22nd January 2019
This is my grumpy face, I thought I would share it with you. It is because we started at 6 minutes past eight, yes six whole minutes late! We can and must do better than this. Next time we will start at seven fifty-four to make up this lost time. Ella, please note.
My first song, sung over the sound of people talking, walking about, opening guitar cases, standing with their back to me and (not that I am complaining) generally ignoring me, was aptly “I’d rather be lonely” by Louden Wainwright lll, I followed this with Gillian Welch’s “Annabelle”.
The evening went downhill from there and when I tell you that Chris Martin (yes, Chris Martin) had to tune his guitar before he could start you can see what a pitiless hand I had been dealt. Anyhow, Chris growled his way through “Ghost” and followed this with “Tick Tock” this time with a metronome making the tick-tock sound. The highlight of his performance was Simon on his sax – don’t take my word for it you can see it for yourself on the new YouTube channel – here.
Keith Willson then stepped forward with a very funny poem about “Athletes Foot” – all the reasons to avoid swimming pools you will ever need, set to rhyme - more of Keith later.
I don’t know what our swimming instructress Heather thought of the poem, she wisely didn’t say. Instead she played us Jim Croce’s “Time in a bottle” on her mellow nylon strings. She also sung for us “So far away” by Carole King.
Mark is fairly new to the 6 Bells and made a terrible mistake – he sat right at the back where there is no heating! This meant playing Rudy Toomes’s “One scotch, one bourbon, one beer” with frostbitten fingers. He then bravely attempted a guitar piece during which one of his frozen fingers detached, fell through the sound-hole, and rattled irritatingly throughout. Never mind Mark, we have all made this mistake at some time or another.
Then came the turn of John with a couple of songs by Bob Fox, “The year will rise up again” and “Virginia”. I don’t know about the rabble but I was seriously impressed. This is a man who can really present, sing and play - so I don’t suppose we will be seeing him again (but we can hope).
Lance is another song-smith honing his skills and he came up with two great songs “My dad” and “Happy new year”, both were well executed and interesting. At this point I thought we were on a roll and then George, Mary, Helen and Roberto decided that an hour and forty minutes was too long to wait to play, and left, leaving a big hole in my list and the audience. What can you do?
Fortunately Natasha, who we have not seen for a while is more patient and, as always, produced some great traditional ballads “When first I came to Caledonia” and “Barrack Street”.
Time for the Lisa & Jason combo. Jason started with the Doors,” Wishful , sinful” and was joined by Lisa singing one of his father Gerry’s songs which, if only they had remembered the new policy of emailing the song list to the blogger, I could name. Then “Into the white” by Cat Stevens.
More poetry now from Sylvie. Rabbie Burn’s “My heart is in the Highlands” and his famous “Dormouse” – you know, the the one about the “wee timorous beastie”.
Talking of beasties, Keith and Simon returned for a little cooool jazz. “Take five” followed by a very moody “Over the rainbow”. Keith on keyboard and Simon again on sax, both pieces sounding as if they had practised for weeks although I know this was not the case. Ah, if only I had their musical intelligence (or any other form for that matter).
Up next was the late night coffee guzzling Manus. Considering the temperature in the room “Light my fire” was a great (or grate) choice. He then surprised us by saying he would play a Country & Western number – no, I couldn’t believe it either. Hank William’s “Your cheating heart” – with lots of sharps and flats in it – who knew?
Finally and gallantly came Clive who has patience down to an art form (give him a good spot next time Ella). Clive did indeed send me an email to say what he would be playing it read; “The Letter” by American band The Box Tops from 1967, written by Wayne Carson Thompson and “Love minus Zero” by someone called Bob Dylan”. He was worth the wait.
Lastly, I finished the evening with “Bring it on home to me” by Sam Cooke, accompanied on sax by Simon. I have to say, I really enjoyed Simon’s sax backing – he is a great asset to the fun of the evening.
I hope you enjoy my selection of videos, some great performances starting with Mary Gautier supported by Mary Elizabeth on violin. If you don’t know J D Souther, he is a singer songwriter and had collaborated with many big names and bands, most notably, The Eagles. Neil Young is always a joy but I think this unplugged performance is especially good – I love his backing singers.
Thanks to Chris for running the sound, Heather for the photo and to Lisa for sorting out the jug.
Next time Ella is running the evening. Don’t forget, get to the Six Bells early, coats off (or on if you sit at the back), guitars out of their cases and in tune, drinks bought, sitting quietly in your chairs ready to start at seven fifty-four – I know she will appreciate it. Thanks for coming, and for those who did, staying. I will be running the club again in May – can’t wait!
7th January 2019
The new mood of punctuality was in evidence as I asked Simon what time the club started. “Fifteen minutes ago.” came the stern reply. I’d brought the electric piano and it was well set up, so opened with Albert Collin’s Too Many Dirty Dishes. Saw Albert in the Eighties at the Town and Country Club in London. He had a very distinctive guitar style, sharp and indeed cutting, - a Telecaster with a capo way, way up, I think on the 12th fret.
Simon was cajoled into doing the first spot and showed a soft spot for people in Hard Times. Then a tale of Chris Liddiard. Apparently, Chris had asked Simon out of the blue “Are you going to write a song about me when I’m dead?” So, Simon did - and a very fine song too: Now that the Songwriter’s gone. He said he played it to Chris, who made no comment, so we’ll never know what he thought of it.
Heather took up her guitar and did one of her childhood favourites, when she grew up in Scotland: Annie Laurie and followed with The Seekers’ the Carnival is Over. That brought back childhood memories for me also of my Dad singing Island of Dreams, with my Mum on piano and my Brother and me on guitars.
Manus did Little Sister famously covered by Ry Cooder on his Bop ‘till you Drop album and indeed King Elvis himself, but actually written by Doc Pamus and Mort Schuman. He followed with Tired of Talkin’ by Robben Ford. Manus certainly knows his way around those frets.
Good to see Mark and John, new faces at the ‘Bells, who did some unashamed pop on acoustic guitar and mandolin including Crowded House’s Fall at Your Feet. The etcetera in “The Six Bells Folk, Blues etc. Club” was becoming more and more evident.
Jason was next up with his own Another Year Another Song. Then Lisa joined Jason for a song written and recorded by Jim Croce in the early 1970s but released posthumously: I Have to Say I Love You with this Song. The poignant Handbags and Gladrags, known as the theme music to The Office, and covered by Rod Stewart among many others, showed off their perfectly matched voices and perfect timing together. It really was a beautiful sound. Lisa finished with the Carpenters’ On top of the World.
It was great to see Helga again after several month’s absence. She joined Lisa’s last song with her magic flute and then stayed on at the microphone in her own right. I stepped up to the piano for what began as a Blues in E but we soon escaped the chord structure into a much freer improvisation.
Chris Martin, performed two self-penned songs You're gone and Sanity. Simon Farmer, who is a very recent addition to the Six Bells Jamming Ensemble and very welcome too, joined Chris on the second song with his soprano sax, which he plays on Chris’s latest CD.
Simon Farmer then took the limelight switching to Alto sax as I stayed at the piano for Billy Taylor’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free, better known as the Film 98 (et seq.) theme, followed by Lover man, Billy Holliday’s iconic song, but, according to the Mighty Interweb, written by Jimmy Davis, Roger ("Ram") Ramirez, and James Sherman (who they? ED.) and covered by so many other greats.
It seemed that the ‘Bells was rapidly turning into an outpost of Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express or Jazz After Dark. The Etcetera was gaining supremacy. However, the blues fought back and Penny Payne, stepped up to do her gutsy stuff. Simon was drawn back by the blues force field and we had a trio. Penny sang Stormy Monday and CC Rider. She’d been at Deanlands in Golden Cross the night before, backed by the amazing Terry Lees on guitar. With adequate performing space and a mobile microphone Penny’s personality knows no bounds.
Jane came up with her guitar and did a flawless rendition of her own song I’ll Go Anywhere with You, ably supported by Helga’s Zauberflöte, followed by Paul Simon’s Cathy’s Song. I think Jane has the largest repertoire of any of us.
John Stephens did Hotel California accompanying himself on guitar with some basic chords from me on piano following a cheat sheet. John finished the evening off with Talk to me Baby, for which Simon Farmer once again speeded the Alto to the front for a jam.
The sound system being switched off and being packed away and the audience gone, we fired up the acoustic piano for a short jam of Take 5 with Manus on Guitar and Simon on Sax. We made an un-passible stab at the chords in the bridge but that’s the way of Etcetera - the new musical Genre ably premiered this evening.
For my vids this time (on the Club homepage) I’ve put up firstly the most beautiful piece of choral music: O Magnum Mysterium by Morton Lauridsen, a magnificent living composer. Is it my imagination or has more live footage of Leadbelly been discovered/posted recently? I couldn’t find anything a few months ago, but here’s Take This Hammer, performed by the man himself in 1945, as my second offering. Thirdly, Judy Collins talks about and performs her song My Father (missing out the second verse). I listened to her Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Incessantly in 1971; an amazing folk rock album with notable tracks: Pretty Polly, First Boy I loved and a country version of Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire complete with pedal steel guitar.
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