. Thanks to Simon who shared running the sound desk with me. See you next time , when Mike Aldrich will be in charge.
Tuesday November 29th
It was a cold night. But the atmosphere was warm and friendly We always try to make it that way. As host for the evening, it was my job to start up the musical offerings, and I chose to begin with Maddy Prior's song 'Deep in the darkest night.' Two of the verses are in French ' Dans un noir de nuit, Je n'avait rien dit, souvenir d'un etait chaud, souvenir de soleil et d'eau, dans un noir de nuit.' ( I can tell you are impressed - eh? )
Then I followed with one of my own songs, 'Blue above the grey'. I have to admit that I wasn't concentrating too well on what I was doing, and I wrongly blamed Chris on the sound desk for putting me off. -- Sorry Chris.
John Oddie came next, and made a really nice sound on slide guitar and voice with 'Sweet little mystery', and then was joined by Lisa Jackson and Terry Lees, backing him on 'Angel of Montgomery'. It was good to see John back this week, as we had been missing him for a while.
Next in line was Simon Watt, who gave us a nice version of 'Nobel Prize-Winner' Bob Dylan's 'You aint goin' nowhere'. ( I think that is a double negative isn't it? ) -- If you aint goin nowhere , you must be going somewhere? Bob Dylan wouldn't win prizes for grammar! Simon then produced from his case,a banjo/guitar and sang us a great comedy song, called ' I Don't look good Naked Anymore'. -- I think we'll take his word for that. We don't want him to prove it.
Both Simon and John are 'Vertebrae' in the 'Backbone' of the Folk and Blues Club, and so is Chris Martin, who came in at number four on tonight's list. Chris took 'time' to sing 'Tick -tock, one of his own compositions, with Lisa and then John as his backing band, followed by his 'Xeroxed armies' song. Chris had a busy night looking after the sound desk as well, so thanks Chris.
While the piano was being set up for Ella Moonbridge, I did a (very bad) impression of Donald Trump, building his 'Wall'. He was building his wall himself, all around him, round and round, higher and higher, up and up, so that no-one could get in. and no-one could get out. " Oh dear. - I've bricked myself in. I can't get out!" "HELP"!
So, Ella then gave us a great sound on piano and her voice with Bob Dylan's 'Standing in the doorway' and then revving up the tempo to run into 'Danny's all-star joint'. I'd like to go to that place. -- It sounds good! Thank you Ella.
Terry Lees always plays beautifully, and he was on great form tonight with a nice version of 'Pick a bale of cotton', and then a great number from Ike and Tina Turner. (And Ry Cooder)?
- I missed the title of the song.
Now it was time for our helping of 'Culture' from Derry on piano,and with Renata singing a short but sweet love song in German. Well! - What with songs in German, and earlier in French,you could almost imagine that we were somehow in some sort of Union with Europe. Well! - What a fanciful idea!
Number eight on the list was Lisa Jackson , who had already been busy with backing vocals earlier, but now on her own with 'Rain rain go away', and her good version of 'Jolene', which would have annoyed Dolly Parton, because it was nicer.
We had a new visitor, in the shape of Annie Wheeler , who had been waiting very patiently for her turn to come. She sang un-accompanied with her first song, 'Let no man steal your thyme' , and then with guitar to give us The Fureys' 'Steal away'. Annie has contacts in the village, so we will be seeing her again.
Penny Payne had also been very patient in waiting to come up and sing us some 'Blues', in her great style, backed by John and Terry, and a neat version of Prince's 'Purple rain'. -- Nice.
Following on from the fanciful notion of some kind of link between us and Europe, we had another song in German, from Renata ,'Lilly Marlene' ,with Simon on guitar. Nicely done, but I couldn't help myself from thinking about 'Rene and Renata' from years ago ,and their song 'Save your Love my Darling, save your Love'. Sorry!
Having had four ladies in a row on the list, it was time to have some 'Blokes' back on, so Chris and John took to the floor again to do Chris' song 'Toast for one'. This made me feel hungry.
Another welcome return for one more song from Terry Lees, and then, joined by Simon and John the evening came to an end with a toe -tapping rendition of 'Oh Suzanna' (With Banjo/ guitar) ! (Yee- Hahh)!
Having got warm through the evening, we all went off into the cold and frosty night
Thank you to Simon for setting up the equipment at lunchtime. Did he have a beer? -- And thanks to everyone who came tonight, and come again next time for The Christmas Party, hosted by John Oddie, with special guests 'The Conspirators' .
Well the world has survived the week since the momentous news that the Donald is now the most powerful man on the planet. Back at the Six Bells it was business as usual, no mass extinction here.
The joy of any folk & blues night is that you have no idea who will turn up or what they will do. This was a particularly good night,
Mike brought Andy, Duncan and Monica along, we had a new talent in the form of Jeff to appreciate, Dr Mark made one of his flying visits and Ray turned up to take photos (thanks Ray - see above). Clive ran the desk without issues, Jim and Pete came up with a stunning new song, Derry played the Moonlight Sonata and Ella was her usual helpful and industrious self. Whats not to like?
Worth a special mention is the JP's song about a returning WWII bomber crew trying to get back to base - very appropriate for November. I would like to hear that one again at some point. I also enjoyed Andy's "Irene Wilde", an evocative coming of age song by Ian Hunter. Jeff rose to the challenge of Tom Waits "Temptation", a brave choice but one that worked well (unlike Mr Waits original version you could actually understand the words). Ella came up with Joni Mitchell's "I think I understand" another song that is rarely performed, with its faintly paranoid lyrics, well played on the bouzouki.
Have you noticed that the person who runs each night selects three YouTube videos to go on our home page (the idea being to introduce you to something new - perhaps an artist you have missed). This week I have chosen a song about suicide, another about child abuse and lastly something to cheer you up. Eliza Gilkeson's drummer Woody took his own life and that is what the first song is about, Luka was a big hit in the US for Suzanne Vega in the 80's and lastly I love the energy of Mary Chapin Carpenters "Down at the Twist and Shout". I hope you will enjoy them.
Ray has uploaded some of his video's of the evening onto his YouTube channel here so you can watch some of these performances for yourself.
Thanks to everyone who came and played and to the two people who came to watch. If I did not mention your song above it does not mean it was not brilliant, just that I am lazy. Have a great couple of weeks until we convene again with Clive at the helm.
All the best
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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