I thought that it was going to be a quiet night. The first couple of weeks in January are usually a bit bleak and deserted, and people are recovering from whatever they've been doing, or the weather is bad, or they are just in hibernation mode. As it turned out, we had pretty much a full evening of music, even though we had nowhere near a full house of people. We were very thin on the ground, especially because we were missing three of our main colleagues -- Ella, John , and Chris.
Fortunately, we had some re-enforcements in the shape of Keith Willson and two of his friends, Jim Neale, and Tim Izzard. Keith had brought with him his electric keyboard as well as his guitar, so with Jim on violin and guitar, and Tim on Drum Box ( Cajon ), I knew that we were going to be alright on the night.
Simon had very kindly as usual, set up the sound kit earlier, so we were able to do a sound check while Keith and his 'Trio' rehearsed a couple of numbers. As they were all set up and all warmed up and all comfortably in place on the floor, I decided that it would be a shame to move them off and disturb them, so I got them to launch the evening, instead of me. I was deserting my post as host. Normally, it's the host who starts up, but not this time.
Anyway, it was a great way to begin, because ' The Keith Willson Trio' gave us three or four great songs, including 'Brighton Rock', 'Trees', and one about a man climbing a rusty ladder. Keith changed from keyboard to guitar, and Jim changed from guitar to violin. Tim stayed sitting on the Cajon.
So then I came on, with a song that can only be done in early January -- 'Happy New Year' by Abba. I know it's ten days late, but I have to do it each year. When is it too late to wish people 'happy new year' ? -- After NINE days!
My second song was The Doobie Brothers' 'Listen to the music', which is what we want everyone to do. Then there was time to actually fit in a third song, which I chose at random from my book, and it turned out to be 'Far away in Australia'. I first heard this song done by the Irish singer Christie Hennessy many years ago.
Next up was Simon Watt, who as always, played some real cool numbers. And again, there was time to do three songs -- 'Devil Baby' by Mark Knopfler, 'Beggars and Mules' by Danny Schmidt ( who Simon has met,-- and says he's a nice guy ). - Who ? Simon or Danny ? -- He followed these with 'Annabelle' by Gillian Welch, and Van Morrison's 'Sometimes we Cry'. Hey, that was four songs Simon! ( I had lost count by this time) !
It was good to see that Chris Liddiard was able to come and play again tonight, in spite of having trouble with his teeth ! -- and he did 'Jigsaw of Life', and 'When I Write you a Song', followed by the clever and funny 'P.C Blues'. - We all still have troubles with our computers! -- And with our teeth !
At number five on the list was Mike Aldridge on his usual good form with a great choice of songs including 'Blue Dream' , and an excellent version of 'Don't bring Lulu'. This was the 'clean' version he says. He knows another one with more 'Adult' lyrics.
Helga had been waiting patiently for her turn next, but we had to put on The Keith Willson Trio first, because Tim (Cajon) was having to leave early. So it was nice to have a second chance to enjoy the three of them again, and with changes from guitar to keyboard again and from violin to guitar again, and still the same Cajon, they gave us some more nice sounds.
Now it was Helga taking the floor, and she herself had three different instruments. Her flute, of course, and two different guitars. She had earlier been accompanying Mike with the flute on a couple of his numbers. She did a good take on the story of 'Matty Groves' (Fairport Convention are well - known for doing this song). And she followed with Joni Mitchell's 'Carrie'. - Nicely done, but I always think this song somehow belongs to Ella.
There was an extra player up next, in the shape of Mike's brother Bob. Bob has played for us before, and is always welcome to come and give us more. Tonight he did a great version of Mark Knopfler's 'Romeo and Juliette' from Dire Straits, and a Brownie McGhee number. I'm sorry Bob, I don't remember any more facts about the songs, but they were well done. Thank you.
By this time, we were looking at the clock and thinking maybe we should finish early for a change. Everyone had had three or four songs, so we decided to let Keith Wilson finish us off. Playing solo this time, he sang us two more of his own songs - 'The Worst Thing' , and 'The Slow One'. This gave me the feeling of a late-night London 'Cool Jazz' club atmosphere. -- 'NICE'.
So, after all, it was a very good night. It always is.
Thanks to everyone who came, and also to those who helped pack up afterwards. Thanks to Simon who shared running the sound desk with me. See you next time , when Mike Aldrich will be in charge.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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