As a relative newcomer to the Swan Acoustic Session, I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected. After the surprise appearance of the Phoenix Céilidh Band last time, this week’s surprise (for me at least) was my unexpected blog-writing responsibility! After a few feeble protests I accepted the pen and paper from Mr Wylie and got scribbling…
Brian Wylie started proceedings with Mick Hanly’s The Writing’s on the Wall followed by the traditional Irish anti-recruitment song Arthur McBride. The song tells the story of army recruitment officers being sent on their way by the narrator with the swift action of a shillelagh. Great traditional story-telling.
Next up was Pam Johnson with some great examples of Americana, In the Middle of Nowhere by Seattle-based songwriter Zoe Muth and her band The Lost High-Rollers, followed by Our Lady of the Shooting Stars by New Orleans based songwriter Mary Gauthier.
Frances White conjured up the emerald isle with some traditional jigs and reels on the folk-harp, starting with Togar’s Favourite into Little Beggarman, followed by Blarney Pilgrim into Off to California.
I was up next and sang In the Neighbourhood by Tom Waits, from the Swordfishtrombones album the song captures the minutiae of life in a small town.
Rob Watkins was next with some great American country music The Blues Can’t Even Find Me by John Hiatt. Rob then set off an impromptu sing-along with Train Song by Todd Snider.
Jess White sang Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground, a classic song from their first album. A fitting tribute to Lou Reed, who passed away recently.
Graeme Morrell stepped up with the first (and only!) Bob Dylan cover of the night, If You See Her, Say Hello from the Blood on the Tracks album.
Then some classic blues guitar with a Big Bill Broonzy song, Key to the Highway.
John Nixon reminded us that sometimes we learn songs from the strangest sources. He recounted the tale of trying to contact his energy company and being put on hold for two hours to the on-hold music of Candy by Paolo Nutini, nicely covered tonight by John.
John closed the first half with a cover of Wreck on the Highway by Bruce Springsteen, a haunting song about a man who witnesses a car accident.
After we were all suitably refreshed Brian Wylie started things up again with a pair of traditional Irish tunes on the mandolin, Jackie Colman’s Reel and The Star of Munster. Then the Lonesome Boatman, played on the tin-whistle. Great to hear a variety of instruments.
Across the Atlantic again with Pam Johnson singing Am I Too Blue? by Lucinda Williams followed by The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter by Laura Cantrell. Lovely American country music.
Frances White returned on the folk-harp with Morrison’s Jig into Boys of Blue Hill followed by A Fig for a Kiss into Maid at the Spinning Wheel.
Following the Irish theme I plumbed the depths of my memory and sang a song that I remembered as Peggy Courtin. After looking up the song while writing this I found the song is actually called Peggy Gordon – a traditional Irish song about lost love.
Some great American songwriting next from Rob Watkins singing Something ‘bout You by Kevin Welch, then Tennessee Plates by John Hiatt.
Jess White returned with Old Man from Neil Young’s Harvest album. Very poignant song about youth, age and wisdom nicely played by Jess.
Graeme Morrell sang Operator by Jim Croce, then started another impromptu sing-a-long with Eric Clapton’s Layla
James Porter sang Anna (Go to Him). Covered famously by The Beatles the song was written by American soul singer Arthur Alexander, and was personal favourite song of John Lennon. To finish the night James sang The Killing of Georgie by Rod Stewart.
As always tonight was an eclectic mix of pop songs, rock songs, country, blues, and traditional folk music, a great mix of the familiar and the unknown, all well performed by friendly Addingham folk. Looking forward to the next one!