'What a brilliant evening! There was a wonderful selection of different performers, styles and content.
But before I continue with a run-down of performers, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to Simon Watt, who set up the sound equipment during the day taking the pressure off the evening. For this I am especially grateful because Simon has been rather poorly. I must also thank Chris Martin for tweaking the quality of the sound, doing sound checks etc and to Clive also, who with Chris, manned the sound desk during the evening. All of these efforts paid off big time because we had good sound consistently and no nasty feed-back.
As is customary, as host, I started the evening. I was in a ‘traditional’ mood and sang ‘She moved through the fair’ and ‘Singing Bird’ (traditional Irish) accompanying myself on bazouki. We moved swiftly on with Simon at second position singing ‘All around you’ involving a long cold winter and a two slice dinner, a Lonesome Brothers song. This was followed by ‘American Boy’, an Eliza Gilkyson song.
Simon often has an interesting or amusing anecdote to share. This evening was no exception as he told us about the Bruce Springsteen song ’41 Shots’ which he read about in Springsteen’s biography. Apparently a black man was stopped by police and as he looked for his identity to show them, they thought he was going for a gun and shot him 41 times. 41 times?
Because of this song the police refused to guard Bruce and he received letters of abuse from Republicans. Ricki Lee Jones sings a similar song where the young man was shot dead as he reached for his ID, because the police thought he was going for a gun. Maybe it happens too frequently.
Chris Martin followed with ‘King of the Flies’ from his album Standing Room Only, watching the traffic flow ….. He said he had trouble finishing it. His second song was ‘View from a window’ which is a song from his album of the same name and is indeed about the view from his window. Apparently Chris is in the process of recording another CD with the assistance of ‘Banjo Dave’ on vocals. I’m sure we will hear the new material all in good time.
Terry Lees had chosen to join us for this evening and shared two songs with his characteristic guitar style which is always a treat to hear. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ was his first song, followed by the Dylan song ‘Buckets of Rain’. He let us all know about The Bob Dylan Story which is on at the Winter Garden, Eastbourne on 25th February. He’s going, how about you?
I like the Bert Jansch song ‘Blackwaterside’ and do a very different version from Manus, (mine is a very simple version!). Manus has a complex guitar style which is probably more jazz orientated. I love the song, so very much enjoyed hearing it. His next song was ‘The Blues Run the Game’ a Jackson C. Frank song covered by Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davey Graham.
Helga followed Manus on classical guitar and sang for us the anthem that arose in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall went up. Helga had made a translation from the German into English. Translated, the song means ‘Take Heart’, so a song of optimism in adversity, and particularly poignant for her which I believe she communicated to us all. Helga completed her spot with St James Infirmary. This song has several different versions and the last time two people sang this same song on the same evening, there was no very obvious conflict, they sounded so very different.
More reverb next for Penny, accompanied by Keith Willson and singing an early blues where the ‘apron strings were wearing through’. I apologise for not getting the title. It was not remotely obvious that they had not performed this song before given the confidence of its delivery. Her second song was ‘I went down to the river to pray’ a traditional American song which was popularised in the 2000 film ‘Brother Where Art Thou?’
Richard and Liz followed Penny and preferred to perform totally acoustic. They have been to the Folk and Blues evenings before, but we haven’t seen them for a while. Welcome back. With new strings on his guitar and having only heard the song a week ago, practiced it for the first time this evening, they were, according to Richard, out there without a safety net. Liz has a lovely voice and I don’t think we noticed the guitar slipping out of tune as they performed the 1944 Leadbelly song ‘Where did you sleep last night?’
Liz left Richard to take the part of a lovely young lady to sing ‘Maids when you’re young never wed an old man’, a humorous traditional Irish song.
Next up was another duo, Kim and Lee, who had come along for the first time from the distant seaside resort of Hastings. Yet another different style. Lee played guitar and sang while Kim played flute and sang harmony, giving us ‘Really don’t mind’ from Jethro Tull’s fifth album Thick as a Brick (1972). They followed this with a self-penned and delightful ‘The Gnome Song’. Beautiful atmospheric flute with Lee’s guitar and voice …. searching for a sequinned gown. I hope they find their way back another time.
The lovely Lisa followed with a version of Elvis’s ‘Don’t be Cruel’. It didn’t sound anything like Elvis, of course, but was beautiful and atmospheric. Her second piece was the spirited Johnny Cash song ‘The Ring of Fire’, without the rather Mexican sounding trumpets and with a much more imaginative guitar accompaniment. Thank you Lisa. It’s always good to hear you sing.
Clive took the spotlight next and sang ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ an up-beat blues written and recorded by Tommy Tucker in 1963 (apparently). I don’t know how many of us have heard of Tommy Tucker but it has been recorded many, many times by different people including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, John Lee Hooker, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder – a whole lot of people we certainly have heard of. Great song Clive. He followed this with ‘The Path of Love’ a beautiful, wistful Beth Neilson Chapman song. Very nice indeed.
Keith Willson followed with another change of style. Keith writes all of his own material and he began with ‘Requiem’ from his ‘Calmer Waters’ cd: ‘Close your eyes, we’re all here’. A very atmospheric song followed by a different mood: ‘Maybe I deserve to cry, maybe I deserve to crawl …..’ in the lyrics of his second song: ‘The Worst Thing’. Keith is one of the few guitarists who doesn’t ‘plug-in’ and thanks to the technical skill of the sound-team, there was no feed-back from the two mics! Wonderful.
The mellow vibe continued with Bob Aldridge who sang ‘Rock-a-Bye Sweet Baby James’ from the James Taylor’s 1970 album of the same name. He went on them to sing ‘Desperado’, from their 1973 album also named ‘Desperado’. Mellow and more mellow.
Jason Loughran followed Bob and continued the vibe with his own song from a few years ago: ‘Strange Sailings’. Maintaining the mellow and maybe melancholy mood, Jason then sang Jim Coce’s song ‘Time in Bottle’, a song he was re-introduced to by a friend. The song is about valuing time and it went to the top of the US charts in 1973 when it was released. Tragically Jim was killed in a plane crash later that year making the song seem at this distance, to have a prophetic quality.
Enter Mike Aldridge and the mellow bubble was popped by Mike’s first country song, a Hank Williams song about wedded bliss and how once the first six months of marriage is over, if you can survive the following six months then ‘you can take it’ for the rest of your life. Some may remember the final song of the evening, the one that Mike sings about friends sharing things, an irreverent little ditty by Tom Lehrer: ‘ I love my friends and they love me …. Whatever we get we share’.
And so we ended the evening with a smile on our faces. What a brilliant evening it was. Thank you to everyone for joining us at the 6 Bells Folk and Blues. See you soon, Ella'
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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