Three dozen souls survived Christmas while the rest were still embroiled in the festivities and they missed an excellent evening with three new performers, one all the way from Auchtermuchty. Corrina, Corrina was a bluesy start from Don & Heather but Rob replied I Wish I Was Back In Liverpool with the centipedes to which Brian advised, Try A Little Tenderness. Richard Sails then invited us to go down to Yarmouth Town, for obvious reasons, but our first newcomer Kevin from Auchtermuchty told us the more poignant tale of the Sailor's Wife waiting and hoping her husband comes home from the sea in one piece before David fulfilled the request for another taste of Dead Dog Scrumpy. This prompted Carl to come up with another unusual dog story, Jez Lowe's Aloysius that wouldn't bark, swiftly followed by another first timer Jo who sang the Irish Blues and, on the same Celtic theme, Robin, inspired by the Scottish presence in the room took the high road off to the Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond. Ignoring all this good cheer Ed then sang Poison to recall the occasion when Sue forgot to tell him the kettle was filled with de-scaler and he made gravy with it that he poured on to his dinner and nearly killed himself: on a similar note Jean Finney then sang M.Y.O.B. after recounting the time when she asked the name of a nice plant one of her teachers had on the window sill and when told Mind Your Own Business she was upset because she thought she liked her: and on a grander scale Keep The Change Bob topped it all with Wind That Shakes The Barley.
A second round was begun by Don & Heather who more optimistically told everyone You Will Be The Light to which Rob replied with a new song for him, Pull Down Lads, and still in Celtic frame of mind Robin did a great job with Sir Walter Scott's Jock o' Hazeldean. Dido Bendigo from Richard then had us singing lustily and wondering if the ban on hunting will be repealed. Brian, however, became more pragmatic on the breakup of a marriage which contained the immortal story line, I will be returning all the things you have given to me but I won't be returning the baby which wasn't yours. Kevin then led us back to the wonderful singing that had been developing all evening with Here's A Health To The Company before Jean had us laughing at her poem Sir Theobold's Party and Keep The Change Bob recommended Pack Up our Sorrows. Certain of a good chorus Carl then went for Singing The Ages Down whereas David went all philosophical with his From A Mis-stance but Ed was in no doubt as he took us up to the interval with Treat My Daughter Decent.
A bumper raffle with a star prize of a fabulous pair of binoculars, kindly donated by Jean, lifted everyone's spirits as we went into the second half with Don & Heather's Flowers On The Water, his tribute to his Dad, followed by even better singing with Rob's Fathom The Bowl and newcomer Keith's poem A Woman's Eyes and a nod in Elvis' direction with I Can't Help Falling In Love With You. If I Loved You by Brian kept up the romantic theme before Richard related the story of how The Bold Princess Royal escaped from the pirates. Still buoyed by the Scottish contingent Robin then gave us a tour de force rendition of Flower Of Scotland which was written by Roy Williamson of the folk group The Corries, and presented in 1967 it refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over England's Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The English also sang with gusto cos it's a good song. Andy Stewart's song Rambling Rover allowed Kevin to keep up with the Scottish input before Carl gave us all a laugh with Thackray's Sister Josephine and Keep The Change Bob had us all chorusing away with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Les Barker's parody My Husband's Got No Porridge In Him was Ed's next successful vehicle leaving Jean's wistful Carrickfergus to take us into the fourth round.
This time Keith stepped up to the plate with Elvis' Blue Christmas, Brian came close with The Nearness Of You, Rob & Kevin were off to South Australia and Keep The Change Bob had us all singing I'm Going Down Feeling Bad. No wonder Ed as tempted to lead us in Flog 'em, Flay 'em and Hang 'em but Richard was Pleasant And Delightful as Carl dragged his Old Bones to the front to sing Jez's song before Jean recounted an old love in her Summer Is Over. Appropriately to close a brilliant night which proved that Sale Folk Club is a great singing club Robin led us all to the door with the Mingulay Boat Song. Now for New Year and a happy one to all our readers!!
And there was more as many took advantage of an evening of craic before settling into their Christmas routine amongst the detritus of too much food and too many regurgitated pseudo mystical films and old shows on TV leaving many to reach for the indigestion tablets or that borrowed guitar or the panic button. Not necessary tonight as we got started with Mark & Jan reminding us that we couldn't afford Christmas anyway with Hard Times Of Old England and Pepper Street imploring us not to go into next year with an Empty Heart which led Colin to take us into the heart of Africa with the haunting Masanga by Jean Bosco Mwenda. This was all too heavy for Banjo John who playing to the children in the audience, all 65 of them, ignored the weather forecast and fantasised of a White Christmas and Colin Rudd wanted to Make You Feel My Love but Kath & Stan were off with the Wayfaring Stranger which prompted Paul to pull out his harpoon for a few tunes. On a more cheerful note Don & Heather dedicated A Song For The Life to Rob, who still tries to drink as much as he used to, and Carl was upbeat with his own tribute to The Salvation Army with his own Looking For The Sun as was 6 year old Alice who did a great job on Jingle Bells. Charlie then sang Sweet Bells, Kate Rusby's disguised version of While Shepherds, which lifted Ed Between The Earth And The Sky and Richard Knott to bless us with his composition Blue Bossa Nova. Next Guitar Brian took us back 60 years with a Whose Sorry Now and Goody Goody Medley before Brian and Stella gave us Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and In The Bleak Midwinter respectively. Then followed a big surprise as Toby, all the way from Melbourne, took to the floor with Down Where The Drunkards Roll, having picked us up on the internet while singing his way round UK. This was all Rob needed to burst into the shanty South Australia and Isobel welcomed him with Stompola Stenway Man before Ged reined us all in with Easy's Getting Harder Every Day. He must have the Non-Phenomenal Blues reckoned Richard Gray as young Ed took us away on the Sloop John B before Banjo John again focussed our attention on the job in hand with Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.
After the usual socialising and raffle Kath & Stan kicked off the second to catch the Train On The Island but Rob missed it as he was off to The Rawtenstall Annual Fair. Colin Rudd was that Mr Bojangles as Guitar Brian claimed I'll Never Find Another You and Mark & Jan skitted with O Little Town Of Altrincham. Carl next paid his respects to the lady sea captain in his own All At Sea before Toby came back with Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Paul gave us another harpoon medley starting with Cotton Fields Back Home. Then it was secrets time as Ed confessed to liking Trashy Women but Brian & Stella soon pulled him back with Derek Gifford's Carol As Adam Lay Sleeping but Colin was strayed off driving that train high on cocaine with Casey Jones. In response to a request, Don & Heather were off down to New Orleans where there friend paid her way through Louisiana State University by Dancing For Dollars, Eric related the story of My Childhood courtesy of Jacques Brel followed by Ged's great rendition of Steve James' Stack Lee's Blues in which Stack shoots Billy after losing his John B Stetson Hat and all his money in a poker game. Raising to a climax Isobel played us an old version of Away In A Manger, Richard Gray sang his own Looking For Restoration and Pepper Street took us all home on The City Of New Orleans after a very satisfying journey. Happy Christmas!!
Another capacity crowd made it lucky 13 for those who made it for our 3rd Christmas Singers Party and it was heaving when Don & Heather set the scene with Roseville Fair which always reminds them of their friends The Kennedys who back Nanci Griffith. Ruth, Kath & Stan kept ball rolling as they went Down To The River To Pray, a cappella, where Pepper Street found The Rebel Jesus and Big Brian saw the Sun Arise. Brian's Song then was a tribute to his wife Stella before the third Brian of the big guitar chords had us all singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Banjo John was then off Walking In A Winter Wonderland which to Jean was all La Di Dah Di Dum and while Eric was off to Knokke-le-Zoute with Jacques Brel. Next Arthur Marshall was railing against Fat White Men In Suits, Jonathan Beech had us spending Christmas In The Trenches and newcomer Colin reminded us of bad man Stack-o-Lee. Thank goodness Ged dumped the wrist slitter in favour of Flip, Flop and Fly which briefly cheered before Kamran's Grim Reaper thankfully chased away by Robin's She Moved Through The Fair/Godfather Theme Song Speak Softly Love Mix. Stella then got us back on theme with Silent Night as did The Taylors, Kathy, Jan & Mark with While Shepherds to the tune of House Of The Rising Sun and while we were in singing mode Rob capitalised with a fully enacted Cock Robin leaving Ed to take us up to the mulled wine and buffet with Keith Marsden's The Manch, the epic drinking lesson from father to son.
In the interval the buffet was boosted by baskets of chips kindly provided by Martin and a bumper raffle saw the proceeds, £61.00, go to charity in aid of children with severe learning difficulties. There were 11 prizes, many donated, soon in the hands of worthy winners as we headed into the second half with Jones' Ale provided by Richard Sails followed by Paul who reminded that It's Somebody's Birthday soon before Ann C sang us the riddle of the Little Box. Lin & Sue then clog danced the night away with a charming waltz to Believe In Me All Those Endearing Young Charms to tumultuous applause and deservedly so on Lin's debut. That was enough to set Banjo John off down The Rock Island Line while Robin related another much more serious con trick in his own song about the takeover and wrecking of Cadbury's family business by Kraft. Arthur was then suddenly very pensive with his own After Midnight but Ruth, Kath & Stan were off to Horncastle Fair while The Taylors urged Good Christian Men Rejoice. Next up Ged was still in top form with Lost John as was his accompanist Jacondy on the blues harp, Jean was A You're Adorable, Guitar Brian was building a Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Rob was that Cheerly Man. Kamran was again out with Delia but Ed was there when The Spaceman Came Travelling and Colin was happy 'cause he played I Got Mine. Paul was then given the chance to sing that fine closing song May God Hold You in The Palm Of His Hand, a song we know many people would have liked to have written and some even think that they have, before Pepper Street summed up the evening beautifully wit Oo, It Looks Like We're Sticking Together. We certainly are!!
A mid-sized audience but major talent was well stewarded by Sue & Ed who started off with In Barefoot Days but John Condy then took us more up-market with his composition Cafe Ambleside before Jan put us back in our place with Factory Girl. Mark was next wishful thinking in Fiddler's Green as Ged took a trip to West Virginia and Carl remembered the move of the old folk club From The Armoury To The Crown. A classy note was then sounded by Colin Rudd with one of Tolkien's songs that he put to music and equally original in its way was Paul's version of Seasick Steve's Walkin' Man which led Robin to Try For The Sun a Donovan song. Don & Heather then reflected on how much we need each other at The Dimming Of The Day especially for those Past The Point Of Rescue just before Rob took us all Rolling Home with Brian especially commenting I'm In The Mood For Love before the Bailey Sisters, Karen & Shelley, brought some sanity with Sweet Chiming Bells and Snows Of Winter to end the first round.
In the second phase Ed sang that well known cross dressing song, The Handsome Cabin Boy [sic], but John was much more serious with The Scarecrow before The Galway Girl enticed him away. Brian then cheered us up with For The Good Times and the instruction Don't Cry For Me Argentina before Carl sang The Old England In You in tribute to his cousin. Paul's with Brown's Ferry Blues was a complete contrast to Rob' Courtin' Too Slow which could have been aimed at sabotaging Jan & Mark's Love And Happiness before they turned it round with Little Red Rooster. Robin's band up with John, Don & Heather soon had everyone singing away with Bobby McGee as a prelude to Richard Gray's double of Sally's Song and Family Of God In Heaven. Ged was next suffering from Bricks In My Pillow to which Karen replied Follow The Heron Home and Colin shared the irony of God On Our Side before putting it all in perspective with A Better Place To Be. That only left to invite everyone to join them on the Freight Train before wishing Irene Goodnight. This was a great start to December and the season of good will.