Better Larry Than Never.

An oh-so-late, catch-up blog for 4th June 2013 - I took up the blog because I had my notebook with me, but then life took over for a couple of weeks.
Anyway, a good and varied evening - as so often, Brian launched us off with "Rainbow" and invited us to guess the perpetrator, which turned out to be Marmalade, whom Brian had met - so there! His second was "Mr Bojangles" by Jerry Jeff Walker of the Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band - and liltingly lovely it was too.
Next on was Frances, revealing that this was the six month anniversary of her first appearance at the Swan and that she realised that her trousers were split (but modesty was saved by a second layer).  As so often in these last six months, she drew on her growing Irish repertoire with "Morrison’s Jig" and "A Fig for a Kiss" segueing seamlessly into "Dublin Streets" - it's been a good six months and she promised that normal trousers will be resumed as soon as possible.
Your blogger was (somewhat unexpectedly) up next -this time without Adrian - and once again trying out bits of plastic on the Collings.  Having seen Richard Thompson perform "Saving the Good Stuff for You", I’d been hooked by that nice E chord (it's in the key of D).  But, halfway through the song I was thinking "I don't connect with this at all".  A case of the punctum overwhelming the studium (as Roland Barthes used to say to his cat).  For a second offering, I was back in more agreeable territory with Leonard Cohen's "The Law", although I do prefer playing it electric.
With the capo on the seventh fret and DADGAD tuning, Graeme gave us Reg Meuross’s grim account of the Dick Turpin story in which the distinctly unromantic highwayman leaves his father to take the blame - splendid stuff.  Graeme too going for a favourite, gave us Michael Chapman's "Shuffle Boat Leaving" about leaving Hull forever – only he didn’t.
No end to the variety of the Swan - John N and his chum, Kevin, combined to make a complete and convincing Eric Clapton Unplugged with "Layla".  Then, with Kevin soloing twice, we had an impressive unplugged BB King on Roy Hawkins "The Thrill is Gone ".
I think I've finally figured out why harpists segue from heart-stopping melodies into hornpipes and the like - it's to act as a defibrillator.  Andee Craig gave us two great cardiac-arrestors - "She Moved through the Fair" and "Foggy Dew" – each followed by defibrillating hornpipes.  No wonder Benjamin Britten fell for these big-time.
Mike Craig - responding to the request of David, our MC (who had, unfortunately, temporarily vanished) - laid the curse of the broken string by giving us (to my mind) an all-time greatest version of Richard Thompson's "Vincent Black lightning 1952"- oh, eat your hearts out you U-tube pretenders!  Then, another tale of people we might find reprehensible in real life, but love to sing about without the autobiographical identification (which Roland Barthes didn't used to say to his cat): Townes van Zant’s "Pancho and Lefty" - I love Mike's wistful vocal.
Derry Jones most surely knows something about wistful: both of his self-penned songs - especially the second, "Did I Leave It a Little Too Late? - had a blend of humour and melancholy that I found captivating -the humour being to the fore on "Monty, the male lap dancer".  A nicely introduced little set with a story about Knaresborough Castle.
I was delighted to see Ian Pucknell once again offering his well-chosen and well-delivered brand of Americana with Merle Haggard's touching "Never Swim Kern River Again" and John Prine’s "There's a Hole in Daddy's Arm" - great stuff, but the best was still to come.
Chris Patrick recounted his period of writer's block - although he has been learning some new, slightly obscure chords (and very nice too).  He demonstrated that he has overcome the block with the world premiere of a new song, "Lie with Me" which did have some nice chords.  Maintaining a love theme as a stand-up guy, he offered us "I fell in love with San Pedro" as a Spanish lullaby - somehow connected with Madonna - though I can't remember quite how. 
Brian was back to open the second half - we've come to rely on Brian's fine musicianship and catholic (note the lowercase ‘c’), but, every now and then, he delivers a real heartbreaker.  So, he gave us his own "Kath’s Song" in celebration of his and Kath’s 18th wedding anniversary - a child-bride, surely, Kath?  My contact lens almost floated off, despite young Craig's cynicism.  And he finished with "Dark Eyed Girl".  Now, I know this isn't Van; is it (again) the Nitty-Gritty Dirt Band?
Frances was back with her subtly concealed amp - it is an acoustic amp!  - and three pieces from the 1995 Disney film "Pocahontas" - lovely!  The film's gone onto my ‘watch with grandchild’ list.  Here's to the next six months!
Your blogger was back, totally indulging himself in the absence of Adrian, by fingerpicking "Sad Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands" - or 60% of it, anyway - I do have some compassion.  Then, abusing the Collings with a thumb and index finger pick, I pinched my way through Clive James’ James Taylor parody - oh, how I laughed, on my own, 34 years ago.
Graeme was back with his Collings, which seems to work so much better than mine - must be those 13s strings, that he advised about.  Two Chapman specials: "Babe" - a bittersweet, or maybe just bitter, little number, during which no pigs were harmed; then, "Little Molly's Dream" - lovely stuff.
Andee came back wanting, like Mike, to redeem a previous outing on which she felt she had messed up "The Downfall of Paris" (oh, to have such high standards!) which is a step-dance and which she certainly didn't mess up, but went into "Were You at the Rock?  I've made a note about "sacred and profane" which I think is connected with "Valentine and priest".  I think I've lost some information here, but not my appreciation of Andee's beautiful playing.
Mike and Brian - known at other venues as "Craig & Wylie" - were back with Brian tin-whistling on "Westport Races” and "Fall down, Billy O'Shea". There should be dancing; yes, there will be dancing in the dark times (as Bertolt Brecht almost said).
Ian was back and, as I was hoping, he did Guy Clark's "Let Him Roll" aka "The Dallas Whore".  I've never heard the original, but it can't be better than Ian's version.  What I really like is the way it rolls along like a shaggy dog story, whose punch line we all know, then the coda is the jubilant "Let Him Roll" - it's like those angels on Ariels. Then, having slipped in the "Old Friends" instrumental from the eponymous S & G album, Ian finished with Steve Earle's "Remember If We Said Goodbye".
Chris was back with "It's so Nice" and it was.  He nobly passed on his this guitar to James Porter, who finished the night with Dean Martin's "Little Old Wine Drinker Me" – James is another man with a catholic repertoire!
Brecht did say,
“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
(Again, sorry for the lateness and, honestly, I never use exclamation marks in reports or papers!)
Larry Anderson

Posted on June 21, 2013 .