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So far Chris Birchall has created 229 blog entries.

Invasion from the North

By |March 18th, 2018|0 Comments

Kevin Wardman

Well last week we had that beast from the East, John Brindley, descend from Wigan to entertain us, and what a great concert it was.

This week they all came forth from the North to make it yet another brilliant Singers Night.

Pretty much all the performers had travelled from somewhere north of The Feathers, except perhaps for the lovely Cath who’s Hillside retreat is a tad shy of West North West, and the equally lovely Mark Thatcher who lives just around the corner.

Brandon Ridley

This week’s long-distance award went to Tom and Linda Degney who rolled in from Rhos-on-Sea. We had some revellers from Rhyl, a squire from Ysceifiog, a crooner from Rhewl and a delegation from Denbigh.

And it was Sunny Rhyl’s Brandon Ridley who got the proceedings under way in fine style with a couple of numbers recently added to his repertoire including Colter Wall’s “The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie”.

Another Rhylite, Kevin Wardman gave us a brilliant rendition of the Tom Waits’ songs,  “Kentucky Avenue” and the quirky “What’s he Building in There”.

Peter Hodgson is a performer we’ve seen a few times at the Rhyl Folk and Acoustic Club. Tonight he was making his AllStyles debut with the Andrew Combs song, “Too Stoned to Cry”, and “Leave the Light on” by Chris Smithers.

Peter Hodgeson

Tickling the ivories on his electric piano, Bob Hall’s message was “Smile”, Nat King Cole style.

The Degneys did Tim O’Brien’s “Like I Used To Do” with Lynda on vocals and Tom showed off the latest instrument to emerge from his workshop – a rather tasty looking (and sounding) banjo upon which he played “Salt Creek”.

Bob Neale called upon his wife Penni to accompany him on the Fred Rose song “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, made famous by Willy Nelson. Then Penni flew solo with “When You Love Someone” (Bryan Adams) and that beautiful Emmylou Harris song “You’ll Never Be The Sun”.

It was Jerry Jeff Walker’s 76th birthday, so I marked the occasion by singing his best-known song, “Mr Bojangles”.

Tom Degney

“The White Cockade” and “The Curragh Of Kildare” were two traditional folk songs from Glyn Hudson.

Cath Bryan went all AꓭBA on us with “Winner Takes it All” and David Rees took us back to the 1970s with a double helping of Dr Hook.

Mark Thatcher began the finale spot with John Martyn’s “Spencer the Rover”, followed by a yet unnamed instrumental of his own doing, and ending on John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”.

And then, Tom Degney (of Rhos on Sea) gave us one final tune on his newly made banjo. It was one he’d written about his home town, aptly called “Rhos in C”.

 


“What’s He Building in There” – Kevin Wardman

 

John Brindley Entertains

By |March 14th, 2018|0 Comments

We’d just got over the “Beast from the East”, when the lovable Jon Brindley breezed in to deliver a Feast from the East.

And the feast that he brought us from the wilds of Wigan, was a takeaway comprising the most diverse collection of covers and original songs as any lover of live music could ask for.

He served up helpings of Clapton, John Mayer, Trad Irish Folk songs, John Fogerty, and many more.

His first weapon of choice was the guitar, which he used for some lively rocky numbers. A string snapped half way through “Rollin on the River” and in true rock ‘n roll style, Jon carried on to the end of the song regardless.

Multi Instrumentalist
Luckily Jon had four instruments to choose from so whilst his guitar tech (me) took care of the restringing, he took charge of the electric piano and slowed the pace down with a set of three of his own compositions.

Then it was on to the accordion for some Steve Earl, including the catchy “Galway Girl”.

Back on guitar after the mid-evening break,  a beautiful french song  “La vie de Campagne”, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”,and Clapton’s “Call me the Breeze” were followed by the Irish drinking song, “Rosin the Bow”.

This was the cue for Jon to pick up his grandmother’s violin for some jaunty jigs that were accompanied by much foot tapping and thigh slapping from the audience.

Then one more on the accordion took us up to the end of the set. Not that we were ever going to let him go so quickly. Jon came back with John Mayer’s “Sweet Little Mystery” that had been requested by Jayne. More Irish folk followed in the form of “The Fox”. Then came the encore where he sang one of his own songs “Sing Out”  accompanying himself on the accordion.

Support
The evening had begun with a round of songs from five of our regulars: Chris, Lynda Degney, Andrew Bowsher, Glyn Hudson and Penni Neale, and the second half was opened with a four song set by another five, in the shape of the full Tom, Dick and Harry band (including John Bass and Raphael).

Charity Cake Stall
During the evening we also had cakes for sale in aid of the nation-wide “Time for a Cuppa” fund-raising campaign in aid of the Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse charity. Cakes had been kindly donated by Ruthin Co-op and two of our members, Glyn and Barbara. The Feathers management kindly donated a bottle of bubbly for the raffle plus a cash donation.

All the tea/coffee and raffle money was added to the donations box on the cake table, adding up to a grand total of £116.35 raised for the charity.

A couple of video clips from the night.

 

The Show Must Go On (or was that – The SNOW Must Go On?)

By |March 2nd, 2018|1 Comment

“The snow’s not sticking” they said. “It will have stopped by 6.00pm” they said. The main roads will be fine” they said.

They, of course, being the weather forecasters.

“Don’t believe them” she said.

She, of course, being Jayne.

“It’ll be fine”, said I.

I, of course, was being over optimistic. Although by half seven, it looked like I might have been right, as Mark Thatcher walked in announcing he’d just driven down the Nant-y-Garth on his way back home to Ruthin. Then two minutes later Neil Martin arrives having driven in over the Clwyd Gate from the other side of Chester.

And then…

Then came the realisation that everyone else knew what we didn’t, and that the snow wasn’t going to stop and that the roads were going to be anything but fine.

So Jayne packed up the cakes she had put out for the charity evening and (quite literally) slid off home. But the PA was set up, the room was warm and the beer was wet, so Me, Mark and Neil settled down for what turned out to be a very enjoyable Jam Session.

Here are a few soundbites…

Click to listen to The Snowdrift Sessions 🙂 


Next Week:
an intimate concert with the amazing and highly entertaining Jon Brindley. [Details]

 

February 22nd Singers’ Night

By |February 27th, 2018|0 Comments

The Amazing Clouds

The Amazing Clouds (Pete, Di and Dom) got the evening under way in grand style with some excellent self-penned songs.

Next up was Fuchsia Jones. Because her first song, “I Am Sky” used alternative tuning, she asked if she could borrow a guitar for her next two songs, to save having to re-tune.

Fuchsia Jones

I offered mine. Fuchsia had never played a 12-string before, but after a quick strum, decided she quite fancied the challenge. And only after she’d flawlessly performed “Rambling Man”, did I realise I’d neglected to tell her it is tuned down two semitones. Whoops!

Lynda Degney and a banjo-wielding Tom bade us all “Ring the Bell”, before Tom took to the guitar to sing “Sally”.

Making his third or fourth visit to the club, Roy Charlesworth entertained us with the humorous “Dear Old Mountain Boy”, singing the verses alternately in a gruff auld redneck’s voice and a falsetto woman’s voice.

The “The Bonnie Lass O’ Bon Accord” was the first of Jim Cole’s Scottish themed set on his trusty fiddle.

Tash Allcock

Mark Thatcher recruited Stephen Croft as his backing vocalist as he performed his signature song “Ricky Don’t Lose that Number”.

Making her Ruthin AllStyles debut was Wrexham youngster Tash Allcock, whose ukulele skills and mature singing voice belied her 13 years. She performed “Goodbye Mr A” and “Rip Tide”, the first of which you can listen to on the soundbite below..

I resurrected the Otis Reading song “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” that was released exactly 50 years ago to the day. And Andrew Bowsher entertained us on his dulcimer guitar.

David Rees was talking about you and me and the  “Games People Play”. He followed this with one of his own excellent songs “Stalemate”.

Click the ► to hear Goodbye Mr A, sung by Tash Allcock

Penni Neale

 

Finale Time
The end of the evening always seems to come too soon, but Penni Neale took us to that point with three lovely songs “I Shall be Released”, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, finishing on that great Willy Nelson number “Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground”.
.



Next week:  will be Singer’s Night as usual – but with added Cake!
As part of the Dementia UK’s “Time for Tea” campaign, all the tea/coffee money will be donated to help fund their ‘Admiral Nurse’ facility. We will have cakes for sale too.  ►Details


Love Was In The Air

By |February 19th, 2018|0 Comments

Valentines Day may well have come and gone but love was still very much in the air when it came to tonight’s song choices.

Mark Thatcher gave us that Harry Nilsson number, lamenting about love lost, “Without You”.

Cath Bryan threw out the invitation; ‘Come on darling, lets go back to bed’ as she serenaded us all with “Morning Song” by the American singer-songwriter, Jewel. There were quite a lot of us, so Pete, fearing he might find a Crowded House, quickly responded with “Better be Home Soon” 😉

Lynda Degney reminded us that on Valentines Day, “Everybody’s Reaching Out for Someone”, whilst Tom was lamenting about “Sally”.

Richard Davies reminisced about “Old Flames”, with that Dolly Parton country classic. And I gave Henry Priestman’s “Valentines Song” its annual airing, before declaring that “Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair”.

Choosing a number by The Stereophonics, Harri Owen wasn’t feeling particularly romantic tonight, but hey… “Maybe Tomorrow”.

Heavy Metal
Jim Cole was playing host to his pal Ray, from New Orleans, who was visiting Britain for a heavy metal fix. The pair were heading to That London to take in some concerts by Judas Priest and Black Sabath.

There was not much in the way of metal thrashing at Ruthin AllStyles, so Jim compensated by charging up his feisty fiddle with a touch of the “Cameron Highlanders” and “The Old Resting Chair”.

Man of many instruments, Andrew Bowsher, introduced us to his new toy – a Weissenborn style (Hawaiian) lapsteel guitar. He played two of his own tunes, “Pay Day”, and “Weird and Lovely” followed by a weird and lovely story about meeting a ghost.

Glass Half Full
And so we were at the end of another lovely evening of music.

The room was at half its maximum capacity, not bad when you consider that a few people were away on romantic breaks and others in bed with (decidedly unromantic) bouts of The Flu. Nevertheless, nine of us managed to fit in up to four songs each – plus a last minute contribution from a late-to-the-party, but always welcome, Harri Owen.

It was down to Tom Degney to have the last word, which he delivered on his ukulele, taking us on a dark journey to post-war Vienna, Harry Lime style, with the theme from “The Third Man”.


Next week: Another Singer’s Night.

Advance Notice: On March 1st it will be Singer’s Night with Cake! As part of the Dementia UK’s “Time for Tea” campaign, all the tea/coffee money will be donated to help fund their ‘Admiral Nurse’ facility. We will have cakes for sale too.  ►Details


 

Nana Nana Nineteen

By |February 12th, 2018|0 Comments

Fuchsia Jones

Thirty-eight songs from nineteen performers in front of a gathering of twenty-nine.

All of which adds up to a splendid evening’s entertainment at the region’s number one venue for live folk and acoustic music.

The success of a club like ours is down to the sum of all its parts.

We are so lucky to have an enthusiastic core of regulars, and ‘fairly regulars’, who wholly embrace and warmly welcome the ‘occasionals’ (who might turn up once every few weeks or so) and most importantly, the ‘new faces’ too. And it is fascinating to witness the evolving migration between these groups.

Also, the fact we never know from one week to the next, who is going to come through the door wielding a guitar, is what adds variety and makes our Singer’s Nights so special.

Jayne and I always try to visit other clubs whenever we are away on our travels and are always grateful when we are made to feel welcome. Sadly, the opposite can be the case too.  There are times we’ve been practically ignored and on more than one occasion been made to feel we had gate-crashed someone’s private function.

Cath Bryan and Hannah Sherwood

AllStyles, All Welcoming
Hardly a week goes by without someone making their Ruthin AllStyles debut, and this week it was the turn of Hannah Sherwood, who had previously attended as a member of the audience a time or two, before deciding to take to the floor.

With guitar accompaniment by Cath Bryan, Hannah sang Amy Winehouse’s “You Know that I’m No Good” and Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time”. (Click below for a couple of soundbites)

Cath was kept busy, also accompanying Pete Kirkham as he gave us some Sting and some Bread, before serving up her own set, having picked Cranberries and Dylan for her inspiration.

Steve Bailey

Back for More
A former ‘new face’ a few weeks back, Steve Bailey must also have felt welcome, because here he was making a second visit.

Singing traditional folk songs, a cappella style, Steve’s first offering was “Bonny Ship the Diamond”, followed by “The Dalesman’s Litany”.

Billy Brag’s “New England” was Fuchsia Jones’s first song. “Gossamer Thin” by Conor Oberst, was her second. And I have to say, we are more than delighted to be used as a sounding board for the songs she will be singing at Rhyl Pavilion on March 15th when she has the support slot for Scottish band Skerryvore.

It is lovely watching youngsters like Fuchsia in the first steps of their musical journey. And again, it is testament to the club that many fledgling musicians, whatever their age, feel they can get up and perform before our attentive and appreciative audience.

Like most weeks, the evening offered up an eclectic mix of folk, roots and Americana, and several impromptu collaborations with the likes of Mark Thatcher happy to be called upon to provide bass accompaniment, as was Tom with mandolin and dobro.

And it was with such a collaboration that we ended the evening, as Mark and Tom provided backing for Richard in the finale spot which featured songs by Tom Paxton, Richard Thompson,  and Don Williams.

It really is a rather special little musical community we have here in the function room at The Feathers.

Mark Thatcher, Richard Davies and Tom Degney

Tonight’s roll call.
Chris Birchall, Jim Cole, Glyn Hudson, Pete Kirkham, Steve Bailey, Fuchsia Jones, Bob and Penni Neale, Andrew Bowsher, Joe Lyon, Mark Thatcher, Cath Bryan, Hannah Sherwood, Lynda and Tom Degney, Robin the Busker, Enid Toft & Neil Wilkinson, Richard Davies.


Next week: Singer’s Night again.

Advance Notice: On March 1st it will be Singer’s Night with Cake! As part of the Dementia UK’s “Time for Tea” campaign, all the tea/coffee money will be donated to help fund their ‘Admiral Nurse’ facility. We will have cakes for sale too.  ►Details


White Rabbits

By |February 7th, 2018|0 Comments

It might sound like it could be the name of a band.  But no: It is apparently what I should have uttered as I awoke on Thursday morning to bring me luck for the rest of the day.

Luckily, I’m not superstitious (touch wood). Although, had I been confronted by a witch, I might have been tempted to throw a pinch of salt at them, swiftly followed by a well-aimed punch!

Anyway, all that first-of-the-month nonsense is just… well… nonsense.

I know this because despite not winning the Wednesday Roll-Over, I had a happy day and was lucky enough to spend Thursday evening in the company of some twenty-nine other lovers of live music in the function room at The Feathers.

Half of these were performers, and it was Penni who got things underway with a lovely version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. Tom Degney gave us a medley of old favourites that included “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie”, and Lynda insisted that “The Answer is Blowing in the Wind”.

Joe Lyon sang “Woman”, Robin sang “Saved by a Woman”, and then Pete Kirkham gave a fine rendition of Neil Young’s “Old Man” accompanied by his woman, Cath, on guitar.

Cath later included “We Are Young”, by Fun, in a set delivered atop the wobbly chair.

Mark announced that his first song was “Your Song”, which we all know was actually Elton’s song, but nevertheless, he made it his own. Chris sang about “Wild Horses” and Andrew Bowsher dedicated a guitar solo to his one-eyed dog.

Over the Moon
The previous night sky had featured a Blue Moon, which apparently only happens once in a… (you know what I’m saying). Anyway, it inspired Richard to sing “Blue Moon Turns to Gold”. Then our very own “Mr Blues”, Brian Peters, sang about how the ‘moon peeks over the mountains’ in Clapton’s “Key to the Highway”. This week Brian augmented his fine bluesy guitar style with a well-crafted home-made stomp box.

It was great to welcome back young Brandon Ridley, who sang “Hand me Down” and “T for Texas”. Brandon’s cowboy boots will be transporting him and his stetson to Theatr Clwyd’s next Folk N’ Roots event on March 2nd where he will be in the support slot alongside the Goat Roper Rodeo Band. A gig well worth attending, as I can testify, having seen the same line-up there last year.

New Faces
We always like to see new faces visiting our little club, and this week I was particularly delighted to welcome Wrexham’s John Ramm and Danny Sergiou. At the end of the first half of the evening, the pair delivered a fine set comprising Kris Drever’s “I Didn’t Try Hard Enough”, and the John Mayer song “Belief”.

But we couldn’t just leave it at that, so we brought them back on for the finale, when they sang Yellowcard’s “Paper Walls”, before ending the evening with a lovely version of Daniel Bedingfield’s “Wrap My Words Around You”.

All in all it was a fine start to February …and I reckon we should do it all over again next Thursday.


Gary Edward Jones in Concert

By |January 30th, 2018|1 Comment


Well… what a fabulous evening of music that turned out to be.

After an opening round of floor spots from eight of the Ruthin AllStyles regulars, Gary Edward Jones began his first set with three of his newer songs, “Animals”, “Sunrise” and “Help me Out Lord”.

Originally booked to perform solo, we were delighted to discover he had assembled a band of four other talented musicians to accompany him: his wife Elizabeth on mandolin and backing vocals; Ben ‘fingers’ Gladwin on keyboard, John Crump on bass, and Dan Logan in the percussion department. The overall sound was polished, balanced and professional, and an absolute delight to listen to.

As the set continued, we were taken on a sublime journey that included songs off Gary’s critically acclaimed 2014 album, The Cabinet Maker, and some that will feature on his next album – a vinyl due to be released on the Jacaranda Records label.

Something About Simon
In addition to his own beautifully crafted songs, Gary’s performance was laced with a fine selection of covers of the songs of Paul Simon. (Click ► to hear Gary sing America)

 

Having spent years shunning any notion of capitalising upon his similarities to Paul Simon, which are both visual and vocal, Gary finally capitulated. But not content to simply cover these in an arbitrary fashion, Gary spent more than two years studying Paul Simon’s finger-picking style, and perfecting the subtle nuances of the American folk singer’s voice, to perfect an authentic sound.

All the hard work has finally paid off, with Gary having recently been signed-up to undertake an 80 venue tour of his multi-media show “Something About Simon”.

And I’m certain the tour will be a resounding success because, as we just witnessed during this concert, the only other person who sounds more like Paul Simon is Paul Simon himself.

The mid evening break was followed by a two song set from one of Ruthin’s newest young talents, Fuchsia Jones (below), who sang the Lorde song “Liability” and Laura Marling’s “Rambling Man”.

Then, as the second 45 minute set by Gary Edward Jones progressed, Fuchsia returned to the stage to take on the lead vocal on “Oceans”, a beautiful and poignant song that Gary wrote about the plight of the refugee children who lost their lives whilst taking flight from war-torn lands.

As this set came to a close there were enthusiastic shouts of ‘more’ from the capacity audience. Gary obliged with the Paul Simon classic “April Come She May”, and then sent us all home with a reggae earworm, in the form of his catchy upbeat song, “Who’s Gonna Love You Now”. (Click ► to listen)

The performers who contributed to the floor spots were: David Rees, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Lynda Degney, Tom Degney, Richard Davies, Penni Neale and Fuchsia Jones.

Next week: Singers’ Night.

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. 😉

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.