Hosted by Ella
Through wind rain and water we assembled for the first F&B Open Mic evening of 2024. Happy New Year everyone and looking forward to brighter and better times.
Unlike the large Christmas gathering, we were a much smaller group of performers, and so we all had the opportunity to sing a third song. I opened the session accompanying myself on bouzouki singing (Down by) Black Waterside, a traditional folk song probably originating from the River Blackwater area of Northern Ireland. I heard this many, many years ago on an album by Bert Jansch. I followed this with Patty Griffin’s ‘Truth’. My third song was Joni Mitchell’s positive and upbeat ‘Carey’.
Lance, who also spent most of the evening behind the sound desk came forward also to sing about a River, ‘The Old River’, but this was about growing up in East Southampton in the post-war boom and observing the many changes since that time. His second song was ‘Hot Summer Day’ with skylarks, fishing and enjoying the shade. (Hard to imagine at this moment!). His final song for the evening was ‘Black Lives Matter’.
We missed Simon on the last session of the year because with so many performers, we ran out of time for everyone to sing. I was so looking forward to his ‘God’s Christmas Card’ and ‘Too much Snow if You Get my Drift’. We got to hear them both this evening. God’s Christmas Card was Simon’s third song later on, but to follow the snowy song with the high chill factor and advice to stay in front of the fire he sang a Percy Sledge song ‘What am I living For’ (if not for you, nobody else will do) with Frank on harmonica.
Jason sat at the mic to sing ‘Another Year, Another Song’, ….. ‘his young girl looked the same ….. but get out of that cage … loving you once again’ with a bluesy ending. Jason enjoys a long ‘outro’. He was performing solo this evening but his second song, ‘Sing through the Barbed Wire’ was co-written with Lisa. The song was about persecuted people and how ‘Live and love’ as we are taught should allow them to ‘Rise to the top of the sky… fly agelessly … for centuries she’s burned … It’s always the darkest hour before the dawn’. His third song was a Doors cover: Wintertime Love and a really lovely song it was.
Chris was reconnecting with his past and sang a couple of songs that were written pre-Heather where he was looking for ‘Something to Believe’, then ‘Paper Wings’ (4 years before Heather) where he ‘watched her fly away’. His last song was a rocking version of ‘Toast for One’ with support from Heather.
Mike followed with some fancy blues guitar that lead into ‘Come in My Kitchen’ .. ‘it’s going to be rainin’ outdoors, a Robert Johnson song released in 1937. Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (30 years younger, released in 1967) came next and there was audience participation on the Sha La La Las. His final song had him reminiscing about Keith, someone who had come along to a restaurant with a different show-girl every time. The memory took us into a Bread song written by David Gates: ‘Here comes the waiter with a bill on the tray, life can be so hard at times, hard to succeed but easy to fail…’ I didn’t actually get the title. Apologies.
It’s a glum time of year for Heather because of the need to pay taxes… and the weather doesn’t help! (Well the weather has been miserable, stormy and exceedingly wet.) She sang a Lindisfarne’s ‘Wintersong’ about giving a thought for Jesus, the homeless…. When winter comes howling in’. It was sing-along time again with Mary Hopkin’s song from 1968: ‘Those were the days’ and her final song was the Carole King song made famous by James Taylor: ‘You’ve got a friend’.
Frank plugged into his new effects pedal (which produced a lot of reverb) and sang Dylan’s ‘You’re a Big Girl Now’. With support on three chords by Jason and a bit of tambourine from myself, Frank went into another Dylan song: ‘Shelter from the storm’. This song has many verses, possibly as many as ten, but of course it is a good story with a great number of words. His last song was ‘Walk Away Renee’ released by The Four Tops in 1967.
Emma’s sister visited the club last year and performed a clog dance which has apparently reached half a million views on Face Book. That might be just a few more views than anything else performed at the Six Bell Folk and Blues Club. Accompanying herself on yukele, Emma delivered her spoken song/poem ‘I don’t Believe in Christmas Anymore’ and drew attention to the overt commercialism and that at a time when Peace and Love figure strongly in the Christmas message it appears to have little influence on the many wars going on. She mentioned the Middle East in particular 10 -12 years ago, because then, as now there was suffering bloodshed and war: ‘Children still suffer in Bethlehem … on and on they lie about Christmas’. Listing the current warzones and conflicts around the world she asks ‘How can they believe in Christmas anymore?’ She followed this with her wry poem about weight issues and dieting: ‘When I’ve finished those doughnuts I’ll think about trying’…… I’m a victim of culture, I’m not fat!’. Her final poem of the evening was a bit of ‘baa-humbug’ : ‘Christmas List’. This contained all manner of gifts she might chose to send to irritating people, with concepts including cat-poo cake for the neighbour and a rottweiler as a gift to sort out the mountainous quantity of ingredients for said cake by dealing with the number of cats creating it. As the title suggests, there was a list of delightful gifts for the neighbours. She really had us laughing.
Manus with his baritone guitar delivered his version of ‘Woodstock’ by Joni Mitchell, It was written for piano but worked well with the depth of sound produced by this unusual guitar accompaniment. The mood was more contemplative as he sang ‘The Serenity Prayer’. This prayer was used in the YWCA in the 1930s and became the default prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1940s: ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference’. It was written by the American Protestant theologian and scholar Reinhold Niebuhr in the early 1930s. It has appeared in many religious/spiritual and secular contexts, and has been used and quoted in many different places by many people for providing comfort and hope. In the 1960s it became widely used on cards and far more widely known. Manus finished the evening with ‘Singing the Blues’ where everything’s wrong and nothing ain’t right without you ….’ A rock and roll song released in 1956 by Tommy Steele.
As usual, we had a very eclectic selection of performers and performances which is the very spirit of the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club as it was established and nurtured by Chris Mansell, sadly no longer with us, but permanently remembered in the legacy of the club and also in the shape of a photograph now hanging on the wall.
Thank you all for coming out on this wild evening, and especially to Jason who, as usual, rocks up and gets everything set up and to Lance for manning the desk for most of the evening.
See you all soon, Ella
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.