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Newsletter No 262 28 January 2014

A mega audience assembled for an exceptional night of music, song and great craic admirably stewarded by JAN & MARK who started the evening with a tribute to Pete Seeger by leading us in WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE and this was swiftly followed by PAUL with IF I HAD A HAMMER. Back in regular folk mode JIM & LYNN went off with the SPANISH LADY while ROD was experiencing a TEQUILA SUNRISE and KAMRAN was asking WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN SCHOOL TODAY? For the first time after surgery, on his hand not his wallet, ROBIN told us IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME AGAIN just as ALAN was recommending a CURE FOR A COLD and BANJO JOHN was returning to Pete Seeger for THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. Next up a trio of self-penned songs when JANICE with MICK sang her own lovely composition for her son FLEETING CHANCE and was followed by MICK whose own love song SHE BELONGS TO ME was clearly directed at his wife Jan and MICHAEL BURNS who sang and played his own REYNARD OR REYNARDINE. PETE then chose a John Martin song MAY YOU NEVER as TONY returned to Pete Seeger and was WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY and JO was CALLING MY CHILDREN HOME just a DAVE COWE was recalling Rabbie Burns' TO A MOUSE. This set us on to HEATHER McNEILL who sang her own story of MAY'S DOWNFALL before DAVE BOULTON told his own story of the LITTLE EGG BOX and newcomers ALESSANDRA & RACHEL sang the lovely PRECIOUS MEMORIES. Storming up to the interval DON & HEATHER sang their own FLOWERS ON THE WATER followed by ED who extolled the virtues of THE FLUSHERS.

A bumper raffle saw Mick win the wine; Tony take the Ginger wine; the Room perfume go to Judith; the Biscuits won by Mark & Jan; the Posh Tin of biscuits taken by Ann; the Brazil nuts escort Marina home and Kate get the Calendar.

Then JIM & LYNN opened the second half with a sweet version of DIRTY OLD TOWN followed by FREE SPIRITS with BLACK WATER and TONY with CHRISTMAS TIME IN WASHINGTON leaving ALESSANDRA to fly solo with an Italian folk song MAREMMA AMARA. It described the hardship of life in Maremma in a time when the Malaria and Saracen pirates were ravaging the coast and drinking water was a rarity in the swampy countryside and many a poor Tuscan who went to the Maremma to make his fortune or to earn some money for his family never returned. Across the world ROD commented IT NEVER RAINS IN CALIFORNIA as HEATHER McNEILL told us of THE GIRL WHO SINGS and DAVE COWE read TO WEE DAVIE by Burns. Then KAMRAN & ED shared experiences as THE GAMBLER whereas MICHAEL had LITTLE NEWS FROM DUNAMORE. Experiences were also shared by MICK who sadly told THERE WONT BE ANOTHER SUNSET and then with JANICE sang about THE SUN AND THE MOON which prompted PETE to exclaim BABY LIGHT MY FIRE! Returning to the stage RACHEL sang of THE FALSE PLOUGHBOY LADS and DAVE BOULTON told us of ARTHUR McBRIDE just in time to hear ED declare MY HUSBAND'S GOT NO PORRIDGE IN 'IM courtesy of Les Barker's STORY OF THE THREE BEARS. This left PAUL to bemoan the loss of CORRINA, CORRINA and MARK & JAN to lead a band up of the BONNY SHIP THE DIAMOND to send the full house happily on it's way. Brilliant! 

Newsletter No 261 21 January 2014

Quieter but still lots o performers and a great audience as KATH & STAN were ruthless in driving us along for a great time as they started with DINKS SONG followed by ED with Benny Hill's IN MY GARDEN OF LOVE. Fortunately ARTHUR had AN IMPROVING TALE to tell just as JO was BLOWING IN THE WIND while LYNN & JIM with MICHAEL who were NIGHT VISITING. That didn't stop BANJO JOHN from shooting off down to the RED RIVER VALLEY where IAN was sure it was WINDY AND WARM but to PAUL it was all BOATS UP THE RIVER. On the other hand CARL was still thinking pre-Beeching to old 1710. On another plane HEATHER & DON were metaphorically KNEE DEEP IN A RIVER whereas DAVID was more pragmatically in DETROIT CITY and PETE was romantically with MARY FROM DUNGLOW. Next there was a blast from the past when DAVE BOULTON (formerly HIS WORSHIP AND THE PIG) sang about the BLACK COOK before POET DAVID re-interpreted THE SHIFTING WHISPERING SANDS just as KATH & STAN were off to OWENSBORO. With a new arrangement IAN then came up with DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME as ARTHUR road off behind FOUR BLACK HORSES and BANJO JOHN commented THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE. From down the Mississippi ED told us about THE GAMBLER but DON, HEATHER & PAUL were off with the RAMBLIN BOY while DAVE BOULTON was off with CHAMPION THE DANDY and PAUL was putting his money on STEWBALL the racehorse as we hit the interval.

After much socialising the raffle saw Kath win the wine, Jim take the Hot Toddy Kit, David win the Biscuits and Carl get the Liqueur Chocolates before JIM & LYNN sampled some RARE OLD MOUNTAIN DEW followed by PETE with the BOOZING BLUES. Then CARL reminded us of Jake Thackray with THE BLACKSMITH AND THE TOFFEE MAKER before POET DAVID defined THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE (between one drunken sop and another) which had DAVID FEELING GROOVY as was ED who introduced us to JACUZZI JOE THE GIGOLO. However KATH & STAN were 900 MILES away as ARTHUR hit THE DANCE FLOOR and DON & HEATHER sang SPANISH BURGUNDY for our Spanish visitor from Barcelona. Specially created IAN then had a TUNE FOR TONIGHT as PAUL confessed he had those BROWN FERRY BLUES and DAVE BOULTON explained why crime doesn't pay in Ireland with his PADDY AND THE ROPE. Coming to a climax JIM & LYNN then led us in singing PEGGY GORDON which reminded PETE of his own YOU BRING OUR THE BEST IN ME and made DAVID FEEL LIKE HOME. POET DAVID explained the history of DEAD DOG SCRUMPY whereas DAVE BOULTON was more traditional with JOCK STEWART before DON, HEATHER, PAUL, STAN, and JIM & LYNN had a big band up to send everyone off home singing with I WASHED MY HANDS IN MUDDY WATER. Superb!

Newsletter No 260 14 January 2014

A sublime of music and banter was well guided by KAMRAN & PETE and it was PETE who started the ball rolling with YOUR SONG closely followed by BANJO JOHN who celebrated Don Everly's life with BYE, BYE LOVE. Fresh from finding himself playing and singing with The Sir Tom Jones JOHN then burst forth with REYNARDINE followed IAN with an instrumental of Dylan's MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE and PAUL who was off on the NEW RIVER TRAIN. Then we discovered LYNN & JIM sharing some WHISKEY IN THE JAR before COLIN took us off to the MOTHER COUNTRY to which ROD responded LOVE WILL KEEP US ALIVE and KAMRAN said LET IT BE ME. Quite why but DAVID was then off with SISTER FATIMA who knows the future before HEATHER & DON had us all singing with the GALWAY SHAWL and then with ROBIN and PAUL became the FREE SPIRITS rocking to the WAGON WHEEL. Next DAVID had his first attempt but failed to open THE BOX leaving ED to divert our attention with a sweet rendition of SCARBOROUGH FAIR followed by MIKE with tunes SIBEIG SEMOIR & BANISH MISFORTUNE. Taking us up to the interval BANJO JOHN returned to tell us I GET THE BLUES WHEN IT RAINS with PETE dashing off to Dylan's NORTH COUNTRY FAIR as JOHN mischievously opened his spoof of LOVE PORTION NUMBER NINE. 

A bumper raffle saw Anne take the Genoa Cake, Rod got the Red Wine and Kamran won the Art Nouveau Red Vase complete with Red Carnations as IAN stepped forward with SUMMAT HE MADE UP FOR TUESDAY NIGHT. Life on the IRISH ROVER was then described by LYNN & JIM as DAVE reckoned it's THE HOUSE YOU LIVE IN but it gave PAUL some TROUBLE IN MIND while KAMRAN exclaimed OH GLORY HOW HAPPY I AM. Next up Robin, Paul, Don & Heather as FREE SPIRITS told us we are really all NO HOPERS, JOKERS AND ROGUES so we should just get on with it as HEATHER & DON did with the STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN and did ROD who shot off as the ROCKET MAN. Warming to the task MIKE invited us to party with BOBBY McGEE and at the second attempt DAVID managed to open THE BOX and release all the evils of war only to be unable to lock them back in again. The philosophy being never to start anything you cannot guarantee to finish and, to complement that one, ED came up with another philosophy which advises us to be careful what we ask because we might not like THE ANSWER. Then from nowhere DAVE generated a moment of extreme hilarity with his interpretation of THE ELUSIVE BUTTERFLY OF LOVE followed by IAN with A JERRY REED TUNE and LYNN & JIM threatening I'LL TELL ME MA. This all had PAUL GOING DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD, ED SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SEA, ROD feeling THE WEIGHT and MIKE telling us YOU'LL NEVER LEAVE HARLAN ALIVE before FREE SPIRITS gave us a big finish with Springsteen's ERIE CANAL followed by the McCalman's ALL THE TUNES IN THE WORLD to send us singing into the night. Magic!

Newsletter No 259 7 January 2014

It was a good night to break into the New Year with ED & SUE in fine form and many regulars thirsting for some music and entertainment. First to fulfil this need was BANJO JOHN with his MELONCHOLY BABY which PAUL promised to TELL OLD BILL about as FAIR PLAY, aka Ruth, Kath & Stan, went chasing the WILD WOOD FLOWER and expressing a wish not to be tied down with EL CONDOR PASA. The story of the ALABAMA was ROB'S first effort as CARL declared IT'S A CHAMPION LIFE to which JO agreed as she was off to the CURRAGH OF KILDARE. Over to America JIM & LYNN told a story of the CITY OF CHICAGO and I'VE GOT STRIPES as STEVE got up front and personal with TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY and JUDE taught us that T STANDS FOR THOMAS. Of course we didn't believe that ED was ALL USED UP as we listened to PETE's NEW YEAR'S SONG and HEATHER & DON had us all celebrating the STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN before promising YOU WILL BE THE LIGHT. Coming up to the interval climax BANJO JOHN explained the attraction of MR TAMBOURINE MAN while ROB was COURTING TOO SLOW which ED clearly though was a DISASTER and PAUL thought was not worth a TWO DOLLAR BILL.

From the raffle newcomer Allen took the wine home, Sue won the leather wallet, Martin grabbed the shortbreads and Paul won the tube of chocolates before we set out on the second half with PETE and ST PAUL'S SONG as JUDE claimed YOU DON'T KNOW ME ANY MORE and CARL reckoned that was nothing FURTHER from the truth. Finally, newcomer ALLEN was persuaded to borrow a guitar for the GOLD WATCH BLUES as STEVE took to the floor with another of his own compositions OUR OWN SPACE and KATH & STAN were first WATERBOUND then in a TRAIN ON THE ISLAND. Close behind JIM & LYNN were first an ORDINARY MAN and then off with the FOLSOM PRISON BLUES as HEATHER & DON told of the DIAMANTINA DROVER and washed their hands in MUDDY WATER. Just before leaving ALLEN squeezed another song ERIN GABRAR as PAUL was joined by KATH & STAN for THIS TRAIN IS BOUND FOR GLORY and STEVE related his experiences with a CITY ANIMAL. Brightening up the proceedings PETE announced HERE COMES THE SUN as ROB told us there are no centipedes in LIVERPOOL TOWN to which ED replied ALL OF THE GOOD TIMES ARE GONE. Striving for a big finish JUDE warned MAIDS WHEN YOU'RE YOUNG never wed an old man as KATH & STAN reckoned they preferred BUTTERED PEAS before going off on the WINSTER GALLOP which left HEATHER & DON with PAUL on Harmonica to celebrate the borrowed guitar with ALL THE TUNES IN THE WORLD.