Michael Aldridge was down to MC, but sent me a message on Facebook asking if I could stand in as he was delayed in Europe. Now, there’s a theme for the night. I opened with a couple of mine, neither about leaving Europe, or maybe they were: ‘Ghosts’ and ‘It’s only my time’.
1000 Watts: Simon had set up the PA earlier in the day and despite my request for something political and controversial; he gave us a rock and roll ditty about Elvis and followed it with ‘Beggars and Mules’ by Danny Schmidt, who was a founder member on the Brit Funk movement in the late 70s. I never realised Simon was a funkster.
Flying High: it was good to see Geoff Jackson back at the Bells complete with his baritone ukulele. It’s been about a year since his last visit and he’s been keeping himself busy playing the care home circuit and getting paid for it. Songs: ‘Come fly with me’ and ‘Fly me to the moon’.
Young Person Alert: Sam was a young man, cheered on by his family. They were all experiencing their first Folk & Blues Club Night. He gave us a couple of nice Paul Simon songs, ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ and ‘Diamonds on the soles of her shoes’. Mary Oddie had tucked herself out of site and was hard at work knitting a sock; as you do at folk clubs. On hearing Sam’s voice, she rejoined the room and clearly enjoyed his set before returning to her illuminated sock production position.
She’s got that sinking feeling: Ella was on her Bouzouki and started with Bob’s, ‘Make you feel my love’ and concluded with a topical Lyle Lovett song, ‘If I had a boat’.
Has anyone seen Roy and I don’t mean Hodgson: Roy is one of our regular supporters; he can often be seen in the crowd amongst the old blokes and their acoustic guitars. And tonight for the first time he’d agreed to take a slot on the bill and play a bit of piano. When his time came, Simon was sent to search the building, but sadly, no Roy. Hopefully, we’ll get him up at a future event to do his thing.
Mr Soundman: Clive was on desk duties and did a fine job adjusting the mics and sliding the sliders and twiddling the nobs. He was so good we let him play a couple of songs. ‘John Barleycorn’ was followed by ‘My baby she wrote me a letter’. I don’t know what she wrote about, maybe it was to do with foldback levels and reverb; Clive didn’t say.
Two songs for a future England manager: Keith Willson complete with one of those arch top electric jazz guitars opened with ‘Those pathetic little strategies’ and kicked off the second half with ‘Keep on pushing’.
A big Ovation (it’s a guitar): Jason is becoming a regular and gave us two pretty songs in his very distinctive style. I think the opener was called ‘Didi wah didi’. He then meandered off with a traditional song called ‘Wandering’.
Irony alert - two songs from a Scotsman for England: John Oddie revisited a couple of his old favs: ‘May you never lay your head down’ and ‘Roll on’.
Sitting with the boys: Lisa Jackson spent the evening in the dark corner by the fire exit with the old boys. She gave us her distinctive interpretation of the 17th century nursery rhyme, ‘Lavender Blue’ followed by a pretty Kris Kristofferson’s, ‘Loving arms again’.
Singing for the people: Chris Liddiard opened with ‘Ain’t sweet enough for me’ and then hit us with a Union song, ‘It’s a hard hard road’.
New faces: Chris and Julia gave us ‘Don’t you grieve no more’ in their traditional folk style, featuring banjo and fiddle. They finished with a cappella performance of ‘Farewell to Tarwathie’.
Everyone had done their thing and as there was still a little time on the clock, I got John Oddie to join me for a breakneck speed version of my song, ‘I like to be sad’ which is about playing open mic nights.
And then, trying to find an inclusive way to close the evening that didn’t involve six acoustic guitars playing a 12-bar, I asked as many of the performers who were still in the room and awake to join me and give us a verse each from ‘House of the rising sun’. There was a little panic as the lyric sheet was passed around and the next vocalist tried to get on a mic and hit their mark. But, it was a good laugh and I think it worked quite well. Unity from division and all working in perfect (well nearly) harmony.
Whilst the team packed away the PA, John was giving us all reggae lessons, as it’s Reggae Night with Mr O on Tuesday 2/07/16. Now, that’s a challenge - I don’t like reggae, no, I love it, but can I play it?
Disclaimer: None of the above political nonsense was true - it was just one madman’s interpretation of an evening of good music at the Six Bells. x
MC again and another Blog needed, what to write and how to make it entertaining. Well, a collection of boys and girls, yes there were quite a few girls this time, moseyed down to the Six Bells to give us some music. Everyone had a fab time. Thank you very much and goodnight. x
You want more! Ok, well, I put my MC’s bowler hat on and launched the night with a couple of fine tunes from my new album, ‘Standing Room Only’ and despite some lovely BVs from Lisa, I failed to sell any copies of it on CD, but that’s ok I’m not bitter and I still have my integrity.
Clive Woodman was ‘Going up the Country’ with Helga’s flute and he sailed off back to the desk on the ‘Grey Funnel Line.’ We kept him busy for the rest of the night doing the sound - Thanks Clive.
There were two colours tonight, grey from Clive and blue from quite a few. Keith Willson with two Ls offered us ‘Lifes you could have tried’ and was the first blue, closing with ‘Newcastle Blue’, or was it blew, no it was definitely blue.
Ella was in piano mode tonight and played us a tune by Julia Robert’s ex-hubby, Lyle Lovett called ‘North Dakota.’ Then it was over to ‘Dani’s all star joint’ for a bit of up-tempo joanna. I’m patiently waiting for the wild Ella to break out and give us the full Jerry Lee Lewis feet on the piano treatment.
Jim hadn’t been for a while, 1985 he said, but I think he was telling porkies. Opening with a bit of Steve Earle’s ‘My old friend the blues,’ he segued into one of his own, ‘Home is where the heart is’ as a rallying call for Brexit or was it Weetabix, actually he’d written it for a couple of friends, one of whom came from Iceland and the other from Luxemburg. A united Europe then, oh, maybe not, is Iceland in Europe…
Helga had rushed to be with us having just collected a major award for her professional work. Smartly attired in a little black number and on classical guitar she sang a ditty by Wolf Biermann called ‘Ermutigung’, which is German for Take Heart. And then, joined by Lisa on lead guitar, Ella on bass and me on a slightly distorted guitar she marched through the Pete Seeger classic, ‘Flowers in the rain’ in German! But for some EU let’s stick togetherness she did the last verse in English and we all joined in.
Chris L likes his Buddy Holly and opened with ‘Learning the game,’ and finished with one of his own, ‘Fingers crossed.’
Simon had been in at lunch time and had set up the PA, so he gets some extra Brownie Points. He opened with a mellow version of Dylan’s ‘You ain't goin' nowhere.’ This was followed by a Chris Mansellesk meandering ramble about tea and sandwiches, no, it wasn’t a Leonard Cohen song, that was tea and oranges. Simon said he felt duty-bound to carry on the tradition and do a monologue. We used to bounce between Kepler and Geordieland and now we’re being introduced to posh cucumber sandwiches. Anyway, eventually, he decided to play another tune, one of his own this time, ‘I refused to sing the blues’ - it’s that colour again.
Lisa had already been busy with me and then Helga and finally got her own chance to shine and do her thing. A lovely version of Elvis’s ‘Don’t be cruel’ was followed by ‘Sailing’ as previously made famous by Sir Rod.
Michael, who is on promoter duties next time out at the Bells gave us a bit of ‘Midnight special’ before dipping into the mighty pantheon of old country songs, with a Jimmy Rogers number, ‘Peach picking time.’
Jason was on fine form, regaling us with tales from the old days when he used to pogo to the Birthday Party. He followed this reminiscence with a very pretty version of Nick Cave’s ‘The ship song’ - I wonder if it had a grey funnel? Moving along, he closed with one of his own, ‘Simple smiling face’ and we all smiled along.
Everyone had done their bit and there was still a little time on the clock, so I sat at the old Bells piano and played a song I’d written back in 1990, I never play the piano and must confess I felt rather nervous. Here’s a link to a studio recording of the song from 1994: - Click Here
Paul had been in the house all evening with his full set of harmonicas and had not been invited to blow one - where’s them old blues boys when you need them. Michael took centre stage for a closing blues fest house band, featuring Paul and harp in E, Helga and flute, Ella and an acoustic bass and Keith two Ls on lead guitar. And that my friends concluded another great night of folk and blues and other stuff at the Six Bells.
PA packed up and we were away before midnight, so I didn’t have to let it all hang out. x
Yet another splendid Tuesday night at the Six Bells surrounded by a group of amiable musicians hoping to entertain and to be entertained. This evening we had the added interest of a mobile recording studio (The Roadee) so that anyone who wanted to could try their hand at recording. Some of us took up this challenge Neil, Dudley, Clive and myself. We all laid down some cool tracks. They might not make us famous but we all enjoyed the experience.
Meanwhile – back in the back bar things progressed in the normal way and I started the evening with St James Infirmary Blues accompanied by Helga on Flute. John followed with a couple of songs by John Hiatt. John Hiatt once recorded a song called “Since his penis came between us”, sadly this was not on Mr Oddies playlist – maybe next time. Next was the turn of Ella with a nice version of “Black Waterside” by Bert Jansch followed by the Dylan classic “Spanish Boots”.
It was then time for Chris Martin to sing us a couple of his own songs. Chris is a phenomenon; he creates videos that are both witty and surreal to accompany his songs - click Here , Here , Here and Here for examples. The amount of time and effort he puts into this deserves to be rewarded. Tonight’s songs were “Xeroxed Army” and “Toast for one”.
Mike then gave us his version of “Carolina” and the Neil Young song “I was thinking about you and me”. Penny was next with another of the ad-hoc bands that she conjures up; tonight it was Neil on slide with Keith on Piano. The songs were “Trouble in mind” and “Story Monday”.
Clive, before his visit to The Roadee, sang two songs the best of which, I thought, was “Time flows like a river”. I popped into The Roadee as he was just finishing his session and the results of his recording sounded pretty impressive to me.
Dudley gave us the Leonard Cohen classics “Bird on the wire” and “Suzanne”. It is hard to reach some of the low notes in these numbers but Dudley managed it with ease. We then had Neil with his Mum, Vanessa providing vocals on “Sweet Home Chicago”, he then sang “Rambling on my mind”. Both by the soulful Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson who died at the tender age of 27 after being poisoned by a jealous boyfriend; this is what comes of selling your soul to the devil.
Helga then got together with John for “Knockin on heavens door” and with Chris Martin for “Sanity”, another of Chris’s songs (all good collaborative stuff). Keith provided us with two songs of which I particularly liked “The slow one”, the other was “Don’t look down”; both were his own creation. He was followed by Chris Liddiard who also sung two of his own songs “No more war” and “Peace loving nation”. I am not going to say very much about Chris, all you need to know is here.
Jason, who it was nice to see again at The Six Bells finished the evening with the 60’s gay anthem “Handbags and gladrags” which was, he explained, was written by Mike D’arbo, the lead singer from Manfred Mann. This was followed by “The blues is a country”.
I would like to thank John for helping me set-up the PA, Ella for providing the pictures and Phil & Tom from The Roadee for offering us the opportunity to record. Thanks also to our outnumbered audience for simply being there. If you have read all the way to this point – be sensible, seek treatment urgently!
All the best - Simon
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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