17th July 2012


It might seem a while since the last Swan Acoustic session (it is) but here is the blog on a better late than never basis. It was an evening of music, song, anniversaries, remembrance and a bit of howling. You can’t beat a bit of howling on a Tuesday evening.

Brian Wylie was first up in the first set with a recitation of ‘The Drunken Scotsman’ which seemed to be mostly about looking up the Scotsman’s kilt. Ring ding diddle I-ay, what can I say? Followed by a mellow version of ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’. No fear, as the rain battered down outside I seem to remember. Always sets a high standard does BW.

Brian Rhodes next, and under instruction to sing some of his own songs, treated us to ‘Run Away’ and followed it with what he described as a work in progress and I’d describe as a tender love song called ‘Just Say Yes’. Lovely stuff.

Back after a lengthy absence caused by recording his new CD in Otley and a trip darn sarf was Gerry Cooper . Gerry kept it topical with ‘The Panic is On’ by Hezekiah Jenkins including a nifty lyric change to include reference to the Coalition Government in less than glowing terms. His next was a fab tune by Tampa Red – Boogie Woogie Dance played on his Byker fighting guitar (he said it). Brilliant as always.

Through a haze of post-tequila suffering and with his face neatly obscured by the music stand (I’m saying nothing about whether that was an improvement although one person in the audience did comment) we heard Mike Craig do a wonderful version of Steve Earle’s ‘The Mountain’ followed by a song based on the true story of Grace Gifford who died in 1955 – ‘Grace’ by the Wolfetones – tells a story of undying love. Mike had learned the song to play at a wedding (even though it involves early death by firing squad) but never got to play it there. Brian did though.

Andee Craig up next, accompanied by Tequila Mike, played beautiful harp and had us all swooning to ‘Kitty’s Wedding’ (there’s a theme here) and The Home Ruler – a couple of hornpipes – followed by two slip jigs A Fig for a Kiss and Morrison’s Jig. No dancing in the aisles please. Lovely, Lovely.

Pam Johnson (aka this week’s blogger) marked the passing of the legend that is Kitty Wells by singing ‘I Heard the Jukebox Playing’ and ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’. The first one a song about a man who not only cheats on his wife but isn’t even very good at it and gets found out easily. Kitty – your star shines bright.

Graham Morrell has been away learning new songs and we benefitted massively from his efforts when we were treated to Steve Harley’s ‘Friend for Life’ and Steve Earle’s ‘Zimmerman Blues’. This was special and even more special because it was his 36th wedding anniversary and the lovely couple were celebrating with us. I don’t think the rest of us combined managed 36 years so congratulations and well done!

The first half finished with a glorious duet from Rob and Caroline singing Buddy Miller’s ‘Can’t Get Over You’ and Caroline’s wonderful version of Sugarland’s ‘The Very Last Country Song’. Perfect.

In the second half Brian (on guitar) and Kath (on mandolin) Wylie got us off to a flying start with ‘Star of the County Down’ – to quote Kath ‘Capo on 1 – aaargh!’ But despite the ‘aaargh’ it was fab. They followed that triumph with a song from Orkney, written by Frank Keenan titled ‘For the Kids’.

The Brian’s kept going as Brian Rhodes was up next with more of his own lovely songs – ‘You’re The One’ – which he sung in a different key to last time he tried it and it worked! Just have to remember which key it was now. Second song was ‘Blown Away’ – another love song tenderly sung.

Here’s where the howling started. I blame Gerry Cooper. Gerry started with a self-penned song (which is on his new CD – hint hint) inspired by a well lit road in West Yorkshire, a train and a dream of a very long weekend crossing America on a Harley. Women have HRT patches, men have Harley’s. There’s no justice but some great music. The song was called ‘Follow the River’ and it was brilliant. The Byker fighting guitar came out again then for ‘Lone Wolf Blues’ by Oscar Buddy Woods. Oscar Buddy Woods was the pioneer of lap steel bottleneck blues guitar and a Louisiana street singer known as the Lone Wolf. This was his signature tune which he recorded for Decca in 1936. OBW was a member of the Shreveport Home Wreckers. We were encouraged to howl along – and we did it rather well.

The very talented Mike Craig gave us A.A. Bondy’s ‘Lover’s Waltz’ followed by ‘My Uncle’ by the Flying Burrito Brothers. Gram Parsons made a couple of appearances (not in person you understand). Always wonderful, Mike.

Andee and Mike again next with a couple of reels ‘The Musical Priest’ and ‘A Gravel Waltz’ followed by a tune called Miss Hamilton. Lovely playing from Andee on the harp. Magical sound.

As I was writing the blog I didn’t have to say the song I was doing was by Zoe Muth, I could just write it down. So it was Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers’ You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying’ followed by a rather risky (but not risqué) unaccompanied singing of Heidi Talbot’s The Parting Song.

Graham Morrell turned to Gordon Lightfoot for inspiration for his first song in the second half with ‘If You Could Read My Mind’. He said he knew exactly how long ago he learned that song – 38 years – he knew because he learned it just before he met his lovely wife. Aaaaahh! Collective sigh and congratulations all round! Graham followed it with ‘Youth is Wasted on the Young’ by Michael Chapman (of course). Both songs beautifully delivered.

Rob and Caroline finished off the evening with a rocking ‘Guitar Town’ by Steve Earle – great stuff Rob, and ‘Return of the Grievous Angel’. Classy stuff.

Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down
And they all lead me straight back home to you.

See you next time.

Posted on August 14, 2012 .