The Blog that anyone can write
It was another busy night at Swan Acoustic Session with eleven performers and a great mix of regulars, new performers and some old friends (not chronologically speaking) returning. It’s great when we have busy nights with a fantastic buzz in The Swan but I was kind of regretting that I’ve suffered a rush of blood and volunteered to do the blog! The volume of acts and songs means that my off topic ramblings are going to be kept to a minimum. Lucky you!
Brian Wylie kicked the evening off as has become customary. Tonight the multi-instrumental Mr Wylie was sans mandolin, san banjo, sans almost everything but thankfully with his own eyes and teeth. The explanation was that all his boxes of tricks has been packed up ready to be sent to Westport in Ireland where he will be playing with the Wild Geese on their near legendary annual residency at Matt Molloy’s pub. So armed with just his guitar, songs were the order of the night from Brian. He started with “Monkey off your back” one of hisself-penned songs and followed by “Joanna” a song written by Winchester singer-songwriter Jon Allen. In the second halfBrian went acapella with an immigrant’s song entitled “The Call” and followed this with the moving “Famine Song” The latter was written by Brian about an incident during the Great Famine of 1845-1852, (although it wasn’t strictly a famine as there was more than enough food produce in Ireland at the time to feed everyone but the British had it all marked for export, and there’s nothing ‘great’ about people starving). Westport’s gain was our gain too tonight as we got to hear Brian brogue to great effect.
Next up was the soulful Leon Sienkiewicz. Leon started with a great version of Norah Jones’ “Waiting” and followed this with Bob Dylan “Feel My Love” which was popularised by Adele. The peaceful easy feeling that Leon’s playing and singing created was only marred slightly by the noise outside created by what I can only imagine was the sole remaining member of the Addingham chapter of the Sons of Apathy roaring past the Swan on his hog. In the second half Leon was on form again with another from the pen of Robert Zimmerman “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” from the 1969 album Nashville Skyline. 1969 is also the year that Eric Bogleemigrated to Australia from Peebles. Why am I telling you this? Because Leon followed with a great version of the EricBogle song “Now I’m Easy” which details the plight of the Australian “cocky” or small scale farmer. Great stuff Leon, maybe the San Miguel suits you!
Joe Ellis was up next. Joe is quietly marking himself a reputation as the master of the eclectic cover version andfearlessly tackling the most challenging of songs. Tonight Joe didn’t disappoint with Jacques Breil’s “Jackie” which was made popular by the great Scott Walker on his 1967 album ‘Scott 2’ and was banned by the BBC who considered its lyrics too risqué. In the second half Joe gave us David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” complete with falsetto. Brilliant stuff Joe, worth the price of admission alone tonight.
Next to take the floor were some very exciting visitors to Swan Acoustic. Simon Goff and Gary Stewart from the bandHope and Social. This six piece band form Leeds have been shaking up the music establishment and challenging convention since 2006. Their latest adventure is theintriguingly named Tour of Infinite Possibility featuring the Band That Anyone Can Join. All the details of this Tour de France, musical and cycle powered project can be found atwww.hopeandsocial.com/tip . Incidentally Gary also happens to be Frances’ old drum teacher – small world! Gary is the drummer in the band and Simon the bass player so naturally tonight Gary played guitar and Simon turned out to be a ringer on the violin! The guys treated us to two songs “Euro spin” and “Knotted Wood” which had a great singalong bit which found the Swan Acoustic choir in fine voice. The gents had toleave after the first half but have promised a return visit and the opportunity for Swan Acoustic folk to learn the songs for the upcoming Addingham gig. Great to see you guys!
The unenviable job of following the blue jacketed boys fell toPam Johnson. It’s always a pleasure to see Pam at Swan Acoustic. We haven’t seen her for a while and I was worried that she’d gone the full ukulele and defected full time toHaworth Ukulele Group .In the first half Pam treated us to”Wild and Blue” which was written by Jon Anderson but made popular by Lucinda Williams (who, Pam informed us,suffered badly from stage fright). Pam followed this with anImelda May number “I’m Alive”. In the second half gave us a great version of “The Whisky Makes You Sweeter” by Laura Cantrell. Pam finished with an upbeat number from Texan songwriter Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers “You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying”. Lovely to see you again Pam.
Swan stalwart and one of our resident harp wranglers, FrancesWhite was up next. Frances didn’t seem fazed at all by performing in front of her former drum tutor and delivered a confident set of tunes “Maid at the Spinning Wheel/Merrily kissed the Quacker”.At least that’s what it says in my notes. I believe the latter tune concerns one man’s love for hisfavourite duck. Frances followed up with one of her favouritetunes “Moondance”. Which I enjoyed so much that I forgot my blogging duties and neglected to find out who composed it. Great stuff Frances
Your blogger was up next and all I can say is it’s a good job I’m blogging as I had one of those nights where the familiar seems unfamiliar and the notes and words run away with themselves. In the first half I mangled Tom Waits “Picture Ina Frame” and a traditional song “Courted a Wee Girl”. In the second half I fared a bit better with some new stuff “Great Lakes” by songwriter John Smith and finished with “Wall of Death” by Richard Thompson.
More familiar faces making a welcome return now in the shape Rob & Caroline. Rob started off solo with a brilliant version of John Doyle’s “Liberty’s Sweet Shore”. Rob is off to Ireland with the Wild Geese too and wanted to test the song out before playing out in Westport. Judging by tonight’s reception I’m sure it will go down great Rob. Caroline joined Rob for a lovely rendition of “Etta’s Tune”. My good friendgooglepedia tells me that this Roseanne Cash song was written about the relationship between Johnny Cash’s bassplayer and his wife. Rob may not have brought his gorgeous Gibson J45 John Hiatt signature guitar with him tonight but in the second half he did sing a John Hiatt song,“The Blues Can’t Even Find Me”. To finish their set off Caroline joined Rob for a lovely harmony rich version of “Love Hurts” It’s always great when Swan Acoustic’s own Gram and Emmylouvisit. Come back soon Rob and Caroline.
Another new face to Swan Acoustic now in the form of John Waller. It’s clear from his confident performance that John has a few folk clubs and open mics under his belt. John writes and perform his own songs and the choices tonight demonstrate that he’s happy making people laugh as well as maing them ponder. In the first half he gave us comedy and theatre. First up was “Molecules” a song that mixed science with the silly and had people in stitches. John followed this with a theatricalacapella ballad “The Boar of Bradford” delivered with great gusto filled and even included parts for the audience! In the second half John was in a more reflective mood and gave us two of his songs “Sun Goes Down” and “Tapestry”. Really good to have you along John, hope to see you again soon.
Next on the bill was local man of leisure James “jukebox”Porter. In the first half James gave us two Donovan songs. First was “Gold Watch Blues” which James followed with “To Sing For You”. In the second half James performed a great version of John Lennon’s “Living on Borrowed Time” and finished in fine style with Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking” complete with high bits even at this late time of night!Retirement must be suiting James as he was in fine form tonight.
Swan Acoustic regular Graeme Morrell was last to the party this evening which normally would have earned him blogger’s rights. However, as I had already selflessly volunteered (and perhaps rather foolishly I am beginning to realise 1,490 ishwords later!) Graeme was off the hook. With the weight of responsibility lifted from his shoulders and fingers he was freeto deliver a thoughtful song from Hartlepool songwriter Chris Knight entitled “William”. Graeme followed this with a RalphMcTell (he of “Tickle on The Tum” fame) song “The Ghost of Robert Johnson”. There must have been something in the air tonight that emboldened our players. We had already witnessed fearless falsetto singing and now from Graeme a fearless fingerstyle guitar arrangement of Fats Waller’s “Ain’tMisbehavin”. Graeme finished the evening with a version ofMississippi John Hurt’s “I’m Satisfied” which like many blues tunes of the time was peppered with great singleentendres. Cracking stuff Graeme.
And that was it, a great night full of songs and tunes in a lovely pub full of friendly folk and serving excellent beers – what more could you want? See you all next time!