I have a confession to make; I’m a singer songwriter and last night I wasn’t alone. No, I was joined by many of my kin for an evening of escape and indulgence. Sometimes we must lurk in the shadows, but occasionally we stand up and tell the world who we are and last night there was no need to be ashamed or embarrassed, we could shout it from the rafters: ‘I’m going to play you a song of my own’.
Because I’m a live and let live kind of guy, I even allowed a few folks to play covers! Of course, it was in the surreptitious hope of converting them and in showing the light to lead them into our brave new world.
I’d got there early to find that Simon and Chris Mansell had set up the PA and after a few tweaks with monitors and other technical stuff that I won’t bore you with, it was time for my pre-gig shepherd’s pie and veg - yum.
Kick-off: The room was packed with plenty of players and audience and at times it was quite rowdy. We had a mix of the familiar old legends, interspersed with a healthy number of new faces. We even dipped into the youth market - that’s anyone under 50! Something for everyone then. Lights, Camera, Action: I loaded up my Bowler hat, an essential prop that helps the audience know I’m the MC. I was joined by my friend John Oddie on lead guitar and we launched the show with my song about playing at open mic nights, ‘I like to be sad’. We followed this with my newest ditty, ‘Xeroxed Armies’, on which John is recording a Dobro lead guitar part for me in the studio on Sunday. The night was up and running and I’d done my bit of playing, it was now time to get the other 14 acts up for their turn and to get out before sunup.
New songwriter: Ella Moonbridge opened with a self-penned instrumental played on the Irish whistle (or was it the tin whistle, or maybe the penny whistle), called ‘Robert Clarke’s blues’. For her second song, Ella gave us ‘Bless the South London Irish’ on her Bouzouki. She’d written both songs in homage to her father and this was their first outing and the first time Ella had ever performed any of her own material live - well done. x
Old songwriter: Clive Woodman was in protest song mode with his opener, ‘Open fields’ - the protest was about housing. Now, is that too much housing on our green and pleasant land, or not enough housing? Political hey! ‘Burning in my heart’ followed, as Clive visited the pain of romance.
The guvnor: Chris Mansell was in great form and delivered two very pretty songs, opening with ‘Too hot for horses’ and he followed this with ‘Platinum blond’ which he wrote quite a few years back and is not about Mr Oddie!
New kids in town: Pete and Roxy were the first of our new faces. Pete had written the songs and played the guitar and Roxy delivered the vocal with a lovely warm voice. Both songs were about murder - my kind of subject. ‘Daisy’s curst’ was followed by ‘I came to save you’. Martin and Mike were both Six Bells Folk and Blues Club virgins and gave us a couple of songs each. Martin opened with an amusing song about ageing, ‘There’s so much to look forward to’ and was joined by Mike on lead guitar for his second song, ‘There’s no reason to sing the blues blues’. Mike opened his set with a song about loss, ‘Song for friends’ and then gave us ‘You need friends’.
The old boys are back: Chris Liddiard has a vast catalogue of his own songs and selected a couple of reflective numbers from his younger rock and roll days, ‘The price of fame’ and ‘Long in the tooth’. Webmaster Simon Watt, opened with ‘This house will surely last’ and then played a song with lyrics by Lesley (Mrs Watt), which Simon had turned into a song as a romantic surprise (you old smoothie) called, ‘The life time blues’.
Blues Slide: Neil is only 14 and gave us two brilliant old blues numbers - Elmore James’s ‘My baby’s gone’, was followed by ‘Long distance call’ by Muddy Waters. Neil played some excellent slide on his electric guitar and did a top job with the vocals. He was joined by the doyenne of Six Bells slide work, John Oddie.
A pair of Martins: Terry and Mel gave us a high speed and very dexterous rendition of ‘Duelling banjos’, yes, they did it without banjos, now that is clever. This was followed by a pretty rendition of Norman Blake’s ‘Bill Gray’.
Super group: Penny is an old style female blues singer and has become a regular at the Bells. For the big band sound, we had Chris Mansell on piano, John Oddie and Terry Lees on guitars and Paul on harmonica. ‘See see rider’ was followed by ‘I’ve got my mojo working’. The band were then escorted back to their seats and the stage was reconfigured for the next act.
Nylon strung guitar: Ian had waited patiently all evening for his first slot at the Bells and as the clock ticked towards the witching hour, he gave nice renditions of ‘Walking in Memphis’ and the Leonard Cohen classic. ‘Suzanne’.
He’s back: John Oddie had been busy all night with playing and desk duties and this time was accompanying Rachel, who gave us pretty renditions of ‘Angel of Montgomery’ and ‘Dark end of the street’.
Five-Piece Ensemble: We closed with three numbers by Corin and his band, Cobrettii - featuring: piano, bass, guitar and percussion. They had a great sound and were very visual and dynamic. It was a great way to end the evening. Songs: ‘Behold the hurricane’, ‘Gina’ and ‘One for rock and roll’.
Thank you very much and goodnight: A big shout out and thanks go to John Oddie and Clive Woodman for manning the desk. After a quick dismantle of the sound system, I jumped in the motor and headed for home at 12:20am. Long live the singer songwriter x
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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