A beautifulApril evening resplendent with hosts of daffodils and horizontal sleetaccompanied me on my drive to the metropolis of Addingham for tonight’s Swan AcousticSession. I had a stop to make first though, at the home of famous (he’s justbeen featured in Acoustic magazine) local luthier Peter Barton. Peter isfettling the set-up on my lovely but neglected Blueridge dreadnought and Ipromise to bring it along to show and tell when it’s had the magic touch.Little did I realise that the only downside to visiting aforementionedstringmeister is the new tradition of a free blog with every service! Ithappened to Mr Wylie last time and now me. Having said that, it was Wyliehimself who laid the blog trap for me. “Are you on half-term Mike?” he askedall innocent-like. “Why, yes”, I replied, “I’ve got two weeks off, thanks forasking!” “Good, then you can do the blog!” he quickly countered. I didn’t evensee it coming. Still, here we are and there we were and a blog is born.
Thetrickster Raven Wylie did the decent thing and went first (make up your ownminds as to why that’s decent!). He started with “For IrelandI'll Not Tell Her Name” a traditional song written by John Barry Oge from County Kerry andmade popular by The Wolfe Tones. Brian gave a lovely rendition of this whichlaunched us gently from the quay. Why the nautical reference? Well, it’s the100th anniversary of the Titanic’s historic sailing as I write thisand Captain Birds Eye, sorry, Wylie paid his respects with a brace of Titanicaltunes tonight. The first was a tribute to Annie Moore an Irish girl with thedistinction of being the first punter through the gates at Ellis Island. Thesong was entitled “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” and Brian gave a greatperformance of it.
In the second half Brian continued with the Titanictheme with a great song; Johnny McEvoy’s “Ballad of John Williams”. Brian istravelling back home for the anniversary celebrations and I sincerely hope hewill be wearing as a symbol of Irish pride, one of the t-shirts proclaiming“She was alright when she left here!” Mr Wylie finished his evenings work byrecruiting your ‘umble blogger and his bouzouki (an SAS virgin) for a blastthrough the trad reel “The Mason’s Apron” which may or may not be about acrustacean offspring (is that what you call a little nipper?.....sorry,couldn’t help myself). Job well done and braw sailing Mr Wylie.
Next up was a welcome return to SAS for the goldenharmonies of Blackwater aka Tony and Ruth. They started with a great version ofa song written by eminent British Folkie, Chris Leslie entitled, “My Love is inAmerica” which was nominated for a BBC Folk award for best original song a fewyears ago. Blackwater followed this with a real crowd pleaser, Simon andGarfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’. I’m not sure who was being Simon and who wasbeing Garfunkel but the harmonies were lovely.
In their second half appearance Ruth and Tonystarted with a Jon (without an ‘h’) Strong song, “Gun Metal Grey”. The songreferences the Falklands War (another anniversary this year) and Mrs T and wasreally rather good. Blackwater concluded tonight another topical song (it beingclose to Easter) “Strange Way” from Welsh songwriter Martyn Joseph which looksat the crucifixion from the viewpoint of a modern man and is not at all aboutthe large government hotel in Manchester. Good to see you again guys.
A raise in audience numbers prompted some furniturere-arranging which left MC David and myself on a table right in front of theperformers prompting X-Factor comparisons (most of which went over your blogger’shead as I don’t have a T.V. and am spared the delights of such cultural shows).This proximity appeared to initially unsettle the night’s next performer PamJohnson but she soon settled down like a seasoned professional. I always look forwardto Pam’s country tinged offerings as she has introduced me to several artiststhat I would otherwise have overlooked. Take tonight’s first offering from Pam,a great song entitled ‘Middle of Nowhere’ by Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers.Ms Muth hails from that that great country capital of..Seattle! But who careswhere she’s from when she writes great songs and Pam gave us a great version.Next we had an unusual request. Not that wanting Pam to sing Mary Gaultier’swonderful song ‘Our Lady of the shooting stars’ is unusual, but the fact thatthe request came from absent friend Rob Watkins was. Apparently, the last timeRob saw Pam play, she didn’t sing the song and Rob was disappointed so shedecided to rectify things tonight, and Rob’s loss was our gain.
In the second half Pam took a spirited run up at asong which I think is by a band called ‘Island Jewel’ (although google refutestheir existence), however we’ll have to wait for another time to hear it infull as Pam pulled the plug on it part way through. All musicians will have experienceda song spinning out of their control at some stage and it’s hard not to use theejector seat even though the audience probably hasn’t noticed. We’ll lookforward to it next time. Pam found her mojo and finished her evening with theappropriately entitled ‘Lullaby’ by the Dixie Chicks a great song and performance.
Your blogger was next in the running order and Ican only say that my brilliance was matched only by my modesty (well there hasto be some perks to doing the blog!). For the factually minded of you outthere, I made my way through A.A. Bondy’s ‘Lover’s Waltz’; a new version ofSteve Earle’s ‘The Mountain’; fulfilled a small ambition by finally gettinground to singing Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Patience of Angels’ and finished with Thefabulously named Flying Burrito Brothers’ tune ‘My Uncle’ (FBB was formed byex-Byrds Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman).
Next in front of the judges table was Graeme Morrelland Colin, sorry, Graeme and his lovely colleague, no sorry, Graeme and his lovelyCollings OM guitar. I’d really only come tonight to see this fine instrumentand has since discovered that Graeme has a J45 shape Collings too, so I’m goingto have to come next time too! I did stop marvelling at the wonderful tone longenough to write down what songs Graeme performed, he started off with ‘somethingcontemporary’ in the shape of an Adele inspired version of Bobby Zimmerman’s ‘Makeyou feel my love’ which was very fine indeed. Just as I was thinking “I wonderwhat that Collings sounds like if you give it some welly?” Graeme decided todemonstrate by rocking out with a great version of ‘Mrs Robinson’ that owed asmuch to The Lemonheads as it did to Messrs Simon and Garfunkel. Another crowdpleaser!
In part deux, Mystic Morrell channelled Michael Chapmanand performed two MC tunes ‘Dewsbury Rd’ and ‘The Mallard’ the second being asong apparently about the joys of trainspotting, yet I did not hear a singlereference to the Scottish drug scene in the 1990’s – strange that! Both tuneswere up to Graeme’s, sorry, Michael’s usual high standard and Graeme assures methat MC was intentionally dressing down when he appeared on BBC’s SongwritersCircle. I thought he looked like a cross between David Hockney and SeasickSteve, Michael that is, not Graeme.
A family affair next as Lindsay and Chris Thompsontook the floor. First up Lindsay applied her soulful voice to KT Tunstall’s ‘Otherside of the world’ with Dad, Chris backing on guitar. They followed this with agreat version of Katie Melua’s ‘If you were a sailboat’. My Google research hasrevealed that Ms Melua has recorded a parody of her own song with lines such as“If you were some tiling, I would grout you” this has made Ms M jump in myestimations.
In the second half we had an SAS first as David(lazy blogger didn’t get your surname –sorry) produced an oboe! Not only that,he actually played it, and in tune! David, Chris and Brian applied themselvesto something that had been discovered in a piano stool, not an ageing cheesebutty but Edward Walsh’s “The Vocal Gems of Ireland” circa 1938. I think it wassheet music but I could be wrong as it was covered in lots of lines and dots.They gave a unique and rather grand rendition of a song set to the tune of ‘RaglanRd’ Possibly the first time it’s been arranged for guitar, mandolin, oboe andvoice. It worked very well, and it turned out that David is a bit of a ringeras he usually sings with ‘the best choir in the North’ on Tuesday nights. Obviouslythey haven’t heard the SAS audience singers in full flow!
David and Chris then revisited ‘Make you feel mylove’ which was memorably described as ‘Bob Dylan with an oboe’. The Thompson collaborations ended with Lindsayjoining Chris once more for another crowd pleaser and sing along, Elton John’s ‘YourSong’
And that my little blogettes, is what can only bedescribed as 1,576 words. See you all at the next one! New faces and old onesalways welcome. Oh almost forgot, the title refers to Les Barker’s Monologuefound here