Before my taste in music moved across the pond, I’d grown up with 70’s British rock music. A perk of being MC, is you get to choose three videos to go on the website home page for two whole weeks - power hey. I’ve gone with ones featuring the best UK rock singer, Paul Rogers, the coolest UK rock guitarist, Richie Blackmore and my fav UK rock bassist, John Entwistle and I’ve picked some raw recordings of them, on (probably) their most famous songs.
A room full: We had 15 performers and a few non-playing listeners - so, I needed to keep the chat down and execute quick changes. I thought about banning on-stage tuning, but knew that was a step too far for the folkies. Why do you need a different tuning for each song, EADGBE works for me. Anyway, my mission was to give everyone two songs and get us out before the witching hour.
I fired up the distortion on my old Shadow electric guitar and launched the evening with one of my riff driven rock songs, ‘Always there’. Then, some ping-pong echo from my old Zoom processor for ‘The future’s so vague’, which it is.
Mr 3 coffees, jazz Manus gave us a Chuck Berry style thing for his granddaughter, with a song called ‘Pink Ukulele’ and then a lot of fast fingers on fretboard on an instrumental called, ‘Naima’, written for sax by John Coltrane.
Jane without a Y and her Dobro lap steel was inspired by the Anthony Newly version of ‘Feeling good’ and the Bessie Smith song, ‘Looking for my man’ and she sent her man out to the car for a first-aid kit to rest her feet on!
Our leader was up next, we call him Simon and he was proud to announce the world premiere of ‘The dummy in the Tesla’, inspired by Elon Musk and his rocket launcher and featuring a crash test dummy and some space odyssey. And then an Eagles number, ‘It’s your world now’ - sure, when hell freezes over.
Some of the White Horsers had set up camp in the far corner and Glyn was first up with the 1928 number, ‘California Blues’ by Jimmie Rogers - followed by, ‘Get rhythm’ by Johnny Cash, which, when I was a boy was the punch line to a joke about condom machines - sorry. Moving on, there was also something about bum cheeks, but I didn’t understand.
Glyn returned to White Horse corner and was replaced by Paula, with a song for peace, ‘From a distance’. As you know, I like a self-penned number and Paula closed with one of hers, ‘I promise’ - I hope she keeps it.
What can I say about Frank, well, to be frank, quite a lot! He dug an E harmonica out of his box of said instruments and regaled us with a couple of his ditties - first up, ‘Call me dog call me Rover’, which reminded me of the Hendrix lyric from Fire, ‘Move over Rover and let Jimi take over’. ‘The rending of the veil’ is Frank’s magnum opus and tells the complete history of the world in a four-minute song - now that is ambitious.
We had two Aldridge brothers in the room, Michael was just here to listen, whilst Bob was next up and gave us two songs that I could sing along with - which is good fun for me, but probably not so cool if you’re standing next to me. ‘Whatever happened to Saturday night’ - good question, I could ask Glenn Frey, but he’s sadly left the building. And to finish, we had ‘El Paso’ from 1959 by Marty Robbins, although the version I’m familiar with, is by the Grateful Dead.
No mic Silvie: although she did have a go at dismantling the stage area much to the chagrin of our soundman - the enforcer, known simply as Clive. A big shout out for Clive at this point, for doing a top job as soundman. Once the mics were safe, we had a bit of Rabbie Burns a cappella style - all about, stormy seas and being far away.
The soundman’s turn: Clive gave us two of his own - ‘Can’t imagine’ and then to quote Clive, ‘a happier song, about walking on the South Downs Way and Skylarks in February’ - called, ‘Is it summer so soon’.
Clive was back on the desk and next up it was Jayne with a Y, who’d been hanging out at White Horse corner. Following Glyn’s lead, Jayne launched with ‘I still miss someone’ by Johnny Cash and then with her capo on fret 4 she finished with ‘Killing the blues’, before returning to coin de cheval blanc.
Ella was a little disorganised tonight, she’d lost her Bouzouki pickup and had forgotten her specs. Anyway, we stuck a mic in front of her instrument and she delivered Patty Griffin’s ‘Useless desires’ in a style influenced by Joni Mitchell, and followed that with a song by the Canadian song writing legend, ‘Urge for going’ - and then she went, all the way back to her front row seat in anticipation of number 13, a man with a driver.
Dave Dyke has an esteemed history at the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club going back into the last century. He also had a driver, his wife/partner of 50 years, who he dedicated his songs to. ‘In the heat of the summer’, is a political song by Phil Ochs. To finish: Dave said he was big fan of the late Tom Petty and he’d just learnt to play, ‘Running down a dream’.
Terry Lees was the last visitor to the stage from White Horse corner and opened with a dexterous interpretation of the Leadbelly song, ‘Pick a bale of cotton’. After a quick retune, Terry closed with ‘Blues run the game’ by Jackson C Frank.
Last, but not least, we had Nick Cant, our second a cappella artist of the evening. ‘They carted him off on a stretcher’, by a Kentish group called Pigs Ear was followed by an amusing rewrite of The Beatles number, ‘When I’m 64’, in celebration of Nick’s upcoming 65th birthday - Happy Birthday Nick.
The last man exited stage left at 11:10pm - the crew dismantled the mighty PA and left the building. I got home five minutes before midnight. Thanks to all our performers, there really was a lot of different stuff tonight, which made for a great evening. See you next time. x
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