Hosted by Manus
4th July, a night of thinly disguised love songs
Unaware of how this sesh would pan out, I started the night off with a cover of a song I had heard, recently, at an Open Mic performance: “Take Another Piece of My Heart” [I’m not actually a non-romantic myself. I love this song from the 60s, in all of its associated versions]. But then, I followed up hard with a semi-improvised “Trouble in Mind” before introducing Lance, to follow it with: “Why [oh why] Did the Chicken Cross The Road”, which made perfect sense, actually [luckily]. Anyway, Lance lolled us down a notch with his excellent “A Gardener’s World” and concluded that with a verse full of whistling, rather whimsically, I thought.
Simon came up after Lance with his rather possessively self-penned: “Black Hole in My Garden [sans whistling] then he attempted to ‘murder an Eagle’s song: “The Girl from Yesterday”. It sounded quite lively to my ears – went down well, that one, for sure.
Then it was Chris J Martin’s time to give us “A Song about Dreams”, literally: coming from a place all mixed and jumbled. “I Want to Sing Along”; looking for a friend, to hold my hand” followed that initial song-writing-in-performance piece. This time seeming to be more about the ambiguities of escapism, and convoluted imagery – ‘down the spiral stairs’ we went.
Sue and Jim, over from The Crown & Anchor Club, Eastbourne, had a night out with “Raglan Road” in true Folk Music mode. This was reaffirmed beautifully by Bert Jansch’s “Go Your Way My Love”, a lovely performance indeed.
Heather, dear Heather with the first [and only] nylon strung guitar, sang “So Far Away” about itinerant lovers – here we go! Then she gave us one of Harvey Andrew’s protest songs. It sounded compelling, but I still forgot to get the title of it – remiss of me, sorry.
Lisa [took her place, on the left to us] with Jason to her left [right to us], no matter, they were together and blended typically as one with their original songs tonight being: “Cat’s Cradle” and “South Eastern Breeze” – catch us if you can ….
Softly focussed Steph was well programmed to take us on through “Love Me Tender” and “Generations”, I think by Sammy Khan [but could be wrong, erm … generous hearts].
The first very thinly disguised love song, of the evening, was a good one composed by, and performed by Andy Melrose: “Fairground” from when time had seemed suspended during ‘Lockdown’ as the ‘night ghosts assembled on the streets’, it followed his : “73 Kites”, which was acutely observed from the 3-day-working-weeks of 1973 [Coal Strikes], ‘let them fly, let them fly – Set Them Free’ – love it [all of it c/w Kites]!
Jason came back, this time augmented by Helga on flute: “Love Me Two Times”, riffing on a vintage Martin guitar going through a Clover Preamp, as was I when I joined forces with Helga’s flute; taking the top line over my modally tuned baritone guitar [and I own up, I had minimally rearranged Bert Jansch’s DADGD arrangement of ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ which, when I first learned it, was recorded as an instrumental].
Nelson King gave us a solo rendition of one of his album tracks [one of many, apparently], it had a strong rock groove: “Will the World Ever Dance Your Way?”, qualified as it was by ‘I’ve seen things to make you pray’ it led perfectly into his next, atmospheric rock groove: “I got It Wrong”, qualified again, ‘I got it wrong, there ain’t no doubt, the word is out’ – and it was!
Josie & Jim, were in attendance tonight, also. They treated us to: “The Legend of Uncle Jim”, a brilliant story about a legendary storyteller [anecdotally aka Seamus, as one of his alter-egos, I suspect, in real life] – ‘If the tales are good, it ain’t a sin; one helluva time you’ll have with UNCLE JIM’! Aha, not so thinly disguised, this next love-song: “Peacock Blue Dress” followed the Uncle Jim characterisation very nicely, I though/felt; ‘Dance in your Peacock Blue Dress, that flows like water around you – the one that you wore when we first met’, how about that, then. Spot on.
Mike Osborne, gave us a John Martyn song of typically mixes messages: ”I Don’t Want To Know About Evil” – ‘I only want to know about love’ – Oh, the irony …. Mike gave it a summarily interesting, but dissonant guitar coda apropos the man [John had lived in Hastings as do Mike and myself; we know about ‘The Lord Nelson’ public house, in which Mr Martyn once thrived [and lived in]. Mike agreed to me entitling his second song “Copenhagen Coincidences”, he seemed to be happy enough with that in lieu of [Untitled]. Mike had met a Danish Debutante at one time, in Copenhagen – you’ve gotta hear it. Lightning does strike twice, sometimes!
Roy played us out, graciously at the piano. Thanx Roy.
Hosted by Jason
“A few beautiful souls”
So, here we are, but a few beautiful souls
Singing our hearts out to anyone who shows
We care just about the music
And anyone who knows
What it is that reaches these few beautiful souls
So, here we were, but a few beautiful souls
Who is going to hear us, heaven only knows
We care just about the music
And don’t worry about who shows
For this is what makes us a few beautiful souls
And who will be there next for these few beautiful souls?
Why do we do this? Somebody must know.
There’s only one reason for the music
If its truly in your heart, it shows
Otherwise you’ll never be one of the few beautiful souls . . .
Jason, poet, June 2023
Thank you to Manus, Simon, Lance, Emma, Mike, newcomers on holiday Christine & Peter, Joseph, and Roy, for your wonderful performances.
It was a pleasure to host you all.
Hosted by Chris Martin
“Songwriters of the World Unite”
So here we are the songwriters of the World
Coming from every neighbourhood
Singing about anything that takes our fancy
Be it cityscapes or be it the deep dark wood
So here we are songwriters of renown
Performing with our customary aplomb
Singing about the world and its wife
Until they decide to drop the big bomb
So we look to the songwriters and their art
Playing anywhere that we think they might dig us
Whether we sing about plain old meat and two veg
Or something artfully cooked with buttered asparagus
So we think we’re so creative, songwriters of the locale
Peddling our various tunes to anyone with ears
Playing to haughty consumers of any fancy cocktails
Or just some ruffians sinking a few beers . . .
Jason, poet, June 2023
Thank you to CJ Martin for hosting and performing along with other excellent performances by Colin, Brenda, The Whale & The Dragonfly, Manus, Lisa & Jason, Emma, Terry, Frank, Laura, Heather, Mike, Simon and Chris Mansell.
Hosted by Ella
The room was full of performers even though it looked somewhat empty as I arrived. Jason had the ‘list’ well underway. Phew. There were a couple of later arrivals, which isn’t unusual.
So with lucky thirteen ready to go, I opened the evening playing guitar (not my usual instrument) and sang Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1970 when she wrote it. It has taken a very long time for a more general acceptance of the importance of wildlife and nature and the amount of damage humanity continues to inflict on it. Let’s maybe just take a moment to consider and cherish the natural world and wildlife. It provides us with good therapy and makes our lives possible in so many ways. OK, off my soap box now. I went on to sing Prairie Town by written by Ruth Moody.
Clive had joined us this evening and he reprised my offering of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ last time, with an environmentally orientated Julian Lennon song, followed by a short ditty about potholes, taking his cue from the Beatles’ 4,000 holes in Blackburn: ‘A Day in the Life’ on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He completed his spot with a version of Supertramp’s ‘Goodbye Stranger.
Singing a cappella rather than speaking poetry this evening, Brenda sang the traditional song: ‘The River is Wide’. She remembered it as sung by The Seekers, when it gave her ‘the shivers’….. ‘love fades away like the morning dew….’Beautifully sung thank you Brenda.
Joseph hasn’t joined us at the Bells for a while but he went on to follow Brenda in a very different and confident style, accompanying himself on guitar. His first song by the Dead South’s ‘Gunslinger’s Glory’: I wanna be the best… the quickest draw … ‘ but ending with a bullet in the head. It felt like we were in the soundtrack to a ‘Western’. In a similarly strong style, he continued with ‘The Highway Man’, (originally a poem written by Alfred Noyes) inspired by a version sung by American songwriter and protest singer Phil Ochs. This also ended with redcoats, and some more blood and death.
As is so often the way of these evenings, there was another complete change of style and presentation as Helga, on flute, and Manus, on guitar, presented their interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing … ‘walking through the clouds ….. riding with the wind’. Manus then sang Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wildside’ with Helga accompanying him on flute. ‘It’s not a ‘trans-anthem’, said Manus, ‘it’s just sex, drugs and rock and roll’. It was released way back in 1972 on the album ‘Transformer’.
Hey, you got to Hide your Love Away was the following song, beautifully expressed by Jason and Lisa. Even older that the Lou Reed song, this Beatles song appeared on the ‘Help’ album in 1965. The blending and interweaving of both voice and guitar style continued with Bill Munroe’s Blue Moon of Kentucky. Keep on shining you two.
Emma’s week had been turned upside down by damage caused to her camper van by the very mechanics working on it, distracting her from song-writing plans. This meant that we heard her accompany herself on ukulele with ‘Can you tell me how to get an Irish Passport’, her very amusing observations about the inconvenience of Brexit. Well, we all laughed again, as we also did at her ‘Pollution Calypso’ which covered the ongoing fiasco of Southern Water’s far too frequent release of raw sewage into the sea, making the beach at Bexhill a hostile environment and ‘paddling in sewage in Pevensey’ (amongst other places of course) an unpleasant option.
Frank, Laura, Helga and Joseph together performed an extended version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Bojangles’ followed by another extended version of Dylan’s song ‘I Shall be Released’ originally recorded in 1967 with The Band. ‘I see my light come shining, from west unto the east ….’
‘Romeo and Juliet’ written by Mark Knopfler and recorded by Dire Straits in 1980, was Terry Lees first song. His second was fast and involved an impossible number of notes for the standard issue of five fingers per hand: ‘Music for a Found Harmonium’ by Penguin Café Orchestra.
Chris (Mansell) turned up this evening with a neighbour who sings, and Anita was a treat. With no more than a few minutes ‘rehearsal’, Chris sang ‘Summertime’ with Anita adding extra vocals. He played guitar and offered word prompts (not that you’d have noticed missing words really) and encouraged Anita to improvise. Wonderful. A real treat.
Chris continued solo with ‘If I was a Carpenter’, written by Tim Hardin in 1960 and performed by him at Woodstock in 1969. It has been recorded by various other artists including Bobby Darin, the Four Tops and Johhny Cash. Chris is another guitarist who appears to have more than the usual quota of fingers on each hand. He was joined by Terry with Lisa bringing in some tambourine on ‘Ting-a-ling’, originally recorded by The Clovers in 1952: ‘The way they laugh, the way they sing, makes my heart go ting-a-ling’.
With Jason singing and playing Leadbelly’s ‘Take this Hammer’, (a prison, logging and railroad song), Helga played blues alongside, with a couple of solo spots on flute. Laura livened up the presentation wielding a tambourine.
The Whale and the Dragon (Martin and Sheila) had been quietly waiting in the shadows. Their name is based on animal spirits, apparently due to the problem of finding a name to share for their performances together, with Sheila being the dragon and Martin, the whale. ‘My Hot Air Balloon’ was a song about solitude and deepening connectivity with people. They followed with ‘Joy in my Soul’, celebrating a time to be alone whilst enjoying joy in the soul. These songs were ‘sparse’ and airy after the density and intensity of the previous few songs.
Olly was remembering a friend, Stevie Stone, who has recently passed away, as he sang Bob Dylan’s ‘She belongs to me’, observing how powerful it must be to ‘Take the dark out of the night time and paint the daytime black’….’She’s an artist’. His second song was Goldwatch Blues by singer-songwriter Mick Softley, but probably better known through Donovan’s cover version of 1965.
Monica hasn’t been here with us for a while, but this evening she was back in style with her ukele, and backing vocals from Laura and Lisa, to sing Fisherman’s Blues: ‘I will be the fisherman, with light in my head and you in my arms’, (The Waterboys). To end the evening, and what a great evening it was, she sang John Denver’s ‘I’m leavin’ on a jet plane’.
The Merry Month of May is a poem in the play ‘The Shoemaker’s Holiday’ by Thomas Dekker (1572 – 1632) first performed in 1599:
‘O the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green…....
Nightingale, the pretty nightingale, the sweetest singer in the forest…’
May has turned the world has very green, trees and plants billowing with bright new leaves all over the place, and everywhere, including the roadsides, crowded with flowers and colour, but where are the bees and the buzzing things? When did anyone last hear a nightingale sing?
With thanks to everyone who joined us at the Six Bells for the evening, and to Jason for getting the room set-up in advance and manning the sound desk.
Take care and see you soon, Ella
For your diary perhaps:
Terry Lees and Natasha Norodien’s CD launch: 7pm for 7.30 at Bridge Cottage, Uckfield
Joseph’s Runt in Tun (Heathfield) evenings 8 – 10pm on last Wednesday of the month
Hosted by Heather
“Night of Celebration”
Build me a house from anything you like
Light up my life with your helping hand
Throw me that lifeline like I knew you would
And help me back to this safe land
There’s a train ready for all you souls
All you have to do is get on board
For everyone from here to Trenchtown
All we have to do is praise the Lord
Singing for your happiness
Wishing you the best of days
Singing for life ahead
Generous in so many ways
Such beauty at the piano
The blues so strong in your gentle hands
You sing from the heart once again
And spirit us away to foreign lands
We laughed at the wordplay
Performing with the simple ukulele
You raised our spirits with such humour
Delivering your songs so feyly
And once again from the heart
Gentle talent will shine through
You envelop us with your every breath
And enchant is all with your songs anew . . .
Jason, poet, May 2023
Thank you to Heather, CJ Martin, Simon, Brenda, Manus, Lisa & Jason, Chris Mansell, Frank, Two’s Company, Paula, Clive, Terry, Sami Rae, Emma, Helga and Ella, for all your wonderful performances. And a big thank you to Martin on bass guitar for all his accompaniment.
Hosted by Jason
It’s easy to do, childhood living
Spent a brief way from you
It’s easy to see rivers flowing by
We are joined in the deep, dark blue
The tale of the tapestries it does bind us
Weaving through life’s river of love
We created this emotional fabric to clothe us
Then take flight like the branch carrying dove
Through all the shades of any colour you like
We explore the space with all our love
Through time we play and sing all night
We take life from the very light above
Singing tales from the London riverside
Urban poetry cuts deep into the stones
Delivered directly with a stark honesty
Working class hero to his very bones
Jason, poet, April 2023
Thank you to Simon Watt, Lance, CJ Martin, David Dyke, Lisa & Jason, Chris Mansell, Brenda, Frank, Helga, Laura, Heather, Paula, Alexis McGloan, John Stephens, Nelson King, Terry Lees and Mark, for all their fabulous performances.
“Here comes the Spring”
We sing, we love, we flew together
As the river moves before where we sat
We sing, we tell tales of one another
Of the life that we wanted and that is that
So sing, so travel through the North Country Fair
As the river flows along to take us there
So love, so rhyme, live life as we dare
Of a place called Another World, who knows where?
Behold the mystic
Mind above all creation
Into the heart of the celeb
Fame will bring its own elation
Hey, Hey, My, My
Out of the red mist they do say
My, My, Hey, Hey
Into the ocean blue we make way
The felled trees cannot hold him
Wounded knee presents no bounds
He returns to sing his life long tales
Country soul staring down the hounds
A soft tale and then a song
Memories of a favourite singer do fly
A gentle soul she does perform
From where our love will never die
The sensual dancing Queen
The Lord of the dark humour
Visions of fruit in places never seen
Could it be more than a rumour?
Sing us your tale of the darkest nights
Take me down with you to the depths below
As she entices the audience with all her might
The musical dance like a river it did flow
Riding the whale
Song for a dad
Folk beauty behold
For his dearest dad . . .
Jason, poet, 2023
Thank you to Lisa & Jason, CJ Martin, Lance, Simon Watt, Brenda, Emma, Heather, The Botticellis, Chris Mansell, Paul McGloan, Terry Lees, Paula, Frank, Laura, Jim Tipler, John Stephens, Tessa, Keith Willson, for all their wonderful performances.
And thanking our audience for their support and appreciation of all the performers.
“Dancing to the End of Love”
Singing of the joy
Dancing to the love
To be here with you sweetheart
Giving voice to that One Dove
The palette of beauty
Conversation so cutesy
As they all move the air
Soft sweet sounds
But be under no illusion
Both laughter and tears abound
For there’s no foregone conclusion
Beauty in the blackness
Music in blinding white
You cast your spell upon us
We all came out for the night
Legend of Rock n Roll, dance with our dreams
To the sound of the caressed tambourine
Legend with the 12-string, that does ring so clean
To the dancing beauty who looks so serene
Summon me the spirit of the folk heroine
Your Eastern strings hold in trance all who hear
Your gentle voice gives life to those sweet words
Your song crosses the ocean for me, my sweet dear
Triptych of the master
Acoustic plucked like heart’s own strings
Every mood is on his palette
Of great love and broken hearts he sings . . .
Jason, Poet March 2023
Thank you to Lisa & Jason, Helga, Lance, Frank, Laura, Manus, John & Di Cullen, Chris Mansell & Paul McGloan, Brenda, Simon Joslin, Kat Black & Mr White, Terry O’Brien, John Stephens, Simon Watt, Ella, Erika, Keith Willson, for all their wonderful performances.
Hosted by Jason:
Night of the Bright Black Stars
Sing me the tale of the black pearl blues
Sell your soul to the Devil one last time
Sing me the tale of Mr Smith
A banquette laid before us with fine fayre and wine
Sing me the tale of music from the village hall
Picture these songs adorning the walls
Sing me a tale of another open night
Music pouring forth like water falls
Sing me the tale of how I told you that I love you
Lay your head upon the pillow beside me
Sing to us your delicate spoken word
As Irish hearts beat so strongly within thee
Sing me the tale of New York Celtic mist
Remembering those guitar gods, the Pentangle greats
Sing to me of the helpless and the hoping
Just for a while before it’s too late
Sing of the sea shanty and the Penny whistle
Folk tunes to the Devil to rise from the dead
Sing of the white lines and the Honky Tonk Women
And lead the ensemble through 12 glorious bars to our beds
Sing of the judge, the jury and the executioner
The Mississippi Delta and that National guitar
Sing of the benefit of the doubt for all races
Do we still immerse them in the feather and the tar?
Sing of the outlaw named Billy The Kid
And the tale of the evil deeds that he did
But the blues still suffered in the voice of Holiday
And so our final performer sent us all on our way . . .
Jason, Poet, February 2023
Thank you to Lance, Colin, Brenda, Frank, Laura, Michael Watts, Terry & Natasha, Chris Mansell, John Stephens, Milton Hide, Bob Melrose, Erica Olson, Ian Chisholm, and Lisa & Jason, for all the wonderful performances.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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