6 Bells Web log Feb18 2020.
Another wet, windy February evening with treacherous driving conditions on route. Who would be prepared to come out on a night like this? On arrival, tumbleweed blew across the deserted car park and a funereal atmosphere pervaded the bar. Appreciating why some people would prefer to be in the coffin rather than give the eulogy at a funeral, I anticipated that hosting an open mic whilst simultaneously dying a death on stage would definitely constitute a double whammy; yet overseeing one’s demise in a near empty room might be the best I could hope for tonight, unlike the subject of my first chosen video, who ably copes with one of the potential pitfalls of performing live - but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once I’d felt my way round the walls and turned on the lights, I was very grateful to see that Simon had set up the equipment. Due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to attend that evening; oh, how we’ll miss your sagacity and wisdom, your dead pan drollery, your reassuring presence - your clearing away the kit at the end of the evening.
I settled down for a long wait as the hour approached. Could this be a first? Inevitably not, for in dribs and drabs, bodies emerged from the gloom to present themselves for inclusion on the list. By eight-thirty, we had the makings of a credible evening of eclectic entertainment. Twelve performers in total, prepared to play solo or à deux.
I kicked off proceedings with the Hank William’s classic ‘You Win Again’ followed by ‘City of Stars’ from the film La La Land. John B. then joined me for ‘Fall at your Feet’ by Crowded House and as a finale we played ‘Riverside’, originally by the 1970’s acoustic guitar trio, America.
I duly resorted to my default position of wildly casting around for reasons why my performance was flawed - it had to be the frostbite, the foldback, the feedback, the acid flashback…sorry Lance, the sound man will always be the easiest target. Unperturbed, John B. soloed with his self-penned ‘Homeward’, and very accomplished it was too. No sound problems there.
A new face on the scene was Anthony, playing an acoustic with the appearance of a beautifully figured walnut burl top - either that or someone had had a go at it with a blow torch. Notwithstanding, Anthony gave us two self-penned numbers, ‘My Plastic Mind’ and ‘Day by Day’ - both agreeably professional and very well received. Was it just me or was there a hint of Eau de Gallagher detectable in the room? Anthony warned us mid song of an impending difficult chord - to my untutored eye a B♭7, or possibly a C911, a Cm11 or was it just plain old fashioned C11? I wish you‘d let on, Anthony.
Abandoning his desk duties, Lance of Seaford (Retired) was up next to perform two original numbers entitled respectively ‘Pick up Yer Dog S**t’ and ‘Mustn’t Grumble’ - the former self explanatory, the latter an unapologetic, unashamedly audacious pro-Tory anthem. Who’d have ever thought that of Lance, our very own South Coast Billy Bragg? A little bit of devilment on my part there but as always, clever, topical, insightful and melodic songs.
Ella arranged herself at the piano, laser powered LEDs flooding her sheet music, and gave us Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’, one of the most beautiful songs from the Summer of Love era (and Joni wasn’t even there, opting instead to watch the coverage on television!). Multi-instrumentalist Ella is a dab hand at the ivories - and so immersed was I by her technique, that I failed to note her second song. I can remember that it was also well received.
Up next was the turn of Penny accompanied by Keith on his ES-175 archtop, a splendid instrument allowing his prowess over a whole gamut of jazz chords to be ably demonstrated. Penny made light work of the blues classic ‘Careless Love’ à la Bessie Smith, and followed up with the traditional 12-bar blues ‘C.C. Rider’.
Keith continued solo with the Rodgers and Hart Jazz standard ‘My Funny Valentine’ and then a formidable a cappella version of an original piece entitled ‘Telescope’. I trust I got that factually right, Keith.
The ever patient and accommodating Clive followed next with Gerry Rafferty’s ‘The Royal Mile’, a performance that pulsed with energy and evocation. Gerry Rafferty obviously had a thing for popular odonyms and his most famous song featured a saxophone solo by Raphael Ravenscroft, who sadly died aged sixty. Ravenscroft claimed that ‘Baker Street’ irritated him because his solo was flat. Never mind, it reputedly earned him £80,000 a year in royalties. Clive’s second number was his own original ‘Is it Summer so Soon?’ - if only, if only.
Now the turn of Lisa and Jason. Lisa told us that she had come across one of Jason’s discarded poems, which was rescued and turned into the lovely song ‘Cat’s Cradle’. This was followed by Stephen Stills’s ‘Helplessly Hoping’. True to the spirit of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Jason forgot his lines thus rewarding us with another round. Such close harmony and beautiful intertwined guitars…I’ll say no more.
John came armed with an acoustic plus a seven stringed electric to perform a number from one of the greatest albums ever recorded… there, it’s in print! If you ever saw Pink Floyd or one of the tribute bands (which can sound better than the original) ‘Breathe’ is the track that personifies Dark Side of the Moon in it’s entirety. This was followed by ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two)’, a Roger Waters inspired epic of a number. Even in the environs of a folk club, it prompted the audience to light up their iPhones and sing along to the chorus.
Helga Dittmar enticed Keith to accompany her on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’, a song inspired by the man she spent time with in a hippie cave commune on Crete (Joni, not Helga). There followed a sad blues ‘Too Sad to Sing the Blues’ which involved bashing the guitar top for percussive effect - as Helga explained, ‘it does make it go out of tune!’ There’s room here for a very funny domestic joke… but I’ll stifle the urge. There appear to be several incarnations of this desperate blues out there, but unfortunately whatever I noted at the time was washed off the page by my tears.
The evening was drawing to a close and with what remained, I elected to ask Anthony to return for one number and then draw names from a hat. Anthony chose The Who’s ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, a behemoth of a number, but ably carried off all the same.
Penny and the indomitable Keith were then drawn and returned for another troubled blues number possibly called ‘Troublin’ Blues’, but I can’t say for sure since at this point I was having trouble keeping a lid on my own emotions.
Lisa and Jason were drawn next and elected to perform ‘What a Wonderful World’ - and what a wonderful end to a night that had initially shown so little promise.
Thank you to all the performers, the regulars, Lance on sound duties and Clive for stage management.
It just remains to mention my chosen videos. John Martyn’s live performance of ‘Solid Air’ begins three and a half minutes in, after replacing a broken string with the aid of his teeth (he did enjoy a drink!). Although a virtuoso rendition, it’s also a masterclass in how not to present yourself on stage - but I doubt he ever suffered stage fright.
Pentangle’s ‘Light Flight’ was used as the theme from “Take Three Girls”, BBC1’s first colour drama series in 1969.
Finally, Cara Dillon’s ‘Hill of Thieves’, written by Cara and her husband Sam Lakeman who is also performing on guitar.
Tuesday February 4th
It was a star- studded evening at Chiddingly. - But instead of studying the stars, we decided to play some music and sing some songs.
I began with one of my own songs, 'Runaround', which gives advice about avoiding the type of woman that might be trouble. "That girl's just a Runaround - She's gonna bring you down - She's gonna fool around with all the boys in town." This song has a guitar solo in the middle, but I chose to play the solo at the start, as an extended intro to the song. Have I ever mentioned that all my songs are available on line? Yes I have. ( Search Clive Woodman).
My second effort was a song that I was going to do two weeks ago, but I had a problem. - I wasn't here two weeks ago, so I couldn't do it!
This was 'The Weaver and the Factory Maid'. a song done by Steeleye Span, as well as by many others. In my video choices I have put the Steelye Span version, with Maddy Prior singing it as it should be done.
Some of you will have heard my story of Maddy Prior giving me first aid. Some years ago,Kate and I went up to a three day music workshop run by Maddy at Stone Barn. On one of the days, I fell down some steps in her house, and cut my knee quite badly. Maddy leapt into action, and kindly bandaged me up. I wonder how many other people could make such a claim?
There was a new face tonight, in the shape of Derek Walmsley. - Although he said later that he had been here years ago. Brave man to come back a second time!
He gave us a cheerful cover of the Bobby Darin song -'Things.' He managed to immediately engage us in audience participation, and we echoed the lyrics in the appropriate places, and 'Things'. - It's not often we get audience reaction so early in the proceedings.
Derek followed this with the song done by Gene Pitney 'Twenty four hours from Tulsa'.
My research tells me that the quickest time from Gatwick to Tulsa is 15hrs 40mins. (with 2 stops). If you add to this the time from Chiddingly to Gatwick, and check-in time etc. - you could still get to Tulsa with plenty of time to spare.
Mark Lynch took to the floor now, with delicious 'Milk and Honey', a song from 1965 by Jackson C. Frank. Then Mark told us of the influential style of Lonnie Johnson, who at one time played in Louis Armstrong's band. Mark did a cool version of the Johnson song 'Tomorrow Night'.
But this is still tonight, and next up, we heard Jim A'Court, with two of his own compositions. Jim told us some sad news about his bass player Gyn. She is very seriously ill, and he dedicated his first song to her. - 'Turning my heart'. He followed on with his 'Get out of here'. Thanks Jim, but we'll stay a bit longer.
Another new face tonight. Christine Halpin. Others have seen her before, but this was her first time here, and she gave us a couple of her own songs, 'Don't call me Baby ' and 'Not until the deal is done' A very nice pure voice, and guitar, and some clever lyrics.
The 'Grand Master' was next on the list. Simon Watt always gives us a cool and assured performance. 'Beauty Way' by Eliza Gilkyson was his first offering, followed nicely by Gillian Welch's 'Bar room girls'. Simon assured us that he knows very little about bar room girls.
Lance Maleski has kindly been on the sound desk tonight, but I think he was relieved to have a break from it when his turn to sing came up. He gave us two of his songs, the poignant 'This is war' came first, then 'No going back on love'. I think he might now want to compose a song called ' No going back on desk' !
Lisa Jackson and Jason Loughran make a very nice duo, with their calm vocals and gentle harmonies and pure guitar notes. We heard their take on Bob Dylan's 'Tonight I'll be staying here with you', and then changing instruments for Mick and Keith's 'Ruby Tuesday', Jason took Lisa's guitar, and Lisa, instead of picking strings, was bonging a Bongo.
Manus McDaid was back with us tonight, and with one of his fine guitars he accompanied Helen Hall as she sang the Bill Withers song 'Ain't no sunshine', followed by Curtis Mayfield's 'People get ready'. Manus then stayed on to do his version of 'Singing the blues'.
Patiently waiting in the wings was Keith Willson,this time without guitar or piano, to read from his own book of poems. He performed two of them with great gusto, 'Double bass seeks love', and 'The Jazz drummer'.
Keith stayed on the floor to be joined by Helga Dittmar playing flute to accompany his reading of 'Day job shoes'. This was followed by an over - long preamble to introduce
herself singing 'Take heart', a song in German ( 'Ermutigung'), with Keith on guitar now to accompany her. Although having waited rather long for it, we actually did enjoy it.
Luckily, there was still some time left before the end, so I invited Christine Halpin back again, and she gave us another of her own songs,' Partners in crime', and then I wanted Manus to do another, which was his version of 'Murrays bar'. Helen also did an extra song, unaccompanied , -'The ballad of Lucy Jordan.'
To end the evening, Derek took the floor again, and managing to get audience participation once more, he sang the Ben E King song 'Under the boardwalk', with us joining in with the lyrics of the title.
So, a star -studded night, and a moonlit journey home.
Thanks to everyone who came tonight, and the usual admiration to all 'The Crew'
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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