Singer/Songwriters’ Night.- April 16th 2019
This was Chris Martin’s Big Event: his chance to encourage other musicians to come prepared with their own compositions, and a chance for singer/songwriters to share their creative talent. The Facebook notice apparently reached 760 people which is brilliant, but only 13 people came and some of those weren’t aware that it was a singer/songwriter night because they don’t use Facebook. So perhaps we need to try to spread by word of mouth a little more? Posters? Ideas?
Still, we had some lovely writing and really excellent performances, and as usual, the sound from the beautiful PA was a pleasure. Thank you Chris and Clive.
Chris started off with 2 of his own compositions: ‘Fade and Disappear’ and ‘Journey’. I hadn’t heard him perform ‘Fade and Disappear’ live before and Chris gave a lovely performance with plenty of fading on the hook lines. ‘Journey’ is a lovely song with some very pretty and gentle guitar runs and Chris does perform this more often. His precise picking style really brings out the beauty of this composition.
Personally, I find I do enjoy people’s own songs more once I get to know them a bit. I hear Chris’s quite a lot, and really grow to enjoy them more and more. So, stick at it Song-writers. It’s not a bad thing to repeat performances of your own songs!
Jane was up next with her slide guitar on her lap and her foot on her box. I do love the humour in Jane’s lyrics and also listening to a different sound from a different instrument. She started with The Broken Leg Blues. This was 2/3 written by a young man who was an excellent sportsman, a skateboarder, I think? Jane wrote the 3rd verse from her own life experience. She followed this with a lovely song she wrote called ‘Road to Santiago’ which she’s moved from a major to a minor key, which really did suit the tone of the song far better. It was written from her own experience, with sections in Spanish and expressed something of the feeling of isolation you can have when travelling alone.
‘If I can speak in all those tongues,
Then why can’t you talk to me.’
Simon was up next. He often performs his own songs and I really do enjoy his dry sense of humour and topical wit.
He opened with ‘There’s a black hole in my Garden’
‘Black Holes are really useful,
I don’t need a wheely bin’
Excellent sentiment, and a very interesting idea….although I know I’d worry about my dog or Grandchildren falling in!
Simon’s second song was ‘Take my Hand. He was asked to write a religious-style of song that was spiritual rather than actually religious. That’s a bit of a tall order, and he did very well. It had exactly the right musical nuances for a free church, religious song, but the words were carefully non-secular. And it sounded good too.
Then came Keith, with his guitar this week, playing Brighton Rock Blues. I do love Keith’s guitar style. It’s rich and expressive, fluid and natural. Actually, I’m rather jealous but hey!
And his lyrics are clever too. Grr.
‘Life’s like a Brighton Rock.
You make the Politicians richer by paying them more’
Then came ‘Terrible Portrait, which was not Keith’s usual style, more of a ballad, about a man who thinks he can be a painter just because he’s going through the mid-life crisis and having an affair. He finds his painting in the attic many years later, and although it looks nothing like his loved one, he just can’t make himself throw it away. It was a lovely song, and as Keith explained, because of his jazz background, he had to give a simple 3 chord song at least 9 chords. It worked very well.
We had a newcomer next. Sophie had been encouraged to come by friends who sometimes come to listen. Sophie always sings her own songs, she told me, and I really had no idea what to expect. She played ‘If the World’ and ‘The Darling’. What a beautiful voice, and what lovely songs; almost Joni Mitchellesque, accompanied by a simple, effective rhythm/slap guitar style. I think we all wanted to hear more and we did later on.
Sophie was followed by Manus. His first song was ‘One Man’s Flood is another Man’s Wave’ inspired by a leak in the ceiling at The Elephant and Castle. It was written and played in Manus’ distinctive jazz style, with a good tight rhythm, which made it easier for me to enjoy. I’m a bit of a pleb and can get lost with the jazz thing sometimes. Topical lyrics: ‘Money like Raindrops falling on the Few.’ Then Manus played Handing it Over, which he has recorded in the past. He’d rewritten the introduction which he felt really improved the song. I did really enjoy both of his performances, and songs. More really clever playing!!
I followed Manus. Not easy that! I’d decided to bring my keyboard because a lot of the songs I’d written this year were for keyboard and I chose two I especially liked. However, my sustain pedal decided to play up. It was working back to front which totally flummoxed me. I battled through ‘Missing you’ which sounded very odd to me with the detached ‘harpsicord’ effect. So, I turned around to play ‘Mum Song’ on the in-house piano which felt a bit better. But not brilliant. I do love these songs and I feel cross with myself when I don’t feel I do them justice. I think we all feel like that!!
Then it was back to taking photos and making notes for The Blog, and Lance was up on the Hot Spot.
Lance is another song-writer I really enjoy. We really do have some excellent talent around. ‘In a Gardener’s World’ came first. I could really identify with that because I love my garden too.
‘In a gardener’s world,
We follow the Seasons,
And live them one day at a time’’
He had some whistle breaks too. Chris upped the reverb and it sounded amazing!.
His second song was very different, and rather sad. ‘The Fault in our Stars’ was about someone dying of cancer. Beautifully poignant.
Then came Clive. I always enjoy Clive’s choices. ‘All of the love will remain’ came first. This was a touching song about sad goodbyes with a really well-formed walking bass. I do love a good walking bass.
‘I want you. I need You. I love You’ came next. Apparently, Clive’s wife never reads the blogs so I can say that Clive said the inspiration was generic and not actually all about his wife, although she thinks it is and it earned him Brownie Points’. Either way, I think we could all identify with the sentiment if we ever have been in love with anyone!
George and Mary didn’t know it was Singer/Songwriter’s night and quickly adjusted their set to open with a song with lyrics written by Chris Liddiard that George had put to music called ‘Green is the Shamrock’. It was played in a gentle Country style and worked well with George and Mary taking turns to sing the lead vocals. They followed that with Dylan’s ‘If Tomorrow’s such a long Time’. George really has quite a crooner’s voice and it sounded lovely with Mary, who seems to have changed her register recently to sing far more strongly and balance George’s voice very well.
Becky and Terry were the last people to come up. They really didn’t know it was a singer/songwriter’s night and don’t really have any of their own material. It’s always a pleasure to hear Becky’s lovely, resonant voice though, and Terry holds it all together with his guitar. Becky lets him sing a little on occasion, but not this time! They treated us to ‘You’re no good’, Linda Ronstadt, and ‘Promise Me’ by Beverly Craven.
Chris came up to say thank you to everyone and played ‘Mr Preacher Man’. He was obviously feeling a bit more relaxed now the evening was nearly done, the world hadn’t caved in, and the sound had been beautiful. So, he gave a lovely clear, faultless performance with excellent guitar and vocal work. He’s on a mission to give each of his 100 songs an airing this year and this was number 58.
By consensus, new girl Sophie was asked to finish the evening with another of her songs. So, she came up and treated us to ‘I used to cry in my Sleep’ wonderfully performed in her distinctive style and with her beautiful voice. Just lovely. Thank you Sophie.
P.S. Everyone’s photo has already been put up of the Facebook page, but I did want to include these two. They boys seem to be upping the anti with interesting and unusual shirts, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for more to add to this collection. Girls too if you want!!!
2nd April 2019
Clive and I started jotting down the running order of performers, as they arrived, in lieu of Jason, whom was the billed host for this evening but had been unavoidably detained – However, he's back in the game and busy at the day job so that's good news in itself in the scheme of things. My list totaled up at 13 but as Jason never made it, we ended up as 12 in all and Jamie, at No-2 was thereby brought forward, moving up the list to a new beginning, reborn and backed-up by Martin. L on bass with supportive introductions by Clive whom was by now keeping a tally of who was doing what having already helped Chris in assembling the PA as Simon had delegated this over to other key-holders due to a bout of flu; there will be lots of colds and snivels to come now he's a grandad ... #2 I’m now informed and he’s graduated to Man-Flu to boot.
So, Jamie and his guitar kicked off with 'Nutshell' by Alison James and 'Plush' by Stone Temple Pilots. Then it was Chris, ascending up the running order from the desk to follow on from that. But he didn't seem to mind filling the second slot – it's never bothered me either as it happens and he started with 'Outta Here' as a solo then bolstered in his second original singer/songwriter piece by Martin on bass again with 'Martinette' vocals by Lisa and Heather on ‘Scrapheap Blues’ – all of which, in an it's-all-in-a-name sort of way, reminded me of a great little pre-Brexit/New Labour novel I once read entitled 'Martin Martin's On The Other Side' – an unavoidable mnemonic slip: there’s a Martin in it and I couldn't help it, sorry ... Anyway, in the here-and-now, a man called Mark was also invited up to complete this ensemble with his highly polished metal slide guitar [in lieu of John Oddie’s resonator of old, we were told] and there sure woz a lot of deputies at work tonight!
Then Clive introduced himself again and proceeded with 'a jaunty 'High Heeled Sneakers' by Tommy Tucker and another song called 'Dark Eyed Molly' before introducing Heather to recite a poem, 'People’ whilst her guitar-tech man sorted out her instrument c/w partial-capodastre, which sounded rather interesting to my ears with an open top 'E' string ringing out its dissonance [which I like] but which had to be appropriately readjusted for her rendition of Joni Mitchell's totemic 'Both Sides Now' – I've seen life from both sides now … contemporaneous indeed on both sides of the pond, in limbo, hanging on it. I bet Joni is pleased to be of Canadian descent … I know Heather and Chris had attended Joni's 70th celebration concert recently and were still buzzing from it – Heather concluded the set with 'The Town I Loved So Well' from Phil Coulter.
Mark, c/w slide guitar, came back on his own terms with Muddy Waters's [blues singer] 'Can't Be Satisfied' of the transatlantic Jagger/Richards Rolling Stones era [I Can't Get No ************] Blues Packages of the 60s. He brought us up-to-date with his own tautology in 'The Shining Sun' – a very long piece on a very shiny guitar with a blurry bottleneck breaking over the fingerboard of frets like metallic rays, and hotspot f-holes resonating to the rising mercury of the Delta atmospherics going on under the fan [inactive this time] ….
I had to follow that!
So I took a leaf out of C J Martin's playbook and invited Lisa and Heather back up, joined by Ella this time, to support me in the refrain of a couple of rhythmic vamps I'd built in to 'True Colours' since recording it recently – there was an extended coda to do with rainbows and they positively shone on that, too. It was like a triple sunshine beating down on the, you know … beats. Ahem, I did a brief medley comprised of 'Ain't No Sunshine/Summertime' but that's another sunny story altogether so I won't go there, then.
It was definitely warming up, though, as we had duo spot coming on with Kat Black and Mr White [but he doesn't know why …?] From Peacehaven-on-Sea, Kat and Andy played 'Stay' and Dylan's 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' which was nice to hear – there was more Bob to come, ultimately from Oliver but now it was time for the ebullient Lance to perform, uniquely, his own songs: 'Every Day' and 'Get Up And Dance' with which he had me jiggling on the stool with his sunny disposition acting as a bit of a livener.
More Joni now, this time from Ella in a stand-up performance with her flat-back bouzouki strapped on to provide a nicely twangy backdrop [Ella felt that there may have been a bit of a tuning problem here but it has to be said that, up to a point, a little variance in each pair of strings on these type of steel-string instruments can add a modulation of its own that can be effective, expansive even – like a chorus pedal would simulate, and people pay good money for such paraphernalia – subjective though it is, it's worth taking a chance on it I would vouch] as she played 'Carrie' and 'I think I understand' – replete with ‘like stepping stones on sinking sand’, what a line to tread … what a line to write, eh? Straight ahead, all good here!
What a lineage to follow? In a nice bit of programming of opposite numbers tonight, it turned out like the roll of the dice to be Lisa's time to come back up. Also in solo mode, she sat down on the high stool and gave us her interpretations of 'I Have To Say I Love You In A Song' from Jim Croce and 'Song To A Siren' by Tim Buckley as a nice offset to what had preceded her reflective performance.
John Stevens covered an off-the-shelf version of 'April Come She will' ... well he got that right. It was Paul Simon whom had ascribed a gender to this month of months that we find ourselves in whilst he was working with Garfunkel, in harmony; Simon being the preeminent songwriter. But then [after a nice, harmoniously sunny March, mostly …]. Star Man.
Oliver: 'Gold-Watch Blues' and the other Bob Dylan song of this long night – “She Belongs To Me” which had enough gravitas to act as an apt conclusion within the atmosphere it seemed to generate, just like any good folk club at its best – my inner Sun-God was turned back on again and fully appeased.
So, looking forward to Chris Martin's, on the other side of songwriting night coming up next time, as a platform for all singer-songwriters with hearts, and minds, and songs of our own [as opposed to the singer-songwriter genre at large, as a general theme]. But, on the sunnier aspect of things, I don't know which gender I would apply overall to 'Summertime' and other covers anyway, which is just as well because I'd probably get booted out for being so subversive, and rightfully so!
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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