25th June 2019
I was a little bit late arriving, and was worried that everyone would be waiting,but when I got to the room, I found the door was locked, and nobody there yet! -- So I was ok. I was still ahead of everyone! Manus was next to appear, and we managed to get Richard to unlock and let us in. Simon had of course, been in earlier to set up all the equipment, and for security reasons, it becomes a no - go area, and locked until we arrive. The others did arrive, and all was well.
I began with a little bit of a history lesson in the form of the story of the battle of Cropredy in the English Civil War. This week is the 375th anniversary of that event in 1644, so I thought it would be worth a bit of a mention. Ralph McTell's composition, 'Red and Gold' tells the story well. The song features on Fairport Convention's album of the same name.
I chose to do one of my own songs as my second offering. 'Burning in my Heart' describes the feelings of someone yearning for a missing love. The guitar on this song is played in mandolin style, and has some interesting changes of tempo. For those who might want to hear my songs, you can search my name ( clive woodman ) and find them all on something called - 'Amazon'.
In second position came Jim and Pete, - The J P's. They gave us their story about The Bomber Command air crew with their song 'Scampton'. They followed this with 'Ordinary Bloke', about Albert Pierpoint the executioner who likes a laugh and a joke. The two guitars worked well together, and with some nice lead notes from Jim.
Jason Loughran and Lisa Jackson always bring us a lovely pure sound, and their guitars also work well together,and with both instruments and both voices in harmony, they never disappoint. Jason played some very nice lead notes tonight as well. They did their take on Willie Nelson's 'Funny how Time Slips Away', and Mick and Keith's 'Wild Horses'. ( Sounding better than Susan Boyle).
Then, sounding better than Barbara Dickson, Paula sang 'Caravans', written by Mike Batt (of Wombles fame), followed by her own song 'Empty Chair' -- "Thinking about you- -- - Coffee doesn't taste the same without you."
We had a new visitor tonight, in the shape of Thomas Ballantyne-Dykes. He gave us his take on 'Buddy can you spare a dime', written by Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney. He played some nice country style picking on this, and on his next song as well, 'Don't think Twice, written by someone called Bob Dylan.
Simon Watt took his place on our famous bar stool, and pleased us again with his humour and his still appropriate and topical dig at Kim Jong Un. 'Rocket Man' , one of his many compositions, is just right. ( Nothing to do with Elton John). Following the recent thunder storms and heavy rain, it was also appropriate that next, he chose 'Calm before the Storm', by Eliza Gilkyson.
Terry Lees also had the recent weather on his mind. He had been deluged by water at home in two different ways. Water was coming IN through his conservatory roof, and water was coming OUT of his washing machine. Oh dear! Terry dived in to the American traditional story of 'Stagolee', the cruel bad man, who shot Billy Lyons. He went on to give us a John Renbourne piece, 'Watch the Stars'. -- " See how they run at the setting of the Sun" -
Next on the list was Manus, who had been waiting patiently, and he took on the sound of Eric Clapton's 'Change the World', written by Tommy Sims/ Gordon Kennedy/ Wayne Kirkpatrick. Of course, Manus gave the song his wonderful Jazz style, which is always great to hear. His second piece was one of his own creations, an instrumental with the humorous title 'Boaty McJazz Face'. I wonder what Sir David Attenborough would say?
Tonight, Ella had brought her keyboard with her, and it was nice for her to be sitting facing us, rather than playing on the old rusty piano with her back to us. This proves to her,as she can see, that we DO sit attentively and listen to her while she plays and sings. Also, her keyboard sounds much better than the 'honky tonk'. She gave us 'He played Real Good for Free', from Joni Mitchell's 1970 album 'Ladies of the Canyon'.
Ella has a lovely new grandson named James, so in celebration, she has taken to singing James Taylor's 'Sweet Baby James'. " Thinking of women and glasses of beer" - will be some time ahead for him I think.
Lisa and Jason came back to the floor for a second time just for a while, for us to hear Lisa's own song, 'Just for a while'. She gave a tribute to the late Chris Liddiard, who she says, helped her with the song and gave her some advice. Then came 'The Glory of Love',written by Billy Hill. ( Not Benny Hill ).
We had time now for some second helpings, so first up was Paula, to sing Leonard Cohen's 'Halleluiah' with Terry giving some nice accompaniment on guitar.
Terry stayed in place, saying he needed to run through a quick rehearsal for his next gig,and he did Woody Guthrie's 'Do Re Mi'. ( Nothing to do with Julie Andrews).
This was followed by another "Alleluia" , with Manus putting a nice jazz flavour on Ray Charles' -'Halleluia I just love her so'. This word can have several different spellings.
Thomas -- the rhymer-- came up again to do 'San Francisco Blues', by Jesse Fuller. This was Thomas's first time with us tonight, and we enjoyed his sounds.
Simon played a number from Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline' album. He told us that when he bought the album, he complained to the record shop about the short running time of it. -- As if they could do anything about it !
I'm sorry, but I didn't catch the title of Simon's song. This is one of the reasons I came up with the idea of Singer/Performer/Information/ Exchange/ Service. (S.P.I.E.S ). This is where each player would write down or tell the Blogger their song details. It is easy to get confused about everyone's songs during the running of the evening, and we don't want to give false facts or fake news. -- It's just an idea.
Anyway, thanks to all who came tonight, and to Simon for being in charge of the sound desk. We had three of our team unable to come tonight. Keith Willson emailed earlier, and I think Chris Martin was helping Heather Curry, who has just had a 'hip op'. She will be playing 'Hip Hop' music. We wish her a speedy recovery.
Roy -- yes- Roy, very kindly played us out at the end of the evening, on the piano, with the romantic piece by Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish, 'Stardust'.
--"And now the purple dusk of twilight time" - - - - - - - -
"High up in the sky the little stars climb."
When I arrived at the Six Bells, a man spoke to me about the jam nights asking about how good the musicians were. I explained that the folk club open mic nights were different to Chris’s jam night and that everyone was welcome no matter how experienced (or not) they are as a performer. He was unsure whether he could pluck up the courage, so I suggested he come along to listen and see whether it was the right place for him to start with.
I then had the opportunity to chat with Mark, before kicking off with the evening’s proceedings. We spoke about the sad news that Open Space Lewes had closed and Mark wanted to find out what other local open mics offered that same level of respectful and encouraging atmosphere. We both agreed that The Six Bells Folk and Blues Club (SBF&BC) suited us both for those reasons and more. However, I remember when it was a hugely intimidating place to perform at. The first time I came along (many years ago now), it was packed full of people, audience and great musicians – standing room only! I was trembling from head to toe and am still amazed that I even managed to get through the first song, let alone two!
And, whilst we now feel that we have a great balance at the club (we’re welcoming and friendly; there is humour and banter; we are supportive and encouraging; we have a great sound system for people to learn what it’s like to plug in, etc, etc), there is still a perception that the SBF&BC is ‘Folk’ in the traditional sense. A perfect number of performers arrived for tonight’s open mic, with a wide variety of styles and songs and abilities. It’s what we do well now. But one or two people said that they didn’t consider themselves falling into the ‘Folk’ category and weren’t sure whether our club was for them, or even that they would be welcome. And that is something we perhaps need to address.
“There’s only your guitar between us” was how I kick started the evening. And that’s all there is between us all really in a metaphorical sense! A self-penned song in open G tuning with a double drop D for extra twang, on my pixie-like Martin (suits me, sir). Jason (one of my favourite guitarists) joined me for a revisiting of the traditional ‘Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair‘. We rarely get to experience Jason’s guitar prowess, so tonight we had a glimpse of just how well he can play his dad’s Ovation, a guitar that could tell so many musical stories.
Lance, who I first heard at Open Space Lewes, thankfully is cow coming along to the SBF&BC regularly. He is a source of inspiration. His songwriting always surprises. Tonight, he advised us to eat all our veg or we won’t grow, which was accompanied by much tittering and joining in. A change of mood after this, with his brand new song ‘Who Can See the Wind’. This was thoughtful and moving, with a lovely chord sequence in the chorus.
Mark gave us a sensitive rendition of ‘No Frontier’ by Irish folk singer, Mary Black. I’ve included a video below of Mary’s version. Mary is a major recording artist in Ireland, but sadly, perhaps not so well known over here. Mark’s second number was an untitled instrumental of his own composition which had a rhythmic melody, which showed us his talent. Much enjoyed by us all.
Our resident prolific songwriter and soundman Chris Martin is on a mission to sing all one hundred of his songs this year. He gave us songs 76 and 77: ‘Falling from Glory’ was described as an acoustic version of a big rock number. The ooh oohs were indeed big and sassy! ‘Skeleton’ was next. Beforehand, however, Chris decided to show Manus how to play jazz chords. Brave man!
Indeed, Manus was up next. ‘Leyla’ was fascinating. I say that because Manus has a style of playing that keeps me guessing, I do enjoy watching his fingers explore the frets. They never stay in one place for more than a second! His own song came next which he has creatively based on an African chant ‘Ba Hi Shani Sa Ha’:
Gimme the means
to fulfil my dreams
Put me on stream
Pour in the cream
Coffee and toast
On the Ivory coast
Nya Ma Ka Lah……
“How do you follow that?” asked Heather. But she did, by giving us beautiful renditions of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’ (Take a listen to Joe Bonamassa’s version below!) and ‘Borne on the Breeze’ by Harvey Andrews, who I had not heard of and will be exploring more of.
The best guitar of the night goes to… John Stephens! His gorgeous Gretsch just looked wonderful. John braved Pink Floyd’s ‘Breathe’ and to my amazement, as I have never witnessed anyone tackle a Joe Bonamassa song at an open mic before, he played a version of Joe’s ‘Drive’. We all sang along to Floyd and tapped our feet to ‘Drive’. I’m looking forward to hearing him play that guitar again soon. John told us that Sandra’s video of him performing made him think about giving up! No, no, no, John. You were great. Bring back the Gretsch and never ever give up!
Debbie and Steve hadn’t been to the SBF&BC for seven years. I was thrilled that they came along. I’ve seen them perform many times over the years, but it has been a while and they didn’t disappoint. Debbie’s voice is like velvet, or strawberries and cream, or Cornish vanilla ice-cream. And Steve’s under-stated guitar playing accompanies her perfectly. ‘Entwined’ indeed. They performed Joni’s ‘Both Sides Now’ and a Civil Wars number ‘Oh, Lord what have I done…’
It’s so good to have Jason back, he has a controlled sensitive command of the guitar and a beautiful voice. He performed a touching softly-sung original, entitled ‘To the end of the Waves’. I then joined him for our own duet arrangement of Bruce’s ‘Tougher than the Rest’. Jason always tells me that he goes into the ‘zone’ when he performs. Perhaps that’s what I need to do - I wouldn’t make so many mistakes!
Simon Watt was joined by Simon the Sax for Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’. Lovely to hear this again, as I used to sing it with Glynn. Strangely, the country take of this song worked brilliantly with Simon’s jazzy saxophone. Simon W then performed Willie’s ‘Good Time Charlie’, which I always thought was an Elvis song and didn’t realise that Willie Nelson wrote it. However, t’internet tells me it was written by Danny O’Keefe!
Clive told us about all the new builds in his area of Crowborough and wished that houses were being built in the right places, not the wrong ones. His song ‘Open Fields’ reflects his views on the spoiling of the countryside. Clive gave us a lovely rendition of Huw Williams ‘The summer before the war’ in recognition of the recent D-Day celebrations, both sensitively sung.
Keith made me cry. Well, his self-penned ‘Requiem’ would make the hardest of hearts melt and if anyone has experienced being with a loved one whilst they pass away… what can I say. His second song ‘Sometimes’ again was just lovely. Keith his in the middle of recording an album and told me that he wants it to be as natural a production as possible. I can’t wait to hear it.
It was so good to see Simon the Sax return to the SBF&BC. He has been missed. Hallelujah! I just love her so and ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’, accompanied by Heather on the piano. It was magic and a fabulous way to end an evening of eclectic music choices, at the best open mic night in town!
See you all next time. Lisa
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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