This is my first time of writing the blog, I'm a blogger virgin you could say, self inflicted as I had volunteered with guilty feelings spurring me on to do so at the last Swan Acoustic Session. I had hoped for a quiet low turn out session tonight this being my first blog night and all that. I left it quite late to arrive again hoping that Brian may have had a memory lapse and had asked someone else to do the blog. On entering The Swan I was gobsmacked to see how many people had turned out on the night and worse still for me they just kept coming. Sods Law sprung to mind, this is just Sods law, you see you should never wish for things to go your way at the expense of others, now remember that folks or Sods Law will inevitably kick in. There were however three main stalwarts of Swan Acoustic Session noticeably absent, they being Brian's lovely wife Kath who Brian told me was feeling decidedly under the weather. Hope you are feeling much better now Kath. And the other two stalwarts being Mike and Andee Craig, I knew they weren't coming as Andee had informed me on my Facebook page thereby making me think it just may be a low turn out night. You two can't miss two sessions on the trot it's never quite the same without you.
As is normal BCW (Brian Wylie for the less informed reader) started the evening off with a great song written by Jon Allen entitled "Joanna" sung in Brian’s unique way, a brilliant song and brilliantly performed. For his second song of his first half set Brian sang a song called "The Flower Seller" I think, written by Hugh O'Donoghue, again I think. The one main requisite of a blog writer, I imagine, is to have a reasonable level of hearing, now the very fact that I don't possess this required level of hearing might just be my passport to not being asked to write the blog ever again. I hope so. From this point on the evening could have easily gone down the lines of me asking the performer what song that was and then on being told it would have been a case of me saying to Carolyn my wife or whoever was sat next to me phrases like "What did he say" "I didn't catch that, what was it?" I did not want this to happen so I made a conscious decision that I would try and guess what had been performed and with the trusted help of messieurs Google I would be able to convince you the reader that I actually were there and do know what I'm talking about. I digress - with the Flower Seller (I think) Brian finished his first set to a round of loud applause confirming the audiences appreciation of his performance and thereby setting the standard for the evening.
Next up were Larry (without his Gibson brother Adrian) with his son Joel sporting a 1933 Gibson L00, Larry as usual sporting his big Gibson Jumbo. Their first song was one done by Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms". I know I should have known this song but didn't so there, the fact that I asked what it was brought about much chuckling and good humoured mocking. I've got thick skin. For their second song they performed Leonard Cohen’s "Story Of Isaac", another song I'm not familiar with (does this guy know any songs? I think I can hear you saying) aside from the fact that I am ignorant (musically) Larry and Joel gave us a super rendition of both these songs with Joel playing lovely lead guitar.
Chris Thompson next, hearing problem kicked in here again, I haven't got a clue what it was Chris sang for his first number and senility descended on me because I fully meant to ask Chris what the song was in the break. Well because of the need to purchase alcohol and after having achieved my goal I took a couple of sups and then plumb forgot to ask. I'm sorry for my lapse, brighter note is whatever it was it was brilliant. Chris's chordology amazes me, he is up and down that fretboard like the groom’s hand lifting the proverbial brides night gown. His second number was Pink Floyd’s "Breeze" . See I'm not totally incompetent, I knew that one! (Shhh I asked someone), again performed with great aplomb and again the aforesaid night gown came to mind watching Chris's hand fly up and down that fretboard, not a part of it was missed.
Me next and modesty should prevail here but I was so pleased with my performance that I have to note it here. I can tell you the reader that for every correct note I hit I only struck three wrong ones. Now this is a vast improvement on the past where I normally hit the odd right note to at least dozen wrong ones. I feel improvement is very imminent. I began with Tom Russell’s "Mineral Wells" and finished with Donovan’s "To Try For The Sun".
Next up was a guy I met at my niece’s wedding two weeks earlier, and having been told by my brother that Tim played guitar, I in my inebriated state asked him if he would like to come down to the Swan and perform. Tim likewise in his inebriated state said he would love to and I, along with the audience are so pleased he did. Tim's first instrumental guitar piece was Michael Jackson's "I'll Be There" - great finger style playing, you could hear a pin drop in the room. Now having said that it can't be proven as no pin was dropped and if one had then I am talking a load of rubbish, perhaps it's enough to say he held his audience captive. Now for his second instrumental piece Tim played a master stroke by starting to play Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition" and again mesmerizing us all, he cut his performance short almost halfway through leaving us all sorely disappointed. A stroke of genius I the writer thinks because for his second half single spot he played "Superstition” all the way through, brilliant. Now I tell you folks Tim Gavin can play guitar. Tim you have to come again and indulge us more, we loved your playing.
We have a great harpist who has been for a long time a major figure at Swan Acoustic and now we have another young lady who is also a lovely player of the harp, Frances White is the lady I speak of and I am pleased to say she is becoming a regular at Swan Acoustic. Francis plays a sort of lap style harp which puts me in mind of the ones you see in paintings of angels and she plays like an angel. She gave us a couple of jigs tonight called firstly "Garryowen" and secondly "Geese In The Bog" but don't take this as gospel, I might be wrong again. Francis is a talented young woman, a real pleasure to be entertained by.
Up next we saw the return of a talented chap known to us at Swan Acoustic for his song writing and thumping guitar playing, Steve in his own words "doesn't do quiet" and quiet he surely did not do on his rendition of Simon Fowler’s "This Day Should Last Forever" (please tell me my hearing did not let me down on this.) What came across to me massively during this performance was Steve's booming Yamaha guitar and yet Steve's voice was dancing just above the ever increasing decibels emanating from his Yamaha, loved it and yes I admit it, I've not heard of Simon Fowler either. Paul Weller is someone I have heard of and who's talent I have admired for years and Steve did not disappoint me or his audience doing "That's Entertainment" another song that ideally suited Steve's pounding guitar style, tremendous stuff Steve and get your arse back again soon.
The next duo need very little introduction, Rob and Caroline, need I say more........................................................ Perhaps I'd better or you won't have a clue how they entertained us. Their opening number, the start of which was delayed slightly by a brief domestic because Caroline was hogging the words, (What's unusual about that? It is after all a woman thing I bet you guys are saying? ) As I say it was very brief, they got into a song I love called "Killing The Blues". Now this song has been covered by just about everyone that is anyone but how many of you knew it was written by a guy called Roland Salley, well I did! Rob and Caroline's version was by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant (I think). I know this version and love it just as much as I loved our afore mentioned duos version, they do the song a great justice, Rob and Caroline that is, look I'm getting into Booker Prize writing mode, I've got to keep this simple! Rob and Caroline sang Killing The Blues just great! Their next song was another one new to me and I'm glad it no longer is, I loved it. (Editor’s note: it was called The Upside of Being Down CH) I loved Caroline's version of this along with Rob’s expressive country guitar accompaniment, I loved their set and the audience showed they did too with their rapturous applause.The audience would, Rob and Caroline never give less than great.
Graeme Morrell aka Michael Chapman 2 aka The Finger Picker Wizard took to the performing stool with his beautiful Colling’s OM guitar and began with Al Stewart's "Antarctica".His crystal clear finger style guitar playing is just a pleasure to witness, can the same thing be said about his singing? Well YES it surely can, what a great partnership the guitar and his voice make. (Why isn't this guy as famous as his good friend Michael Chapman ? The entertainment world is a strange phenomenon, I think, there is no accounting for it.) Next an instrumental entitled "Grandpa's Lullaby" by Pat Kirtley showed again Graeme's guitar playing talent. This was a lovely tune played just beautifully. His playing as I sat watching spellbound brought to mind another guy I used to love to watch at The Swan whenever he could attend, an equally great finger style guitarist namely Richard Quayle. How many of you remember Richard and Lesley, why did they move so far away? Imagine a night with Graeme and Richard playing on the same bill, sorry folks I've drifted off dreaming!
Another new face at The Swan tonight was Andy Mosby, a clarinetist, a first time for me to witness at Swan Acoustic. Andy played "Homecoming" for his first number. Have you noticed how good musicians make it look so easy, well Andy did just this. I thought so and the audience did too. Andy's second offering was a total surprise as he put down his clarinet and sang acapella a Yorkshire ditty called "Cowed Stringy Pie” . Unfortunately Andy left us just after the second half began so we missed the chance of hearing him play or sing again. Great stuff Andy and please come back soon. What I haven't told you folks is that Andy did something you don't see too often at Swan Acoustic, try and guess what it might be............?????????? Oh I'll tell you, for his first number "Homecoming" he was reading the music, yes sheet music! All them strange little dots and bars and dashes, yup reading music, is this a first at The Swan???
James Porter aka The Swan Jukebox, was up next. James borrowed my guitar for his set and sang one of the legendary great Hank William’s song "You Win Again".If you don't come to the Swan Acoustic Session for any other reason come and listen to James sing his songs. He can sing anything, be it rock n roll, motown, country, the blues and even the old standards "Summertime and the like". He just gets better and better every time I hear him. "You Win Again" was sung with great pathos and added in some neat guitar playing, which made my favourite guitar of the moment sound just so sweet, thanks for that James. For his second number James sang "I Don't Want To Talk About It". No change here from his first song as this one too was performed with sincerity and believability. Superb performance James, you are welcome to my guitar anytime.
Our MC David announced there would be a short break and that because there were so many performers in the interest of getting home before Wednesday snook up on us we had to restrict our second half performances to one number each. We lost Larry and Joel during this break and had I not been doing the Blog I would have been on my way too as it was getting quite late and the thought of getting up for work at six a.m. made David’s announcement very welcome.
Again Brian started us off with a moving song about all the soldiers executed for losing their minds and being labelled cowards. Wars have built in tragedies but the killing of our own by our own is an injustice too large to comprehend. Brian's song to acknowledge Remembrance Sunday was called "And Jesus Wept" by Reg Meuross
In unmarked graves in Flanders lie 300 boys and men
killed un-loved and frightened by those they thought were friends
a nation’s guilty secret is this generation’s debt
the hand of God came down last night
and Jesus wept
Chris Thompson next with The Callings "Wherever You Will Go". That fretboard will be worn out soon, superb stuff Chris.
Me next with another Tom Russell song "St Olav’s Gate". Improvement short lived.
Tim Gavin next with "Superstition" as I mentioned earlier, a master stroke pulled, come again Tim.
Francis White with "A Whole New World". Lovely playing Francis.
Steve Lampkin with his own composition was next in this second half, "Like A Falling Star" great song, well written and lovely performance.
Rob and Caroline now with "For always" I think, but I'm probably wrong on this one too but I was getting tired at this late point in the evening. What I'm not wrong about is it was a fabulous duet to say there were only two of them.
Graeme Morrell back on the stool singing "Bridge Over Troubled Waters". How brave is that? I've only heard one great version of this song and that is Simon and Garfunkel's until tonight, need I say more? ........ Well yes I will, Graeme's version was just tremendous, you will have to do that one again sir in the near future.
Finale brought up tonight by The Jukebox aka James Porter with "Take Me To The Mardi Gras". Sorry James I'm off to bed, you go though, entertain them folks like you do us here at The Swan Acoustic Session.
A great night with thirteen singers and extras that made for a sizeable audience brought together by David our trusty MC. Thank you David for turning out Tuesday after Tuesday. It's never the same on the odd occasion you can't make it.
That’s it for me folks, let’s do it again on the 20th November, see y'all.
I have written the blog with two purposes in mind, one obviously to inform you the reader of the events of the evening and to paint a mental picture of what a great night of entertainment we had, and secondly as a little form of fun for a cold autumn evening when the television is stale and uninteresting. When that is the case can I suggest you read this blog again to see if you can spot the deliberate spelling and grammatical errors I have cunningly interwoven into the script, if by good fortune or you are clever enough to spot them without help, let me congratulate you here and now but can I ask that you don't publicise them in the comment area as this would spoil it for the rest of the fun seekers playing this entertaining little game.