Hosted by Ella
The room was full of performers even though it looked somewhat empty as I arrived. Jason had the ‘list’ well underway. Phew. There were a couple of later arrivals, which isn’t unusual.
So with lucky thirteen ready to go, I opened the evening playing guitar (not my usual instrument) and sang Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1970 when she wrote it. It has taken a very long time for a more general acceptance of the importance of wildlife and nature and the amount of damage humanity continues to inflict on it. Let’s maybe just take a moment to consider and cherish the natural world and wildlife. It provides us with good therapy and makes our lives possible in so many ways. OK, off my soap box now. I went on to sing Prairie Town by written by Ruth Moody.
Clive had joined us this evening and he reprised my offering of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ last time, with an environmentally orientated Julian Lennon song, followed by a short ditty about potholes, taking his cue from the Beatles’ 4,000 holes in Blackburn: ‘A Day in the Life’ on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He completed his spot with a version of Supertramp’s ‘Goodbye Stranger.
Singing a cappella rather than speaking poetry this evening, Brenda sang the traditional song: ‘The River is Wide’. She remembered it as sung by The Seekers, when it gave her ‘the shivers’….. ‘love fades away like the morning dew….’Beautifully sung thank you Brenda.
Joseph hasn’t joined us at the Bells for a while but he went on to follow Brenda in a very different and confident style, accompanying himself on guitar. His first song by the Dead South’s ‘Gunslinger’s Glory’: I wanna be the best… the quickest draw … ‘ but ending with a bullet in the head. It felt like we were in the soundtrack to a ‘Western’. In a similarly strong style, he continued with ‘The Highway Man’, (originally a poem written by Alfred Noyes) inspired by a version sung by American songwriter and protest singer Phil Ochs. This also ended with redcoats, and some more blood and death.
As is so often the way of these evenings, there was another complete change of style and presentation as Helga, on flute, and Manus, on guitar, presented their interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing … ‘walking through the clouds ….. riding with the wind’. Manus then sang Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wildside’ with Helga accompanying him on flute. ‘It’s not a ‘trans-anthem’, said Manus, ‘it’s just sex, drugs and rock and roll’. It was released way back in 1972 on the album ‘Transformer’.
Hey, you got to Hide your Love Away was the following song, beautifully expressed by Jason and Lisa. Even older that the Lou Reed song, this Beatles song appeared on the ‘Help’ album in 1965. The blending and interweaving of both voice and guitar style continued with Bill Munroe’s Blue Moon of Kentucky. Keep on shining you two.
Emma’s week had been turned upside down by damage caused to her camper van by the very mechanics working on it, distracting her from song-writing plans. This meant that we heard her accompany herself on ukulele with ‘Can you tell me how to get an Irish Passport’, her very amusing observations about the inconvenience of Brexit. Well, we all laughed again, as we also did at her ‘Pollution Calypso’ which covered the ongoing fiasco of Southern Water’s far too frequent release of raw sewage into the sea, making the beach at Bexhill a hostile environment and ‘paddling in sewage in Pevensey’ (amongst other places of course) an unpleasant option.
Frank, Laura, Helga and Joseph together performed an extended version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Bojangles’ followed by another extended version of Dylan’s song ‘I Shall be Released’ originally recorded in 1967 with The Band. ‘I see my light come shining, from west unto the east ….’
‘Romeo and Juliet’ written by Mark Knopfler and recorded by Dire Straits in 1980, was Terry Lees first song. His second was fast and involved an impossible number of notes for the standard issue of five fingers per hand: ‘Music for a Found Harmonium’ by Penguin Café Orchestra.
Chris (Mansell) turned up this evening with a neighbour who sings, and Anita was a treat. With no more than a few minutes ‘rehearsal’, Chris sang ‘Summertime’ with Anita adding extra vocals. He played guitar and offered word prompts (not that you’d have noticed missing words really) and encouraged Anita to improvise. Wonderful. A real treat.
Chris continued solo with ‘If I was a Carpenter’, written by Tim Hardin in 1960 and performed by him at Woodstock in 1969. It has been recorded by various other artists including Bobby Darin, the Four Tops and Johhny Cash. Chris is another guitarist who appears to have more than the usual quota of fingers on each hand. He was joined by Terry with Lisa bringing in some tambourine on ‘Ting-a-ling’, originally recorded by The Clovers in 1952: ‘The way they laugh, the way they sing, makes my heart go ting-a-ling’.
With Jason singing and playing Leadbelly’s ‘Take this Hammer’, (a prison, logging and railroad song), Helga played blues alongside, with a couple of solo spots on flute. Laura livened up the presentation wielding a tambourine.
The Whale and the Dragon (Martin and Sheila) had been quietly waiting in the shadows. Their name is based on animal spirits, apparently due to the problem of finding a name to share for their performances together, with Sheila being the dragon and Martin, the whale. ‘My Hot Air Balloon’ was a song about solitude and deepening connectivity with people. They followed with ‘Joy in my Soul’, celebrating a time to be alone whilst enjoying joy in the soul. These songs were ‘sparse’ and airy after the density and intensity of the previous few songs.
Olly was remembering a friend, Stevie Stone, who has recently passed away, as he sang Bob Dylan’s ‘She belongs to me’, observing how powerful it must be to ‘Take the dark out of the night time and paint the daytime black’….’She’s an artist’. His second song was Goldwatch Blues by singer-songwriter Mick Softley, but probably better known through Donovan’s cover version of 1965.
Monica hasn’t been here with us for a while, but this evening she was back in style with her ukele, and backing vocals from Laura and Lisa, to sing Fisherman’s Blues: ‘I will be the fisherman, with light in my head and you in my arms’, (The Waterboys). To end the evening, and what a great evening it was, she sang John Denver’s ‘I’m leavin’ on a jet plane’.
The Merry Month of May is a poem in the play ‘The Shoemaker’s Holiday’ by Thomas Dekker (1572 – 1632) first performed in 1599:
‘O the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green…....
Nightingale, the pretty nightingale, the sweetest singer in the forest…’
May has turned the world has very green, trees and plants billowing with bright new leaves all over the place, and everywhere, including the roadsides, crowded with flowers and colour, but where are the bees and the buzzing things? When did anyone last hear a nightingale sing?
With thanks to everyone who joined us at the Six Bells for the evening, and to Jason for getting the room set-up in advance and manning the sound desk.
Take care and see you soon, Ella
For your diary perhaps:
Terry Lees and Natasha Norodien’s CD launch: 7pm for 7.30 at Bridge Cottage, Uckfield
Joseph’s Runt in Tun (Heathfield) evenings 8 – 10pm on last Wednesday of the month
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
Note - You can leave a comment - by click ing on the blue "comments" link at the top and bottom of the blog.