Ed & Sue guided us through a sublime evening of old favourites, new songs and new faces starting with Banjo John who was finding his way through the Streets of Laredo before Merdy went back In My Time but Richard Knott simplified it by saying It's Called The Blues. Don & Heather's philosophy was get on with it and Don't Think Twice even if as Jo said you are in Hard Times. Coming over all schmaltzy Diane & Brian asked Did You Ever before later making up, however, Robin was off up The Erie Canal and Mike, with some lovely guitar backing, was Rue(ing) the day for obvious reasons. Still on E in his Alphabet Soup of songs, Rob next reminded us of the perils of the sea with Ellan Vannin and equally serious Ed reminded of the terrors of war with Donovan's Ballad Of A Crystal Man while Mark gave us time to recover with Sonny's Mazurka and The crickets March Over The Salt Box. Jan extolled the virtues of The Factory Girl but Kamran reckoned it can be Love In Vain which Steve dismissed by singing Everybody's Doing It, a song they were singing both when the Titanic went down and they were coincidentally building his house which now has subsidence. Still maintaining the swings of emotion Ged related Steve Goodman's Ballad Of Penny Evans, another study on the effects of war, while Pepper Street's River Of Fools examined the murky pathway through life that some people take nicely punctuated by Isabel's two contrasting tunes Bedlam on the one hand and a happy Hornpipe on the other.
Beginning the second round Banjo John reckoned it was all old hat since his St Louis Blues showed it was the same years and years ago but ever the optimist Mike's Here Comes The Sun shed a different light only for Pepper Street to bring back the contrasting views with Boatman and Keep Your Distance. Kamran was next still having trouble with Sylvia's Mother while happy Brian was off to Tie A Yellow Ribbon and Richard Gray was dancing away to his own Irish Jigs and Reels And Airs. Following that Ged decided on a Restless Farewell while Merdy explained how he chooses what to sing with Your Favourite Song and moving on to F Rob related the saga of Fred The Slug. Jan & Mark then first sang in praise of the Little Red Rooster before Mark the loss of his mother to Caribbean Cruises with the Sloop John B and Ed warned it could all end badly with the ultimate Disaster song. Robin thought he could end up in a Long Black Veil getting Isobel's sad Herr Roloff's Farewell but Richard Knott insisted there would be No Problem. In preparation the upcoming cold snap Heather & Don got out The Galway Shawl before breaking into some warming aerobics with Let Your Banjo Ring which didn't interest Brian who was Wide Eyed And Legless nor Kamran who was watching Smoke Through Autumn Trees. Richard Gray summed it up a treat when he reminded us it was Closing Time, with a Mary Asquith Song, and true to form Rob decided we should all Fathom The Bowl but instead we rolled off home with a kind of happy and contented feeling. Nice one.
After slowing the rip roaring social merry go round to a stop Don & Heather confessed they did not have all the answers with they Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way but Paul wanted to inject some discipline with Drill Ye Tarriers Drill. Hopefully we didn't upset Brian's Feelings and certainly Ruth, Kath & Stan agreed that There Ain't No Sweet Man to shed tears over but Judith & Colin were asking Ain't That Rain Falling Down. In celebration of Rabbie Burns, Ae Fond Kiss was Robin's very nice a cappella tribute and then there was Carl's sad Nella Can Keep It For Treasure before Ged gave us all that Mule Skinner Blues. Thank goodness there was Ed to take us along The Verdigris and Jo to tell us beautifully that She Moved Through The Fair just as Kamran was Going To Brownsville. Next up was newcomer Bill and he certainly opened everyone's mind with Hazard, but if he didn't they should Google it on Wikipedia. Rob was unperturbed and ploughed on with his Folk Song Alphabet reaching C and Cheerly Man setting Ruth, Kath & Stan for the D of Dear Mary but Colin, this time Judith-less, swore I Won't Make The Same Mistake Again, did I hear "O yes he will?" We all do! Paul was then off All Along Watchtower as Carl pleaded Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Steely Dan's biggest hit after a meeting with Rikki Ducornet the now world famous writer, but Kamran just wanted to be off cos he had that old Itching Heel. Now up to D on the alphabet Rob took us up to the interval with aDieu Sweet Lovely Nancy to groans in the audience.
However, the distribution of Roses, Wine, Chocolates etc in the pre-Valentine's Day raffle made us forget about Rob till later as Brian and debutant Diane sang the Rose and Ged celebrated another love affair this time with The Trapeze before Ed celebrated many love affairs with Keith Marsden's Funeral Song. This time Robin strummed away to Neil Young's Four Strong Winds before Derrick made a great comeback with Sayings Confucius Nearly Said and Isobel delighted us with the lovely tune, Dayflower. Next another debutant Dave brought in fabulous accordion and played and sang The Old Bazaar In Cairo before Don & Heather observed that these were Rare Owd Times. Ruth, Kath & Stan continued their run of good form by having us all singing along with Dirty Old Town but Paul was off to Sweet Carolina and Kamran was fighting over That Spoonful as the evening wore on. Doubling back on himself, Rob had forgotten to do Blood Red Roses so here it was, out of order just like himself, as Brian paid tribute to Etta James with At Last and Colin told the story of The New Town Incident. Heading to a climax Robin led us all in singing The Star Of The County Down as did Ged with Take A Whiff On Me with Isobel having everyone whistling and humming to A Hundred Pipers. The singing continued with Carl's rendition of Eric Bogle's And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda before Ed's philosophically funny song about The Fly And The Grocer led us to comply with the request to Lay Down The Borrowed Guitar by Don & Heather after an excellent evening of song, music and humour.
It was steady ahead as the room filled up for tonight's enjoyment which was started by Jan & Mark taking us out with the Manchester Rambler. Ged was instantly poignant with The Deportees but Banjo John said I'm off on The Robert E Lee before Merdy returned to reality with Deep Inside You. Next Robin addressed Ye Jacobites By Name and Lucy & Gordon were off to a Muddy River but Jo, slowly becoming a regular, was aboard that prison ship from The Fields Of Athenry. Our one-man-band Paul, also blossoming by the week, had Ramblin' On My Mind while Ann C was of down Rosemary Lane and Richard Knott was on Easy Street. Continuing his recovery from heart surgery Ian, our former door person, next pleaded Brother Can You Spare A Dime and Don & Heather were also Past The Point Of Rescue as is the world David the poet reckoned with The Box, not to be opened because it contains all the elements of war. Continuing this year's alphabet soup of folk songs Rob then came up with Come Write Me Down Ye Powers Above and young Mike, totally retro with tie and all, went one further and surprised us with a brilliant rendition of a song more than three time as old as himself, I'll See You In My Dreams, complete with verse and chorus. An inspired Kamran then came up with He's In The Jailhouse Now but, free of the shackles of Pepper Street, Mick Hare sailed down The River Of Fools and Jim, free from renewing club memberships and still sober amazed us with the original Jacques Brel song, Marika, in Flemish and a cappella which means without catarrh accompaniment. Banjo John began the second round with Streets Of Laredo leaving Lucy & Gordon to take us to the interval with the Flying Pickets' Only You.
The usual social intercourse and bumper raffle left us thirsting for a repeat in the second half and we were not disappointed as Jan & Mark chased after The Bonny Ship The Diamond closely followed by Isobel with a couple of tunes Dusty Miller and Willafjord but Rob changed all that with the Laughing Policeman version of Courting Too Slow. Merdy was dead serious about The Prettiest Girl In Truro and Robin reckoned he must be Mr Dreamseller but all we know is that, for young Mike, it brought out The Beast In Me. It certainly stirred something in Kamran who went on to introduce us my cock-eyed consumption, Sarah Jane, courtesy of Jazz Gillum. Ann C went on to tell us a story with Once Upon A Time and Mick related a true story in his latest song There Won't Be Another Sunset which was conceived when travelling up to see his mother in law just before she passed away only to be around for the birth of a new baby soon after all of which prompted Don & Heather to celebrate his father's life with his own Flowers On The Water. That aside Richard Knott was soon Stepping Out, a great instrumental, but Paul's one-man-band had The Walkin' Blues but Ged reckoned it was worse than that when Death Come Creepin'. Fortunately Isobel livened up the end of the evening with a couple of tunes, Steamboat and Seven Stars, and the young folk wrapped it up with Lucy blowing us away with Jolene and Mike taking us out under Calico Skies. Wonderful.
They came from near, they came from far, they filled up every pew and all before 8.30pm when we had to send for extra chairs. Pepper Street fired us up with a rousing Aaronmore and there was a big welcome back for Merdy when he sang When These Shoes Were New as there was for the Ruth, Kath & Stan Band of Violin, Pipe and Banjo with Bay Of Biscay-o. Colin Rudd sang the excellent Child Song before Paul went on to Tell Old Bill before Brian extolled the virtues of Abilene. Andy then came up with Something Inside So Sorry before Carl had us all Singing The Ages Down before Eric took us to Jacques Brel's Slumbering Town. The Amaryllis was extolled by the Bailey Sisters who both sang and played the recorder but Ged soon took us down to the St Louis Central part of town where Ed felt it necessary to involve the Masters Of War. On a more serious note Stella warned The Old Year Has Run Its Course but Rob was soon embarking on the new one with another Alphabet Soup of songs starting with Alabama since Jan reminded him of the month with January Man. Mark decided this called for a chorus song and Little Pot Stove fitted the bill but Kamran had the Hesitation Blues and Ian had to get back to that Dirty Old Town. No wonder Zoe, back from America, said I'm Gonna Wear Red Today as Don & Heather preluded their visit to Dublin with Molly Malone (Cockles and Mussels) to herald the interval.
A bumper raffle saw all the wine and two paintings eagerly taken by the prize winners before the outstanding performers took the stage with Pepper Street lighting the way with John's See You In The Sunset followed by Keep The Change Bob who sang If I Let Go and Keith did his Elvis impersonation with Until It's Time For You To Go and his poem confessing I'll Never Understand Women which clearly demonstrated where he is going wrong. Undaunted Andy sang his own song about a Young American (woman) which led Brian to comment Killing Me Softly. Merdy had Leather On My Shoes whereas Rob was up to B with let the Bulgine Run and Carl was matchmaking with The Blacksmith. Follow The Drinking Gourd next advised Paul but Ged had Trouble In Mind because he must have known that Kamran was in to give us his 27 verse Blues. Jan & Mark then took off with The Blue Cockade as did Don & Heather with The Star Of The County Down and Ed in his Mini Cooper. Unabashed Eric was off on My Bike but Keep The Change Bob was off to jail with the Rockefeller Drug Laws leaving Zoe to hit the road telling us it's A Long Way To Humboldt County to end a superb evening.
The New Year was started with a sublime evening of quality talent performing for a great audience and superbly stewarded by Ed & Sue who kicked off with Donovan's Universal Soldier while Ged was Working On The Railroad and Don & Heather were migrating to South Australia as requested two weeks ago. Kamran then went back to his younger days with Good Morning Little Schoolgirl which set up Rut, Kath & Stan for Birds And Ships followed by The Last Goodbye. Paul next had the Good Morning Blues even with his new Cajon, which somehow gave his guitar playing a lot more freedom, but undaunted Ann C was a capella with Mary On The Well Moor and John Condy was Down Where The Drunkards Roll. Keeping John on his feet Eric then took advantage of the accompaniment to tell us It's All Over Now Baby Blue before there was a big welcome for Ian our original doorman who was back to warn us not to join McAlpine's Fusiliers after heart by pass surgery, his blood now avoids his clogged up arteries and goes through Wythenshawe. Suddenly at a loss for the next performer Ed & Sue were rescued by Richard Gray who just at that minute walked through the door only to be summoned to the front to sing his own Carollers' Carol before he even taking his coat off. Rolling seamlessly into round two Paul announced that Love's In Vain and Ann C was equally pessimistic with the Old Maid In A Garret but Kamran insisted Don't Think Twice with his Dobro. Eric still had those Goldfish Blues and John was again regretting the demise of The City Of New Orleans as was Ged in a way with The Rambler who also used the trains. Ed had his own but different problems with Bronchial Dilator Blues as did Don & Heather with James Taylor's Fire And Rain as the interval came upon us.
A lively raffle saw John Condy again win the wine, John C took away a big box of biscuit and Helen won the Cake before the second half was launched on the back of City's latest win when Richard Gray sang Dylan's It's Not Dark Yet. Ed was next up with Goodbye To The Sea but Ruth, Kath & Stan preferred This Land but Kamran's woman had given him the Chump Man Blues. Ann C then sang My Lady's Coach in honour of Helen Jocys who always requested it followed by John Condy's own instrumental Midnight Commander and Paul who aptly commented Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out. It must be The Dimming Of The Day reckoned Don and Heather when they become the Dangerous Streets which Richard Gray wrote and sang about next even the policeman got shot in Ged's Duncan And Brady as we headed towards the climax of the evening. Kamran said it must be Thomas Street and Ruth, Kath & Stan said there's No Telling as John Condy trampled over Tom Payne's Bones. Finally Don & Heather eschewed the Borrowed Guitar as Richard Gray did his sweetheart when he sailed off to America in his own The Diamond Rose. Brilliant!