Pepper Street guided us expertly through a great night of new faces, new songs and good old time religion, as they used to say. Take Me With You Tonight they pleaded as first on an Colin Evans took them a their word with a great interpretation of Blackwaterside and Leadbelly's When I Was A Cowboy before saying what a great time he had had and vowing to come back soon. Can't wait. Kath & Stan were Ruthless in there delivery of 900 miles and Banjo Pickin' Girl and Banjo John too us back to the beginning of the last century with Has Anybody Seen My Gal and Sweet Sue, surely a tribute to Ed's wife. Jan & Mark went solo for Rout of The Blues and Tawney's 5 Foot Flirt before joining hands for The White Cockade. Dave the poet came in with some truisms and words of wisdom in A Philosophy For Life and God Had A Plan. Oh Yes?? Isobel made a late start with two delightful pieces Danny Beck and The Rope Waltz before Rob ate more alphabet soup with The Last Leviathan and Martin Says To His Man. Look out for N next week. Colin Rudd had a 5.00am start in the morning so came in with just the one He Had A Long Chain On by Jimmy Driftwood but it was worth it! Albert, after much communication with Peggy Seeger, sang Dirty Old Town complete with his extra verse having gained royal approval followed by John Prine's Sam Stone. Next Robin, after grabbing Saturday's headlines, revealed his own extra verse in The Village, his real folk song about the take over of Cadbury by the American conglomerate Kraft and again had everyone singing with Sometimes When We Touch. Eric then kindly saved us a lot of mental stress by singing us his translation of L'Accordionist which we now fully understand and followed it with Ruby Tuesday. Thanks Eric. Don & Heather stole another of Pepper Street's greatest hits, Killing The Blues, and then sang their much requested Flowers On The Water about loss. Ed mourned the loss of His Worship and The Pig from our gig list with Goodbye To The Sea and then confessed to being a Hypochondriac. Merdy, in a more positive frame of mind, gave us two nice versions of James Taylor's When I'm Gone and Manfred Mann's Fox On The Run and Ged then sent for the razor blades for How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times As This and Desperado Waiting For A Train. Having announced her arrival on Facebook, Zoe's delicate banjo playing supported Win And Rain and then her interestingly tuned guitar backed her Love Songs. Worth waiting for! Frank was at his very best with Springsteen's Should I Fall Behind and Bobby Sands' (I Wish I Was) Back Home In Derry.
In the middle Kate, Sue and Heather Kenyon ran the usual exotic raffle and in a great climax Pepper Street sang John's Stony River Blues, it should have won the songwriting competition, and Richard Gray did two of his own gems in Lady Of The Morning and It Hurts Me Too before Bob roused us all with Molly Malone and the grand finale Puttin' On The Style!!
Another craicing evening co-hosted by Heather Kenyon & Eric began with another spontaneous collaboration between Eric & John Condy claiming it Never Rains In California, but they do have earthquakes, and from that moment it was all go. Pepper Street's Orson Street Girls was Mick's autobiographical leaving of Leicester but Richard Sails was definitely not at The Battle Of Sowerby Bridge and cheerful Robin was certainly not in The Sea Of Heartbreak. Don & Heather may finally see The Galway Shawl when they visit Ireland later this year and Ruth, Kath & Stan, now known as Keysera, are too up-market for that Dirty Old Town. We certainly believed John Muskett had an Ace In The Hole and off his first album we all agreed Colin Rudd has had The Moment when he wrote this brilliant song. Merdy claimed to be running out of songs and then brilliantly sang Dougie Maclean's Caledonia. Needless to say we didn't believe him. Isobel got one of the biggest cheers of the night toward the end of Lark In The Air which coincided with Paul Scholes' equaliser for United. What timing!! Taking the mood Adam started to Chase The Devil but Albert became all wistful with his Past Love which was hot off the press. How does he do it? But it was too sentimental for Ged who got down to basiscs with Lay Me A Pallet On The Floor and Bob agreed with his own Three O'Clock Blues. Keeping up with his alphabet soup Rob's J was Johnny's Gone but much more interesting was his encounter on Snowden with two German women struggling down in fashionable "too long in the leg" track suits which he promptly cut down with his trusty Scout/Bowie Knife before leading them down. Or should this be on? Mark the poet told us his version of The First Valentine and Frank sang a lovely version of May Morning Dew before Pepper Street wound up the first half with Boats To Build.
The Valentine's Day apology raffle saw Frank get the pink Champagne before the second half with Heather Kenyon losing her virginity with her Cleaning Poem which still left her house not done but with a shiny "Mouse." Dave, always glad to see him, Pugh came next with a version of The Entertainer which left many a bit envious. Undaunted Kath & Stan sang The Sweet Sunny South, but then he plays banjo, and Richard sang Suzannah's Funnyful Man complete with snorts, and whistles. Very funny! Only Eric could follow that with L'Accordioniste and Robin had us all weaving and spinning to The Belfast Mill before Don & Heather reminded us that The Dimming Of The Day was upon us and John Muskett complained that Nobody Cares About The Railroads Anymore. Isobel took flight on the sopranino, a higher pitched recorder like the piccolo to the flute, with Fairy Dance which didn't stimulate another United strike on goal. That was left to that dyed in the wool City supporter Colin Rudd to achieve during his excellent Mr Bojangles in which he hastily rewrote the lyrics to express his joy?!? Albert agreed with All The Good Times but Adam brought us back to earth with Folsom Prison Blues and Ged nailed it down with Hard Love and there's us thinking unrequited love was the best!! Ed reminisced about The (insatiable) Widow On The Moor but was too tired with his Goodnight Irene. Rob giggled his way through K for Kalibar, Wendy was equally levitous with L'Enfant Glace but Mark was deadly serious about The Last Wolf and Frank with Mary Of Dungloe and definitely Dave with Martin Carthy's tribute to America, just wait while I get my tongue out of my cheek.
Just when we thought the surprises had ended Cecilia, reluctant to perform with her lovely St Louis/English accent until a few wines had taken effect, blew us all away with A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square followed by The Water Is Wide with a bit of accompaniment from Don. Come back and do it again soon. Pepper Street then wound it all up with The Speed Of Loneliness.
Not so much a shoo-in more a shoe horn in as the place filled up rapidly as Ed & Sue got under way with his No Time To Cry about her father's death by Iris Dement. Thankfully he didn't sing the whole album thus avoiding much voluntary euthanasia. Fortunately, Mick Hare & John Condy lifted our spirits with a great version of Lorelei and Adam implored us to Take Me Back. Richard Sails returned us to folk sanity with The Molecatcher as did Ruth Kath & Stan with a very sweet The Last Goodbye. Bob stirred up the emotions with The Letter, from a WW2 squaddy to is mum, before Robin had everyone singing Country Roads. Ged said "That's enough joy, what happens When The Levee Breaks?" and Rob said "We'll Be Heavin' and Haulin' and Shakin' The Nets." We welcomed Michael back with his Man Who Couldn't Cry before Dave the poet gave us an Ode To The Missouri Mule. Banjo John then gave us an interlude with When I'm Cleaning Windows before our second poet Mark told how Manchester got its name. The Bailey Sisters Karen & Shelley then announced the arrival of their latest CD and sang Follow The Heron Home nicely prefacing Isobel's Trip To Highgate and Kesh Jig. Then we welcomed our first newcomer John who sang a great song of his own, Cheeky Smile, followed by regulars Mark with Fiddler's Green and Jan with The Bells Of Aberdovy in the original Welsh. Frank then slipped in a lovely version of Spancil Hill which was the ideal platform for Zoe's new song, Plenty. Eric was again addicted to Anusol, as were we by the end of it, and Don & Heather led us in Rambling Boy before Dave Piugh took us to the interval with the instrumental South Devon Atmospheric.
A great raffle and much craic later we set sail in the second half with Ruth's own Sunshine After The Rain, a belter of her own, swiftly followed by Tom Waite's Long Way Home from Kath & Stan and a quick Prayer For The Stressed from Dave the poet. Again Frank mesmerised us with Walking On Sunday before Bob returned to his original theme with The D-Day Dodgers particularly reviling the upper classes in the form of Lady Astor. Jan then said to Mark "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?" Next up was a bit of humour when Mark the poet told us how invisible he was when A Man Came Into Casualty and Michael sang The Pool Song about how daft we look when playing it. Robin then sang a great version of Roger Whittaker's Why followed by Isobel's Dayflower and Adam's Hey Joe. Benjamin Bowmaneer next flowed from Richard's lips as did the Navigator from the Bailey Sisters and The Irish Rover from our patron Jim Clarke. Fortunately Ged cheered us up with The Ludlow Massacre causing Rob, in his continuation of the alphabet song list, to say I'll Fly Away. Newboy John came back with another of his own compositions, Susannah, followed by another Zoe newy Groundhog Blues in which we all sang the guitar riff. John & Mick then sang us Lydia, the mining disaster song, while Dave preferred Allan Taylor's Some Dreams and Eric brought us back to earth with It Hits You Hard. Finally a cracking evening was brought to a close by Don & Heather with everyone exclaiming "What In The World's Come Over You?" in John Prine's Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness followed by Lay Down The Borrowed Guitar. If it gets better than this we'll burst a blood vessel!!
Another mixture of old and new faces both in the performers and the listeners but still the same high quality of old and new songs, new combinations and plenty of banter in between.Don & Heather started off with a good old loosener in Don't Think Twice and already the vocal cords were cleared for action. After Follow Me Home from Ruth, Kath & Stan we had The Wanderer's Lament, with the ink from Albert's pen not yet dry, and then John Condy flew solo with Thunder Road. Richard was traditional with The Future Mrs Hawkins, Adam more modern with Sweet Caroline but The Idle Young topped that with their own Heart Over Head Over Heels which surely must be fantasy and not a window on Richard's love life. I Shall Not Be Moved sang Ged before the new band of Peter, Peter & Ali gave us Rare Owd Times. Then we remembered it was David's birthday so we embarrassed him by singing the obvious, not Why Was He Born? and he delighted with a spontaneous rendition of his Light Hearted Maiden about the lighthouses on the way into Larne Harbour. Another first came from Frank who turned up with a tiny battery driven Fender Amp which gave him that little extra volume he needed for his picking to Mary Of The Dale. Neat! Still on the injured list Ed was brilliant with Easy And Slow then, Bob blew our minds with Greenland Fisheries, Eric had Never Been In Love Before, Mick was chasing the Factory Girl and just in through the door Isobel was again at her best with Sally Gardens, Church Street and Bonny Kate to complete the first hectic round.
A swift break, a great raffle and then on to round two with My Life My Love from The Idle Young followed by Can't You Dance The Polka from Peter, Peter & Ali and Plane Crash At Los Gatos from Ged who all made us think a bit before Adam brought us back to earth with Honky Tonk Woman. For Frank Black Is The Colour and Richard of Idle Young claimed I Don't Know Her Now. Pretty obvious really since women can be tricky coves! Richard took the rustic approach in his Pit Boots but Ruth, Kath & Stan only came across Lazy John while reunited Pepper Street were into Carmelina. Then we were back to real folk with another great new song from Albert, Innocent Times, and Foggy Dew from an inspired Ed before Bob laid it all to waste with Bombay Belly Blues, a warning to all curry eaters. Eric's translation of Brel's Le Cheval had us wondering how much it applied to Jacques since in the old joke the man was fantasised as a horse but in this case the horse was fantasised as a man. A mid boggler which was only relieved by Isobel's exquisite Child Grove.
Round three stuttered to it's inevitable climax starting with Adam with Leadbelly In The Pines followed by Peter, Peter & Ali in the Fields Of Athenry, Ruth, Kath & Stan on the Banks Of The Ohio and Ged with The Bourgeois Blues. Richard was Rocking The Cradle before Albert gave us his latest Green Song which had most people swearing to consume less while others were determined to increase the size of their carbon footprint. Frank was determined to Catch The Wind, too much green veg, until Pepper Street finally rattled our bones with The Broad Majestic Shannon and then Washed Their Hands In Muddy Water. Another great night!