The night of the five and a half Dylan songs

.By some coincidence there were quite a few Dylan songs tonight, in fact five and a half by my reckoning.

Also this was David's first night back as MC for a while and when it started out looking like being a very quiet night, after a few very busy nights in recent weeks, he was telling us it must be somehow due to him. Then more people arrived and the room started to fill up, so nice to nip that bit of superstition in the bud before it starts, and good to see David back.

Brian opened with a really nice song that was once tipped to be a Eurovision entry for Orkney  - "If You Took Your Love Away" by Ivan Drever. He then did "History of a Kiss" by Paul Millns. When we were chatting earlier Brian was somewhat playing down his guitar abilities. We all know how great he is on the mandolin and whistles that are his mainstay, but I must say that there is nowt wrong with his guitar playing either, and it forms a great accompaniment on songs such as the ones he chose tonight.

Next on was Larry Anderson who gave us a mellow, gentle version of the Dylan classic "I Want You". The next song he told us was called "Bullet Proof" which immediately brought Radiohead to my mind, but this was in fact the one by Alabama 3, and very nice it was too, with Larry adding some harmonica to the mix as well.

Then we had Martin Webster who, like Brian, is a left handed player (not often we see two in one night). His first song was "Border Reiver", a song about a truck driver by Mark Knopfler. This was followed by a rousing version of "Wagon Wheel" -  a song that started life under the title "Rock Me Mama", a 1973 Bob Dylan out-take from the Pat Garret and Billy The Kid sessions, but which Dylan never finished. Years later Old Crow Medicine Show added more lyrics and it transformed into Wagon Wheel - hence that was the "half a Dylan song". Good stuff Martin.

I went on next and opened with a song called "Owensboro", about working folk in the deep South of America. I found this on an America Folk compilation CD, sung by Natalie Merchant but credited as traditional. This would have gone better if I had not paused to mention the barking dog outside that distracted me as I was just ending the song. I then did "I Threw it All Away" from Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline album.

Next we had some lovely tunes from the harp of Frances White, all songs from Disney films and all written by Alan Menken. The first was the "lurv theme" from Beauty and the Beast and this was followed by a pair of short tunes - "Whole New World" and "Amazing Dream" - which were actually deceptively complex and required much use of the harp levers by Frances.

Local blues maestro Gerry Cooper was on next. After borrowing some picks (just before setting out tonight he had been distracted by a call from Kevin who works in an overseas call centre, causing him to forget to pack his) he gave us "Good Morning Blues" by Lead Belly, sounding absolutely great on the 12 string. Gerry's second number was "Easy street Blues" by Buddy Boy Hawkins, and we really enjoyed hearing the blues being played this time on the mandola. Great to hear Gerry in the Swan again.

Graeme Morrell then came on to finish the first half in excellent style. His first song was a fine rendition of "Buckets of Rain", played in the lovely Open D tuning that so characterises Dylan's seminal Blood on the Tracks album that this song is from. Next he gave us a beautiful instrumental piece on the guitar, which he had written himself, and the title of which I did not get as unfortunately he had to leave shortly after.

Brian opened again second half with a lovely Jon Allen song called "Joanna," and this was followed by Harry O'Donoghue's "The Flower Seller".

Larry next, and another Dylan song, "As I Went Out One Morning" from the John Wesley Harding album. This was followed by a wonderful version of the Leonard Cohen song "Amen" from the 2012 album Old Ideas. Have to say I haven't checked out much of Cohen's later stuff but I will be doing now.

Martin then came on and gave us very passionate renditions of Mick Hanley's "Past the Point of Rescue" followed by Roger McGuinn's "8 Miles High" both of which were very well received.

I went on next and did "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John and followed this with yet another Dylan song, "Lay Lady Lay", and yet again from Nashville Skyline (I know, time for a change next time, maybe a certain Eric Bogle song!)

Gerry then gave us a song by the "real king of the 12 string guitar" Blind Willie McTell. Broke down engine. This was then followed by the traditional number "Railroad Work Song". Superb again as always.

We then ended the evening with Rich from the Hope & Social, here to promote the Tour of Infinite Possibility. All the details of this Tour de France musical and cycle powered project can be found at .We all joined in as he led us through a jam session of the song "I Will Sail my Father's Boat" that will be used at the event, and he then ended the night with a wonderful song of his own - "Eurospin".

Leon S

Posted on June 4, 2014 .