6 Bells Folk and Blues Blog. Dec 11th 2018
Christmas time at the 6 Bells. It always strikes me as a wonderfully Christmassy place, with its traditional feel, open log fires and friendly atmosphere. So it was just up to us musicians to add to the already festive atmosphere. I’ve already posted photos, so you can tell most of us were up for it with Christmas hats, jumpers and festive tinsel.
As well as M.C.ing the evening, and doing the desk, Chris was up first to open up the floor. He performed a couple of his most treasured compositions, ‘What’s in a life?’ and ‘Toast for one’ with Ella on tambourine and backing vocals, Martin on bass ukulele and Simon (Farmer) on Sax. Both of these dispel the fact that Chris only writes gloomy songs! And it’s always really good fun to hear different instruments and Simon’s wonderful contribution to Chris’s own compositions set the evening off really well. Watching Ella is always a treat! Bass just grounds everything.
Next up was Jason, with a couple of soft, gentle and very emotional performances, Waterloo Sunset and Tougher than the rest. Both his vocals and his guitar were faultless, and again, Martin’s bass just added to his performance.
Simon (Watt) was up next and started off with his Brexit Blues: topical and to the point, ‘In ten year’s time we’ll be ok, you might just have to wait’......and in the meantime, ‘Let’s just get on with our lives’. Can’t really argue with that.
He followed this with a Mary Gauthier version of Fred Eaglesmith’s song ‘The Rocket. I did go and look this up and it’s well worth taking a good look at the lyrics and the story of ritualised grief of an old man returning again and again to the station where he sent his son off to war 40 years earlier. Really touching.
Lance followed with one of my favourites, ‘Sadie the Flatulent Horse’. Again, well written, and just....very enjoyable. He followed this with another of his own compositions, ‘Christmas Day’. All of the essential ingredients were in there, Santa, Carols, Dinner family, and of course, mobile phones!
Clive started with one of his own compositions as well. I think it was called ‘The First thing I do’ sung to the tune of ‘The First Noel, and listed a lot of pubs in Crowborough, ‘What is the point of a pub with no ale?’ I think a fair amount of research must have gone into it over the years. He then sang another of his songs, ‘Home for Christmas’ with additional bells from Ella. Charming.
Apparently Ella’s Christmas songs aren’t ready for the public yet, so she sang Danny’s All Star Joint by Rickie Lee Jones. Some great boogie playing and a really fun song. Then Ella played Neil Young’s song ‘Like a Hurricane’. It was a really lovely arrangement .
I followed with a version of ‘Mary did you know’, which I only heard of with the choir I sang with last Christmas.
It was time to treats and nibbles courtesy of The Six Bells next, while Chris and I set up my keyboard for the second half, and Simon and I adlibbed a couple of Christmas songs to help to get us both armed up.
We started off the second half with myself on keyboard and vocals, Chris on guitar and Simon on sax. I was pretty excited about this. We played a Hazel O’Connor song, ‘Will You’ from the film ‘Breaking Glass’. It’s been a favourite of mine for a long time, but I’d never known anyone who could play the sax part, and it has one of the most wonderful saxophone solos. Chris got Simon and I together and we had practiced the week before. We got through it in one piece, and I was really grateful to the boys for letting me perform with them. J
Oliver Hill sang two Donovan songs. The first, Jersey Thursday, has beautiful colourful lyrics and Olly sang it in a simple clear style. I thought the second song was something like ‘From the Land of the Crab’ but I can’t find it so I’m hoping Olly will enlighten me. Both songs were sung in a lovely clear voice with just a little crack from time to time - I do wish I could do that!
Keith sang one of his songs unaccompanied next. I think it was called ‘Jesus just grew up’. He really gets his voice and rhythm going even with no accompaniment and his words are very clever:
‘It was Christmas time in the harem,
The eunuchs sang through the halls’
Keith read out a poem he’d written for Chris Liddiard next. I must have been one of the few people there who’d never met Chris, but I’ve heard a lot about him and he sounds like a really lovely man. Keith’s poem was a wonderful eulogy.
John Stephens got up with his own made 12-string guitar next which did look beautiful. Sadly though, the changes of temperature had made it slip out of tune. So we never got to hear it this time. I did have a 12 string once, and tuning is definitely not a simple, or short affair, so John wisely chose to play his 6 string instead. He treated us to ‘Please be with me’, by Eric Clapton and then a track from Dark Side of the Moon which came over really well as he played lead while Martin accompanied him on his bass ukulele.
Paula followed with a little Christmas Medley of Hark the Herald, While Shepherds and Little Drummer Boy. Then she played a song she’s remembered from school because she loved it so much with ‘In the Bleak mid Winter’ as a mid section. Both songs were lovely and added to the Christmas feel of the evening.
Chris Shepherd came next with a very different style of guitar playing. He played ‘Summer Air’ which I think might be by the Italobrothers? Anyway, I love the way he uses the guitar for rhythm and melody. He then played Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Meyer. It’s really good to hear the younger musicians because they add new music and styles that I probably wouldn’t hear otherwise. Chris’s voice came over well-rounded and resonant and he seemed totally confident across all the fretboard. I was mesmerised!
Terry finished off the evening with a Christmas medley in his own inimitable style, always a pleasure to watch and listen to, followed by his version of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ and a mention for the homeless who will have a very different Christmas to most of us.
It was a lovely evening, full of (slightly previous) festive spirit. I do apologise for taking so long to write the blog, and for any mistakes about names and writers of music performed! There have been rather a lot of festivities recently.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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