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Rhythm and Blues Thursday

By |January 19th, 2018|2 Comments

It was a foul night, but the lashing-down rain didn’t deter almost thirty music lovers from making their way down to Ruthin to shake off the remnants of ‘Blue Monday”.

The third Monday in January is thus named, having been officially recognised as the most depressing day of the year. So, we have countered this notion by declaring that the Thursday following shall henceforth be known as ‘Rhythm and Blues Thursday’.

And there was plenty of that going on in the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the function room at The Feathers, where thirteen of the gathered throng had thawed out sufficiently to entertain; not just with R&B, but with an eclectic mix encompassing all styles.

One such ray of sunshine was young Fuchsia Jones whose enchanting cover of the Bill Withers classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” warmed our hearts. (Click below to listen)

 

Robin the Busker had gotten the evening off to a flying start with a set that involved a collaboration with the omnipresent Tom Degney.

Tom was kept busy throughout the evening, as always. He treated us to a tune or two on his new banjo, which he swapped for a guitar to accompany his good lady Lynda. Later on, the mandolin was his weapon of choice, to back Richard Davies.

Blue was the theme running through Richard’s set which featured “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again”.

Glyn Hudson asked “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”; Joe Lyon had everyone singing along “In a Matter of Moments”; Andrew Bowsher took his hat off to Bob Dylan, and I took my lead from the Beatles songbook.

“The Gambler” is what Bob Neale became, singing the Kenny Rogers number of that name.

The long distance award this week went to¬†Colin Campbell, who’d negotiated the rain-sodden roads from Llandudno to make his first visit of the year. His modified version of Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing At All” put a smile on everyone’s face as they enthusiastically joined in on the slightly risque re-written chorus.

Mark Thatcher delivered a fine set, the highlight of which, for me, was his cover of “White Room” (below).

 

Finale time
And before we knew it, it was finale time once again, with Penni Neale ending what had been a other super evening, with “You’ll Never be the Sun” – a beautiful earworm to accompany us on our journeys home.

Next week, of course, we have an Intimate Concert with Gary Edward Jones. It is a sell-out, so there will be no tickets on the door, I’m afraid.

Warm Welcome, Cool Songs

By |January 14th, 2018|0 Comments

No, I’m not blowing hot and cold. Although, the function room heater was doing just that, due to something quirky amiss with its settings. One minute it was freezing Lynda before thawing her out and roasting her on Gas Mark Nine!

Luckily, it was sorted out by the time she had won the bottle raffle in the mid-evening break, otherwise we’d have been serving up ‘Lucky Lynda au Vin’ – with Tom Sauce of course. ūüėČ

Tom Degney had been one of the first on stage as part of the Tom, Dick and Harry band, providing multi-instrumental accompaniment for Harry Robertson and Richard Davies for their opening set. And because we like to work him hard, Tom remained to then accompany Lynda, before returning to his seat for a well-earned rest.

Next up was Bob Hall, delivering some Del Shannon courtesy of his electric keyboard, followed by Glyn Hudson, whose newly discovered guitar playing skills are coming on nicely since becoming a student of Skeet Williams.

Penni Neale wowed us once again with some beautiful ballads, and (Everton) Joe Lyon rose above the leg-pulling about his team’s defeat in last week’s Merseyside Derby, to deliver some fine examples of Mersey Sound.

That Birchall got up and did songs by That Dylan, before That Peter Lesley stepped up to the mic to remind us why we are so grateful that his club in Wrexham only meet on alternate Thursdays.

Having done the Soundcheck Session at the beginning of the evening, Harry opened up the second half with “Till I Danced With You”. It is one of sixteen beautiful songs that Harry has written and recorded under the umbrella title of “Songs from Wales”. They are all on YouTube¬†here ¬†and well worth a listen.

After a song and a lovely self-composed instrumental from Mark Thatcher, it was the turn of Fuchsia Jones, a young singer who is really beginning to make a mark for herself on the local music scene. You can click here to listen to “Rambling Man” on a video recorded on the night by her proud mum.

Andrew Bowsher has been coming to the club for a couple of months now and seems to bring a new instrument with him on each visit. This time it was an interesting looking (and sounding) four-stringed dulcimer guitar.

Robin the Busker roped in Tom Degney on his Dobro, and Mark Thatcher on bass, for a lively penultimate set of the evening.

Before we knew it, finale time had arrived. And, accompanied by his Clwydian Rangers bassist band-mate Olli Bradley-Hughes, young Harri Owen belted out some Stereophonics, before being joined by the whole room, rocking their mama with the Dylan/Secor folk rock classic “Wagon Wheel”.

And so sixteen minstrels, and an audience that almost doubled that number, ventured homeward into the chill of the night.


A Bumper Start to the Year

By |January 9th, 2018|0 Comments

It was that time of year, when the festivities are over, it’s freezing cold, and everyone’s feeling flat.

As Joe and I set up the P.A. and arranged the tables and chairs, we reckoned on it being a quiet night. “Better have half a dozen songs each ready”.

Jayne concurred.

Well, how wrong can you be! Before long the room was filled with forty-three music lovers, out for their first fix of the season. As well as the usual suspects, there were several ‘good to see you agains’ plus three or four new faces, all gathered in the warm and welcoming atmosphere at The Feathers to herald in a musical New Year.

Sixteen of our number were performers, including the Neales, the Degneys and the Eastwoods. And it was Wendy who got the evening underway, followed by Jeff Jones, Cath Bryan and Robin the Busker.

We also heard from Richard Ruthin and Joe Lyon, and from Andrew Bowsher (right) who was making his third Singers’ Night appearance.

Of the first-time visitors in the room, one had come armed with a guitar and a beautiful voice. Hailing from Prestatyn, Donna Kaur, entertained us with a lovely set, accompanied on bass by Mark Thatcher.

From a similar distance in the opposite direction, it was good to see Wrexham’s Peter Leslie back. And it fell to Peter to do the finale spot with a lovely set, comprising a mix of covers and his own compositions.

Throughout the evening, Tom demonstrated his usual willingness to jump up  whenever asked, to provide dobro, guitar and mandolin accompaniment. And during his solo spot, he offered up some bountiful bluegrass, courtesy of a brand new banjo that he had built in his workshop over the festive break.

See you all again next week folks…


 

A Happy and Harmonious New Year

By |December 29th, 2017|0 Comments

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2017, we look back at some of its highlights, and forward to what the coming year will bring…

Performing a floor spot during last week’s Christmas Knees-up, Gary Edward Jones¬†gave us a taste of what we can expect from his intimate concert at The Feathers in January.

He will be singing songs earmarked for his second album, some favourites from his first, The Cabinet Maker, and a selection of Paul Simon songs from his forthcoming 2018 nation-wide tour entitled ‘Something About Simon’. Click on this soundbite and listen whilst you read the rest of the page.

Gary Edward Jones sings Paul Simon’s “Hearts and Bones”

How the first half of 2018 shapes up

Following the Gary Edward Jones concert on January 25th, we have a host of fine artists lined up to perform over the next six months.

On March 8th, the highly entertaining multi-instrumentalist Jon Brindley will be returning to perform a mixture of covers and original material in his own inimitable style.

We are thrilled and delighted to be welcoming Flossie Malavialle to Ruthin AllStyles on April 19th.

Engagingly entertaining, this lovely French singer brings a smile with fascinating tales of how and why she came to leave the warm climes of Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France to live on the southern slopes of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her Geordie/French accent is a joy to behold.

And then on June 7th, Jimmy Rae and the Moonshine Girls will be spreading some country, rocky stardust at The Feathers. Remember when Jimmy and Sarah played “Eddies Guitar” and “Summertime Blues” during a floor spot last May…

“Eddies Guitar” and “Summertime Blues”

And to round off the first half of 2018, we are pleased to welcome Raphael Callaghan who will perform a Showcase Spot for us on July 5th.

Full details and ticketing information is available on our What’s On page.


That Was The Year That Was

2017 started of with the wonderful finger-style magic from the guitar wizard Jim Bazley.

In February, Wendy Eastwood teamed up with pianist¬†Andy Murtagh to perform a showcase set as the duo Almost Blue. It is well known that one of Wendy’s folk heroes is Edwina Hayes, and in April the sweet lass from Yorkshire came over to perform an intimate concert at the club.

The merry month of May saw Merry Hell’s female vocalist Virginia Kettle, perform both solo and with the accompaniment of a few of her band members. And it wasn’t the first time this lovely singer song-writer from Chester had performed for us in her own right, for¬†way back before her time with Merry Hell, the then Virginia Barrett played a support spot¬†during the club‚Äôs early days¬†at The White Horse.

July saw another Showcase, this time by Rhyl’s Kevin Wardman, followed in October with a concert by the honey-voiced Irishman, Anthony John Clarke.

Our last gig of the year saw Virginia return with her husband John and the rest of the Kettle brothers for a concert by the six-piece incarnation of folk-rock legends Merry Hell. Playing to a capacity audience, they did what Merry Hell do best and knocked our folkin’ socks off!

Click to read the reviews from our 2017 concerts


Fantastic Floor Spots

In addition to the concerts and showcase sets, we enjoy fabulous music every single Thursday of the year of course (bar Christmas), when a multitude of talented musicians turn up week after week to perform floor spots.

We have our solid core of regulars as well as those who visit on an occasional basis, making for an interesting and varied program, as we never know until last minute, who might turn up on the night. And it’s surprising how many times we find ourselves welcoming new faces to the club.

The Long-Service Award must surely go to Tom and Lynda Degney, followed closely by Joe Lyon and Richard Davies, four musicians who rarely miss a music night.

The Long-Distance Award goes to our Aussie friend¬†Karen White, or the ‚ÄúQuintessential Quirk‚ÄĚ, as she is known in Queensland. Karen makes an annual folk pilgrimage to the UK and always makes at least one appearance at The Feathers.

It would be impossible to mention all of our wonderful members and visitors here, but I would like to say how much I enjoy seeing the many collaborations that ‘just happen’ and some of the bands that are formed by members.

The Tom, Dick and Harry Band is well known to us of course. Their bassist, John Rowell has also been keeping busy performing as a duo with Chester Weiss, as well as rekindling his musical association with the club’s founder Llinos Finnie, forming a new band “Breeze” along with Neil Wilkinson.

New to the club this year were Pete and Di, who later joined up with Dom to form “The Amazing Clouds”. Harri Owen and Oli Bradley-Hughes teamed up with young Tom Jones to form the “Clwydian Rangers”.

And it is always good to see Mick Watson make an occasional return to Ruthin AllStyles with pianist Ian, and their lovely wives Gilly and Gill, performing as the band Jabberwocky.

Gill, Ian, Gilly and Mick

Some 2017 highlights in pictures
Click to enlarge

And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day

By |December 27th, 2017|0 Comments

Never mind “It’s All About The Bass”; last Thursday it was All About The Hats …and the jumpers, and the zany glasses, and the fairy lights.

Most of all, it was All About The Music, as forty five friends flocked to The Feathers in festive mood to party on our final Singers’ Night of 2017.

They arrived from far and wide; from Rhyl to Rhos-on-Sea, from Wrexham to The Wirral, From Denbigh, Ruthin and all points in between.

The feast comprised of Chip Baps, Pizza, Mince Pies and a wonderful Christmas Cake baked and decorated by Glyn Hudson. The atmosphere was charged with Fun. And, in the words of Paul Simon,¬†‘Not a negative word was heard, from the peoples passing by…”.

Almost half of the revellers were minstrels, having turned-up armed with guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, ukulele, fiddle, or the lyrics of a limerick, to entertain and delight well into the night.

There were so many excellent performances; some seasonal, some contemporary and some traditional. I’m not even going to try to list them all. Instead, we’ll just let the pictures tell the rest of the story:

An Assortment of  Minstrels (click to view as a slide show)

John Williams, Lynda and Tom Degney, Brian Peters, Bob and Penni Neale, Cath Bryan and Pete, Geoff Hollis, Jim Cole, Fuchsia Jones, David Castledene, Ron Stephenson, Glyn Hudson, Andrew Bowsher, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Gary Edward Jones, David Rees, Richard and Wendy Eastwood.


Some of the Revellers (click to view as a slide show)

We would like to thank all our members, visiting musicians, and friends who have supported us over the past year, for helping to make ours a happy, welcoming and successful club.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.
See you January 4th.

Hot-spot amid the Arctic chill

By |December 20th, 2017|0 Comments

With the snow lingering, and the temperatures still plummeting, we’d had to make the decision to postpone the club’s Christmas party for a week.

As we were setting out the room and the new P.A. equipment, (yes, new – but more of that in good time), I couldn’t help thinking we were in for a quiet night.

It seems, however, that the AllStyles folky folk are made of sterner stuff.

In the end, we had eleven musicians and a total of twenty-seven in the room, although it must be said that the majority had arrived from further down the valley, and from the coast beyond, where they’d been basking in temperatures of almost One Degree Celsius.

Music to warm the soul
The music got underway with Rhyl’s Brandon Ridley, who, in his trademark stetson, was looking cool and sounding hot.

Geoff Hollis, from the same neck of the woods, was next, with Bob Neale from Denbigh hot on his heels.

Then it was Jeff Jones, followed by myself, who were flying the flag for our little town, before handing the mic back to another of the Denbigh contingent, Glyn Hudson.

Tom and Lynda Degney had jetted-in with some sounds of summer, from the Riviera that is Rhos-on-Sea.

Then Penni Neale warmed us all with her mellifluous voice and dulcet toned guitar.

It was Robin the Busker who took us hot-foot to a rip-roaring finale, accompanied by Tom and Ruthin’s third representative, John Rowell, on his fretless bass guitar.¬† In fact John and Tom were kept busy throughout the evening, providing bass, mandolin and dobro accompaniment at every opportunity.

The Christmas Knees-up
So next Thursday we hope to see all these friends from the lowlands and coastal plains, joined by our hill-dwelling members for what promises to be the best Christmas Party we’ll have had all year! ūüėČ

No need to bring rations this time, as the club is providing all the eats. Silly hats and funky jumpers are optional. Song and laughter are obligatory.

See you all next Thursday 7.30pm at The Feathers.

 

Banding Together

By |December 13th, 2017|0 Comments

When is a band not a band…?¬†

When it’s two-thirds of a band or even three-fifths of a band!

We were all geared up for a set from Breeze, comprising the gorgeous guitar work of Neil Wilkinson, the beautiful bass accompaniment of John Rowell and the velvety vocals of Llinos Finnie. Sadly it was not to be, as unforeseen circumstances meant Llinos couldn’t get over to the club. Happliy, we were instead treated to some inspiring instrumentals from Neil and John, including Dire Straits’ “Going Home” and Neil’s cool composition “Snowflakes”.

John, of course is also a key member of the Tom Dick and Harry Band. We were Harryless tonight and Raphael-less too, so they morphed into the Tom, Dick and John Trio, with Richard Davies on lead vocals.

Because the Breeze wasn’t in full¬†force, the clouds didn’t blow away. And by ‘clouds’, I do mean, of course, ‘The Amazing Clouds’ comprising Pete, Di and Dom. They floated along in their full glory to both open and close the evening with three very fine sets, which included their super version of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”, and the colourful and catchy “Rainbow’s End” written by Dom.

We had two new faces at the business end of the room: Denbigh’s Roy Charlesworth (below) who brought us some Beatles treats, and bassist John Helm who accompanied me on a rocky version of “Whiskey in the Jar” with Tom Degney adding his magnificent mandolin into the mix.

The hard-working Tom did a solo spot and accompanied his good lady Lynda. Bob Neale rustled up some Ry Cooder and Woody Guthrie, Penni Neale performed some Richard Thompson and kept us amused with “Say The Same Things Twice”, Glyn Hudson had the whole room joining in with her a-cappella songs.

The weather may have intervened to reduce our numbers somewhat, but the fourteen performers put on a great evening for the assembled audience.

 

All Cake and No Bears

By |December 4th, 2017|0 Comments

It was a night of music, fun, laughter, and cake. In fact, everything but the bear!

The Music, Fun and Laughter, of course, are pretty much a standard feature of our Thursday nights, and this week was no exception.

True, numbers were down due to a ruck of our regulars boarding a charabanc to Butlins in Skegness for the Great British Folk Festival weekend.

But what we lacked in numbers, was more than compensated by the quality of the music provided by a denary of balladeers and troubadours, entertaining just shy of two dozen in the function room at The Feathers.

Happy 65th Birthday Phil

The Cake
The delicious and beautifully decorated chocolate cake was provided by our very own folk-singing Great British Baker, Glyn Hudson, the occasion being the eighty-fifth birthday of long-standing member Phil Jones.

Affectionately known as Phil ‘About the House’ (from the days he ran a DIY shop of that name in the town), Phil has been a loyal member since the club’s very first meeting back in 1996. To this day, he turns up on a fairly regular basis, with Enid on his arm and a that lovely warm smile on his face.

Everything but the Bear

Everything But The Bear is the name of a brand new collaboration between Wirral musicians John Williams and Ann Croenen.

John, of course, is well known to us at Ruthin AllStyles, and we were delighted that they chose our little club for their first public performance as a duo. And what a fabulous performance it was too. A mixture of covers and John’s own compositions, five songs in all, each one testament to how lovely their voices harmonise.

And then John closed the evening in fine style with the Lyle Lovett ballad, “Closing Time”.

The Ten Floor Singers were: Richard Ruthin, Tom and Lynda Degney, Robin the Busker, Jim Cole, Joe Lyon, Bob Hall, John Williams and Ann Croenen (Everything but the Bear), and myself.

Listen to John Williams and Ann Croenen’s lovely version of the Richard Shindell song, “The Last Fare of the Day”


Stop Press!

In coming to our Singers’ Night, John Williams had missed out on the first day of the¬†Great British Folk Festival weekend, but fortune struck when he did eventually arrive at the festival. I will let John take up the story…

I was caught in a fortunate Twist of Fate as I approached the Acoustic Stage carrying my trusty David Oddy cello mandolin. Festival organiser, Stephen Stanley accosted me and asked: “Can you play that?” and “would to like to open the Acoustic Stage this afternoon?”. I didn’t need asking twice, and he said “Okay, you’re on in two minutes”.

It seems they had been let down at the last minute by there opening act. I did a seven song set. The sound in the room was wonderful and the balance through my monitors was perfect. Judging by the applause and fact I sold all thirty of my  CDs,  it must have gone down really well. Steve, and also Alan Ritson from Lincoln City Radio, thanked me, paid me. and then went on to tell me I was booked for 2018!

Woo Hoo! Thanks Guys. That twist of fate has made me smile all weekend.

Grey Thursday

By |November 26th, 2017|0 Comments

Turkey Rhubarb – Maria, Phil and Jason

Despite the weather, and regardless of the fact it was the eve of Black Friday, a respectable number were gathered in the function room of The Feathers, to be entertained by a colourful collection of minstrels, who couldn’t fail to brighten the day, however monochromatic.

A Wrexham based trio with the intriguing name of Turkey Rhubarb, launched us into the evening, Hendrix style, with the Billy Roberts rock standard “Hey Joe”. Maria, Phil and Jason were making their AllStyles’ debut.

David Rees followed on with some Eagles, before treating us to a selection of his own excellent compositions.

David Rees

I decided that I was in a Beatles kinda mood. And it stayed that way until it was time to accompany Bob Hall on the 12-string as he sang “There But For Fortune”. Written by American folk musician Phil Ochs, the Joan Beaz recording of which became a chart hit in 1964.

“Ride on” was Lynda Degney’s opening number, from the pen of¬†Jimmy MacCarthy and made famous by Christy Moore. Then came the classic “Plant Your Fields” before Tom flew solo with the Sea Shanty, “Leave Her”, by¬†Johnny Collins.

Glyn Hudson also nodded in the direction of Christy Moore with the traditional folk song “Bunch Of Thyme”, and “Donna Donna” by Joan Baez.

Before starting his set, Joe Lyon trumped me in the jokes department with his ‘vicar under the bed’ story. I’m going to have to up my game, I reckon.

Penni Neale

As the laughter died down, he treated us to the first of a trilogy of Ray Davies songs, “Postcards of London”, “Sunny Afternoon” and “Thank You for the Days”, with “Strawberry Fields by the Beatles thrown in for good measure.

Penni Neale’s first offering was the Ryan Adams song, “Dirty Rain” and was later joined by a mandolin playing Tom Degney on the Kris Kristofferson classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down”.

In the second half she sang two new (to her) songs, both beautiful Emmylou Harris ballads,¬†“You’ll Never Be The Sun”, and “Hickory Wind”.

Most of us managed to get four songs each and Turkey Rhubarb’s second helping was a serving of “Dead Skunk” with a shanty of “Old Riley” on the side.

Then for the finale, as if to herald the coming of Black Friday, they sent us out into the night with a rousing rendition of John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising”.

T’was a great night – more again next week!

Let The Music Speak For Itself

By |November 22nd, 2017|0 Comments

Put six musicians, who thoroughly enjoy what they do, in front of an audience of fifty people, who thoroughly enjoy everything that they do, and I think you’ll find that is a recipe for a damn good and highly entertaining night of music.

And that’s exactly what last Thursday was, when Merry Hell gave it their all at Ruthin AllStyles Music Club.

Virginia, the three Kettle Brothers, bassist Nick and fiddler Neil provided a fabulous mix of old favourites and some newer songs. After opening with “Loving the Skin You’re In”, we heard “Drunken Serenade”, War Between Ourselves” and “Crooked Man” from their ‘Blink and You’ll Miss It’¬†album.

My feet never stopped tapping.

There was “Let’s Not Have a Morning After” and the beautiful ballad “Emerald Green” from the album ‘Head Full of Music, Shoes Full Of Rain’.

From the album ‘Bloodlines’, came forth “Ghost in Our House”, the anthem “Come On England”, and the poignant, heartfelt call for peace, “Coming Home”, born of the¬†refugee¬†crisis and sung a-capella by all six band members

And of course, no Merry Hell concert could ever be complete without “Bury Me Naked”.

Their second set ended with “Let the Music Speak For Itself”, by an encore with “The Old Soldier” and a very lively song “Sweet Oblivion” during which John broke a string, swiftly swapped guitars, and promptly broke a string on that one too.

We heard well over twenty songs in all, each one testament to the song-writing skills of Bob, John and Virginia Kettle. And each and every one performed with the lively enthusiastic professionalism that makes this Wigan based band one of the most up-lifting and enjoyable folk-rock ensembles in the land.

Let the video clips speak for how much fun the evening was …and let the Music Speak for Itself.

The evening’s warm-up came in the form of a song each from a merry band of the AllStyles regulars, comprising:¬†Joe Lyon,¬†Tom and¬†Lynda Degney,¬†Penni Neale,¬†Glyn Hudson,¬†Harri Owen,¬†Wendy and¬†Richard Eastwood, David Rees, and myself.