Blogger arrived late as usual to be confronted with the option of doing the blog or not having anywhere to sit! Still, Smiley Wylie does seem to have done more that his fair share of late so I can’t really complain. It is nice to be able to report on one of the most enjoyable evenings we have held for quite a long time.
In a break with SAS tradition the opening slot this week fell to local legend Nigel Smith (Smiley didn’t quite seem to know what to do with himself at this point). “The Blowers Daughter” was for starters. This Damian Rice number (which until now I thought was called “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was followed by the Ray Lamontagne number “Jolene”. Both delivered with Mr Smith’s usual aplomb but this time with a twist as he was accompanied by vocal harmony from Gill. I am not quite sure who Gill is but the message was do come back again and next time bring your guitar!
Two offerings next from Brian Wylie. The first was a song about the youngest soldier to be killed in the First World War called “John Condon”. The second song was “Tim Finnegan’s Wake”. Both of these were sung admirably with Brian’s usual Irish lilt. It was pointed out that the subject of the last three songs had been fairly morbid, but the mood was lifted by a certain amount of verbal sparring between Mr & Mrs Wylie which kept all (with the possible exception of Mr Wylie) amused.
Before our next artist could get going there was a general chat around the room concerning who the new look Brian most closely resembles. Coming in at number 3 was Santa, number 2 was Father Abraham from the Smurfs, but the clear winner and topping the poll at number 1was Captain Birdseye! For those who haven’t seen the new look go to the Gallery pages (once Captain Birdseye has updated them).
Back to the music – a very good music it was too. “Dublin Blues” by Guy Clark and “Sam Stone” by John Prine were the first two songs from Ian Pucknall and were beautifully performed, albeit on a guitar with strings that were too heavy (apparently). Ian’s strong clear voice rang out loud above the gentle chatter drifting in from the bar next door. Mrs P, comfortably ensconced in a large armchair alongside her beloved, was spotted singing along on more than one occasion.
Due to the informal singaround setting which was the format for the evening, each performer had so far played sitting down in their own seat. This was obviously going to prove something of a challenge for Chris Patrick who is a kind of “stand up, belt it out and dance around” type of guy. However the SAS has a reputation for rising to challenges and Chris did not disappoint with two of his self penned numbers “Sometime Back” and “Love on a Plate”. Both of these were relatively gentle songs and it was obviously a revelation to Chris that he could indeed perform very well sitting down. Chris, by the way, is a blogger’s dream – you are never left in any doubt about the title of any of his songs!
Blogger up next with James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”, following which there was much discussion regarding the whos, whys and wherefores of the song. That never happens after a Michael Chapman number and tonight was no exception, the number in question being an instrumental entitled …. Nope, sorry I have no idea what it is called !
Throughout the evening there had been a group of young people sitting around a table in the corner (not really saying we are a bunch of old f**ts but you know what I mean). They had been keeping politely quiet and applauding at the appropriate moments. One of them came over and asked MC Dave if it was possible to perform a couple of songs. It is SAS policy that ALL are welcome (yes, that even includes young people) and so, playing the pub guitar that had been hanging on the wall, to the stage came Andy Hawxwell (hope I have got the spelling correct Andy). The first song was called Victoria and a very impressive song it was too – even more so when I found out that it was written by Andy (as were all his songs tonight) – it could have been by any number of established artists. The second song was called “A Holiday” – no prizes for guessing what that one was about! Andy is from the south (see- we even let southerners play at SAS!). This point came to light after one of his song lyrics referred to someone “looking from the north” which caused quite as stir as you can imagine.
Following the break Nigel Smith ( and Gill as backing vocals) got himself psyched up and kicked off the second half with the Lowell George / Little Feat number “Willing” which most of the audience (except blogger) seemed to know well and joined in with. Nigel’s next song “Car Park Blues” gives credence to the local legend tag attributed to Mr Smith earlier in this blog. This song was written for him by Scully (obviously another local legend) and refers to a parking incident in a pub car park, the upshot of which is that their profits are substantially reduced while The Swan now benefits from the Smith alcoholic excesses.
An audience member for most of the first half, Rob Watkins was persuaded to join in for the second half. “A Showman’s Life” by Jessie Watkins was a most enjoyable prelude to “Return of the Grievous Angel” by Gram Parsons. The latter was accompanied by the lady with Rob who I assume to be Mrs W (although these days that type of assumption is often misplaced and can sometimes get bloggers into trouble!) Nevertheless, the harmonies worked really well – next time get here earlier (that’s rich coming from me!) so you can do two sets.
Brian Wylie next who accidentally-on-purpose let it slip that they now had a new study (presumably somewhere to keep his fish finger recipes and sailing charts). Whilst doing some sorting of papers he came across an old song book from which his second two offerings came – “Easy and Slow” and “Spanish Lady”. Both sets of lyrics involved petticoats (in one there was continual petticoat lifting). No wonder Mrs W was getting a bit tetchy! The bickering between the two continued into the second set, resulting in the revelation that Brian had asked Kath (Mrs W) and an old girlfriend to sit next to each other to watch him perform on stage. One has to have a certain sympathy for Mrs W.
Ian Pucknall proffered his next two songs “Lady Take Your Time” by Alan Taylor and (obviously one of Ian’s favourites) “Ira Hayes” by Peter Lafarge. Both of these were faultlessly delivered as is the norm from Ian.
Following Ian came Chris Patrick, fresh from his annual trip to the barber (is this really the same Chris Patrick that came last week?!). “Its So Nice” was the first song, once again from a seated position, however the urge to get up and belt it out got too strong to resist so on went the strap and Chris let rip with “Jagged Jigsaw Puzzle”. Chris informed us that this had only been performed in public once before (he also informed us that it wasn’t going to be performed in public again “after that rubbish!”). We all enjoyed it – don’t give up on it yet.
Blogger up again with Al Stewart’s “Rocks in the Ocean” then Michael C’s “Rabbit Hills” – one of my all time MC favourites. It is staggering to think that this song is 40 years old – I bet that in 1970 nobody thought that people would still be playing it in 2010 (this obviously applies to very many songs).
The Southerner came back to teach us northern lot what a good song sounds like. “I Heart You” (think that is meant to be a heart symbol not the word “Heart”) and “Just Walking” were two original, well crafted and well performed songs. I am not sure if Andy is just passing through or up here visiting friends, but if you are in the area again, please do come back to see us.
Normally that would be it, but tonight things carried on until midnight with everybody joining in with a medley of well known songs interspersed with random jamming from all corners of the room.
All in all a really good night – looking forward to more of the same next Tuesday.