Rearranging the furniture and the Titanic

Brian and blogger had hatched a plan to re-arrange the room for Tuesday nights. We’ve tended to come in and scatter guitars and cases far and wide, not to mention harps and cases! Noise has also been an issue from the bar area. So, in for a penny in for a pound, the idea was to tidy up the room and focus the performance in the room with the wood-burning stove (which we need to remember to keep going!) This leaves the main fire area available for anyone else who wants to come along and perhaps even listen! I know, I know … the word audience might be going a bit too far.

With just under twenty performers, instruments and several friends the whole area was packed.

We came to order as Brian and Kath served up a lovely version of ‘Black Velvet Band’ as the house lights were lowered by Becky the bar person, in charge during the absence of landlord and landlady on pressing ski commitments.

Adrian and Larry next as the lights were turned back on so that people could see crib sheets. ‘Up on the Roof’ and then into Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower of Song’; a song apparently too painful for Hendrix to play who covered ‘All around the Watchtower’ instead. Hendrix actually played one song at Ilkley years ago before the police closed the gig. Talk to anyone over 50 round here and they claim to have been there!

Two lovely songs next from Graeme Morrell, ‘ I know how to lose you’ – John Hiatt and ‘How wonderful you are’ – Gordon Haskell.  The latter a Jazz influenced homage to Harry’s bar.

Adding an international dimension Helmuth, borrowing and tuning Tim Morning’s Martyn, performed ‘It’s good to see you’ by Alan Taylor and then ‘Only our rivers run free’. Despite using the smallest crib sheet ever to grace the Swan Helmut’s renditions were well received.

Graeme Morrell’s prodigy Dave Artist serenaded us sensitively with Chris While’s ‘Circles around the Sun’ and then a Huw William’s number ‘We stayed awake.’ Nice finger work on a de-tuned guitar. All unfortunately spoiled by an unnecessary and  gratuitous reference to Huw being Welsh - given last weekend’s sporting debacle of the oval ball kind!

A welcome return for Brian Rhodes next who, after overcoming guitar threatening strap issues’ wowed the room with self penned ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and Ed Sheeran’s ‘A-Team’.

Frances then manoeuvred ‘baby harp’ into position and played ‘Earl’s Chair’, ‘Fairy Dance Reel’, ‘Night Ride’ and ‘Moondance’. Great stuff.

The Civil War’s ‘Twenty Years’ saw Mike Craig and Brian Wylie team up, not for the first time, to produce a polished performance. Then it was Mike on his own with a beautifully sung song  ‘The Pines are Dancing’ by A.A. Bowdi.

The night was drifting away, wrapped in a comforting blanket of melodic and harmonious musicianship, and then the two Johns got up! Guitar and mandolin thrust energetically forward as Rod’s ‘Mandolin Wind’ filled the air. Full audience participation was required for the Stone’s ‘You can’t always get what you want’ and they weren’t disappointed as a multi-layered falsetto choral accompaniment grew in confidence from the back of the room.  The iPad was there again, flashing out its words. Some also wondered if it was being employed for a simultaneous worldwide web-cast. The performance certainly went viral in the room!

Thoughtful renditions of ‘Princess Royal’ – Turlough O’Carolan and then ‘Father O’ Flynn’ and a March from Andee Craig on harp returned a sense of decorum to the proceedings.

Blogger next playing one of his younger brother’s songs – ‘Just another Comedown’ a song about a musician who craves for more recognition and larger audiences.  No problem there this night as the place was packed out. My next offering was self penned and inspired by the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Was it really worth it? The war not the song! My one fan, T.V’s Nigel Smith, had stayed up late just to hear this meagre offering. He said he liked it but was still not sure about signing me up to be auctioned at Tennants.

James Porter making an early appearance, taking advantage of favourable shift timings, strummed ‘Cry to me’ by Alex Burke and then ‘Tramps and Hawkers’’ a traditional song. Good strong playing as usual by James.

A second, much appreciated, appearance by Frank Wood on the largest of the evening’s harps found us humming to ‘Greensleeves’ – Henry VIII, everyone knows he wrote it so it must be true, he did! ‘My Heart will go on’ made famous by Celine Dion, from the soundtrack to the film ‘Titanic’ followed. Frank played on as the music floated through the air and all assembled pictured themselves in the arms of either Leonardo or Kate …….. or both!

Last, but not least, in the first half were Caroline and Rob. ‘Sonny’ beautifully sung by Caroline and then ‘Play a Train Song’ were excellent with Rob’s driving finger-picking to the fore.

Brian and Kath opened the second half with ‘Star of the County Down’ and then Brian, on his own, with a back to front version of his own life –‘The Orange and the Green’ got us in the mood for more.

Second half saw a lone Larry with Dylan’s ‘St. Augustine.’ Nice harmonica work, so good in fact that he did the blow and sucking thing twice.

For his offering after the break Graeme stuck with his second favourite songster, Mr Hiatt with ‘Blues can’t even find me.’ As usual good choice of song effortlessly performed.

As the clock approached well past midweek bedtimes, Helmuth returned with the poignant ‘The Veteran’ - another song from Alan Taylor. Having utilised a sublimely small sheet in the first half, Helmuth produced a ridiculously large three-sheet crib for this song. However, with compare Dave’s concerned assistance the music stand was altered to accommodate said sheets. Efforts were not helped by Mr Wylie who took great pride in demonstrating his undoubted wind skills by managing to dislodge sheets at will from three metres with carefully blown blasts of air. Needless to say all had calmed down by the time Helmutt struck the first note.

Fresh from an interval feast of pork scratchings, not a thing to try to eat quietly when someone is giving their musical all, Brian followed his first half with ‘The man who can’t be moved’ by Script.

Then Mike played one of his best, Steve Earle’s ‘The Mountain’, ably assisted by Graeme on iPad who came to Mike’s aid when he couldn’t remember what happened in the big hole that they dug in the mountain.

Harpist Andee drew us in with her playing of ‘Were you at the Rock’ and blogger and Brian Wylie blasted through Hewerdine’s ‘Bell book and Candle.’ James took on Carole King’s – ‘Way over Yonder’ as the clock approached midnight.

Just enough time and energy left for Frank to perform ‘South Wind’ – Planxty Irwin and then Rob and Caroline finished off with ‘My Sweet Carolina.’

An epic evening.

Big thanks to David, who as usual, kept us in good order and ensured that we had a cracking night.

As it is Easter Tuesday April 2nd the next Swan Acoustic sessin will be on Tuesday April 9th at 8.30.

Chris Thompson

Posted on March 21, 2013 .