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So far Chris Birchall has created 241 blog entries.

The Last of May

By |June 5th, 2018|0 Comments

No, this is not a case of political wishful thinking, it really was the last day of (the month of) May.

We had a brace of Scottish tunes from Gentleman Jim Cole, some Beatles and Orbison from Joe Lyon and I too delved into the Fab Four’s back catalogue, with a bit of Dylan added to my set.

Lynda Degney sang Wet Wet Wet’s “Love is all Around” with Tom on guitar, and Tom’s solo spot included a tune on his banjo

Richard Ruthin was up next to sing “Weary Hobo” with Tom accompanying on the Dobro. Then he enlisted Wendy to provide some sweet harmonies on “Old Friends Can’t Hold a Candle to You”, and for this one Tom swapped the dobro for his Mandolin. Another collaboration came in the second half when Richard was joined by Enid Toft for the Welsh language love song “Myfanwy”.

Tash Alcock
Making her third appearance at the club, Wrexham teenager Tash Allcock accompanied herself on guitar for the Snow Patrol song, “Called Out in the Dark” (click ► above to listen) and for  “Hold Back the River” by James Bay.  For her second set she broke out her Ukulele and sang Elvis Presley’s  “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

Tom’s second set was next, and he just couldn’t resist borrowing Tash’s Uke to play a brilliant version of the theme from “The Third Man”. In doing so, he took the number of different instruments he had played during the evening to no less than five!

Skeet Williams only played one instrument, but such is his finger-picking prowess, that his made it sound like at least two guitars and he performed instrumental versions of the songs of Fleetwood Mac and Yazoo.

Don Gibson and Don Williams songs featured in Richard Eastwood’s set, “Cant Stop Loving You”, and “I Believe in Love” in particular, being well suited to his voice.

Wendy Eastwood sang “I Hate Love Songs” (click ► below to listen) and “To June This Morning” which is a Johnny Cash poem set to music by Kacey Musgraves.

The she was joined by Richard for a finale of three lovely duets, culminating with the Everly Brothers song, “Let it be Me”.

 

Old Friends and New

By |May 29th, 2018|3 Comments

Listen to Skeet Williams playing Albatross while to read the Blog

Skeet Williams

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Being part of a music club such as Ruthin AllStyles, gives an opportunity to meet up with a special circle of friends on a fairly regular basis, to reacquaint with old friends, and to welcome new friends into the fold.

One of those old friends was Albert Ross.

Hang on… No it wasn’t… It was Skeet Williams, who opened his set with the Fleetwood Mac classic “Albatross”, showcasing his immaculate flowing finger-style technique. He followed this with Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”.

Simon Pritchard and Tim Rowell

Among the new friends we made tonight were two members of John Bass’s family.

Living as they do at opposite ends of the country, John’s son Tim Rowell and his nephew Simon Pritchard had never played together before. Following a brief rehearsal out in the pub’s rear courtyard, the pair turned out an excellent cover of Greenday’s “Time of Your Life”.

Adah and Maddock Embury

From Near
Youngsters Adah and Maddock Embury (12 and 11) were also making their Ruthin AllStyles debut, having only recently moved to live in the area.

Shyness and nerves overcome, they put their beautifully pure voices together to deliver some excellent close harmonies on a range of songs including Ed Sheeran’s “What Do I Know?” and James Bay’s “Let It Go”.

Jake Stokes from New Zealand

From Far
The long distance award this week went to a young man from New Zealand who was over in Wales on a family holiday.

Jake Stokes’s lively rocky style was well suited to his choice of songs: “The Way I Tend To Be” and “The Levy”.

Full Supporting Cast
As for the rest of us, the regulars, Richard Ruthin, Tom and Lynda Degney, Joe Lyon, Glyn Hudson, Penni Neale and Yours Truly; well we provided our usual eclectic mix of country, folk and Americana.

Glyn Hudson accompanied by Skeet

Being one of Skeet’s guitar pupils, Glyn persuaded her mentor to join her on the Kate Rusby song, “The Sleepless Sailor”.

Finale
The finale spot this week was filled by one of our newest ‘regulars’,  Keith Hawley, who was making his fourth appearance at the club in as many weeks.

Keith’s song choices included a clutch of Beatles songs: “Hide Your Love Away”, “Things We Said Today” and “Norwegian Wood”.

Keith Hawley

Then for the finale, the whole room joined in on the “lie-la-lies” as he sang Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”.

It’s a Singer’s Night again next week.

See you then!

 

 

A Buskin’ Good Start

By |May 22nd, 2018|0 Comments

Yes it was Robin the Busker who kicked off the evening with some rousing songs from his busking repertoire, accompanied  by John Helm on bass guitar.

It was one of his rare summer appearances at the club, in between sorties on the canals and waterways, where he hops from festival to festival, stopping off to “Busk for Cancer Research” at every opportunity along the way.

It was good to see Lynda and Tom Degney back after a two week absence following Tom’s short spell in the “Costa del Glan Clwyd”. They were singing the praises of the NHS, along with their usual mix of Country and Americana.

Harry Miller was back too, after being in the company of doctors and nurses. Whatever else he might have had removed, it certainly wasn’t his sense of comedy as he was on fine form with his humorous tales.

Bob Dylan was foremost in Keith Hawley’s mind as he opened his set with “Things have Changed”, following up with a David Grey number. I kept the Dylan theme going with “Blowing in the Wind”, and our very own ‘Bruvver’, Joe Lyon, took a look at the world through Joe Brown’s eyes with “A Picture of You”.

Bob Hall was biased toward Joan Baez as he sang “There But For Fortune”, Steve Bailey took us down the traditional folk road with “North Country Maid”, and Penni Neale brought us back to present times with a lovely version of Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something”.

Country music was very much to the fore in Richard Davies’s set as he sang “Old Flames”, with Tom Degney on mandolin and John Helm on bass.

This week’s long distance award went to Terry Davies. Once a resident of the Vale of Clwyd, where as a youngster he’d played in a band, Terry has spent the last forty years or so in Canada, and was over here for a holiday.

We found him a guitar and he treated us to “Four Strong Winds”.

For our finale this week we called upon Peter Hodgson, who was making his second visit to our club. Peter enlisted the help of  tonight’s very busy bassist John Helm, and included two Tom Petty Songs in his sets, “Learning to Fly” and “Into the Great Wide Open”, as well as the Chris Stapleton song “Broken Halos”. But it was the James Taylor classic, “Carolina in my Mind”, that he chose for the last song of the evening, with backing harmonies courtesy of Penni Neale.

 

A Perfect Ten

By |May 16th, 2018|0 Comments

Joe Lyon and John Helm

Ten troubadours tentatively tendered their title to the tally of Thursday night tune makers to tantalise the attentive audience.

Of the regulars, we had Penni and Bob Neale, myself and Joe Lyon. Joe was joined for one of his Kinks numbers, by our nouveau-regular, John Helm on bass guitar. John also did a solo spot, accompanying himself on mandolin.

Rhodri Hampden Jones is also fast becoming a regular, adding some fine a cappella variety into the mix, through the medium of both English and Welsh.

Geoff Durno

It is always good to welcome back some of our less frequent visitors. One such was Geoff Durno who ventured into the realms of the Paul Simon songbook for a couple of the numbers in his well executed set.

Another was Mr Robin Spreckley who entertained us in his unique style with his quirky songs and mandolin magic. He was joined on his first set by family friend Tara on the violin, opening with a super instrumental duet.

It was Tara’s first visit to the club and when she stepped up to do her solo spot, we were in for a real treat. This young lass from Carmarthenshire revealed the sweetest and purest voice, singing both a cappella and to her own accompaniment on mandolin and guitar. We do hope Robin and Jan can bring her back again soon.

Keith Hawley

Although Keith Hawley has visited the club a time or two in the recent past, tonight was the first time we had seen him at the business end of the microphone. What a fine energetic set he played, which included a trip “Up The Junction”, 1980s Squeeze style.

Penni played us out for the evening with a couple of new songs plus my particular favourite “You’ll Never Be The Sun”. This gives me a chance to ‘ramp up the reverb’, which suits the song, her guitar style and her lovely vocals.

I’ll tell you what… You’d go a long way to find a better night’s entertainment – and all for £1.50 🙂 See you next week!

 

May Day

By |May 9th, 2018|0 Comments

Cath Bryan and Pete Kirkham

…or at least, three days after.

According to Wikipedia, May Day is an ancient spring festival that involves dancing, singing, and cake as part of the festivities.

No cakes, but we certainly had the singing – and plenty of it, from a dozen minstrels, and there was foot tapping aplenty from the audience of twenty-odd, gathered in the function room at The Feathers.

Chris, and Joe Lyon got things underway with a set each, followed by Pete Kirkham who had Cath Bryan riding shotgun (except that she had a guitar, not an actual shotgun 😉 ).

John Helm (right) had turned up to give his brand new Gretsch its first public outing.

Another first was a debut a cappella performance by Rhodri Hampden Jones. who gave a fine performance in Welsh.

And yet another first came courtesy of Ceidwad Y Gân band members Oli and Sam, (left) who performed tonight as a duo.

Then it was over to the ladies. Glyn Hudson always manages to rouse the room into community singing to accompany her set which included “Donna Donna”. Cath Bryan’s set included a lovely version of “Good Year For The Roses”. And Penni Neale touched a patriotic note with “Green Green Grass of Home” by singing it in both English and Welsh.

Rhodri Hampden Jones

The third excursion into the Welsh language came from Enid Toft who sang a translated version of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”. Enid also performed the finale spot with the impeccable guitar accompaniment of Neil Wilkinson, as they gave us George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

Join us next Thursday for another night of music at The Feathers.

Singers’ Night 26th April

By |May 3rd, 2018|0 Comments

After last week’s full house for the Flossie Malavialle concert, this one was a quieter night. A half capacity audience of twenty-five was quite respectable for a Singer’s Night. We were small but perfectly formed, with some fine music being delivered by a total of ten musicians.

The Tom, Dick and Harry Band opened up the evening in fine style, with John Rowell providing the bass line The band also did the honours at the finale.

In between times we heard from Chris, Joe Lyon and Bob Hall. With Lynda Degney, Fuchsia Jones and Penni Neale representing the female voices.

And as well as his part in the band, Harry Robertson gave us a solo spot that included one of his self-penned songs “Til I Danced With You” from the Songs From Wales collection on YouTube.

Let’s do it again next Thursday 🙂 

Flossie Rocks Ruthin

By |April 24th, 2018|0 Comments

How good it was to have finally got Flossie Malavialle to Ruthin AllStyles.

And what a great night.

Performing before a capacity audience, this fabulous French folk singer thoroughly entertained us with an multifaceted collection of covers, with songs from the likes of The Beatles, Édith Piaf, Vin Garbutt and Kieran Halpin, all topped off with some good old Country Rock in the shape of “Girls Night Out” by Brent Maher.

The songs were diverse so that there was something for everybody, but at the same time, dovetailed in a way that they flowed like a well thought-out album.

Not only does she have a beautiful singing voice and effortless guitar style, Flossie is above all, a great entertainer. In that unique and fascinating Franco-Geordie accent of hers, she gave us an insight to the songs, and tales about her life and musical journey, satisfying her fans, some of whom had travelled many miles, and captivating the brand new fan-base that she was forging tonight.

I was so pleased when, early on in the evening, Flossie sang one of my personal favourites, “Luka” by Suzanne Vega, which always brings a lump to my throat.

A good half of the audience was made up of club regulars, a number of whom performed a song each at the start of the evening, armed with an array of instruments from guitars to mandolins to border bagpipes. And it was a huge thrill for me to have the lovely Flossie alongside me harmonising as I tackled Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence”.

Before we knew it, finale time was heralded with Flossie’s version of “Til There Was You”. Then for an encore, her guitar remained on its stand as she had everyone in the room to join in, singing, clapping and stomping along to her fabulous a cappella rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”.

Home time, and it was our guest performer who faced the longest journey. I could never get my head around why anyone would want to emigrate from the Mediterranean climes of Nimes to live on the southern slopes of Newcastle upon Tyne! But I’m sure glad she did, because the contemporary British folk scene is all the richer for it.

Support Performers Roll Call
Penni Neale, Geoff Hollis, Joe Lyon, Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Glyn Hudson, John Williams, Tim Eastwood, Chris Birchall

Next week: Singers’ Night, all welcome.

Click here for more videos from the concert

A Tea and Cakes Charity Boost

By |April 23rd, 2018|0 Comments

A big thank you to all those who attended  our recent fund-raising night on March 8th, which was part of the nation-wide “Time for a Cuppa” campaign to raise funds for Dementia UK‘s Admiral Nurses project.

Thanks too, to Glyn Hudson and Barbara Jones who brought cakes for the event, the Co-op in Ruthin who kindly donated cakes and wine for the raffle, and the management of The Feathers who donated a bottle of bubbly for the raffle.

Finally, thanks to Jayne Birchall who organised the club’s Time for a Cuppa event.

The tea, cake and raffle money raised £116.35 toward Dementia UK’s campaign to raise money to help families face dementia through their specialist Admiral Nurses scheme.

Friday the Thirteenth

By |April 17th, 2018|0 Comments

Mike Kendrick

Well almost. At least it was, by the time we’d packed all the stuff away and finished off the Guinness.

I’m not a bit superstitious of course, touch wood 😉

In any case, we managed to avoid ladders and black cats on the way home.

Being the tail end of the Easter holidays, our Thursday-the-twelfth Singers’ Night was a bit light, with just twenty in the room, eight of whom were performers.

It was a very enjoyable night nevertheless. Quite often we don’t manage to get a second spot each after the break, whereas this week, all bar a couple of late comers got to do three spots and up to five songs each.

Brian Peters

A Bit [of] Shambolic
As well as the usual suspects, it was good to see Mike Kendrick back at the club, busy as he is with not one but two bands, The Dansette Alligators and the Shambolics.

One of the late arrivals was Harri Owen who called in after a rehearsal session with his band, Ceidwad Y Gân – The Quaykeepers.

Harri hadn’t intended singing, but we found him a guitar and persuaded him to round off the evening, which he did in fine style with a great rendition of Paolo Nutini’s “Iron Sky”.

Roll Call:
Andrew Bowsher, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Tom and Lynda Degney, Mike Kendrick, Brian Peters and Harri Owen.


Next week – An Intimate Concert with Flossie Malavialle
Only half a dozen tickets left – grab yours NOW before they are gone: WeGotTickets

Baker’s Dozen Blues

By |April 7th, 2018|0 Comments

John Helm and Dan Bewsher

A Baker’s Dozen gathered at The Feathers for a musical bake-off, with an audience that swelled the total to almost thirty.

The function room was warm as toast and – not that proof was kneaded – we knew everyone would rise to the occasion and become the upper crust.

In fact, it was the best thing since sl…  Okay okay, that’s enough of the pâtisserie puns.

Suffice to say the evening yielded many memorable moments. Click below to listen to them while you read on.

 

John Helm and Dan Bewsher opened both halves of the evening with sets that included “Land Sky and Sea”, a pagan song by Dahm the Bard, and Van Morrison’s “Star of the County Down” proving along the way how harmoniously the bouzouki and dadgad-tuned guitar sound together.

Joe Lyon

Lynda Degney gave us “That Blue Grass Music” and Tom became “Dr Jazz”. Then Mark Thatcher became ‘Mr Fingers’ and dazzled us with his fret-board finesse.

Joe Lyon sang Donovan’s “To Try For The Sun”, expertly mastering the song’s change of time signature from verse to chorus.

“Can’t Find my Way Back Home” by Stevie Winwood was my contribution, which Colin Campbell hinted might well have been due to “Another Tequila Sunrise”.

Enid Toft and Neil Wilkinson

New Song
A new song from Enid Toft and Neil Wilkinson was “I Give my Heart”, also known as Faith’s Song, written by Welsh songwriter Amy Wadge, from the soundtrack of the BBC drama Keeping Faith.

They followed this with an old favourite, Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, which had the whole room joining in.

“Faith’s Song” (Amy Wadge) performed by Enid and Neil

Richard Ruthin enlisted the help of Mandolin Tom and Mark on bass for a set that included “You Never Can Tell”.

Having gone “Crazy”, Patsy Cline style, Cath Bryan became independently blue with Billie Holiday’s “Love Me or Leave Me”.

‘Mr Blues’, Brian Peters

But it was ‘Mr Blues’ himself, Brian Peters, who gave us the finale spot this week.

Brian became a one-man-band, playing guitar, slide resonator, stomp box, harmonica and yazoo. His sets included classics such as “Dust my Broom” by Elmore James, and he finished off with the 1930s Tommy Johnson song “Big Road Blues”.

We began this piece by talking about bread. So, in the immortal words of the bard, Bill Wagstaff, “If music be the food of love, play on”. 🙂 

Which is exactly what we intend to do again next week.