Well, the Club's 4th Birthday Party went with a bang when more than 70 souls jammed into the room as Robin opened with his parody on It's Good To Be Back Home Again after his trip to China. He and Sue went on to conduct the packed house with great skill as Brian first took us all off to the Dock Of The Bay before Jim & Lynn livened us up with Ordinary Man as a prelude to the return of Banjo Man who with John Condy's harmonica had us all singing to Cheatin' Heart. All the way from Southend on sea, Kate Denny and Charlie then kept up the tempo with William And The Boat before our door person Kate's grandson Omar treated us to When The Saints Go Marching In and How Graceful. Next we were all certainly under Carl's Magical Sky, one of his best songs, followed by Ellie's I Will Always Love You and Ged with Steve Goodman's Ballad Of Penny Evans. Stella then led us with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah as did Merdy with Paul Simon's Leaves That Are Green and Peter with Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released. In sympathy with the beleaguered New Yorkers, Paul sang Dirk Powell's Waterbound and Colin was also in America with John Stuart's Mother Country before Kath & Stan sang the traditional Waterbound. Arthur then gave us our first heads up with Armistice Day before Kamran sang a blues, So Relax, and John Condy reminded us of Halloween with Werewolves Of London. Rod was next off to Itchy Coo Park as Zoe sang the traditional wedding song, The Water Is Wide, to take us up to the interval Buffet and Chips which was well received.
For the raffle, and before jetting off to Oz for a break, Merdy kindly donated a bottle of 10 year old malt Whisky which was appropriately won by fellow Scot Robin who drew his own ticket. He initially refused to take it but Sue overruled his generosity and insisted he take it before Helen got the wine, Carl won the CD, Joseph took the chocolates, Martin grabbed the Scottish shortbreads and Omar got a mug from Florida Keys.
After the break Eric doubled back to the Werewolf Theme and Tony then shared Dylan's Forever Young before Brian took us off to Woodstock. Leftie John was next up with Big Iron from Marty Robbins as Rob gave Merdy a send off with South Australia and Richard Gray sang his own A Thousand Times. Pete started the second round with his own Best In Me giving Merdy Reason To Believe and Colin reason to embark upon the October Song. Jim & Lynn then ran off saying I'll Tell My Ma and John Condy reckoning it was The Will Of The People and Kath & Stan looking for the Wayfaring Stranger. Ged then still claimed I Love My Lovin' which Kamran reckoned was Toxic leaving Kate Denny & Charlie to close the show with Nellie Follett and a Scottish Fairy story, The Milk White Dove.
As the crowd gathered Don & Heather got us rolling with their own Dances For Dollars quickly followed by Pepper Street's mining song, Lydia and Pete with his original version of Corrina, Corrina. Visiting us from Middlesborough, Ian asked us to See The Changes of Stephen Stills while Rob was pretty cheeky with his Victor The Elephant before Colin blew us away with Saddam's Song based on a translation of the dictator's last words. Next from down Hereford way Sally Stamford & Arthur came together as Farcical to Raise The Rafters followed by Kathy, back from University, and Mark to Lay Lady Lay before Jan replaced Mark with Kathy for the humorous Spider In The Bath. Quite appropriately Kamran then introduced us to the sweet sounds of the Candy Man Blues to which Ann C replied, What'll The Neighbours Say? This left Brian Without A Song as David reminded us of the contrasting elements in London Derry which prompted Richard to point out that it is important to Keep Your Eye On The Prize and Hold On. Meanwhile Ged was away with the Desperados Waiting For A Train as Colin also sounded a warning, Beware The Curse Of Anna's Stare by Jonathan Ledingham originally and now Jonathan Kelly. Still in jocular mood Arthur with Sally claimed I Can Lay 500 Bricks, a bit of a skit, while our other visitor from afar Ian gave us Allan Taylor's Los Companeros which left Pepper Street bemoaning It's Hard O It's Hard and leaving us ready for the break.
Sally, Arthur, Brian all picked up raffle prizes at half time and we bazzed on with Kathy, Jan & Mark skipping off with Marie's Wedding to which Brian replied Thank You For The Music. This gave Pete some Reason To Believe, by Tim Hardin, and Colin to relate the story of Mary McCree from the Mountains of Mourne before Ann C skipped off to The Doffing Mistress. Rob then related the story of the ss Alabama made in Jonathan Laird's shipyard while Richard was on board the Ellen Vannin as it went down and in the same way Ged was telling us about the The Last Minstrel Show. Kamran was that Desperado with Arthur & Sally claiming Heaven Knows No Frontiers and Ian was asking us to Imagine Every Poppy As A Soldier. Kamran was very philosophical with Life Will Get You In The End and Ged & John certainly reckoned it would get even get Long John Henry. Pete warned that it might come from those Mad Medical Student Blues and then you would certainly be with Pepper Street in Make Or Break Harbour while Arthur & Sally were off with The Last Laugh Troubadour which probably described the sailors who left Polly On The Shore.
A steady start but after a couple of songs we were well on the way to another good crowd seamlessly conducted into an entertaining evening of song music and verse by Mark & Jan Taylor who set the tone with a great version of Hush, Hush. Ruth, Kath & Stan then picked it up with Goodnight Loving Trail, complete with banjo and whistle, followed by Jim & Lyn with A Man Like Thee and Pete who had had One Too Many Mornings. For some reason this prompted David the poet to give us his frightening poem The Box Of War to which Don & Heather responded with Fire And Rain before Jo told us the story of My Youngest Son, a Mary Black special. There was a rare moment next when Richard Knott sang his own song When It Comes To Love, including that, for him, seldom used 4-letter word, but we definitely know that he hasn't got the Empty Heart that Pepper Street followed him with. Another rare moment came next when Rob led us all in Ellen Vannin as a veiled warning to Mark who will be crewing for him as he brings his boat back from Holyhead to Liverpool. London Danny from Charles then gave the opportunistic link for poet David later on; late arrival Rod insisted he would Paint It Black and Kamran blew our minds with another of his cowboy songs, Ain't We Crazy; before Ged completed the round with Joshua's Gone Barbados. Still breaking new ground, Jim & Lyn were confident enough to give us a great version of The Blackpool Belle, which was completely unrehearsed, before Don & Heather reclaimed The Diamantina Drover and Jan sang the very amusing Welsh song Oes Gafr Eto. Then it was time for poet David to give us his take on London Derry as Kath, but Stan & Ruth were still flying high with No Telling What A Love Song Can Do and Jo was intent on taking us to the Mystic Stream. Very suitably Mark then took us up to the break with The Little Red Rooster.
A bumper raffle later Pepper Street kicked off the action again with Black Muddy River before Kamran took many of us back to the early days of folk music with Big Rock Candy Mountain which was a Burl Ives favourite. Charles was still in serious mood with his version of Diamonds Of Gold before Isobel lifted the mood with two tunes Canal In October and Rights Of Man and Rod took it back down again with The House Of The Rising Sun. Pete was then more philosophical with It'll Shine When It Shines as was Ged with Working On The Railroad For A Dollar A Day and Richard sang his own Lullaby before Rob brought round two to a close with Pull Down Lads about life on a fairground. Then, borrowing a good idea from Jean Finney, Jan & Mark gave everyone a number and drew then randomly for the last round which started with Your Song from Pete and continued with Folsom Prison Blues from Jim & Lyn, Trevor Morton's Mill Outing requested from Rob, Honky Tonk Blues from Ged & Richard Knott, Red Rose Cafe from Don & Heather, Brown Eyed Boy from Ruth, Kath & Stan, a very fast John Henry performed brilliantly by Kamran, the tune Stomach Steinway Man from Isobel and a grand finale of Good Noise from the resurgent Pepper Street.
With several regulars away the occasional visitors more than made up for it to create a lively and busy evening kicked into action by Ed with Whip Jamboree and followed sweetly by Merdy with Bonny Bessie Logan and Tony with his own Banjo Tune so far untitled. Next Ellie was back with the sad story of The Black Lady before Paul and a few others went wild with some Jug Band Music before Carl took us down Penny Lane. Also back again with his mates was Alan who gave us his Cure For A Cold that prompted Colin to delve into history for his Space Song, Student Days. Brian then sang Hurt just as Jo was going down In The Ghetto but Nick & Ed went back in time with the traditional and true When Morning Stands On Tiptoe and the Dandy Factory and Rob led us all in Come Write Ye Down for a jolly good sing. For some unknown reason Kamran seemed to feel like Mr In Between as John Chilcott took The Dive and John Lefty became the storyteller with When You Are Not A Dream. Charles then went to that modern classic, Sandy Denny's Banks Of The Nile, before Pete pandered to the City supporters with Blue Moon and Richard Gray sang his own much better song about Jezebel leaving Don & Heather to lead a big sing up to the interval with John Prine's The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness.
A lot of socialising later Nick & Ed led us off with Willow Day, Willow Day and Tony gave us another banjo tune Down Town 5th Street Rag, spring boarding Colin into 80 Years Of Football At Maine Road with Carl finding himself Safe In The Harbour. Rob again had us trilling to Cheerly Man but Brian insisted on being romantic with If Loved You and Would You but Ed would have none of it because he reckons he prefers Trashy Women which none of us believed. Merdy also came over a bit sentimental with Caledonia but Paul claimed I'm Sitting On Top Of The World leaving Pete to wonder Who's Passing Dreams Around? John Lefty then related the funny story of The Fly whereas Kamran & Tony went country with Goodbye Old Paint while Ellie was relieved to be in the Folk Club since Tuesday Night Is Always Karaoke in her pub but on a more serious level Richard Gray then explained that we are all only Six Degrees Removed from everyone else in the world. That was a thought as we Colin kicked off the big finish with I Got You Babe followed by Ed & Nick singing She Touched You and Don & Heather who certainly didn't have All The Answers but with Steal Away they had us all humming into the street after a very satisfying night.
Last night we had a lovely surprise when Anne & Graham announced that they were treating us to a first class buffet with some of their superlative chips at the interval as a thank you before they depart for their new life as landlords of a town centre pub in Whitchurch. A bitter sweet moment but already we are planning a weekend trip to see them.
After that hosts Pepper Street kicked off with Aaronmore followed seriously by Mark's Last Pit In The Rhondda and Jan's Fa La La, all in Welsh. Peter then started with Michael Chapman's Rabbit Hills, as the first of the only three songs he knows in the Joni Mitchell-esque tuning, and Colin hit us with his own poignant Valparaiso before Kath, Stan & Ruth were more basic with the Hedger And Ditcher. More provocatively Jim & Lynn, with twin Bodhrans, told us about the Night Visit to which Ged retorted, Lord Send Me and Arthur reminisced about The Day They Buried Grannie. Jo was next off to the Marrakesh Night Market followed by a trip with Contraband to The Village In The Sand where Ed was Saying Goodbye To The Sea. It's only Words then reckoned Brian and David couldn't resist celebrating the Ryder Cup Win with his From A Mis-Stance which somehow provided the platform for The Hangman And The Papist from Eric. This seemed to rattle Colin's cage so he then came back with Hey Rio highlighting the contrasting earning capacity of footballers with the rest of us but Robin was more concerned with The Club's Got No Beer. Isobel then gave us a pleasant diversion with Fairy Dance which obviously raised Jo up for her We Shall Overcome and also Kath, Ruth & Stan for more hanky panky in The Night Visiting Song. Don & Heather then reckoned we couldn't see the wood for the trees as we were Knee Deep In A River and Dying Of Thirst whereas Pepper Street were by that other river with The Diamantina Drover.
After a wonderful buffet treat Joan won the wine, Martin took the chocolates, Sue won the handcream and Lyn took the Florentines before Colin started up the second half by cursing The Younger Generation. Mark & Jan were next away on The Bonny Ship The Diamond as Peter gave them a weather warning with his own song, Storm Rising, and Jim & Lynn were all set to leave Muirsheen Durkin. Arthur then surprised us all with his own Blue Eyes Shining In The Rain as did Eric with his Burberry And Prada to which Brian replied You Are So Beautiful To Me. Ed then read the sick note as to Why Paddy's Not At Work Today followed by Isobel's A Hundred Pipers and David's WD40. Ged warned us of Careless Love but Contraband were extolling the virtues of somewhere you can always have a good time like in Sale Folk Club with Red Rose Cafe: however, Ruth, Kath & Stan were off to the Banks Of The Ohio. Mark & Jan were still chasing the Turkey In The Corn while Arthur sang us a commercial for landlords with Drink More Beer but Jim & Lynn preferred that Rare Old Mountain Dew. No wonder Peter was Down Where The Drunkards Roll after that lot but Ed baselined it all with The Sewage Song causing Ged to Flip, Flop And Fly before Pepper Street closed a really good night with The City Of New Orleans.