Tuesday 7th August
In an overwhelming rush of enthusiasm, I offered to write the blog for tonight because Chris was ‘M.C.ing’ and doing the sound as well.
We arrived early so the Chris could set up the desk, to find people having their dinners in the back room. What??? A potential audience??? Some of them stayed once we started performing as well. I do hope they enjoyed their evening and come again. It’s so lovely to have an audience.
Performers arrived in dribs and drabs and eventually sixteen different people took part.
Chris opened for us, having set up the sound. He has now written and recorded an amazing 100 songs, and performed his very first one from 1986, ‘Angry Young Man’, and then his last, which will be on his album Journey Part 1, coming out later this year. Both were performed with his own unique style and clear finger picking / rhythmic style. I have a special fondness for ‘Out Of the Blue’ because he has a very convincing ‘diddly’ music break in it....but then, I am a little biased.
Jane followed on from that with her lap steel guitar. It really does make a lovely sound and her performances of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s ‘Love the one You With’ and Carol King’s ‘I wasn’t born to Follow’ carried well in the room. The arrangements were beautifully simple, yet effective.
Then came Jamie, who had previously performed with Chris as a Father Christmas double act! His first song was his own composition written for his wife, Pam. It doesn’t quite have a name yet. ‘Sunshine in the Morning’? ‘Stay another Night’? It was a lovely song played and sang with accuracy and conviction. Lucky Pam. His next song was ‘Nutshell’ one of Alice in Chain’s most popular songs. Again, Jamie played with a full sound and a clear, rhythmic strumming accompaniment. He says he’s still working on the guitar solo bit. We can look forward to that!
Sylvie is not long back from the Lake District where she spent a couple of her earlier years. She recited her own poem ‘Lioness of Skelgill’. This is a well crafted poem written in rhyming couplet style with lovely images of the Lake District and Skelgill water. I’d really like to sit and read it sometime Sylvie.
Manus performed two classics next: John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High, and Roy Harper’s ‘May you Never’. He had made his own arrangements of both songs in his own jazz-type rhythmic style which would be impossible for most of us to play even if we had ten fingers on each hand. How does he do that? Thank you Manus. I’ll keep practising.
I wanted to play a couple of Scottish songs this week because we’re off to the Isle of Skye on Saturday, so I chose a couple of my childhood favourites; Annie Laurie and The Skye Boat song. After some fiddling around at home, I decided I preferred my piano version to my guitar version so I played the piano and accompanied myself in public for the first time ever. Nothing too dreadful happened and it was really lovely to hear everyone join me in the Skye Boat song chorus. Thank you people.
Helen sang next. Her first song was ‘Reason to Believe’, accompanied by George. It was originally written by Tim Hardin and made famous by Rod Stewart. Helen has a lovely tone and vibrato to her voice which brought out the beauty of the song. Next she sang ‘Both Sides Now’ with George and Terry accompanying her. ...in ordinary tuning. Not a DADFsharpAD anywhere. It was a very soulful version and went down well.
Mary got up to join George next and accompanied him in the chorus of Ry Cooder’s ‘Across the Borderline’. George played with a lovely gentle guitar style and voice which was a pleasure to listen to. Mary took the lead vocal to George’s accompaniment for their next song, ‘A Life that’s Good’ from Nashville. It isn’t a song that I knew, but it is lovely and I enjoyed Mary’s singing.
Terry performed two instrumentals on his nylon strung guitar next. I do love to hear Terry play and had a few lessons with him a few years ago so I do know just how tricky it is. Classical Gas takes me right back and was really enjoyable. Then Terry played ‘The Auld Highlanders’ a Scottish jig, which I hadn’t heard before. I shall definitely look forward to hearing it again.
Paula performed two of her own compositions: ‘Without You’ and ‘Canopy’. Her strumming style is so graceful. ‘Without You is a very sad and wistful song and Canopy conjured up some beautiful images. Both were performed in her pure, clear voice.
Sarah was a newcomer to the Six Bells stage and performing for the first time in many years. She delivered ‘Rosebud in June’ a capella and managed to hold the pace and key well despite her nerves. Well done! She will be performing at East Dean Church on Saturday 3rd November accompanied by Terry in a concert to raise money for a Heart Rehabilitation Unit at the DGH and the Vickie Vowles Memorial Fund for Safer Childbirth. Her own daughter died in childbirth, which could have possibly been avoided if there had been a ROTEM machine. All support would be gratefully appreciated.
Simon was up next. His first song was an acoustic version of ‘Ripple’ which he dedicated to the Deadhead in the room. It had to be explained to me. A Deadhead is a Grateful Dead fan. That’s Chris. He was touched! I really liked Simon’s version. What a beautiful song! We also had an informative little discussion about The Chelsea Hotel. Thanks guys! Simon then played one of his own songs, Take my Hand, which he was asked to write for a gospel band. Apparently they didn’t perform it in the end. Their loss.
Jason came up after that. He performed ‘To the End of the Waves’. I’m sorry if I’ve got that wrong Jason. He sang to a skilful syncopated guitar rhythm. Confident, secure, gentle. Lovely. Then Lisa got up to join him, back from her holidays. Apparently they hadn’t had time to practise. You couldn’t tell! They sang ‘Into White’, a lovely Cat Stevens song from Tea for the Tillerman, followed by The Glory of Love, a blues standard that Jason’s Dad used to sing. Very tight. Lovely harmonies. They do seem to get better every time I hear them. Lisa sang one of her own compositions. It was one of her poems that she put to music. It doesn’t have an official title yet; ‘New Moon’? There was a full range of dynamics, picks and strums, and some really exciting discords. I do hope we get to hear it again. Great stuff Lisa.
Clive had another song from The Great American Songbook that he hadn’t had a chance to perform at the last gathering, ‘I got Rhythm’. What a fun song. I couldn’t help joining in along with several others. This was followed by a moving version of Vincent. Again, we were humming along. Lovely choices Clive.
Finally, we were joined by a group of young people from Belgium and one of their number got up to sing. Maxime is a singer and actress in Belgium but usually performs in French. After a chat with Terry and Manus, they accompanied her to Summertime, everyone’s favourite! Maxime was confident and professional with a lovely dusky voice. Terry and Manus were in full throttle, and a thousand notes swam out and around to accompany her. It was a fitting end to a really enjoyable evening .
Thank you everyone.
24th July 2018
Although originally put forward as an evening of “Jazz Standards” it was felt that as 99% of musical input here is conveyed in song-form, as sung, perhaps we should actually go-by-the-book. In this event the legendary American one.
In a point of interest, personally I am a long-term fan of Keith Jarrett's “Standards Trio” As the core of their [piano/bass/kit-drums] discography and concert footage is sourced from “The Great American Songbook” – unsung save for Jarrett's own vocal musings, in improvisation – it really is jazz standards all the way with them. So it's all a bit subjective, really – We were flexible on the guidelines but a great effort was made to pay homage, one way or another, by all who contributed – Thanks for that!
As host I opened the evening as the list of performers had filled itself out all present and correct – no alterations whatsoever; I still managed to screw it up though, by giving George and Mary a false start when it was meant to be Jane on the slide. So G & T were graciously slid back to pit-slot-3, and Jane, relatively unfazed [considering she thought she'd just got the sack] reinstated herself on lap-steel guitar at the low chair in order to accommodate her instrumental stance with “Love Is A River” and “Put The Blame On Mame”. Only then did the laid-back, brought-forward duo get to render up their versions of “Red River Valley” and “Valley Of Tears” which taken altogether sort of put a nice, neat crease in our stride[s]. Their friend, and ours, Helen struck out on her own, unaccompanied, this evening with “The Way We Were” and “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime” which was very well pitched whilst being poignantly evocative of depression era, USA – I thought that kind of attention to detail [accurate pitching with no reference points, instrumentally] was/is crucial to any respectful performance of history appropriately acknowledged and alluded to.
Then Simon Watt came on with his great American CF Martin country guitar and gave us a characteristically laconic rendition of Jerome Kern's “Lazybones” which suited him very well and is sure to be incorporated into his own repertoire I would think, along with “Try A Little Tenderness” – followed closely by CJ Martin without his great American CF Martin but totally prepared via otherwise Americana offerings: John Phillips's “Me And My Uncle” in homage to the ‘greatest American band’, The Grateful Dead and Jim Stafford's “Spiders And Snakes”. Then he went back to doing an admirable job at the sound-desk – all night [plaudits].
Heather came on with Dylan's “The Times They Are A Changin'” and you can't get more American than that – it just gets laterally post-modern after that! As did Paul Simon's “Homeward Bound” with it's allusions to 'itchycoodancing (?) ….'. But – as if by some higher connection, Sylvie then stepped up to the hand held microphone, radiantly; just back from Scotland and as if to be handing the Great Lakes baton over to Heather en route to the Isle of Skye, Sylvie recited 'The Lakeland Ramble' and another poem with a lakeside scene in its 'crepuscular' imagery as we headed onwards through the notional twilight of Rogers and Hart's “Blue Moon” as performed by Clive whom, as the great patrician here, incited some collective empathy to a recent tragedy visited upon a friend's family as he continued with 'You'll Never Walk Alone' for her, herself a performer at The Six Bells Folk 'n' Blues Club – Yes, we do have doves here from time to time.
I digress – it was a good time to welcome Ella Moonbridge up to the piano for a rubato rendition of “The Nearness Of You” which I adore; we spoke of this afterward as I'd recently come across Norah Jones's version as tacked onto the end of her own Grammy Award Winner album, “Come Away With Me” – like a gem it was there at the top of my head and the slow [almost out-of-tempo feel] of Ella's transcription brought it on home nicely. Cole Porter's “ Night And Day” was handled similarly couched on a pure white cushion.
Back to Guitar-de-ville with Bob Melrose who gave us an interesting solo arrangement of “Tainted Love” syncopated in the way of 'Soft Cell' – I put it in inverted commas in the American way because that, according to Bob, is where it came from, a pre-80s B-side [many of which were plundered if re-energized during the Thatcher era over here] it slipped into out vernacular – as did Paul Simon's “The American Tune” – Ha! And then, a highly intelligent looking performance by Jason Loughran of “Everybody's Talkin' At Me” and “Georgia ...” which I've heard him do in duet mode with Lisa Jackson as fresh, young committee members, and I've heard Lisa play it solo, as indeed I often hear myself play it solo. This, though, was Jason's solo arrangement and it was positively dove-like in its articulation – fly Jason, fly; that duo should be heard far and wide!
Once-upon-a-time – yes it's getting there, folks – Keith Wilson, in an inspired stroke of genius, wrote a great American songbook song entitled 'Too Sad To Sing The Blues' thus cannily stepping outside of the Afro-American genre whilst, in an interior way, positively owning [inhabiting] it – Howzat! In a nutshell he encapsulated some perfectly transatlantic closure to a great evening of music from our perfectly English folk, blues and jazz-standards oasis here within the backroom of this little Home Counties establishment, totally unaffected by the passing of time as we know it – in fact, I was talking to a couple of English emigres there, just over from Australia since the 70s since when they used to frequent this place, like they were somehow caught up in the 4th dimension [as I remember it, too].
And, seeing as I seem to have just turned myself inside-out I should of course acknowledge Keith's great performance versions of “My Funny Valentine” and his totally hilarious inversions of “Summertime” from The Great American Songbook, proper; here's to “Porgy & Bess” and all the great archives of the world of music.
Tuesday July 10th
Football. Tennis. - Tennis. Football. - Football and Tennis. - The Tour de France.- Theresa May's Cabinet 'Turmoil'. - Boris and Davis. - The good news of the cave rescue in Thailand. - The Centenary celebrations of The Royal Air Force. These are the things that people were occupied with this evening.
So, we were expecting reduced numbers at The Folk and Blues Club. My journey to Chiddingly, which is usually slow with traffic, was completely clear. I counted only six cars, one lorry and a bus, and they were all travelling in the opposite direction anyway. If only the roads were so empty all the time ! And so it was, that yes, we had fewer numbers, but we ended up with seven players, two backing singers, and a poet.
As this is a Folk and Blues Club, and it's summertime, I decided to take advantage of this and I started the proceedings with 'Summertime Blues' by Eddie Cochran. My second song was one of my own - 'Open Fields', which is a protest against over-development of green space. " The sun comes up over the open fields - Day by day they take away the places - Where the children used to play. The sun goes down over the crowded town."
Simon Watt agreed to be in charge of the sound desk tonight. Thanks Simon. He also agreed to come on at second place, and he told us that he and Lesley have acquired a twelve week old puppy. A mix between a Spaniel and an Alsatian. That must be a Spanalsatianiel - or maybe an Alspanielsatian. Simon gave us a song about a dubious landlady 'Mrs Canatalees', followed by the sad but lovely 'This sweet old World', by Lucinda Williams.
Lisa Jackson always brings us something nice, and tonight she sang ' All I have to do is Dream' by Boudleaux Bryant, made famous by The Everley Brothers. Lisa has a lovely ability to take a well-known song such as this, and change it into something beautifully different, in her own style. Her next song was also in her own style, being one of her own compositions,' Just for a While'. ( I hope I got that title right).
Fourth on the list came George and Mary Georgiou, with George on guitar, and Mary singing in duet with him. They gave us John Prine's 'The speed of the sound of Loneliness', best known done by Nanci Griffith, and 'That's how I got to Memphis', followed by The Mavericks' ' Back in your arms again'. George and Mary stayed in place to accompany Helen, who I earlier described as a backing singer, ( along with Mary), - but Helen sang the lead on her two songs, 'Eight days a Week' by Lennon and McCartney, and 'Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper.
Manus McDaid has been telling us of his recent conversion to the work of James Taylor, and he has transformed some of these songs into his own masterful Jazz/Blues style. Tonight's pieces were 'Shower the People' and a very clever and complex instrumental version of Erroll Garner's 'Misty'.
Another masterful guitarist is ,of course, Terry Lees. Terry came to the floor to play the great tune 'Planxty Davis'. Terry can make one guitar sound like three playing. He once told us that someone had criticised him in the past for "playing tunes with too many notes". -- Well, -- I would say that you could never say that, and anyway, every single note is always perfect. This was followed by Woody Guthrie's 'Do Ray Mi'. - ( Nothing whatever to do with Julie Andrews) !
When Keith Willson arrived earlier, he told us that he had accidently sliced his little finger with secateurs while working in the garden. -- I say -Accidentally - Of course ! -- You wouldn't want to do that on purpose would you !
In view of this , Keith was not able to play guitar or piano tonight, so he gave us a couple of his 'Thought Provoking' poems from his anthology - 'Life, Love, and Landscape'. He read 'The Herring Run Cape Cod' , and later came back to give us 'Them and Us' followed by 'Dead and Alive'. Thanks Keith, my thoughts have been provoked!
Last on the line up was Mike , from Hove Actually. He began with one of his own songs about guitar heroes who have been and gone, lived and died, and then launched into Roger Hodgson's 'Give a Little Bit', by Supertramp.
There was still time to let those who wanted to do a third song -- to do a third song, so Simon came back on to tell us one of his 'Stories'. This was about the time when he had a contract to deliver plants to the Maidenhead Sewage Treatment Works. The main ingredient of the story was 'Stool Pigeons'. Then he gave us a fine version of 'Love is the Sweetest Thing'. -- Unlike the Sewage Works.
By this time, a few of the earlier people had to leave, so we were down to just six of us left, so we all moved in close to the front, to form an intimate and small group.
Lisa returned to play and sing 'Don't be Cruel' in a style that as she had done earlier, transformed the song into something quite different. Thanks Lisa.
Manus then Kindly finished the night for us with 'Every day I have the Blues'. And it was a nice way to end.
We could have gone on longer, but we decided to finish early, so we were done and all packed away by 11pm.
Manus himself will be hosting next time, with the Theme Night of 'The Great American Songbook'.
26th June 2018
It was a warm evening of variety, warm in weather and warm because there was a lot of support and encouragement in the room. I got the ball rolling with my own song ‘Wishes do Come True’. Luckily for me, as I hadn’t prepared a second solo, Jason arrived and we were able to give Cat Steven’s ‘Into White’ from the iconic Tea for the Tillerman album, its inaugural outing, successfully I think.
Another inaugural outing was made by Natasha’s cello, the first time I have seen a cello played at the Folk ‘n’ Blues Club. Natasha provided us with a beautiful ‘folk’ rendition of Sydney Carter’s protest song from the ‘60s, ‘The Crow on the Cradle’. Her cello playing gave it an ethereal quality that silenced the room. Take a look at Jackson Browne’s version with David Lindley on violin and also Show of Hands’ arrangement with Phil Beer’s adept violin playing. It is a song that can be interpreted in many ways. Natasha then showed us how finger picking those heavy cello strings works so well with a song such as ‘Matty Groves’, her second choice, a ‘Border ballad’ from up north pre-1635. (Should that be a ‘bawdy ballad’?!)
I watched our Sound Man Chris Martin’s D45 envy Fade and Disappear as his energies went into performing his own song of that title, while Clive took over the sound desk. Chris then asked the Martinettes Revisited (Heather and Lisa) to join him on his up-tempo Scrapheap Blues which had everyone tapping their toes. Chris does sterling work on our new all-singing-all-dancing sound desk and with mic stands donated by Manus, we really are fully wired for great sound.
Heather revealed her rather good French with her version of ‘Look what they’ve done with my song, Ma’. It was originally the B side to Melanie’s rather screechy release of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ in 1971. Lovely to be reminded of this song, Ma - and sweetly sung. Heather then performed her fresh out-of-the-oven self-penned ‘Old Friends’ which she described as being a modern song with a Scottish rhythm. I certainly wanted to do a jig!
It was Lance’s second visit and this time he sang his own songs. I’ve heard several original songs by Lance now and always enjoy the fact that he can write about so many subjects, serious and comic alike. His songs can make you laugh and make you think. ‘Meltdown’ was his first which had a poignant message, while ‘My Broken Heart’ touched a chord with a lot of us, I’m sure.
Simon with his warmly toned Martin started off with ‘Sin City’ by The Flying Burrito Brothers, after informing us that Simple Minds were once called Johnny and the Self Abusers. Don’t ask! Van Morrison’s ‘Tupelo Honey’ from his 1972 album of the same name, was Simon’s second song. Rather interestingly, Dusty recorded it in 1973. Simon’s rendition was compelling and sweet as honey.
Sylvie impresses me with her ability to pitch her unaccompanied songs. It’s a difficult thing to do, and even more difficult to keep the pitch throughout. Tonight, Sylvie put a poem called ‘Lord Neptune’ by renowned children’s author and poet Judith Nicholls, to her own tune, adding a chorus for us all to join in with.
Our jazz legend Manus has, I’m pleased to say, discovered James Taylor (better late than never Manus!). His interesting and inspiring guitar style recreated two very well-known songs: ‘Fire and Rain’ and ‘Mexico’. Manus has an inner groove and a command of that guitar neck that fascinates me. His arrangements hail from a jazz-influenced background yet incorporate many different techniques. Watch and learn folks!
A change of pace with John, who hasn’t performed at the club before, as he had us all singing rather exuberantly to the early Rolling Stones track and another B-side single, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and Bowie’s 1969 signature opus ‘Space Oddity’. It was rightly included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped…you guessed it…Rock and Roll. (Snappy title.) But is it rock and roll, or classic rock, or even pop? A discussion for next time perhaps...
We all fell silent for Clive’s renditions of ‘London River’ a song by Rod Sherman from Fairport’s Red and Gold album and the lovely 1967song ‘Painting Box’ from Scottish psychedelic folk group, The Incredible String Band. ‘’When I look inside my painting box, I seem to pick the colours of you.” Just lovely. Clive never seems to sing the same song twice. How does he do it!
Ella brought her bouzouki! She sang confidently with that fine toned instrument, proving to us that it can turn a convincing folk phrase with the 18th century ballad ‘Fare Thee Well My Own True Love’, as well as a country riff with ‘Down at the Twist and Shout’ by Mary Chapin Carpenter from her 1991 album Shooting Straight in the Dark. Ella sadly recently decided to leave the committee, but she returns to support the club and it is always such a pleasure to see her performances, whether it be on piano or with her bouzouki.
It was coming towards the end of a varied and entertaining evening of music. The atmosphere was fun and friendly, with laughter, banter, respectful support of all the performers and encouraging words, which combine to make for a special open mic night. Jason and I performed two duets to end with. Stephen Stills lyrically stunning ‘Helplessly Hoping’ from CSN’s 1969 debut album, and Dylan’s ‘Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You’ from his much lauded (also 1969) Nashville Skyline album. With Jason’s encouragement and support, I am learning the disciplines of timing, careful listening and creative arrangements. Oh, and how to play the guitar, as well as sing a song without looking at the words! We never stop learning. For all that, I thank you Mr L!
Duetting is a joy, but how else to finish than with a singalong from John. ‘The Air that I breathe’ had a shaky start, but once we got going, this Hollies classic created a rousing end to a great evening.
Music is always in the air that we breathe.
12th June 2018
The seventies produced some great songs some of which we attempted this evening with various degrees of success and no lack of enthusiasm. Lots of wistful, oh yeah, I remember that. For me it was one of those pivotal decades, marriage, a child, responsibility and Dire Straits (in my case financially - trying to make ends meet). I could see the same thoughts crossing the faces of others during the evening. This is what these nights are about.
I started things off with Albert Hammond’s “It never rains in southern California”, followed by Slow Hand’s “Wonderful Tonight” and later, Six blade knife by Dire Straits with Terry playing lead.
Clive decided to bracket the decade with 1970 “Wandering Star” he didn’t quite get the Lee Marvin growl but it came close. He followed this with Mike Batt’s 1979 “Bright Eyes” ever associated with rabbits. Clive also ran the desk for us and gave us some mellow sounds.
Manus took us to the seventies folk scene with James Taylor’s “Something in the way she moves” followed by John Rembourn’s version of “Sweet Potato” – a great choice.
Next up was Natasha with a charming version of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song”, I was always a John Denver fan so I particularly enjoyed that. It is time for a John Denver revival he wrote some great stuff. This was followed by Hal Ketchum’s “Past the point of rescue” from the 1990’s but we pretended not to notice.
Then it was time for a debut, it was the first time Lance visited the Six Bells and we hope it won’t be the last. He gave us Paul Simon’s “Slip sliding away” followed by “Knights in white satin” the Moody Blue (re-issue version). A couple of tricky songs to play and sing but he nailed them.
Sylvie was next with her own composition “In praise of Bobby Dylan” followed by her “Please, please will you do these little things”. Not enough songs about toilet training in my humble opinion.
Pat followed Sylvie and sang unaccompanied, Dusty Springfield’s “Goin’ back” followed by “Leaving on a jet plane”. We all remember these.
Enough guitars, time for Ella on the piano. Being a hippy chick at heart Ella was in her element, I did not catch the name of the first song but this was followed by “After the gold rush” and later, another Neil Young song “Hurricane”. Good stuff.
Jason was wearing a flower powered shirt, he sang us Bob Dylan’s “Only a hobo” followed by Cat Steven’s “Longer boats” and later (with Lisa) Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s talking”. Only the Cat Stevens song qualified 1970, the others were 60’s songs (but then who’s being picky – I would never point that out to him).
Time for Terry. He gave us the muscle memory version of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” followed by another Dire Straits song “Romeo & Juliet”. This is what happens when you practice.
Lisa, another Hippy Chick had dressed in her seventies gear (including flares – I loved wearing those, long overdue for a comeback in my opinion) accompanied by Jason they sang the Beatles classic “You’ve got to hide your love away” and then “Wild Horses” by the Stones.
Finally we had Keith who gave us his own song “Little Strategies” and then, because he had to play it in public, Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 in C major. A catchy title but totally inappropriate for a 70’s evening, not that I would be in any way critical; he did at least add a funky ending. Why didn’t old Amadeus think of that? Anyway, Keith got his “played in public” box ticked!
Thanks to everyone who came along, particularly those who went to the trouble of learning a 70’s song for the occasion. Next time it is sure to be a packed house as Lisa is running the evening. I am looking forward to it. See you next time.
29th May 2018
When Simon asked a few weeks ago if I was prepared to compere an odd evening at the Six Bells I assumed he wanted me to run a normal evening, occasionally. He could have meant odd in the sense of bizarre though. I’ll do my best.
Attendance was neither phenomenal nor embarrassing. Ten performers turned up, which gave everyone a couple of songs, then, when we’d been round once, a chance for a happy few to do a third. There was even a sprinkling of non-performers. Hurrah!
I opened with one of mine, Too Sad to Sing the Blues from the Calmer Waters Album, followed with a poem, The Double Bass Seeks Love, from my new pamphlet of musical poems Day Job Shoes, which is ripe for shameless self-promotion.
Andy lives in Brighton and had visited the club a few times before. From tonight’s performance he’s very welcome to come again. He played harmonica and guitar on two original songs. The first, The Sound of Snow Falling, was gentle and reflective, about being warm and safe inside when it’s snowing outside; the second original, The Ghost on Brooklyn Bridge, had an upbeat Latin tempo and realised its ghostliness by the use of minor chords.
Silvie is a regular visitor with her poems and unaccompanied songs. This time she performed two of her poems Monet’s Garden, thanking the artist for the pleasure he had given to so many visitors, with all those water lilies and The Razor Tree, concerning inept razor management by adolescent sons. A couple of Sundays ago, at the Green Man in Ringmer, there’d been a large number of French visitors, who she’d hoped would be impressed by the Monet verse, but they perhaps preferred Manet. For those of us who played there it was probably the biggest audience we’d seen in a long time.
Retournons a nos oignons. Frank Xerox was next up. His self-penned witty ditty Way Down in Havana was about an exotic dancer. Somewhat Dylanesque in its narrative style, this throbbing ballad told of many steamy sights, including fruit on the dancer’s head. One of his five a day? The second song, which used some more of Frank’s many “accents”, was The Devil Went Down, thankfully not also about an exotic dancer but a come-uppance ballad about the Devil wreaking punishments a la Goya on those who were responsible for the financial crash of 2008. Frank explained that it was all in revenge for the bankers having repossessed Hades.
The prolific singer songwriter and recordist Chris (CJ) Martin, who I don’t think has missed a Six Bells evening in living memory, then did two of his songs Run and I Can’t Make it Shine. The world is full of a number of things, and Chris writes about them, singing acoustic rock with recherché chord sequences. At risk of repeating what has been said before, this man is good – buy his CDs. He also works the sound desk, which is a service to humanity.
We’d got this far with all original material - a record? Then on to some original interpretations of covers. Manus gave us some of his tasteful jazz chords and licks in a rendition of Hendrix’s Little Wing followed by True Colours. Manus related this song to Grenfell Tower; he’d lived in a clad tower block and always felt that colours were being stuck on the outside with nobody listening to the colours within. He got a good funky groove going too. Not a note out of place. Since there was no phone signal at the Bells, the Googligentsia among you may wish to know that True Colours was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, although widely associated with Cyndi Lauper.
Heather is a balladeer with a great zest for life and has sung a couple of times at the Bells recently after a long rest from performance. In spite of suffering from what she called “Teacheritis” (a croaky voice caused by excessive educational effort) she gave us a Beatle’s cover The Long and Winding Road and then the Melanie version of Ruby Tuesday by the Stones. My croak-o-meter registered nothing during either of these.
Then, not realising the iconoclasticism involved, I called for a break. This is not traditional at the Bells and, ten minutes later, I found out why. Even Heather’s school teacherly authority did not help in speedily getting people out of their vibrant conversations and back to their seats. There was time during the break, though, for a group photo of that Kafkaesque body “The Committee”, which will no doubt appear on the website sometime.
Got going again with my song Requiem. Then we heard Simon Watt, again someone who has missed very few Bells evenings over the years. Simon is equally talented at performing covers (mainly country) and writing songs that express his own gentle humour. Tonight, the covers won. He told a tale of having seen “two old guys playing guitar” in a pub in Eastleigh and realising that, through their music, they were expressing friendship – just like us at the club. This, as in a Hollywood musical, led skilfully into a large orchestration of You’ve Got a Friend in Me (by Randy Newman) with Manus and Clive on tambourines, Andy on Harmonica and Frank on Guitar. A good country groove for the second number Bring it to Me by Sam Cooke.
Clive is encoded into the DNA of the club, ever present with his own compositions, his covers, his compering and his work on the sound desk. He did one of his own songs Blue Above the Grey emphasising positivity above negativity, then a Dylan song Tomorrow is a Long Time, which provoked a singalong.
Jason, who runs the Sunday Folk Club at the Elephant and Castle, Lewes, on the second Sunday of each month (please go, everyone), used his mellifluous voice to great effect in Thank You by “The Mighty Led Zepp”. There’s something of Elvis Costello in that tenor voice, with a nice deep resonance too. Lisa joined him with vocals and some good licks on his second song Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You from Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album.
Lisa then did an incredibly original version of Elvis’s Don’t be Cruel, releasing it from its oomba-oomba rock and roll prison and turning it into a folk ballad. Then Jason joined her on So Begins the Task (S Stills) with some lovely harmonies.
And so, at around twenty to eleven ended the cycle of performers and the start of a quickfire second round – one song each and see how far we get. Andy went into open tuning to do Come Dance with Me, a song of the army and love in Northern Ireland, with some beautiful harmonies on the guitar. Silvie stood aside to let Frank perform both kinds of music (country and western) and we all joined in. Finally, Chris Martin did his legendary 12-bar hit Toast for One with Lisa, Heather and Jason as the backing vocals trio, Frank on lead guitar and Andy on harmonica.
Then there were the parish notices and the speeches of thanks and Simon reminded us to reconvene for the 70s evening in two weeks. As this was my debut, I was too overcome by what I’d undergone to remember to thank Chris and Clive on sound, so thanks to Chris and Clive, on sound. And thanks for lugging all those mysterious black cabinets about.
14th May 2018
It was my pleasure to host another evening of music at the Six Bells and I was thrilled with the number of people who turned up. As before my job as host was made all the easier by my friends who set up the PA and prepared the running order. All I had to do was stand behind the mic and be the anchor man!
And so I started off the evening with my own gentle ballad 'Simple Smiling Face' following it with 'Handbags & Gladrags' (Michael D'Abo). As I mentioned, the other Rod Stewart classic that I considered covering was 'Do you think I'm sexy?' but I need more courage to don those leopard skin patterned tights for your delectation. Maybe next time!
One of the advantages of starting the evening is that I don't have to follow such guitar masters as Terry Lees, who played dazzling versions of 'Vincent Black Lightning' (Richard Thompson) and Scottish bag-pipe tune 'Eilean Donan'. I sat right in front of Terry and was just in awe of how he played his Martin guitar.
And then another of my favourite guitarists on the scene, Manus McDaid, took the stage and treated us to his unique jazz stylings as he performed wonderful versions of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' (music by Charles Mingus with the later added lyrics by the divine Joni Mitchell) and 'Georgia on my Mind' (Stuart Gorrell / Hoagy Carmichael) on which he played many beautiful chords. My relatively pedestrian guitar version of 'Georgia . . ' would be heard later in the evening, as I accompanied my dear friend Lisa who sang beautifully as always.
George & Mary performed a lovingly gentle version of The Doors classic 'Light My Fire', with a nice hint of Jose Feliciano's version, following with an engaging ''Storms never lost' (Miranda Lambert).
For rousing and gutsy classic blues our next performer always delivers and Penny was thrilling as she stormed through 'Trouble in Mind' (Richard M. Jones) and 'This Train' (the traditional US gospel song, originally made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, after the song was discovered by folklorists John and Alan Lomax). Penny was brilliantly accompanied by Terry Lees on guitar and Keith Willson on piano. And yes, the piano may have a few out of tune keys, but that added to its bar-room credibility, and Keith played it for real.
Glyn then played a deeply moving couple of songs, 'How times slips away' (Willie Nelson) and the chilling 'Hurt' (Trent Reznor), which, of course, we all remember as covered by the great Johnny Cash. Glyn just understands and loves this music so deeply and it was quite emotional watching him sing and play at such close distance.
Paula's performances I have always enjoyed, having seen her play at several open mic nights in recent months, and tonight was no exception as she treated us to her lovely song 'Jug of red wine' and an engaging Elizabethan guitar instrumental. I hope to hear more of Paula's music in the future.
Now if an award for most sartorially controversial T-shirt is to be made then hands-down winner has to be Simon Watt sporting his Kim Jong-un emblazoned piece of apparel. Well, we need to move on from Che Guevara, don't we? Anyway, the music! Simon played gentle versions of 'Sometimes we cry' (Van Morrison) and 'Firestorm' (Danny Schimdt).
As well as doing a fabulous job on the sound desk Chris Martin also treated us to two of his own songs. Chris is probably one of the most prolific song-writers on the scene and tonight he performed 'I want to learn' and 'Hanging on', which he is currently recording for his new album, which I look forward to hearing.
Bob Aldridge is a beautifully gentle performer and he engaged us yet again with the classic 'Sweet Baby James' (James Taylor), effortlessly inspiring us all to sing along. His equally subtle version of 'Your Song' (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) calmly followed.
It is always pleasure to have a new performer join our scene and Heather Curry is a lovely lady and most charming singer and guitarist and she opened with 'Little Green' (Joni Mitchell) from the classic 'Blue' album. Heather is wonderful to have on our scene and I was also glad to have her play at my "Open Space" music evening in Lewes last Sunday. She followed with her mirthfully cutting song 'Show me yours' and we all hope she will regularly return to play at the Six Bells.
It was a lovely evening particularly as we enjoyed a variety of female performers and Anita Jardine is another rousing performer who always makes one smile and tonight she beguiled us with 'Wicked Game' (Chris Isaac) and her own socially aware song 'Little Bit Gypsy'. Aren't we all? Absolutely. And we must thank Terry Lees, who once again provided brilliant improvised accompaniment to Anita.
I was lucky to be able to perform a couple of songs with my dear friend Lisa, with whom I have been building up a duo act with in recent months. Lisa is the loveliest singer and guitarist and it was beautiful to go back to our original favourite song 'Georgia on my Mind' (Stuart Gorrell / Hoagy Carmichael). Some songs just define one's life and help us through and this is just one of those. The road leads back to you, indeed. Lisa played some lovely guitar as well as delivering the prettiest vocal of the evening. Another song we are really finding expression in is 'Wonderful World' (Sam Cooke / Lou Adler / Herb Alpert), which is so simple, but resonates so much.
Yet another of my favourite guitarists and musicians on the scene, Keith Willson, got up next to play his bittersweet 'Too sad to sing the blues', picking out his own rootsy melange on that most handsome guitar of his. I do enjoy the dynamic of poetry interspersed with music at these evening so it was so welcome to hear Keith read his poem 'The Organist' from a published book of his verse.
Our dear friend Clive got up next to play his topical song 'Marry Harry', featuring his new lyric to The Beautiful South's evergreen classic pop hit. He then treated us to 'Lilac Wine' (James Shelton) to ease us towards the end of the night.
Sylvie then got up to lead us all into a singalong 'Sing me a song, Mr Blue'.
And so we finished with John Pontefract, who played 'The old, old house' (George Jones) and 'How can a poor man stand such times and live' (Woody Guthrie), with a nod to the great Ry Cooder.
Such a full evening. I was very touched by everyone's support.
Let's do it again and fill that room with love.
Until then, you all take care, my friends.
Once a year they let me run a ‘sing us a song of your own’ night and this was the fourth edition. I also get to pick 3-videos from You Tube to go with my report.
I bang on about song writing and wonder why everyone doesn’t do it - for me, it’s so much better than recycling the same old songs (even if they’re great). Open mic person puts their heart on the line singing ‘Summertime’, well, I’d still pick the Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong version, or the Janis Joplin interpretation. But, when open mic person performs their own song, they don’t have to compete with Ella, or Janis and it’s real and tells us something about them.
Song writing: You have the melody, musical arrangement and the lyric. I could write a hundred blogs on lyric writing, but will spare you that for another day! But, one thing I’d say is, ‘what do you want to say’ and always use a ‘cliché alert check’ when editing your own lyric - be tough.
I’m currently working on my 99th song and am excited about reaching the big ton. I don’t wish to repeat myself musically, or lyrically, so it’s a challenge to find new ideas. I’m happy with my new material and the more I do it, the more I enjoy the search for the next song.
We have our influences and people we admire and the music that we grew up with. I don’t sound like any of my music heroes and have often wondered where my songs and my sound come from - the 3 YT videos give a clue. As a youngster I studied classical guitar, which was a lot of J S Bach arpeggio type stuff. My picking style has evolved over the years, but I still lean on this basic technique and love my arpeggios, and I rely on my fingernails to give me my sound. I’ve had a lot of chats with other bearded (and some clean shaven) old chaps about nails, quite a few have brilliant white false nails on their picking hand. I stick with my own, but they do break and sods law dictates, just before you need them for something important.
My second video is that Boston song, which I find quite annoying these days, but the opening D thing clearly influenced me, as I still use variations of it today. The David Gates number: back in the 70’s I had (I’ve still got it) a book of Bread songs and I just loved those songs. So, it’s Bach, Boston, Bread and the rest is just me.
Ok, that’s enough about me and my songs - sorry, having done a lot of blogs, I just wanted to do something different this time which relates to the subject of the evening.
We had a fab night with 16 performers, most of all whom did their own stuff. We also had some listeners which really helps fill the room and lift the evenings. Here’s a song list with brief notes.
I opened with ‘Insomniac’s Dream’ & ‘On paper wings’ - both feature on my album, ‘The Last Song’.
Paula: ‘Lifeline’ & ‘Empty chair’ - two of her own songs that have real meaning to her.
Glyn: ’Magnolia wind’ & ‘All she wants’ - both by Guy Clarke. Glyn borrows his songs from great dead songwriters.
George and Mary: ‘Misty morning blue’ & ‘The day I struck gold’ - George said he’d only written about eight songs and played one which he’d composed about 25 years ago. And to finish, a song written by our good friend, Chris Liddiard.
Natasha: ‘This living nightmare’ & ‘Bees wing’ (by Richard Thompson) - the opening number was written 30-years ago by Natasha and this was its world premiere - a fascinating insight into the young writer’s life at the time and a great example of why you should write your own songs.
Manus: ‘Under a glass ceiling’ & ‘Red blues’ - about a cult of desire and a red car.
Jane: ‘Homesick blues’ (a poem by Langston Hughes with music by Jane) & ‘Hysterectomy blues’ - now what can I say about that!
Silvie: started with a mic but then put it on the bar - one day I’ll get her to use the PA. Two a cappella numbers about Mary Queen of Scots and other stuff from circa 1542.
Simon: ‘Bernard the fireman’ & ‘The furniture song’ & ‘Summertime’ - classic Simon songs with subtle humour and then he demanded a third song - well, what can I say (see above)!
Heather: ‘Double Entendre’ & ‘Weald and Sea’ - first song with guitar and second a cappella. It was Heather’s first outing at the Bells for 25-years (see photo).
Clive: ‘All the love will remain’ & ‘Padstow’ - a sad, but pretty song of his own and a cover for May Day of a Steeleye Span song.
Keith: ‘Dusty’ (a song about his old typewriter) and a poem, ‘The double bass seeks love’.
Kevin: ‘Winter long’ & ‘Contradictions’ - I loved the first song. I’m currently recording my next album in Kevin’s studio (see photo below).
Lisa: ‘May the wind be forever in your sales’ (wins the award for longest song title of the evening) & ‘Bluebell knoll’.
Jason: ‘Sunday afternoon’ & ‘Strange sailings’ - Great stuff from Lisa & Jason, both playing their own songs.
And that was it - kick off 8:45 - final whistle 11:15 - thanks to Simon for setting up the PA, Clive for doing the sound - PA packed away, a bit of a natter and out the door at 11:45.
Next up it’s Tuesday 15/05/18 and your MC will be Jason Loughran
C J Martin x www.cjmartin.info
Although Simon was due to run this evening at the Six Bells folk and blues, he is hiding away somewhere downing antibiotics. He has made his video selection, but all other duties were shared between Chris on sound, Clive on introductions and me, Ella taking notes for this blog.
It was a later start at about 8.45 and we got underway with a modest list of nine, but as often happens with a smaller gathering, it turned into a very varied and enjoyable evening, of course. Clive opened the evening with the upbeat ‘Meet me on the Corner’ (Mr Dream Seller) from Lindisfarne’s second album Fog on the Tyne. He followed with ‘Terminus’ from Ralph McTell’s second album Spiral Staircase. What’s with the second album thing Clive?
Pat followed Clive with two beautiful clear a cappella songs: ‘Edwin’ (Edwin of the Lowlands Low) as performed by Steeleye Span, as well as others. Her second song ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ taken from the George and Ira Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.
More clear singing from Natasha came next. With some accomplished guitar accompaniment she sang ‘The Creggan White Hare’, a delightful song about the white hare escaping from the huntsmen and their hounds. I could have cheered for the hare. She went on to sing the traditional ‘The Tides are Flowing’…. ‘one morning in the month of May….’
Chris the Sound took the stage next, telling us that this had been a sad and gloomy year, which prepared us for his two songs ‘Wreckage’ .. ‘we’re out doing nothing and it takes up all our time ..and ‘Routine’. It’s all in the title. The year is still young, so here’s hoping the mood will improve.
I followed at the piano, with an attempt at Joni Mitchells’ beautiful early (1969) song ‘He Played Real Good For Free’ and my version of Lady or Lord Franklin. There are many versions of the song, which developed over the many years until Franklin was considered lost. Lady Franklin did sponsor her own search for her husband. I love the old piano, but playing it is always a bittersweet experience. Whether I complete a song successfully or less so, the dear old thing responds gallantly but is woefully out of tune. A selection or sequence of notes relatively in tune is divinely satisfying.
Frank followed me with Dylan’s ‘One of Us Must Know’ (Sooner or Later) which reminded him of his first girlfriend and the classical edifice that is Birmingham Town Hall. His second song was ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, Procul Harem’s debut song which was released on 12th May 1967, went to number one on 8th June and stayed there for six weeks. No wonder a whole generation remembers it so well.
Just as on the last Bells evening, a band turned up unexpectedly. John, Brian and Megan travel under the name ‘Grasslands’. Brian and Megan are also a duo as ‘Red, Green and Blue’. Slightly confusing. ‘Twenty Years’ was their first song;.. ‘there’s a note under your front door that I wrote twenty years ago’ from a favourite band The Civil Wars, who have seriously broken up. Perhaps there’s a clue in the name they chose. On a lighter note, they sang John Martin’s ‘I’m Coming Home’. They produced some well-rounded sound and harmonies with guitars and mandolin. Having travelled all the way from Lamberhurst, they were invited to sing a third song: ‘Forget-Me-Not’.
Jason and Lisa ran their four songs together, starting with Jason’s own song ‘A Little Soul’ with characteristic fingerstyle accompaniment. Lisa joined him, for one night only as ‘Captain Bracegirdle’ from Noel Coward’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ (apparently) and together they sang some very lovely harmonies on Stephen Still’s ‘So the Task Begins’ (I must learn to live without you now) from his 1972 album Manassas. They performed Tom Waitt’s ‘Heart of Saturday Night’ with Lisa adding some sparkling guitar along with her vocal harmonies. She went on to sing Jimmy Cliff’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ solo (it’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day). Very Nice.
With plenty of time to go, Pat sang to us again, this time a Don McLean song ‘The Sea Man’ where ‘.. the fish that were left, were too poisoned to eat’. Natasha followed with Flora ‘Lily of the West’, a traditional Irish song that has become a traditional American song. ‘Enchanting’ said Clive.
I struggled to decipher the name of Chris’s third song ‘Ghosts’ in my notes, but there it was, with Lisa adding some pretty harmonies. (Just one third of the Martinets as Chris reminded us). I followed with Neil Young’s ‘Hurricane’ on the dear old piano. Jason sang the second Dylan song of the night: ‘Only a Hobo’ from his very early Gaslight album of 1962. Frank took to the piano to sing Hank Williams’: ‘Lost Highway’: I’m a rolling stone on the lost highway, just another guy on the lost highway.
‘Grasslands’ rounded off the evening with two folk songs. The first ‘Take Me Out Drinking Tonight’ as sung by Michael Marra, and the second, a popular English folk song by some different rolling stones: ‘I can’t Get No Satisfaction’.
According to Chris’s accounts there were 27 songs and 11 performers bringing music to the hallowed halls of the Six Bells this evening. I hope that Grasslands make the journey from Kent to see us again and that Simon will be germ-free to join us at Chris Martin’s Singer/Songwriter night on first of May.
See you soon, Ella
Six Bells Blog: 3 April 2018
The evenings have become lighter and the long winter is finally shuffling off, at last. Plenty of musicians had gathered, but as sometimes happens, not many non-performers at the beginning. However, it would be fair to say that initial impressions can be very misleading. We went on to have a very varied and action-packed evening.
St Patrick’s Day has been and gone. Because I missed that episode at the Six Bells, I started the evening with a traditional Irish song: P stands for Paddy, followed by Joni Mitchell’s: 'I think I understand', from her early album ‘Clouds’, accompanying myself on bouzouki.
George and Mary stepped forward to follow with Red River Valley and a second song that I failed to make a note of (sorry), but both were performed with characteristic confidence and lovely harmonies. Annie from Ashurst took the stage after them and performed beautifully a cappella, the traditional ‘Let no Man Steal Your Thyme’. Carey Mulligan sang this in the 2015 film ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. As a traditional British/Irish song, there are several variations. Pentangle popularised the song in 1968. Taking up her guitar she then sang ‘Dimming of the Day’, written by Richard Thompson (of Fairport Convention fame).
Manus sang an Elvis B-side ‘Little Sister’, a rock and roll song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman recorded by Elvis in 1961. Manus said he had heard this performed in country style, that would probably be Dwight Yoakam, and by Ry Cooder, with a collection of musicians and backing singers without the rock’n’roll edge, but this evening’s performance was more modest. He followed this with a Keith Willson song ‘The Worst Thing’ and Keith had arrived by this time to appreciate the performance of his work.
Stepping out from behind the sound desk, Chris Martin performed two of his own compositions. The first was ‘Journey’ and the second was ‘Another Journey’. The names were rather misleading. The two songs were distinctly different and spoke of different things. Whilst ‘Another Journey’ appeared more upbeat, the warning was that ‘the crash is coming’.
Paula climbed onto the stool and sang us her song ‘The Empty Chair’, waiting for someone to arrive and ‘my coffee doesn’t taste the same without you’. Her music flew away and Clive rushed forward to remedy the situation with a peg. Continuing in gentle guitar fingerstyle, she then sang the 1973 classic by Roberta Flack ‘Killing Me Softly’.
Glyn followed Paula with quiet confidence, singing his version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ from his 1984 album Various Positions. His second song by David Gates, was ‘Guitar Man’ from the 1972 album of the same name by Bread.
Simon gave us an Eliza Gilkyson song ‘Calm Before the Storm’ ….. ‘easy does it darlin’, let the good times roll’. A guy called Simon Watt is on Youtube singing this very song at the Six Bells about eleven months ago. His second song ‘Company of Friends’ by Danny Schmidt, Simon likes for his different approach and sentiments.
After a good deal of banter and some furniture moving, the Golgis: Ade, Tony, Nigel and Wolf, took the stage. They had travelled all the way from Worthing, across the border in West Sussex. This four man band had apparently last performed at the Six Bells fifteen years ago. Much to the delight of those gathered, Rupert Cobb was also joining them in their performance. We were promised a lot of volume and their first song was accompanied by a six string and twelve string guitar, snare drum and djembe. Whilst apologising for the noise they were about to make, there was total resistance to turning down the volume. I don’t think I got the name of the first song, but I did get the name of the second ‘Wayne’ twice instead. Sorry. This song included the playing of a very large recorder, a teapot and some impressive hat-juggling. Then a spiralling plastic funnel on the end of some plastic tube trumpeting in circles over our heads and a very long sustained note that had us holding our breath. To say this performance was unusual would be an understatement.
Their third song was a sing-along ditty about the ‘Hagfish’, an extraordinary and exceptionally revolting eel-like fish that creates huge amounts of defensive slime. I daresay some could equate this behaviour with that of various politicians. Over to those of you who write political songs. The actual fish is very unusual in that it has a bony skull with many alien-style teeth, but no backbone. It’s been operating successfully for 300 million years apparently. The song required the audience to respond to ‘It’s the hagfish’ with the reply of ‘What’s he like?’ It featured the ukulele and some virtuosity from Rupert. We were promised some even more piercing noise on the last song ‘Doc’s Tash’. It was very loud and like the other songs included powerful percussion. This one included the modest, wandering tambourine, more exquisite trumpet from Rupert and the totally irreverent bagpipes assaulting everyone’s ears. The bagpipes left the room, they returned to the room and ended on a traditional Scottish note.
Our senses were suitably stunned whilst being totally engaged. As they left at the end of the evening I wondered how they might describe their musical style. I was thinking musical theatre, circus, or something particularly colourful. Apparently they are ‘alternative folk’, maybe very alternative. Musical pantomime? ‘It’s the hagfish’…’What’s he like?’
Clive did immensely well to re-engage the audience following this delightful assault on the senses, making a joke about fish dinner then invoking Sunshine. Very appropriate for the obvious and very welcome change in the season. Clive has an apparent library of songs about the seasons. He produced another strong Cornish mining song ‘Cousin Jack’… ‘follow me down cousin Jack’.
Keith Willson brought the evening to a conclusion with his ‘Blue Passport Blues’ making observations about the political whys and wherefores of colour choices and his final song was ‘Climbing up a Rusty Ladder’ with the advice ‘don’t look down’. And so ended an unusually mixed and varied programme of artists and material.
Simon will be hosting the evening on the 17th. See you then, Ella
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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