The Nights before Christmas

Twas the open mic before Christmas, when all through the public house
Not a creature was stirring, not Jess the pub dog, not even a mouse.
The tinsel was hung and the fires stoked with care,
In hopes that musicians soon would be there.

When in through the door there arose such a clatter,
Instrument cases, bodies and chatter
Straight to the bar as quick as a  flash,
With good ale on tap, even musos find cash.

Wylie in first, so lively and quick,
choosing a seat so he won’t miss a trick
More rapid than eagles the rest of them came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now then Patrick! Now then Nixon! Now then, Dixon and Daure!
Oi, Craigie! On, Morrell! On, Sienkiewicz! On, Por…ter!
Grab a seat!! Grab a beer! We’re having a ball
Now play away! Play away! Play away all!"


Ok, that’s as much of that as I can manage (particularly a couple of glasses in on Christmas Eve). My sincere apologies to Clement Clark Moore. Well, here it is – Merry Christmas, everybody having fun? I do hope so.


I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the wonderful evening spent at the last Swan Acoustic Session before Christmas. If you’re interested in exactly who played which song and when, why not come along in the New Year as see it all happen live. Or, better still – bring your instrument and join us we’re a friendly bunch. You want proof? Ok, here are some of the edited highlights from the festive frolic.


Craig and Wylie played mostly tunes tonight as Craig’s voice had been ravaged by man-flu (almost sneezed my left eye out!). There was a rare outing with Craig on mandolin and Wylie on bouzouki – did we really rehearse it that fast? Oh, right..we didn’t rehearse J Mr Wylie managed to make it out alive with all his stringed instruments despite at least one chilly customer shouting “chuck another banjo on the fire!”.


Leon hit us with some lovely Lennon and hit us hard with Hall and Oates. Now, before you say “I can’t go for that!” (see what I did there?)  it was a version of “Every time you go away” and grand it was too.


Next up were three wise men. No; my mistake, they were stuck in Myrhhfield. So instead we got the unholy trinity of Nixon, Dixon and Daure, henceforth to be known as “The Nixie Chicks” (thanks to MC David). Seriously though (not sure I can use the term seriously around these gents), these good-time boys gave us some foot-tapping, sing-a-long, crowd pleasing tunes. The between song banter is worth the price of admission alone.


Chris Patrick seemed to be the only one who realised this was a Christmas party and gave a brilliant rendition of “Stop the Cavalry” which had the Swan Acoustic choir singing along and making bugle noises. Chris’s own writing addresses the universal but difficult themes of love, loss and longing and in the second half he delivered a memorable version of his own song “Another Feather From Our Wings”. It really was quite lovely, top job Chris.


Andee Craig had clearly seen the Christmas memo and played a beautiful version of “Silent Night” in the first half. Silent Night….on a harp…it doesn’t get any christmassier than that (that’s a real word, I checked!). In the second half, Andee went all Martin Luther (We Three) Kings on us and delivered her own personal “I have a dream” speech. She apparently had a dream telling her to buy her husband the biggest and most extravagant Christmas present ever seen…sorry, can’t blame a guy for trying can you. Her actual dream instructed her to combine a Seamus Heaney poem with traditional Irish tunes. I’m not sure if poetry is a first for SAS but poetry and harp certainly is. Andee recited Heaney’s “Lovers on Arran” and followed it with “The Mist Covered Mountain” and “The Cliffs of Moher” and it all worked very well together.


What do you get the man who has everything for Christmas? Easy, another beautiful Collings guitar. And speaking of beautiful Collings guitars, Graeme Morrell is a man who does his pair justice. We’re used to GM’s crystal clear, chiming fingerpicking but if you haven’t heard it, you really should come along. He put it to great effect tonight on “Love Me Tender” and a great Christmassy (real word) Brook Williams song “Shaking These Christmas Blues”. However, Graeme saved the best (IMHO) til last tonight with a rollicking, swashbuckling sea-shanty called “Wild Cape Horn” which was (and I apologise for using a technical term) bloody brilliant!


James Porter.JPG

Last up, but never least was Mr James “Jukebox” Porter. JP is the master of the singalong cover song, and his influences range from 60’s folk and rock, through reggae and motown (hence the jukebox moniker). Tonight we were treated to a couple of motown classics and the once a year, Porter classic “Scarlet Ribbons” which worked perfectly in a tinselled setting. Always a pleasure James.


So that’s yer lot for another year. Oh, did I forget to mention the fabulous sausage rolls and mince pies supplied by Ian and Nikki our fantastic hosts at the Swan. Did I mention Andee’s tasty toll house cookies? Did I forget to mention Mr Wylie’s uncharacteristic loss of dignity when Ian produced a box of Heroes? “Step away from the Maltesers! The Maltesers are MINE” J Well, buy me a drink and I’ll tell the whole sordid tale.


Well, it’s almost time to hang up the stockings. Thanks to our hosts at the Swan, thank you for sharing your wonderful old pub with us. Thanks to the SAS stalwarts who turn up time after time. Thank you to our resident MC David and finally, thank you everyone who’s played and listened at SAS over the last year, we literally couldn’t do it without you. We hope to see you for a song and a tune in the New Year.


Oh, and…

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"



Posted on December 25, 2013 .