On a very mild but rainy Tuesday we gathered in the pub ready to start a new year of music at the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club. I started with “Soft Spot” with a little help from Helga on flute and Martin on base. I followed this with a Tom Paxton song “When I go to see my son”. Having got the evening started I then introduced Mark.
Usually any problems with the sound system are remedied during the first couple of songs but sadly, for Mark this was not the case. His first song was Donovan’s “Guinevere” and the next was “Running for home” by Bert Jansch. Playing this was made almost impossible because the main speakers were powered down and all the sound came from the monitor. Fortunately Mark got another song later in the evening “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” a Rudy Toombs song from the 50’s which, with the gremlins ironed out, came across perfectly. Sorry Mark, but thanks for running the desk for the rest of the evening.
Next we had Chris who excited the audience by announcing that his next blockbuster album “Born Grumpy” is soon to be released. Counting the days Chris. His songs tonight were “On paper wings”, “Dangerous moonlight” and “Little red car”. I can hear the jingle of his PRS payments from here – ooooh aaaah.
Then it was Helga’s turn to shine and she sang us the only song she has ever written called “Monday morning lovecrash blues” (great title) followed by a slightly funky version of “Matty Goves” thanks to some guitar work from Keith with Ella on the bodhran.
More original music followed from Bob and Christy a bluezy song called “Love song” and then “Silent night” (no, not the carol), finally, in the second half of the evening they gave us the James Taylor song “You’ve got a friend” this was just the right song and the audience joined in.
Time for Ella - our only pianist of the evening. The songs she chose were Sandy Denny’s “Who knows where the time goes” and, because her grandson James was one today, “Rockabye sweet baby James”, the James Taylor song.
Clive next with what else but his annual rendition of the Abba song “Happy New Year” and then a song from Local Hero written by Mark Knoffler. Lastly, to finish the evening he sang the Emerson Lake & Palmers song “Lucky man”.
Keith is a great songwriter and musician, he gave us “Have you ever” and the slightly raunchy “Brighton rock” before being joined by Penny for “C C Rider” and “Walking blues”.
Heather ignored the heckling from Chris and sang us Melanie’s “Look what they’ve done to my song Ma” with plenty of joining in by the audience. Then Carole King’s “Will you still love me tomorrow”.
Finally Lance, another singer songwriter who had been patiently waiting his turn gave us “You’d better eat your vegetables or you won’t grow” (well it is Veganuary) and “Gardeners world”.
Thanks again to Lance for the sound and Martin for the base line.
My videos - I have chosen a little Country with Rodney Crowell, Roseanne Cash and John Paul White. Some cool jazz from Postmodern Jukebox (nice) and lastly the little guy Lafka Gravis from Taxi’s (you remember, with Danny DeVito) doing an imitation of Elvis Presley.
What a hectic and fun time! Opening the evening, and being completely overwhelmed by having thirteen acts at the start (there were more to come!), I arrived at the microphone having forgotten both to decide what to play and to bring my guitar on stage. I didn’t fancy parting the throng to get to my guitar at the back, so deep from my musical unconscious I sang Leadbelly’s Grey Goose accompanied by beautifully in-time handclaps and chorus singing from the audience.
Gathering Storm is a new three-piece band featuring Lance Maleski on vocals with Mark and John on guitar and electric bass. They played Hendrick’s Red House and Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Lance was then left at the microphone as the others skilfully cleared the stage of equipment and sang two of his own: Christmas Song and Wiggly Worm.
Mark, now a frequent visitor to the bells and now a Committee member teamed up with John to do REM’s Losing My Religion. They separated to do a song each.
David Hants did two of his own: Momentos and an instrumental.
Bob and Christy-Lee came next with their quiet sophistication and moody Give Me Your Loving and No Indication. Having first shown up a few clubs ago they’re becoming regulars.
Ella was on form with her piano playing supporting her two songs: Danny’s All-Star Joint, a stompy 12-bar by Ricky Lee Jones, and Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane.
Chris Martin, as always, played guitar for two of his own songs No Indication and Guy but, as he had a sore throat, Heather very ably did the vocals. There followed a spectacle. Chris and Heather put on a (shhh!) backing track , on the spurious pretence that we might like a good time as it was a party, and moved to Chocolate. Heather returned to sanity with White Christmas.
Blues jam alert! Penny Payne, backed by Terry Lees and Yours Truly on guitars, came up with her soulful blues. Muddy Water’s Hoochie Coochie Man and Sweet Home Chicago - that very same rocker that features in the Blues Brothers film and first recorded by Robert Johnson in 1936.
John Villiers had been very welcome at my last hosting back in August. The Bunjie’s veteran repeated his epic journey from Islington and played two self-composed instrumentals Over the Hills and Leaving Home Tuesday. He has a new CD too.
Helga, a stalwart collaborator with many of the Six Bells friends and relations, has reintroduced her own vocal and guitar performances. This time she did Joni Mitchell’s River. She invited me up for a blues, so we did The Slow One. They said flute would never work on the blues. They got it wrong.
A trio of Jim Neale on Fiddle, Sue Whittaker on guitar and James Asher on percussion entertained us ably. Jim and Sue are some of the brains behind the Crown and Anchor folk club in Eastbourne. James is a first-class drummer and runs a magic recording studio.
Terry Lees’ spider fingers filled the room with the rich sound of his open tunings. He played a medley of instrumental Christmas carols.
There’s not usually a break at the Bells, but tonight we took five minutes to get sorted with the cheesy concoctions, puff pastry delights, chips and dips on offer. A big thank you to our landlord Paul and the bar staff who make us feel at home at the Bells.
Simon Watt’s deserves honourable mention for fighting off the alien snuffle organisms attacking him and staying to the end. His song about the various interpretations of a penguin on a Christmas card by great artists is funny at any time, but was aptly seasonal tonight.
Now the mea culpa. I lost part of the scribbled notes I made on the evening. I know Clive did something seasonal but I don’t have a note of it. Sincere apologies to anyone else I might have left out. It’s you are all very memorable, but my brain’s too small to remember all of the (eventually) sixteen acts and what they did. And I should get this out before I’m lapped!
Thanks to our sound men throughout the year Chris, Lance, Simon. The mix is always great and feedback unknown. Champion!
Such a night! The days when we sang dirges in the dark are long over. A Happy New Year to us one and all!
For my videos this time I’ve chosen two exciting ensembles and a Jazz Guitarist.
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are a Cajun band from Louisiana, performing La Danse de Mardi Gras, and La Boutine Souriante are a French-Canadian band, doing Le Reel des Soucoupes Volontes.
Bill Frissel, the sometime avant-garde sometimes straight-head jazzman plays his version of St Louis Blues.
26th November 2019
I stepped in at the last minute to host the evening. The weather was foul and it meant the numbers of acts were down on previous sessions. As a consequence, some performers were able to perform additional songs if they wished.
I started with ‘Sadie the Flatulent Horse’ and ‘I’ll Do Anything’ and came back to perform ‘Dementia’ and ‘Gardeners World’
Mark was up next and performed these 3 songs ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land, ‘Anji’ and ‘One Scotch, One Bourbon, one Beer’
Clive Woodman performed the song made famous by Elvis Costello ‘A Good Year for the Roses’ and ‘Saltwater’ (written in 1991, I was wrong). Clive came back a second time and performed the amusing ‘Water Melons’ and ‘Over the Lancashire Hills’ a song made famous by Fairport Convention
Keith Willson performed his own songs ‘Brighton Rock’ and ‘Baby Steps’ a song about taking chances, not necessarily a song about babies. I requested ‘Requiem’ and Keith performed it. He finished with a song ‘The Worst Thing’
Neil Grove…I am not sure we were prepared for the shock. The best Dobro I have ever heard said Bob Taylor and I can only agree and I hope he comes again!! I am pretty sure his first instrumental was untitled but I was mesmerised and I might have missed the title…he definitely performed ‘Mississippi Blues’ and ‘Stormy Monday’
Bob Taylor and Cristy-Lee played 3 songs ‘Goodbye To The Blues’ ‘Billy Holliday’ and ‘Love Song’….beautiful!!!
Bob Melrose was our last performer and he performed his own songs ‘Asylum Day’ ‘Like A Summer’ ‘Seesaw’ and a song ‘Jelly Roll Blues’
It was a fab night with some fantastic talent!!
Jason’s Return (12th November 2019)
And so he shall always return
Holding sway at the dimming of the day
And so he shall sing of strange sailings
Remembering times with distant spirits so fey
And so we get armed with a lance
To keep faith with the eternal blues
And so to the thrill that never shall leave us
Nor shall our old gin house muse
And so the Wicker Man still burns within us
Filling our dreams as our heads lay on pillow
And so we obsess with the darkness
It curls around like the embrace of the willow
And so we let the dark ghosts linger
Forever returning through our song
And so brass snaking like smoke curling
Feeling the jazz life all night long
And so the star dust tries to settle
Getting caught in the prevailing wind
And so the song goes on forever
Let’s love and support our fellow kind
And so we watch the world go by
Beholding such beauty from afar
And so to those truly deserving
For they returned as light from distant star
And so we drink in the tea and oranges
From the hand of your intense new love
And I dream of your mind and body
The bird on the wire is our one dove
And so we were embraced once again
From root to branch of the laburnum tree
And so we welcomed the golden chains
Capturing such beauty that we all could see
And so we live in this world of pain
But our spirits never let go the celebration
And so we breathe the air and make love again
Not for new life, but merely pure elation
And so we struggle to avoid the street
Where poor souls live under gathering cloud
And so our dreams may wash away in the rain
Another homeless life ends under dirty shroud
And so we still sing of sin and the fallen
Flickering lights across the backs of the beast
And so to the fields and long may they feed us
For on love and food . . . and music . . . . we forever shall feast
Jason, November 2019
Thank you to Lance and his Band Unknown, Mark Lynch, Chris Martin, Heather & Simon, Bob & Christy Lee, Helga & Lisa, John, Simon, and Jim, for all your performances.
I hope this “blog” poem is something a bit different and that you enjoy reading it. J
Lance’s Super Open Mic night did indeed take place on Tuesday 29th October 2019 and was a lovely evening from beginning to end.
I kicked off the event with two of my songs…..’In A Gardener’s World’ and ‘Sadie The Flatulent Horse’.
Mark kindly stepped in to take the second spot. He performed the instrumental ‘Classical Gas’ and covered the Mary Black Song ‘No Frontiers’
Colin, a good friend, who came along to support me, was up next. Not everyone will know that we occasionally perform together as a duo called Tom. He performed ‘Neanderthal Man’ and ‘Sign of the Times” with me on background vocals.
Chris Martin performed two original songs ‘Life’s a Race’ and was joined by Helga on his song ‘Sanity’
Lisa was up next with two original songs “Footsteps and ‘Mid Winter Mist’
Simon performed ‘Halloween Song’ with Greg's help on Saxophone and covered ‘You Don’t Know Me’
Jane was up next and performed ‘Wade In The Water’ and Paul Simon’s ‘Kathy’s Song’
Helga performed two songs on guitar ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘Blue Bossa’
Keith was up next and assisted by Helga sang two of his songs ‘Baby Steps’ and ‘Tale of two Acorns’.
Clive covered a Julian Lennon song ‘Salt Water’ and ‘Save The Last Dance for Me’
Heather, who had kindly agreed to swap with Lisa to allow Lisa to leave before the end sang Joni Mitchell’s ‘Little Green’ and a tradition Belfast/Irish song called ‘Black Velvet Band’
Penny, who had not been to the 6 Bells for a while performed two songs with Keith providing backing on guitar. The two songs were ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ and Summertime.
The final performer of the evening was John who did Rolling Stones songs ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Wild Horses’.
Martin Lee played bass on all the songs and sat quietly in the corner.
This was my first open mic and I have learned a few things. Onwards and upwards.
See you all next time
Lance of Seaford (retired)
15th October 2019
We have recently introduced the idea of arriving at 7.45 for an 8pm start. The idea is beginning to work, and quite a number of folk appeared before the clock struck eight. The trouble is, that it still takes time for everyone to settle in and get drinks from the bar, and for whoever is hosting the evening, to meet the players and organise the running list and get the excitement started up.
So, I was a little bit behind schedule to begin, -- in fact a shocking eight and three quarter minutes late! If other hosts can get it on at the stroke of eight, they will get a prize.
I got going with the up-tempo toe tapping number from Craig and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers' 'I'm gonna be'. -- often referred to as ' I would walk five hundred miles', or just simply 'Five hundred miles'. This song features in the nice film 'Sunshine on Leith', as does the title song (Eponymous)! -- 'Sunshine on Leith'. --This leads me on to my Lisp Twisting Tongue Twister: 'It's my belief that the thwarted thoughtless thief has been released by the Leith police.
Try saying that in a hurry!
I often suffer a mental block in the middle of a song, and this time, I found myself singing " I would walk TEN THOUSAND miles, instead of five hundred. This would prove to be a strange case of coincidence or telepathy, later in the evening. I will tell you later.
My second song 'The Path' is one of my own creations. "The summer days have gone by, colder days will surely follow.........The early years are gone, older years will surely follow." By the way, have I ever mentioned that you can find my songs on Amazon? (Search my name). What's that I hear you say? "Yes Clive! You have actually mentioned it before!"
I asked Lance about his surname, and he told me. - That's why we just call him Lance Maleski. He has his book of his own compositions which he calls his 'Bible', and from it he gave us his song which exhorts us to eat our vegetables. ( Luckily not cabbage).
This was followed by 'Free', in which he has included quotes from Pink Floyd's 'Dark side of the Moon album, and from The Beatles' 'Abbey Road'. Lance has become a new recruit for working the sound desk, and tonight he has been serving his apprenticeship under the watchful eye of Chris Martin.
Tonight we had three players by the name of Mark. Mark One was our friend Mark Lynch, who , like Lance, has been welcomed as a regular member. Mark sat on our famous bar stool and gave us the traditional song that has several different titles, but known best as 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Mark invited Ella and Heather to sing harmony on the choruses. Still sitting comfortably, he continued with Leonard Cohen's 'Sisters of Mercy'.
It's unusual to see Chris Martin sitting away from the sound desk, but with Lance at the controls, Chris was able to try a different chair. (Not such a comfortable one). Chris's songs are meaningful and complex, even though his first one was 'Simple Message'. Then he gave us another of his self -written pieces, 'The Man'.
Next up was Jim A'Cort, choosing two of his own songs for us to enjoy. Firstly, his song about ants. When I asked him what it's called, he said -"ANTS" -- I suppose I should have known. He marched on with ' How can you miss her?' ( When she won't go away).
Pete Tindall told me he hadn't been here for twenty years. It's taken him a long time to return. He played nice bottle neck slide guitar on both of his self -penned songs, firstly 'If I lived here', and then 'Lost Highway'. We enjoyed his music, but then suddenly he was gone.
Lucky number seven on the list was Heather Curry, hot foot/ or rather/ wet foot from her fund- raising swimming challenge. She has done the equivalent of swimming the English Channel. ( La Manche - if you want the French). Tres bien! Heather gave us 'I'm gonna be a country girl again', by Buffy Sainte Marie, and then she went on to explain the meaning of the saucy lyrics to her next offering. This was the traditional ditty ' Maids when you're young never marry an old man'.
Simon Watt (The Boss), always gives us a laugh, and tonight he told us a yarn about having to sit around a candle to keep warm. On really cold nights, they would light the candle. Simon also gives us a cool and calm performance every time, and his choice of songs is always just right. Tonight it was 'The Tennessee Waltz'- music by the amusingly named Pee Wee King, and lyrics by Redd Stewart. ( Not Rod Stewart). After this, came 'Honey Pie',a sort of old fashioned style song by Paul McCartney. Simon had some great accompaniment tonight from Greg on soprano saxophone.
Jason Loughran came to the floor to play a couple of solo pieces tonight. Often he is joined by Lisa Jackson, but she was unable to come tonight. We heard one of her own songs though, with Jason singing Lisa's 'Just for a while', and then to be a fair share, he did one of his own, 'Another year, another Song'.
Coming in at number 10 , - No, not Boris Johnson, but none other than Ella Moonbidge.
Ella's fingers are good on the piano, and also on the Bazooka which she chose to play tonight. She started up with one of her favourites, 'Carey'. I've only ever enjoyed this song done by just two people -- Joni Mitchell, and Ella Moonbridge. Her second song was featured in the lovely film 'Fly away home', and done by Mary Chapin Carpenter. --And here is the telepathic coincidence that I mentioned earlier: 'Ten Thousand Miles' was the title, and I had sung that I would walk ten thousand miles. Hey, spooky? Isn't that interesting! No, not really.
Jamie Lynch (no relation to Mark Lynch),had been waiting patiently to come up to give us two of his own songs, firstly, 'Hang', and then 'Little Things'. Thanks Jamie, it was worth waiting for.
Also showing great patience was our second Mark of the evening, Mark Woodgate, playing bottleneck slide guitar, and giving us 'Death Letter Blues' by the American blues musician Son House, ( Not to be confused with the short - lived English band Sunhouse). He followed this with one of his own songs, 'Sycophantic Blues'. Is a sycophant someone who is sick of ants?
Then came our third Mark of the evening, Mark Sampson, down from London, and he sung a great song written by a veteran of the D Day Landings of seventy five years ago, Jim Radford, 'The Shores of Normandy'. Mark then did one of his own compositions 'Seagulls'. (Brighton and Hove FC).
We were just about finished now, but I decided as host,that I would like to do one more number to end with, the up-tempo song by Canned Heat,' Going up Country'. There was a tiny mishap as I got into the song, when my guitar strap, which was twisted, became un-hitched, and I became un-hinged. Losing your guitar strap is one of those problems second only to breaking a string. Anyway, it was all part of the entertainment.
So, having started the evening eight and three quarter minutes late, we also finished eight and three quarter minutes late. -- Good timing!
Thanks go to Simon and Chris as always, and also to Lance for running the sound desk tonight. Thank you to all of those who come, and who stay to the end.
Earlier this evening, Simon mentioned a forthcoming concert by Linde Nijland, who sings Sandy Denny songs, so my first video choice is one of Sandy Denny herself.
My second one should be of interest to all guitar players, - a top twenty list of acoustic guitar intros.
Then a drum solo by Ginger Baker, who sadly died earlier this month.
I’ve been doing a bit of research recently into the ubiquitous ‘blog’. Looks like we’re going to start one at work and all my instincts tell me not to.
The etymology of the word ‘blog’ is ‘web log’, ‘log’ of course being a record of important events in the management, operation and navigation of a ship. Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise always logged his ship’s adventures. I can hear him now: “Captain’s log; stardate 43421.9…" You always knew what you were going to get with the Captain’s log!
Not so the blog. It seems that anything and everything goes. And worst of all, the standard of writing horrifies me!
Having been in the publishing industry for decades, I am cynical. I raise my eyes in exasperation at the endless badly written streams of consciousness and so-called expert comment and opinion being thrust into the written word and littering the web like plastic in the sea. (Consider cutting down this sentence – Ed.) Blogs abound! There are blogs on how to write a blog, top tips on titles, recommendations for word count and content and, crucially, how to get your blog read. Everyone has become a writer! And not one blog is edited! (Don’t overdo the use of exclamation marks – Ed.)
One of my first jobs was in a London publishing house run by an ex-Fleet Street bulldog, whose pencil was as sharp as the Grim Reaper’s scythe. He was ruthless in his editing. Sentences were slashed, words were chopped, paragraphs lacerated. I was taught how to spot a badly written article and a tedious travelogue from a hundred paces… and how to turn them into a good read. (We won’t test you on this – ED.)
Still, I think of myself as a liberal, tolerant soul and I know that creativity must find a release. So, I must consider that whatever our personal views on how good or bad a piece of writing is, if a blog allows for creativity and expression and provides something positive to the blogger, then it is surely a ‘good thing’, isn’t it?
The same can be said of the open mic night. It’s a platform for creativity and expression. It’s inclusive. Anyone can pick up a guitar and come along to the SBFBC and sing something. By its very nature, an open mic night allows for all levels of skill and experience, just as a blog does. Yes, we all have a view on what makes a good or bad performance, or a good or bad song. One man’s delight is another man’s displeasure. But those of us who participate, recognise that we are all amateurs on various levels. We accept what each night brings and, most of all, we enjoy the experience of performing (I use ‘enjoy’ loosely here). I’m sure we all take home something pleasurable from each night too, whether it’s hearing an interesting interpretation of an old song, or gaining inspiration from an original composition.
Last Tuesday’s singer’s night at the Six Bells was indeed an example of inclusivity and variety. Regular performers gathered to support each other, encourage others and welcome new arrivals. We had singer-songwriter Jim join us again and share his songs with us. An American called Mark, who just happened to be visiting with friends, decided to step up to the mic and what a treat it was to hear him.
Our new committee members Heather, Mark and Lance, breathing new life and vigour into the club, entertained us with their individual music styles. Ella, Simon, Clive and Jason, unquestioning supporters of the SBFBC, made us smile, laugh and reflect. Songs reinterpreted, covers sung straight, self-penned songs of love and loss and laughter. The evening was a successful one, rounded off by Mark and John duetting with guitar and mandolin, to “In Days Gone By”. Variety is indeed the spice of life.
Conclusion? Well, with this blog, I have added more unruly words and poorly strung-together sentences to an already blog-overloaded world wide web. (Overdoing it on the adjectives here – Ed.) But I’ve enjoyed it and that’s what’s important, isn’t it? Whether you’ll read it is another matter!
Until we meet again on this musical journey - “Beam me up Scotty!” Lisa
17th September 2019
Just about everyone else was there before me but I scurried around and got everyone on the list. New faces, usual faces and faces that appear from time to time. What a lovely collection of performers. We got under way fairly promptly thanks to Simon having set up the equipment (apparently in record time earlier in the day) and Chris having organised the sound. Thank you so much. Clive bought me a drink. What a life-saver after all of the scampering about. He also manned the desk in Chris’s absence. Heather took some lovely photos too.
Playing my little electric piano, I got through my two songs without too much drama. This evening it was Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’ and Ricki Lee Jones’s ‘Danny’s All Star Joint’.
Simon played next. Second on the list is not generally popular for reasons I do not understand. Apologising for not getting in enough practice, Simon then, of course, produced two very nice, sensitive songs: ‘Louisiana 1937’ by Randy Newman about a flood. ‘The wind changed … there were six feet of water on the streets of Evangeline’. His other song was Van Morrison’s ‘Sometimes We Cry’. He gave us a little anecdote about an encounter with Bob Hoskins (who had lived locally) discussing ‘practice’. Simon was wanting to practice enough to get it right, and Bob said he practiced until he couldn’t get it wrong. ‘Oh for the luxury of such available time’ said Simon, or words to that effect.
Lance took third position and sang two self-penned songs on the subject of love. The first was a ‘love song’ about being guided towards love, called ‘Every Day I Love You More’. The second song was very sad and drew analogies with taking a journey by road and observed the behaviour of drivers encountered en route: ‘the road goes on and never ends….’
The evening was moving very nicely and Mark came to the mic to sing Steve Winwood’s ‘Can’t Find my Way Home’ … ‘come down from your throne ……….. you are the reason I’ve been waiting all these years ….’ From the 1969 Blind Faith album, the line up being Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Rick Grech. I like this song and it was one of the first songs I ever performed at the Bells. His second, self-penned song ‘Hold On’ was inspired by the last words of Van Gogh quoted a few weeks ago by Chris: ‘Sadness lasts forever’. Sad it was, ‘wait until the morning,… wasting time on you, … sadness lasts forever’.
The melancholy vibe was re-stated by Chris, who performed ‘You’re Gone’ which included the experience of hiding in the crowd and drinking alone. He completed his mission to play his 100 songs this year with songs 99 and 100, having surrounded himself with cameras to record the event. ‘Fantasy’ (99) included Heather playing the part of an answering machine repeating messages and making full use of her talent for impersonation over Chris’s guitar accompaniment.
Heather took her solo place and sang a song about the ‘sparky’ relationship she had with her mother who passed only a year ago: ‘I Remember you waving goodbye’ … ‘remember the times we laughed til we cried …..’. After this emotional song, she played a sensitive instrumental version of Chris’s song ‘Reflection’ on her keyboard.
Steelyard Hobos David and Duncan had obviously ridden the freight train up from the coast to join us this evening. This was their first visit and I hope they will return. David played guitar and sang while Duncan played mandolin and joined in with extra vocals. Their first song was ‘The Carolinian’, a song about a train and travelling on a train… ‘she’s in Richmond with my heart…’ We could have been dancing to this song it rolled along so well. Moving on, everyone was encouraged to join in on every alternate line with ‘Haul away my laddie’ and we were now aboard a fishing vessel rather than a train. ‘The Final Trawl’ is an Archie Fisher song. Archie Fisher MBE is a Scottish Folk Singer who recorded his first album in 1968. ‘The Final Trawl’ is from his Windward Away album of 2008.
I asked them if they would like to sing another song because we were enjoying the music of these newcomers. Duncan changed instruments for a third song and produced a tenor guitar for their version of the Everly Brothers’ ‘B’ side ‘Let it be Me’, the one that goes ‘I bless the day I found you….. ‘ So we were in the romantic space again. Very nice.
We were fortunate to have Terry Lees join us this evening. His first song was ‘Bowling Green’, a song based on a true story about a penitentiary of that name in Kentucky, and a bank robber called Long John Dean: ‘Late last night he made his getaway…’. After a bit of re-tuning he played a song that Carol had been asking to hear. ‘The blues run the game’ is a song by Jackson C. Frank, a tragic figure who died homeless and destitute after years of mental health issues. ‘Catch a boat to England baby, maybe to Spain, wherever I have gone ….the blues are all the same’ it goes. Given his schizophrenia and depression, he would have known a lot about the blues. It’s a poignant, wistful song which was beautifully delivered. It’s no surprise that Carol would want to hear it.
Asked if he would like to sing a third song, Terry gave us ‘Me Grandfather’s Clock’ written in 1850 by Stephen Foster, considered to be the ‘Father of American Music’. The song was very entertaining and was a blend of Scott Joplin, Les Dawson and a bit of Mississippi John Hurt. So we got a bit of music history as well.
Jim followed Terry, also playing guitar and sang two of his own songs. The first was about a beautiful woman seen in Croydon with an acerbic man called ‘Her Eyes’. It spoke of her eyes being the windows of her soul as they ‘reflect the feelings inside’. ‘Alone again tonight’, his next song, kept us in a rather sad place, in spite of the more rapid tempo of the music.
Clive came to the mic next and delivered the Dire Straits song ‘The Telegraph Road’ from their 1982 album Love over Gold. Apparently this song is just over 14 minutes long on the recording, but Clive gave us the shortened version without the Mark Knopfler guitar sections.
There was a story to go with his next song about going to Azerbaijan twenty years ago with his lovely wife Kate. Its early independence from Russia (Dec 1991) was darkened by hostilities backed by Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh war where many atrocities were perpetrated, leading to a humanitarian crisis. This was the backdrop to Clive and Kate going to Azerbaijan with donations of essentials. The experience made Clive very aware of all of the comforts enjoyed in the UK when confronted by people living with so much less in refugee camps with perhaps no hope of returning to their homes. So the song was ‘Let’s help them’. Sobering Clive, very sobering and sadly there has been no end to crises due to war and political/religious hostilities in various places ever since.
There was a sad note to much that was presented here tonight, but the evening ended in a mellow way with songs from Lisa and Jason. Jason gave us his own song ‘A little Soul’ a beautiful song beautifully performed and was then joined by Lisa to sing an old song about finding love and new beginnings. The song ‘Blue Moon’ was written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart in 1934. It was first recorded by Al Bowllby. (Apparently Al Bowllby was very popular in the UK in the 1930s. He recorded over 1000 songs and for a time was in the recording studio with one band during the day and performing with another band in the evenings.)
There was another Mark Knopfler reference with their performance of ‘Tangerine’ as Jason played the accompaniment on Lisa’s guitar. The evening had gone very mellow with Lisa and Jason’s songs and they ended it singing ‘The Heart of Saturday Night’, the title song from Tom Waits’ 1974 album of the same name.
Thank you all for joining us for this evening. It was a very enjoyable mix of style and content.
See you again soon, maybe for Lisa’s evening on 1st October?
3rd September 2019
This was a 80s night. The 1980’s was not a decade that really inspired me and so I expected many people to ignore the theme – I had a pleasant surprise. Almost everyone found something from the 80s to play, even our newcomer Jim who had been unaware of the theme. Congratulations everybody.
I asked people to tell me a little about what they were doing in the 80’s and it was clear that this was the decade of child rearing and guitars were relegated to the cupboard. Looking back I regret the fact that I stopped playing, but there was simply too much going on during this period to focus on music. I was not alone it seems.
I started the evening with Chris Rea’s “Road To Hell” and followed it with the Dire Straits classic “Why Worry” and later I sung the Manhattan Transfer song “Operator” ably assisted by Sylvia on Tambourine. This was cheating a bit as they recorded it before the 80s but it did appear on their 1981 recording The Best of Manhattan Transfer.
Next up was Mark who explained that he came to the Folk Club to improve his guitar skills. Good idea, nothing focuses the mind more than having to perform. He started with a Crowded House song “Fall at your Feet” and this was followed by “Jennifer” by Bert Sommer, a 60's American folk singer.
Mark was followed by Heather who, along with raising two children was busy working as a swimming instructress in the 80s so another guitar sat in the cupboard. Heather gave us a Phil Collins version of “A Groovy Kind on Love” and The Police hit “Every Breath You Take”, Later she returned and sang her own heartbreak inspired song from the 80s, “Sometimes”.
Clive next and he gave us The Housemartin’s “Caravan of Love” and then a lovely atmospheric song, “The Summer Before The War” as recorded by Fairport Convention. Just the sort of thing I would expect from a man who had once had his knee bandaged by Maddy Prior. Later he played “The Song Will Remain by Steeleye Span.
And now it was time for our newcomer Jim to impress us, and impress us he did. He started with Bruce Springsteen’s “I'm On Fire” followed by Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes The Flood”, in the second half he added Van the Man’s “Brown Eyed Girl”. Jim used to play in a group in the 80s and fortunately was able to remember the songs perfectly. I am sure we all hope that Jim and his wife Karen will make the trek from Bexhill to play here again soon.
The King of the PRS came next with Chris Martin adding three more songs to his monthly paycheque, all self penned (of course). His first two were “Get Yourself a Good Time” and “I Want To Learn” both of which he wrote in the 80s and lastly in the second half “Little Red Car”. Oo Arr, sounds a bit Cornish to me. Chris wore a white suit from the 80s with a hat that made him look like Crockett of Miami Vice or The Man from Delmonte. What amazed me was it was still a good fit!
Time for the Jason & Lisa combo. Jason started off with the Ry Cooder song “Across the Borderline”, he was then joined by Lisa and together they gave us Bruce Springsteen’s “Light my Fire” followed by the Yazoo song “Only You” which in the original version makes full use of the 80s (usually annoying) electronic organ sound. Finally Lisa soloed with the Dylan song “Endless Highway”. What a great selection.
Keith is probably our most skilled musician. He told us how he had spent the post relationship 80’s in a flat in London getting to know his local music scene. He sang a song that he had written at this time “Lines I Could Have Tried” and followed the by another Ry Cooder song “Crazy about an Automobile” and later another song of the 80s, this time written by his friend John Turner “My Friend Rupert”. Great stuff.
Lastly it was Ella’s turn to entertain with the help of the challenging Six Bell’s upright piano. The first song was from Roxy Music “More Than This” followed by a U2 song “With or Without You”.
Thanks to Chris for working the desk and looking after the sound for this evening and to Heather who has now become our official photographer.
Regarding the videos, the first is a little bit of country at its best. The second is one of the best pieces of music to come out of the 80’s (a bit highbrow but take a look) and lastly I love the energy of Manhattan Transfer so here is the last song from my set “Operator” as it should sound – turn up the volume.
Until next time
20th August 2019
John Villiers had come all the way from Islington - an old acquaintance renewed. We played at Bunjies and various other gigs in the 70s and 80s. Seeing the Bells Facebook Page he’d come down from Islington to see what was what and played three of his own instrumentals: the topical-sounding An Approaching Storm and Please Don’t Leave Me Your Banjo When You Go in his first spot. There was some complex playing going on there on a vintage f-holed guitar - a Melodija made in Menges in Slovenia. In his second spot he played Are We There Yet? He also left a copy of one of his CDs and promised to come back to the Christmas Party. Yes Please.
Lance came up with his usual standard of thought-provoking self-pennery: No Going Back on Love and The War to End All Wars.
Chris Martin continued with his mission this year - to sing all of his 100 songs registered with the Performing Rights Society. He repeated Hanging On from a previous time and an instrumental Playing With Myself (fnar fnar), which included snatches of many famous tunes of which I picked out Angie, Auld Lang Syne and the choral theme from Beethoven’s Ninth among others. Later he did Another Journey from his album The Journey – the one with Panyan the Panda on the front.
Heather set her poem Alexander Beetle to music, inspired by the need to entertain grandchildren. Then covered a song from the Hazel O Conner Film Breaking Glass and, in her second round, did School not his Sympathy by Phil Coulter a song about a child with special needs.
Simon Watt was once an old friend whom I met at the Bells as long ago in 2002 and is now even older. He writes many a comedy song laced with gentle and dry humour, but tonight he decided to do two nice songs and let humour lay in my humiliation by asking me up to shake tiny bells in Too Much Snow. Then he sang I Don’t Look Good Naked any More, which could be true.
Clive sang a Maddy Prior Song Deep in the Darkest Night, from Memento, and one of his own songs The Adventure of Life.
Paul had come all the way from Seaford and played two Don Williams songs: Gypsy Woman and You‘re my Best Friend. Very tunefully sung and played.
Jason performed a his own song There Was a Young Man, and then a mellifluous version of Georgia, from the great American Songbook.
Helga came up with her unaccompanied flute and kept us guessing as to her tune, which was The Godfather theme. Nobody knew who wrote it and, as there is poor phone reception hereabouts, pub quiz cheats don’t prosper. Second she picked up her guitar and sang Joni Mitchell’s Carrie.
Ella came up with a nice bit of romantic realism Did I Shave my Legs for This? Accompanying herself on the Bouzouki.
After everybody had had a go, I finished the first cycle with Baby Steps, with Helga tastefully supporting on flute.
So we started the second round with one song each, as detailed above. Clive and Paul passed and we soon got to finish off the evening with a jam on my irregularly-timed blues Brighton Rock. Everyone joined in notably John on Guitar, Helga on Flute, Ella on Piano and others strumming and shaking all sorts of objects.
Thanks to all the musicians that played and sang, set up the PA, ran it, watched, laughed, heckled and generally made for a chirpy evening. Thanks also to the eight or so people who turned up to listen.
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