At first a few and then the multitude as this quickly developed into a lively session and gave reason to why we NEVER close. New faces and new performers mixed in with the regulars made it an excellent evening with so much banter and 40 songs to boot. Don & Heather's Roseville Fair set the tone followed by Adam's lesser known Dear Doctor by the Rolling Stones and Carl's more serious Boys Of Belly Row, Jez Lowe's mining song. We were certainly not the Passing Strangers that Brian claimed and we doubted Simon's claim that It Ain't Gonna Rain No More but we were definitely with Claire as She Moved Through The Fair. Ged then gave us a warning about Careless Love, Rob said you don't want to be Aboard A 98, Ed claimed life was so hard I Ain't Got No Time To Cry so we turned to Isobel who cheered us all with a couple of tunes Rakes Of Kildare and Tenpenny Bit to end the opening round. Simon then gave us an interesting moment with his own song I Believe In You that came about when his wife dreamed the words which he put to music. Only a chorus song would do after that and Rambling Boy from Don & Heather fitted the bill followed by Rolling Home from Rob just before the Charabanc arrived disgorging Frank for I'm A Believer, in his own inimitable style, Ian with the Hand Weaver And The Factory Maid and Richard for two jigs The Orphan and Langston Pony. Next, I Know Where I'm Going sang Claire and Brian asked Can't You Feel The Love Tonight, to commemorate Elton John's new family, leaving Adam to say You Gotta Move and Ged to echo Iris Dement's feelings in It Ain't Easy And It's Getting Harder Every Day. There was still time for some romance before the break with Carl's own All At Sea about the female matelot but Ed distinctly preferred Trashy Woman.
Kicking off the second half, just as United let in a last minute goal, we still had all to play for as Don & Heather reminded us of The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness quickly followed by a couple of tunes from Isobel, Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre and Off She Goes. Hastening to catch up Frank then delighted us with Springsteen's lovely If I Should Fall Behind, Ian came up with The Angels Laid Him Away and Richard again took out his lovely mandolin for Coolie's Reel and Father Kelly's Reel. Then another first for the club came during Brian's American Trilogy when Barry unsheathed his mouth organ for some very sensitive backing reminiscent of the cowboy campfire scenes. Adam was then moved to say Give Me All Your Lovin' and Claire responded by singing Ewan McColl's monster hit The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, enough said. Rob then went about knocking them down, The Old Pubs, Ged had Jesus On That Mainline but Simon was in Dream Tickle Land, don't ask me! Ed next just about avoided the lynching party before it was realised that his extremely ironic She Is Woman is in fact either very complimentary or a cry for help which no one will hear! Luckily Carl redressed the balance with John Prine's insightful Hello In There and Isobel's Lark In The Clear Air completed the task. Gently lurching towards a climax Frank's love song, We'll Both Go Out Walking On Sunday and Ian's Handsome Molly well set up Richard for a couple of lively Jigs in G before Carl had us going with A Taste Of Honey and Ged offered instant gratification with his Tale A Whiff On Me. Finally Ed's Funeral Song took a light hearted look at what might happen with such or indulgence.
Still pretty cold but 40+ brave souls came, saw and conquered the weather to have a great pre-Christmas cheer. Ed & Sue were ideal hosts with a warm greeting for everyone including Lola & Ricardo all the way from Spain. Don & Heather were invited to get the ball rolling and after Let Your Banjo Ring everyone took the hint with Banjo John Goin' Home and Colin painting a Landscape With Figures. Accordion John was next Lucky Jim and Ed told the story of Red Headed Anne making Kath & Stan wondering How Will I Ever Be Simple Again? Ged was thinking of more fiscal matters with How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times As This and Bob was worried about the Windy Old Weather and John Condy was In The Bleak Midwinter complete with a Loose Elastic standing ovation for his guitar solo. David the poet was also seasonal with his Cold And Frosty Morning so it was a relief when Brian sang I Am What I Am and Carl went Looking For The Sun. Don & Heather definitely found the sun with their Barcelona Girls and Kath & Stan only had to go 900 Miles for it while Colin found it in the beauty of Vincent. Carl then explained how The Blacksmith And The Toffee Maker found the sunshine in each other's arms and Banjo John claimed it all comes out right When You're Smiling. Ged, however, was still worried about When The Levee Breaks and Accordion John described how things can go wrong like at The Battle Of Hastings but John Condy wouldn't have it and told us I Believe In Father Christmas to end the first half on a high note.
A great raffle and much socialising later latecomer Richard Gray started us off with another home truth telling us There Is No Reason why people can't fall in love and after finishing his Panto rehearsals Richard Sails had us Rockin' The Cradle followed by second half specialist Isobel with Gallopede. Next, I Dreamed A Dream claimed Brian, nice chords on his Spanish Guitar, and Bob related the sad tale of Frankie And Johnny who having been shot certainly wasn't The Oldest Swinger In Town as Ed claimed he was. This last one prompted Accordion John to sentimentally Remember and Kath was off with Stan to be A Banjo Picking Girl but hopefully not for some Hard Love as described by Ged. More real life came from Colin with Arthur McBride resisting the recruiters, from Richard Sails off with the New York Girls, Richard Gray with his Just Be A Friend and Brian with The Girl Of My Best Friend. It's tough at the top! Isobel returned with Carl to play Elizabeth Claire and he stayed on to give us Hands before John Condy led us all in The Fairytale Of New York when we were that NYPD Choir. Finally something lively was demanded from Don & Heather to end with so Gypsy Woman and Whisky In The Jar did the job accompanied by Ed on the wood practise pad and Richard sails on Spoons.
As Christmas Parties go it was one of best if not THE best. John & Mick aka Pepper Street were excellent hosts and started us off appropriately with The Rebel Jesus soon updated by Ed to A Spaceman Came Travelling, much to Robin's disdain as he planned to sing it too, but Banjo John would have none of it as he sang Fetch It On Down To My House and Accordion John was the same with Dorothy. Rob at first struggled to find a wall for Things In Granddad's Attic but Robin was soon in full swing with his bete noire Four Strong Winds as were Ruth, Kath & Stan with That's What We Do With The Baby-O. Claire next gave us the lovely Together At Heart but that made Ged Step It Up And Go while Dave thought What A Palaver however she had won over Brian who said I Will. Love was still in the air when Colin sang Cut Across Shorty and Simon gave us Honey Bunny Ice Cream before Richard Sails sang Thank You Ma'am Said Dan and Adam was Tender by Blur. Alan then told us a Tale From Lancashire Radio and Carl asked us are you going to Strawberry Fair and Jan & Mark, in their customary dressing up mode, asked Sailor, Sailor Will You Marry Me? More seasonally Ann C reminded us of A Cold Winter's Night and Isobel played her interpretation of Away In A Manger but Jim Clarke reminded us of the dark side with Marriot Edgar's Christmas In The Trenches. David came up with The Worzel's Pub With No Beards and Eric nearly caused a riot with his Club Singer's Lament before Don & Heather dedicated You Will Be The Light to Kath & Stan on their 40th Wedding Anniversary and thanked them for treating us to a steaming bowl of Mulled Wine.
Apart from a bumper raffle four trays of the club's excellent sandwiches soon bit the dust followed by mince pies similarly dispatched before we started to catch up with the latecomers starting with Richard Gray who returned to the theme with Poor Wayfaring Stranger. Peter followed with Gerry Rafferty's Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway. Banjo John also kept away from Christmas with When I'm Cleaning Windows and Accordion John did similar with Tit Willow. Ed was that Hypochondriac and Robin led us in No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues before Ged gave Red Molly his 1952 Vincent Black Lightening. Then it all became a bit weird with Claire's It's No Fun Being A Dragon, Mark & Jan's The Ivy and The Holly and Brian's The Wonder Of You with us all humming the Jordanaires backing part. We were soon back on track with Colin's Landscape With Figures, Simon's Overseas Story, Richard Sails' Widow Of Westmorland's Daughter and Adam's Personal Jesus. Isobel was next the Fairy Dame. Jim was again with Marriot Edgar on The Runcorn Ferry before Carl was making mining sound romantic with Jez Lowe's Black Diamonds just when the rescued Chilean Miners were in town. We bet most of them have packed it in now! Continuing to the big finish Anne was advising Whistle Daughter Whistle as the way to celibacy which cut no ice with Kath & Stan who with Ruth closed the show on a final celebratory note with No Telling What A Love Song Will Do. Magic!!
When the going gets tough the tough get going and so it has been in this cold weather with another large gathering and a few newcomers wrapping up well and coming out for a good time well hosted by Stella and Richard Sails. Richard made his intent clear when he started with the saucy German Musicianer and Banjo John Brown set the mood with Winter Wonderland and Jingle Bells. Colin Rudd then treated us to Berkeley Woman in a new alliance with Pepper Street who stayed on to keep us slow rocking the Black Muddy River followed by Ged who gave us a great version of Stagger Lee. Accordion John next held a community sing in complete with song sheets for Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien and then was forced to repeat it for Eric to lead a second time in real French! Merdy then came to the front and confessed that when he sang Leaving of Liverpool last week he had meant to sing Caledonia so he put that right before a ruthless Kath & Stan introduced us to a Wayfaring Stranger. Ed's Georgina Bayley was his coming out song but Rob unashamedly went for a big chorus song with Alabama and Carl was Looking For The Sun. Jan & Mark then did one of our favourites in Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue before Eric blasted us all away with his Carruthers and Don & Heather claimed we were all Past The Point Of Rescue. Finally round one was brought to a close by Zoe who treated us to her Twelve Days After Christmas before Banjo John Brown started the real celebrations with Li'l Ole Wine-Drinker Me followed by Ged's cheaky Jelly Roll Baker only for The Bailey Sisters to set us straight with their individual version of carol While Shepherds Watch.
After the customary raffle and social catch up Richard again roused us with The Barley Mow, what a lot of words and fast too, and the chorus singing continued with Pepper Street and Don't Let Me Into This Year With An Empty Heart and Merdy continued with Windmills, the real ones. Zoe then reminded us of the idiocy of jobsworths with her The Street That Wasn't There and Ed & Rob went equally mad with a Calypso version of The Wild Rover and Don & Heather said that as far as they were concerned, whatever floats your boat, Let Your Banjo Ring. Eric was next down in California with John Condy followed by Colin revealing I Got No Chance To Pin It On You. The we had a mixture of mood with The Bailey Sisters again more traditional with When The Snows Of Winter Fall, Jan & Mark with Love and Happiness, Rob with the sad Grey Funnel Line, Carl with the surreal Lone Badger and Kath & Stan down in the Sweet Sunny South. This left the only thing to do but head for a big finish and Pepper Street led us all to the City of New Orleans and as we were all about to go, for Zoe, All Of The Songs Were Road Songs but Don & Heather were still Dancing For Dollars as we all headed home. Christmas Party next week.