This is my first time doing this blog and all I can say is thank goodness for Google's assistance today - it helped me fill the gaps when I was struggling to decipher some of my own scribble! Before I start I just want to say that I've been coming to Swan Acoustic now for about 5 months, and I have felt welcomed and at home right from the start. In that time I have never had anything other than a great night here and this week was no exception, it was a cracking night!
Opening were the tremendous Backyard Burners - a trio with a double bass, a guitar, a banjo and some very powerful and energetic vocals and harmonies. I'd not heard them before but others here had, and I was told they'd be good. And good they were, they went down a storm and blew everyone's cobwebs away! The first song was a traditional number called I Saw the Light. This was followed by Gillian Welch's excellent One More Dollar and then they finished with a song called Rockytop Tennesee.
Craig & Wylie were on next and they opened with a lovely version of The History Man by Mike McGoldrick, with Mike on guitar and Brian on the new whistle that is his latest pride and joy. They followed this with some tunes - Father O'Flynn and Rakes of Kildare. More on my thoughts on Craig & Wylie later.
I was on next. Much saddened to learn of the death last Friday of one of my personal favourite singer songwriters, Jesse Winchester, I opened with my version of Glory to the Day from his album "Third Down 110 To Go". I'd decided I was going to just do Jesse Winchester songs this evening in tribute, but I reneged at this point and decided to follow with Ain't No Sunshine by Bill Withers.
Brian Rhodes was on next. It's been a while since our paths have crossed and it was great to see and hear Brian again, he has a nice guitar style and a great voice too. First song was Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver and this was followed by his own song Dance Wiv You. Lovely.
Then we had some beautiful tunes from Frances White on her electric harp - Moondance, Maid of the Spinning Wheel, and Merrily Kissed the Quaker. It was a shame she had to go at half time as I love the sound she gets from her harp, a lovely instrument.
Next Andy Brown with Lovin Arms by Etta James. He followed this with his own song Long Hot Summer, which was really nice as he noticeably relaxed and slowed down the pace. Well done Andy.
Rob Watkins was next up. It was great to see Rob again, another person I'd not seen and heard for a while - in fact not since the days of the Wharfeunplugged acoustic night I used to co-run (is that a word?) in Ilkley, where Rob was always a welcome regular. His first song was Train Song by Todd Snyder and then he did Over Yonder by Steve Earle. Rob also plays in a band called Last Orders, who are well worth seeing. Great stuff.
Mike Craig next. In the last 5 months I've become a fan of Mike's mellow vocals and great guitar style (thanks for the tips on plectrum use and the loan of your extensive collection BTW Mike). First he gave us Pines are Dancing by A.A Bondy and then we had This Mountain by Steve Earle, nicely accompanied by Brian on mandolin.
Gloria finished the first half, and in great style, as always. First she sang her own song Where the Mountains Call, about the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. Google it and you can find a great video of her singing it on Youtube. Next we had Simon and Garfunkel's America - a chance finding of an S&G song book in a charity shop has led to Gloria producing some cracking versions of their songs in her own unique style.
Second half. Backyard Burners opened again with Rock Salt and Nails by Utah Phillips, Why Baby Why by George Jones and finally Johnny Come Lately by Steve Earle (with Brian W on mandolin).
Brian then stayed in the seat and gave us The Portree Kid - a very funny parody of Ghost Riders in the Night, but set in Scotland, about "the teuchter that cam frae Skye". Wikipedia tells me that teuchter is a Lowland Scots word originally used to describe a Scottish Highlander. Great stuff Brian.
I was next and back on the Jesse Winchester songs looking for some closure, with Yankee Lady followed by All Your Stories.
The other Brian, Brian Rhodes then gave us In Delaware by Loudon Wainwright III and a Snow Patrol song Crack the Shutters.
Andy Brown followed with his own song Green Mysterious Eyes and then gave us his version of the Robbie Robertson classic The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
Rob Watkins went on next with Billy Austin by Steve Earle and Train to Birmingham by John Hiatt.
Craig & Wylie then gave us Crooked Jack, a song by Dominic Behan about the Irish labourers who went to work on the hydro dams in Scotland. This was followed by Speed the Plough and another tune, all played in their superb, very tight Ceilidh band style which I greatly admire. I really must get to one of their gigs!
Gloria was on next with a set of tunes including the Jenny Picking Cockles reel, and finishing with Mrs Robinson - another brilliant take on a Simon and Garfunkel classic given the Gloria treatment.
Known in these parts as the Resident Jukebox for his wide repertoire, James Porter finished the night. Unfortunately due to his work shift patterns James can only usually make the second half, but he ended the night in lovely style singing his version of Candy by Paolo Nutini.