Remembering the Halcyon days of the club followed by the wild swings in location and attendance during and after Covid, I was truly dazzled by the numbers of old friends and new faces that turned up on Tuesday. A few regulars appeared as expected, but then they kept coming, and still they came some more. Not only musicians. There were several people who said they'd 'just' come to listen. That activity is never 'just' – having an audience makes a real difference to how the musicians feel about the evening and I hope that audience enjoyed it and will come some more. There was such a variety of genre: country, blues, pop, jazz, folk, and such a variety of instruments: piano, accordion, flute, guitar, a capella vocals and even percussive dance.
To kick off, I did a piano version of my own Lives You Could Have Tried. The first guests were Pippa and David doing expert covers on vocals and guitar of Oasis' Live for ever, George Azur's Anyone and Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Simon Watt was up next with a couple of country(ish) songs including Dylan's Spanish Stair. We weren't treated to Simon's self-penned humour tonight but if that's what you need he's just produced an excellent album God's Christmas Card which is on Spotify, Amazon, Apple and CD.
An exciting Celtic Duo Shindig followed, playing accordion and guitar. They started with Cherry Tree. It was during the second piece, a reel, that the accordionist let her feet loose and became the rhythm section too, emphasising the downbeat with dance, while still playing. A first for the Bells, I think.
Helga played the jazz standard Black Orpheus on solo flute and then invited up Jason and Lisa for her second song. With their close harmony singing and empathetic guitar playing they are a wonderfully matched pair. A rather unlikely, but entirely successful, choice for their song was Leadbelly's Old Cotton Fields Back Home – their sweet style a million miles away from Leadbelly's original blues shouting and blending well with flute. When it came to their own spot they did the poignant Handbags and Gladrags and a song by Jason's Dad, Gerry Loughlin.
Manus, the resident jazz phenomenon, did some bluesy plucking on Ray Charles' Halleluiah I Just Love Her so. Manus' arrangements always bring something new to standards and he writes original stuff too.
Welcoming Chris Martin to the Stage, I had no sooner remarked on how many CDs of self-penned songs he has produced than he pressed yet another into my hand. This new one is called Clearly Opaque. Chris sang about looking for a friend as one of his two originals.
Heather sang the folk song The Water is Wide known in many incarnations as Waly Waly and having roots in Scotland. She took many of us back to our halcyon days with James Taylor's You've Got a Friend – neatly replying to Chris.
Spider fingers Terry Lees, who appears on Radio Bexhill this weekend, did some intricate work on his own bluesy composition She's Bound to Love Me Some and then tuned down to low and rumbly open C for an instrumental Merrily Kiss the Quartermaster's Wife.
Paula reminded us of the times when Britannia ruled the Eurovision Song Contest by singing the last British Success Love's True Light. From a Distance followed, and nicely sung too.
Helen showed her usual bravada in solo a capella performances from the world of pop, with "All Round My Hat" by Steeleye Span and Moondance by Van Morrison. Returning to Scotland, Stephanie sang the Skye Boat Song and then did a Leon Rosselson number Coats Off for Britain. It was nice to hear his humour again and Steph's comic timing and intonation came off well.
Bob Melrose's return to the club was welcome and he gave us some assertive bluegrass picking on Like a Summer and then played Church Street Blues. By this time the angel's share of the audience had evaporated and Bob was one of the three patient souls yet to sing, all last but definitely not least.
Sophie sang well on one of her own Looking for a Place to go home and the final surprise was some fine vocal work, accompanying herself on piano, from Amanda Shaw. Eva Cassidy's Song Bird was great. All three of these late acts were very good and very welcome.
I finished with Too Sad To Sing The Blues with superb flute from Helga. A welcome reunion to complement all the new and old faces seen tonight and well exceeding any expectation of the night I had. Jason bravely tackled the PA. Thanks to him, Simon Watt and everyone else whose organisation made the evening a great success.
It was great to be back to the post Covid way of doing things. The sound desk, performers being introduced instead of just going on and the generally relaxed atmosphere of normality. Just like the old days when an evening at the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club was simply “a good night out”. The evening was further enhanced by some new performers and audience members. Thanks to Lisa, Jason and Heather for doing great work in promoting the club in recent weeks.
To start the evening off I sang “Here’s to the feet” a boisterous pirate ballad. Following this the Willie Nelson classic “Good Time Charlie's got the Blues” and finally “Otto the Nine Foot Giant Lizard”, a nonsense song that I wrote for my daughter all those years ago.
Then came the inimitable Lance who managed to come up with two songs in a row about dog poo. It seems this is something of an obsession in the Maleski household. Two songs featuring this subject in a set of three is probably a world first and remember – it happened in Chiddingly! Lastly, and to the relief of all, his final song “There’s no Going Back on Love” came as a pleasant finale. Lance spent most of the evening running the sound desk and helped in packing it away later. Thanks Lance.
Next up was Clive, he likes to find a song appropriate to the time of year and tonight was no exception. What better than the "Padstow May Song", an important part of the famous Padstow 'Obby 'Oss festival. I hardly liked to mention that we were still in April. This was followed by "The Path of Love" and lastly the Canned Heat classic “On the Road Again”. Clive also helped Lance with the sound desk.
Clive was followed by Helga. It’s nice to see Helga back and to hear her flute. She started with a piece by Bach and was then joined by Manus for some improv blues. Lastly, she accompanied Lisa and Jason on one of Lisa’s own songs “Fancy Man”.
Now came the turn of some very welcome newcomers, Duncan and Stella. Duncan played Mandolin and won the prize for the most colourful trousers of the evening. Stella played the accordion; it is so nice to have a change from our usual guitars. To start the 17c Irish “Planxty John Irwin” by the blind Celtic harper Turlock O’Carolan, then a Romanian traditional melody “Tintarouil de Laslovat”. These were followed by two French tunes “Gnossienne No.1” by Erik Satie (19c) and “Le Petit Bal de la Marine” by Francois Deguelt. Lovely.
Then came our resident duo Jason and Lisa, starting with the Tom Waits 1970’s classic “The Heart of Saturday Night”. Helga joined them for “Simple Smiling Face” (an early Jason song) followed by Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and last “Blackbird” by Sir Paul McCartney. Great harmonies as always.
Next, we had Manus our cool jazz-master. He gave us “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix, “I Ain’t Superstitious" by the Jeff Beck Group and lastly a guitar solo improvisation of Henri Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses”.
It was nice to see a return of Lia and Jeff, we saw them last summer when we played in the garden A father and daughter team, Lia sings and Jeff is a very fine guitarist. They started with “Happier Than Ever” by Billy Eilish, then “On my Mind” by Georgia Smith and “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Jeff ended the set with an instrumental “The Burren” a traditional Irish tune. It sounded great from where I was sitting. With a little reverb through the desk, it filled the room with a haunting Irish lilt, beautiful.
We were fortunate next to be entertained by a man with many names, tonight he was known as Clint Westwood and as the name would suggest, his music had a strong country influence but with his own twist. Clint started off with his interpretation of the Johnny Cash song “The Devil Went to Georgia” followed by John Denver’s “Grandma’s Featherbed”. Finally, a song I assume Clint wrote himself “Dead Man on a Train”. Slick, amusing and great guitar, Clint is a polished performer – we want to see him come back!
Finally, we had a song from a regular at the Six Bells and a keen Morris Man, Cliff. He sang for us an unaccompanied song “The Watercress Girl”. This rounded off the evening nicely.
Thanks to all of those that came to play, those who came along to watch and listen and to those that helped me pack everything away afterward. Next time our host is Keith, I hope to see you all again then.
Another relaxing evening, purely acoustic with no amplifiers or microphones in sight. There were 9 performers and what follows is the of names of performers and the songs they sang/strummed/performed etc.
We went round twice with each of us performing 2 songs first. Steph was first up and sang ‘You Can’t Black Out the Moon’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ Helen performed ‘Love Letters’, a song written in 1945 and recorded by both Elvis Presley and Alison Moyet.
Chris Martin was up next and and sang 2 of his own songs ‘It’s Only My Time’ and ’Tick’Tock.
Roy Champion was up next and played 2 pieces on the piano, a Prelude by J S Bach and the theme from the Octet by Schubert.
Lance was up next with ‘Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road’ and a song inspired by talking to Chris Martin, ‘70s Casualty’
Helga sang a German song written by Wolf Bierman. She learned the song in her twenties and it is called ’Take Heart’ The second song was a jazz classic called Blue Bossa. In the arrangement she changed the bossa rhythm to flamenco.
Ella was back for the first time in over a year. She sang ‘Goodbye’ a Patty Griffin song and Iris Dement’s song ‘Our Town'.
Manus performed Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘The Nearness Of You’ and the Charlie Mingus song ‘Goodbye Porkpie Hat’.
Jason and Lisa who sang Dylan’s Girl From The North Country’ and a new song of theirs called ‘Where On Earth Would We Rather Be’.
Heather sang The Dixie Chicks song ’Travelling Soldier’ and her own song called ‘Just a Dream’.
We all went round again and sang a song each as follows -: Steph sang ‘You’ll Never Know How Much I Love You’ Helen sang ‘The Mummers Dance’ Roy decided that he had performed all he wanted to and carried on listening Lance sang ‘Sadie’ Ella performed Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ Manus sang his own song ‘Murray’s Bar’ Jason and Lisa performed a song written by Jason’s dad ‘Lifeline’ Heather wrapped things up and sang ‘What have they done to the Rain?' Written in 1962 by Malvina Reynolds. Originally called Rain Song, it was a protest against nuclear power.
Lance of Seaford (retired)
26th October 2021
Against a background of rising Covid cases, road works and other sickness, 5 hardy souls braved the weather and gathered as one at the 6 Bells. Tales were told and songs were sung. There was no amplification as Simon was too unwell to carry out his usual unselfish task of setting everything up for us. Instead we sat in a circle and performed acoustically.
It was a really nice evening Chris sang 5 songs follows’. My Only Hero’ a song he began at the recent songwriting workshop and completed afterwards. Chris’s hero was Peter Osgood who played football for Chelsea, and later, played for Southampton. His other songs were ‘Insomnia’s Dream’, I Want To Sing Along’ ‘My Mum, The Care Home and Alzheimer’s’ and ‘Ghosts’.
Roy who usually come along to listen played 2 pieces on the piano, a Mazurka and a Minuet.
Lance sang 5 songs in quick time ‘Old Bob’ a song about his labrador ‘The Old River’, ‘He Isn’t There Any More’ ‘Better Eat Your Veggies” and lastly ‘The Nativity Song’ all about baby Jesus, the King Of Kings and the Wise Men.
Heather sang ’Yes Dear’ , ‘Weald and Sea’, ‘The Skye Boat Song’ and ‘Here We’ll Stay’.
Clive sang 5 songs as follows.’The Grey Funnel Line’, ‘All Of The Love Will Remain’ ‘I Guess You’ll Never Know’, ‘ Above The Grey’ and ‘If You Will Be My Friend’
And that was it, packing up was easy to do as we were acoustic and all we had to do was put our guitars in their cases and like Elvis, we left the building.e to edit.
12th October 2021
28th September 2021
A petrol crisis affected open mic night took place on 28th Sept. Only 7 performers had enough to confidently get there and home again participated… but we had a lovely evening.
Simon started proceedings with 3 songs. “Walking in Memphis”, a Van Morrison song “Sometimes We Cry’ and finished with his own song “Bernard The Fireman”
Clive was next up and sang Whisky In The Jar” a song he wrote about more housebuilding taking place called “Open Fields” and lastly, he sang Donovan’s song “Colours”
Lance sang 3 songs “Sadie”. “No Going Back On Love” and a song about a spider called “Spidey”
Nightjar were up next and performed 3 songs, “Nightjar” “Silverburn (or Silver Byrne) and “Poor Boy”. Greg on bass/soprano sax and Nigel on guitar.
Manus was up next and performed 3 songs…”On The Crest Of A Wave”, “Murray’s Bar” and “True Colours” As an aside Murray’s bar was a bar inside the Clearview Hotel in Seaford. My wife tells me her first husband stayed in the same hotel the night before their wedding in 1986. The hotel subsequently became some sort of care facility.
Last up was a newcomer all the way from South Carolina, Erica ,who sang 3 songs “Mamma Ain’t Got No Time” “This is How I Pray” and lastly a John Prime song “ Angel From Montgomery”. Erica had to leave early and did not perform again. She has promised to return.
We all went round again….
Simon sang 2 songs “Little Rocket Man” and “Soft Spot”
Clive sang Nina Simone’s “Where Can I Go Without You?” And Julian Lennon’s “Salt Water”
Lance sang. “Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road” and ”Pick Up Your Dogshit”
Nightjar returned and preformed 2 songs “Cuckmere” and “Freestone Walker”
Manus finished off proceedings with Ray Charles song “Hallelujah” and “Summertime”
We packed up and drove home into a night of torrential rain
14h September 2021
It was a damp and dewy starlit night….sounds like the beginning of a song! But it’s how it was. After a slightly slow start, we ended up with 12 performers outside and 2 in the back room. It will probably be our last outside gig this year, because the nights are drawing in and the air itself is becoming moister which isn’t good for our instruments or PA. So, hopefully, from the 28th September we’ll be back in the back room.
I’m so sorry if I don’t get all of the details right. I was trying to take photos, write notes and stay warm, which seems to be a little much for my poor old brain.
Simon brought his amp down and setup, like he always does, and opened up the evening with Calm before the Storm, Try a little Tenderness and his Brexit song. As always, his performance was clear and cool, with a touch of humour. Always enjoyable.
Manus followed with some slick jazz-style guitar and gave us his arrangements of Dylan’s ‘Don’t think Twice’, John Martyn’s ‘May You Never’, and ‘The First Time ever I saw Your Face’ which was made famous by Roberta Flack but originally written by Ewan MacColl (father of Kirsty) for Peggy Seeger in 1957. I do like to find out these little details! All tricky songs, and all played in true Manus style.
In the meantime, Greg was playing his electric double bass in the back room with a friend on acoustic guitar. He’d set up there and was worried about the damp air affecting his bass. I popped in a couple of times and there was some lovely music going on in there! Hopefully he’ll be able to join the rest of us when we all move inside!
Jason and Lisa were up next with their beautiful harmonies and totally sympathetic duet performances. They performed two of their own songs, ‘Go Gently into that Dark Night’, and ‘Song of Silhouettes’ followed by their rendition of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ as a tribute to Charlie Watts. Always a pleasure to listen to them.
It was lovely to see Clive, and he brought me a Sumac for my garden. Thanks Clive. He started with the politically incorrect ‘Water Melons’ song. Always good for a laugh although I couldn’t find any information on it. Then he sang his own song, ‘The Path’ and then ‘Caravan Girl so Fair’. Always lovely, clear performances from Clive, although I didn’t manage to find a couple of the writers. Sorry ☹
Ollie was up next, with his footrest, and gentle picking style. He gave us ‘She belongs to Me’, Dylan, and ‘Jersey Thursday’ by Donovan. A couple of lovely classics.
Helen was up next for her a Capella slot. Her first song was ‘On the Wings of a Nightingale, written by McCartney and performed by The Everly Brothers as a tribute to Don who left the building last month. This was followed by The Letter by the Box Tops, then Steph joined her for a performance of Wayfaring Stranger, a classic song the origins of which are unclear, but has recently had new life featuring in the film 1917. This was a touching rendition with some lovely harmonies.
Steph carried on with Some Kind of Love by John Stewart, then managed (almost) to keep a straight face through ‘Oh Pray Gentle Maiden’ otherwise known as The Chastity Belt song and I think might have been written by Jasper Carrot. The rest of us tittered!
We were pleased to welcome Peter Wilkins next, as a newcomer to The Six Bells Fold ‘n’ Blues. He opened with Ralph McTell’s ‘The Girl from the Hiring Fair’. I think this was followed by a song about the great explorer Matthew Flinders, but I had a loo break. Sorry Peter. His last song was his own composition about Britain’s Last Hangman, Harry Allen, called ‘An Ordinary Bloke’. Not easy to be a gentleman hangman. Apparently, he always wore a bowtie as a sign of respect but never lost any sleep over the hangings. He also worked as a bus driver and a publican. Interesting the things you learn hanging around Open Mic nights! Lovely to meet you and listen to your music Peter. I do hope you can come again.
Helga performed a classical flute piece on the flute, strangely haunting in the gathering dewy night, then sang ‘Let it Be’. She finally joined forces with Lisa for a performance of ‘Black is the Colour’, one of my favourites.
Keith Willson was up next with his own composition ‘Colonsay’. Keith’s guitar playing is always a pleasure to listen to. I love the way he can combine jazz, folk and classical influences to his music. He followed this with his arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Georgia’. Lovely.
I followed with a couple of my own songs, ‘Double Entendre’ and ‘Lady by the Shore and finished with James Taylor’s ‘You’ve got a Friend, which I think is always a warming feelgood song! We were getting rather damp and chilly by then. Have I mentioned the damp before? It was starting to pour off people’s guitar cases and my scarf was definitely soggy!
Chris finished the evening with three of his own compositions, ‘The Man’, ‘Journey’ and ‘Scrapheap Blues’ all sung in his own inimitable style. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of Journey which I thought came over very well.
Thank you for coming everyone. Chris and I won’t be there next time. Hopefully we’ll be warmer, and dryer, in Madeira, but the evening will be held in the back room where we look forward to joining you all the following time.
31st August 2021
We might have expected better of the weather in August in the midst of a climate emergency but no, it was overcast and later on it got a bit chilly. But what we lacked with the weather we made up for with quality. A guitarist of the year and a radio star were among those who turned up to play.
I started the evening off with three songs then retired to a safe distance. I started with the Grateful dead song "Monkey and the Engineer", followed by "The Rocket" I don't know who wrote that and lastly my own composition "Too Much Snow". Anyone who wanted one could have a bonus track later and, with a nod to hurricane Ida, I chose the Randy Newman song Louisiana 1927.
Next came Chris Martin a man who has produced a number of CD's and is no stranger to the recording studio. From his back catalog he chose "Life's a Race", "It's Only My Time","Paper Wings" and "Toast for One". You will find all of these on Youtube if you are to look.
Chris was followed by the star of Paul Huggett's Golden Nuggets, Heather Currie who has recently released an album called "Old Friends" which is well worth a listen. Her songs were "Ruby Tuesday", "Sometimes" by Heather, Paddy McGinty's Goat and "Seasons" also by Heather.
Next up we had Guitarist of the Year Terry Lees. He was only Guitarist of the Year once for the simple reason that once you have won you are banned from standing again. What a great title and as you might expect we had a performance to match. Terry's offering were "Merrily Kiss the Quaker" and "Angie".
Accompanying Terry we had Greg on sax. It is always a treat when he turns up and fortunately he is versatile enough to sit in on most types of music. He later joined Helga and Terry in a jam and joined me on my final song.
Terry was followed by newcomers Leia and Geoff a very polished father and daughter combo. Leia sang the Billy Eiish number "Happier Than Ever" and I have to say if you know that number Leia had it down to a T. Dad Geoff accompanied on guitar. Clearly wanting to leave the punters wanting more, that was all we heard from Leia. Geoff then played an instrumental, the Irish tune "The Burren". Both were very polished and we hope to hear more of them in the future.
Helga's first song had a German title which is beyong my pay grade. She followed this with an extended jam with Terry and Greg which optimistically included "Summertime".. Helga has been learning jazz singing techniques and was able put this into practice.
Lastly we had Oliver Hill, he gave us some rock standards to finish the evening "I Can See Clearly", "Mr Tangerine Man" and "Donna, Donna" a great set to round off the evening.
Hopefully we will have greater numbers next time.
17th August 2021
With 10 participants we were able, if we wanted, to sing 3 songs each.
As usual Simon kicked off proceedings with the Mark Knopfler song "Ticket to Heaven", then Lucinda Williams 'Sweet Old World' and finished with "I Don't Look Good Naked Anymore" - no further comment.
Lance was up next with "Better Eat Your Veggies", "You Must Never Ever Eat a Vindaloo" and "Sadie the Flatulent Horse".
Helen sang unaccompanied and performed Stings "Fields of Gold" and Joe Brown's "Pictures of You". Then, Helen and Steph combined and performed "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You".
Keith sang three of his own songs "Too Sad to Sing the Blues" and "Baby Steps" with flute backing provided by Helga. Lastly, we heard "Brighton Rock".
Helga was up next and player her flute. The song was called "Elegy". She followed this with a song remembered from her youth by Reinhard May. I have no idea what the song was called. Reinhard is now 78 years young. Lastly, Helga was joined by Keith and performed "St James Infirmary".
Manus came next with3 songs......"Please Climb Down" and "Murrays Bar" both his own. Lastly, he performed "Georgia on my Mind".
Chris played us therr of his originals from the 1980's I think. They were "I like to be Sad", "Guardian Angel" and "Little Red Car".
Heather was next and sang Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" followed by "The Owl and the Pussy Cat" and lastly, a song by Phil Coulter that I hadn't heard before "The Town that I Know So Well".
Clive was last to perform and sang Bob Dylan's "Percy's Song". I had never heard of it....next to be performed was "Sweet Sixteen" written by James Thornton and performed by the Furies, a version of the 19th century traditional song. Clive's last and the final song of the evening was "London River".
We all left deliriously happy.
Lance of Seaford (Retired)
Thank you to all the lovely performers at the Six Bells; Simon, Helga, Manus, Clive, Derek, Keith, Lisa and Jason
Another memorable and most enjoyable evening
Here's to our continued freedom.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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