18th September 2018
Arriving at about eight I found Terry Lees in the bar, eating a shepherd’s pie, which meant that he had first spot. This was doubly just, as he’d had to leave early last time without getting to play. Before he went on I did the obligatory host opening, reading a short poem How Bad is It? The poems, I discovered can potentially fill in dead air during technical hitches or frantic artistic policy discussions between jammers - better than telling jokes. However, this was not needed as subsequent performers always seemed to get on track by the time the poetry book was fully opened.
Terry’s first song was about an escape from the Bowling Green Kentucky State Penitentiary. “Long John – he’s long gone”, with a bloodhound after him it seems. Terry’s high –class twiddles on his Martin were as accomplished as ever. I often wondered who played those many-tailed tadpole notes (hemidemisemiquavers, I think) in the music-teaching books of our youth. Now I realise they were meant for Terry. His second piece was an instrumental by the blind Irish harpist Turlough O'Carolan, recorded by Planxty amongst many others. In the interests of even more justice Terry did a third song. He chose Jackson C Frank’s Blues Run the Game, bringing back memories of the old sixties folk club days when this was a standard.
George and Mary were up next. George gave a shout out for the annual Sixties re-creation charity event, normally held at the Underground Theatre but this year moved to Deanlands on Saturday 22nd. The duo did sixties songs by way of practice for the event: Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations and Cabaret (that’s George with G not Jeorge with a J).
Helen did an excellent unaccompanied version of Fields of gold and her second song Walk Away Renee (1966), was accompanied by George’s able strumming.
Manus Heard it Through the Grapevine and he heard it good, his ear tuned to jazz. He played his E string so as to recapture the bass playing of James Jamerson on the Marvin Gaye Record. He got some funky and jazzy sounds. Continuing with his intricate and original guitar backings, “We are Stardust, We are Golden” he sang, and we all agreed. He revealed later that said “E” string is actually at some unearthly pitch in his open tuning of E Flat Minor.
Chris Martin left the sound desk in the stewardship of Clive to do two of his own songs Time – “the most precious thing is time/you wasted mine/ but I don’t mind/after all it’s only my time” and Xeroxed Armies, both from his album Standing Room Only. Chris is firm in his resolution to do only his own songs – more power to him.
Simon came on next with two country numbers. “I don’t do humour” he said wryly when I told him people enjoyed his gentle humour. He did Ootischenia by the Be Good Tanyas with impeccable thumpy in-time country picking. He announced Sin City by Gram Parsons. “What’s it about” came a shout from the audience. “About a minute and forty five seconds” replied the humour-denier. Again, it was a joy to hear perfect picking accompanying Simon’s rich voice.
“Happy song or sad song?” Clive asked when he got to the microphone. “Happy!” came the audience response. So Clive did the traditional song John Barleycorn. “Fa la la la it’s a lovely day” we all joined in. Then he did his own song The Adventure of Life (which it is).
Lisa’s original song Strange Enchanted Boy was based on the Song of Nature - the voice and music were enchanting to match. Jason joined her and announced that they are taking part in a benefit gig for a Maternity Rehab Centre in East Dean on 3rd November. The second song was by Sam Cooke, Lou Adler and Herb Alpert: “Don’t know much about history….” Don’t you just want to start singing along at the mere sight of the words? Lisa’s tuneful jangles on the high frets beautifully complemented the deep sounds of Jason’s Ovation. The third song was by “Sir Michael and Keith” – Ruby Tuesday. Then Jason finished with his favourite song by his favourite musicians, Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Ella Moonbridge was once often seen bearing a Bouzouki but now concentrates on her ever more competent piano playing. The honky-tonk bar room sounds went well with Dylan’s Thunder on the Mountain from his Modern Times album after she had sung a quieter, slower song The Long Stairs by Patty Griffin.
Dave and Pam are becoming regulars with their guitar and Melodeon duo. The opening reel segued into Mexicana rhythms and all sorts of variations with great guitar work and a bright Melodeon sound. There was lots of semiquaver unison work with the two instruments in spot-on synchronisation. They were obviously enjoying themselves. I didn’t catch the names of the reels but hey – wow!
It was half past ten and after I’d read a couple more poems The Double Bass Seeks Love and Them and Us, we voted on an early night and that was that.
I’ve put up Martin Taylor as the first video this month. When I first saw him at the Pizza Express in Soho, years back I couldn’t believe I was sitting ten feet away from a genius. To paraphrase a line from Flann ‘o Brian’s The Third Policeman: “what he was doing was no longer beautiful, but terrifying”. Here on Georgia he does slow bluesy soul rather than his trademark impossible polyrhythms and walking bass. Noel Dumbrell is an authentic folk singer on the Sussex scene, with genuine links to the old ways and is simply a joy to listen to and a great entertainer. Etta James belts it out in the third video. The sound is not so good on this, but the rules of this blog state that we have to have live videos, where, as we know, anything can happen. I just love Etta’s total emotional involvement in everything she does. My favourite album of hers is Deep in the Night.
So thanks for coming and playing and listening and reading this blog, and hope to see many of you at my next night in January and, of course, before.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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