September 19th. 2017
For some of us who are members of the team who help to run the club, the evening began earlier than usual, with us sitting round a table in the bar ( with a beer ), having 'A Meeting' to plan the events timetable for 2018. Yes !! We are so very well organised, that we actually plan for the following year in advance! -- What's that I hear you say? -- You wouldn't have thought so ?? How dare you ! Simon is the brains behind all the forward planning and the website, and in fact I would go as far as saying -- Simon is the brains. (Full stop).
Tonight was one of our famous 'Theme Nights'. We feel that it's a nice idea to have the occasional one, and they are meant to encourage players to venture out of their comfort zone and try something that they might not otherwise do. Sometimes they work well.
The chosen theme this time was 'Songs from Films'. Well, -- whose silly idea was this one ? -- Ahh - it was mine, wasn't it! I thought it would be a very good subject for a theme. There have been countless good films over the years with great soundtracks, and a wealth of songs to choose from. So we began.
As host for the evening, I started up with a change of plan to what I had intended to sing. It would have been something from the film 'Easy Rider', but I found out earlier that there would be a couple of other numbers from the same film, so I chose instead, 'The Rose', from the film of the same name. Starring Bette Middler, the story is (loosely) based on the life of Janis Joplin.
It's difficult to choose a 'Favourite' film. Can you have lots of favourites? - I have lots. My second offering was from the soundtrack of 'Local Hero'- the story of big industry being stopped from developing in the west of Scotland.
Music for the film was composed by Mark Knopfler, and I did his song which Gerry Rafferty sang, 'The way it always starts'.
No one ever really wants to be second, but tonight, Simon actually volunteered to be. He told us he needed to get away early because he was suffering with a 'Man Cold'. Not as serious as 'Man Flu', but still needing sympathy. He is obviously a fan of children's films, as he gave us 'You've got a friend in me', from 'Toy Story'. In contrast to that, from the tough film 'Cool Hand Luke', we had ' Plastic Jesus'. Even with his blocked sinuses,and his nasal tones, his voice sounded just as good as ever.
Ruth, who has played at the club in the past, came on at number three, and said that usually she played keyboards, but is now on guitar as well. (not at the same time). She sang the sad 'Sweet Old World' by Lucinda Williams, followed by 'Boulder to Birmingham'. -- That is, Boulder Colorado, and Birmingham Alabama, - not our Birmingham.
Next up was our chief sound desk expert Chris, surrendering to the theme night, and playing a couple of covers of someone else's compositions. 'Born to be Wild' by Steppenwolf from' Easy Rider', and then 'The Young Ones'. I'm pretty sure that Chris was not a fan of the film starring Cliff Richard, but more of a fan of the other 'Young Ones' -- Ric Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. Chris played both these numbers with his red hot guitar with distortion effects and tremolo. He tells me the make of guitar is 'Shadow', made in West Germany, and he's had it for 30 years.
Manus always gives us something to concentrate on listening to, with his excellent jazz guitar work. This time he gave us a medley of three songs from films of the same name. --Eponymous!
'On a Clear Day', Days of Wine and Roses', and 'Autumn Leaves'. Then we heard a great instrumental number, which I've forgotten the name of. -Sorry!
Ella had said that she would not have time to stay, but actually she did stay for the whole evening,even though she didn't play tonight, and she waited patiently to help pack up at the end.
Mike was next up, and he told us of this song which has been featured in a number of films, some dating back to the 1940s (and earlier)? I don't remember that far back !! -- But I do recall it being in the film 'Oh What a Lovely War', and 'Me and my Girl' The song ? - - ' When You wore a Tulip and I wore a red Rose'. Mike's second number was 'Que Sera Sera' from the film 'The Man who Knew Too Much' starring Doris Day and James Stewart.
We were visited tonight by Frank Xerox who took to the floor and gave us his take on a couple of songs. First, was the 'other' one from 'Easy Rider' - 'The Weight', followed by Bob Dylan's 'Just like a Woman', with a nice harmonica finish. -- Ah, but was that ever featured in a film ??
Roy Champion, who had been waiting patiently through all of the evening, kindly took to the piano to give us a dose of culture, with a piece by Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856). It's not just modern musicians who die too young.
And that rounded off the night nicely. We could have had a bit of time to fit in a quick second song each, but we decided just for once to finish at a more sensible time.
Thanks to everyone as usual, and see you next time we hope.
Personally I am quite partial to a good shag and so with this in mind check out the first of my YouTube videos (here), of course I don’t have the energy to participate in that sort of activity these days. No, I find playing at the Folk Club far more relaxing and so it was this Tuesday.
I started the evening off with a Lucinda Williams song, Sweet Old World (this was a song that featured of my YouTube selection last time). This was followed by a little Dylan and Knopfler and the evening was launched. We had ten players by 8:30 so I decided that we would go for three songs each and this is what we did – it filled up the evening nicely.
Chris Martin followed me in the second slot, always difficult as the audience has yet to warm up. His songs were Life Ain’t Easy, Life’s a Race and Your Gone, all self penned. I have to list all of Chris’s songs or I get pestered by emails until I do (he will probably pester me anyway until I put links to them now).
Manus then played us two instrumentals and a complicated cover of the old Irish ballad Blackwaterside. The Irish Ballad was also a feature of Ella’s set, so it was. I particularly liked As I Roved Out. The use of the bouzouki fits in very well with these tunes and is a favourite of Irish band.
James Morris is an old friend of the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club, he has hosted many of our sessions in the past so it was a treat to see him back. James is a singer songwriter and he gave us three of his songs Give Me all your Love (I’ll give you all of mine), Mandolin Strings and Sleep in the Morning.
Terry Lees is another old friend and it is always a pleasure to listen to him. Even Terry could not resist an Irish tune with Planxty Irvine, I asked for a request, it was a long time since I had heard Terry play Joshua Gone Jamaica, in my view Terry’s version of this song is about the best you will hear. Fortunately he could remember the words. Bravo!
Another very talented singer songwriter is Keith Willson his songs are witty and well crafted. I particularly liked The Acorn a deep and allegorical song that you need to think about. His other more light hearted offerings were Lives you could have tried and Jesus Just Grew Up.
Keith and Terry teamed up with Penny and they gave us a jazzy, up tempo set that included Stormy Monday, Walking Blues and Bring it on Home to Me. Great toe tapping stuff.
Calling any impresario’s out there – Sylvie has written a musical and needs some cash to launch it into production. She got short shrift from Andrew Lloyd Webber but as this work involved ten years work she is determined to see it performed. If any of you reading this blog have an empty West End Theatre here is your chance. Sylvie’s song was The Tunes That Set Us Dancing, also self penned.
Clive Woodman then brought the evening to a close with Something for You, Truly Wonderful and Fields of Gold.
In my opinion this was a nice evening, we had a quiet listening audience and some truly wonderful (to borrow Clive’s song title) performances. Next time we are aiming for a film song night and to inspire you see the second of my YouTube videos starring Claire and her Dad – Sweet!
It was one of those quiet evenings, with musicians and performers scattered throughout the pub, but I did eventually begin the session. I had brought my keyboard. Having been unable to join in for the 60s evening last time, I thought I would contribute the two pieces I had intended to play then. I seem to remember electric pianos and organs being a distinct sound in the sixties, so I began the evening with a song from either end of the decade and made my belated contribution to the 60s vibe. The first, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ (1969) and my version of Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I say’ from 1959 both featuring electric piano.
By way of tidying up the loose ends I have brought forward from 60s night, I have done some research. The Hammond organ, an electric organ, cheaper than wind driven pipe organs was invented in 1935, to be used in churches. It became popular with jazz musicians. Jazz club owners began to use Hammond Organ Trios rather than employ Big Bands. Its popularity was accelerated into the realms of rhythm and blues, rock and reggae moving into the 60s and 70s, largely due to Jimmy Smith. He used a Hammond B-3 and released a series of successful instrumental recordings which inspired a generation and created a link between 1960s soul and jazz improvisation. The electric organ became a common feature of much 60s music.
Electric pianos were invented in the 1920s and Duke Ellington and Sun Ra recording in the mid 1950s, led the way to its growing popularity. The electric piano became part of electric-amplified music as it developed. Ray Charles song ‘What’d I say’ played an important part in promoting the popularity of the instrument. I was unaware of the history of this song, but listening to it just said ’1960s’.
The other 60s song: Woodstock, was written ten years later. It’s a very distinctive song and sums up the Woodstock festival phenomenon. Joni Mitchell wasn’t there. She was told by a manager that it would be more advantageous to appear on the Dick Cavett Show. Her then boyfriend Graham Nash told her all about the festival and she wrote the song in a hotel room in New York City watching televised reports. She said: ‘The deprivation of not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock’. David Crosby later said that Joni had captured the feeling and importance of the Woodstock Festival better than anyone who had been there.
And so we leave the 60s behind us and return in the Six Bells Tardis to a July evening in 2017.
Lloyd and Liz took the second spot of the evening and sang a version of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Scarborough Fair’. It was a first outing of this song for them and it had some very nice harmonies going on. Liz was being somewhat intimidated by the microphone, and was going to return later in the evening for another song, but in the event, decided to leave it for another time.
Simon followed with a Grateful Dead song: ‘The Monkey and the Engineer’ repeating the verses to compensate for the absence of a Jerry Garcia guitar solo. We were on a warning that he might run out of air because the song is continuous and persistent, chugging along like a train. His next song was a Kate Wolf country song and very wistful it was: ‘Nobody lives here anymore’, complete with cracked window panes and grass growing high around the cabin floor.
Our next performers gave us a poetic interlude. Peter gave us a poem about his dislike of opticians, followed by a poem about teeth which ventured into lurid dental detail: ‘My child do look after your choppers’.
Sylvie followed Peter with a poem about her Cleaning Lady, the Sugar Plum Fairy: ‘you cannot tell my cleaning lady has been …….. she was a ballerina and skips lightly on her feet’. She completed her spot with more health and personal hygiene, continuing, it would seem, from Peter with a poem about a Razor Tree, looking like daffodils in a jar.
Mike Aldridge had missed 60s night, but apparently had a sick note. He sang songs older than the sixties: ‘Midnight Special’ a Huddie William Ledbetter (better known as Leadbelly) song, with his distinctive blues fingerstyle. There have been many interpretations of this song, (including an instrumental I found on YouTube by Jimmy Smith on the famous Hammond B-3). Then he gave us a Prince Buster song from the 40s: ‘Enjoy Yourself’ (it’s later than you think) which reassures us we’ll find something funny when we read our epitaph. It’s good to see him back on form. Mike sings amusing songs, and is running the next Six Bells evening: Comedy Songs.
Clive took the stage and sang ‘Summer in the City’, a hit record by the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1966: ‘In the summer, in the city ….. cool Cat looking for a Kitty‘. Hang on ……. Clive’s in the 60s. The next song was from the Incredible String Band’s ‘The 5,000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion’ which came out in 1967: ‘Painting Box’. Having completed a song about every colour in his painting box, Clive saw red, and had an uncharacteristic outburst in the direction of part of the audience which had been chattering fairly consistently throughout the evening.
I had asked certain people to be more respectful towards the performers and keep the chatter down, when I opened the evening. It’s incredibly distracting when you’re singing a quiet or folky song accompanied by a single instrument, to have a lot of background chat going on. So as Clive left the room briefly, I reinforced his sentiments more diplomatically and drew our attention back to the music, and Chris Martin came to the mic with his usual casual composure, and sang one of his songs from 1991: ‘It ain’t Easy, I know’, a song from his rock band days. Apparently, Jim Steinman, who composed and produced for Meatloaf had said that any composer worth his salt, should write a song about having sex in a car and crashing. Chris had both themes in his next song: ‘Little Red Car’. Another song written for the rock-band era. Chris was waving a cassette tape to remind us what they look like (I think).
Nikki and Mick aka The Alleycats, joined us from the other bar and Nikki sang two very strong rock covers to Mick’s guitar accompaniment: ‘Creep’ by Radiohead and ‘Zombie’ by the Cranberries. Listening to Nikki’s voice as she slipped in subtle interval shifts, I’m not sure whether that’s vocal inflection or not, but it’s the kind of vocal style which came to prominence with the advent of Florence (Welch) and the Machine.
Manus followed the Alleycats with some of his fluent jazz/blues guitar style, singing ‘Georgia on my Mind’ a Willie Nelson song. His second song was the title track from blues/soul singer Robert Cray’s 1983 album ‘Bad Influence’ and it rolled along very nicely indeed.
Jim Daniels, a newcomer, was due to get up to play some boogie-woogie on the piano next, but he asked Manus to give him some blues in A and proceeded to play harmonica. They improvised some very nice blues and it took a while to find a good moment to end the piece. Jim then played sat at the piano and started on ‘Saturday Night and I just got paid’, stopped abruptly, then went on to play some lovely boogie-woogie in the style of Cripple Clarence Lofton.
Everyone on the list had taken their turn. Liz decided not to sing again tonight and Simon gave us his version of Woodstock. By this time the place had become pretty quiet, as it usually does by the end of the session. Chris gave us his song ‘Guardian Angel’ from 1989 and Manus went on to play a Duke Ellington piece on guitar, without the big band, and brought the evening to a close with a tribute to Chuck Berry, who left this mortal realm in March this year.
An evening of interesting content, contrasts and spontaneity. Thank you everyone for turning up, to Simon for setting up, Chris Martin on the sound desk, Clive for assisting where assistance was needed and everyone for tidying it all up at the end. We were still talking about the sixties until we finally left.
Come and join us for Mike Aldridge’s Comedy theme evening on the 8th of August.
See you soon J Ella
11th July 2017
This was a 1960’s theme night and except for Sylvie (who gave us a song from the 1760’s) all of the songs played were from that era. It was one of those relaxed inclusive evenings with a listening audience with some good humoured banter between audience and performers. While we were getting ready to start, Roy who likes to play the piano surreptitiously tinkled away with Le Roy Andersons “Forgotten Dreams” – but we were not supposed to notice that.
I started things off with the Monkey’s hit “D W Washburn” which most people had forgotten about so I have used that as the first of my video picks – see the homepage. I followed this with Van the Man’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and the Drifters “Save the last dance for me”. The last two songs accompanied by a newcomer Liz on Tambourine and the shaky egg thing. Far out.
Chris Martin then broke with his tradition of not doing covers (gasp) singing “Me & My Uncle” (Grateful Dead), “House of the Rising Sun” (Eric Burden & the Animals), this is my second homepage video and “Black magic woman”. Cool.
Clive then sang “Only the lonely”, not quite in the Roy Orbison key but a pretty good effort and “Ruby”. Clive was followed by Lloyd. This was Lloyd’s second outing at the 6 Bells and we hope to hear more of his deep voice. He chose the country ballad “Streets of Larado”, “If I only had time” and the Jim Reeves classic “He’ll have to go”. Right on.
Now it was time for some performers who were not around in the 60’s we had Tom (on guitar), Corin (harmonica) and Simon (organs various). They started with The Doors “People are strange” then Ben E. King’s “Stand by me”. Cosmic.
Tom, Corin and Simon then provided the backing group for Dave Dyke and the ensemble then sang the funky Elmore James song “Talk to me baby”. Dave then played two songs on his own, the Turtles “Happy Together” and Tim Buckley’s “Buzzing Fly”. Super.
Time for Terry. Terry Lees gave us the Stones “Route 66”, John Martin’s “Woodstock” and “Judy”, all with some very accomplished guitar work – his trademark. Following Terry was the turn of Sylvie our regular poetess, this time with a traditional 1760’s ballad “Far Away” sung unaccompanied. Groovy.
Manus then finished off the evening by taking us back to the Stones with “Honkytonk Woman” (see my video selection on the homepage) followed by “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” and “Summertime” the Wes Montgomery version from the 60’s filled with those jazz chords that only the truly deformed can play (or is that just jealousy on my part?). Way out.
We should also have had a song or two from Andy, a visitor camping nearby. He had asked me to put him on before 10:00pm, I remembered this too late and he had disappeared by the time he was called. I am very sorry about that Andy, maybe next time you are in the area? Bummer.
Liz and Peter tested singing with the mic at the end of the evening as we were packing up, I have a sneaky feeling we will see more of them in future. Next time Ella is running the evening so “be there or be square”.
So long pop pickers.
Tuesday June 27th 2017
It was a rainy day night. -- Everyone who was out this evening would have had to drive through watersplashes on the roads or paddle through puddles on paths -- But it was dry inside the Six Bells -- That is, in terms of rain, not in terms of drink.
I began with a polite request to everyone to not chatter while players are singing or while singers are playing. It can be very irritating and off-putting for everybody else. We're not saying 'No Talking'! -- but please show some politeness.
With a reference to The Glastonbury Festival, I did a song that The Killers had performed there over the weekend -- 'Human' . I've always liked this song, even though the lyrics don't make much sense, but then, that could be said of a lot of song lyrics I suppose. My second effort was to celebrate the 50th anniversary this month of The Beatles' 'Sgt Pepper' album. 'She's leaving home' was recorded with harp and strings backing, but I can't play them, so I just used a guitar.
Ella Moonbridge kindly agreed to play next. It's never a popular choice to be second on the list, but we all take a turn at it from time to time. Ella had her bazooki tonight, and gave us two lovely songs from Patty Griffin - 'Useless Desires', from the Impossible Dream album, and 'Truth', from the Silver Bell album. Thank you Ella.
By this time, the room was filling up nicely, and through the rest of the evening we had a good number of people in 'The Audience'.
We had a visit from someone I hadn't seen before by the name of 'Striker'. -- Not his real name, but that is what he likes to be known as. Playing guitar, he sang one of his own songs - 'It's Late', and then Chuck Berry's 'Diploma for Two'. As he had battled his way over from Ardingly in the rain, we invited him to do a third song, and he gave us his version of Billy Bragg's 'Honey I'm a big boy now'.
Chris Martin was on duty again on the sound desk tonight, ( thanks Chris), but took a break from that to come up to give us a couple of his own compositions, Sanity', and 'Insomniac's Dream'. Chris had to put up with the sound of chattering in the room while he was on, so I had to repeat my earlier request for 'Quiet please'. Will they ever be quiet?
Up next came Manus, with his excellent Jazz guitar style, doing a song by Keith Willson , and 'Blues run the Game' by Jackson C Frank. --- Nice.
Simon Watt took to the floor - ( Not literally) - to sing his version of 'Try a little Tenderness', and a very nice take on Bob Dylan's 'Girl from the North Country'. Simon makes some of these songs sound better than they did in the first place. --- Cool.
Mike Aldridge was here tonight, but chose not to sing on this occasion. Thanks for coming anyway Mike.
A different Mike was here, -- Mike from Hove, (Portslade actually). Apparently you can get good Bacon Butties in Portslade. Mike chose a couple of songs to give us, including Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. (There are different ways of spelling this word).
Time now for a bit of culture in the form of Derry on the old piano, giving us two pieces, one by Bach , and the other by Schubert. -- Or as we used to call them 'Bark and 'Sherbet'. Sorry Derry, I've lowered the intellectual tone.
Terry Lees had been waiting patiently to come up, and of course, he is always worth waiting -- for. He told us the story of how in younger days, he wanted to be like Hank Marvin, then later, Eric Clapton, then later, Bert Jansch. As it turns out, WE would all like to play like Terry Lees. He sang us his version of 'Angi' , and Josh White's 'Evil hearted Me'.
I looked at the clock, and saw that we had some spare time left. The evening was running quicker and smoother than it sometimes does, so some of us took the opportunity to do a second set.
Chris Martin rose from his sound desk chair and entertained us with his 'Ghosts', and his 'I like to be Sad'.
Then came Lloyd, who had been hiding away at the back, and not sure about playing, especially as he had no guitar with him, but , borrowing Simon's instrument, he stepped up to sing a Jim Reeves song with very deep notes, followed by an' Old English style' opera piece by Charles Dibden.
Back again came Manus with a short number, followed by Ella, doing a nice version of 'Blackwaterside'.
Simon took his extra spot, giving us one of his own numbers "Refuse to sing the blues" ....
Then I finished off with Gordon Lightfoot's 'Early morning Rain'. -- This nearly finished ME off, because I went totally blank in the last verse and missed the lyrics completely. Ah well, it must have been a senior moment.
So, that brought us to the end of the evening, and despite some unexpected difficulties that occurred last week, it all went very well thankyou.
Next time will be 1960's theme night, hosted by Simon Watt. ' Be there or be Square' !
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 person that runs the evening writes the blog
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