The start part.
So where were you on 11th September 2001? It’s one of those days that everyone will remember. Personally I was on a course on Leicester learning how to be a domestic cleaner. It’s true. Having bought a domestic cleaning franchise then you have to learn how to clean houses. It’s a great leveller putting your hand down someone else’s toilet to clean it. We had the computer screens on during one of the accountancy package parts of the course when the towers were attacked and we turned them on to live news broadcasts and watched the whole thing going down. I had been up the towers twice. There was a restaurant on the 100 and something floor called Windows on the World with fantastic views over the statue of liberty and right down Manhattan. I have a picture I took showing the East River and the Hudson on either side and the whole length of Manhattan down to central park. They had jazz on a Sunday. The food was good and the music. I think what a waste of life. But I feel privileged to have enjoyed the best of what they offered. As I my eyesight is crap, my hearing is crap at least my memory still is in fine fettle.
Now, why am I writing this? Oh I remember, Tuesday last and the blog.
Well as you probably know I have been out of the country for most of the summer and thoroughly enjoyable it was too until I clipped a wheel on the car in Grenoble and was stuck there for four days waiting a new tyre, sorry, two new tyres, you can’t just put on one new tyre in France they have to be the same tread depth, so that’s two tyres. And. Tyres are not the same price as they are in England, they are roughly double and when the garage know you are stuck and need to get home, they double again. Fortunately I was stuck in a beautiful hotel with the Alps all around but I was concerned I wouldn’t get back in time for SAS as I had taken a baby guitar with me for the month and learned some fabulous new songs by that great troubadour Loudon Wainwright the Third.
So it was that Nixi and I arrived on time for Tuesday’s session. It looked a little quiet at first, partly because our fearsome prolific leader is, I understand, unwell. Sorry to hear that and I hope you get better soon Brian/Capn Smiley and because you are unwell I am not going to say anything rude or sarcastic about you.
Normally we would start with Capn Smiley himself, and for any new readers the Cap would normally start out with some miserable song about some poor bloke who gets killed in world war 1 or 2, or dies from alcoholic poisoning or dies of a broken heart, drowning or wherever, its usually one of those that make you want to go out and commit suicide by jumping in front of the number 45 bus between Addingham and Ilkley, but as Smiles wasn’t there Mike Craig took up the mantle with the a song about some poor bloke who spends all his life down a mine and winds up bent in two, CROOKED JACK, followed by an AA Bondy song, WHEN THE DEVIL IS LOOSE, and I made the note “lovely song” so clearly it was less suicidal that the Cap has me by this time. As always Mike performed these numbers superbly and personally I’m looking forward to Cap getting the tents stuck in his arteries so I can get back to being suicidal by 8.45. The guy who lives next door to me makes Wigwams, I can get you one if it helps.
I really missed my favourite country performer at SAS, Len Harvey, but by jingo there was Len himself, I thought he had passed on to the great Rodeo in the sky it’s been so long. Len started with a Townes van Zandt song IF I NEEDED YOU and followed with HE RODE ALL THE WAY TO TEXAS. By he didn’t know who. Well Len a little bit of digging I can tell you it was written by John Starling, who was a bit of a bird brain, and was recorded by numerous artistes including a trio of beauties together Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstat and Emmylou Harris. You are a lucky lot to have me doing this blog I have to tell you.
Now folks live from Featherstone!!!. Peter and Pam also known as KEYSTONE. When asked if they were from Featherstone USA I was looked upon as an idiot but, as we all know,there is a Featherstone in Idaho. I thought it was a fair question. It seems there’s also a Featherstone in West Yorkshire somewhere near Castleford, a God forsaken place, where my parents went to live when I was a teenage mod, leaving me behind in pre Islamic Bradford. Keystone: - an excellent performance of Caitlin Rose’s OWN SIDE NOW. You can view the original on YouTube and I can assure you it’s not a patch on Peter and Pam's rendition. This was followed by KILLING THE BLUES. I thought this was John Prine song but in fact it was written by Rowland Salley who recorded his most successful album in 2004 whilst playing with Chris Isaak’s band Silvertone. Brilliant rendition by Pam and Peter.
Another new face at SAS, Stuart. I know that’s the correct spelling but I didn’t get Stuarts second name because I couldn’t hear what was being said as Mike C was compere for the night and he mumbles a lot. So, as Stuart informed us he was an old Rocker, as opposed to being off his- he shall be forever known as Stuart Raving Rocker. Stuart RR started by performing his own composition MALHAM. But after a few minutes he stopped and told us it was, and I quote, “doing me head in” so instead he performed LETS STICK TOGETHER which was Bryan Ferry’s third solo after disbanding Poxy Music. Unfortunately Poxy Music did my head in and Bryan Ferry still does, not to mention his poxy son Otis. Back to Stuart RR. With another of his own compositions, which clearly didn’t do his head in, HOLDING WHATEVER at least I think that’s what it was, it could just as easily have been HOLD IN, whatever!
An old face, and I mean it in the nicest possible way because she isn’t, old, Andee Craig. With 2 jigs. RAKES OF CLONMELL and 3 DRUMMERS. I am always confused as to why harp music, sorry did I forget to mention Andee plays a harp, beautifully, harp music always has two titles, or is it that harp compositions are very short so they have to bung two together, and then I BURIED MY WIFE AND DANCED ON HER GRAVE. Personally I think Andee and Mike were just taking the old wee wee out of me here because they know I am slightly mutton and they just wanted to see if I believed them. That simply cannot be a song title.
Now for the performance of the evening! That good old rocker John Nixon. Nixi and I have a little bit of competition between us and quite often we are asked to sing with the Dave Challis band at the Wheatley on a Sunday. This we did last week and whilst we ARE good friends, (twat) Nixi described my performance to his lovely and extremely intelligent spouse as “easy to play crowd pleasing stuff”. So it was great that Nixi decided to open with a very difficult, multi chord changing, anthem like LIVING NEXT DOOR TO ALICE. This was the extended version for those who haven’t heard it. Smokey do the 3 minute version Nixi did the 15 minute version. Quite how he remembered all the different chords changes and various verses astounds me. Well done Nix. Oh then he did the shortened version of SENDING OUT AN SOS. Or was that the first song?
I’m not going to go into my performance except to say they were two Loudon Wainwright songs, as I am really into this guy at the moment, and I learned these two new songs whilst in France. I think they were HEAVEN and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO US both easy to play crowd pleasing stuff like what I always do.
Great to see Paul Duff again. Been a while Paul, although I believe he sometimes performs at The Taps in Ilkley. Paul does a lot of his own stuff and is always great Tonight we had THE BLESSING which I don’t know if it was a PD song or not, but certainly the second offering DONKEY STONE was. A donkey stone, for those who didn’t know is a scouring block used mostly in Northern mill towns. I don’t recall ever seeing a donkey stone, or scouring block when I was a teenager but I do remember a lot of scrubbers, is that similar?
Ending part one the ever reliable and always interesting Pam Johnson. Pam is, I think, a great fan of Mary Gauthier, whom I have detailed in previous blogs so if you want to know more go back and look, it is interesting, and Pam started with DROP IN A BUCKET. Great song, I must get some of this lady’s records, then a number by a band I’ve never heard of which I believe is a female band called Waking the Witch and I am guessing the song title is YOU ARE MY ROCK AND ROLL. Certainly the word s went you are my rock and roll and then some. Brilliant! !!!
The End Part
Keystone were up first as they had to get back to Idaho. Pam’s obviously a bit of an Alison Krauss fan and having seen AK live with Union Station at Cambridge Folk festival some years ago; I am of the same opinion. Pam and Peter performed THE LUCKY ONE, and in fact we lot were the lucky ones that Peter and Pam came. Did I forget to mention by the way that Peter is a bit of an accomplished guitar man and had previously joined in with Nix on the extended version of ALICE? Well now you know! Pam then followed with a good old Yorkshire song THE YORKSHIRE COUPLE. I find this was performed by Kate Rusby at Leeds City varieties in 2003 but it’s not on any of her albums. Thought you’d like to know. Peter and Pam, thanks for coming and DO come back soon, we all enjoyed you and Nixi particularly asked me to pass on his thanks to Peter for joining him on ALICE.
Len again with IF MY NOSE WAS BLOWING MONEY a comedic number about blowing money through the nose. Frankly the easiest way to blow money is damage a tyre in Grenoble, and then Len gave us I SAW THE LIGHT a great Hank Williams song. Thanks Len, you are without doubt my favourite country singer at SAS.
Ravin’ Stu was back in the footlights, well the overhead chandelier anyway, with a great rendition of Rock n Roll by Led Zep. We don’t often get heavy metal type stuff at SAS, well occasionally we get some leaden performances, but they are mostly my easy to play crowd pleasing stuff, and this was followed by MONA a great Bo Diddley song. Keep Rockin and Rolling Stu, see you soon.
Mike and Andee decided to perform together, well they are married, Mike had a Capo de Monte which he fitted on his guitar and they performed harp and guitar together, GLASS OF BEER AND HUMOURS OF TULLAH. Another one of those two titled numbers. Andee then decided she had had enough of the 6 string musikian and played herself out with CAPTAIN O’KANE. Which I assume is a jig or a reel or a whirligig or something. Thanks Andee always nice to see you and your roadie.
Nixi, reverted to type with HANDBAGS AND GLADRAGS a song Nix was learning when I first got to know him some ten years ago, and he’s still at it, you can read that any way you want I don’t care, then SOMETHING GOING ON AROUND HERE at least I think that’s what it’s called but Google has just crashed on me and I can’t look it up.
Meanwhile, I nipped out to pick up my beautiful stunning and gorgeous wife from the train station and there’s a programme on the wireless about people who are tone deaf. The comment which caught my ear, so to speak was, “you’re not that far out, certainly no worse than Bryan Ferry” TOLD YOU !!!!!
Me again, won’t go into it, Two new (learned in France) LW songs which I think were KINGS AND QUEENS and UNREQUITED TO THE NTH DEGREE. Great wordsmith Loudon.
Back to Paul Duff. With two of his own songs, POORLY ME and ANY DAY SOON. Not much more to say, Pauls a great songwriter and always a pleasure to listen to, don’t leave it so long next time Paul. SAS is better than the Taps any day!
Pam finished us off, so to speak, with another Mary Gauthier song, told you she was a fan, LONG WAY TO FALL which I thought was a super song and finally with CARELESS LOVE. I didn’t make any notes here and as Google has packed up I can’t give you more info, but probably you can Google it yourself. That’s www.google.co.uk if you don’t have an iphone.
Finally I realise I must have missed Graeme’s funeral, and what a sad loss to SAS. Graeme, ever reliable, always there except when he goes to Portugal, always new songs, I think he’s only ever played the same one twice and my condolences to his family. Having been away I don’t know what he died of but as he wasn’t there on Tuesday he must have, died, that is. Earth to earth etc.