Tuesday March 20th.
Spring has arrived, even though the weather has recently not been behaving itself, and we find ourselves here again at The Six Bells at the Spring Equinox. Three days ago was Saint Patrick's Day, which is also a time to celebrate, even if you aren't of Irish descent, so it had been arranged for tonight to be Irish Theme night.
As with other theme nights, it is not obligatory to stick to the theme, but it is good to have a go at playing something that is not normally in our own repertoire, and is perhaps out of our own comfort zone.
We suggested that everyone should be drinking either Guinness or Irish Whiskey, but that also was not obligatory. On the theme of whiskey (Irish spelling) -- not whisky ( Scottish spelling), I poured out 'Whiskey in the Jar', a song that has been done by many people, and with each version having different lyrics. Then came 'Sweet Sixteen' best known performed by The Fureys but written by James Thornton, an American performer, but born in Dublin in 1898. My third tipple was Phil and June Colclough's 'Song for Ireland', well known as being sung by Mary Black.
It's always nice to see Jason Loughran and Lisa Jackson singing together , and they took to the floor to give us 'Running on Faith' by Jerry Lynn Williams, Tom Waite's 'Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night', followed by 'The Lifeline', one of the songs written by Jason's father Gerry Lockran. Jason and Lisa play with a pure and sensitive touch, yet powerful.
The same could be said of Simon Watt. So I'll say it. Simon gave us a powerful, yet pure and sensitive take, on 'From Galway to Graceland' by Richard Thompson, and 'The Mountains of Mourne' by Irish composer Percy French. He followed these with one of his own ,always clever, compositions: 'Rocket Man'. ( RE: Kim Jong Un). He tried to convince us that Kim Jong Un's Great Grandmother was Irish, so that his song has an Irish connection. Fake news !
Next up was Manus McDaid, with a different guitar tonight, a Spanish acoustic, and he began with a great version of the traditional 'Blackwaterside' played in the style of Bert Jansch. He then brought out two of his own compositions: 'Above the Ether' and 'Whatever', both played in his brilliant jazz/ blues style.
Another keen performer of self - penned work is, of course, Chris Martin. Chris gave us one of his clever 'protest songs' which points a finger, or should that be two fingers? - at so many things that are wrong about our nation. 'Funked -up Country'. I said funked -up country. This was followed with 'Something to Believe', and then the story of his road trip in the USA, 'I went to America'. Thanks Chis, and for being in charge of the sound desk as well.
Terry Lees always plays brilliantly, and tonight he decided to save his singing voice and just give us some Irish tunes. He launched into a medley of three , beginning with 'She moves through the Fair', then 'Planxty Irwin', composed by Turlough O'Carolan -- ( there's a great Irish name) ! -- Then 'Johnny's gone to Hilo'. Manus came back then to accompany him on guitar with 'The Rakes of Mallow', with Terry playing the lead on his resonator mandolin.
There was time then for Jason to come back to do a couple of solo numbers: 'Love me Two Times' from The Doors, and his very nice version in his own style, of Bob Dylan's 'Tonight I'll be Staying here with You'.
Then it was Lisa's turn to sing us a couple of songs on her own. She kept us warm with 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash ( although some say it was written by June Carter Cash) ? She finished with 'Everybody's Talking at Me', the Harry Nilsson song written by Fred Neil. Lisa and Jason had played beautifully as a duet earlier, but it was nice to hear them both playing solo as well.
There was still time for some more songs, and Chris came back to do his cycling -inspired number: ' I want to Learn' .
No- one else wanted to come back up, so we decided to finish at 10.45, which is unusual, but quite nice for a change. It was a less busy evening tonight, but it was nice and laid -back and casual.
We can't have an Irish night without a mention of the city of Limerick, and an example of a short rhyme named after that place.
On the breasts of a barmaid in Kinsale
Is tattooed the price of her ale
And on her behind - for the sake of The Blind
The prices are written in Braille.
So, if you ever find yourself down in Kinsale, and you are blind drunk, ask for that barmaid.
See you next time !
From Where The Coffee Came – 6-3-18
I have to endorse the Brazilian Musos every so often – the least I can do is drink in the works of Antonio Carlos Jobim [as I grind the beans …] and he was prolific as he introduced the Bossa Nova beat, distilled from the variously rough-and-ready Samba rhythms to The United States of America [from THE Americas, proper] whilst overseeing the subsequent inclusion of these novel song-forms into the greater mainstream: 'The Great American Songbook'. I chose to perform Jobim’s 'Wave' and the now totemic 'The Girl From Ipaneema'; I had Paul Delaney along on the bass to anchor the groove for myself and for some 'live' experience for him – we didn't really nail it but there's no shame in that. We live and we learn. It was a preview of things to come when it brightens up in due course.
Then there was the man in red – Pierre/Peter, colourfully, if not chromatically tripping out on a couple of songs to an acoustic guitar backdrop mined from within some personal orbit that was kind of alien to me. But there you go it was an interesting insight into another man's eclectic bubble of self-absorption ….Terry Lees stepped up to restore that special pro-am [professional/amateur/symbiotic] touch as always, to balance things out again whilst giving us an extra vignette with the instrumentally sublime: 'Sally River Bells'. Chris J. Martin gave us 'Tree' followed up by 'My Son from Baby Child to Man' which obviously took him a long, long time to write [there's an holistic life's journeyman in there, mate]. But I think the point was that it takes real time to perfect such heartfelt, biographic undertakings, as we all must do at some point in life, I guess.
Simon brought on the cowboy chords in service of a couple of good songs: Nicky Moore's 'Let Sleeping Dogs Lie' and Leonard Cohens's 'Bird On The Wire' – his acoustic, steel-strung guitar was microphone amplified and sounded notably mellow in comparison to the DI'd counterparts so ubiquitous these days, I thought.
Dear Sylvie was also microphone amplified tonight, for some fine folk singing in the traditional sense [inspired by a book with a curious family twist on a Robbie Burns study]. Her ‘The Afton Water' was courageous in its distinction from the preemptively published title/namesake.
And then, Clive with his very own 'Diamond Avenue' which is as enviably evocative a title as one [me, for one] could ever wish for, followed up by the folk song, 'Hard Times of Old England' – sort of crossing that undefinable hinterland between the 'folk club' and the 'open mic session' [with all of the connotations inclusive of Karaoke, for some …].
And just when I thought I'd finished faffing around with plumping up that ghastly greenish cushion at the piano stool, up came Ella with the Whitest, Everest, Luckiest cushion I’d ever seen – and when I'd done with admiring it [it has this wonderfully tactile cross-hatched thing going on with it, hard to explain … I want one] Ella proceeded to sit on it and sung 'It Don't Come Easy' by Patti Griffin and Neil Young's 'After The Gold Rush' – notwithstanding how narcotic driven Young was during that period, it pales into insignificance when you hear these songs of his pared down at the piano. Without the indulgence of induced intensity, it reveals an inner beauty from the chaos – admirable in my book, but it has to be said it doesn't negate the original in any way. It says a lot of the quiddity of the man that his songs could be reduced in a synchronistic way without sounding at all dumbed-down the way in which C & W always seems to do. It’s the second time I've been struck by this happenstance that keeps creatively conceived music alive, I feel.
A change of pace/permutation:
First, in some second round of events, Jason brought on the 'Ovation -73' to give us his original ballad: 'Sunday Afternoon' which [being a hopeless sucker for ballads, generally, I enjoyed immensely] – again, that pared down intimacy only now to be further enhanced with the equitable addition of Lisa, all complete with her mahogany C. F. Martin guitar and the crystalline vocals [next to Jason's, an emotive vocal nuance], they did a personal take of this great soul song that I know – and love – but can't for the life of me remember the title of -- 'I don't know much about Trigonometry … the History I took … but I know …' Got it, yeah …! Whatever, it's great. Then, as a duo, it was time for Jason's late father's piece, 'The Lifeline' – always good to hear this one.
Lisa held her ground as they subbed in Helga for Jason so that she could augment the incumbent with some deft improvisation on flute, which was to continue in solo form in the form of an flute instrumental [obviously, unless you happened to be the duplicitously dexterous Roland Kirk!] although Helga did introduce a percussive wooden frog during these proceedings, overall. And there was some whistling going down there at one point, intermittently.
Back to the Folk:
Penultimately, Bob Melrose performed a self-assured rendition of 'High Above The Ground', a new song in his repertoire followed by, I think, Paul Simon's 'The American Tune' [reiterating my initial American/Americas preview in a rounded up kind of way I thought] then making way for a very patient David Foster-Smith with his memories of the Six Bells as a venue of 1982 [patience is truly a virtue, David] and he proceeded to shake us up a bit with his own, stridently performed, 'The Bottom Line' which is reflective of his own 'moderate success' as of what it was, and he concluded the evening with the American band LOVE cover of a love song c/w flamenco overtones.
Well, you just have to go with the lurve, I say – ta-dah.
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