It's nice to know that the weather in Sale is cold like it is in Scotland as I write this newsletter. Despite the modest turnout there was another eclectic mix of top quality folk music which was enhanced by the arrival of old friend Pauline Jones who made a very welcome appearance at the club hopefully to become a regular.
John Condy conducted the proceedings while contributing several classics including Martin Simpson's The Devil's Partiality, Kerr & Fagan' s Anderson's Coast, Richard Thompson's Vincent Black Lightening and Carrickfergus before the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun. Carl paid tribute to the New Year with Singing Down The Ages before later adding The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, The New Moon's Arms (Jez Lowe) and Father's Song (Ewen MacColl). Carl also sang his own song about folk clubs Nights Round The Table.
Ruth then replied with two of her own Lazy John and Penny's Song before Mr Punch and Judy Man, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Dylan) and Hard Times Cotton Mill Girls completed her set.
Pauline was in good form with Old Molly Metcalf (Jake Thackray), Galway Shawl, Down in the Forest (Bells of Paradise?) the carol about the bleeding knight, How can I Keep from Singing, Fortune Turns the Wheel and a duet on Bramble Thorn with Ann Cojeen.
Ann herself Wassail(ed), pondered If All The Young Girls were Hares on The Mountain, reminded us of the beauties of Honiton Lace and undertook a new departure by banding up with Alan Grace on guitar for The Nightingale.
Alan himself started with a jolly song warning of the dangers of drinking and cross dressing called Tailor's Britches followed by Our Jolly Wassail, Les Barker's Mi Usband's Got No Porridge In 'Im and Rolling Home to England. His Home Lads Home closed the evening and it was a good job Helen Jocys wasn't there because she gets so upset at that song she has to leave the room.
Last week's new boy Paul had an interesting evening when he came without his ukelele. He thought that Pepper Street were doing the whole evening when in fact every Tuesday is sacrosanct as a Singers Night except on extremely special occasions like St Patrick's Night. Being a leftie he had the perfect excuse not to borrow an instrument but a quick telephone call and an unseen roadie arrived with a nice nylon string guitar at 9.15 in time for him to do Jack A Roe, Follow the Drinking Gourd and Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out accompanied by John on slide guitar. Alround a very pleasant evening between Christmas and New Year in advance of the big bang in January. Happy New Year everyone!!!!!
I am pleased to report that the second Christmas Party was easily as big a success as the first and more so in some ways. Old friends Stella and Brian, who we have not seen for too long, presented themselves at the new club promising to become regulars at least every couple of weeks. They were accompanied by new faces Glynn & Kelvin who also were threatening to come at last once a year. All in all 21 performers took to the floor and treated us to a completely different mix of festive and non-festive music. Bah-humbug or as Heather says hah-bumbag!
Stella's Glory, Glory, Hallelujah and Lord of the Leopard gave us a traditional start before Mick insisted we should Let it Snow. Then Bernice & John said things could get worse In The Bleak Midwinter before they became more upbeat with Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody. Newcomer Paul came to test the water and with his lovely little hand made ukelele fufilled a resolution that he would at last sing in public in 2008. His delivery of Mary Don't You Weep was nothing less than professional.
After that we returned to an eclectic selection from the folk library. Of course Celtic music was well represented from the word go with John Muskett's Bonny Lass of Fyvie-o, Kath & Stan's Quare Bungle Rye, Kelvin's medley of The Irish Rover and I'll Tell My Ma on the whistle, Robin's Road to Dundee and Kathy's Blarney Pilgrim, The Kesh and Dark Girl Dressed in Blue beautifully played on the flute. However the Anglo-saxon world did not take that lying down and Ann's traditional contribution was led by Light That Was Coming In The Morning and Green Grows The Laurel. Rob was wondering what has happened to The Old Pubs, Kath & Stan were still having Hard Times as was John Muskett's Seth Davy while Carl was asking Mam, When's My Dad Coming Home. Ruth's Black Muddy River introduced the American dimension quickly folowed by Mick's Mason Dixon Line, Robin's Bobby McGee, Don's Dances for Dollars and Glyn's Across the Borderline.
There was a touch of dark humour from Carl with Jez Lowe's story of the Lone Badger investigating the death of his badger friend who had been seen off by humans and made to look like roadkill. The silly side of life was again addressed by Rob with his tale of Fred The Slug but our resident poet Derrick suddenly took a serious note with his Soldier's Story, a tribute to our armed forces a la Rudyard Kipling's Tommy. Fortunately he did lighten up when comparing the form of language used by the Working Class in Blackpool compared with the Posh Set in Cleveleys eg while ordinary folk go up stairs the snobs ascend.
Another great night was ended by Mick, Bernice and John now called "Pepper Street" telling us Love Hurts as if we didn't know. One thing we do know is that we are beginning to attract more local people to the club and the extra listeners are particularly welcome. Of course Eric and the two Geds were sorely missed as were Terry, Ed and Sue.
Well, the Christmas Party night did not disappoint with an almost full house enjoying a festive feast of music, mulled wine, mince pies and a very tasty buffet laid on by the the United Services Club. The mulled wine helped to ease the symptoms of colds and flu many were feeling and helped to the warmth of the ambience which contributed to the usual mix of songs, some about and related to Chrismas, however distantly, and some not. What it is to live in a secular state.
Lorraine nailed her colours to the mast with Holy Night and When a Child is Born and Bernice & John went the popular route with White Christmas followed by Mickey's Winter Wonderland and Robin's A Spaceman Came Travelling before the harder edged Christmas in the Trenches by Michael and the Move Along Song from Don & Heather. No Christmas Party would have been complete without the best Christmas song ever and indeed we had three versions of the Fairy Tale of New York. Michael got in first but undaunted The Idle Young the gave us a band version with three voices guitar and violin before John, who at first felt a bit put out, thought sod it I'll do it on the banjo. Carl finally reminded us that dogs are for life not just Christmas with Jez Lowe's Alouishas about the dog that didn't bark. Mark looked forward to Seven Drunken Nights while his wife Jan reminded him that as Joan the Leather Queen she still was the one who cracked the whip in their house.
Part way through the evening several people gained a special mention. Ian our doorman was closely followed by Ruth Owen who was nominated Newcomer of the Year. Rob and Robin were our Most Improved Performers while Carl was rewarded for his constant high quality and being always the first to arrive on Tuesday evening. Finally Eric gained the most erudite performer award because he writes the most amazing material and occasionally performs the work of Jacques Brel either translated into English or delivered in French. Finally the generous raffle saw the star prize, a Mercedes Convertible, won by Sue Bentham. It was kindly donated by the failing German car industry who were desperate to get another one off their hands.
Ged Darby returned us to the sanity of the credit crunch with Waiting For The Day That We Get Our Pay while Rob was still optimistic with Thousands or More. Ged Gaskell warned Maids Never Wed and Old Man and Ann reminded them that It's a Weary, Weary Life even if My Thing is My Own. Terry sang Awake Lady Wake before Phil gave us Lord Allen-water and then his idiot's guide to Patrick Spens. The levity continued with Eric telling us I Know Where You Live and the story of A Slumbering Town I Forgot Its Name. The serious side of events kept returning with Sandra singing the beautiful I Am Stretched On Your Grave and Can I Go To My Loves Side. The most surprising song was Chardonnay written by one of The Stranglers.
All round a great night with people vowing to come back next week and rising to the challenge of finding new songs to sing.
Yet another really good eclectic evening of music organised by Mick, Bernice and John who so far perform as Anything Goes but informed that they are in the market for another name. The three of them created a great ambience and there was plenty of friendly banter passing back and forth. They got the ball rolling with the upbeat Washed my Hands in Muddy Waters and followed it with Killing the Blues from the Raising Sand album of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Ged Darby maintained the American theme with Stack-O-Lee and Robin on the City of New Orleans took us to the deep south where later Ed went Along the Verdigris with a Tom Paxton favourite.
From then on the Atlantic was traversed many times coming back east for Mark to play an excellent rendition of Albatross .Jan returned to the tradition with Raven & the Hare and Rob with Fathom the Bowl before we sped westwards with Heather & Don to The Great Divide and Oklahoma with Ed. Ged Gaskell again had his melodeon and Fiddlers Green and Windy Old Weather were lively songs of the sea but the coolness returned with Father Take Pity on Me by Ann.
A trip to the loft by Robin unearthed Buffy Sainte-Maries Now That The Buffalo's Gone from the Its My Way LP on vinyl and we were certainly pleased to hear a great performance of this tragic song of Indian exploitation. Thousands or More from Rob and the lovely Unquiet Grave by Jan were a big contrast before Mark blasted out A Rag of Your Own and Ged D was Working On The Railroad For A Dollar A Day. This link led Carl to sing his greatest hit The 1710 remembering the pre-Beeching Railways. Ed told a hilarious tale of Learning to Play the Guitar complete with duff tuning He said accidental and insisted on changing guitar mid song. Rosemary Lane from Ann and Greek Lightening from Carl were interspersed with When You Say Nothing At All by Don & Heather, Speed of The Sound of Loneliness by Anything Goes, Desperado Waiting For a Train by Ged D and I Still Miss Someone by Robin.
Tempus was fugiting when Rob sang Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy which was the best singing we have ever heard from him and Ged G ended his contribution with Dirty Old Town. Ed tried to poison his lady with Poinsettia Leaves only for Wikipedia to tell him it is futile since they are not poisonous, it is a myth. Mark & Jan took up the theme with Bygones be Bygones this time using Deadly Nightshade before Heather & Don with Dances for Dollars, Ann, with that great Cornish song Lamorna, sang us out. Judging by the response the FREE Christmas Party will be a bumper do and Bernard Wrigley will be a sell out. Get your tickets early in the New Year not to be disappointed which brings me to a very important point. A vital part of a healthy folk club is to have great audience and we all need to spread the word in that respect. We had a great example of that when we saw Vin Garbutt at The Lowry. He gave us a plug and who should be there but an old friend Bob Sharples. We had a few words and he promised to come and see us. Last night he turned up as did another stalwart Alan Brassingon. We need more so again keep spreading the word.
"It was a cold and frosty evening in December but we weren't off to Valaparaiso in the Morn" as the song goes, however, plenty of brave souls made it another excellent night with a very warm atmosphere although most of the cars were frozen solid when we came out. After a sing around the Streets of London there was a tale of the stresses and strains of emigration with Don & Heather's South Australia, albeit warmer climes, this echoed by Carl's composition, The Old England in You, about his friend Jan who he missed terribly when she left him behind to go there. Her return to visit once was sadly all too short.
Ged soon had us chilled again Hunting for the Whale and Mick & John revisited the North West Passage, not the warmest place on the planet and even Rob, our own mariner, vowed To Go To Sea No More although his Roll Alabama Roll celebrated the Merseyside Shipbuilders. Not surprisingly the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and that only on a lake although it was L. Superior, led to many saying they would prefer to fly.
Fortunately we had Ed to tell us about the Gigolo with the Funky Concertina, not much metaphorical about that, and Eric to tell us about his lustful feelings about Carol Vorderman and The Things a Woman Says When She Dumps You, definitely no metaphors in that one! Robin had us all crying in our beer with Only the Heartaches until Bernice, making a welcome return to make Anything Goes back up to full strength, told us that donations to St Rocco's Hospice following Teddie's funeral reached over 500 pounds, a very creditable effort, and then charmed us with a stronger message that Love Can Build A Bridge and of course You've Got a Friend. Robin agreed with Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.
Kath & Stan's Horncastle Fair cheered us up no end and Tim Hardin's The Lady Came From Baltimore, another from Anything Goes, was a real high point of the evening particularly in contrast to Flushers, Ed's very "moving" song about the Bowels of Your Town. The Celtic connection came in traditional form with lively versions of The Star of the County Down and I'll Tell my Ma before a lusty version of that well known cry from the dog track, "Go Lassie Go", sent us out into the icy cold, only to return.
When he took one of the raffle prizes there was a change in the bookmakers odds with Martin now less of a favourite to win the Mercedes at Christmas and Ed coming up on the rails.