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So far Chris Birchall has created 264 blog entries.

Red Hill Revisited

By |November 14th, 2018|1 Comment

We have been enjoying Alan Thompson’s music here at the club for going on four months now. Since he and his sister¬†Linda discovered Ruthin AllStyles, their floor spots have become one of the highlights of our Thursday evening gatherings.

So this week we had a special treat as the pair not only performed a showcase but also brought in John Evans, the third member of their former band Red Hill, to join them on a few of the numbers.

It was a balanced and well thought-out set, comprising covers (did someone mention Ryan Adams? ūüėČ ) and some of Alan’s beautiful self-penned songs, all graced with some absolutely beautiful harmonies. Their voices really do work well together and their relaxed style makes it look so natural and so easy.

The former Red Hill line-up, Alan Thompson, Linda Thompson and John Evans

It was the second time we have used the new ‘split showcase’ format which seems to be going down well.¬† Alan and Linda opened the evening with two songs, opened the second half with four, and then did a couple¬†of numbers in the finale, allowing plenty of opportunity for floor spots (in this case from twelve other performers). The overall result was a varied and balanced musical program.

One of those floor singers was their friend and colleague John Evans and it was their turn to back him as he performed one of his own songs just before the finale.

The rest of the Floor Spot singers were: Chris Birchall, Steve Bailey, Penni Neale, Lynda and Tom Degney, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Richard and Wendy Eastwood, John Williams and Richard Ruthin.

Altogether making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Cirrus, Stratus and Cumulus

By |November 5th, 2018|0 Comments

Amazing as these three cloud types are, I usually associate them with landscape photography.

It was far too dark for such an activity on Thursday evening, of course, so it was just as well they manifested themselves in the shape¬†of Pete, Di & Dom, aka ‘The Amazing Clouds’.

Tash Allcock

This three-piece band from Corwen paid us a visit ahead of a gig they are playing at The Centre, in Ruthin on the 24th November, alongside the equally amazing John Williams.

They opened up the evening by taking us to a place not normally associated with having any clouds at all, with sounds of the Arabian Desert in “The Sandstorm¬†Set”. Later they deposited us in foggy old London with Cockney Rebel’s “Make Me Smile”.

Lynda Degney took us to the “Northern Plains” as Tom went “Clickedy Clack” down the railway track, whilst all the time Richard Davies was “Living on Tusla Time”.

The tale of the “Ballymore¬†Fiddler” was retold by¬†Glyn Hudson in nya¬†nya¬†nya fashion, and¬†Joe Lyon was dreaming “Dansette Dreams” and yearning for “A Place in the Sun”.

My own contributions came courtesy of Willy Nelson and Bread.

“One More Cup of Coffee for the Road” was on Robin Spreckley’s mind, for which he was joined by Penni Neale.

Young¬†Tash Allcock made a welcome return to the club, juggling her musical endeavours with her academic studies. Alternating between guitar and ukulele she treated us to three lovely songs including Elton John’s “Yellowbrick Road”.

Denbigh musician John Evans sang two of his fabulous self-penned numbers, roping in his former band buddies Linda Thompson and Alan Thompson.

Linda also provided some beautiful backing vocals for her brother Alan’s own sets which included the Tears for Fears hit “Mad World”.

It was Penni Neale took us up to chucking out time with Richard Shindell’s beautiful, “Ballad Of Mary Magdalen”.

October 25th Singers’ Night

By |October 31st, 2018|0 Comments

Geoff Hollis

Sixteen minstrels made their way down to the tavern that is The Feathers last Thursday, together with a dozen or so followers.

Ale was drawn, tea was poured and soon after 8.00pm, the merriment began with a rousing set from Sir Richard of Ruthin accompanied by Lord Degney of Deganwy.

In fact, Tom was led¬†on a merry dance throughout the evening’s festivities, having no sooner sat down from accompanying one performer before being called upon to accompany the next. Luckily his instruments had a chance to cool down as he used his guitar, mandolin and Jumping Flea (his ukulele) in strict rotation.

Cath Bryan

It was a varied and thoroughly enjoyable evening with everything from a-cappella folk songs from Glyn Hudson and Geoff Hollis to Gershwin from Jeff Jones. There were rebel-rousing busking favourites from Robin, Bluegrass favourites from Linda, Beatles from Joe Lyon and some dark and dusky Cohen courtesy of Neil Martin.

The Kirkham and Bryan partnership offered a contrast of styles with Pete also delivering some powerful ‘dark and dusky’ stuff, whilst Cath took us in the opposite direction with her sweet songbird voice.

Peter Leslie treated us to songs that admirably demonstrated his song-writing skills and even included a home-grown protest song.

Alan Thompson and Tom Degney

One of our most recent ‘regulars’ Alan Thompson, called upon one of most long-standing regulars, Tom Degney, for his mandolin skills on a traditional song about the Blue Ridge Mountains and a somewhat less traditional Grateful Dead song “Friend of the Devil”.

Peter Leslie

Then before we knew it, finale time had arrived. Wendy and Richard had each performed their sets, Wendy giving¬†a first airing to her version of the lovely Kacey Musgraves song, “Rainbow”, and Richard honouring Don Williams with “It’s Who You Love”.

For the finale, we brought them both to the stage for that lovely duet “Sunshine on Leith” by the Proclaimers.

Role Call:  Robin the Busker, Jeff Jones, Peter Leslie, Pete Kirkham, Lynda Degney, Tom Degney, Joe Lyon, Cath Bryan, Richard Eastwood, Richard Ruthin, Glyn Hudson, Chris Birchall, Geoff Hollis, Neil Martin, Alan Thompson, Wendy Eastwood.

Neil Wilkinson

By |October 30th, 2018|1 Comment

It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Neil Wilkinson.

Neil was a long-time member of Ruthin AllStyles Music Club. A quiet unassuming man, he was loved and respected by his fellow musicians and by the audiences who listened to his music. Over the years he has provided guitar accompaniment to singers like Christine Scott and more recently, Enid Toft. One of his last performances here was at the end of July, with fellow band members Llinos Finnie and John Rowell as part of their recently formed band ‘Breeze’.

I consider it a privilege to have known Neil and to have had the honour of introducing him, and being able to witness first hand his incredibly precise and polished style of guitar playing.

He will be sadly missed.


Neil’s funeral will take place at Pentrebuchan Crematorium on Wednesday the 21st of October at 10.30 am.


Singers Night October 18th

By |October 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Sorry, there is no write-up this week due to hackers blocking access to the site.

I have managed to get some pictures uploaded though and big thanks to all who made Thursday yet another great night of music at The Feathers.

Here’s the roll of honour…

  • Rhodri Hampson Jones,¬†Lynda Degney,¬†Tom Degney,¬†Joe Lyon,¬†Colin Campbell,¬†Alan Thompson & Linda,¬†Dave Hytch,¬†Geoff Durno,¬†Chris Birchall,¬†Neil Martin,¬†Robin the Busker,¬†Richard Eastwood,¬†Wendy Eastwood,¬†Brian Peters,¬†Tom, Dick & Harry with John Bass

October 11th Singers’ Night

By |October 17th, 2018|1 Comment

Tara Crank

Following on from last week’s Jon Coley concert, it was back to normal with our regular¬†Thursday Singers’ Night.

Not that there is anything wrong with normal. We are so lucky at Ruthin AllStyles, to have a vast number of musicians frequent our weekly sessions in the function room at The Feathers.

In addition to a small core of die-hards who we see on a regular basis, there are those we might see once a month or so, those who we might see once in a blue moon and, of course, the steady trickle of new faces.

Tara Crank

And with them comes a wonderfully diverse range of styles and genre, helping the club live up to its ‘AllStyles’ epithet.

The evening was opened by Carmarthenshire lass Tara Crank who was making her third visit to the club, bringing with her a unique and personal interpretation of songs by Joni Mitchell and Lisa Hannigan, complimenting a sweet and pure voice with some rather nifty guitar work.

Then she served up a¬†lovely cover of the 1980s song by The Chieftains, “My Lagan Love”, singing a cappella, interspersed by some beautiful solo passages on her violin.

Richard Davies with Dawn and Carol

Two ladies making their¬†AllStyles debut were¬†Carol and Dawn, who we have seen a time or two at the Rhyl club. They recruited Richard Davies as second guitar for the¬†Kate Wolf song “Across The Great Divide”, following up with “Roseville Fair” by Bill Staines.

Richard was kept busy, joining Tom Degney to accompany Enid Toft on the lovely traditional Welsh song “Myfanwy” as well as both doing their own spots.

The evening progressed in fine style with some great sets by Richard & Wendy Eastwood, Steve Bailey, Jim Cole, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Lynda Degney and Rhodri Hampson Jones.

And before we knew it, the evening drew to a close with an encore from Tara¬†singing one of her own compositions, “Postcards”.

See you all again next Thursday.

“Flowers” performed¬†by Tara Crank

Jon Coley in Concert

By |October 10th, 2018|0 Comments

Click below to hear Jon Coley singing Cocaine Blues

The function room at The Feathers was comfortably full as our guest musician Jon Coley opened with the very first song he’d ever learned to play. It was the Bert Jansch version of the traditional Irish folk song, “Down by the Black Waterside”.

He followed on with a selection of self-penned songs, many of them autobiographical, interspersed by some covers performed is his own unique style.

Playing on his trusty Gibson, we witnessed some nifty fingerstyle melodies and gained an insight into his skills as a wordsmith and storyteller.

One of my personal favourites from this set was a song he’d written for his sister, entitled “Good Girls Have Bad Dreams”. And of his covers, I fell in love with his interpretation of Woody Guthrie’s “The House Carpenter”. Watching Jon’s fingers made me feel dizzy as he executed the rolling riffs, and the bluesy¬†Jerron Paxton number “Cocaine Blues” was just sublime.

Jon brought the first half of the evening to a close with the first public airing of a brand new song about living with your mistakes, “A Sweeter State of Mind”.

As is the norm for our concerts, both of our guest’s sets were preceded by a round of floor spots.¬† No fewer than eleven of our talented regulars performed up to two songs each, providing a fine and diverse mixture of genres and¬†styles, acting as the perfect foil to¬†Jon’s bluesy folk numbers.

For his second set, Jon brought his other two guitars into the equation, the most interesting of which was a lovely old f-hole jazz guitar dating back to 1935. This had been given to him by a fan whose father had played it back in the day with the Duke Ellington¬†Band. Jon did the old guitar deserved justice as he delivered some lovely ragtime blues in the form of the Muddy Waters, song “Turn Your Lamp Down Low”.

More great¬†songs followed, each one introduced with a little back story, and after his last song “Can’t Make It Rain”, Jon responded to the calls for more by abandoning the microphones and walking amongst¬†us to perform¬†his encore completely unplugged.

It was a beautiful finish to a lovely evening of fine music.

The floor spot performers tonight were:

Rhodri Hampson Jones, Wendy and Richard Eastwood, Richard Ruthin, Tom and Lynda Degney, Fuchsia Jones, Chris Birchall, Cath Bryan, Pete Kirkham and Penni Neale.

Click below to hear Jon Coley singing Can’t Make It Rain

Two Robins Do Not a Winter Make

By |October 2nd, 2018|0 Comments

Robin Wynne Jones

Although it is true that the regular appearance of one particular Robin does herald the end of the Summer. For people’s busker Robin Wynne¬†Jones, tends to spend those balmy days weeks and months on his narrowboat cruising the waterways, singing to raise money for charity in between stop-offs at a number of prominent folk festivals.

As the nights draw in, we have the pleasure of hearing his barmy tales and listening to some of the songs that have helped Robin raise over £9,000  busking for Cancer Research.

The other Robin who made an appearance at The Feathers this week was not Robin Red-Breast but Robin Spreckley, and it’s always such a pleasure to enjoy his animated performances as he delivers his own particular style of song, along¬†with mandolin accompaniment.

The real Wayne Fontana (Photo ©Daily Express)

The Game of…
Adding a touch of amusement¬†to the proceedings, a gentleman turned up and introduced himself as Wayne Fontana. The sixties rock star (real name, Glyn Ellis) had lived in Ruthin during his teens before becoming famous for the 1965 hit “Game of Love” with the Mindbenders.

The fun started when a few of us started Googling ‘Wayne Fontana’, only to find that, whilst this guy bore a passing resemblance, he had miraculously grown a silver mop where a bald dome should be.¬† The sight of his fellow audience members tapping away at their phones must have made him realise he’d been rumbled. Announcing he was going to get a drink, the imposter headed through to the bar where he serenaded the barmaid with a few bars of ‘Game of Love” before heading off to “Catch his 10pm flight”, presumably to La-La Land ūüôā

Robin Spreckley

Back to the Music
The evening also saw a flock of our regulars perching behind the microphones, namely Joe, Chris, Rhodri and Andrew. We spotted Alan Thompson and the first of only two female songbirds of the evening, his sister Linda, the other being Lynda Degney.

With Lynda, of course, was husband Tom, who also accompanied Richard Davies during his set.

And multi-instrumentalist¬†Tom took to one of his recently-built banjos to accompany Robin the Busker in the finale spot, rounding off with a medley based around “The Belle of Belfast City” and “All For Me Grog”.

Richard Davies and Tom Degney

Next week we have the wonderful Cheshire Singer/Songwriter Jon Coley. Jon will be performing two 45 minute spots, but do please bring your instruments, as the evening will begin with a round of Floor Spots as usual.


Folk Songs, Birthday Songs, Wedding Songs and Kinky Songs

By |September 25th, 2018|2 Comments

Listen while you read. Click ‚Ėļ on the MP3 below for one of the best solo covers of Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” that you are ever likely to hear.

Alan Thompson performing “Needle and the Damage Done”

Steve Bailey

It was Neil Martin who got things underway this week with Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr Bojangles” and then, in honour of what would have been Leonard Cohen’s 84th birthday, he sang a great version of the great man’s “Boogy Street”.

Steve Bailey was next up, with a fine a cappella helping of traditional folk

Tom Degney gave us a Tim O’Brien song, before accompanying¬†Lynda on “Making Good Time” by the Gibson Brothers.

Back from his hols, Joe Lyon told us all about the “Comedians and Angels”.

Karen White

Our next act is known as ‘The Quirky One’ whose material has been known to — how shall we say, contain expletives that are pretty much commonplace in her homeland of Australia. Tonight, however, Karen White was whiter than white – although I have to say, one of her songs was a bit kinky, inasmuch as “Thank you for the Day” was written by Ray Davies and recorded by The Kinks.

She also gave us some lovely Kirsty McCall songs which Karen has recorded for her forthcoming new album. We always enjoy seeing her and John on their annual ten thousand plus miles pilgrimage to Ruthin. Check out Karen’s¬† website, http://quintessentialquirk.com.au/pc/

Singing unaccompanied, Glyn Hudson delivered “The Wedding Song” to mark the fact her daughter is about to be married, and Penni Neale gave us “Little Things Mean a Lot” which she has been asked to sing at Glyn’s daughter’s wedding next week. Penny also sang a fabulous version of “Reconciliation” written by the Irish singer/songwriter¬†Ron Kavana.

A traditional American folk song “Cold Rain and Snow” was Cath Bryan’s contribution before accompanying Pete Kirkham on Chris De Burgh’s “Lonely Sky”.

Neil Martin

Chris headed the “Revolution”, singing the John Lennon song of the same name, followed by “Jealous Guy”.

Then we had another great set from Alan Thompson, which included Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” and “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead.

What we “All I Want is a Quiet Life” – and so Neil Martin gave us his homegrown song of that very title as a fitting end to a lovely and varied evening of music.

Same again next week?

Thursday the 13th

By |September 18th, 2018|0 Comments

Flossie’s brand new album: Live – June 2018

No. It was nowt to do with superstition. The reason Jayne and I went AWOL last week was because we were taking a well-earned short break, Ee bah gum, up int’ Yorkshire Dales.

We also got to see the lovely Flossie Malavialle performing songs from her brand new live album, at a gig in the Sports Club over at Ulverston .

So I trust you will excuse the rather short post and join me in thanking Tom, Lynda, Wendy and Richard for setting up and running the evening in our absence, to Capt’n Pugwash (aka Rockin’ Robin) for being the MC. And thank you too, to all who turned out to support them, either as performers or as members of the audience.

This Thursday (Sept 20th)

It is another Singers’ Night, so do come along and join us in the function room at The Feathers.

…and looking forward 2 weeks to October 6th,¬†we have a concert by the fabulous

Jon Coley

This young Chester musician has carved out a unique style all of his own, encompassing the romance of Folk and the heartbreak of Blues.

Jayne and I have twice seen Jon perform. Once at The Nordic Church in Liverpool and again at Thornton Hough Village Club, on both occasions doing the support spot for Gary Edward Jones. We had no hesitation in booking him to come and share his music with us.

Tickets are available at just £6 from WeGotTickets. Members concessionary tickets are available at The Feathers on club nights.