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Newsletter No 307 30 December 2014
Rated a very quiet night but it was soon kick started by KAMRAN who blasted off with AVALON BLUE and PAUL who chimed in with STAGOLEE. In classical vein EDDIE, bestride his cello, treated us to JOY TO THE WORLD and SOLDIERS JOY before Poet DAVID told us of THE WHITE PRINCESS and THE LIGHTHEARTED MAIDEN and JO told us THE CARNIVAL IS OVER. Next COLIN RUDD was a welcome sight as he asked WHERE DO YOU GO TO MY LOVELY and LESLIE also returned for her second visit to sing MY BONNY LIGHTHORSEMAN before MICK clouded the issue with his own MISTY MORNING ON ALBERT BRIDGE. Another welcome sight was our friend JEAN who gave us A WASSAIL and KEN who told us YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND and ANN who sang THE TROUT. The second round saw PAUL boasting about his TWO DOLLAR BILL and KAMRAN giving us his Christmas drinks list of ONE SCOTCH, ONE BOURBON, ONE BEER but LESLIE soon compensated with A SONG OF REPENTANCE. Going Dylanesque JO had us BLOWING IN THE WIND but EDDIE was still classical with HANDEL'S WATER MUSIC while MICK stuck with his own great song TAKE ME TO THE BRIDGE. On the other hand JEAN was traditional with THE WIDOW MAKER and COLIN was equally serious with YANKEE LADY as was ANN with her nice version of SUMMERTIME. Then we had a nice surprise when Poet David's neighbour ALISON sang COLD AIR IN THE CITY (J Denver) and KEN took us to THE STREETS OF LONDON and up to the break and raffle.
A top value raffle saw Alan win a bottle of wine, Ann win another bottle of wine, Paul win a Jameson's miniature and Brian take hoe some ramekins, before MICK kicked off with AUTUMN LEAVES. In anticipation of New Year LESLIE sang the original version of AULD LANG SANG followed by PAUL who continued to develop his solo career by nicking another one from the Free Spirits songbook PIPER TO THE END. Then it was confession time from JEAN with CAN'T HELP LOVING THAT MAN OF MINE and KAMRAN confessing he had the RICHLAND WOMAN BLUES. Back on an even keel ANN wanted TO BE YOUR LADY FOR TODAY, MISTER, as KEN was contemplating the EMPTY CHAIRS (D Mclean) and EDDIE raised A PARTING GLASS to every one and the old year. Building to a great climax JEAN told us IT RAINS AND HAILS whereas MICK sang of his SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES and LESLIE would have us all up in MY BONNY GLEN SHEE. Still with Don Mclean KEN next sang CROSSROADS and EDDIE played the Irish tune PLANXTY BRABAZON. Keeping things on the boil ANN then led us to WIDECOMBE FAIR, with Uncle Tom Cobley and all, to which KAMRAN confessed I WANNA BE LIKE YOU but PAUL seemed to be determined to go home with those HOW LONG BLUES.
Newsletter No 306 23 December 2014

A surprisingly brilliant mince pie and mulled wine evening with hosts JAN & MICK which MICK got off to a great start with NOTHING RHYMED after which BANJO JOHN with the RED RIVER VALLEY and DON & HEATHER with FAREWELL TO THE GOLD sought to prove him wrong. Then we welcomed back JEAN gave us part of the WIND IN THE WILLOWS and a SONG while CARL was out LOOKING FOR THE SUN and SIMON was unveiling another of his own songs AS FAR AS I KNOW IT. From a different world SUE gave us MELE KALIKIMATA before ED dedicated his song TO RAMONA whereas JO & ANN paid tribute to AMAZING GRACE. This prompted poet DAVID to comment on Ireland FROM A DISTANCE as PAUL remembered Joe Cocker with WITH A LTTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS and ARTHUR departed from the sublime with his FAL LA LA LA CAROL. In a surprising declaration GEOFF then confessed to no one in particular it was ONLY YOU but in true festive spirit RICHARD GRAY sang his own hot off the press FOLK CAROL just leaving time for ROBIN to sing his LAST FAREWELL. The first round completed MICK then returned to reclaimed one of his greatest hits I WASHED MY HANDS IN MUDDY WATER and BANJO JOHN kept the Christmas theme with JINGLE BELLS & RUDOLPH to which CARL was forced to admit IT’S A CHAMPION LIFE.

After the mulled wine and raffle break ARTHUR claimed you are alright if you've got SKIN or come from LIVERPOOL TOWN thought ROB or the STREETS OF LONDON sang JO & ANN leaving DON & HEATHER to keep the chorus singing going with the LITTLE POT STOVE. Then SUE gave us a rest by singing about A ROSE TATTOO before PAUL took us all off to MORNINGTOWN and JEAN had us to the NORMANDY ORCHARDS. Returning with the Pete Seeger songbook SIMON went all satirical with LITTLE BOXES whereas ED was more basic with his ANTI-SOCIAL PROBLEM and DAVID went metaphorical with THE WHISPERING SANDS. A cappella ROB then had us FATHOM THE BOWL in harmony to which GEOFF responded HE’LL HAVE TO GO and RICHARD GRAYreplied he must have the NON-PHENOMENAL BLUES. No wonder MICK declared YOU’VE GOT YOUR TROUBLES and ED retorted he's a COMICAL GENIUS but fortunately ARTHUR returned us to sanity with BIRD ON A WIRE. Feeling a big finish coming on the crowd begged CARL for Jake Thackray's ON AGAIN, with the anniversart of his death on Christmas Eve, as GEOFF swore he was the URBAN SPACEMAN and DON & HEATHER sang us into the street with ROLLING HOME to conclude a very satisfying Christmas evening.

Newsletter No 305 16 December 2014 

A great night with Kath, Ruth & Stan aka FAIR PLAY who coaxed the very best out of the assembled throng starting themselves with Nancy Kerr's SANTA GEORGIA quickly followed by CHRIS declaring YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND. Not seaonal enough so far so BANJO JOHN rolled in a WHITE CHRISTMAS for us all but KEVIN still sailed off on THE GREY FUNNEL LINE but JIM & LYNN returned with RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER to which ARTHUR replied with his ironic JINGLE BELLS from Rudolph's point of view. Enough of this reckoned KAMRAN who then had us PUTTIN' ON THE STYLE just as DON, HEATHER & PAUL were over in Oz with the DIAMANTINA DROVER with JOHN CHILCOTT telling us that WALTZING'S FOR DREAMERS in love. In response to a comment that all his songs were sad IAN then confessed YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU but ED hit a contraversial note with his parody of Scarlet ribbons, SCARLET RAYGUNS, to which PAUL replied GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN. Back to mainstream FAIR PLAY recalled JOHN LOVER and ARTHUR confessed that LATELY I'VE BEEN DREAMING as JIM & LYNN went off in search of some RARE OULD MOUNTAIN DEW. Also serious IAN became very philosophical with THE RIVER MAN but BANJO JOHN wasn't having it as he went looking for his WINTER WONDERLAND and KAMRAN backed him up with SILENT NIGHT. Still in the season JOHN CHILCOTT was out in the FOUR STRONG WINDS but Ed decided to inject some humour with MYRTLE THE TURTLE which DON, HEATHER & PAUL reckoned was a LESSON TOO LATE FOR THE LEARNING and KEVIN agreed with the real SCARLET RIBBONS.

Loads of craic and the raffle came next with the prizes being Wine - Chris; Jack Daniels - Sue Bentham; Biscuits - Kamran; Black Cherries in Kirsch - Barry; Sunjay signed Poster - Jim & Lynn. Then we were soon under way with CHRIS wishing us THE THINGS YOU WISH YOURSELF to which PAUL indicated he would like to be off to SWEET CAROLINA to which FAIR PLAY replied BEAUTIFUL. Flying solo JIM told us the FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK which ARTHUR pleading PASS ME ANOTHER BOTTLE SWEET LANDLORD and KEVIN swearing to take the KING'S SHILLING. Still giving us full value from his borrowed banjo KAMRAN had us all lively with YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE and ED was also cheerful with JOHNNY DEAREST JOHNNY but DON, HEATHER & PAUL were still heading ACROSS THE BORDERLINE where PAUL had everyone banding up for his CORN BREAD AND BUTTER BEANS. More gently FAIR PLAY had us tilting at WINDMILLS but KAMRAN wanted to know what happens WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS but JIM & LYNN were too busy with the SPANISH LADY before DON & HEATHER had us all having a good sing with Kieren Halpin's NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT ALL to send us all home on a high note in anticipation of next weeks
's Mince Pies and Mulled Wine.

Newsletter No 304 9 December 2014
Possibly the best Christmas Party Night was brilliantly stewarded by KAMRAN & PETE as the room filled to the gunnels and PETE set the tone with LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH jusr as BANJO JOHN boarded THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. Next GEOFF was that FOTHERINGAY to which BRIAN replied  I TOLD YOU SO before JO had us carolling to IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER. The saddest song ever then came from CARL & JOHN as newcomer COLIN blew us away with COPPERHEAD ROAD but FAIR PLAY said they would rather see EL CONDOR PASA. Recovered from his injury EDDIE told us THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT just as GRASSROOTS chose A WINTER SONG and DAVID COWE was climbing CADER IDRIS. This was the lull before the storm which blew up when KAMRAN invited ARTHUR MARSHALL to join him with Trombone for YOU RASCAL YOU to which IM & LYNN replied I'LL TELL MY MA. For JUDE it was T STANDS FOR THOMAS time as PHIL sang about Jesus with THE OUTLAW and PAUL followed with MARY'S BOY CHILD. For ROBIN the SNOWS OF NEW YORK seemed relevant but ROB stayed local with THE RAWTENSTALL ANNUAL FAIR, however, RICHARD said I MUST FLY AWAY. Next JAN treated to a song in Welsh, HWIANGERDD MAIR, before daughter KATHIE played a seasonal selection of FLUTE TUNES leaving JOHN to rise to the occasion with MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY by Slade.

A really big raffle saw Alan win a CD, Kath win a CD, Janice take the Shortbread biscuits, Helen win the Black Tower wine, Heather Kenyon win the White wine, Pete win the red wine, Dave win the Bah Humbug Beer, Ann win the Chocolates and Richard win the Thermal insoles. Phew!
The second half started with FREE SPIRITS saying COME ALL YOU NO HOPERS, JOKERS AND ROGUES which just about covered everyone. ED then told us A SPACEMAN CAME TRAVELLING to which ARTHUR retorted OH, GOODY IT'S CHRISTMAS and DAVE BOULTON telling us how SANTA WAS DEPRESSED. So it was lucky that cloggers SUE & LIN were on hand with BAZ, ARTHUR & EDDIE  to cheer him up with a nice HORNPIPE followed by UKELELE SUE singing DEAD FLOWERS by the Rolling Stones. Teaming people up for the second round saw COLIN play STATEN ISLAND HORNPIPE & HARVEST HOME followed by EDDIE playing a CHRISTMAS MEDLEY and JAN sang LAWR AR LAN Y MOR. KATHIE then rose with JOHN CONDY for the FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK followed appropriately by BRIAN with his own AMERICAN TRILOGY and FAIR PLAY with HEDGER AND DITCHER. For some reason PHIL was out on the ISLANDS which made ROB think of FRED THE SLUG and GEOFF & SUE to think of WALTZING FOR DREAMERS. This put us in the frame for a climax started by JUDE's CHERRY TREE CAROL and continued by JIM & LYNN'S NIGHT VISITING SONG and rounded off by GRASSROOTS pleading LET IT SNOW with the rest of us shouting No!!!


Newsletter No 303 2 December 2014

It was a great night with a full house for ED's surprise Birthday Bash which DON & HEATHER were invited to kick off with the flourish of a GALWAY GIRL which had everyone singing full throttle from the off. Slowing it a little ROBIN had ONLY THE HEARTACHES to think about while PAUL had the DRIFTIN' BLUES. Then we were chortling with CHRIS and his IKEA SONG, a parody of the wild rover, but IAN & GARY were serious with HURT by Johnny Cash as was Poet DAVID with his BOX CALLED WAR and PETE who found himself in ST JAMES' INFIRMARY. Back to silly with ED who went to see the Queen in MONDAY 'ER DOES ALL 'ER WESHIN' but it was the THE LAST THING ON MY MIND for GEOFF as it was for ROB who was more concerned about them knocking down THE OLD PUBS. Off across the Atlantic went JIM & LYNN on the THE IRISH ROVER until they were called back by ARTHUR tellin them IT'S CHRISTMAS but KAMRAN was still GOING DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD as were SUE & GEOFF on the SLOOP JOHN B. They could have done with PHIL and the HANOVA NAVIGATOR and even ROGER KING with THE WORKING MAN before PETE KING warned that the BLUE SKIES TURN GREY. Undaunted MARIAN was chasing the BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN to which DAVE BOULTON replied YOU'RE GONE.
In the interval SUE had arranged the buffet and a bumper raffle saw some big prizes find new homes before the second half was started by ROBIN and JOCK O' HAZELDENE to which ROGER added his own FOR VALOUR as JIM & LYNN chased after the STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN. Not convinced PHIL reckoned it was all an OPTICAL ILLUSION and GEOFF exclaimed I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT to which ED replied with SUE'S LOVE SONG to which IAN & GARY reckoned it was all the same in the SUMMERTIME. This prompted PAUL to warn PEOPLE GET READY and KAMRAN to demand SALLY WHERE D'YA GET YOUR LIQUOR FROM as CHRIS was busy flying round with EROS. On a more basic note of consolation to Ed, DAVE BOULTON reminded him YOU'RE ONLY AS OLD AS THE WOMAN YOU FEEL which to PETE were nothing but PASSING DREAMS and PETE KING said just wait for 10 YEARS ON, with his own song. Still in work mode ROB came up with THE CHEMICAL WORKER before a big finish was guaranteed by FREE SPIRITS with WAGON WHEEL and ARTHUR MARSHALL who had us laughing into the street with his BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED to end a stunning night of music, verse and  plenty of craic.