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So far Chris Birchall has created 202 blog entries.

A Perfect Ten

By |September 14th, 2017|0 Comments

Chris Birchall

The actual at-ten-dance was 23, not bad for the first week of September which according to the club’s history books, traditionally has a lower than usual turn-out.

I don’t know why that should be. Maybe it’s the ‘back to school’ thing for kids and grandkids. Maybe it’s because some folks are still away grasping at a last minute summer holiday. Or maybe it’s that transition thing, between Summer and the Autumn, when we all adjust to normality after all the summer shenanigans.

Ten Performers
Nevertheless we had ten performers who provided a great evening’s entertainment in the function room at The Feathers.

Multi-instrumentalist Tom Degney

I kicked things off with some Eagles and some Steve Earl, followed by Lynda Degney with “Don’t You Believe” by Don Williams. It was hard to believe that he, the ‘Gentle Giant’ of Country Music was to die the following day aged 78.

After accompanying Lynda on guitar, Tom took up his ukulele and sang a fine medley.

Having revealed his singing voice the week before, Bob Hall performed a fine set; singing this week to his own piano accompaniment and opening with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

Richard Eastwood gave us some Elvis; and Wendy some Patsy Cline; before Glyn Hudson had us all singing along to the “Sleepless Sailor”.

Squeezbox Mike Clark

New Faces
Squeezebox Mike was making his debut appearance at Ruthin AllStyles. Hailing from Llangollen, the highly entertaining Mike Clark is a member of the town’s GlaasWalkers Folk Band, and tonight enlisted the assistance of a couple of audience members, handing out a triangle and a shaker for some percussive accompaniment.

Then Penni Neale acknowledged the changing of the seasons with Ron Kavana’s “Reconciliation”, followed by “The Nearness of You”

The nearness of the evening’s end was nigh, and having knocked our socks off during the first half with his phenomenal guitar skills, we’d decided that the finale spot should go to Owen Chamberlain.

Milestones by Owen Chamberlain

Owen Chamberlain

Formerly of Ruthin but now living in Rossett, Owen was making his very first appearance at the club. And what a fine young singer/songwriter he is. Three of his songs were his own originals, including his latest “Milestones” (which you can hear on the track above), and a forth that had been written by his sister Helen.

We couldn’t let him go without an encore, and for this he chose Bob Dylan’s “Tambourine Man”, which had the whole room joining in for the choruses.

We’d performed up to four songs each, and the whole evening got a ten out of ten from all in attendance. And as we tentatively tend to say on these occasions: Let’s do it all again next week.

Bob Hall

Singers’ Night – August 31st

By |September 7th, 2017|0 Comments

Just a short write-up this week, due to the fact Jayne and I took ourselves off to the Yorkshire Dales for a short break.

Not that you can get far away from Ruthin AllStyles. We were just getting back to the car after sampling the cheesy delights of the Wensleydale Creamery, and who walks up but Neil Wilkinson. It wasn’t just a case of “All The Car Parks In All The World…” but we discovered that he and Mary had been staying in the very same village of Ingleton as us the night before.

Sweet Sixteen
It was a lively and varied evening which was kicked-off by the Tom, Dick and Harry Band – plus John Bass, of course.

Sixteen of us in all, playing to a room of twenty four. There were the usual suspects, plus a couple of faces returning after a short absence. Notably, Jim Cole with his fiddle full of Scottish jigs, and Rhyl’s Colin Masterson (above)  – on guitar rather than his usual ukulele.

Then there was a new face – at least at the business end of the microphones. Bob Hall (right) has been a frequent visitor in recent months, quietly sitting at the back of the room, taking it all in. But we found out this week, he’d been hiding a damn good voice under his bushel.

First he gave a fine performance of the Joan Baez classic, “There but for Fortune”, with yours truly on guitar, followed by and equally fine a-cappella version of Ivor Emmanual’s “My Little Welsh Home”.

Move That Thing by Ron McSweeney

The long distance award this week went to Harry’s friend Ron McSweeney (left) who was making his annual pilgrimage from Nottingham. Ron always makes a point of making an appearance at the club, and always delights us with his songs and lovely guitar style.

The finale spot was given over to Penni, who was joined at the end by Wendy and Richard for a delightful rendition of that lovely Welsh ballad “Calon Lân”, sung a-cappella and with the most beautiful harmonies. (Click below)

Calon Lân – Wendy, Richard and Penni

Roll Call

Bob and Penni Neale
Jim Cole
Lynda and Tom Degney
Peter Leslie
Colin Masterson
Joe Lyon
Glyn Hudson
Harry Robertson
Richard Ruthin
John Rowell
Richard and Wendy Eastwood
Chris Birchall
Bob Hall
Ron McSweeney

Collaborations Galore

By |August 30th, 2017|0 Comments

Richard Jones

It was an evening of collaborations, mostly impromptu, and mostly involving Hawarden harmonica player Phil Bradley, who ended up being worked pretty damn hard considering this was the first time he’d visited the club.

Richard Jones, also from Hawarden, opened up the evening with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. There was no piano in the room so ‘Harmonica Man’, Phil Bradley stepped up to accompany Richard, and to provide backing vocals too.  The whole thing had a nice “Peaceful Easy Feeling” about it – which just happened to also be the title of Richard’s next number.

Then we were treated to a bit of Hendrix from Jeff Jones, which he followed up with Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny”.

Lynda Degney enlisted her husband Tom to accompany her on guitar, and started ‘Killing him Softly With Her Song’. But then Tom wooed her back with a “Little Georgia Rose”.

Phil Bradley

The Sound of Bread was on David Rees’ menu as he sang the beautiful song “Diary” off that album. And you’ve guessed it… with ‘harmonica man’ Phil Bradley joining in on what was a last-minute collaboration. Then, in a magnificent display of musicianship, Phil accompanied David on a song he most definitely had not even heard before as it was David’s most recent original, “Normal Service”.

We kept Phil on stage for his solo spot, dishing up a serving of Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Richardson. Phil, who hails from Hawarden, had by now given up all hope of having a quiet sit down, as he was kept busy throughout the evening with more and more musicians requesting he join them.

One such was Peter Leslie, who had in fact teamed up with Phil in the past. After singing James Taylor’s “You Got a Friend”, Peter enlisted his friend Phil to accompany him on a lovely version of Peter’s own song “The Island”.

After some Tom Waits and Doctor Hook from me, Joe Lyon took to the stage with Donovan’s “Try For The Sun” and Beatles classic “Strawberry Fields”.

Terry Allen

It was good to welcome Wrexham musician Terry Allen again, for what must be his third or fourth visit. Choosing songs a little on the dark side, as befitting his husky, gravelly voice, Terry sang Neil Young’s “Love and War” followed by Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean”.

The second half of the evening began with a spot of “Fire and Rain” from Richard Jones and Phil Bradley. Then Cath Bryan reminded us that “We Are Young” (you speak for yourself Cath!!).

Following her set, Cath remained to accompany Pete Kirkham for a beautiful cover of Glen Hansard’s “Falling Slowly” from the film ‘Once’, which you can hear by clicking below.

Richard Ruthin took us for a trip on the legendary train, the “City of New Orleans”, with our new resident harmonica layer on board of course.

Richard and Wendy Eastwood duetted a tribute to Glen Campbell in the finale spot with “And then I Kissed Ya”, and Dream Lover”. Then for the finale, Wendy sent us all home with “Sweet Dreams”.

Wendy and Richard Eastwood

It’s Show-Time!

By |August 22nd, 2017|0 Comments

The nice thing about holding our music nights on a Thursday is that the pub is usually quiet, with little more than distant laughter and a bit of banter filtering down the corridor into the function room.

…except on Denbigh and Flint Show Day!

And who can blame them. After a long muddy day in the company of sheep and tractors, all they want to do is party party party!

Maybe we should consider an alternative strategy for the August 2018 show day. Ideas on a virtual postcard please 🙂

Despite the shenanigans during the last hour and the crush at the bar, we had a fine evening (albeit with the PA having to be cranked a little higher than our normal sedate settings), with a round dozen performers playing to a comfortably full room.

Plane Sailing
With his wonderful baritone voice, so reminiscent of that great country singer, Richard Eastwood’s set list acknowledged the fact Jim Reeves was born on this day 93 years ago. Jim Reeves, of course, was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1964.

With a sweet voice an octave or two higher than her husband’s, Wendy Eastwood gave us a lovely set of songs by Patsy Cline, who also died in a plane crash.

Next up was Joe Lyon with a great cover of “Starwood in Aspen” by John Denver, who…  Hang on, where is all this going?

I was up next, and so I resisted the temptation to keep the theme going with a Buddy Holly number, and opted instead for  “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, who I strongly advise should stick to travelling by boat and by train.

Richard Ruthin was joined by Tom Degney on dobro to produce some good ole country music, with Wendy providing lovely harmonies on “Heartaches by the Number”.

Tom then sang his “Dr Jaz” medley before accompanying Lynda on the Richard Marx song “Hazard”.

Peter Leslie brought along his 12-string, which fitted the bill admirably for his cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, as well as his own song “The Busker” and Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”.

An Abergele trio comprising Gaz, Hade and Dave were making their second visit to Ruthin AllStyles. Last time they were a band with no name, so we called them GHD. Tonight they turned up as ‘Top Notch’ and gave us “Harvest Moon”, “Gangsters” and Hawkwind’s “Quark, Strangeness And Charm”.

Sheffield musician Alan Gill was making his Feathers debut, although he had played at the club a few years back, when we were at The Cross Keys. For his first set, he sang George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” and Tracy Chapman’s “Baby I Can Hold You”.

Following the beer break we went around again with one more song each, after which we brought Alan back for the finale spot with a fine helping of Ralph McTell, including “The Hiring Fair” and “Let Me Down Easy”.

It was 11.00pm and we all drifted home, far from the madding crowd, resisting the temptation to join the karaoke and disco antics ’till 2.00am, through in the main bar.

I must be feeling my age! 😉

 

 

Long Time No See

By |August 15th, 2017|0 Comments

Brandon Ridley

We are very lucky at Ruthin AllStyles, in that we have a core group of regulars who turn up every two or three weeks (some every single week!) and a good number who come to perform for us once in a while. It’s what makes Singers’ Nights so interesting, with lots of variety. No two weeks are ever the same.

This week was full of “long time no see” moments as the guitar-wielding visitors began flooding through the doors.

One such person was young Brandon Ridley from Rhyl, with a new white stetson on his head and some new home-grown music in his fingers, including “Slap That Jukebox”, a song he wrote whilst away on holiday after watching somebody carry out that very procedure 🙂

Then there was Alex and Matt. Lovely to see them again, which doesn’t happen half as often as we’d like, since they emigrated south of the Horseshoe Pass. Alex opened their set with the Kacey Musgraves song “Die Fun”, and Matt sang Jace Everett’s “Bad Things”.

Terry Allen

Making his third visit to the club, was Wrexham’s Terry Allen.  A great entertainer with a wry sense of humour, the songs he writes take a sideways look at life. Tonight he sang “The Grip is Strong” and “Coming Back From the Dead”

The long-distance award this week went to the quintessentially quirky Karen White, who makes a special point of popping in to entertain us every year when she is over from Australia. Sporting a new 12-string, Karen treated us to three songs, including “Don’t Stand too Close to the Window” by Paul Kelly, and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. If you want to hear more, her CD, By Request, is available from Karen’s website.

There was one new face at the business end of the microphones this week. It belonged to Pete Kirkham, a friend of Cath Bryan, who played guitar as he sang a lovely cover of “The Rhinestone Cowboy” as a tribute to Glen Campbell who sadly passed away this week.

‘Lon Rangers’ Oli and Harri

It was a fabulous full evenings entertainment, with more variety than you could shake a stick at, from no fewer than twenty performers, and with almost double that number in the room.

It had begun with the rocky, gravelly, sounds of Clwydian Rangers Harry Owen and Oli Bradley-Hughes, and it fell to Peter Leslie to take us up to the evening’s end with three melodic and gentle ballads: His own “The Potters Wheel”, and Australian anti-drug song “The Wasteland” and then, for an encore, he sang a lovely cover of “Paul Simon’s Kathy’s Song”.

The Evening’s Roll Call

Lynda Degney
Tom Degney
Joe Lyon
Chris Birchall
Richard Davies
Brandon Ridley
Enid Toft & Neil Wilkinson
Penni Neale
Harri Owen & Oli Bradley-Hughes
Alex and Matt
Pete with Cath Bryan
Karen White (the quirky one)
Glyn Hudson
Terry Allen
Brian Peters
Peter Leslie


Singers’ Night August 3rd

By |August 9th, 2017|0 Comments

They came from near and far. From Ruthin to Rhos-on-Sea, from Wrexham to Reading. Oh yes… and from Spain too!

Penni Neale got things underway, leading us up the “Stairway to Heaven”, and Jim Cole led us back down again in a jiggy fashion, dancing to the tune of his fiddle.

We had some Americana from Richard Davies, Lynda assured us she was “No Stranger to the Rain” and Tom Degney sang about “The Newsboy Jimmy Brown”.

Glyn Hudson had the whole room singing along with her in a little comic ditty “Shisht”, and Ray Davies fan, Joe Lyon, brought us bang up to date with the former Kinks’ front man’s recent release, “Americana”.

In the the words of The Eagles, Chris advised us to “Take it Easy”, whilst Richard Eastwood had the “Folsom Prison Blues”

In addition to a couple of his own songs, one being his latest, about a potter’s wheel, Peter Leslie paid homage to James Taylor with a fabulous cover of “Fire and Rain”

Next up was Sweeney, with a voice reminiscent of Joan Baez. She was joined for one of her songs by her friend Anna, who is visiting from Spain. I apologised for our weather, but Anna said she was enjoying it! How cool is that! (if you get my meaning 🙂 Together they performed a cover of Damien Rice’s “Nine Crimes”. You can listen to the soundbite below.

Mike Bostock hails from Reading and visits the club whenever he and his good lady are in North Wales on a walking/rambling holiday. By a strange coincidence, we also had a new audience member turn up this week who had just moved from Reading to live in the town. ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…” and all that 🙂

Mike’s first song was a cover of “The Hangman and the Papist” by Dave Cousins of The Strawbs. He followed this with a Show of Hands number “The Galway Farmer”.

It fell to Mike to take us up to the end of the evening. And he did so in grand style with a lovely version of Annie Lennox’s “Into The West”. And then for an encore, one of his own songs inspired by a true story that he’d researched after stumbling across an inscription on a gravestone in Eastbourne.

 

Candlelight, Cake, Chords and Choruses

By |August 2nd, 2017|0 Comments

It was some auld git’s birthday, so there was cake. Lots of it. Which was just as well, as there were over forty gannets in the room. Almost half of these were Performing Gannets, so there was also plentiful serving of music.

And, as is obligatory for a Ruthin AllStyles Music Night, there was lots of fun too.

Some of the usual suspects were there, of course. Joe Lyon, Tom and Lynda Degney, David Rees, and Peter Leslie, all contributed a wonderful mixture of covers and self penned songs to the summer evening gathering.

Ron Stevenson

It had fallen to Pete and Di to get things off to a rip-roaring start with their special blend of vocals, flute and guitar, and then later in the evening, they challenged us to a “Name That TV Theme Tune” segment which went down well with the knowledgeable audience.

Ron (from Wrexham) Stevenson put in his two-penneth. Well… a Five Penny Piece worth actually. And then Jim Cole was a merry old soul as he called for his fiddlers three. They didn’t hear him, so instead he treated us to some fine Scottish jigs himself.

John Williams

The maker of the delicious birthday cake, Glyn Hudson, had everyone singing along with some traditional folk ditties, plus the (embarrassing for the recipient) traditional birthday song.

Then it was the beer break, during which the cake was cut, the raffle was called, and luthier extraordinaire Harry Miller told a witty tale or two.

In the second half, Wirral’s John Williams treated us to some fine stuff on his cello mandolin, and Jayne in particular, was delighted that his set included the Stereophonics hit, Dakota. And he had the whole room singing along to Wagon Wheel.

Dawn and Alan Hesford, aka Arora, descended to spread some Sunny Rhyl sunshine on the evening with a helping of Take That, Simon & Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell.

Chester Weiss and John Bass

In the finale spot this week was the recently formed duo, Chester Weiss and John Bass.

These guys have been pretty busy on the folk and festival circuit in recent weeks, and after hearing them tonight, we can see why.

It was a great way to end a great evening of merriment. And on a personal level,  I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who made it so memorable. You made a happy man very old 😉


Dawn and Alan Hesford

A Bumper Week

By |July 27th, 2017|0 Comments

David Rees

It was indeed a bumper week – in more ways than one!

For a start we had 36 through the door, despite the fact the summer months are generally quieter. Exactly half of those were performers, giving us a bumper crop of songs and tunes.

There was a lot going on in the area too, not least of which was the two day GraigAid Festival at Graigfechan. It featured a bumper crop of local musicians, many of whom are frequent visitors to the club, as did the Folk on the Farm Festival on the isle of Anglesey the week before.

Away from the music, I had a bumper week myself. Retirement is supposed to be a time for pipe and slippers, but I just seem to be busier than ever. Besides which, I don’t smoke, nor do I possess a pair of slippers.

Last weekend I was treated to a surprise unbirthday gathering of all five of my children, their various spouses and partners, grandchildren, plus a cousin or two for good measure.

First time visitor Jane Harvey

This all happened at the excellent Nant y Felin restaurant in Llanrhaedr, organised by my sneaky, but otherwise lovely, wife 🙂

The long and short of it is that here we are, very late on Wednesday night, six days after our bumper music night, and I’m only just getting around to write about it!

The list of floor spots is so long, you’d need a Tom Tom to navigate through it. Suffice to say it started with a Tom of the Degney variety, and ended with a Tom of the Goodall variety. And every performance in between was excellent and inspiring.

So for this week’s blog, I’m going to leave you with some photos, a roll call, and a soundbite from Mr Goodall’s finale spot. This was a beautiful self-penned song called “Last Days of Life”, that left me, along with many others choked with emotion.

Tom Goodall

Roll Call
Tom and Lynda Degney
Richard and Wendy Eastwood
Richard Ruthin
Bob and Penni Neale
David Rees
Glyn Hudson
Joe Lyon
Chris
Jane Harvey
Cath Bryan
Enid Toft & Neil Wilkinson
Peter Leslie
Pete & Di
Tom Goodall

 


Last Days of Life by Tom Goodall
Click to listen

Kevin Wardman Showcase

By |July 14th, 2017|0 Comments

 

It’s been a good year for the Roses.

No, we’ve not started a gardening page. This was the title of one of the songs our guest Kevin Wardman sang in his showcase set this evening. And I think it’s safe to say it has also been a damn good year for the music too.

A long serving and well respected member of the Rhyl Folk and Acoustic Club, it is some five years since Kevin last entertained us at Ruthin with his superb guitar style, his great stage presence and smooth dusky vocals.

He opened an excellent mid-evening showcase set with Chris Rea’s “Chisel Hill”, following on with “Down Too Deep” off Dougie MacLean’s 1989 album, Butterstone, and Joan Armatrading’s “The Weakness In Me”.

Then came “It’s been a good year for the Roses”. This was originally recorded by American country singer George Jones, but so good was tonight’s performance, you’d have been excused for thinking composer Jerry Chesnut had written it for Kevin himself.

The set continued with “This Year” (White Buffalo), “I Used To Love Her” (Saw Doctors) and the first of three Steve Earl songs, “My Old Friend the Blues”.

The Peter Bond and Bill Caddick classic “One Hand on the Radio” took us up to the break.

Floor spots
Floor spots ensued, with some Ben E King and Woody Guthrie from Chris Birchall and Bob Neale. Joe Lyon reflected on a “Sunny Afternoon”, Kinks style, and Peter Leslie ventured into Paul Weller territory with a super cover of “You do Something to me”.

Richard Eastwood, went all Don Williams on us with “I Recall a Gypsy Woman”, and his gypsy woman, Wendy, sang a lovely laid back version of Dusty Springfield’s 1963 hit, “Only Want to Be With You” .

We had each got three songs under our belts as Penni Neale brought the floor spots to a conclusion with a song released by The Who in the early seventies, “Behind Blue Eyes”.

 

Finale Time
And so it was finale time and Kevin returned to the stage to deliver John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, and two by Steve Earl: “Can’t Remember if we Said Goodbye” and “Copperhead Road”.

As Kevin folded up the sheet of paper containing his set list, the audience were baying for more, with our visitors from Rhyl Shouting: “Geronimo”.

Mrs Wardman duly obliged with a rousing rendition of “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, to the accompaniment of Red Indian war cries from the floor.

Singers’ Night July 6th

By |July 11th, 2017|0 Comments

Richard Ruthin got the evening underway with the 1928 Bo Carter song “Corrina Corrina” accompanied by Tom Degney on mandolin.

Tom then swapped his mandolin for a banjo to treat us to a song he wrote in the dentist’s waiting room, and it’s true to say no-one was looking down in the mouth as he sang “That Old Willow Tree”. But we didn’t let him rest upon his laurels as his musical journey continued with “Wheels”, playing guitar this time with Lynda providing the vocals.

After putting all those different musical instruments through their paces, Tom sat down for a well-earned rest, and it was time for something completely different in the form of an a cappella interlude with ‘Mama G and the Be-bop Brunettes’. Demonstrating some beautiful close harmonies, Angharad, Lyn and Laura  eliminated any negativity with “Accentuate The Positive”.

With Jim Reeves in mind, Richard Eastwood sang “He’ll Have To Go”, followed appropriately enough by “Adios Amigo”.

Joe Lyon drew upon the back catalogues of Cliff Richard and Billy Joel, with “The Next Time” and “Piano Man”.

Next we were treated to a Richard Thompson song as Peter Leslie took us “From Galway to Graceland”.

By this time, I reckoned Tom had had enough of a rest, so I dragged him and his mandolin back up on stage to accompany me on Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl”.

Jeff Jones sang the Henry Mancini classic “Moon River”, whilst Wendy Eastwood’s sets paid homage beautifully to two of her musical heroes, Patsy Cline and Nanci Griffith.

Christy Moore’s “Black is the Colour” was the opening song of a fabulous set by Elfin Bow (Elizabeth Anne Jones).

It also fell to Elizabeth to do this week’s finale slot. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as she delivered a stunningly beautiful cover of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”,  before sending us home with a lively earworm in the form of her own composition, “Prairie Madness” off her debut album, which incidentally, has its official launch in Wales next Month at Theatr Clwyd.