What an initiation for my first time hosting! What looked like one of those intimate evenings, just kept growing. We had so much variety in material and presentation with spontaneous bands breaking out here and there, like firework displays lighting up the night. From a creaky little start of about seven performers, people just kept rolling in until there were sixteen spots. I chose to call them irregular regulars, because they keep coming back, yippee, but in an irregular way.
As a first-time host I am aware of a couple of faux pas in the programming, but it did nothing to spoil the evening. It was a long and richly embellished evening, so this blog will wander on for a bit .... no, I just finished writing and there are reams of words.............
According to tradition, I opened the evening and played songs by the first two female performers who made an impression on me: Joni Mitchell and Ricki Lee Jones. I like the house piano, but I find it rather a temperamental creature and playing it means having your back to the audience. As host this wasn't an option, so I had my keyboard set to electric piano and offered 'Woodstock' by Joni and 'Danny's all star joint' by Ricki.
Next up was Chris Liddiard and it was good to see him at the beginning of the evening with 'My sweetheart's heart is good enough or me', a self-penned number. Chris writes some great songs. Supported by Chris Mansell, he then gave us a tribute to the Eagles' founder Glen Frey (who passed on the 18th January) with a version of 'Peaceful, easy feeling' from their first album of 1972..
t was great to see Lisa Jackson back after some time with her own song 'Waving hello', which she floated through with her delicate finger-style, to be joined on her next son by Helga playing flute. Together, they floated us through Leonard Cohen's 'Dance me to the end of love'. This was a beautiful blend of Lisa's voice with her 'other' guitar and the tones of the flute.
Our resident songwriter, who rarely performs anyone else's material has completed yet another album called 'Standing Room Only'. He gave us 'Xeroxed armies next. Chris Martin writes some very original and poignant songs. His second song, 'Scrapheap Blues' gave rise to the first spontaneous band of the evening, as John Oddy joined in on guitar, with Lisa and Jayne Ingles doing the backing vocals. I would like to thank Chris for manning the PA system, especially as it turned into such a long session.
Dave Dale, another performer who hasn't been here for a while, also had the opportunity to sing early in the evening. He gave us 'Pancho and Lefty', a song about two bandits and a version of 'Dimming of the day'. This was a sensitive rendering of a beautiful song more usually associated with the likes of Emmy Lou Harris and Bonnie Raitt.
We haven't seen Glyn Burgess here for a while either. He does 'Americana' and this evening he gave us a John Prine song 'All the best' and Guy Clark's 'If I can just get off this LA freeway'. He was joined on this by Chris Liddiard, Lisa and Dave Dale filling out the vocals: our second spontaneous band of the evening.
Chris Mansell was next up with the David Bowie song 'Heroes'. He observed that there comes a point when you may feel that the time available to sing the songs you enjoy is finite. In the wake of various people leaving us lately, this could be a wake-up call to any of us to get on with those things we enjoy, or may have been looking forward to doing. Very nice 'Heroes', thank you Chris. His next song, with support from John Oddy, was 'For your love'. They always produce excellent performances together as well as individually. Chris was shamelessly promoting the Glimmer Project and quite rightly so. They can now be viewed on YouTube.
Clive Woodman always reminds us of the calendar, whether it's months, seasons or days, like today, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day. He abandoned the song he had in mind for this and went on to sing 'Let's work together', a great feel-good song, followed by his own song 'Skylarks in February'. This was a wistful seasonal song about walking on the South Downs. Hurricane Imogen did not feature. This song reflected a more gentle winter moment.
Thank you Clive for stepping in to man the PA when Chris was performing or off to the bar.
Helga was on next with another impromptu band to sing 'Me and Bobby McGee', made famous by Janis Joplin. Helga was singing and playing guitar this time, supported by John Oddy on guitar, Lisa on harmonies and myself on tambourine. John also featured on her next song 'Sweet little mystery', a John Martyn classic. John has just the right voice for any John Martyn song. Helga played some very creative and beautiful flute, interweaving with John's voice.
Jayne Inglis followed Helga with 'I'd rather be a hammer than a nail' and had us recognising 'Freight Train' with some very nice fingerstyle. Was she inspired by Elizabeth Cotten?
Terry Lees was up next with his dazzling guitar work and shared with us an anecdote about supporting John Martyn in Hastings in 1973, which included a great deal of alcohol. He gave us a slide guitar piece by Blind Willie Johnson: 'Dark was the night', a fabulous, apparently unstructured piece running into a version of 'For your love', completing his performance with 'The blues have run the game'.
John Oddy followed Terry, which was a programming booboo on my part, putting the two slide guitar players back to back. Apologies for that. He sang 'Killing the blues' in his own inimitable style and then we had the absolute treat of having Chris Mansell and Terry joining John for a full-bodied blues piece called 'Never had no whisky'.
Another bit of bad programming was having Julian Streeter on his first visit to the club faced with following that. However, Julian sang Dylan's 'Don't think twice' and a song by the Outlaws called 'Heavenly Blues' with total confidence alongside the rich tones of a twelve string. I hope he wasn't put off by my lack of forethought.
Mike Aldridge followed Julian with a song, that in his words, is even more relevant today than when it was written sixty years ago. This delightful little ditty called 'We all go together when we go' drew some irreverent observations about the realities of nuclear war. Happily, we can depend on Mike for some irreverence. His second song was 'I got the jailhouse blues'.
Another performer I have not seen before, Andy Fricker, followed Mike and gave us two very nice songs that really appeared to suit his voice: Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes' and REM's 'Loosing my religion'.
The evening ran on very late and it's unfortunate that more people could not be there until the end. Penny has come along to share her beautiful voice with us before, supported by John and Chris Mansell, usually performing blues classics. This evening her first song 'Careless love' was accompanied by Terry Lees and her second song was Robert Johnson song 'Walking blues'. This summoned the blues band consisting of John Oddy, Terry Lees and Chris Mansell, this time taking his seat at the piano for some very rich and vibrant blues.
What an extraordinary evening, with so much variety in style and content. I felt totally privileged to be 'at the wheel' of this wonderful evening of music. Thank you all for turning up and doing your thing. I might suggest to Chris Mansell that we relocate the complaints office from the Kuiyper Belt to the Oort Cloud, because, what's not to like?!
In total admiration for the beautiful people who go out singing and playing live music, making such an evening possible :) Ella
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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