It was a quiet night at the Swan this week. It was a lovely evening with the ghost of summer still hanging around. Perhaps people were off on late holidays, or perhaps they were home watching some blokes kick a ball around on telly. Wherever they were, they missed some great music produced by the small band of musicians who turned out on this Tuesday.
The evening took the form of an informal “kitchen session” as each musician or duo played from where they sat around the room. One might even call it cosy or intimate. Due to the small numbers we went around the room three times with a short break for liquid refereshment.
First up were newcomers to Swan Acoustic Session, Jeremy and Brian who perform as Jester B. Your blogger had seen this polished duo perform at the Café Lux mini festival in Pudsey on the same bill as Brian and Kath Wylie’s Ceilidh band Frigga. Jester B played a geat set that night and they didn’t disappoint at the Swan either. Their sound is a combination of beautiful vocal harmonies and deft guitar playing. Brian plays a beautiful Martin D45 which like all great guitars, comes with a story. They started with “Home” from the Beatles “Let It Be” album. And followed this with “Flowers never bend” by Simon and Garfunkel. Their choice of material really serves to showcase their close harmonies. Their second spot started with Australian songwriter Paul Kelly’s, “Don’t Stand So Close To The Window” which is a song of clandestine love. They closed their second spot with a real crowd pleaser, a very faithful rendition of Simon and Garfunkel ‘s “Mrs Robinson”. Third time around they delivered one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs “Lay, Lady, Lay” and finished off their set with a cracking version of Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day”. Really entertaining stuff guys, thanks for coming down and we look forward to seeing you at The Swan soon.
Craig & Wylie were up next and we decided to use SAS as a warm up rehearsal for our Saltaire Festival gig. In the first bit Mr Wylie wet his whistle with the lively tune “Westport Races”. Your blogger then sang “Moonshiner” one of those traditional songs that has many versions and many names. In the second bit, me and ‘im did The Civil Wars’ “20 Years” and followed it two jigs “The Blackthorn Stick and The Kesh”. In the third bit I failed to write down what we played but it was most probably “The Mountain” and a set of lively tunes on something you either pluck, blow or bang!
It was a welcome return to The Swan for our next performer Julian Hide. Julian plays the piano accordion and had treated us to some fine tunes and songs on his last visit. He didn’t disappoint this time and started off in fine style with some Northumberland Rants (which have nothing to do with an angry citizen of Alnwick) which if my scribbled notes are correct were called “The Breakdown” and “The Blanchland Races”, and if my notes aren’t correct – they weren’t! Julian followed with a beautiful song derived from the Robert Burns poem “Lassie Lie Near Me”. In the second go around Julian sang a Bob Pegg song entitled “Farewell to the Dale” and followed with a couple of beautiful tunes composed respectively by those Scottish masters Phil Cunningham and Scott Skinner. The first was Phil’s “Spring the Summer Long” and the second was Skinner’s curiously titled “Herr Roloff’s farewell”. Julian’s third set this evening consisted of another pair of tunes from Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham “Margaret’s Waltz/Donald McLean’s Farewell to Oban”. Julian’s obvious love of Phil and Aly’s music comes through in his heartfelt playing of the tunes. He finished off his set with a tune from Phil Cunningham’s late brother Johnny, another talented musician. The tune was “Night in that Land” and Julian played it brilliantly. Really lovely stuff Julian, your sets are rapidly becoming my favourite part of Swan Acoustic nights, come back soon.
Last up was Swan veteran James “jukebox” Porter. James has earned his nickname from his repertoire of crowd pleasing tunes. James started tonight with an Elvis ‘B’ Side “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” which apparently was a favourite of George Harrison’s. James followed this with Paul Simon’s “Take Me To The Mardis Gras”. In the second go around James gave us a great version of Damien Rice’s “Volcanoes” which was an earworm that he was releasing from being stuck in his head. James finished the evening off in fine style with The Rolling Stones’ “Spider and the Fly” and Carole King’s “Way Over Yonder”. Great stuff as always James.
So a lovely intimate session this time at the Swan. Next time promises to be a bigger affair with several regulars back from their hols so get there early to bag a seat. See you there! MAC