OK - so I haven't done a blog for quite a while. I have done all the usual arriving late / avoiding eye contact etc techniques to ensure a nice relaxed SAS evening so I accept it is my turn again. However I have been made acutely aware that I need to be careful with what I say as it surprising who reads this stuff.


At the weekend my very good mate Stuart came from Chesterfield for a day of guitar talk and general putting the world to rights. I had been meaning to invite him up for quite some time and last Thursday we had organised the day by text. When he arrived I apologised for not getting in touch sooner, explaining that we had been away on a hastily arranged holiday. "Yes, I know" came the reply - " I read about it in the blog!"


First up as usual was chief organiser Brian Wylie with a self penned number Got To Get The Monkey Off your Back which could have been penned by any number of well recognised songwriters, followed by History of A Kiss which proved very good once we had capos and picks sorted out.



Following Brian were a group of newcomers to SAS (but obviously most definitely not newcomers to playing in front of an audience) the Phoenix Ceilidh Band (PCB) who regaled us with some marvellous jigs and reels. If only there was room to dance I am sure we would have been stripping the willow and dosy do-ing. A very rough guide the instruments ( and I apologise for any technical inaccuracies) is two fiddles, flute, penny whistle, guitar bazouki thingy, squeeze box and banjo. All round excellent entertainment.

Francis was up next and appeared to be on top form tonight with A Fig For A Kiss leading into Maid At The Spinning Wheel and Smash The Windows which bears an uncanny resemblance to Humpty Dumpty (Brian relating to me the tale about how Humpty Dumpty was a canon (gun not vicar") in the English Civil War), having first warned the audience in front of her about how her harp can double up as a cross bow! Just to be safe - it was absolutely brilliant Francis.

Leon followed on with a Dire Straits song Walking In The Wild West End which I feel I should but don't and wish I did. Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone was his next song (which would have been a very apt song for my recent visit to cloudy Portugal). This was very good and it was also a song I know, I know, I know, I know!

Joe Ellis.JPG

Joe Ellis is one of the younger attendees at SAS (a bit like myself!) but played one of the oldest songs of the night -Cole Porter's I Got You Under My Skin and very well played it was too. This was followed by a relatively modern song - Simon & Garfunkel's For Emily Wherever I See Her.


Resisting the suggestions from various members of the assembled crowd to give the next artiste the most glowing review of the night (if not the year!) Blogger's turn now with a song that I was reminded about on Saturday by my mate Stuart - Jackson C Frank's Blues Run The Game (a la Bert Jansch) and, leading up to what we thought was the break, the Smokie dare I say classic Living Next Door to Alice which had all the audience joining in on the chorus ( but only int their heads according to a straw poll taken on the night!)


So before we could fill our glasses and dispose of the previous contents of said receptacles, Francis volunteered an SAS first - the queen of the mini electro harp was going to sing a song! Take Me Home Country Roads was sung unaccompanied , save for a rousing chorus from the audience. Will this be first of many??



Part deux started with an impromptu (quite a lot of impromptu tonight) tune on banjo played by Brian accompanied by various members of PCB which got us all back into the swing of things. The "proper" start to the second half was Brian (on his own) with Ivan Drever's If I Gave My Love To You and then The Flower Seller by a MrHarry O' Donoghue which were both enjoyed by all.


Brian told me that The Butterfly was the first tune from the second set by PCB which was superbly executed by the band once they had all remembered how it went! This turned into what I thought was a totally different tune but the oracle (aka Mr Wiley) let me know it was the same tune but in a different time signature! The Rattling Bog and Atholl Highlanders were the next tunes and, like everything else they played tonight led to a room full of smiling faces, tapping feet and shouts of encore which were duly obliged with the Concertina Reel set. Absolutely great stuff!


Francis again had the unenviable task of following on from PCB but, back on more familiar territory of sitting with harp on lap, she admirably belted out The Garryowen ( two r's in Garry so it is a town not a man - tonight has been a real education!) and Dublin Streets.

Leon is going to see Janis Iain and Tom Paxton next month and that prompted him to start his second set with My Lady's A Wild Flying Dove ( by Mr P not Ms I) followed by To Make You Feel My Love (by Mr Dylan not by Ms Adele). Both beautifully played and well received.

Graeme Morrell.JPG

Joe was now back playing a song written by his brother about a picture (Misses Vickers) in either the library or the art gallery in Sheffield (Leon is going to be judge when goes to Sheffield on Saturday!). He finished his spot with His own song Something Isn't Right (I wonder if his brother plays that).


Blogger surprised everyone with no Michael Chapman or John Hiatt, but instead played Ralph Mctell's From Clare to Here (again thanks for the prompt from Chesterfield Stuart) and ended with James Taylor's Long Ago And Far Away (oft have I been requested to play far away!),


The evening was rounded off with another encore from PCB comprising the slow ballad Fanny Power followed by a Nancy Griffith's Speed and The Sound Of Loneliness.

Pheonix Ceilidh Band.JPG

And that was it - a really great night's entertainment, probably one of the best we have had for quite a long time and if you weren't there you missed a treat so make sure you come along next time!

As for me, I am going to try and get Stuart to actually come and play at one of our little soirées instead of just reading about it. Then I am going to try and see who else reads this stuff - could the Maestro Michael Chapman be a secret reader? It would be interesting to see who is the reader from farthest afield - any suggestions?

Graeme M

Posted on February 19, 2014 .