21st March 2017 -
Well hello everyone.
It is something of a surprise to be writing for you again…..
Just to explain the title….where I come from (no sarcasm please) there was a tradition that if you didn't know someone you just called them Billy and there was a chap, who lived near us, who always called me Billy. Even after I told him my name he still kept on calling me Billy?? I was only little at the time but when I asked my Dad he told me that this chap called everyone Billy…I never understood this and it was probably a formative aspect of my personality….maybe he knew something we didn't…which is a definite concept to ponder on these long lonely nights without a complete understanding of space and time…. hmmmmm….
Anyway this particular aberration may have been the reason why, after watching the new Dr Strange movie….I have many of the original comics illustrated by the brilliant Steve Ditko….I found myself deciding to come down to the Bells a bit earlier to have some chips, as all "pretend" Billy's do. Little was I expecting that the host for the evening, John, was not feeling well and so I decided to stand in and also assist Chris Martin with the PA. I was also informed that we were also expecting some guests, who had been promised an extended set, so I was praying that we did not get an invasion of extraterrestrial Folk and Blues musicians all wanting to do "Sad Eyed Lady". You have probably heard of them. They are called the "Interstellar Sad Eyed Lady Choral Singers" famous throughout the universe and beyond. Luckily they already had a booking near the Horse-Head Nebula so you can imagine my sigh of relief…phheeewww..I said.
So, back to the deep end….
It was a well attended night and we had a total of 12 sets of performers some of whom formed themselves into accompanying friends.
Our visitors, Paul and Pam, had come all the way from Northampton and were very capable performers who played a good range of what I might call Folk/Jazz and Blues. Paul was a very good "finger style" guitarist and Pam had a great voice. They did five numbers in their extended set which entertained us for about half an hour and they were very well received and appreciated by all. It would have been nice to let them play some more but, as is often the case, in extremely popular Folk and Blues clubs, we had many other avid performers waiting to go on so I had to make an executive decision….so I hid behind the bar….
The club has many regulars now and that is testament to the popularity and success of the overall approach…it has a family feel but I am also aware that there are often new and welcome faces.
Our retinue consisted of Chris Martin, Helga, Lisa, Ella, Myself, Clive, Simon Watt, Chris Liddiard, Jason, Mike Aldridge and a chap I met for the first time called Manus.
It is quite interesting, and a happy fact, that the quality of all of the music performed at these sessions is particularly high, and it is clear that all performers want to produce a worthwhile performance which comes from careful consideration and practice. That is one of the things which makes it all work…. people take it seriously enough which comes cross to all of those participating. In that sense the general level of performance is lifted by this hidden understanding and collaboration.
I would like to mention Jason first as he runs a session at the Elephant and Castle which is the first place that I played in Sussex all those years ago. He is a sensitive and technically capable singer, and guitarist, and I must try to get along to his session at some point.
Manus was also very good and played some excellent finger-style guitar and Clive responded to the recent demise of Chuck Berry which was appropriate for the time. I used to play lots of Chuck Berry as a young band member without realising who he was!!
Helga and Lisa played some tunes together and also did their own thing, all very capable and enjoyable, with Helga supporting Lisa on flute. Helga played a couple of guitar songs and Lisa sang a lovely self-penned number.
Chris Liddiard is a regular member of the night and he performed some excellent, sensitive pieces. I really like Chris's taste in songs as it often reminds me of stuff that I like and am very familiar with. Some songs never leave you, right from childhood, and I am, sometimes, astounded that I still remember the words to songs which were in the charts when I was at school. Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Bobby Vee, The Ronettes……
Simon Watt played some good numbers and no-one can deny his long time support for the club and his efforts with communication, and the website, and it is the same with Chris Martin who has become a pivotal element of the evenings. I would, personally, like to thank him for managing the PA on the evening and providing an excellent sound for us all as well as playing some good numbers. Chris is a tireless songwriter and is devoted to playing and recording his own stuff which is only to be applauded and respected.
Ella Moonbridge has also become a welcome and talented member of the steering group and she opted to play piano tonight and did so with grace and sensitivity. I also like the Bazuki she plays and the original sound, and interesting diversity, it brings to the evenings.
Mike Aldridge rounded us off in his inimitable style and it is great to see him coming along and playing some compelling numbers. He is a very good finger-style guitarist and has a solid sense of the blues and some other generic elements of music.
I also played a couple of songs at the beginning, as usual, but I feel what is important to me is that I can say that we have kept all of this going for 25 years which must be significant both, in itself, as an achievement but as a reflection of peoples involvement and interest. I will also take the opportunity to gloat a little and say that I am not aware of any other Folk and Blues evenings who can boast such longevity. The reason for that is fairly simple, and obvious, in that the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club is, probably, the best Folk and Blues club in the known universe and beyond.
They say that, if people are listening in outer space, then one of the first things they will hear from Earth is "Muffin the Mule", from the 1950s, well….. as they are bombarded with Blankety Blank and Z Cars…..they will eventually hear the dulcet tones of Myself, Tim Kent and Dave Dyke, filtering through the ether at which point they will probably rush down to Earth with bouquets and chocolates and celebrate 25years of brilliant, high quality entertainment. Mind you, it will probably be another 50,000 years before they get here so we will need to keep the kettle on. On the other hand we may have already taken the Six Bells Folk and Blues Club to them and that will save them the petrol or dilithium crystals or whatever they use…..
So…You're never alone if there's someone else there….
Bye Bye Johnny…
Bye Bye Chuck…
Spread the love….
P.S. I never actually got my chips…….
7th March 2017 Hello, I’ve been studying the mu (μ) major chord as part of my mission to compose the next great song.
Once a year they let me out of my cage and allow me to run a songwriters night at the Six Bells and last Tuesday (7/03) was the big night. The 12-bar boys had headed for the hills in search of the mysterious fourth chord and the covers brigade were at home, hard at work in front of the mirror, honing their latest version of ‘Summertime’ and in the process searching for even more emotion than an X-Factor wannabe - those bloody fish keep jumping, but not at the Bells, well, not tonight anyway.
I dug out my Bowler hat and bounced between desk duties and the MC role, which I delivered in the style of Kermit the Frog - ribittt. We had 20 artistes in the room and 17 of them gave us a couple of their own compositions. Where else in East Sussex on a damp Tuesday night can you get 31 different original songs and 3 poems all delivered with style and panache by their authors?
As MC, I got to launch the show at 8:40pm with my song about playing open mic nights, ‘I like to be sad’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB_yroI1VwA I’d finished a new composition earlier in the day and gave it a first outing. ‘What’s in a life’, is about how many times we do things in an average lifetime. The final verse asks the pertinent question about how long I’ve spent listening to men tune guitars. Yes, I know, it’s a challenging and profound art form this song writing malarkey.
I’m not going to attempt to critique each act, but I really enjoyed the evening and genuinely thought the overall quality of the compositions and deliver was really strong. Here’s a list of performers and their songs for PRS use.
Manus: ‘Handing it over’ - ‘Ripping through the grain’.
Jayne: ‘Raven’ (lyrics by husband, Stuart) - ‘You worry me’.
Chris Liddiard: ‘My sweetheart’s heart is sweet enough for me’ - ‘What might have been’.
Tim played guitar for Chris L on his second song and then stayed on for his own couple of songs about life on the road in the good ole US of A: ’26 days on a Greyhound bus’ - ‘Painting America’.
Chris Mansell had launched the Six Bells Folk & Blues Club on the 26/02/92 and it was great to have him back with us after a brief sojourn: ‘Strangers’ - ‘Mystery man’.
Bob: ‘Centuries’ - ‘Medal’.
Lisa: ‘Mid-winter mist’ - ‘There’s only your guitar between us’.
Trace: ‘Lonely is the night’ - ‘To hell and back’.
Silvie (A cappella with small tambourine): A tribute to Rabbie Burns - 'The last farewell'.
Simon (assisted by Ella & Silvie on percussion): ‘Too much snow’ - ‘Take my hand’.
Helga: ‘Monday morning love crash blues’ - Helga’s second song was actually a translation into English of a traditional German song.
James gave us three of his entertaining and amusing poems: ‘Earth’ - ‘The beard’ and his third poem was about life in Chiddingly.
Ella: ‘Leaf in the wind’ - ‘Rain over the hills’.
Clive: ‘There goes that girl’ - ‘Made of gold’.
Jason: ‘Song for our dead heroes’ - ‘The day that I found Fafaia’.
Keith was our final performer: ‘Jesus just grew up’ - ‘In my mind’ which is also the title of his next album.
11:30pm and a big thank you and goodnight - I’ll be back next year, if they let me - so get writing. Thanks to the Six Bells team - a special shout out to Simon for the photos and for setting up the PA and Ella for helping me configure the stage (adjusting mic stands etc) to meet the pernickety requirements of the prima donna songwriters.
PA away and out of the door at 12:15am. xxx
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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