Well tonight had all the hallmarks of a quiet night when we pulled into the carpark of the Swan last night for the first of our May Sessions of Swan Acoustic Session, however one after another trooped in and set about emptying cases and once again we had 3 Harps. Some old friends who hadn’t been for a while and some who quoted “I need to get out more” as a reason for popping in, whatever the reason for coming everyone is welcome at S.A.S we don’t have a selection process like our well named famous Regiment. All that is required is a little bravery to perform in front of people, a little talent and a lot of enthusiasm. To be honest how do you think I managed all these years!
Anyway we had 10 artists last night and as David our resident compere and stalwart of S.A.S was on his annual walking/drinking/bus-trip, the blogger doubled up on roles and Mike Craig and Frank Wood on guitar and harp respectively joined the blogger on his first number “History Man” played on a low D Whistle and ably accompanied. Speeding up slightly in the second offering was a bouncy whistle tune from Des Cafferkey of Achill Island called “The Westport Races” Des is an excellent whistle player and this was an adequate interpretation of the tune. In the second part again accompanied by the erstwhile Mike we switched to mandolin for two sets of coupled tunes which raised Graemes curiosity as to why we pair tunes(answers on a post card to usual address please) “Devil amongst the tailors” & “Speed the plough” were RAPIDLY” (as Mike will testify) by the “Blackthorn stick” and “The Kesh”
A Warm welcome back to Len Harvey who had foregone an opportunity to go and see Albert Lee and thought bugger it S.A.S here I come. Fresh back from his recent trip to the states we had a couple of classics which we have come to expect from Len. A classic song from 1956 written by Melvin Endsley “Singing the Blues” was followed seamlessly by a Hank Loughlin song from 1960. “Please help me I’m Falling” done as only Len can do and capture that country feel. These were the songs I grew up with as my mother was a country freak. Well done Len and come back soon. Len had to go at halftime so we were deprived of more gems.
The first of our 3 harpists next in the shape of Frances White or was it? Who was that masked woman? (you had to be there for that one) Frances played us on of her favourites on her knee harp “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid” before rounding off her night as she also had to go at the interval with “Moondance” (I hope I got that title right) A really nice piece for harp and played really well by Frances. Apologies for no picture!!!
Mike Craig was next up and, in spite of his enforced frenetic accompaniments with the blogger graciously invited me up to a musical duet on “Twenty Years” by The Civil Wars and then an A A Bondi song entitled “Pines are Dancing” Mike then ran through a lovely little song which he has made his own “I courted a wee lassie” and rounded off his spot with a new one to our select Swan audience “Billy O’Shea complete with audience participation in the choruses and some payback to the blogger as his fingers became thumbs finding this tune on the mandolin. Excellent as always Mike.
Pam Johnson thought she was next up and reiterated that she wasn’t ready yet so Andee Craig the second of our harpists took the floor and whetted our appetites for the Hobbit Blockbuster by playing a lovely snippet of “The Shires” theme form aforementioned film, and moved seamlessly into a couple of bouncy Barn Dances. “Black is the Colour” and”Nellie I’ll not gain your favour” rounded the first offering at the Swan’s altar. The second half set had Andee unable to see her strings so after altered lighting was sorted we had a Harp Duet as both Frank and Andee gave us my favourite harp tune “Eleanor Plunkett” before Andee robustly rounded off her evening with “O’sullivans March” Three harps and all played differently and it is a real privilege to hear them all. Well done Andee.
Pam was now ready and with her Uke tucked under her arm gave us a song from one of the countries well known pop artists who is also a top exponent of “The Uke” and as Joe Browns “Tickle my Heart” rang round the room it makes you aware what a lovely little instrument it is (Kath bought me one a while ago and I love it. Sorry Frances) Richard Thompsons “Waltzings for Dreamers” was next to receive the “Uke” treatment and switching to the baby guitar Pam rounded her spots off with “Rock and Roll and then Some” by Waking the Witch, before finishing with a new one on me as a Laura Cantrell song “Whiskey Makes you Sweeter” versatility and vocality Perfick!
The Final of the trio of harps was manhandled onto the floor as Frank Wood took his place. “Brian Morris March” got everyones attention before Frank gave us a lovely interpretation of “Send in the Clowns” The second half we were taken to Scotland as “Farewell to Finuary” a lovely tune which is also a song that captures the angst of a people sailing to the other side of the world. This was followed by a tune which appeared in the film Local Hero “Mist Covered Mountains” played by Mark Knopfler but tonight for one night only played by Frank Wood. The finale of the harps was two lovely harp pieces “Southwind” and a favourite of mine “Fanny Power” Excellent stuff Frank as always.
Our resident stalwart Graeme Morell was next up and as one of only two turned up at the last session was excused Blogging duties as he did the last one. Graeme has recently been covering a lot of John Hiatt numbers to the exclusion of Michael Chapman numbers(I am not sure how Mr Daure will treat this defection)
Anyway a curve ball in the shape of a Stephen Stills number “Four and Twenty” before he got back on course with Hiatts “Lipstick Sunset” played with emotion on his Collings Graeme then went to traditional genre for a fine rendition of Eric Bogle’s “The Band played Waltzing Matilda” a song about the slaughter of the Anzacs at Gallipoli in the first world war at Suvla Bay. A crackin anti War song even now. Graeme rounded his spot off with a Johnny Hiatt number “Adios to California” Thanks Graeme I hope Michael Chapman is understanding of this defection! You do know he is an avid reader of our Blog?
John (yes I am on my own that’s why I’m wearing this hat ) Nixon was up on a commando raid to the Swan as his sidekick/taxi driver/ benefactor John Daure was otherwise engaged. I have it on good authority that John was off to see his hero Louden Wainwright III and for his Long suffering spouses Birthday, guess what John bought her?................................. Tickets to……………………. YEP Louden Wainwright III you are all heart John. Perhaps a two speed Black and Decker for her anniversary present?
John Nixon gave us a lovely slow version of that seventies classic from Slade “ Cum on Fell the Noize” before a stones classic on the borrowed guitar brought his performance to a halt as with the absence of his driver/lift he had to go at the interval. Thanks John always something different( ps I wont tell John who told me about the Birthday present)
Finally having sat out all the way through the first set our final guest was invited up, and as Rosie Clegg took her position on the floor she was greeted by voices of welcome from our audience. Rosie plays with local band The Five and Dimers but as previously mentioned decided she needed to get out more and we are grateful. Rosies first number of the night was a Kate Wolfe song “Green Eyes”Kate Wolf was an American Singer and songwriter. Though her career was relatively short, ahe had a significant impact on the folk music scene and many musicians continue to cover her songs, as witnessed tonight. Rosie then moved onto “I’m gonna live forever” which I think was by Billy Joe Shaver? No doubting the penultimate one though which was a fine interpretation of Capercaillies “Outlaws” before beautifully rounding our night off with an Iris Dement number “Sweet is the Melody” Excellent stuff Rosie. Please come back soon. That’s all Folks until next time BCW