18th April 2017
It was interesting to be presenting another evening at the folk and blues night.
Some recent issues, which have been mentioned to me, I cannot completely ignore and whether, or not, they play a significant part in our evenings remains a matter for conjecture so I will, politely, make a considered response.
So, with reference to this, I might make the personal observation that it would seem logical that anyone promoting live music events would not want their arrangements to conflict with other things going on. It is not as if there is an endless supply of participants and performers and it would seem more beneficial to give performers more opportunity by allowing them all to attend as many evenings as possible.
My own motivation for starting the night at the Six Bells was about creating an opportunity for people to play and we, Paul and myself, tried to establish a night which would consider and be sensitive to other events and make it easier, and clearer, for people to attend.
However, there is no specific criticism here and it is not for me to make a corporate comment about anything. I only have a personal opinion as I do about the other issue which seems to have emerged in recent times.
The onrush of technology has seen the opportunity to "download" tracks from other artists which have no singing on them allowing one to sing along with Benny Goodman's band or Glen Miller or whomever.
So you get the benefit of a mega-professional backing track to which you add your own dulcet tones. I must say I find this lacks a bit of creativity. As a Fine Artist I think that there are many more interesting things that we could do with this kind of approach....
Maybe a diamond encrusted dancing pierrot accompanied by nose flute and a downloaded backing of someone building a shed would demonstrate a bit of experimental creativity. I might find that more interesting than a shark in formaldehyde for example.
However, I like the concept that we maintain ownership of our performance. There are some performers who will make the effort to learn their own songs, and music, and this would seem to be an extension of what the nights are about, in that they encourage personal development as well as performance. In this way our pride in our own achievement becomes a significant element of what we are doing.
I would rather hear someone performing honestly as a result of their own efforts…obviously not everyone can be Rimsky-Korsakov…..but there are quantum physicists who may disagree…
So let's keep live music live....that's my opinion.....I prefer that the opportunity for authentic performance remains exactly that...otherwise we have no parameters and we might as well just have elevator muzak...or we could just stick a transistor radio in the middle of the room with a mike on it…. I once did this at the folk club with a singing mechanical pine tree…honestly…
However, none of these issues seems to have marred the excellent evening we enjoyed last Tuesday, nor dampened anyone's enthusiasm. It was a kind of, initially, slow build up to a fantastic night. A bit like starting the engines on a massive ocean liner, beginning with a gentle murmur building up to a mass of raw, pulsating drive, power and creativity. I enjoy writing these blogs…..
We had fourteen guests in all who performed in a variety of styles and an interesting range of material.
First up I would like to mention James Batten who read some excellent poems during the evening. I remember Mary Murphy, in earlier days, who would come, with Barry, also a great performer, and supporter, and read prose and poetry. As I said on the night, I never thought we should be restricted to music alone...
James's poems are personal, topical, humorous and intelligent as well as being entertaining and I am happy to encourage and enjoy more of this.
I would also like to give a special mention to Geoff Robb who played some lovely classical/jazz self penned compositions. I believe he is playing in Glynde soon so maybe look on the internet for info.
I started things off with a couple of songs. I played Dylan's "Sign on the Window" from "New Morning". It was a favourite of my ex-wife who passed away recently. I haven't played it for a long time.....
It's always good to see and hear Chris Martin and we have to thank him, in recent times, for such efficient and selfless management of the PA....he does a great job and plays some interesting self generated material.
Lisa Jackson played a couple of lovely songs as did Jason. Lisa has a clear and individual singing style which gives her performances some strength and authenticity. I know she works hard to perfect her delivery. Jason also runs the Elephant and Castle club, in Lewes, and I must encourage everyone to visit and support him. He also has a unique style and produces some technically adept and thoughtful pieces.
It is always nice to see Chris Liddiard who gave us three songs including one of his own. I still maintain that some of the best songs were written in the 50s and I think Chris might agree with me on that.
Simon Watt continues to be a cornerstone of the club both as Webmaster and performer and he kindly invited me to accompany him on "Six Blade Knife" which went ok I think.
In recent days we have seen Martin Passauer coming along and playing some excellent sax and flute and he played a couple of great tunes with John Oddie. They worked really well together and Martin seems to have a penchant for the blues and some sensitivity in support. John, as always, played and sang with some authority. He has a significant and comprehensive knowledge of blues music and its history.
Silvie has been coming quite regularly and she sings some lovely traditional folk tunes without accompaniment. I like the fact that she tells us the history of her material and her personal links with it.
I may be bit biased about this but I really love to hear Ella Moonbridge playing her bazouki. I think it defines her in many ways. I know she also plays piano but the bazouki provides some particular quality of its own. It has a North African kind of feel and I have always had a soft spot for that kind of modal sound. It is unlike any other instrument and it lends a unique aspect to her involvement.
The last time I attended there was a very nice chap called Mark came from Brighton with a great voice and good guitar. He brought a friend called Phil who played solid bass and along with John and Martin they played some excellent Country Rock to finish the night.
I must say that I also sneaked in on piano which I have been practicing and I think I did ok....I am alright as long as there is no one listening!
We did a few strong numbers....well why not....
And there you have it....another excellent night without digital enhancement.....just pure ability and interesting material.
You know I really do like the notion of everyone coming and performing their songs but I also like, just as much, when people play together as small impromptu combos. It gives the whole purpose another function and dimension which is about spontaneity and working together. It often leads to bigger and better things.....an extended purpose and potential.
So the whole creative direction consists of “all kinds of everything”…who does that remind you of?
Anyway, enough blathering from me.
I hope everyone had a really good night and I hope to see you soon.
Sun, zoom, spark.
Tuesday April 4th
At last, British Summertime has arrived, and we can get to The Six Bells before the sun goes down and we can enjoy the daylight delights of East Sussex, and find the village of Chiddingly, nestling in the middle of nowhere. -- -- Somewhere, though, that is worth finding. The evening begins as soon as you walk through the door. Everyone is welcome.
Having made sure I had got my pint from the bar ( plus a no- alcohol bottle for desert), I began my duty as host for the night with a couple of songs to start up. Earlier, I had seen that Stewart from Bexhill was here with his very fine looking electric upright bass, and he was offering to play bass for any of us who liked the idea. - I liked the idea. So he kindly joined me in doing 'Diamond Avenue' - one of my own songs, about the girl next door who goes off with a rich man,- but is she happy? We followed this with a song done by Lonnie Donnegan (years ago) - 'Seven Golden Daffodils' . It's a bit mean and miserly to only bring seven daffodils, isn't it ? That's not even a bunch.
Chris Liddiard had arrived early, so we thought it a good idea for him to play next, rather than wait longer for his usual later spot. He gave us two songs, including 'Loch Lomond' with an invitation to join in the choruses, which he split between the male voices and the female voices. We need to practice our Scottish accents. Thanks Chris.
Next up was Simon Watt, one of the mainstays of the club, who always gives a cool,calm, carefully crafted performance. His two songs were Lindisfarne's 'Meet me on the Corner' and Heart of Saturday Night by Tom Waites. Good stuff.
Tonight we had a visit from Vanessa, Kevin ,and Neale who gave us two fine folk songs - 'Sheep crook and black dog' , and 'As I rode out'. Vanessa sang the lead, with Kelvin and Neale giving some fine guitar backing. Very nice.
After this, Chris Martin left his position as sound desk controller, and came up with his very nice (Red) electric guitar. Chris always, except on rare occasions, showcases his own songs, and tonight he gave us the electric versions of 'The Future's so vague', and then 'Sanity'. I'm glad someone can give us Sanity. Thanks for doing the sound as well tonight Chris. There is always a lot of microphone re- positioning and sound level adjustments to be made through the evening. It's an important job.
At number six on the list was Neale again, on guitar, but this time joined by Charlie, on Ukulele. The two instruments together made a great sound, and the lads made a real blues sound with 'St James's Infirmary Blues', and 'Death Letter.'
When they told me the title I said - " Pardon" ? " Did you say Deaf Letter?" -- "No- 'Death Letter." - "Pardon"?
It was at about this point when my running order list went a bit haywire, and I began to lose track of who should be on next. Some players had arrived early and were put on the list, and some were a bit later, and by this time, I was beginning to run out of brain function. So I apologise to those players who had to wait longer than they thought for their turn!
I think Manus was next, and he very nicely played us a couple of his own songs-'Cloud Atlas', followed by 'The Porsche and Ponytail'. - I want to know who owns the Porsche, and who owns the ponytail? Manus puts in some nice Jazz sounds to his songs. Cool.
It's good to see Chris Mansell around again, and he was joined by John Oddie, and also by Stewart on bass, and Martin on saxophone, ( he also played flute later on) and they made a great sound together. Chris also gave a tribute to the late Chuck Berry - by playing a Bob Dylan song! -- 'You ain't going nowhere'. If the Grammar Vigilante gets to hear of this he would not approve of the double negative. As has been said before, if you ain't going nowhere, you must be going somewhere.
Lisa Jackson had been very patient, and as always, played in her distinctive finger picking style and sang her own version of The Everley Brothers' 'Let it be me', and then her nicely re-worked take on Stephen Stills' 'Love the one you're with'. Always nice. Thank you Lisa.
Another 'Female' voice came after Lisa, in the shape of Caroline Mary. She was joined by Martin on sax and Stewart was there with bass, and she brought us two of her own songs- 'Open Mic Song' and 'Do you love me still?' - Yes I think we do. Very nice songs.
Then came Mark, on guitar and singing, with backing from tonight's House Band, and we heard two of his own compositions: 'Midnight Train' and 'Won't be back again'. - I'm sure he will be back again.
Mike Aldridge was waiting in the 'Dark side of the room' and emerged from the shadows to play us his tantalising 'Masochism Tango'. -Ouch! In a senior moment, I've forgotten what his other song was. -- Sorry! -- But thank you anyway Mike.
John Oddie had been busy with backing some of the earlier players, and now he came back to do his own two numbers, with some of the others backing him this time! He did his great version of 'Angel from Montgomery', and a Howlin'Wolf song,' Howlin for my darling'.
Last but not least was Mike's brother,Bob who finished the night with a great song, and followed with the lovely instrumental 'La Paloma'. It made us feel as though we want to fly off to Spain. -- Adios!
For now, it's more like Hasta la vista than Adios, -- but just time to say thanks to everyone who came tonight, we hope everyone always enjoys coming. Also, sorry to those who couldn't get a turn, especially Jason, James , and Sylvia.
Better luck next time maybe.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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