It all started rather slowly without much of a swing and although we had a good audience, some of whom were newcomers to the club, there were very few performers by 8.00 pm, maybe six or seven, so it was feared that it would be difficult to create an atmosphere, other than "cosy" but this is Sale Folk Club and performers did arrive at intervals and found themselves thrown onto centre stage immediately they came through the door! The things really hotted up when who should pay us an unexpected virgin appearance at singers' night but Stanley Accrington to whom we made a concession particularly as he just walked right past Kate on the door!! We finally had 19 performers altogether and every single one of them was outstanding in their delivery so craicing good night was had after all.
Log jam? Jam packed? Any way up it was another huge night both in terms of numbers and performances. Don & Heather started the landslide with A Song For The Life followed by Banjo John who reminded us of the real meaning of "gay" with The Old Kentucky Home from way back in 1853 and The Young Banker from Mike was also gay. Merdy was also upbeat with I've Got Leather On My Shoes as was Richard Sails with the response and call John Kanaka, prior to his shanty week on a sailing ship, which prompted Derrick to ask Have You Any News Of The Iceberg on behalf of the polar bear that lost its family on the iceberg hit by the Titanic. Next Mark was that Worried Man but Jan was more concerned about avoiding a Dandy Man but Robin's Jock O'Hazeldean reckoned women were more tricky than men. Then in tandem newcomers Monologue John with Beat The Retreat and Dorothy with The Malvinas absolutely delighted us with their double act as Story & Song followed by Rob with Cheerly Man and Black Water from Ruth, Kath & Stan.
A quieter start than usual due to the combination of Easter and Manchester United playing an important match did not deter that well known footballphobe Ed Bentham from opening up the night by singing Caledonia swiftly followed by Kath and Stan this time without Ruth with Nine Hundred Miles and Banjo John who played and sang Sweet Georgia Brown in which he encouraged us all to join in. After this David, the Poet, next to us he had written a short poem for his local hospice which he recited from memory, Double Contradiction, but Brian was unequivocal when he led us all in the Shirley Bassey hit You'll Never Know which also brought a huge audience response. The Bailey Sisters sang the two songs with an obvious link, The Oak And Ash And Thorn and A North Country Lass, and Carl came up with The Father's Song and Derrick recited one of his funny Monologues about Albert. Ann C unusually arrived without John and sang an emigration song from Somerset called Sweet England and she was followed by Colin who was requested to first sing Vincent and then he performed one of his own songs The Same Mistake before Joan Hall stepped in at this point and gave us all a lesson in French by singing a French folk song with all the actions of Felix Le Chat. We were all very proficient in the language by the end of the lesson and we had the actions off to perfection!
An evening of surprises and great quality awaited us so much so that it kept Banjo John up well past his bedtime as he quickly followed Don & Heather's Song For A Life with his own Simple Gift written in 1848 when he was a lad! All Ruth, Kath & Stan could reply to that was Beautiful, a gospel song, and from the same neck of the woods came Whippoorwill from our first surprise, Richard Knott, who was a welcome sight after too long away. Brian also took us back in time with What'll I Do? and Always before Robin gave the Last Farewell as Ed's McAlpine's Fusiliers marched by. Another very welcome face and second surprise, Colin Rudd, then delighted us with The Mallard which was much appreciated by Ged who followed it with Riley's Daughter and Derrick who gave us some Home Truths. True love ran smoothly for Ann C with her Young and Faithful Sailor and Joan, our third surprise, gave a stunning performance of her Mum's remarkable Journey Through Time before our fourth surprise, John Cartain, confused us with his own song that declared Love Isn't All There Is but without he said Lady I'm Lost. Gloria, with Frank's backing, was that Crazy Man Michael which led Frank to sing I Wish I Was Back Home In Derry setting up Zoe for The Snows They Melt The Soonest. Banjo John, still lively as a cricket, was next up the Lazy River where Pepper Street had Boats To Build as we came sailing up to the interval.
Guest hosts Heather Kenyon and Rob White gave us a great evening of music and mirth helped not inconsiderably by the many talented people at their disposal. Rob, for the first time ever, unsheathed his trusty Fylde guitar before announcing It's Good To See You and swiftly recruited John Condy to follow with the requested Galway Girl and then Ged to Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms. A sweet version of Moon River came from Brian & Barry, with his large harmonica, who continue with Just Walk On By but fortunately Claire stopped to sing Guinevere's Lament. Next Ed took us Down Along The Verdigris while Ruth, Kath Stan were Letting Sorrow Go, Ruth's own composition, and Robin told a true story with Rock My Cradle Once Again by Hank Williams. Fresh from hearing Steve Knightley last Saturday, Ann C reclaimed The Bold Poachers while Carl linked tenuously to Claire's Guinevere with his own (K)Nights Round The Table and Don & Heather were Past The Point Of Rescue.
Some new and some regular faces were fighting for seats tonight and after appropriately Don & Heather summed it up with I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way. Early bird Banjo John then introduced us to Joshua while Ruth, Kat & Stan were Hedgers and Ditchers and Pepper Street we down in Make And Break Harbour. Claire next waxed lyrical over The Bramble And The Rose while Mike saluted The White Cockade and Rob saluted his passenger tonight with Martin Said To His Man. The first reminder of Burns Night then came from Lowland Scot Robin with Banks And Braes followed by Accordion John with Amazing Grace. Ann C was next telling us We Hadn't Sailed Far which was surprising because Ged was Working On The Railway. Ed then went a bit surreal with Bob Dylan's Dreams which nothing compared to The Bailey Sisters' Tidy The Cow but all returned to normal when young Nic played Stranger On The Shore on his clarinet. Carl next produced one of his best efforts, The Old England In You, closely followed by Belle and Sebastian's A Century Of Fakers from Wendy and Collier Laddie from Jan & Mark. We finally tried to tempt Brian out of the Whispering Grass before the interval but even Blackthorn Stick and Kesh Jig from Isobel, Lucille from Banjo John and Bridge Street from Pepper Street were to no avail.