Although Simon was due to run this evening at the Six Bells folk and blues, he is hiding away somewhere downing antibiotics. He has made his video selection, but all other duties were shared between Chris on sound, Clive on introductions and me, Ella taking notes for this blog.
It was a later start at about 8.45 and we got underway with a modest list of nine, but as often happens with a smaller gathering, it turned into a very varied and enjoyable evening, of course. Clive opened the evening with the upbeat ‘Meet me on the Corner’ (Mr Dream Seller) from Lindisfarne’s second album Fog on the Tyne. He followed with ‘Terminus’ from Ralph McTell’s second album Spiral Staircase. What’s with the second album thing Clive?
Pat followed Clive with two beautiful clear a cappella songs: ‘Edwin’ (Edwin of the Lowlands Low) as performed by Steeleye Span, as well as others. Her second song ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ taken from the George and Ira Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.
More clear singing from Natasha came next. With some accomplished guitar accompaniment she sang ‘The Creggan White Hare’, a delightful song about the white hare escaping from the huntsmen and their hounds. I could have cheered for the hare. She went on to sing the traditional ‘The Tides are Flowing’…. ‘one morning in the month of May….’
Chris the Sound took the stage next, telling us that this had been a sad and gloomy year, which prepared us for his two songs ‘Wreckage’ .. ‘we’re out doing nothing and it takes up all our time ..and ‘Routine’. It’s all in the title. The year is still young, so here’s hoping the mood will improve.
I followed at the piano, with an attempt at Joni Mitchells’ beautiful early (1969) song ‘He Played Real Good For Free’ and my version of Lady or Lord Franklin. There are many versions of the song, which developed over the many years until Franklin was considered lost. Lady Franklin did sponsor her own search for her husband. I love the old piano, but playing it is always a bittersweet experience. Whether I complete a song successfully or less so, the dear old thing responds gallantly but is woefully out of tune. A selection or sequence of notes relatively in tune is divinely satisfying.
Frank followed me with Dylan’s ‘One of Us Must Know’ (Sooner or Later) which reminded him of his first girlfriend and the classical edifice that is Birmingham Town Hall. His second song was ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’, Procul Harem’s debut song which was released on 12th May 1967, went to number one on 8th June and stayed there for six weeks. No wonder a whole generation remembers it so well.
Just as on the last Bells evening, a band turned up unexpectedly. John, Brian and Megan travel under the name ‘Grasslands’. Brian and Megan are also a duo as ‘Red, Green and Blue’. Slightly confusing. ‘Twenty Years’ was their first song;.. ‘there’s a note under your front door that I wrote twenty years ago’ from a favourite band The Civil Wars, who have seriously broken up. Perhaps there’s a clue in the name they chose. On a lighter note, they sang John Martin’s ‘I’m Coming Home’. They produced some well-rounded sound and harmonies with guitars and mandolin. Having travelled all the way from Lamberhurst, they were invited to sing a third song: ‘Forget-Me-Not’.
Jason and Lisa ran their four songs together, starting with Jason’s own song ‘A Little Soul’ with characteristic fingerstyle accompaniment. Lisa joined him, for one night only as ‘Captain Bracegirdle’ from Noel Coward’s ‘Blithe Spirit’ (apparently) and together they sang some very lovely harmonies on Stephen Still’s ‘So the Task Begins’ (I must learn to live without you now) from his 1972 album Manassas. They performed Tom Waitt’s ‘Heart of Saturday Night’ with Lisa adding some sparkling guitar along with her vocal harmonies. She went on to sing Jimmy Cliff’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ solo (it’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day). Very Nice.
With plenty of time to go, Pat sang to us again, this time a Don McLean song ‘The Sea Man’ where ‘.. the fish that were left, were too poisoned to eat’. Natasha followed with Flora ‘Lily of the West’, a traditional Irish song that has become a traditional American song. ‘Enchanting’ said Clive.
I struggled to decipher the name of Chris’s third song ‘Ghosts’ in my notes, but there it was, with Lisa adding some pretty harmonies. (Just one third of the Martinets as Chris reminded us). I followed with Neil Young’s ‘Hurricane’ on the dear old piano. Jason sang the second Dylan song of the night: ‘Only a Hobo’ from his very early Gaslight album of 1962. Frank took to the piano to sing Hank Williams’: ‘Lost Highway’: I’m a rolling stone on the lost highway, just another guy on the lost highway.
‘Grasslands’ rounded off the evening with two folk songs. The first ‘Take Me Out Drinking Tonight’ as sung by Michael Marra, and the second, a popular English folk song by some different rolling stones: ‘I can’t Get No Satisfaction’.
According to Chris’s accounts there were 27 songs and 11 performers bringing music to the hallowed halls of the Six Bells this evening. I hope that Grasslands make the journey from Kent to see us again and that Simon will be germ-free to join us at Chris Martin’s Singer/Songwriter night on first of May.
See you soon, Ella
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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