It was a full house this week and we had 41 performances in all with hosts Pepper Street starting the ball rolling with Mick's song about John Dillinger, Shooting Bankers, quickly followed by Banjo John who introduced us to Delia and Joan, one of our regular audience, who did her first ever performance with Whiskey In The Jar. She was clearly nervous but battled on gamely and will soon become a stalwart. Then Carl with Penny Lane offered a slightly belated celebration of Paul McCartney's 70th birthday before welcome back alive Mike Dixon joined us again with The White Cockade as did Richard Sails with old favourite None Of My Own. Paul Riley then introduced us to My Babe and Jo returned to her Ramblin Boy and Guitar Dave did the same with Runaround Sue. It all left Rod with Suspicion and Jean Finney, playing her new Q Chord (electronic autoharp all very angelic sounding) with her own comment, Life Is A Game, but any way up Robin reckoned Hey It's Good To Be Back Home. Kamran was next dealing with those Stole River Blues and Colin coping with A Rainy Day while Janice was off with Pepper Street looking for her Nowhere Man. Rob was then off on the Good Ship Calabar leaving Richard Knott to sing The Cape and Kath, Stan & Ruth sunning themselves on the Banks Of The Ohio. Guitar Brian next turned his big chords to a medley of Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered coupled with It's Magic which gave Ged the Big Leg Blues and Keith (aka Elvis) the urge to do one of his own poems entitled Why Oh Why all about sex. If he doesn't know by now!
It was hot outside and it was hot inside as Don & Heather kicked off by taking everyone down to the Red Rose Cafe where Banjo John invited us to Have A Drink On Me before Pete told us his own story of The Greenland Whale. Colin Rudd then treated us to his latest song and contrasting views of David Beckham but unaffected Brian went on to sing I'm Sorry accompanied in his customary style with fistfuls of 5 and 6 string guitar chords. Then it was the return in full of the Family Taylor with daughter Kathy's flute joining Mark for Blackthorn Stick and Donnybrook Fair and then sticking around to sing seven days are in the week in Almost Every Circumstance with Jan. Guitar Dave next sat us down and said I'm going to tell you The Story Of My Life but Ged retorted What You Gonna Do When Death Comes Creepin' In Your Room or when you are Down Where The Drunkards Roll asked John Condy. In the soup reckoned Rob just like the Ellen Vannin. Dave from the corner, however, was off Trotting To The Fair while Carl was away with Mr Dreamseller but Merdy preferred the more natural Wild Mountain Thyme and newcomers Dave & Les were next Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night but Ed had to confess, I Got Stoned And I Missed It. To bring us up to the interval Banjo John related the story of Joshua who shunned his girlfriend and married her young stepmother, Pete explained why he was so happy with I Shall Be Released but Rob put the tin hat on it with his own Victor The Elephant whose problem with flatulence had us all running for the exit.
Ed & Sue asked Don & Heather to start off the evening and they took the opportunity to celebrate the Mass Trespass with Manchester Rambler before anyone else did and it obviously struck a chord with many in the audience before Banjo John echoed the sentiment with Didn't He Ramble. Paul also had us singing with The Train That Never Returned which nicely set up The Chorlton Cloghoppers who danced in two teams first to the Dancing Waltz and then to The Welsh. Next Arthur Marshall claimed only one other person appreciated his Ballad Of The Man From Milton Keynes but there was a room full last night and Pete Roberts' Sunsets was also an upbeat song as was Rambling Boy from Jo which had the whole audience singing along. We were then grateful that Carl had been requested to go Singing The Ages Down which prompted Kamran to comment You Shook Me All Night courtesy of AC/DC but Brian preferred The Sound Of Silence. Next newcomer Chris blew us away with a great song from the west coast of Ireland, The Bold Thady Quill, before Stella responded by leading us all in Cohen's Halleluja followed by Trevor and Ruth with Rare Owd Times and Ged with Jesus On The Mainline. Mark & Jan celebrated America's intolerance to progress with Jez Lowe's song of their attitude to Charles Darwin, We'll Hunt Him Down, and David the poet explained it From A Mis-stance. Harry, the Cloggers Accordionist then gave us a medley of tunes as a prelude to John's The Day They Drove Old Dixie Down and Rod's Dock Of The Bay leaving Dave & Andy to take us to the interval with My Laggan Love.
The fine weather set us up for an excellent evening of music and poetry hosted by Mark and Jan who started off with Hush Hush about the Highland Clearances, Paul Riley was next with The Coal Tattoo then Robin with Alan Bell's Wind in the Willows (Bread and Fishes). Newcomer Pete Roberts was up next with a Michael Chapman song, Rabbit Hills, and then we had a thought provoking poem from Doreen called Jeopardy all about the danger to the planet caused by the human race. Hopefully they were not serious when Ruth, Kath and Stan were saying their Last Goodbye but just in case more newcomers Stewart and Bill, all the way from Urmston, each splashed out on a Tequila Sunrise courtesy of the Eagles. Brian then sang a lovely version of Stevie Wonder's Wishes while Jo then entranced us with the lovely ballad, Both Sides of the Tweed, and was followed by the recuperating Banjo John Brown who was accompanied by the ever in demand John Condy on harmonica, with 2.19 Blues. Keeping in the blues vein was Ged with I Got Stripes, and then Janice Bell, accompanied by Pepper Street, sang a beautiful version of Mancini's Moon River before Rob had us in stitches, although we’re not quite sure why, with his story about GM foods, Qubarb! Pepper Street's retort to that was John Condy's excellent song, See You in the Sunset, closely followed by another newby Robert Jones with Man of the World. Jean Finney then sang an old English song which was a dark tale of the Easter Tree followed by Keep the Change Bob who sang Springsteen's This Hard Land. Ruth, Kath and Stan started the second round with the Night Visiting Song, Brian was a Desperado and Jan was in fine Welsh fettle with Ar Lan y Mor. Late arrival Eddie sang the Farmer's Boy then Ged followed with Richard Thompson's '52 Vincent Black Lightning and John Brown took us up to the interval with She Wears Red Feathers (to say nothing of the Hooley-Hooley Skirt)!
A progressively full house was kicked off by Ruth, Kath & Stan with Loving Hannah and fresh from his trip over the Pennines Phil Sykes accompanied himself on the piano keyboard for Mrs Holroyd before Heather & Don explained the wonder of Black Clothes. Next Stella asked us to Turn, Turn, Turn while Rob was up to M in his Alphabet Soup with Muldoon The Solid Man leaving Colin to tell us about A Traveller Passing Through. Merdy then told us how we all had Reason To Believe leaving Mark to set off with O'Carolan's tune Loftus Jones and Jan to delight us with The Bells Of Aberdovey in Welsh to celebrate the imminence of St David's Day. Equally emotional was Brian's Song from you've guessed it, Brian Challenor, and in a totally different way Carl's When Fate And Circumstance Collide stirred the emotions in remembering the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Then Jo then came up with another classic I Live Not Where I Love as did Guitar Brian of the big chords with This Nearly Was Mine but Dave Holt tore up the script with Ain't It Grand To Be Bloomin' Well Dead. The surprises continued when Janice Bell got up with Mick & John to temporarily form what you might call Sweet Pepper Street for Killing Me Softly which definitely wasn't A Blank Canvas that Doreen the poet spoke about but it was a love story like Robert's In The Washhouse but this was all in Spanish accompanied by his excellent Spanish Guitar playing. A history lesson followed when Jean told the true story of Humpty Dumpty that actually was a big cannon on Colchester Castle walls but Dave Cashell went all surreal in the Octopus' Garden before Eric & Guitar Brian did the bi-lingual version of La Vie En Rose. Pepper Street next tried to reclaim their identity with the Diamantina Drover but Keep The Change Bob reckoned he heard it all before with Deja Vu as he took us up to the interval.
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.