Newsletter No 188 - 31 July 2012

Well, we had to send for extra chairs as Banjo John summed it all up with I'm Flying High and Robin added, gee but It's Good To Be Back Home Again. Then in the words of one of Carl's fine songs, it must be When Fate And Circumstance Collide but at least nobody was missing the point as they did in Don & Heather's song Knee Deep In A River. Trevor then took us back to Northern Ireland for The Town I Loved So Well, Derry/Londonderry, but Kath & Stan were off Wayfaring Strangers and Paul had the How Long Blues. Next we were able to extend a welcome to newcomer Dave Slater who sang his own song Little Mill Girl which paved the way for the surprise visit of Nelson Peach who delighted us with the Copper Kettle and Jack Frighten 'em from their latest CD before another newcomer Gary also sang us his own song about his Grandad, Tommy. Yet another surprise visitor, George Pilch, took to the floor with his own composition My Friend Rossendale which he confessed gave him great pleasure because he had written a duplicate set of words about the Borders in Scotland and had got two for the price of one proving him to be a true Scot! Next up Eddie wrapped his fingers skilfully around the instrumental Planxty George Brabazon before Poet Dave, with his own poem, warned of the dangers of opening The Box (called War) leaving Ged to comment the Moon Goes Down. Guitar Brian then unfurled more fistfuls of chords in accompanying Every Time I Say Goodbye while a cappella Jo was that Sally Free And Easy and with a chorus of thousands, mostly her grandchildren, Joan pleaded Love Me Tender.

A bumper raffle and much socialising later our own supergroup Contraband, Robin, Isobel, Heather and Don, opened up the second half by passing round the Dandelion Wine and Doreen remembered to say Please May I, as she had been taught when she was young, but Janice so put her straight with the Ballad Of The Shape Of Things To Come. Guitar Brian then sang Something before Beatle-ing off home, Paul urged us to Drill Ye Tarriers Drill before Pete with his borrowed guitar ploughed a great furrow at Woodstock. Back a second time Gary sang next his own song about the myth that is Manchester Rain before Kath & Stan took the Train On The Island which was definitely not The City Of New Orleans as sung by Trevor with all the right words in the right order. Despite that Ged was convinced that Easy Is Getting Harder Every Day and it certainly was for haggis The (Haggis) Hunter Duncan and definitely for The Blackleg Miner as told by Eddie. Dave Slater also returned with another song of his own called The Dance, as in Redundance, as Kamran also had Trouble In Mind but Doreen was more relaxed in doing things The Way You'd Want Me To. Warming to a nice climax Janice walked us through Fields Of Gold where Nelson Peach found The Blackest Crow but still managed a cheery note which claimed that Summer was coming. That went down like a lead balloon but the evening had flown exceptionally high.

Newsletter No 187 - 24 July 2012

Making a brisk start Pepper Street were out on the range with the Diamantina Drover where Don & Heather had no alternative but to tell us they Washed their Hands In Muddy Water while Peter was off to Catch The Wind. Brian then sang one for his fan club in When Your Wedding Ring Was New and still on a romantic theme Ed told the tale of The Grey Mare. Paul then took us where it was as Dark As A Dungeon prompting Jo to scoot off to The Fields Of Athenry while Dave lauded Maire My Girl and Robin pleaded Come Back Paddy Reilly. Jim then told us that love is A Voyage but Isobel was off picking Day Flowers with Rod urging us all to Take It Easy. Ged next musing about his St Louis Blues while Pepper Street were reminiscing about Arranmore and Paul was declaring, Now Darling You Know I Love You. Dave then introduced a bit of humour with The Volunteer Organist but Brian was still in a romantic mood with Elvis' The Wonder Of You but Ed wasn't fooled as he warned, Treat Mi Daughter Decent. Richard Gray, however, revisited the romantic theme with his own For Your Love, lovely jazzy chords with a bit of scat singing, as did Jim who eulogised about The Star Of The County Down and Peter with his tribute to a very special friend, If Not For You.

This brought up the interval and a bumper raffle including a couple of bottles of wine, Mick's first book, A Pious Killing, Chocolates a several more prizes from which the proceeds made up to 100.00 Pounds were donated to the Shaw Trust in memory of Big Brian Tibby who sadly died a few days ago. Well done everybody.

Ged then got the ball rolling again with the Fort Worth Blues while Don & Heather with Robin & Isobel were off seeking Reconciliation and then Robin with Don & Heather was off with the No Hopers, Jokers And Rogues. Richard Gray next confessed She Was A Friend Of Mine as Isobel went off to her Harvest Home and bumped into the Irish Washerwoman while Pepper Street were wallowing in that Black Muddy River. Jim then bemoaned that it was a long way From Clare To Here but Peter, in more upbeat mood, admitted that she brought The Best In Me. The downturn came when Paul told us he had the Walking Blues and Ed reckoned nothing was any good in Bloody Orkneys but everything was sunny for Rod who claimed It Never Rains In California. Ged, however, sounded a note of caution with Careless Love and thing's didn't exactly go swimmingly for Richard Gray who was trying to speak to Sylvia and kept getting Sylvia's Mother punctuated by the operator so we gave up and all went home.

Newsletter No 186 - 17 July 2012

Another pleasantly full house was well stewarded by Jan & Mark who ensured a lively evening by raising everyone's spirits with The Bonny Ship The Diamond. Ed was soon finding himself Between The Earth And The Sky as Kath, Ruth & Stan hit The Goodnight Loving Trail just ahead of Brian Challoner with David Gates' Guitar Man. Stella, however, found that The Water Is Wide just as Carl was cursing Beeching and the closure of the railways with his own tribute to the passing of both The 17.10 and Big Brian Tibby who sadly died this week. After a few words about Brian, Don & Heather then sang their own song about loss, Flowers On The Water, in celebration of Brian's contribution to our lives. Banjo John then went back to the 1920's for Mean To Me and Jo was down In The Ghetto while Poet David was having a good swing with his metaphorical golfing poem, From A Mis-stance, which was read out at the Irish Open last week. Fresh from all his recent travails Arthur Marshall was not surprisingly a Disappointed Man while Kamran was suggesting Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian but Joan is an old fashioned girl and went after The Wild Rover. Merdy next pulled another good one from his song bag with the Connemara Song before Robin, Isobel, Heather & Don assembled as Contraband for Their Village On The Sand leaving Ged crying I've got Jesus On The Mainline. Still in America Paul led us all in Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land but Colin was still going home to A Rainy Day as Jim Dunn consoled him with Life Is An Ocean. Pete was again metaphorical with The Heart Is Like A Wheel but Ian & Bridie just jumped in the saddle and cried Ride On with John Condy optimistically claiming Here Comes The Sun to give us a smile as we cursed St Swithins and approached the interval.

After the usual grand raffle Kath, Ruth & Stan took us off to Where Ravens Feed with Paul claiming that it was Hard Travelling and Kamran reckoning there are some Things That Matter. Joan was also off to the Fields Of Athenry to which Merdy replied it must be Your Favourite Song. Jim Dunn next claimed to be an Ordinary Man while Brian was frazzled because Everybody's Talking At Me but fortunately Stella came to his rescue with Comfort And Joy. John Condy then reckoned you need the Will Of The People but Arthur was more concerned with life After The Storm and Bridie & Ian with Making Up The Miles. Any way up you like, Ged then told us that inevitably Death Comes Creeping but Pete just had time to look for the Girl Of The North Country while Ed denied poaching as he was Teaching My Worm How To Swim. Rising to a climax Jan & Mark filled us with Love And Happiness before Contraband re-combined to take us Far, Far Away in pursuit of Tom Paxton's Rambling Boy.

Newsletter No 185 - 10 July 2012

Another evening of surprises carefully nurtured by Don & Heather who started off by telling everyone You Will Be The Light which Kamran followed up with the Richland Woman Blues and Banjo John took the chance to point out that I Get The Blues When It Rains. Pete then became all philosophical with Father and Son while Paul was off with the Drifting Blues and newcomer Jim Dunn was away chasing those Forty Shades Of Green. Somehow this made Brian comment You've Got A Friend but Pepper Street warned us to Keep Your Distance which prompted Robin to wave a Last Farewell. Jo, however, was very strong in telling us We Shall Overcome as was Ged with I've Got To Cross That River Jordan and Joan who, on her long awaited debut, was after Mr Tambourine Man. Rod, on the other hand, put another way I Only Want To Be With You while, au contraire, Merdy bade Farewell She. Next Pete took us all off to The House Of The Rising Sun which was a bit heavy for Banjo John who, in the face of all the current weather, again tried to cheer us all with a medley of Avalon, When the Red Red Robin, April Showers and I've Got A Rainbow Round My Shoulders. Jim Dunn certainly reckoned they were Rare Old Times but Paul was sure that Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out so Kamran got on with Stripes Around My Shoulder and Pepper Street shot off to hotter climes with the Diamantina Drover to take us up to the interval.

In the raffle the Kenyons took the wine, Banjo John got the sweets, the head torch went to Joe and the Photograph album also found a good home before Don & Heather roused us all to sing along with Lesson Too Late before Joan pleaded Save The Last Dance For Me. Take me said Rod I'm a Man Of The World or come with me to Mingulay offered Robin but Brian topped the lot when he said I like you Just The Way You Are. Merdy then gave us a stirring rendition of Black Jack Davy as did Ged when he was Rolling My Sweet Baby's Arms but it seemed Kamran was ready for the pit with Goodnight Irene. There was still life in Rod, however, with My Girl and certainly Paul had Trouble In Mind as unfortunately did Merdy with the Deportees. Jim Dunn gave us a brief respite with the Spanish Lady but Robin was again serious with Rock My Cradle as was Brian when he said he didn't understand Daniel, answers on a postcard. There was no mistaking Ged's meaning in Good Morning Captain nor Pete's in Take It Easy nor Pepper Street's determination to make a Good Noise. They continued with Make Or Break Harbour and it was only left to Don & Heather to raise up a good chorus with the Borrowed Guitar which sent everyone happily home.

Newsletter No 184 - 3 July 2012

A new pairing of Jean Finney and Robin Butler were the hosts and with a comfortable full house they grasped the opportunity to create a great ambience for an excellent and varied evening of music, song and verse held together with loads of craic. Initially they surprised us by combining musically for the first time to start off with Robin singing Jock O' Hazeldean to the beat of Jean's Bodhran and obviously inspired Mark went straight into his one man band act for the Rout Of The Blues followed by Jan with excellent The Raven And The Hare. Trevor next took the floor with Shanagolden before Paul led us in Dirty Old Town with one of those Deering Banjos, which are the subject of a photographic competition, and a few snaps later he handed over to Don & Heather who were Knee Deep In A River. All too straight for Ged he went back to basics with Sex, Drugs And Whips which led Jean to wonder why she was Alone Again but sanity was regained when Banjo John sang a Farewell To Amelia Earhart who it seems might have survived the crash and died on a deserted island. Deep in the tradition Merdy then treated us to Bogie's Bonnie Belle, a tale of unrequited love which had Jo Leaving On A Jet Plane, Brian exclaiming Just Once and Ed bringing us back to reality with the story of the The Gresford Disaster. To our surprise and in complete contrast Kamran seized the moment and taking the floor he immediately handed his camera to Ed to make a recording of his version A Wooden Tree done especially for his young son and received with a standing ovation by all the elderly children in the room wanting to get in on the act. Normal service was soon resumed when Rod gave us a great version of Jolene which had us all singing along as did Pete's Down Where The Drunkards Roll before Colin paid serious tribute to Zoe Mulford with a great version of her Take The Highway. Keith, famous for his short and sweet contributions, then performed his poem about a previous relationship, One More Time, which set up Banjo John to end the first half with The Rock Island Line.

A big raffle later Don & Heather opened the second half with A Song For The Life and with the same sentiment Merdy was off on The Freedom Road as was Ed by doing The Manch. Robin, however, surrendered himself to the Four Strong Winds while Paul was Down By The Riverside with us all singing along and Jan & Mark were asking Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. By complete contrast Ged reminded us of the Ludlow Massacre and Trevor took us back to Slievenamon and Jean celebrated the famous bottled water with The Valley Of Strathmore. Next Brian confessed You Light Up My Life but Kamran seemed to be celebrating another lifestyle with The Gambler before Pete took us back in time with Lay Down Sally. Keith then came back as Elvis with Loving You and Rod revved us up with a Storm Rising before a climax was reached with Dances For Dollars from Don & Heather, Long Gone from Mark & Jan and The Rose Of Allendale from Robin and Jean. A great night.


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