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
6th February 2018
So, here I am, as your new host, who is delighted to have been asked to join in the running of this long-standing local music club. Well, my first ever night as host was great fun, and I was made to feel most at ease by all of you who came along. Especially as I was taking the place of my dear friend, Mike Aldridge, who is stepping down after years of loyal support.
Billed as a 'Blues Night' I, therefore, opened the proceedings with my self-penned song "Blues is a Country", my own rally cry for the forgotten heroes of the Country Blues, whose influence is so often around us, but never really fully credited. One of those heroes being Arthur "Blind Boy" Blake, whose mirthsome little song celebrating the sins of the flesh, "Diddy Wah Diddy", I did follow with. And I gave a nod to another Blues legend, Big Bill Broonzy, by top and tailing the song with a piece of his guitar blues boogie. I also threw down the gauntlet in trying to fashion the evening's most stretched out, and ever-so-slightly-self-indulgent, ending to a song. I have recently attracted a degree of opprobrium for this habit of mine, so I felt I had to fight back! Ha! Ha! Only joking, of course, as I only wanted us all to fill that room with love!!!!!
Anyway, the stretched lips from certain quarters of the audience began to relax as I put down my guitar and proceeded to introduce the fine gathering of performers, starting with Manus & Paul, who laid down some infectious electric blues. Paul on electric Fender Bass guitar was a cool foil to Manus, who rung out some beautifully cooking blues on his Fender Telecaster. Their songs were the classic "Drown In My Own Tears" (written by Henry Glover), Cream's version of "Crossroads" (written by Robert Johnson), and a lovely 12-bar instrumental jam to close their fine set.
Then Simon played a beautiful and sensitive set, including gentle readings of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis", and you can't have a blues night without a nod to Memphis, can you? But then he topped this with a fine and fitting tribute to our dear friend, Chris Liddiard, by playing one of Chris's many simple and beautiful songs, "Someone Like You". Chris has been such a supporter of the local music scene and so many of us owe him so much. So, Chris, if you are reading this, I hope you are well and I want to say how much I have appreciated your efforts over the years.
Chris Martin is one of the most prolific songwriters on the local scene and a staunch supporter of so many open mic nights in these parts, so it was a pleasure to introduce him as he played guitar and sang his songs of experience including "Many Ways To Pay", "Life Ain't Been Easy". And then he did something really special as he sat at the old bar-room piano and poured his heart out on the beautifully chilling "Right For Me".
Penny then returned for her own set, accompanied by the wonderfully talented Keith Willson, who played some fantastic blues piano. Penny just gets into the classic blues with a heartful of soul and is always great to have along at any music evening. It was a classic set covering "Careless Love", "Walking Blues" and "Stormy Monday".
Lisa has been a regular performer on the open mic scene for many years and it is always a joy to hear her voice and accompaniment playing her sweet sounding Martin guitar. She covered two classics, one sung by her idol Elvis, "I need your love tonight" (written by Sid Wayne and Bix Reichner) and the incomparable "Georgia on my Mind" (by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell). That brought back sweet memories. And so it was an absolute pleasure to join her for a duet version of my father, Gerry Lockran's song "The Lifeline", a song about helping each other through the tough times.
I've known Helga for about 12 years and she has always been so supportive of so many music events locally and so I was delighted for Lisa and her to perform "Carrie", that most uplifting Joni Mitchell song, and The Everly Brothers bittersweet but upbeat "Gone Gone Gone". Then Keith once again provided fantastic accompaniment on guitar as Helga, on flute, and he treated us to an instrumental blues.
It is always great to welcome new talent to any of our open mic nights, and we were treated to a fabulous set by a young guy named Chris Shepherd, who played a beautifully resonant guitar and augmented his fluid playing with tapping and percussive slaps around the body of the acoustic. He covered three songs by Newton Faulkner, including "Teardrops", "Clouds" and "I'm not giving up yet". I've checked Chris out on Facebook via his 'Chris Shepherd - Guitarist' page and I think we need some more talented young performers like him to come along to our music nights.
Our dear friend Clive then stepped up to treat us to a sweet interpretation of Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain", a song that never loses its resonance.
Tonight was a joy for me, not least because we were treated to some lovely female voices from Penny, Lisa and Helga, and so Ella took her turn and sat at the piano and enchanted us with her sweet and special blues. Ella is a wonderfully engaging performer and her "Sporting Life Blues", Bonnie Raitt's "Love Me Like A Man", and Chris Smithers's "I'll guess you'll never know" captured the evening's mood so well. Beautiful, Ella!
Keith Willson then took the stage with his guitar for his own set, after providing so much great accompaniment, and laid out a melange of blues and jazz to close the evening so wonderfully.
So thank you all for your support. It was great fun hosting and I look forward to doing so again.
But I will see you for the next session which I understand is hosted by our dear friend, Chris Martin, who is deserving of the same generous support.
Until then, you all take care.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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