A brilliant evening was had by all and not just because it was Carl's birthday and Sue's Quality Street Tin was passed around, delicious! Mississippi Banjo John opened up the evening with a Fats Waller medley including I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter and It's a Sin to Tell a Lie. Merdy then came to the front and sang a lovely version of Fiddler's Green and Robin gave us a nice rendering of Mull of Kintyre, which encouraged us all to sing along, and then Stella sang a religious song Said Judas to Mary, which was very Easter appropriate. Kath and Stan were Ruthless when they sang Sweet Sunny South which was followed by Isabel who played a couple of nameless hornpipes whilst balancing up against the piano, so as not to stand on one leg. Ruth sang a very pleasing Dear Mary alone before Adam also took up the Easter theme with Jesus Gonna Be Here. Birthday Boy Carl then sang a self-written number The Kindest Way followed by The Bailey Sisters' Rare's Hill. Bob, who had been singing all the previous night, gave us a very husky Stormy Monday before almost losing his voice, so Ed stepped in at this point and sang a miserable Staffordshire mining song called The Black Hills to make up for it. Rob, our own Captain Cook, was now up to letter T so he sang Thousands or More and Ged's first blues number of the night was Backwater Blues. Brian sang a nice quiet Cross Near Spancil Hill before Helen, from the Time Bandits, sang and accompanied herself on fiddle a wonderful version of Alberta whilst everyone joined in with the chorus and Frank accompanied her on guitar. Frank carried on to treat us to May Morning Dew and then Eric, with John Condy on guitar, gave us a rousing Bad Moon Arising again with everyone joining in. John stayed up with Pepper Street to sing North West Passage before Dave Pugh finished the first half with an Alan Taylor number Jimmy's Song.
We then stopped at 9.30 pm for a break to replenish drinks and complete the raffle swelled by Kate’s kind donation of an extra prize making it four out of seven.
Ed re-commenced the second half by cheering us all with his Bronchial Dilated Blues, something that’s been going around. It was then Rob's turn for singing something beginning with U this week.However, he admitted that he hadn't had the time to learn anything commencing with U or even V so he would have to swap the letters of alphabet around this week and sing something beginning with W instead. Hence, When First I Landed in Liverpool but, as Eric pointed out, the alphabet as we know it has only existed for the last couple of hundred years so it would have been quite feasible before that to jump from T to W. All is well that ends well, it was decided, but I reckon it’s taking a liberty!! Robin also had to alter the wording of his Buffet Saint Marie song from Country Girl to Country Boy, to put pay to any gossip about him. Understandable! At this point Stella was losing her singing voice a touch so she decided to entertain us with a Pam Ayres' poem Call Out the Mountain Rescue, which was extremely amusing and very well delivered. She has discovered her true talent. Stan, Kath and Ruth sang a beautiful song together called Birds and Ships and they created a really special sound in that one before another blues number, Sporting Life Blues, came from Ged again Adam went from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the Lord to the opposition, with his song Chase the Devil but Brian certainly challenged that one with I'm Singing for My Lord. Merdy then sang one about The Prettiest Girl in Truro, obviously not Scottish, and Frank sang a lovely soft Sidney Carter song Crow on a Cradle with Helen adding a beautiful accompaniment on fiddle. Helen stayed on front stage then for her own piece Oh Susannah to which she suggested that Stan accompany her on banjo, Ed on Kazoo, and everyone else who could play an instrument. It sounded great and we all sang along as well. Come back soon Helen! Bob came next with Shoals of Herring, as he had to rush off before the finish, followed by Isabel who knew the name of her tune this time and played a flawless waltz called The Snowdrop. Carl sang If Wishes Were Fishes, he must have been thinking about blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, and then The Bailey Sisters were asked to sing Sally Gardens and Bold Sir Rylas. This was the point the males in the room thoroughly enjoyed Adele's Kissing Song, which she certainly delivered with great enthusiasm and then admitted that it reminded her of herself! Dave Pugh played and sang a marvellous Sammy's Bar, Pepper Street sang two good numbers in Ten Thousand Miles and Killing the Blues and then Ed, knowing full well that Eric hadn't brought us all to a climax with the big number that was planned and rehearsed during the break, proceeded to thank everyone for coming and to give notice of forthcoming events etc. before saying "Oh! Go on then. Shall we let him do it .............?" Eric reluctantly jumped up to the front with John Condy on guitar, Helen on fiddle and many others joining in, and vivaciously sang The Ancient Mariner. It was a brilliant end to a jolly evening.
Another eclectic mix of music, songs and verse well managed by Pepper Street who were in great form with Empty Heart, a new one from Josh Ritter (grandson of Tex??), Ten Thousand Miles and I washed my hands in Muddy Water. Dylan was about with Colin Rudd's Make You Feel My Love, Ruth's Ain't Goin' Nowhere and Andy's Chimes Of Freedom. He also did Pay My Money Down and Ruth joined Kath & Stan with Anna Lea and Brown Eyed Boy. I could swear Stan's eyes are blue! Later Kath & Stan were Waterbound. A good sprinkling in the traditional style came with Henry Vlll's Greensleeves from the Bailey Sisters, Pleasant and Delightful and Baltimore Shanty from Pete together with Rolling Home and South Australia from Rob. Adam got in with Out On The Weekend - Neil Young and Red House by Hendrix and Don & Heather chipped in with Tilston's Let Your Banjo Ring and Robin Laing's Black Clothes. Ged explored familiar ground with Sugar Babe, Joshua Gone To Barbados and Take a Whiff on Me later converted to Have a Drink On Me by Lonnie Donegan. The same thing happened to Michael's The Craic Was Mighty That Night which became Kenny Roger's Lucille. Michael was also in good voice after his 6 gigs in 5 days marathon with Louden Wainwright III's New Paint and My Name Is Davy Lowston I did Seal. David recycled Shut Up You Bloody Liar but Mark came up with new compositions about men's ability to put Foot In Mouth and the voracious appetite of Manchester property developers to chop down trees and build on what he described as Hulme Forest. This stimulated an impromptu contribution from the other David with his short poem inspired by the Shadow's Wonderful Land.
Breaking for the raffle and adjustment of the water table brought the welcome arrival of Otto to get his tickets for the upcoming concerts and Dave Pugh who made us all jealous with Bert Jansch's Angie and then led us all in Huw Williams' very moving People Of The Heavens about the Europeans ravaging the Zulu civilisation. Very poignant! A Jan-less Mark, get well soon Jan, settled for the Inter-galactic Laxative taken by spacemen and women followed by the Clingfilm Wrapper Blues which we have all had at some time. The Bailey Girls came back to sell another one of their great CDs on the back of Minnie O'Sherva's Cradle Song and Rusby's Sleepless, John settled for a Thing Called Love by Jerry Reid and San Francisco Bay Blues, Ed finding his Kazoo just as it finished. However Ed was unperturbed as he went with Tom Paxton Along The Verdigris and then sympathisised with those who say We Are The Morris Dancers. Finally Don & Heather led another band up for the finale of Poverty Knock before appealing to everyone to Lay Down The Borrowed Guitar.
A good start by Carl with Penny Lane and it was nice to see and hear Andy's big voice again with Louden Wainwright's Dead Skunk (in the road). Sadly without Connie, Banjo John then gave us a nice little Confederate Medley starting with Dixie after which Adam was Way Down In The Hole with Tom Waits. Don & Heather provided the Fire And Rain but Eric wondered if his translation of Brel's Knokke-le-Zoute should stay in the repertoire and maybe he thinks the jury is still out. Ged peaked early with Thompson's Vincent Black Lightening and Derrick also excelled with his war poem and some not too non-PC Irish jokes. Ed then kept up his growing reputation for great songs with with Smokie's Oh Carol and Pepper Street followed with two of their classics Lydia and Broad Majestic Shannon which Colin followed with a great acoustic version of Led Zeppelin's Bron y Aur Stomp. Bob returned to the tradition and wanted to hear the Nightingale sing but instead settled for Isobel's beautiful Elizabeth Clare before Brian's You Gotta Friend and Stella's Cones by Les Barker brought the curtain down on the first half.
Otto, the big softie, took the dozen red roses, Andy the red wine and Colin the bag of Gladioli bulbs from the chaotic raffle with claims, counter claims and lost and found tickets but the second half set of at a pace with Carl's Fate & Circumstance Colliding, Banjo John's Blackberry Blossom, Eric's Babel and Wendy reaching a peak with the delightful song Put The Book Back On The Shelf. Bob was then in the Wild Mountain Thyme which led us to Colin's Pistol Slappin' Blues and Ed's Flushers dedicated to Alan who had been one. Derrick then threw in various jokes and stories which drove Andy back to New Orleans before Isobel steadied the ship with Michael Turner's Waltz before Adam went for a Spoonful. Brian was at the Hiring Fair, very common in Ireland where Don & Heather sampled the Whisky In The Jar. Pepper Street urged Tell Me The Truth and Eric & Carl said yes there will be a third round which The Boys From Belly Row from Carl started with a bang. The Kesh Jig from Isobel was beautiful as was Andy's Lovely To Me in his soft voice. Well done Andy! Eric was For Oscar and Adam had My Creole Belle but Ged settled for Jesus On The Mainline while Don & Heather went for the Gypsy Woman. Bos was Among The Leaves So Green-O, Colin went for his version of Led Zep's Killing Floor and Ed told the story of A Dozen Eggs but Brian was a Beatle with And I Love Her before Pepper Street said we'd better go cos we have Boats To Build so we all went with them.
We knew days in advance from Facebook that Zoe was coming to sing If I Had A Cello (I would teach it to sing the blues) but it become more and more apocryphal as a noisy audience filled up the room where the cello would have been more than happy. Things did start on the sad side with Spanish Burgundy from Don & Heather warning what happens if you don't treat Spanish Girls right. Merdy's Farewell She was in the same vein as was Adam's In The Cold Cold Ground but Connie & Banjo John soon got us in a happier frame of mind with Cheatin' Heart by Hank Williams. Richard Sails then gave us the traditional Byker Hill followed by Albert's Little Pot Stove in traditional fashion, Robin's Jock O' Hazeldean followed suit as did Rob's progression to P in the alphabet with Process Man (The). Eric & Ed then broke new ground with Dr Hook's Sylvia's Mother which at a stroke enabled Eric to recruit Ed for a Saturday performance before GARVA. Something we have been trying to do for months. Carl was Safe In The Harbour before Lorraine sang Annie's Song but Ged showed us the other side of life with A Boomer's Story. The Boomer just couldn't resist the lure of the railroad and so had no woman, had no money and in the end nowhere to go. A real folk song and Ruth, Kath & Stan had much the same message in The Sleepy Desert. Jean Finney shared her arachnophobia with her graphic There's A Spider In My Bath, creepy, before debutant Peter confessed that he wished he was in Carrickfergus. And not Sale Folk Club?? John Condy had Neil Young's Heart Of Gold before Jan sang Laggin Love and Mark took us fishing with Shoals Of Herring. Zoe's If I Had A Cello came next before Bob turned up late and swanned in only to be commanded to sing before sitting. He bridled but to no avail before responding with The Fly which brought the house down and heralded the interval.
Part the two cracked off with a multi prize raffle and Ed kicking off with The Winner. Another even latercomer but still very welcome was Richard Gray who gave us his own brilliant Marilyn but, not to be upstaged, Banjo John enlisted Albert on Harpoon for St Louis Blues. Superb!! The shy but brilliant Isobel came next with Black Bush Waltz and Moonlight On The Water and responding to the challenge Robin banded up with Don & Heather for Springsteen's Erie Canal. Richard then led us in Lowlands Away but Jan & Mark said It Was No Use Crying despite knowing Rob was next going to stretch credibility with his Qubarb story. Only A Woman's Heart was a good one from Lorraine and the roller coaster evening continued with Jean's Our P's Are All The Same bemoaning the loss of old money that had nicknames like tanner, bob and bit. Past Love related Albert's previous life or did it and maybe Boots Of Spanish Leather echoed Ged's or were they just fascinated with unrequited love? Wendy's poem Toilet was unintelligible but fortunately not Adam's House Of The Rising Sun which drew great audience participation as did Sister Joephine from Carl and A Rovin' from Bob. John Lover, was a good new one from Ruth, Kath & Stan as was Eric & John's version of Don't Think Twice and Merdy's When These Shoes Were New. John Condy was on the Midnight Flyer but Zoe was more wistful with her lovely Walk, Walk On My Love Time Alone Will Heal Me. Richard Gray then blew our minds towards a great climax with his own In The Morning followed by Peter with Rafferty's Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway making it easy for Don & Heather to lead their Big Band of Ed, Mark, Stan, Banjo John, Richard and John et al in a rousing version of Corrina, Corrina which was enough to keep everyone flying until Garva on Saturday. Well done Ed & Sue.
If it is true what they say, the March winds certainly blew in a heap of talent to make this a most memorable night with the regulars more than spurred on by a sprinkling of stardust from some of our occasional but very welcome guests.
Don & Heather kicked off with The City Of New Orleans, that old classic covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie and Pepper Street! It was so good that Adam felt he was On Another Planet but Albert soon took him back to Sam and Noah and Ruth, Kath & Stan reminisced about the Cotton Mill Girl, never mind the byssinosis. Pepper Street then achieved a first by treating us to two Factory Girl songs before Carl on his return from Oz sang The (satirical) Lone Badger by Jez Lowe. Arthur Marshall then remembered his Blue Grass Days with Hold My False Teeth Honey And I'll Show You How To Dance, what a chorus especially as Arthur insisted he would keep singing it until we all joined in!! Bob was then Lowlands Away and Robin was with Sister Gypsy, a Blackmore's Knight song well sung, but sadly Zoe had No Love Today which inspired Ged to Step It Up And Go. Isabel then played the newly titled Girl in A Blue Jumper and Rob was up to N with Nightingale (The) but Ed went one better with Nitty Gritty Dirtland. Merdy next went to the NE of Scotland for Bonny Belle and Frank went to Ireland for Black Is The Colour before Eric journeyed to Belgium for Brel's Mon Enfant about his childhood.
After much buying of GARVA tickets, souvenir Sale Folk Club T-shirts and Mugs, three colours of tickets complicated the raffle but still great prizes were dished out before 12-fingers Dave Pugh slid into position to amaze us with his version of Maple Leaf Rag quickly followed by debutant Violet with her poem Wee Hughie. No Woman No Cry came from Merdy and Ged's Jelly Roll Baker this time set up Zoe for her Crystal Glass and Albert was the Lost Leviathan with backing by John Condy. Bells On The Breeze was a really good new one of Carl's before Ruth, Kath & Stan said there's No Telling what a love song can do which is indisputable. Rob's O was Old Pubs (The) and Robin with Don & Heather was in The Greenland Fisheries while Isobel played a tune newly titled Toblerone because that was the raffle prize we were all eating at the time. Frank's lovely quiet Don't You Go was the lull before Bob's stormy Blow The Man Down and Ed said I Got Stoned, a Dr Hook classic, and Adam was with the Creole Belle. Arthur Marshall's That's All Soldiers Are For was true but sad as was Peppers Street's Across The Borderline and another of Eric's Jacques Brel translations, Raining in Knokke-le-Zoute, before Dave Pugh finally had us all mastering the chorus to the traditional Geordie song Sally Gee.
That left us time for a grand finale with Arthur leading us all in Will You Glow Daisy Glow, for obvious reasons, and Zoe delighting us with Night Is A Woman Who Embraces Me by John Gorka, a song she had never previously performed in public, and her own American Wake. With minds blown we stepped into the night.