Singer/Songwriters’ Night.- April 16th 2019
This was Chris Martin’s Big Event: his chance to encourage other musicians to come prepared with their own compositions, and a chance for singer/songwriters to share their creative talent. The Facebook notice apparently reached 760 people which is brilliant, but only 13 people came and some of those weren’t aware that it was a singer/songwriter night because they don’t use Facebook. So perhaps we need to try to spread by word of mouth a little more? Posters? Ideas?
Still, we had some lovely writing and really excellent performances, and as usual, the sound from the beautiful PA was a pleasure. Thank you Chris and Clive.
Chris started off with 2 of his own compositions: ‘Fade and Disappear’ and ‘Journey’. I hadn’t heard him perform ‘Fade and Disappear’ live before and Chris gave a lovely performance with plenty of fading on the hook lines. ‘Journey’ is a lovely song with some very pretty and gentle guitar runs and Chris does perform this more often. His precise picking style really brings out the beauty of this composition.
Personally, I find I do enjoy people’s own songs more once I get to know them a bit. I hear Chris’s quite a lot, and really grow to enjoy them more and more. So, stick at it Song-writers. It’s not a bad thing to repeat performances of your own songs!
Jane was up next with her slide guitar on her lap and her foot on her box. I do love the humour in Jane’s lyrics and also listening to a different sound from a different instrument. She started with The Broken Leg Blues. This was 2/3 written by a young man who was an excellent sportsman, a skateboarder, I think? Jane wrote the 3rd verse from her own life experience. She followed this with a lovely song she wrote called ‘Road to Santiago’ which she’s moved from a major to a minor key, which really did suit the tone of the song far better. It was written from her own experience, with sections in Spanish and expressed something of the feeling of isolation you can have when travelling alone.
‘If I can speak in all those tongues,
Then why can’t you talk to me.’
Simon was up next. He often performs his own songs and I really do enjoy his dry sense of humour and topical wit.
He opened with ‘There’s a black hole in my Garden’
‘Black Holes are really useful,
I don’t need a wheely bin’
Excellent sentiment, and a very interesting idea….although I know I’d worry about my dog or Grandchildren falling in!
Simon’s second song was ‘Take my Hand. He was asked to write a religious-style of song that was spiritual rather than actually religious. That’s a bit of a tall order, and he did very well. It had exactly the right musical nuances for a free church, religious song, but the words were carefully non-secular. And it sounded good too.
Then came Keith, with his guitar this week, playing Brighton Rock Blues. I do love Keith’s guitar style. It’s rich and expressive, fluid and natural. Actually, I’m rather jealous but hey!
And his lyrics are clever too. Grr.
‘Life’s like a Brighton Rock.
You make the Politicians richer by paying them more’
Then came ‘Terrible Portrait, which was not Keith’s usual style, more of a ballad, about a man who thinks he can be a painter just because he’s going through the mid-life crisis and having an affair. He finds his painting in the attic many years later, and although it looks nothing like his loved one, he just can’t make himself throw it away. It was a lovely song, and as Keith explained, because of his jazz background, he had to give a simple 3 chord song at least 9 chords. It worked very well.
We had a newcomer next. Sophie had been encouraged to come by friends who sometimes come to listen. Sophie always sings her own songs, she told me, and I really had no idea what to expect. She played ‘If the World’ and ‘The Darling’. What a beautiful voice, and what lovely songs; almost Joni Mitchellesque, accompanied by a simple, effective rhythm/slap guitar style. I think we all wanted to hear more and we did later on.
Sophie was followed by Manus. His first song was ‘One Man’s Flood is another Man’s Wave’ inspired by a leak in the ceiling at The Elephant and Castle. It was written and played in Manus’ distinctive jazz style, with a good tight rhythm, which made it easier for me to enjoy. I’m a bit of a pleb and can get lost with the jazz thing sometimes. Topical lyrics: ‘Money like Raindrops falling on the Few.’ Then Manus played Handing it Over, which he has recorded in the past. He’d rewritten the introduction which he felt really improved the song. I did really enjoy both of his performances, and songs. More really clever playing!!
I followed Manus. Not easy that! I’d decided to bring my keyboard because a lot of the songs I’d written this year were for keyboard and I chose two I especially liked. However, my sustain pedal decided to play up. It was working back to front which totally flummoxed me. I battled through ‘Missing you’ which sounded very odd to me with the detached ‘harpsicord’ effect. So, I turned around to play ‘Mum Song’ on the in-house piano which felt a bit better. But not brilliant. I do love these songs and I feel cross with myself when I don’t feel I do them justice. I think we all feel like that!!
Then it was back to taking photos and making notes for The Blog, and Lance was up on the Hot Spot.
Lance is another song-writer I really enjoy. We really do have some excellent talent around. ‘In a Gardener’s World’ came first. I could really identify with that because I love my garden too.
‘In a gardener’s world,
We follow the Seasons,
And live them one day at a time’’
He had some whistle breaks too. Chris upped the reverb and it sounded amazing!.
His second song was very different, and rather sad. ‘The Fault in our Stars’ was about someone dying of cancer. Beautifully poignant.
Then came Clive. I always enjoy Clive’s choices. ‘All of the love will remain’ came first. This was a touching song about sad goodbyes with a really well-formed walking bass. I do love a good walking bass.
‘I want you. I need You. I love You’ came next. Apparently, Clive’s wife never reads the blogs so I can say that Clive said the inspiration was generic and not actually all about his wife, although she thinks it is and it earned him Brownie Points’. Either way, I think we could all identify with the sentiment if we ever have been in love with anyone!
George and Mary didn’t know it was Singer/Songwriter’s night and quickly adjusted their set to open with a song with lyrics written by Chris Liddiard that George had put to music called ‘Green is the Shamrock’. It was played in a gentle Country style and worked well with George and Mary taking turns to sing the lead vocals. They followed that with Dylan’s ‘If Tomorrow’s such a long Time’. George really has quite a crooner’s voice and it sounded lovely with Mary, who seems to have changed her register recently to sing far more strongly and balance George’s voice very well.
Becky and Terry were the last people to come up. They really didn’t know it was a singer/songwriter’s night and don’t really have any of their own material. It’s always a pleasure to hear Becky’s lovely, resonant voice though, and Terry holds it all together with his guitar. Becky lets him sing a little on occasion, but not this time! They treated us to ‘You’re no good’, Linda Ronstadt, and ‘Promise Me’ by Beverly Craven.
Chris came up to say thank you to everyone and played ‘Mr Preacher Man’. He was obviously feeling a bit more relaxed now the evening was nearly done, the world hadn’t caved in, and the sound had been beautiful. So, he gave a lovely clear, faultless performance with excellent guitar and vocal work. He’s on a mission to give each of his 100 songs an airing this year and this was number 58.
By consensus, new girl Sophie was asked to finish the evening with another of her songs. So, she came up and treated us to ‘I used to cry in my Sleep’ wonderfully performed in her distinctive style and with her beautiful voice. Just lovely. Thank you Sophie.
P.S. Everyone’s photo has already been put up of the Facebook page, but I did want to include these two. They boys seem to be upping the anti with interesting and unusual shirts, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for more to add to this collection. Girls too if you want!!!
2nd April 2019
Clive and I started jotting down the running order of performers, as they arrived, in lieu of Jason, whom was the billed host for this evening but had been unavoidably detained – However, he's back in the game and busy at the day job so that's good news in itself in the scheme of things. My list totaled up at 13 but as Jason never made it, we ended up as 12 in all and Jamie, at No-2 was thereby brought forward, moving up the list to a new beginning, reborn and backed-up by Martin. L on bass with supportive introductions by Clive whom was by now keeping a tally of who was doing what having already helped Chris in assembling the PA as Simon had delegated this over to other key-holders due to a bout of flu; there will be lots of colds and snivels to come now he's a grandad ... #2 I’m now informed and he’s graduated to Man-Flu to boot.
So, Jamie and his guitar kicked off with 'Nutshell' by Alison James and 'Plush' by Stone Temple Pilots. Then it was Chris, ascending up the running order from the desk to follow on from that. But he didn't seem to mind filling the second slot – it's never bothered me either as it happens and he started with 'Outta Here' as a solo then bolstered in his second original singer/songwriter piece by Martin on bass again with 'Martinette' vocals by Lisa and Heather on ‘Scrapheap Blues’ – all of which, in an it's-all-in-a-name sort of way, reminded me of a great little pre-Brexit/New Labour novel I once read entitled 'Martin Martin's On The Other Side' – an unavoidable mnemonic slip: there’s a Martin in it and I couldn't help it, sorry ... Anyway, in the here-and-now, a man called Mark was also invited up to complete this ensemble with his highly polished metal slide guitar [in lieu of John Oddie’s resonator of old, we were told] and there sure woz a lot of deputies at work tonight!
Then Clive introduced himself again and proceeded with 'a jaunty 'High Heeled Sneakers' by Tommy Tucker and another song called 'Dark Eyed Molly' before introducing Heather to recite a poem, 'People’ whilst her guitar-tech man sorted out her instrument c/w partial-capodastre, which sounded rather interesting to my ears with an open top 'E' string ringing out its dissonance [which I like] but which had to be appropriately readjusted for her rendition of Joni Mitchell's totemic 'Both Sides Now' – I've seen life from both sides now … contemporaneous indeed on both sides of the pond, in limbo, hanging on it. I bet Joni is pleased to be of Canadian descent … I know Heather and Chris had attended Joni's 70th celebration concert recently and were still buzzing from it – Heather concluded the set with 'The Town I Loved So Well' from Phil Coulter.
Mark, c/w slide guitar, came back on his own terms with Muddy Waters's [blues singer] 'Can't Be Satisfied' of the transatlantic Jagger/Richards Rolling Stones era [I Can't Get No ************] Blues Packages of the 60s. He brought us up-to-date with his own tautology in 'The Shining Sun' – a very long piece on a very shiny guitar with a blurry bottleneck breaking over the fingerboard of frets like metallic rays, and hotspot f-holes resonating to the rising mercury of the Delta atmospherics going on under the fan [inactive this time] ….
I had to follow that!
So I took a leaf out of C J Martin's playbook and invited Lisa and Heather back up, joined by Ella this time, to support me in the refrain of a couple of rhythmic vamps I'd built in to 'True Colours' since recording it recently – there was an extended coda to do with rainbows and they positively shone on that, too. It was like a triple sunshine beating down on the, you know … beats. Ahem, I did a brief medley comprised of 'Ain't No Sunshine/Summertime' but that's another sunny story altogether so I won't go there, then.
It was definitely warming up, though, as we had duo spot coming on with Kat Black and Mr White [but he doesn't know why …?] From Peacehaven-on-Sea, Kat and Andy played 'Stay' and Dylan's 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' which was nice to hear – there was more Bob to come, ultimately from Oliver but now it was time for the ebullient Lance to perform, uniquely, his own songs: 'Every Day' and 'Get Up And Dance' with which he had me jiggling on the stool with his sunny disposition acting as a bit of a livener.
More Joni now, this time from Ella in a stand-up performance with her flat-back bouzouki strapped on to provide a nicely twangy backdrop [Ella felt that there may have been a bit of a tuning problem here but it has to be said that, up to a point, a little variance in each pair of strings on these type of steel-string instruments can add a modulation of its own that can be effective, expansive even – like a chorus pedal would simulate, and people pay good money for such paraphernalia – subjective though it is, it's worth taking a chance on it I would vouch] as she played 'Carrie' and 'I think I understand' – replete with ‘like stepping stones on sinking sand’, what a line to tread … what a line to write, eh? Straight ahead, all good here!
What a lineage to follow? In a nice bit of programming of opposite numbers tonight, it turned out like the roll of the dice to be Lisa's time to come back up. Also in solo mode, she sat down on the high stool and gave us her interpretations of 'I Have To Say I Love You In A Song' from Jim Croce and 'Song To A Siren' by Tim Buckley as a nice offset to what had preceded her reflective performance.
John Stevens covered an off-the-shelf version of 'April Come She will' ... well he got that right. It was Paul Simon whom had ascribed a gender to this month of months that we find ourselves in whilst he was working with Garfunkel, in harmony; Simon being the preeminent songwriter. But then [after a nice, harmoniously sunny March, mostly …]. Star Man.
Oliver: 'Gold-Watch Blues' and the other Bob Dylan song of this long night – “She Belongs To Me” which had enough gravitas to act as an apt conclusion within the atmosphere it seemed to generate, just like any good folk club at its best – my inner Sun-God was turned back on again and fully appeased.
So, looking forward to Chris Martin's, on the other side of songwriting night coming up next time, as a platform for all singer-songwriters with hearts, and minds, and songs of our own [as opposed to the singer-songwriter genre at large, as a general theme]. But, on the sunnier aspect of things, I don't know which gender I would apply overall to 'Summertime' and other covers anyway, which is just as well because I'd probably get booted out for being so subversive, and rightfully so!
Okay, we started fashionably late which was good as Clive, our last regular on the list, made it just in time not to miss anything [he was followed by another couple: Becky & Terry as a bonus] which gave me an active opportunity to waffle on about last summer's “A Love Supreme” festival over at Glynde – a nice message co-opted from John Coltrane of 1964 set to a wayward take on “Woodstock” of the era, by me [cos I used to be an Existential Impressionist but I'm all Post-Modern now …]. All of which seemed to free me up to stretch out a bit on the ballad “Autumn Leaves”, as a very loose instrumental. I hope this didn't come across too indulgently but it seemed to fit; it felt right and Chris had set me up nicely with a stereophonic rig through the sound desk, so it was kind of airy and transparent as an improvisation on the written chord changes [which were adhered to].
Chris then followed me in reflective mood with his 'Something To Believe' circa 1976' and enhanced by Martin on the amplified Uke-Bass. It had an effectively recurring Sus-4 chord right there in the fabric of it [in a 'Rock' way] but tempered by a Maj-7 vibe, I thought. But the next song from Chris, 'Inside Of You' with Simon [Farmer] on soprano saxophone, was definitely of that kind of tonality [: C Maj-7/E Minor :] and the soprano floated over that as of a wash [in water colours]. Jazz is a cliche but we were all atmospheric thus far [yeah, I know – I used to be synaesthetic too but I'm better now … blah, blah …]. They concluded with 'Farewell My Love' – supremely!
Simon stayed on backed up by Heather at the piano [I would say as an accompaniest but I can't spell it so hitherto it will be deemed as 'comping' all the way]. Dial 'M' for Merger, there was nuance; it was “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” followed up with a nifty switch to Alto by Simon for “Fly Me To The Moon” and I comped on that one. It was in 'C'. Heather sang “April Come She Will” and “Carolina On My Mind” – there is something aptly shrewd about the guitar playing of James Taylor, it permeates through all of his work. I mean it is mildly syncopated in a way that always seems to leave space for bass and/or electric pianos, even when they are not there – It's implicit. Happily, Heather was playing guitar on this one and the bass seemed to be much more transparent in the lines that Martin was playing there, rather than merely comping [or 'jamming' on it]. I think it's an American thing. Mavis Staples's band had all of that over at Glynde, on it at the festival last year. Her man on the Telecaster was supremely in-and-out of it, turning-the-beat-around and really digging into the grooves that they created – it was truly inspirational [and expensive for me: I had to start acquiring Teles again, forthwith on the strength of that – will I ever play them again?] Hmm ….
Rhetorically, I digress. Simon, on guitar, followed them with a Cliff Richards pop song entitled 'Wind Me Up Let Me Go' – The BBC certainly wound Cliff up, of late didn't they – poor man … this light rendition was much more pleasant and euphorically conveyed [as Simon was a provisional Grandad throughout the duration] after which he took us on an odyssey through Canada with a song phonetically described as 'Ooh-ter-cheen-ia' – a pronoun I believe [Although it’s spelled like this: Ootischenia and is by the ‘Be Good Tanyas’]. We do get around don't we …? From there it was The Grateful Dead – “Ripple” so here’s a toast to the newborn.
Time for 'One-Woman-And-Her-Guitar' Lisa Jackson, with a couple of originals; in the true sense of the word, the second piece 'Mid-Winter Mist' struck me as an original song-form per se with its open-inversions over the static bass pedal [E-natural] which must have felt like a gift from Heaven for the actual bass-player, Martin again providing subtle enhancement with that fret-less sound-scape with those little black rubber strings [yep]. I must add, and hope, Lisa won’t feel patronised in any way by all of this purple prose of mine but any of her many facebook friends whom will have surely seen her consistently vibrant nature photography, enough to realise the tangible ‘in-tunefulness’ of her body of work will get it. And, these things do, in fact, crossover sometimes – I've been trying to achieve it for years but sometimes just being 'aware' is enough. Like, maybe it did, maybe it didn’t – it’s Art. And I don't mean to overlook Lisa's first piece, either. It felt like a prelude taken altogether -- these ramblings are of course entirely subjective.
Another person who often appears in a duo, but solo tonight, is Mark Lynch. From Danehill, he played and sang 'Lost Little Girl' from The Doors’s “Strange Days” followed by Trent Raznor's, 'Hurt' – it was relatively painless! So, Ella turned the electric piano on with “Lone Star” and “Love Me Like A Man”, Influenced by Bonnie Raitt. It was a slow-burner eventually moving me off the stool on the corner, getting up there with it to plug in and cause something of a chain-reaction with bass and then, additionally, Simon on saxophone – it's a blues in 'G' by John Prine.
At this point Clive kindly offered to move over in order to accommodate our guest duo, Becky & Terry thus giving them a platform on which to perform three songs, consecutively; “The Touch Of Your Hand” and “I Will”, both by Alison Krauss and then “Like Diamonds” by Patricia Conroy followed on by Mr Woodman and his pre-tuned acoustic guitar with a lead dedicated to itself, for 'Seven Golden Daffodils' and Greg Lake's 'Lucky Man' all of which was very lyrical and assured in performance – very reassuring within the arc of the proceedings – the problem with being of a jazz sensibility, like me, is that you never know what the time is when you really should when watches become like capodastras and other add-ons [wedding rings, mirror sun-glasses, A&R men, i-pods etc ….] it just all gets a bit irrelevant to the fundamental cause of enjoying it, sometimes. So I got up again to play an impromptu Herbie Hancock medley of “ Cantaloupe Island” c/w an almost-segue into “Chameleon” -- with its attendant bass-line picked up on, and indeed embellished ably by Martin on that quirky, but very reliable little bass instrument over there in the wings: Bom-Bom-Bom-Boom – Bom-Bom – Bom-Bom-Bom-Boom-Bom-Bom it went. It was like having an engine in a room behind a pub in a village.
It had to end ….
And who better, coming up to opus-50 [in reprise], but Chris J. Martin returning ultimately to do the honours and play us out with full ensemble for 'Toast for One' – I like that!
Before the evening began, there had been four email messages sent through. These were from four of our regular music - makers, each one a member of our Six Bells 'committee' and each of them saying that they would not be able to come tonight.
" Oh Dear" I thought to myself. ( to put it politely ) That means that we will be a bit thin on the ground tonight, and maybe the evening will be a bit disappointing and turn out to be as flat as a pancake. ( One of us had to make that joke, didn't we ? )
Anyway, as usual, it was not disappointing, and we ended up with an enjoyable night. We were a bit late starting, because I had been held up on my journey with the road being completely closed at Halland for repairs, and had to follow a diversion. Also, I had trouble with a guitar lead that I hadn't plugged in properly, which caused a bit of a technical glitch. I blame the guitar lead, not myself.
I got going with The Doobie Brothers' song 'Listen to the music' written by Tom Johnston. My second one was Paul Simon's 'Take me to the Mardi Gras'. This song had to be sung tonight. It's funny how 'Mardi Gras' is a much nicer name than 'Fat Tuesday'. As for me, I don't just do Fat Tuesday. -- More like every day of the week.
Mark Lynch has played here several times now, and tonight he was joined by John Budden, and together they gave us 'Till there was you' written by Meredith Willson, from 'The music man', and followed by The Beatles number 'Things we said today'. Mark and John live at opposite ends of the county, but they obviously get to rehearse together sometimes, because they make a good sound.
Chris Martin took time off from the sound desk tonight ( but still stepped in to help here and there),and now, stepped up to the mic to give us not just two, but three of his own compositions. (With permission)! 'King of the flies', 'It's only my time', and 'Standing room only'. Chris tells us that he has performed every one of his 100 songs at Open Mic Nights, and he is now re-singing them all , in numerical order, song by song. Tonight was number 33, 34, and 35. We've suggested that next time round he does them in alphabetical order.
Chris told us that someone else was unable to come tonight. -- This was Simon Farmer, the brilliant saxophone player who has been joining us for the last few months. He had apparently been feeding honey to a wasp and the wasp didn't like it so it stung him ! I've always found that wasps prefer beer.
Our other Simon, Mr Watt, came up next to entertain us with two of his own very clever and humorous songs, both of them very topical still: 'When Brexit Comes', and 'Rocket Man'. ( featuring Kim Jong -un.) Simon says The Brexit song will be out of date after March 29th. I'm not so sure. And how long will Rocket Man last? Jong-un could be a long-un.
Manus ( 'Jazz') McDaid, was number five on the list, and despite having a bad throat, was able to play us, in his great style, 'Song bird' written by Christine McVie, made well known by Eva Cassidy as well as Fleetwood Mac. Although a bit early in the year, then came 'Autumn leaves', written by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert. We noticed a bottle of something strong sticking out of Manus' pocket. he says it's cough linctus. Huggh Hum!
Taking to the floor next we had Heather Curry with her take on another song done by Eva Cassidy, 'Fields of gold' written by Sting. ( Gordon Sumner). Then we were taken back to our childhoods with 'The owl and the pussycat' song with lyrics by Edward Lear. I think we've got a runcible spoon somewhere in the cutlery drawer.
A guest that we haven't seen for a while is Dave Dyke. He started up with 'Don't leave me this way' - The Ricky Nelson song from 1958, (not the more recent one by The Communards) followed up by Gordon Lightfoot's 'Early morning rain.' Very nicely done, with some fine finger picking.
Very patiently, Sylvie had been waiting, and she took the mic to give us a couple of her witty songs, this time with Scottish nursery rhyme themes. Never sit in the front row when Sylvie sings. - She'll make you join in with the choruses which you don't know!
There was now time to carry on into the second round, with Mark Lynch coming back to give us 'Jenifer', a song by Bert Somner, who was one of the lesser - known musicians who played at Woodstock in 1969.
John Budden then returned, this time playing on our old piano, making it sound good with a nice number from the band Heads Hands and Feet. Every time I think of them I can't help thinking of 'Heads shoulders knees and toes'. Sorry !
Chris appeared again (with permission) to do a fourth song of his own 'What happened to our love' This takes his list up to number 36.
Simon stepped back in to do a very nice take on 'It never rains in Southern California' by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood.
Following this, Manus launched into 'All the things you are' by Jerome Kearne and Oscar Hammerstein. Always classy stuff from Manus.
Another piano piece next, this time with Heather, and a nicely done song by Phil Coulter, 'Scorn not his sympathy'.
I thought it would be nice to let Mark and John finish off the night, seeing as they seem to have travelled the farthest to get here. -- Mark from the dangers of Danehill, and John from the worries of Worthing. So, back as a duo again, they sang The Korgis' 'Everybody's got to learn sometime', with some very nice guitar playing.
Thank you to all who came and sat and listened
And those who sang and played,
And to those who enjoyed it, all through the evening, and stayed.
So there goes another Tuesday night ! Now where have all those pancakes gone ??
See you next time.
19th February 2019
I thought it was going to be a quiet night and arriving to an empty room, I figured it would be an early night too. I was welcomed by Simon the Sax and Paul the Publican and immediately felt the golden glow of our Folk and Blues and burgeoning Jazz club, warm my cockles. And then you all started to arrive and those very same cockles made me feel alive, alive oh (there’s a song in there somewhere…).
Lovely opportunity for me to sing a couple of my own ditties to start off the music. Just for a While is a song that our dear Chris Liddiard helped me out with on the chords for the chorus. He actually sang it on a couple of occasions - a beautiful Chris interpretation that made me ache with pride to hear. Thank you to our much-missed Chris. My second song was the ‘Lala Song’ about music surrounding us wherever we go.
Manus took the dreaded second spot and performed a wonderful interpretation of Bob’s ‘Don’t think twice…’ Manus’s accomplished folk guitar picking was a joy. He then showed how versatile his Fender (and his fingers) are with an improvised Jazz Blues in E. A delight.
Keith was joined by Simon for an extraordinary performance that I will always remember.
Touching, heartfelt, original, magical. A recitation of The Weary Blues by American poet Langston Hughes written in 1925, during segregation and the Harlem Renaissance. Keith sang sections of the poem too, while Simon played the sax throughout, both creating an atmospheric and mesmerising few minutes for us all. Keith then changed the tone entirely with his interpretation of Keith Jarrett’s Heartland, played on the keyboard.
Well, what a great start to the evening. It continued from there, with Simon the Sax jazzing it up on All of Me and Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock. Simon is adding a wonderful dimension to the club with his playing. A joy to hear.
And then, to show off how versatile and eclectic the performances are at the Six Bells, John Stephens performed David Gates’ Everything I Own and Black Velvet (originally recorded by Alannah Myles in 1989), giving me and Clive a chance to join in with a few quiet harmonies. Well, how can you not with those two songs!
Simon Watt sang Kate Wolf’s Here in California and an Irish number The Mountains of Mourne, two beautiful songs, movingly and sensitively performed. Jayne then took to the stage, performing her own song Mama Used to Say followed by (as Chris Martin wasn’t here) Summertime. But what a delightfully original version she played. Whatever anyone might think of this overplayed oversung song, it is an iconic one and hearing it interpreted so originally by Jayne was just lovely.
Clive sang two of his own songs which were so enjoyable to hear: Is it Summertime So Soon and Gonna Take a Chance. And with the bonkers warm weather we are having at this time of year, ‘Skylarks in February’ rather hit home.
Kat Black and Mr White (AKA Kat and Andy), the first time with us as a duo, delighted us with their harmonies and arrangements of Simon and Garfunkel’s Kathy’s Song and Sound of Silence. We couldn’t let them go without hearing another song, so they gave us Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game. Two lovely voices together with some terrific musical interpretations. I do hope we hear more from the Black and White twosome.
Next was Ella’s turn at the piano. I’ve been badgering her to sing James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James as she is now the proud Nana of a real baby James, and she did just that. It’s always a joy to hear Ella, but tonight she only gave us one song – always leave them wanting more, said Al Jolson…
Sylvie ‘s renditions of The Valentine’s Song written by a friend of hers and Drink, Drink, Drink, from Beggar’s Banquet brought back memories of me singing my heart out in Strauss’ Pink Champagne back in my previous! But I’ll keep my warbles to myself!
Early on in the evening I hatched a plan. Now it was time to put it into action. I invited our jazz men up, Manus, Keith and Simon who gave us an impromptu Autumn Leaves. As host of my own folk club some years ago, it was always hugely satisfying to encourage collaborations that would then go on to become exciting duos and trios etc. I hope that we will hear more from this Six Bells trio. Eat yer heart out Ronnie Scott!
To finish off our evening, Jayne sang Killing the Blues and John gave us a rendition of Space Oddity so we could end on a bit of a sing song. I had recently listened to Bowie’s 1967 solo studio album: a collection of Anthony Newley inspired ‘entertainer’ songs. Two years later when he was just 22, he had written and recorded Space Oddity. Where does talent like that come from!
And we had talent by the bucket load tonight. Thank you everyone for making it a pleasure of an evening to host.
5th February 2019
What a quiet evening it was to begin with. Quiet that is, in terms of the number of musicians present. Perhaps there was something happening elsewhere, but this evening marked a departure from the usual style of several performers and included many collaborative enterprises. Rather exciting, actually.
My introduction wasn’t anything very unusual though. I sang two Joni Mitchell songs accompanied by bouzouki: ‘Carey’ from her 1971 album ‘Blue’ and ‘Urge for Going’ from ‘Second Fret Sets 1966 – 68’, but I am familiar with it from her ‘Hits’ album of 1996.
Jim followed, playing guitar (I had previously only seen him play fiddle) and singing ‘Wings’ a song which questions why people cage the things they love most, written by the late Brian Bedford. His second song was about the single greatest tragedy of the blitz in London, where 200 people died at Bethnal Green underground station as they stumbled and fell down the stairs, and not because they had been hit by a bomb. This poignant piece: ‘Rosemary’s Sister’ was written by Hugh Williams. Jim also enthusiastically recommended Keith Willson’s book of poetry and made a request for Keith to read the poem about his double-bass Fred placing an ad in the ‘Lonely Hearts’ section under the title: ‘The Double Bass Seeks Love’.
The poem duly delivered was full of Keith’s characteristic wit. Keith remained on stage to perform a slow blues with Ian, another musician who had joined us for the evening, offering his harmonica-playing skills. These two had not previously met, but, after some technical re-arranging, slipped into a slow blues, ‘The Slow One’, a love song about two people meeting at a wedding several years after splitting-up. Between them, they definitely put the blues back into the ‘Folk and Blues’ identity.
In a change of style, Manus, also coincidentally having a Joni Mitchell moment, produced a guitar-focused version of ‘Boho Dance’ from her seventh album of 1975 ‘The Hissing of Summer Lawns’. Joni Mitchell’s songs can be quite complex. She is a very idiosyncratic song-writer and performer, using unusual timings and tunings, but very nicely done Manus. He continued with the ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ from the 1962 film of the same name, (music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Johnny Mercer)and Simon joined in on sax. Apparently he was not familiar with the piece, not that you would notice. Simon, who has now joined us several times, also brought some wonderful alto sax into the mix. Very chilled.
The evening moved from folk to blues to jazz then rock and roll with Clive. As a sixty years tribute to Buddy Holly who died on the 3rd of February 1959, Clive gave us a lively version of ‘Peggy Sue’. The song was written by Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison and Norman Petty, about Jerry’s girlfriend. Having watched Mama Mia at Christmas, Clive was also inspired to sing Abba’s ‘Andante, Andante’, written by Bjorn Alvaeus and Benny Andersson and released in 1980. So the evening then progressed into some vintage ‘pop’.
Chris Martin was on next, and I think it would be fair to say that his songs were not folk, or blues, or jazz, or rock and roll, or even pop, so were a different genre as yet unconfirmed. His first song ‘Bixie Bear’was complemented by some lyrical soprano sax from Simon. Bixie Bear was dancing in the moonlight, hand in hand with that wooden man. I wonder if these were friends of Panyan. Heather joined in at the piano with Simon on sax again for Chris’s 1990 song ‘Right for Me’.
Heather remained at her piano (an electric one, reliably in tune, not the house instrument) She sang a lovely, pensive song, it’s first public performance as it was only completed earlier in the day: ‘Missing You’. She followed this with an instrumental that was all up and down the keyboard, a ‘protest song’ called ‘Silent Fathers’ about men who lose access to their children.
Simon, flaunting his best Christmas jumper, a gift from his sister three years ago, sang us a ‘proper’ folk club song, ‘Caledonia Calling’ a modern Scottish ballad written in 1977 by Dougie MacLean. Then came a collaboration, with Simon on sax joining Simon on guitar and vocals for a version of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Monkey and the Engineer’. Monkey at the controls ‘left the engineer with a worried mind’. This was a song with real gravitas.
The night was still young enough for another song from everyone. I sang ‘Blackwaterside’, a real, proper folk song that I heard first by Bert Jansch. Jim had to be gone, so Keith followed with the ‘The Worst Thing’ on guitar, a song that regrets the ruining of a relationship. He changed position to play piano, and with some technical rearrangements, Manus’ last song was an instrumental version of ‘This Masquerade’ by Leon Russell, released in 1995. Simon joined them on sax and there followed some very interesting, jazzy wrestling and interweaving of threads and phrases.
Clive brought us back to folk with his version of ‘London River’ made popular by Fairport Convention, from their ‘Heritage’ album of 1998. Chris performed his ‘Xeroxed Armies’ solo: a man with nothing has nothing to lose……. . Heather, on piano, sang ‘Yesterday’ with Simon on sax adding a lovely solo. Simon on guitar ended the evening with the beautiful Mary Gautier song ‘The Rocket’ (featured in my video selection). I accompanied Simon, (rather poorly as it happens), but he brought the evening to a nicely rounded conclusion after a very musically diverse two and a half hours.
For those among us who play the piano, there is an awareness of the house piano, which, lovely as it is, is not totally in tune and a bit uneven to play, so electric pianos turn up from time to time. I love the house piano because I haven’t had an acoustic piano for years and it is so very different (challenging!), but rewarding, to play. I noticed the piano on the Norah Jones video I have posted and it looks very beaten-up, doubtless in tune however, but it probably would have been far easier to plug in an electric one. Then there’s Willie Nelson’s guitar! Now that looks like a worn-out but dearly loved instrument, if ever there was one.
The evening was uncharacteristically marked by extended periods of arranging the stage and sound equipment, but nobody seemed to mind.
Thank you all for so much musical variety and virtuosity, to Simon of the guitar, for setting the room up and Chris for managing the sound.
With new horizons and possibilities reflected in this evening, we look forward to another evening of music on the 19th.
Take care and see you next time, Ella
22nd January 2019
This is my grumpy face, I thought I would share it with you. It is because we started at 6 minutes past eight, yes six whole minutes late! We can and must do better than this. Next time we will start at seven fifty-four to make up this lost time. Ella, please note.
My first song, sung over the sound of people talking, walking about, opening guitar cases, standing with their back to me and (not that I am complaining) generally ignoring me, was aptly “I’d rather be lonely” by Louden Wainwright lll, I followed this with Gillian Welch’s “Annabelle”.
The evening went downhill from there and when I tell you that Chris Martin (yes, Chris Martin) had to tune his guitar before he could start you can see what a pitiless hand I had been dealt. Anyhow, Chris growled his way through “Ghost” and followed this with “Tick Tock” this time with a metronome making the tick-tock sound. The highlight of his performance was Simon on his sax – don’t take my word for it you can see it for yourself on the new YouTube channel – here.
Keith Willson then stepped forward with a very funny poem about “Athletes Foot” – all the reasons to avoid swimming pools you will ever need, set to rhyme - more of Keith later.
I don’t know what our swimming instructress Heather thought of the poem, she wisely didn’t say. Instead she played us Jim Croce’s “Time in a bottle” on her mellow nylon strings. She also sung for us “So far away” by Carole King.
Mark is fairly new to the 6 Bells and made a terrible mistake – he sat right at the back where there is no heating! This meant playing Rudy Toomes’s “One scotch, one bourbon, one beer” with frostbitten fingers. He then bravely attempted a guitar piece during which one of his frozen fingers detached, fell through the sound-hole, and rattled irritatingly throughout. Never mind Mark, we have all made this mistake at some time or another.
Then came the turn of John with a couple of songs by Bob Fox, “The year will rise up again” and “Virginia”. I don’t know about the rabble but I was seriously impressed. This is a man who can really present, sing and play - so I don’t suppose we will be seeing him again (but we can hope).
Lance is another song-smith honing his skills and he came up with two great songs “My dad” and “Happy new year”, both were well executed and interesting. At this point I thought we were on a roll and then George, Mary, Helen and Roberto decided that an hour and forty minutes was too long to wait to play, and left, leaving a big hole in my list and the audience. What can you do?
Fortunately Natasha, who we have not seen for a while is more patient and, as always, produced some great traditional ballads “When first I came to Caledonia” and “Barrack Street”.
Time for the Lisa & Jason combo. Jason started with the Doors,” Wishful , sinful” and was joined by Lisa singing one of his father Gerry’s songs which, if only they had remembered the new policy of emailing the song list to the blogger, I could name. Then “Into the white” by Cat Stevens.
More poetry now from Sylvie. Rabbie Burn’s “My heart is in the Highlands” and his famous “Dormouse” – you know, the the one about the “wee timorous beastie”.
Talking of beasties, Keith and Simon returned for a little cooool jazz. “Take five” followed by a very moody “Over the rainbow”. Keith on keyboard and Simon again on sax, both pieces sounding as if they had practised for weeks although I know this was not the case. Ah, if only I had their musical intelligence (or any other form for that matter).
Up next was the late night coffee guzzling Manus. Considering the temperature in the room “Light my fire” was a great (or grate) choice. He then surprised us by saying he would play a Country & Western number – no, I couldn’t believe it either. Hank William’s “Your cheating heart” – with lots of sharps and flats in it – who knew?
Finally and gallantly came Clive who has patience down to an art form (give him a good spot next time Ella). Clive did indeed send me an email to say what he would be playing it read; “The Letter” by American band The Box Tops from 1967, written by Wayne Carson Thompson and “Love minus Zero” by someone called Bob Dylan”. He was worth the wait.
Lastly, I finished the evening with “Bring it on home to me” by Sam Cooke, accompanied on sax by Simon. I have to say, I really enjoyed Simon’s sax backing – he is a great asset to the fun of the evening.
I hope you enjoy my selection of videos, some great performances starting with Mary Gautier supported by Mary Elizabeth on violin. If you don’t know J D Souther, he is a singer songwriter and had collaborated with many big names and bands, most notably, The Eagles. Neil Young is always a joy but I think this unplugged performance is especially good – I love his backing singers.
Thanks to Chris for running the sound, Heather for the photo and to Lisa for sorting out the jug.
Next time Ella is running the evening. Don’t forget, get to the Six Bells early, coats off (or on if you sit at the back), guitars out of their cases and in tune, drinks bought, sitting quietly in your chairs ready to start at seven fifty-four – I know she will appreciate it. Thanks for coming, and for those who did, staying. I will be running the club again in May – can’t wait!
7th January 2019
The new mood of punctuality was in evidence as I asked Simon what time the club started. “Fifteen minutes ago.” came the stern reply. I’d brought the electric piano and it was well set up, so opened with Albert Collin’s Too Many Dirty Dishes. Saw Albert in the Eighties at the Town and Country Club in London. He had a very distinctive guitar style, sharp and indeed cutting, - a Telecaster with a capo way, way up, I think on the 12th fret.
Simon was cajoled into doing the first spot and showed a soft spot for people in Hard Times. Then a tale of Chris Liddiard. Apparently, Chris had asked Simon out of the blue “Are you going to write a song about me when I’m dead?” So, Simon did - and a very fine song too: Now that the Songwriter’s gone. He said he played it to Chris, who made no comment, so we’ll never know what he thought of it.
Heather took up her guitar and did one of her childhood favourites, when she grew up in Scotland: Annie Laurie and followed with The Seekers’ the Carnival is Over. That brought back childhood memories for me also of my Dad singing Island of Dreams, with my Mum on piano and my Brother and me on guitars.
Manus did Little Sister famously covered by Ry Cooder on his Bop ‘till you Drop album and indeed King Elvis himself, but actually written by Doc Pamus and Mort Schuman. He followed with Tired of Talkin’ by Robben Ford. Manus certainly knows his way around those frets.
Good to see Mark and John, new faces at the ‘Bells, who did some unashamed pop on acoustic guitar and mandolin including Crowded House’s Fall at Your Feet. The etcetera in “The Six Bells Folk, Blues etc. Club” was becoming more and more evident.
Jason was next up with his own Another Year Another Song. Then Lisa joined Jason for a song written and recorded by Jim Croce in the early 1970s but released posthumously: I Have to Say I Love You with this Song. The poignant Handbags and Gladrags, known as the theme music to The Office, and covered by Rod Stewart among many others, showed off their perfectly matched voices and perfect timing together. It really was a beautiful sound. Lisa finished with the Carpenters’ On top of the World.
It was great to see Helga again after several month’s absence. She joined Lisa’s last song with her magic flute and then stayed on at the microphone in her own right. I stepped up to the piano for what began as a Blues in E but we soon escaped the chord structure into a much freer improvisation.
Chris Martin, performed two self-penned songs You're gone and Sanity. Simon Farmer, who is a very recent addition to the Six Bells Jamming Ensemble and very welcome too, joined Chris on the second song with his soprano sax, which he plays on Chris’s latest CD.
Simon Farmer then took the limelight switching to Alto sax as I stayed at the piano for Billy Taylor’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free, better known as the Film 98 (et seq.) theme, followed by Lover man, Billy Holliday’s iconic song, but, according to the Mighty Interweb, written by Jimmy Davis, Roger ("Ram") Ramirez, and James Sherman (who they? ED.) and covered by so many other greats.
It seemed that the ‘Bells was rapidly turning into an outpost of Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express or Jazz After Dark. The Etcetera was gaining supremacy. However, the blues fought back and Penny Payne, stepped up to do her gutsy stuff. Simon was drawn back by the blues force field and we had a trio. Penny sang Stormy Monday and CC Rider. She’d been at Deanlands in Golden Cross the night before, backed by the amazing Terry Lees on guitar. With adequate performing space and a mobile microphone Penny’s personality knows no bounds.
Jane came up with her guitar and did a flawless rendition of her own song I’ll Go Anywhere with You, ably supported by Helga’s Zauberflöte, followed by Paul Simon’s Cathy’s Song. I think Jane has the largest repertoire of any of us.
John Stephens did Hotel California accompanying himself on guitar with some basic chords from me on piano following a cheat sheet. John finished the evening off with Talk to me Baby, for which Simon Farmer once again speeded the Alto to the front for a jam.
The sound system being switched off and being packed away and the audience gone, we fired up the acoustic piano for a short jam of Take 5 with Manus on Guitar and Simon on Sax. We made an un-passible stab at the chords in the bridge but that’s the way of Etcetera - the new musical Genre ably premiered this evening.
For my vids this time (on the Club homepage) I’ve put up firstly the most beautiful piece of choral music: O Magnum Mysterium by Morton Lauridsen, a magnificent living composer. Is it my imagination or has more live footage of Leadbelly been discovered/posted recently? I couldn’t find anything a few months ago, but here’s Take This Hammer, performed by the man himself in 1945, as my second offering. Thirdly, Judy Collins talks about and performs her song My Father (missing out the second verse). I listened to her Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Incessantly in 1971; an amazing folk rock album with notable tracks: Pretty Polly, First Boy I loved and a country version of Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire complete with pedal steel guitar.
6 Bells Folk and Blues Blog. Dec 11th 2018
Christmas time at the 6 Bells. It always strikes me as a wonderfully Christmassy place, with its traditional feel, open log fires and friendly atmosphere. So it was just up to us musicians to add to the already festive atmosphere. I’ve already posted photos, so you can tell most of us were up for it with Christmas hats, jumpers and festive tinsel.
As well as M.C.ing the evening, and doing the desk, Chris was up first to open up the floor. He performed a couple of his most treasured compositions, ‘What’s in a life?’ and ‘Toast for one’ with Ella on tambourine and backing vocals, Martin on bass ukulele and Simon (Farmer) on Sax. Both of these dispel the fact that Chris only writes gloomy songs! And it’s always really good fun to hear different instruments and Simon’s wonderful contribution to Chris’s own compositions set the evening off really well. Watching Ella is always a treat! Bass just grounds everything.
Next up was Jason, with a couple of soft, gentle and very emotional performances, Waterloo Sunset and Tougher than the rest. Both his vocals and his guitar were faultless, and again, Martin’s bass just added to his performance.
Simon (Watt) was up next and started off with his Brexit Blues: topical and to the point, ‘In ten year’s time we’ll be ok, you might just have to wait’......and in the meantime, ‘Let’s just get on with our lives’. Can’t really argue with that.
He followed this with a Mary Gauthier version of Fred Eaglesmith’s song ‘The Rocket. I did go and look this up and it’s well worth taking a good look at the lyrics and the story of ritualised grief of an old man returning again and again to the station where he sent his son off to war 40 years earlier. Really touching.
Lance followed with one of my favourites, ‘Sadie the Flatulent Horse’. Again, well written, and just....very enjoyable. He followed this with another of his own compositions, ‘Christmas Day’. All of the essential ingredients were in there, Santa, Carols, Dinner family, and of course, mobile phones!
Clive started with one of his own compositions as well. I think it was called ‘The First thing I do’ sung to the tune of ‘The First Noel, and listed a lot of pubs in Crowborough, ‘What is the point of a pub with no ale?’ I think a fair amount of research must have gone into it over the years. He then sang another of his songs, ‘Home for Christmas’ with additional bells from Ella. Charming.
Apparently Ella’s Christmas songs aren’t ready for the public yet, so she sang Danny’s All Star Joint by Rickie Lee Jones. Some great boogie playing and a really fun song. Then Ella played Neil Young’s song ‘Like a Hurricane’. It was a really lovely arrangement .
I followed with a version of ‘Mary did you know’, which I only heard of with the choir I sang with last Christmas.
It was time to treats and nibbles courtesy of The Six Bells next, while Chris and I set up my keyboard for the second half, and Simon and I adlibbed a couple of Christmas songs to help to get us both armed up.
We started off the second half with myself on keyboard and vocals, Chris on guitar and Simon on sax. I was pretty excited about this. We played a Hazel O’Connor song, ‘Will You’ from the film ‘Breaking Glass’. It’s been a favourite of mine for a long time, but I’d never known anyone who could play the sax part, and it has one of the most wonderful saxophone solos. Chris got Simon and I together and we had practiced the week before. We got through it in one piece, and I was really grateful to the boys for letting me perform with them. J
Oliver Hill sang two Donovan songs. The first, Jersey Thursday, has beautiful colourful lyrics and Olly sang it in a simple clear style. I thought the second song was something like ‘From the Land of the Crab’ but I can’t find it so I’m hoping Olly will enlighten me. Both songs were sung in a lovely clear voice with just a little crack from time to time - I do wish I could do that!
Keith sang one of his songs unaccompanied next. I think it was called ‘Jesus just grew up’. He really gets his voice and rhythm going even with no accompaniment and his words are very clever:
‘It was Christmas time in the harem,
The eunuchs sang through the halls’
Keith read out a poem he’d written for Chris Liddiard next. I must have been one of the few people there who’d never met Chris, but I’ve heard a lot about him and he sounds like a really lovely man. Keith’s poem was a wonderful eulogy.
John Stephens got up with his own made 12-string guitar next which did look beautiful. Sadly though, the changes of temperature had made it slip out of tune. So we never got to hear it this time. I did have a 12 string once, and tuning is definitely not a simple, or short affair, so John wisely chose to play his 6 string instead. He treated us to ‘Please be with me’, by Eric Clapton and then a track from Dark Side of the Moon which came over really well as he played lead while Martin accompanied him on his bass ukulele.
Paula followed with a little Christmas Medley of Hark the Herald, While Shepherds and Little Drummer Boy. Then she played a song she’s remembered from school because she loved it so much with ‘In the Bleak mid Winter’ as a mid section. Both songs were lovely and added to the Christmas feel of the evening.
Chris Shepherd came next with a very different style of guitar playing. He played ‘Summer Air’ which I think might be by the Italobrothers? Anyway, I love the way he uses the guitar for rhythm and melody. He then played Slow Dancing in a Burning Room by John Meyer. It’s really good to hear the younger musicians because they add new music and styles that I probably wouldn’t hear otherwise. Chris’s voice came over well-rounded and resonant and he seemed totally confident across all the fretboard. I was mesmerised!
Terry finished off the evening with a Christmas medley in his own inimitable style, always a pleasure to watch and listen to, followed by his version of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ and a mention for the homeless who will have a very different Christmas to most of us.
It was a lovely evening, full of (slightly previous) festive spirit. I do apologise for taking so long to write the blog, and for any mistakes about names and writers of music performed! There have been rather a lot of festivities recently.
Tuesday November 27th
We all battled through blustery gusts and wet and winding roads to get here on this wet and windy November night. The room was very welcoming though, with a lovely roaring log fire crackling in the fireplace. I was a little bit concerned that we might be singeing while singing, but the fire soon settled down, and there was no need for me to be whingeing about singeing.
Tonight was going to be one of our famous ( And so popular) ! 'Theme Nights'.
'Travel Songs' was the choice this time. As with all themes, there is plenty of scope, and a whole lot of songs that can be found.
As host for tonight, I set off on the road with the Canned Heat song 'On the Road Again', written by Alan Wilson and Floyd Jones ,and I was accompanied on bass by Martin Lee, who had kindly offered to play along with anyone who wanted some backing. He has the smallest bass I've ever seen, a bass ukulele. ( U.Bass). He settled himself into place, and was there for the whole evening, giving us all some really nice extra sound. Thanks Martin.
Having done a song about being on the road, I thought about other ways of travel.... Ah yes! -- 'Trains and Boats and Planes'. So I chose Burt Bacharach and Hal David's song that had been a hit for him, and Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, and Dionne Warwick.
Ella Moonbridge kindly 'volunteered' to be on next, and came to the piano to give us a great version of Sandy Denny's 'North Star Grassman and the Ravens'. That's the way to travel, navigate by the North Star! She followed this with one of her favourite composer's songs, 'Woodstock' from Joni Mitchell. Ella always seems to make that old piano come alive, and there was a lovely high vocal note to finish.
Mark Lynch was here last time, together with John, but tonight just himself playing a couple of nicely done guitar instrumentals. Firstly, his own tune 'Moonrise', and then a good version of the guitar part from Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir'.
They say that Richard Thompson has ' astonishingly nimble fingers', and the same can certainly be said about Terry Lees. Terry proved this by playing Richard Thompson's 'Vincent Black Lightning', and then treating us to a lovely Irish tune - 'Kerry Road'. He told us that travel in Ireland was very slow at the time he was there. Bad roads ? - Or too many pubs?
It was good to see Jayne Ingles here again, and she came up with two travel songs in the form of Train Songs, 'Nowhere Train' by Carlene Carter and Anni O'Brien, and Elizabeth Cotten's 'Freight Train'. This song was made known by Peggy Seeger, and became a hit for skiffle man Chas McDevitt with singer Nancy Whiskey.
Chris Martin travelled away from his place on the sound desk to the microphone to give us two of his own compositions, 'Journey', and 'Another Journey' - both of which feature on his latest CD 'Journey Part 1'. On the CD cover is a picture of 'Panyan ', who many of us will easily recognise won't we !
Number seven on the list tonight was our dear friend Jason Loughran, appearing without Lisa Jackson this time, and giving us the nice 'Time in a bottle' by Jim Croce, followed by the Tom Waits number 'The Heart of Saturday Night'. Songs by Jason are always nicely done and with great feeling.
Manus McDaid is the Jazz Master, and took to the floor to play us first his great version of 'Got me on the Run', and second, James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain'. This title could be a good slogan for tonight's gathering, seeing that we've had the log fire inside and the rain outside.
Despite Simon Watts' scepticism about 'The Self - Writing Blog', he did actually give some information of his intended songs in advance. I like to think that rather than calling the idea 'The Self - Writing Blog', I prefer to call it -- 'Singer/Performer/Information/Exchange/Service ( S P I E S) .
Simon chose two travel songs. He hopped onto 'The City of New Orleans', written by Steve Goodman, and made famous by artists such as Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, and then he got behind the wheel on 'The Road to Hell' by Chris Rea. Simon played the long version ,with the slow tempo intro, and then was joined by Ella on tambourine and with Martin continuing with bass as he has through the evening.
John Stephens played some nice guitar sounds on Eric Clapton's 'I can't Hold Out', which he followed with a very good take on the Jimi Hendrix song 'Hey Joe', written by Billy Roberts. With Martin Lee taking the part of Noel Redding , all we needed was Mitch Mitchell on drums to make it a real Experience.
Sylvie had arrived earlier clutching a sheet of paper on which was one of her songs, and this was the one about the cupboard full of all kinds of booze, sung to the tune of 'In the Bleak Midwinter' (Gustav Holst). -- And partly sung in French. A votre santé!
Last on the list but not least we had Oliver Hill who was here for the first time. He had been waiting patiently for his turn, and he played us a nice version of 'Donna Donna Donna,' made well known by Joan Baez, followed by the story of 'Stewball' which was done by Peter Paul and Mary.
There was still time to have a bit of second helpings from a few players, so we were served up 'I Like to be Sad' from Chris Martin ( by Chris Martin) , 'Good Morning
Blues' from Jason (by Leadbelly), 'Lady Franklin's Lament' from Ella ( trad.) , and a nice piece to finish from Manus ( by John Renbourne).
So, thanks to all who came tonight, and to Chris on the sound and Simon for setting up earlier. --- Oh - and thanks for those who took part in 'The Thank you Jug experiment' !
Next time will be the Christmas Party ! ( With singers and players as usual).
We dedicate this evening to the memory of Chris Lidiard who sadly died on November 23rd. Chris was greatly involved in the music community and much admired. He was a good friend to many people. We send our love and sympathy to his wife Jenny and to all his family and friends.
The person that runs the evening writes the blog
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