Tuesday 7th August
In an overwhelming rush of enthusiasm, I offered to write the blog for tonight because Chris was ‘M.C.ing’ and doing the sound as well.
We arrived early so the Chris could set up the desk, to find people having their dinners in the back room. What??? A potential audience??? Some of them stayed once we started performing as well. I do hope they enjoyed their evening and come again. It’s so lovely to have an audience.
Performers arrived in dribs and drabs and eventually sixteen different people took part.
Chris opened for us, having set up the sound. He has now written and recorded an amazing 100 songs, and performed his very first one from 1986, ‘Angry Young Man’, and then his last, which will be on his album Journey Part 1, coming out later this year. Both were performed with his own unique style and clear finger picking / rhythmic style. I have a special fondness for ‘Out Of the Blue’ because he has a very convincing ‘diddly’ music break in it....but then, I am a little biased.
Jane followed on from that with her lap steel guitar. It really does make a lovely sound and her performances of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s ‘Love the one You With’ and Carol King’s ‘I wasn’t born to Follow’ carried well in the room. The arrangements were beautifully simple, yet effective.
Then came Jamie, who had previously performed with Chris as a Father Christmas double act! His first song was his own composition written for his wife, Pam. It doesn’t quite have a name yet. ‘Sunshine in the Morning’? ‘Stay another Night’? It was a lovely song played and sang with accuracy and conviction. Lucky Pam. His next song was ‘Nutshell’ one of Alice in Chain’s most popular songs. Again, Jamie played with a full sound and a clear, rhythmic strumming accompaniment. He says he’s still working on the guitar solo bit. We can look forward to that!
Sylvie is not long back from the Lake District where she spent a couple of her earlier years. She recited her own poem ‘Lioness of Skelgill’. This is a well crafted poem written in rhyming couplet style with lovely images of the Lake District and Skelgill water. I’d really like to sit and read it sometime Sylvie.
Manus performed two classics next: John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High, and Roy Harper’s ‘May you Never’. He had made his own arrangements of both songs in his own jazz-type rhythmic style which would be impossible for most of us to play even if we had ten fingers on each hand. How does he do that? Thank you Manus. I’ll keep practising.
I wanted to play a couple of Scottish songs this week because we’re off to the Isle of Skye on Saturday, so I chose a couple of my childhood favourites; Annie Laurie and The Skye Boat song. After some fiddling around at home, I decided I preferred my piano version to my guitar version so I played the piano and accompanied myself in public for the first time ever. Nothing too dreadful happened and it was really lovely to hear everyone join me in the Skye Boat song chorus. Thank you people.
Helen sang next. Her first song was ‘Reason to Believe’, accompanied by George. It was originally written by Tim Hardin and made famous by Rod Stewart. Helen has a lovely tone and vibrato to her voice which brought out the beauty of the song. Next she sang ‘Both Sides Now’ with George and Terry accompanying her. ...in ordinary tuning. Not a DADFsharpAD anywhere. It was a very soulful version and went down well.
Mary got up to join George next and accompanied him in the chorus of Ry Cooder’s ‘Across the Borderline’. George played with a lovely gentle guitar style and voice which was a pleasure to listen to. Mary took the lead vocal to George’s accompaniment for their next song, ‘A Life that’s Good’ from Nashville. It isn’t a song that I knew, but it is lovely and I enjoyed Mary’s singing.
Terry performed two instrumentals on his nylon strung guitar next. I do love to hear Terry play and had a few lessons with him a few years ago so I do know just how tricky it is. Classical Gas takes me right back and was really enjoyable. Then Terry played ‘The Auld Highlanders’ a Scottish jig, which I hadn’t heard before. I shall definitely look forward to hearing it again.
Paula performed two of her own compositions: ‘Without You’ and ‘Canopy’. Her strumming style is so graceful. ‘Without You is a very sad and wistful song and Canopy conjured up some beautiful images. Both were performed in her pure, clear voice.
Sarah was a newcomer to the Six Bells stage and performing for the first time in many years. She delivered ‘Rosebud in June’ a capella and managed to hold the pace and key well despite her nerves. Well done! She will be performing at East Dean Church on Saturday 3rd November accompanied by Terry in a concert to raise money for a Heart Rehabilitation Unit at the DGH and the Vickie Vowles Memorial Fund for Safer Childbirth. Her own daughter died in childbirth, which could have possibly been avoided if there had been a ROTEM machine. All support would be gratefully appreciated.
Simon was up next. His first song was an acoustic version of ‘Ripple’ which he dedicated to the Deadhead in the room. It had to be explained to me. A Deadhead is a Grateful Dead fan. That’s Chris. He was touched! I really liked Simon’s version. What a beautiful song! We also had an informative little discussion about The Chelsea Hotel. Thanks guys! Simon then played one of his own songs, Take my Hand, which he was asked to write for a gospel band. Apparently they didn’t perform it in the end. Their loss.
Jason came up after that. He performed ‘To the End of the Waves’. I’m sorry if I’ve got that wrong Jason. He sang to a skilful syncopated guitar rhythm. Confident, secure, gentle. Lovely. Then Lisa got up to join him, back from her holidays. Apparently they hadn’t had time to practise. You couldn’t tell! They sang ‘Into White’, a lovely Cat Stevens song from Tea for the Tillerman, followed by The Glory of Love, a blues standard that Jason’s Dad used to sing. Very tight. Lovely harmonies. They do seem to get better every time I hear them. Lisa sang one of her own compositions. It was one of her poems that she put to music. It doesn’t have an official title yet; ‘New Moon’? There was a full range of dynamics, picks and strums, and some really exciting discords. I do hope we get to hear it again. Great stuff Lisa.
Clive had another song from The Great American Songbook that he hadn’t had a chance to perform at the last gathering, ‘I got Rhythm’. What a fun song. I couldn’t help joining in along with several others. This was followed by a moving version of Vincent. Again, we were humming along. Lovely choices Clive.
Finally, we were joined by a group of young people from Belgium and one of their number got up to sing. Maxime is a singer and actress in Belgium but usually performs in French. After a chat with Terry and Manus, they accompanied her to Summertime, everyone’s favourite! Maxime was confident and professional with a lovely dusky voice. Terry and Manus were in full throttle, and a thousand notes swam out and around to accompany her. It was a fitting end to a really enjoyable evening .
Thank you everyone.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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