26th June 2018
It was a warm evening of variety, warm in weather and warm because there was a lot of support and encouragement in the room. I got the ball rolling with my own song ‘Wishes do Come True’. Luckily for me, as I hadn’t prepared a second solo, Jason arrived and we were able to give Cat Steven’s ‘Into White’ from the iconic Tea for the Tillerman album, its inaugural outing, successfully I think.
Another inaugural outing was made by Natasha’s cello, the first time I have seen a cello played at the Folk ‘n’ Blues Club. Natasha provided us with a beautiful ‘folk’ rendition of Sydney Carter’s protest song from the ‘60s, ‘The Crow on the Cradle’. Her cello playing gave it an ethereal quality that silenced the room. Take a look at Jackson Browne’s version with David Lindley on violin and also Show of Hands’ arrangement with Phil Beer’s adept violin playing. It is a song that can be interpreted in many ways. Natasha then showed us how finger picking those heavy cello strings works so well with a song such as ‘Matty Groves’, her second choice, a ‘Border ballad’ from up north pre-1635. (Should that be a ‘bawdy ballad’?!)
I watched our Sound Man Chris Martin’s D45 envy Fade and Disappear as his energies went into performing his own song of that title, while Clive took over the sound desk. Chris then asked the Martinettes Revisited (Heather and Lisa) to join him on his up-tempo Scrapheap Blues which had everyone tapping their toes. Chris does sterling work on our new all-singing-all-dancing sound desk and with mic stands donated by Manus, we really are fully wired for great sound.
Heather revealed her rather good French with her version of ‘Look what they’ve done with my song, Ma’. It was originally the B side to Melanie’s rather screechy release of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ in 1971. Lovely to be reminded of this song, Ma - and sweetly sung. Heather then performed her fresh out-of-the-oven self-penned ‘Old Friends’ which she described as being a modern song with a Scottish rhythm. I certainly wanted to do a jig!
It was Lance’s second visit and this time he sang his own songs. I’ve heard several original songs by Lance now and always enjoy the fact that he can write about so many subjects, serious and comic alike. His songs can make you laugh and make you think. ‘Meltdown’ was his first which had a poignant message, while ‘My Broken Heart’ touched a chord with a lot of us, I’m sure.
Simon with his warmly toned Martin started off with ‘Sin City’ by The Flying Burrito Brothers, after informing us that Simple Minds were once called Johnny and the Self Abusers. Don’t ask! Van Morrison’s ‘Tupelo Honey’ from his 1972 album of the same name, was Simon’s second song. Rather interestingly, Dusty recorded it in 1973. Simon’s rendition was compelling and sweet as honey.
Sylvie impresses me with her ability to pitch her unaccompanied songs. It’s a difficult thing to do, and even more difficult to keep the pitch throughout. Tonight, Sylvie put a poem called ‘Lord Neptune’ by renowned children’s author and poet Judith Nicholls, to her own tune, adding a chorus for us all to join in with.
Our jazz legend Manus has, I’m pleased to say, discovered James Taylor (better late than never Manus!). His interesting and inspiring guitar style recreated two very well-known songs: ‘Fire and Rain’ and ‘Mexico’. Manus has an inner groove and a command of that guitar neck that fascinates me. His arrangements hail from a jazz-influenced background yet incorporate many different techniques. Watch and learn folks!
A change of pace with John, who hasn’t performed at the club before, as he had us all singing rather exuberantly to the early Rolling Stones track and another B-side single, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and Bowie’s 1969 signature opus ‘Space Oddity’. It was rightly included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped…you guessed it…Rock and Roll. (Snappy title.) But is it rock and roll, or classic rock, or even pop? A discussion for next time perhaps...
We all fell silent for Clive’s renditions of ‘London River’ a song by Rod Sherman from Fairport’s Red and Gold album and the lovely 1967song ‘Painting Box’ from Scottish psychedelic folk group, The Incredible String Band. ‘’When I look inside my painting box, I seem to pick the colours of you.” Just lovely. Clive never seems to sing the same song twice. How does he do it!
Ella brought her bouzouki! She sang confidently with that fine toned instrument, proving to us that it can turn a convincing folk phrase with the 18th century ballad ‘Fare Thee Well My Own True Love’, as well as a country riff with ‘Down at the Twist and Shout’ by Mary Chapin Carpenter from her 1991 album Shooting Straight in the Dark. Ella sadly recently decided to leave the committee, but she returns to support the club and it is always such a pleasure to see her performances, whether it be on piano or with her bouzouki.
It was coming towards the end of a varied and entertaining evening of music. The atmosphere was fun and friendly, with laughter, banter, respectful support of all the performers and encouraging words, which combine to make for a special open mic night. Jason and I performed two duets to end with. Stephen Stills lyrically stunning ‘Helplessly Hoping’ from CSN’s 1969 debut album, and Dylan’s ‘Tonight I’ll be Staying Here with You’ from his much lauded (also 1969) Nashville Skyline album. With Jason’s encouragement and support, I am learning the disciplines of timing, careful listening and creative arrangements. Oh, and how to play the guitar, as well as sing a song without looking at the words! We never stop learning. For all that, I thank you Mr L!
Duetting is a joy, but how else to finish than with a singalong from John. ‘The Air that I breathe’ had a shaky start, but once we got going, this Hollies classic created a rousing end to a great evening.
Music is always in the air that we breathe.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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