16th October 2018
Another evening hosting at our beloved Six Bells. Another evening of friendship and music. And heavens, did someone need the lovely show of support that I was lucky enough to enjoy. And these early starts are the way to go considering how many performers we had to accommodate that night.
So I began the evening with a classic song of loss by Bob Dylan from that bittersweet album “Blood on the Tracks”. It has been two long years since I was filmed singing “Simple Twist of Fate” at the Six Bells and it is as poignant now as it was then. But after the loss there is the finding something new and so my own song “The day that I lost Fafaia” could be as much about moving on with a new hope as it is about loss.
And so to the first of our many guests, Jac, who is someone I only seen play a few times but his muscular strumming and gravelly voice make a powerful combination. He sang of watching the world go by and being a million miles from here but also proclaimed that the sun was still shining on him today.
One of the most warm and engaging performers on the scene is Keith Warner who treated us to a heartfelt rendition of The Everly Brothers hit “Walk Right Back” (written by Sonny Curtis), and then he covered a chilling socio-political song by Devonian Folk legends Show of Hands called “Cousin Jack” about Cornish miners emigrating to Australia.
The prolific song-writing of Chris Martin continues with the release of a new album “Journey Part 1” and tonight he performed maybe the greatest song that Johnny Cash never recorded, “The Man”. I could hear another voice inside my head accompanying him as he sang. And so I was sheltered from the pain. And then, he rolled out “Sanity”, full of humanity even through its dark, foreboding riff.
The un-accompanied solo voice can be most powerful and Zoe stepped up next to treat us to just such a performance. A brief but incisive version of The Zutons song “Valerie”, which was also sung by the late, great Amy Winehouse, another beautiful talent now lost. Zoe then dazzled with her fabulous blues on Willie Dixon’s song “I just want to make love to you”, famously sung by both Etta James and Muddy Waters.
I’m delighted to have become friends with Manus over the last year or so and his performances are always thrilling as cooks up such intoxicating brews and tonight, with his hollow-bodied Ibanez guitar and tiny amplifier, he stirred up those blues and jazz stylings with a unique take on Erroll Garner’s classic “Misty”. Breaking up the chords like none other, all the licks and chops were there as Manus continued by mixing up two classics by The Beatles and Cream as “We can work it out” and “Sunshine of your Love” entwined before us.
Sylvia also treats us to a beautiful un-accompanied vocal performance and her musical readings of Robert Burns poetry are always a joy to hear; tonight she performed a Burns poem as sung by Scottish soldiers, but to a French tune as they would not use English tunes.
Now for the most striking looking performer of the evening, my vote would have to go to Fred Meyer, who I have been delighted to have perform at my “Open Space” music and poetry evenings in Lewes. Fred gives the most arresting spoken words performances and tonight he made raw poetry out of a song by Punk legends Punishment of Luxury and then chilled us with the amazing Louis Barrabus’s “The Tell-Tale Hound”. There is nobody quite like Fred and he gives these evenings a thrilling dynamic.
Simon then treated us to his delicate country picking as he sweetly sang Iris Dement’s “Sweet is the Melody”. He then hilariously proclaimed he was considering performing “Wuthering Heights” by the divine Kate Bush, but had a problem with his leotard. Or something like that. I know the problem, but, ahem, maybe we should just get back to the music. Er, yes, let’s do that shall we? Er, well, not before we “get with it” (do people still say that sort of thing these days? Or am I definitely NOT “with it” by saying “get with it”?) . . . and finally cover some LGBT issues at the Six Bells because that has been sadly lacking from recent theme nights. So Simon re-addressed this Politically Correct imbalance that has blighted our scene with his mirthful and “hetero-normative” re-working of “Making Whoopee”, originally written by lyricist Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson. Who knows, maybe Gus Kahn could have written such a lyric himself?
Natasha Norodien, the most striking new folk voice that I’ve heard for a few years then stepped up and beautifully sang and played a version of 19th Century English Folk ballad “Canadee-I-O”. Natasha’s guitar playing is such perfect accompaniment to her beautiful voice and she is so worthy of covering such classic material.
My dear friend Lisa then performed a couple of duets with me and, as we are preparing for a concert with the wonderful Natasha and our other good friend Terry Lees, we played a couple of old favourites of ours. Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s “Georgia On My Mind” will always bring us back to you. As will Stephen Stills’s “And so begins the task”. And we can’t live without you now.
Another beautiful female voice followed, that of our dear friend Ella, accompanying herself on bouzouki, sensitively covering those two incomparable female artistes, as she sang Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going” and Patty Griffin’s “Useless Desires”. Songs with some sense of loss and how to deal with it. Lovely performances, Ella.
Heather also sang of loss and gave such an emotional performance. It was very moving to behold and she poured so much into a couple of John Denver songs including the beautiful “My Sweet Lady”. And . . . how long have any of us got? At the end, there is always some sort of loss.
Mark is a very direct and impassioned performer and sings his self-penned songs of powerful messages and tonight he reminded us of the tragic event of the Grenfell Tower fire. This darkness was then countered by his more light-hearted, but very relevant “A Boy Named Sue, A Girl Named Ian”, inspired by a member of the bar staff from a Deptford pub he frequented.
Cliff was another performer new to me and he treated us to the sounds of his mandolin and sang a song to remind us that this life is probably the only one we’re ever likely to have so let’s live it because we’re not yet ready to be pushing up daisies. Cliff then ironically delved back into the mid-19th Century USA to sing the folk song “I wish I was a mole in the ground”.
John is another very genuine performer and he gave us a heartfelt reading of Jimi Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary” before treating us to a glimpse of that other God, Eric Clapton, and played a simple and direct bit of guitar blues.
Closing the evening I was delighted to welcome Dave, who also hosts a very enjoyable open mic night at the Blackboys pub on the Tuesdays that are in-between our Six Bells sessions. Dave is a performer of great experience, knowledge and deep love for the music he plays, and he covered Magna Carta’s song “The Boatman” before rounding off the night with a another song of loss; the towering classic that is Marvin Gaye’s “I heard it through the grapevine” (written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).
An evening that touched on loss was also an inspiration to move on and gain something new.
Thank you, all of my friends, for turning up to perform and listen.
I was so grateful for your support.
I needed it.
Until next time . . . .
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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