The White Witch Virgin Blogger loses his cherry

As we all know turning up too early for Swan Acoustic Sessions always puts performers at risk of having to do 'The Blog'. I was uncomfortably reminded of this last night as I wandered into the music area accompanied by a Blonde Witch (This is not a reference to my partner, but rather a fine drop of straw coloured ale from Moorhouses Brewery). I was immediately accosted by our leader, Brian (Smurf) Wylie along with a dodgy looking 5p piece and told that the honour of Blogging was between myself and Ian Pucknell. I inevitably lost the toss and so become the latest virgin blogger.
The seven performers were led off by Brian (Buster Merrifield) Wylie ably supported (in fact eclipsed) by the fragrant Kath looking spectacular in purple velvet with matching hair.;
They kicked off with a jolly tune called 'For The Kids' featuring Kath on lead mandolin. Apparently this was written by someone from Orkney called Frank Keenan that the Wylies met on their recent sojourn north of the Border. This was followed by one of Brian's own songs called, cheerfully enough, 'The Famine Song'. Brian was moaning about some skin complaint which manifested itself in 'disintegrating thumbs'. It didn't seem to affect his playing too much but the particles of loose skin which flew into my Blonde Witch were not that appetising.
Just to pile the pressure on, MC David then asked yours truly to have a go. Above mentioned partner chickened out so I was on my own and nervous. Started with 'Miss My Mary' by Nashville songwriter Hal Ketchum and followed that with the mercifully short 'One Red Rose' by the marvellous John Prine.
Next up was Ian Pucknell who regaled the gathering with a story about someone who went for guitar lessons with the legendary Davy Grahame and ended up listening to a CD of sitar music in exchange for a large fee. Sorry if I haven't put that over too well but I was still shaking from my performance and trying to remember what I had played. At this stage I had finished my pint of dead skin and was presented with another Blonde Witch which made me feel marginally better.
Ian confided that he had had an intensive twenty minute practice before coming out to play. This certainly showed in his guitar playing which was great - unfortunately his memory and eyesight let him down as he couldn't see the words to 'Rosie' and couldn't remember who wrote it - a bloggers nightmare. Ian's second number was the lovely 'Lady Take Your Time' by Alan Taylor who Ian told us lives in Leeds - fascinating.
At this point Brian (Cap'n Birdseye) Wylie suggested a change of formation due to a fat woman with a large mouth who couldn't keep it shut, boring the locals loudly at the bar.
The door was closed, furniture moved and the evening progressed in a much more civilised fashion.
Graeme Morrell was on next, tonight playing a very nice Taylor guitar. I also play a very nice Taylor guitar but it does not sound like Graeme's. I don't understand it. First up, and I suspect unusually for Graeme, was 'Don't Look Back In Anger' by The Fuckwit Brothers from Manchester which, like many of their compositions, is a cracking song though it pains me to say it.
Next was 'Night Comes In' by Richard Thompson which I had never heard before but thoroughly enjoyed.
The next to perform was Kath Wylie, whose face was starting to match the colour of her dress as a result of several glasses of the Swan's house wine. She was supported by Brian (Moses) Wylie in a rendition of 'Good Tradition' by Tanita Tikaram on my very nice Taylor guitar. Sounded much better than it does when I play it. I don't understand it. All I can tell you about Tanita is that she comes from Fijian/Indian parentage and has an elder brother called Ramon who was famous for being in 'This Life'. Yawnnnnnnnnnnnn.
Kath then played a lovely song called 'Wishing Chair' by Peter Lane. At this point Brian's disintegrating thumbs must have started to trouble him as he made an uncharacteristic blunder and Mrs W was not happy. I'll bet disintegrating thumbs were not all of his problems when they got home.
Next under the spotlight was 'The Human Jukebox', otherwise known as James Porter. I don't know how James comes up with such a range of songs from week to week and never a lyric sheet to assist. This week we were treated to 'So Far Away' by the mighty Dire Straits and then a self-penned number (is there a trend here ?) called 'Sunshine and Rain'. Great stuff.
When James is in attendance it seems that he usually finishes the first half of the proceedings. I was looking forward to a break from blogging and to another Blonde Witch when Caroline Hardaker informed the assembled company that she would sing now. This came as something of a shock as Caroline usually has to be dragged kicking and screaming from her chair to perform, so I reckon she sneaked in a couple of extra Guinesses when she went for her first fag break.
Backed by the blogger on his crappy sounding Taylor she sang a fantastic song called 'The Very Last Country Song' by a duo called Sugarland followed by 'Moonsong' from the last Emmylou Harris album entitled 'All I Intended To Be'. Wonderful stuff pardner.
At last it was time for the break and another............well you know.
The second half kicked off with the same formation even though fatty had left the building.
Brian (Brian Blessed) Wylie as ever commenced proceedings with a song he said we would all know. Two verses in and no-one had a clue until the chorus 'It Never Rains In Southern California' kicked in. A (vaguely) interesting debate ensued over the author of this classic song. The blogger suggested Albert Hammond (correctly) although Mrs Wylie was convinced (also correctly) that Albert Hammond was a member of garage band The Strokes or maybe The White Stripes. Before fisticuffs commenced it was agreed that the song was written by Albert Hammond whose son, Albert Hammond jnr, is a member of The Strokes. Anyway, back to the music and 'It Never Rains etc etc' was ended with a dramatic stop, the effect of which was ruined by Brian admitting that he'd forgotten whether or not the song had another verse but if it did he couldn't remember it.
Brian (Santa's) second song in the second half was the beautiful 'History Of A Kiss' by Paul Milnes (I think). It was very good.
Blogger up again feeling more relaxed after aforementioned Blond Witches. Went for another John Prine song - 'Far From Me', from his eponymously entitled first album and finished with 'Long Black Veil'. Originally recorded by Lefty Frizell but popularised by The Band, this version is from a great album called 'The List' by Roseanne Cash. It's the first instalment of the recording of one hundred great American songs suggested to her by her father Johnny.
Ian then got into country mode with 'Couple More Years' by the Outlaw, Waylon Jennings. Note and word perfect, Ian finished his slot with the excellent 'Baby Blue', the author of which he could not remember.
Graeme was back on again with that bloody annoying Taylor guitar and gave us two wonderful instrumentals. Firstly we had 'Albatross' by Peter Green followed by 'Uncle Jack' as he could not prevent himself from playing some Michael Chapman. Fantastic playing Graeme.
Whew, blogger wilting now.
James Porter came back with Carole King's 'Way Over Yonder' and 'Sing For You' by Donovan. Thanks James.
Kath and her backing musician leapt back on stage to give us 'Gypsy Dance', a tune for two mandolins by Brunon Baron?? (I think the Blonde Witch had started to kick in here). Brian's whiskers and the duelling mandos gave me a 'Deliverance' moment but they moved quickly on to 'The Mason's Apron' by the prolific 'Trad'.
Caroline was still sober enough to sing a lovely version of Bonnie Raitt's version of Richard Thompson's 'Dimming Of The Day' and finished her triumphant evening with 'Four Strong Winds'. Brian suggested in the absence of any other ideas that this was written by one Gordon Bock. Having researched the matter I can tell you that it wasn't. It was actually written by Canadian Ian Tyson and is very good.
At this point Brian and Kath left abruptly, but contrary to the opinion of some in the room I don't think he was on a promise.
'Wishing Chair' played correctly twenty times before bed seemed more likely.
The evening rocked to an end with James playing the Elvis classic 'All Shook Up'. Elvis didn't write any of his own material and this one was composed by Otis Blackwell, a brilliant stride piano player. I know this because the keyboard player in my band bores the audience rigid with this fact every time he sings it.
So another enjoyable night at Swan Acoustic Sessions drew to a close. Thanks to everyone who turned out. If I have insulted anyone in the blog it was completely unintentional except for the fat woman at the bar.
See you soon.

Posted on October 1, 2010 .