14th May 2018
It was my pleasure to host another evening of music at the Six Bells and I was thrilled with the number of people who turned up. As before my job as host was made all the easier by my friends who set up the PA and prepared the running order. All I had to do was stand behind the mic and be the anchor man!
And so I started off the evening with my own gentle ballad 'Simple Smiling Face' following it with 'Handbags & Gladrags' (Michael D'Abo). As I mentioned, the other Rod Stewart classic that I considered covering was 'Do you think I'm sexy?' but I need more courage to don those leopard skin patterned tights for your delectation. Maybe next time!
One of the advantages of starting the evening is that I don't have to follow such guitar masters as Terry Lees, who played dazzling versions of 'Vincent Black Lightning' (Richard Thompson) and Scottish bag-pipe tune 'Eilean Donan'. I sat right in front of Terry and was just in awe of how he played his Martin guitar.
And then another of my favourite guitarists on the scene, Manus McDaid, took the stage and treated us to his unique jazz stylings as he performed wonderful versions of 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' (music by Charles Mingus with the later added lyrics by the divine Joni Mitchell) and 'Georgia on my Mind' (Stuart Gorrell / Hoagy Carmichael) on which he played many beautiful chords. My relatively pedestrian guitar version of 'Georgia . . ' would be heard later in the evening, as I accompanied my dear friend Lisa who sang beautifully as always.
George & Mary performed a lovingly gentle version of The Doors classic 'Light My Fire', with a nice hint of Jose Feliciano's version, following with an engaging ''Storms never lost' (Miranda Lambert).
For rousing and gutsy classic blues our next performer always delivers and Penny was thrilling as she stormed through 'Trouble in Mind' (Richard M. Jones) and 'This Train' (the traditional US gospel song, originally made famous by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, after the song was discovered by folklorists John and Alan Lomax). Penny was brilliantly accompanied by Terry Lees on guitar and Keith Willson on piano. And yes, the piano may have a few out of tune keys, but that added to its bar-room credibility, and Keith played it for real.
Glyn then played a deeply moving couple of songs, 'How times slips away' (Willie Nelson) and the chilling 'Hurt' (Trent Reznor), which, of course, we all remember as covered by the great Johnny Cash. Glyn just understands and loves this music so deeply and it was quite emotional watching him sing and play at such close distance.
Paula's performances I have always enjoyed, having seen her play at several open mic nights in recent months, and tonight was no exception as she treated us to her lovely song 'Jug of red wine' and an engaging Elizabethan guitar instrumental. I hope to hear more of Paula's music in the future.
Now if an award for most sartorially controversial T-shirt is to be made then hands-down winner has to be Simon Watt sporting his Kim Jong-un emblazoned piece of apparel. Well, we need to move on from Che Guevara, don't we? Anyway, the music! Simon played gentle versions of 'Sometimes we cry' (Van Morrison) and 'Firestorm' (Danny Schimdt).
As well as doing a fabulous job on the sound desk Chris Martin also treated us to two of his own songs. Chris is probably one of the most prolific song-writers on the scene and tonight he performed 'I want to learn' and 'Hanging on', which he is currently recording for his new album, which I look forward to hearing.
Bob Aldridge is a beautifully gentle performer and he engaged us yet again with the classic 'Sweet Baby James' (James Taylor), effortlessly inspiring us all to sing along. His equally subtle version of 'Your Song' (Elton John/Bernie Taupin) calmly followed.
It is always pleasure to have a new performer join our scene and Heather Curry is a lovely lady and most charming singer and guitarist and she opened with 'Little Green' (Joni Mitchell) from the classic 'Blue' album. Heather is wonderful to have on our scene and I was also glad to have her play at my "Open Space" music evening in Lewes last Sunday. She followed with her mirthfully cutting song 'Show me yours' and we all hope she will regularly return to play at the Six Bells.
It was a lovely evening particularly as we enjoyed a variety of female performers and Anita Jardine is another rousing performer who always makes one smile and tonight she beguiled us with 'Wicked Game' (Chris Isaac) and her own socially aware song 'Little Bit Gypsy'. Aren't we all? Absolutely. And we must thank Terry Lees, who once again provided brilliant improvised accompaniment to Anita.
I was lucky to be able to perform a couple of songs with my dear friend Lisa, with whom I have been building up a duo act with in recent months. Lisa is the loveliest singer and guitarist and it was beautiful to go back to our original favourite song 'Georgia on my Mind' (Stuart Gorrell / Hoagy Carmichael). Some songs just define one's life and help us through and this is just one of those. The road leads back to you, indeed. Lisa played some lovely guitar as well as delivering the prettiest vocal of the evening. Another song we are really finding expression in is 'Wonderful World' (Sam Cooke / Lou Adler / Herb Alpert), which is so simple, but resonates so much.
Yet another of my favourite guitarists and musicians on the scene, Keith Willson, got up next to play his bittersweet 'Too sad to sing the blues', picking out his own rootsy melange on that most handsome guitar of his. I do enjoy the dynamic of poetry interspersed with music at these evening so it was so welcome to hear Keith read his poem 'The Organist' from a published book of his verse.
Our dear friend Clive got up next to play his topical song 'Marry Harry', featuring his new lyric to The Beautiful South's evergreen classic pop hit. He then treated us to 'Lilac Wine' (James Shelton) to ease us towards the end of the night.
Sylvie then got up to lead us all into a singalong 'Sing me a song, Mr Blue'.
And so we finished with John Pontefract, who played 'The old, old house' (George Jones) and 'How can a poor man stand such times and live' (Woody Guthrie), with a nod to the great Ry Cooder.
Such a full evening. I was very touched by everyone's support.
Let's do it again and fill that room with love.
Until then, you all take care, my friends.
Once a year they let me run a ‘sing us a song of your own’ night and this was the fourth edition. I also get to pick 3-videos from You Tube to go with my report.
I bang on about song writing and wonder why everyone doesn’t do it - for me, it’s so much better than recycling the same old songs (even if they’re great). Open mic person puts their heart on the line singing ‘Summertime’, well, I’d still pick the Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong version, or the Janis Joplin interpretation. But, when open mic person performs their own song, they don’t have to compete with Ella, or Janis and it’s real and tells us something about them.
Song writing: You have the melody, musical arrangement and the lyric. I could write a hundred blogs on lyric writing, but will spare you that for another day! But, one thing I’d say is, ‘what do you want to say’ and always use a ‘cliché alert check’ when editing your own lyric - be tough.
I’m currently working on my 99th song and am excited about reaching the big ton. I don’t wish to repeat myself musically, or lyrically, so it’s a challenge to find new ideas. I’m happy with my new material and the more I do it, the more I enjoy the search for the next song.
We have our influences and people we admire and the music that we grew up with. I don’t sound like any of my music heroes and have often wondered where my songs and my sound come from - the 3 YT videos give a clue. As a youngster I studied classical guitar, which was a lot of J S Bach arpeggio type stuff. My picking style has evolved over the years, but I still lean on this basic technique and love my arpeggios, and I rely on my fingernails to give me my sound. I’ve had a lot of chats with other bearded (and some clean shaven) old chaps about nails, quite a few have brilliant white false nails on their picking hand. I stick with my own, but they do break and sods law dictates, just before you need them for something important.
My second video is that Boston song, which I find quite annoying these days, but the opening D thing clearly influenced me, as I still use variations of it today. The David Gates number: back in the 70’s I had (I’ve still got it) a book of Bread songs and I just loved those songs. So, it’s Bach, Boston, Bread and the rest is just me.
Ok, that’s enough about me and my songs - sorry, having done a lot of blogs, I just wanted to do something different this time which relates to the subject of the evening.
We had a fab night with 16 performers, most of all whom did their own stuff. We also had some listeners which really helps fill the room and lift the evenings. Here’s a song list with brief notes.
I opened with ‘Insomniac’s Dream’ & ‘On paper wings’ - both feature on my album, ‘The Last Song’.
Paula: ‘Lifeline’ & ‘Empty chair’ - two of her own songs that have real meaning to her.
Glyn: ’Magnolia wind’ & ‘All she wants’ - both by Guy Clarke. Glyn borrows his songs from great dead songwriters.
George and Mary: ‘Misty morning blue’ & ‘The day I struck gold’ - George said he’d only written about eight songs and played one which he’d composed about 25 years ago. And to finish, a song written by our good friend, Chris Liddiard.
Natasha: ‘This living nightmare’ & ‘Bees wing’ (by Richard Thompson) - the opening number was written 30-years ago by Natasha and this was its world premiere - a fascinating insight into the young writer’s life at the time and a great example of why you should write your own songs.
Manus: ‘Under a glass ceiling’ & ‘Red blues’ - about a cult of desire and a red car.
Jane: ‘Homesick blues’ (a poem by Langston Hughes with music by Jane) & ‘Hysterectomy blues’ - now what can I say about that!
Silvie: started with a mic but then put it on the bar - one day I’ll get her to use the PA. Two a cappella numbers about Mary Queen of Scots and other stuff from circa 1542.
Simon: ‘Bernard the fireman’ & ‘The furniture song’ & ‘Summertime’ - classic Simon songs with subtle humour and then he demanded a third song - well, what can I say (see above)!
Heather: ‘Double Entendre’ & ‘Weald and Sea’ - first song with guitar and second a cappella. It was Heather’s first outing at the Bells for 25-years (see photo).
Clive: ‘All the love will remain’ & ‘Padstow’ - a sad, but pretty song of his own and a cover for May Day of a Steeleye Span song.
Keith: ‘Dusty’ (a song about his old typewriter) and a poem, ‘The double bass seeks love’.
Kevin: ‘Winter long’ & ‘Contradictions’ - I loved the first song. I’m currently recording my next album in Kevin’s studio (see photo below).
Lisa: ‘May the wind be forever in your sales’ (wins the award for longest song title of the evening) & ‘Bluebell knoll’.
Jason: ‘Sunday afternoon’ & ‘Strange sailings’ - Great stuff from Lisa & Jason, both playing their own songs.
And that was it - kick off 8:45 - final whistle 11:15 - thanks to Simon for setting up the PA, Clive for doing the sound - PA packed away, a bit of a natter and out the door at 11:45.
Next up it’s Tuesday 15/05/18 and your MC will be Jason Loughran
C J Martin x www.cjmartin.info
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
Note - You can leave a comment - by click ing on the blue "comments" link at the top and bottom of the blog.