21st August 2018
And so it was fun to be back again hosting another friendly, musical gathering at our beloved Six Bells.
I was touched by the number of people who turned up to perform and listen.
And in this sad week that we lost Aretha Franklin, one of the truly great voices of soul and gospel, there were kind mentions of her throughout the night.
I commenced proceedings with a song by another of those truly great voices, the black American blues legend Leadbelly, and I poured as much as I could into "Take This Hammer", its brief, direct verses of a much tougher life than I'll ever know.
Manus followed and gave us the evening's first tribute to Aretha as he was accompanied by Lisa, who sang lovely, understated accompaniment on "You make me feel like as natural woman" (which was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin). Manus then treated us to another thrilling guitar instrumental which crossed boundaries with what looked like an awesome number of different chords!
Simon then calmed us with his plaintive 12-string guitar sound, accompanied again by Lisa, and our dear new friend Heather, and they performed a pretty bridal waltz, before closing with "Long may you run".
Another new friend I've made on the music scene recently is the wonderful Andy Melrose, who often just captures the most beautiful, elegiac moods, and tonight was no exception. Songs of tough lives sung with such depth and accompanied with his skilfully simple and sensitive guitar playing. Open G tuning and glass bottleneck playing to die for.
As well as his typically solid and reliable work on the sound-desk, our Chris, AKA C.J. Martin, took us on his life journeys with nods to the "Routine" that binds our days and his deeply moving "Panyan", a song with a sensitive spoken word performance, this time beautifully read by Heather. Any mother would be proud of such a song.
Keith then stepped up to our dear old Higel piano, and summoned up the spirit of Keith Jarrett through the bar-room prism. English singer and pianist Liane Carroll's version of a song by American singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier was Keith's next piece which he sang with his distinctive blues styling.
Heather then performed solo, bravely accompanying herself on her open-tuned guitar despite nursing a recently broken finger, wringing out folk ballad "Patrick McGinty" and the timeless "Me and Bobby McGee" (Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster).
It was lovely to hear Glynn again, and I've enjoyed his performances recently at the White Horse Folk gatherings at Deanlands, our neighbouring club across the way.
Glynn and his fine Guild guitar treated us to beautifully touching Americana with nods to the great Guy Clark and John Prine.
I have made lots of friends on this local music scene and there are some great characters who come together over a shared love of music and one of the most fascinating is Frank Xerox, who can cover such a range of emotion from the most hilarious levity to the darkest tragedy. Tonight Frank was on his own journey. Crazy streets and crazy afternoons hung in particular light.
The lone voice always has the power to overcome and Sylvie took the mic with a moving musically set Rabbie Burns poem.
It is always nice to welcome new performers to the Six Bells. We need to keep reaching out. So John & Beverley were a new treat with their affecting voices and lively strummed guitars, performing a Dixie Chicks war ballad "Travelling Soldier" and "Diane" (by American singer Cam).
John Stephens then took to the floor and celebrated those good old boys The Rolling Stones, and those two ancient touchstones "Ruby Tuesday" and "Wild Horses".
Making a welcome return was another of my favourite guitarists on the scene, Ron Turner, in a duo with the equally fine Nigel, who I've never heard play before, but I sure do want to hear him play again. Lively country picking but like all great players they were able to mix it up. They sang and played their own compositions, "Sun is up, moon is down" by Ron, and "Liquorhead". I hope they return again soon to play for us.
I like it that we have a some lovely female voices as part of our scene and I always find Ella most enchanting, and she played our dear old piano once again and treated us to another tribute to Aretha with a beautifully delicate "Chain of Fools" (written by Don Covay). And, of course, one of the loveliest female voices I've had the pleasure of hearing and working with is Lisa, and we performed duet once again on Paul McCartney's evergreen masterpiece "Blackbird".
Lisa has kindly helped me bring my dad, Gerry Lockran's own compositions back to prominence this year and tonight we performed his touching ballad "I may not have too much".
Another new performer was Vonny who stepped up to sing an impromptu version of . . . . "Summertime". HOORAY!
Accompanied by our guitar hero Manus, she sang a jazzy version of this George & Ira Gershwin and Dubose Heyward classic, which has become a bit divisive in recent times. I think it is a shame that a song so greatly capable of different interpretations should become a source of opprobrium. As if the song had itself committed some sort of heinous crime.
I welcome its performances and I'm not afraid of saying so! And so closing a long night was the incomparable Bob Melrose, yet another favourite guitarist of mine! Yes, I know have a lot of favourite guitarists, don't I! But I like the guitar. So just deal with it!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! And Bob was accompanied by . . . Manus, for a couple of songs of full-shred guitar nirvana.
A long night. A great night. It was my pleasure to play host to you all. Here's to many more nights spent together with you all, my friends.
LOVE. LIGHT. PEACE.
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