What a hectic and fun time! Opening the evening, and being completely overwhelmed by having thirteen acts at the start (there were more to come!), I arrived at the microphone having forgotten both to decide what to play and to bring my guitar on stage. I didn’t fancy parting the throng to get to my guitar at the back, so deep from my musical unconscious I sang Leadbelly’s Grey Goose accompanied by beautifully in-time handclaps and chorus singing from the audience.
Gathering Storm is a new three-piece band featuring Lance Maleski on vocals with Mark and John on guitar and electric bass. They played Hendrick’s Red House and Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight. Lance was then left at the microphone as the others skilfully cleared the stage of equipment and sang two of his own: Christmas Song and Wiggly Worm.
Mark, now a frequent visitor to the bells and now a Committee member teamed up with John to do REM’s Losing My Religion. They separated to do a song each.
David Hants did two of his own: Momentos and an instrumental.
Bob and Christy-Lee came next with their quiet sophistication and moody Give Me Your Loving and No Indication. Having first shown up a few clubs ago they’re becoming regulars.
Ella was on form with her piano playing supporting her two songs: Danny’s All-Star Joint, a stompy 12-bar by Ricky Lee Jones, and Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane.
Chris Martin, as always, played guitar for two of his own songs No Indication and Guy but, as he had a sore throat, Heather very ably did the vocals. There followed a spectacle. Chris and Heather put on a (shhh!) backing track , on the spurious pretence that we might like a good time as it was a party, and moved to Chocolate. Heather returned to sanity with White Christmas.
Blues jam alert! Penny Payne, backed by Terry Lees and Yours Truly on guitars, came up with her soulful blues. Muddy Water’s Hoochie Coochie Man and Sweet Home Chicago - that very same rocker that features in the Blues Brothers film and first recorded by Robert Johnson in 1936.
John Villiers had been very welcome at my last hosting back in August. The Bunjie’s veteran repeated his epic journey from Islington and played two self-composed instrumentals Over the Hills and Leaving Home Tuesday. He has a new CD too.
Helga, a stalwart collaborator with many of the Six Bells friends and relations, has reintroduced her own vocal and guitar performances. This time she did Joni Mitchell’s River. She invited me up for a blues, so we did The Slow One. They said flute would never work on the blues. They got it wrong.
A trio of Jim Neale on Fiddle, Sue Whittaker on guitar and James Asher on percussion entertained us ably. Jim and Sue are some of the brains behind the Crown and Anchor folk club in Eastbourne. James is a first-class drummer and runs a magic recording studio.
Terry Lees’ spider fingers filled the room with the rich sound of his open tunings. He played a medley of instrumental Christmas carols.
There’s not usually a break at the Bells, but tonight we took five minutes to get sorted with the cheesy concoctions, puff pastry delights, chips and dips on offer. A big thank you to our landlord Paul and the bar staff who make us feel at home at the Bells.
Simon Watt’s deserves honourable mention for fighting off the alien snuffle organisms attacking him and staying to the end. His song about the various interpretations of a penguin on a Christmas card by great artists is funny at any time, but was aptly seasonal tonight.
Now the mea culpa. I lost part of the scribbled notes I made on the evening. I know Clive did something seasonal but I don’t have a note of it. Sincere apologies to anyone else I might have left out. It’s you are all very memorable, but my brain’s too small to remember all of the (eventually) sixteen acts and what they did. And I should get this out before I’m lapped!
Thanks to our sound men throughout the year Chris, Lance, Simon. The mix is always great and feedback unknown. Champion!
Such a night! The days when we sang dirges in the dark are long over. A Happy New Year to us one and all!
For my videos this time I’ve chosen two exciting ensembles and a Jazz Guitarist.
Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are a Cajun band from Louisiana, performing La Danse de Mardi Gras, and La Boutine Souriante are a French-Canadian band, doing Le Reel des Soucoupes Volontes.
Bill Frissel, the sometime avant-garde sometimes straight-head jazzman plays his version of St Louis Blues.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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