21st August 2018
And so it was fun to be back again hosting another friendly, musical gathering at our beloved Six Bells.
I was touched by the number of people who turned up to perform and listen.
And in this sad week that we lost Aretha Franklin, one of the truly great voices of soul and gospel, there were kind mentions of her throughout the night.
I commenced proceedings with a song by another of those truly great voices, the black American blues legend Leadbelly, and I poured as much as I could into "Take This Hammer", its brief, direct verses of a much tougher life than I'll ever know.
Manus followed and gave us the evening's first tribute to Aretha as he was accompanied by Lisa, who sang lovely, understated accompaniment on "You make me feel like as natural woman" (which was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin). Manus then treated us to another thrilling guitar instrumental which crossed boundaries with what looked like an awesome number of different chords!
Simon then calmed us with his plaintive 12-string guitar sound, accompanied again by Lisa, and our dear new friend Heather, and they performed a pretty bridal waltz, before closing with "Long may you run".
Another new friend I've made on the music scene recently is the wonderful Andy Melrose, who often just captures the most beautiful, elegiac moods, and tonight was no exception. Songs of tough lives sung with such depth and accompanied with his skilfully simple and sensitive guitar playing. Open G tuning and glass bottleneck playing to die for.
As well as his typically solid and reliable work on the sound-desk, our Chris, AKA C.J. Martin, took us on his life journeys with nods to the "Routine" that binds our days and his deeply moving "Panyan", a song with a sensitive spoken word performance, this time beautifully read by Heather. Any mother would be proud of such a song.
Keith then stepped up to our dear old Higel piano, and summoned up the spirit of Keith Jarrett through the bar-room prism. English singer and pianist Liane Carroll's version of a song by American singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier was Keith's next piece which he sang with his distinctive blues styling.
Heather then performed solo, bravely accompanying herself on her open-tuned guitar despite nursing a recently broken finger, wringing out folk ballad "Patrick McGinty" and the timeless "Me and Bobby McGee" (Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster).
It was lovely to hear Glynn again, and I've enjoyed his performances recently at the White Horse Folk gatherings at Deanlands, our neighbouring club across the way.
Glynn and his fine Guild guitar treated us to beautifully touching Americana with nods to the great Guy Clark and John Prine.
I have made lots of friends on this local music scene and there are some great characters who come together over a shared love of music and one of the most fascinating is Frank Xerox, who can cover such a range of emotion from the most hilarious levity to the darkest tragedy. Tonight Frank was on his own journey. Crazy streets and crazy afternoons hung in particular light.
The lone voice always has the power to overcome and Sylvie took the mic with a moving musically set Rabbie Burns poem.
It is always nice to welcome new performers to the Six Bells. We need to keep reaching out. So John & Beverley were a new treat with their affecting voices and lively strummed guitars, performing a Dixie Chicks war ballad "Travelling Soldier" and "Diane" (by American singer Cam).
John Stephens then took to the floor and celebrated those good old boys The Rolling Stones, and those two ancient touchstones "Ruby Tuesday" and "Wild Horses".
Making a welcome return was another of my favourite guitarists on the scene, Ron Turner, in a duo with the equally fine Nigel, who I've never heard play before, but I sure do want to hear him play again. Lively country picking but like all great players they were able to mix it up. They sang and played their own compositions, "Sun is up, moon is down" by Ron, and "Liquorhead". I hope they return again soon to play for us.
I like it that we have a some lovely female voices as part of our scene and I always find Ella most enchanting, and she played our dear old piano once again and treated us to another tribute to Aretha with a beautifully delicate "Chain of Fools" (written by Don Covay). And, of course, one of the loveliest female voices I've had the pleasure of hearing and working with is Lisa, and we performed duet once again on Paul McCartney's evergreen masterpiece "Blackbird".
Lisa has kindly helped me bring my dad, Gerry Lockran's own compositions back to prominence this year and tonight we performed his touching ballad "I may not have too much".
Another new performer was Vonny who stepped up to sing an impromptu version of . . . . "Summertime". HOORAY!
Accompanied by our guitar hero Manus, she sang a jazzy version of this George & Ira Gershwin and Dubose Heyward classic, which has become a bit divisive in recent times. I think it is a shame that a song so greatly capable of different interpretations should become a source of opprobrium. As if the song had itself committed some sort of heinous crime.
I welcome its performances and I'm not afraid of saying so! And so closing a long night was the incomparable Bob Melrose, yet another favourite guitarist of mine! Yes, I know have a lot of favourite guitarists, don't I! But I like the guitar. So just deal with it!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! And Bob was accompanied by . . . Manus, for a couple of songs of full-shred guitar nirvana.
A long night. A great night. It was my pleasure to play host to you all. Here's to many more nights spent together with you all, my friends.
LOVE. LIGHT. PEACE.
Tuesday 7th August
In an overwhelming rush of enthusiasm, I offered to write the blog for tonight because Chris was ‘M.C.ing’ and doing the sound as well.
We arrived early so the Chris could set up the desk, to find people having their dinners in the back room. What??? A potential audience??? Some of them stayed once we started performing as well. I do hope they enjoyed their evening and come again. It’s so lovely to have an audience.
Performers arrived in dribs and drabs and eventually sixteen different people took part.
Chris opened for us, having set up the sound. He has now written and recorded an amazing 100 songs, and performed his very first one from 1986, ‘Angry Young Man’, and then his last, which will be on his album Journey Part 1, coming out later this year. Both were performed with his own unique style and clear finger picking / rhythmic style. I have a special fondness for ‘Out Of the Blue’ because he has a very convincing ‘diddly’ music break in it....but then, I am a little biased.
Jane followed on from that with her lap steel guitar. It really does make a lovely sound and her performances of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s ‘Love the one You With’ and Carol King’s ‘I wasn’t born to Follow’ carried well in the room. The arrangements were beautifully simple, yet effective.
Then came Jamie, who had previously performed with Chris as a Father Christmas double act! His first song was his own composition written for his wife, Pam. It doesn’t quite have a name yet. ‘Sunshine in the Morning’? ‘Stay another Night’? It was a lovely song played and sang with accuracy and conviction. Lucky Pam. His next song was ‘Nutshell’ one of Alice in Chain’s most popular songs. Again, Jamie played with a full sound and a clear, rhythmic strumming accompaniment. He says he’s still working on the guitar solo bit. We can look forward to that!
Sylvie is not long back from the Lake District where she spent a couple of her earlier years. She recited her own poem ‘Lioness of Skelgill’. This is a well crafted poem written in rhyming couplet style with lovely images of the Lake District and Skelgill water. I’d really like to sit and read it sometime Sylvie.
Manus performed two classics next: John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High, and Roy Harper’s ‘May you Never’. He had made his own arrangements of both songs in his own jazz-type rhythmic style which would be impossible for most of us to play even if we had ten fingers on each hand. How does he do that? Thank you Manus. I’ll keep practising.
I wanted to play a couple of Scottish songs this week because we’re off to the Isle of Skye on Saturday, so I chose a couple of my childhood favourites; Annie Laurie and The Skye Boat song. After some fiddling around at home, I decided I preferred my piano version to my guitar version so I played the piano and accompanied myself in public for the first time ever. Nothing too dreadful happened and it was really lovely to hear everyone join me in the Skye Boat song chorus. Thank you people.
Helen sang next. Her first song was ‘Reason to Believe’, accompanied by George. It was originally written by Tim Hardin and made famous by Rod Stewart. Helen has a lovely tone and vibrato to her voice which brought out the beauty of the song. Next she sang ‘Both Sides Now’ with George and Terry accompanying her. ...in ordinary tuning. Not a DADFsharpAD anywhere. It was a very soulful version and went down well.
Mary got up to join George next and accompanied him in the chorus of Ry Cooder’s ‘Across the Borderline’. George played with a lovely gentle guitar style and voice which was a pleasure to listen to. Mary took the lead vocal to George’s accompaniment for their next song, ‘A Life that’s Good’ from Nashville. It isn’t a song that I knew, but it is lovely and I enjoyed Mary’s singing.
Terry performed two instrumentals on his nylon strung guitar next. I do love to hear Terry play and had a few lessons with him a few years ago so I do know just how tricky it is. Classical Gas takes me right back and was really enjoyable. Then Terry played ‘The Auld Highlanders’ a Scottish jig, which I hadn’t heard before. I shall definitely look forward to hearing it again.
Paula performed two of her own compositions: ‘Without You’ and ‘Canopy’. Her strumming style is so graceful. ‘Without You is a very sad and wistful song and Canopy conjured up some beautiful images. Both were performed in her pure, clear voice.
Sarah was a newcomer to the Six Bells stage and performing for the first time in many years. She delivered ‘Rosebud in June’ a capella and managed to hold the pace and key well despite her nerves. Well done! She will be performing at East Dean Church on Saturday 3rd November accompanied by Terry in a concert to raise money for a Heart Rehabilitation Unit at the DGH and the Vickie Vowles Memorial Fund for Safer Childbirth. Her own daughter died in childbirth, which could have possibly been avoided if there had been a ROTEM machine. All support would be gratefully appreciated.
Simon was up next. His first song was an acoustic version of ‘Ripple’ which he dedicated to the Deadhead in the room. It had to be explained to me. A Deadhead is a Grateful Dead fan. That’s Chris. He was touched! I really liked Simon’s version. What a beautiful song! We also had an informative little discussion about The Chelsea Hotel. Thanks guys! Simon then played one of his own songs, Take my Hand, which he was asked to write for a gospel band. Apparently they didn’t perform it in the end. Their loss.
Jason came up after that. He performed ‘To the End of the Waves’. I’m sorry if I’ve got that wrong Jason. He sang to a skilful syncopated guitar rhythm. Confident, secure, gentle. Lovely. Then Lisa got up to join him, back from her holidays. Apparently they hadn’t had time to practise. You couldn’t tell! They sang ‘Into White’, a lovely Cat Stevens song from Tea for the Tillerman, followed by The Glory of Love, a blues standard that Jason’s Dad used to sing. Very tight. Lovely harmonies. They do seem to get better every time I hear them. Lisa sang one of her own compositions. It was one of her poems that she put to music. It doesn’t have an official title yet; ‘New Moon’? There was a full range of dynamics, picks and strums, and some really exciting discords. I do hope we get to hear it again. Great stuff Lisa.
Clive had another song from The Great American Songbook that he hadn’t had a chance to perform at the last gathering, ‘I got Rhythm’. What a fun song. I couldn’t help joining in along with several others. This was followed by a moving version of Vincent. Again, we were humming along. Lovely choices Clive.
Finally, we were joined by a group of young people from Belgium and one of their number got up to sing. Maxime is a singer and actress in Belgium but usually performs in French. After a chat with Terry and Manus, they accompanied her to Summertime, everyone’s favourite! Maxime was confident and professional with a lovely dusky voice. Terry and Manus were in full throttle, and a thousand notes swam out and around to accompany her. It was a fitting end to a really enjoyable evening .
Thank you everyone.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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