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.
2nd August 2019
This was headed as one of Chris’s Singer/Songwriter evenings and hosted by Chris, who was on the sound desk doing an excellent job, as usual. So, I took over the list, photos and blog!
It was one of the busiest evenings I had seen in a long time with 6 newcomers and some people being a real, live audience! I did try to spend a little time with each of the new people because I remember how friendly and welcoming people were the first time I turned up with my guitar. It can be quite daunting.
The list was pretty daunting too, with several people being shuffled around because of other commitments, or preference. And time ran short. A very big thank you to Clive who chose not to sing so that we could finish on time. Double helpings next time Clive.
At 20.10, 5 of our performers were still lined up at the bar, so we had the almost inevitable late start.
Chris kicked off with a welcome to everyone and songs number 86 and 87 on his mission to give all of his songs at least one airing this year. His first was ‘The Future’s so Vague’ from his band years in 1995. I do know how much trouble he takes to try to present a one-man acoustic version of a song originally performed with a full band and a female vocalist, and he did well. There were lovely oriental style semi tonal chord changes in the introduction and breaks that were very pretty. Then he played one of my favourites- because he wrote it for me! - ‘Out of the Blue’. I have to have a soft spot for that. He does describe my music as ‘diddly’ music so he especially wrote and performed a little break of jig music near the beginning. Thank you, Chris.
Jane followed. I had commented on shirts at the last Singer/Songwriter night. There were a couple of very noticeable ones. Jane did want me to mention hers. It was a lovely hand-painted white cotton, with beautiful many-coloured and silver brush strokes on one side of the front and the middle of the back. See. I noticed. 😊
Her first song was the really amusing ‘Hysterectomy Blues’. I have heard this before, and she handles a rather delicate topic with a lovely wry sense of humour, accompanied by her lap slide guitar,
‘My Mojo it’s stopped working, and my hoochy coochy is too sore’
Her second song was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Anthem’. It’s a beautiful song, and worked well with the melancholy slide guitar. It’s well worth looking up the words. They are so beautiful.
‘There’s a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in’.
Next was another of our prolific song-writers, Lance. If there was a theme this evening, it did seem to be the passing of time. Perhaps it’s our ages. I know I become more aware of it every day.
Lance’s first song described ‘Dementia’ so well. There were some lovely lyrics, and although it’s such a sad topic, I would like to hear it again
‘When the fog blocks the sun….I’m drifting away’.
His second song, ‘Time’, was about dreams and memories of a lost love. I’m sure we can all identify with that: Time…is the enemy.
Time will not wait for me’.
A newcomer, Mike, got up next. His first song was ‘Something in the way she moves’, a James Taylor classic. I really enjoyed his performance; a strong picked rhythm and a similar tone to his voice as my hero JT. The second song was his own, I think. ‘Two Minutes to twelve’. In keeping with our ‘theme’, this was also about time…how we are racing against the clock leading to the end of the world and have’ got to break free from the culture of greed’. Another very enjoyable performance.
Manus performed two of his own compositions. The first was inspired by his Granddaughter and entitled ‘Ukulalliah’ and featured Manus’s distinctive jazz chords and a strong steady rhythm. He dropped the E to a D for his second song ‘Estella’s Varsity Project’ and once again echoed the theme of losing time spending our lives away.
‘You’ve got those stars in your eyes again.
Spend, spend, spending your life away
Spending it trying to be someone else
Estella won’t you please come down’.
I do hope I’ve quoted that correctly. It was a lovely well-crafted song in the Manus style.
Sylvie popped up next and sang her version of ‘Westering Home’ unaccompanied, apart from those of us who joined us on the chorus. It was written in the 1920’s by someone called Hugh S Roberton and may be derived from an Irish Gaelic song. Westering does mean heading west, and Ireland is very west!
Next came another newcomer, Jim Murray, also with two of his own songs. These were more of a traditional folk feel. Jim moved down to London from the North East many years ago, but still has that lovely lilt to his accent. His first song was entitled ‘Tell Me’.
‘Oh dear me. It could really get you down.
‘Cus there’s no real work for the working man down in London Town.
His voice really grew into his second song ‘Now I need no God or King’. I wish I could remember more because I know I did really like this song and Jim’s delivery. It doesn’t matter if there is baby-sitting duty Jim! Come when you can please.
I’m afraid I had to cheat a bit. I lopped off the end of my left-hand index finger slicing a melon. So, I read a couple of my poems, which are very often the first step to a song. They were both about family. The first was Tabby’s Easter Holiday. My 5-year-old granddaughter is old enough to come and stay now, and we have such a lovely time, I made her a little book and poem about it. The second was ‘A Mother’s Christmas Dream’. I really did used to dream about when the children could help out at Christmas. It was such an exhausting time as a single parent. Poor me! And now they really do!
Jo and Ed or The Joe Robinson’s Band were up next. Again, these were newcomers to The Six Bells and I think Manus had encouraged them to come. They were still on the theme of time with their first song, ‘Every Second Counts’. I really enjoyed watching them play together. Guitar arrangements and vocals were well rehearsed and very tight. Joe mainly played the rhythm with Ed playing a lead over the top and adding harmonies.
Their second song, ‘Fake News’ was played in a similar style, the two guitars bouncing off and then entwining each other. (But I had to go to the loo and missed a lot of the lyrics. Very sorry (☹)
Helga and Keith came up next with three of Keith’s creations.
‘The Slow One’ was just that. A slow blues played and sung by Keith with Helga’s flute hauntingly slipping up and down beside the main melody.
I had heard the second song before and it is a beautifully sad tale entitled ‘The Acorn Song’. Legend had it that the two strong oak trees standing side by side were there because a young child had been buried with an acorn in each hand. I’m not saying more. Keith says it far better. Listen out for it in the future.
Their last song was ‘Home and Dry’, to give Helga the chance to take more of a lead on the flute. I do love the sound of Helga’s flute. It’s a good reminder of how lovely it can sound.
Bernard is one of Chris’s cycling colleagues and hasn’t been to The Six Bells for many years. I didn’t know what to expect at all, but he did have one of the more remarkable shirts!!
His first song was a combination of a Scottish song to an Irish tune which transformed into an Irish song with a Scottish tune….and a very nifty capo change to go with it. What a lovely voice, and what excellent dynamics. Is there a bit of classical training there? Bernard’s second song was a join in one sang with great gusto. Rawhide! Judging by the audience participation, many of us really enjoyed letting our hair (what we have left of it) down to that.
Our lovely Simon was up next. Simon does present us with a charming mix of covers and of his own songs. Tonight, was two of his own. I think the first one is called ‘There’s a Black Hole in my Garden’, and that’s what it’s about. Dry, amusing, and I do wish I could quote from it because it’s really very clever.
Simon’s second song was entitled ‘That Genius Trump’ and written to get Trump on our side once we press the Brexit button. Simon does take on some difficult topical subjects, but manages to do so in such a way as to get us to think, perhaps make us laugh, but never to make anyone’s hackles rise. That’s a real art.
Trump: ‘He’s as great as George Washington you’ll hear him say
And as wise as old Abe Lincoln with the looks of JFK’.
Nice one Simon.
Time was indeed passing and it was now Mark’s turn. He chose to only do one song. I hope it wasn’t because he felt he had too little time. He played his own instrumental composition entitled ‘The Appalachian Trail’. I actually walked a lot of the trail when I was 19 and teaching swimming in America. Anyway, it was a very effective and invocative tune and took me right back.
Another newcomer, Peter, was next. Although English by birth, he has spent many years in America and brought us a flavour of their type of open mics. He invited everyone to sing and harmonise with his two songs. He hadn’t known it was a singer/songwriter’s night, and lead us all in two covers; ‘All of Me’ and ‘Wagon Wheel’. It was really good fun to have a bit of a sing, and I heard all sorts of lovely harmonies coming through. Great fun.
We finished off with our lovely Jason. As always, beautifully gentle and melodic. The first song was his own, ‘To the End of the Waves’ and his picking did indeed trickle over the strings like small waves.
Jason’s last song was Richard Thompson’s ‘The Dimming of the Day’. Such a beautiful song, and a lovely finish to the evening. Well worth a listen if you don’t know it.
I’m so sorry this is such a long blog, but it was a very long evening with some fabulous performances and I didn’t want to miss anyone out.
A big thank you to everyone who came, and especially to Chris for managing to run the evening with his usual enthusiasm, whilst still managing to produce excellent sound.
HC Aug 2019
“Who he?” A collective murmur went round as I took my position, like the new curate in the pulpit. I had accepted a mission wiser fools might have declined – hosting a folk and blues evening at the prestigious venue of the Six Bells. After all, this club has been running fortnightly since the early nineties and some of the current stalwarts feature in blogs dating back to 2012.
Since I had only recently exposed myself to the ‘rabbit in the headlights’ experience of performing at an open mic, I felt I had valid misgivings. Not only do the usual suspects carry off the proceedings with aplomb, so also do they perform with an assuredness that will take me years to achieve. However, my concerns were misplaced; I have discovered this to be a welcoming, friendly, respectful and totally non-threatening venue. I also reckon well over 6oo evenings of folk and blues have occurred at the Six Bells since its inception, and similarly that number of blogs written.
Therefore as usual, now follows an account of the evening’s events - the performers and performances plus the occasional observation and reflection thrown in - not a school report by any means, since I’ve gleaned on the whole it’s not in the blogger’s brief to offer a critique; that being said and as an aside, I do admire those artistes who claim never to read their revues - good or bad, because I suspect even the most seasoned performer still desires positive affirmation.
Well, there’s none of that here - enough to know that on a recent outing I was described as making an irritating rattle; sufficient criticism perhaps to call a halt to all but the most deluded of folk - but maybe I should just take ownership in it now being my signature sound.
Before the evening had even started, an almighty explosive pop rattled the ice in my soda and elevated Ella off the piano stool in rigid shock – Chris had inadvertently pulled an unmuted plug. An involuntary Tourette like utterance betrayed my exterior calm, undoing all my earlier Zen based preparation.
The usual to-ing and fro-ing made for a fashionably late start once again, as armed with medicinal Tunes for my rough throat, I shakily launched off with a Lead Belly number variously entitled ‘Black Girl/In the Pines/Where Did You Sleep Last Night’. This was followed by the Jackson C. Frank composition ‘Milk and Honey’, a beautifully crafted song made commercially successful by Sandy Denny’s subsequent recording.
Gratefully vacating the hot seat, I made way for Ella at the piano, who cruised through Patti Griffin’s ‘The Long Stairs’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Thunder on the Mountain’. Ella’s Boogie-woogie Dylan was something of a revelation. He’s a musician I felt I could take or leave after Blonde on Blonde, so leave him I did.
I could never leave Joni Mitchell though and her spirit was channelled through Ella and Manus on ‘He Played Real Good For Free’ - Ella on piano and Manus on custom Tele. Crosby, Stills and Nash also covered Joni’s ironic song about the disparity between a street busker’s fortune and their own obscene financial rewards. No Joni style giggles from Ella though.
On to song numbers 81 and 82 from Chris Martin, ‘Leaf ‘ and ‘Rules’ – the latter relating his sojourn in the Bow Street nick. ASBOs weren’t in vogue in those days even if Yuppies, Madonna and BMWs were. Just goes to prove all singer/songwriters are rebels at heart; and in that vein, Heather followed with the anti-war protest song ‘Travelin’ Soldier’ by the Dixie Chicks. To further stamp her credentials on stickin’ it to the man, she sang an Ed Sheeran number ‘The A Team’. Class A drugs in leafy East Sussex? No thank you ma’am – a pint of Slap-Ma-Girdle will do just nicely. Lovely guitar tone though.
Manus returned to the stage with more music from Joni Mitchell. His wooden guitar, electronically attached to a couple of shiny boxes topped with coloured lights conjured up a laid back swirly sound as he delivered ‘Come To The Sunshine’. Yes, there’s going to be plenty of that over the next few days. He followed with ‘Doors’, a self-penned number, the genesis of which followed a filmic encounter with Gwyneth Paltrow – Nice!
You tend know what’s in store when it’s the turn of Simon Watt (no s). His wry style was evident on ‘Ebola Blues’ (or ‘Quarantine Blues’ for the easily offended) – a potential ‘Springtime for Hitler’ moment. Whilst we digested this, he treated us to a simplified version (his words) of The Eagles ‘Girl From Yesterday’ off the ‘Hell Freezes Over’ album.
I’m always impressed by those who can sing from memory – Simon is one and Derry another. However, before Derry we had Roy approach the ivories to give us the original Lewis/Stock/Rose version of Blueberry Hill, a melodically different but still recognisable treatment that Fats Domino had a rock and roll hit with in 1950. More of the same please Roy, next time round.
Back to Derry, he of the exciting stage act. A couple of subtle but still discernable Townsend guitar moves accompanied his self-penned ‘Alone Again’. For his second number he had us guessing the artist/title/album/record label/era/ release date/amount of loose change…. The Killers? White Stripes? No – The Beatles! ‘Hey Bulldog’ off Yellow Submarine. Well done, Derry. You can come again.
A new face, Doug was up next. New to us but not I’m sure to performing. An accomplished player and singer, he gave us Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Kathy’s Song’ and then a Dubliners number, the title of which I didn’t catch. It could well have been ‘Maloney Wants A Drink!’ Heaven knows, I was in need of one myself by then - but the evening was still relatively young.
The ever patient Clive, our New Romantic balladeer, serenaded us with Francois Hardy’s ‘All Over The World’ followed by his ode to Ella, Don Maclean’s ‘Starry Starry Night’. Did I get that right? What was going on? Was it fifty years to the day that Van Gogh cut his ear shaving or was that the moon landing? Had Clive’s French made him come over all Marcel?
Thank you Mr Woodman, but it was time to clear the stage and make way for Keith and some gutsy low down dirty blues. Boy, even I was beginning to sweat now. His self-penned ‘Dusty’ went down a treat followed by ‘Keep on Pushing’. Bunjies Coffee House & Folk Cellar may have existed some time ago, but Keith still maintains an active fan base as witnessed by the adoring squeals of delight accompanying his performance. As a post script, imagine if you will the love child of George Melly and Sister Rosetta Tharpe….. just saying!
Chris and Heather closed the proceedings with Chris’s ode to his panda, Panyan. Heather’s spoken verse from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam lent true poignancy to the music, somewhat reminiscent to me of Mike Oldfield’s ‘On Horseback’.
So much then for four line stanzas and iambic pentameters, it was time to say goodnight and thank you to the audience members, to all the performers, to Chris as always for sound duties and to Simon for the set up, and a reminder that Chris is hosting the Singer/Songwriter night on 6th August, where apparently anything goes, original or not.
‘Sadness lasts forever’ so it does, to be sure!
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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