In the words of Mr Morecambe, “I’m playing all the right notes.........”
It was good to be back at SAS after a few weeks hiatus as work has been proving to be, well, work! There was a roaring fire in the hearth which was exerting a strong gravitational pull on the audience on this chilly autumn evening. Mr Wylie greeted me warmly, “Good to see you, haven’t seen you in ages...you’re doing the blog!” Done like a dinner!
A prompt start had been requested by Mr John Duare, (who obviously feared being late so much that he didn’t show at all! ) so we kicked off at 8.30pm .
Brian Wylie very kindly volunteered to warm the bar stool by going first. He had wanted to do all new material tonight but claimed decorator’s fatigue after being worked hard by Kath and so started with a tune familiar to him. Brian sang us ‘Magdalene Laundry’ a song by J. Mulhern about the terrible conditions in the Magdalene asylums for ‘fallen women’ that started in the 18th century and ran in Europe, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century (last one in the Republic of Ireland closed as late as 1996!). Notable customers include Sinead O’ Conner. Brian second was one of my favourites from Tom Waits, ‘Tom Trauberts Blues’ which Brian did a great job of despite suffering from font issues (having deviated from the Swan Acoustic Standard font size of 14 – when will you learn!). Another lesson learned tonight was, ‘the higher the music stand, the further the fall!’ In the second half Brian went for an even smaller font but this didn’t prevent him from delivering a splendid version of another of my favourites, ‘Arthur McBride and the Soldier’. Brian dedicated his next song to another absent friend Len ‘Hank Williams’ Harvey, although strangely enough I couldn’t help but feel that Brian was singing ‘Your Cheating Heart’ in the direction of your bloggers splendid western shirt (you’d have approved Len!). Brian finished with a hilarious recitation which I think is called ‘The Funeral Party’. An epic full of sage advice which also manages to raise one of the big question of our time, “Can you fix a concertina with a boiled potato?” (I know how to fix a bodhran with a Stanley knife!). Excellent stuff and entertaining as ever Brian.
It was your blogger up next sporting the aforementioned splendid shirt which I had decided to team up with my Movember moustache which i’m growing for charity (www.movember.com ). After a few showbiz huffs on my vicks inhaler (a terrible addiction – ruins lives!), I managed to make it through New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ followed by Lyle Lovett’s odd little song about ponies, boats and cowboys, ‘ If I had a boat’. In the second bit I played some old stuff.
Andee Craig graced the now nicely warm stool next and you could hear a pin drop as she tucked her beautiful celtic harp under her chin and began to play. Ok; fine, it was on the floor as usual I just thought it made a lovely image! Andee started off by treating us to a lovely pair of Donegal barndances, ‘All Around The Fairy Fort’ and ‘The New Broom’. Andee decided to stay in Donegal for the next tune, a reel entitled ‘The Misers Purse’. In part deux Andee played a beautiful slow air ‘Soft Mild Morning’ (which always reminds me of Fairy liquid for some reason!) which flowed into the Junior Crehan tune, ‘Her Golden Hair was Hanging down Her Back’ (which always reminds me of the old joke about the bloke who is telling his friends about the new woman he has just met “she had long golden hair all the way down her back; none on her head, just all the way down her back! “– sorry!). Andee finished her set with a modern celtic composition from Uillean piper Patrick Davey, the hauntingly beautiful Slip jig ‘Flying to the Fleadh’. Lovely stuff as always Andee
David Telson a relative newcomer to SAS was up next sporting a smart looking Blueridge guitar. David confided in me that he has been only playing for two years and like any new player is still developing his own style. Tonight David gave us his version of the Leiber and Stoller classic, ‘ Love Potion Number 9’. Followed by Lennon and McCartney’s, ‘I Dont Want to Spoil the Party’ which was slightly interrupted by the passing of what appeared to be Addingham Constabulary’s high speed skateboard squad. David had to leave us early which meant that unfortunately we only got one tune from him at the start of the first half and I forgot to ask the title, however I did see that it came from David’s big Beatle’s songbook. It’s always good to get new players coming along, so thanks for sharing your tunes David.
SAS stalwart Graeme Morrel was up next and tonight announced that he would be playing ‘sans livres’ which is no mean feat as the songs that Graeme plays generally have lots of words and often no chorus (it is a little known fact that songwriters in the 1970’s (having used up most of the best protests in the 1960’s) chose to protest against the chorus in songs and just had lots of verses instead!). Graeme was also out of his comfort zone as he had broken a nail and was having to resort to what I believe are termed ‘cyborg fingers’ for his fingerpicking . But Graeme is a consummate musician and gave us a flawless rendition of Al Stewart’s ‘Manuscript’ from memory. Graeme followed this with ‘That Time of Night’ by Michael Chapman demonstrating such skill on the fretboard that Brian Wylie lodged a complaint that Graeme was indulging in what he called, 'joined up playing'.
In the second half Graeme and I had a communication breakdown as somewhere between his mouth and my ears, Michael Chapman’s song ‘Kodak Ghosts’ became ‘some song about ghosts’. Before launching into another MC tune, ‘Scholarly Man’ Graham explained that tonight’s Chapman-fest was in honour of the fact that he would be spending the next day with the man himself learning guitar licks and engaging in a no holds barred red wine drink off. He finished with ‘After all this Time’ which gained him tonight’s prize for the most ironically forgotten lyric of the night as he stumbled over the line ‘The Memories Have All Faded' – blogger’s paradise. Hope you have a great day with MC Graeme and bring us some tunes back.
Gloria arrived at the perfect time just before the end of the first half and as always delivered some great songs which delight the ear and the brain. The first was Robbie Burns anti-Jacobite song ‘You Jacobites by Name’ which apparently was rewritten and toned down by Burns in 1791 to give a more general anti- war emphasis. Next up was the traditional tune called ‘Fighting for Strangers’, or ‘Our Captain Cried all Hands’ which was, as Gloria explained, subsequently pinched by Vaughn Williams as the melody for his adaptation of John Bunyan’s ‘To Be a Pilgrim’ – every day’s a learning day. In the second half Gloria gave us a nameless, self written tune which my notes tell me concerned a
12 century China fox relocated in Sheffield. Not sure if that’s entirely correct – but it was a great song. This was followed by a tale of brevity and levity and brief traditional song (which I didn’t catch the name of). However, I can faithfully report that Gloria finished the evening with a stirring Bahamian spiritual entitled, ‘I Bid You Goodnight’ which made your blogger’s ears very happy indeed. Thanks Gloria.
MC David wound the whole thing up and we all went on our merry ways agreeing that it had been a most memorable night! You really had to have been there…..see y’all soon.