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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.

November 9th Singers’ Night

By |November 14th, 2017|1 Comment

Penni Neale

Penni Neale opened up the evening’s entertainment by falling into a “Burning Ring of Fire”, Johnny Cash style, before having “One More Cup of Coffee for the Road”.

Jim Cole took us north of the border with a touch of the Gay Gordons on his fiddle.

The songs of Roy Orbison figured large in Joe Lyon’s set. First “Blue Bayou”, with some very nifty crafty key changes, followed by “Too Soon to Know”.

I got myself psyched-up for next week’s sell-out Merry Hell concert by singing one of my favourites from their back catalogue, “Drunken Serenade in the Rain”.

Geoff Hollis

Next was Geoff Hollis with Phil Millichip’s “If I Had a Son, and “She Wears Black Clothes” by Robin Laing.

Glyn Hudson was next with a Remembrance Week poem “In Flanders Field” by John McCray”, and followed up with “Only Remembered”, the words of which were written by Horatius Bonar of Edinburgh. The song, of course, being widely used now in remembrance to those who fell in the Great War.

Tom and Lynda Degney became our very own Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, with a rendition of “All The Road-running”.

Steve Bailey

Then Tom solo’d on “Ages and Ages Ago”, before being joined on stage by Dick and Harry (Richard Davies and Harry Robertson). Richard did “Sea of Heartbreak” and “To Love Somebody”. Then Harry stepped up to the mic with “A Sporting Life”, and treated us to one of his latest compositions, the beautiful “Til I Danced With You”

A first-time visitor (at least to the business end of the microphones) was Steve Bailey, who is usually found fronting the band ’93rd Minute’. His band mates were not available tonight so Steve delivered some excellent a-cappella numbers, including “Oak and Ash and Thorn”.

For the finale spot, Robin the Busker was joined by a banjo-wielding Tom Degney, ending the set with “The Belle of Belfast City”, and as an encore, they belted out the Dubliners’ “All For Me Grog” to send us home with feet a-tapping.

The next Singers’ Night will be the 23rd of November as this Thursday coming we have the fabulous Merry Hell in Concert.
It is tickets only, so there will be no “on the door” admission I’m afraid. We are up to the legal maximum for the room.

“Belle of Belfast City – Robin the Busker”.


Speaking of Supergroups…

By |November 8th, 2017|0 Comments

Tom, Dick & Harry plus John Bass

Forget the Traveling Wilburys, The Highwaymen, Blind Faith and The Firm, we started the evening with our very own supergroup: Tom, Dick and Harry.

And not just any old Tom, Dick and Harry either, but Tom Degney, Richard Davies and Harry Robertson – plus of course, the omnipresent John Rowell, aka John Bass.

It was a great way to get us all in the groove, with their classical mix of R&B, blues, and Americana, that has inspired so many of the younger members and visitors to the club.

Having alternated between mandolin and dobro during that opening set, Mr Degney took to the four-string banjo for his solo spot, before brandishing a guitar to accompany his other ‘arf, the lovely Lynda.

I swear… if you put a tennis racquet in that man’s hands, he would make it sing like a bird.

Glyn Hudson

As wonderful as all this instrumentation is, the next two solo performers, Glyn Hudson and Geoff Hollis, chose to perform a-cappella for at least one each of their respective sets, and both inspired most of the thirty-five-strong audience to join in on the chorus.

Joe Lyon was on top form as he gave us a magnificent helping of Merseybeat Sounds, and I told the tale of “Blind Willy McTell” before serenading my lovely lady with her favourite, “Black is the Colour”, in an attempt to get back into her good books following one or two of my ‘wife jokes’. I know, I know. It’s my own fault. But I can’t help it. Sometimes they just… happen!

Enid Toft was up next with her angelic vocals, accompanied by that finest of finger-pickers, Neil Wilkinson.

Brandon Ridley

And then it was ‘hats off’ to a young man who rode into town from the wild west (well the north west and maybe not so wild township of Sunny Rhyl). You could say I was suffering from an acute bout of ‘hat-envy’ (he wears a white, genuine, Stetson) plus maybe a little boot-envy too (he carries off them cowboy boots really well).

To be honest it was more a case of talent-envy and age-envy. For Brandon Ridley – the artist formerly known as Bam – has developed into a fine young singer/songwriter/guitarist, at an age he has a whole lifetime of making music ahead of him.

Tonight, he gave us some Bob Dylan. And, I dared not ask, but happily he snuck in my favourite song of his, and one that he does so well, “Cocaine”.

The finale spot this week, fell to Penni Neale. This fine songstress from Denbigh, with her lovely unassuming guitar style, was joined tonight by Brian Locking who provided some mighty fine harmonica accompaniment.

Penni Neale and Brian Locking

Brian had earlier given us a solo harmonica rendition of “Apache”, a blast from the past that echoed back to his eighteen-month stint as bass guitarist in The Shadows during the early sixties.

But it was Penni and Brian’s encore that was the stand-out performance of the evening. “Autumn Leaves” seems to have become our club’s anthem, with so many of our members contributing their own versions in honour of the late Bryn Roberts, who passed away almost three years ago.

Penni, you did his memory proud.


Banding Together

By |November 1st, 2017|0 Comments

Tom Degney

It’s strange how some nights consist mainly of solo spots, whereas others, like this Thursday, become a evening of musical collaborations.

As well as accompanying his wife Lynda, the ever present Tom Degney popped up with John Bass to accompany Robin the Busker. Then he and John took their rightful places for the Tom, Dick and Harry Band’s set, together with Harry Robertson and Richard Davies.

Half of the Clwydian Rangers Band were on hand, in the form of Harri Owen and Oli Bradley-Hughes, Harri proving yet again how well that gravelly voice of his is suited to the songs of the likes of Oasis and The Stereophonics.

The Amazing Clouds

Pete & Di have a habit of amazing us with the many different styles and sounds they come up with, combining flute, guitar, and their respective vocals. Now they come with added Dom, who injects percussion and bass into the mix.  The duo-turned-trio were launching this new venture under the name of ‘The Amazing Clouds’. Unfortunately, this clown of an MC didn’t hear properly and introduced them as ‘The Amazing Clowns’. Whoops!

Peter Leslie

There were plenty of solo sets too, courtesy of Peter Leslie, Joe Lyon, Jim Cole and Glyn Hudson, although Glyn did manage to get practically everyone in the room to join in with her catchy a-cappella folk songs.

Another singer who likes to tell a tall tale or two through the medium of contemporary folk, is Mr Geoff Hollis. He was followed by a short spot from Tom who returned to the stage for a solo spot with his newly acquired four-string banjo.

Penni Neale delivered two new (to her) songs with her customary panache, and I threw a couple by Van Morrison into the evening’s mix too.

Neil Martin

New Face
We had the pleasure of  welcoming a new face to the AllStyles line-up, in the form of Neil Martin, who entertained us with some tasty John Denver. We look forward to seeing more of him now he has discovered the delights of Thursday nights at The Feathers.

And what a good night it was. No fewer than forty in the room, exactly half of whom were modern-day performing minstrels.

And then it was time to call time. So we called upon Tom, Dick and Harry, plus John Bass of course, to sing us out with a timely rendition of “Tulsa Time”.

Same place, same time, next week folks.


Earlier in the evening Harry shared this lovely new song he’d written: “Til I Danced With You”.  You can hear this and more of his ‘Songs from Wales’ on Harry’s YouTube channel.

October 19th Singers’ Night

By |October 25th, 2017|0 Comments

Birthday girl Glyn Hudson

Eee, it were a damp night – and that’s putting it mildly. It was a night were only the hardy, the fool-hardy and those who owned umbrellas would dream of venturing out.

We expected a quiet night, and it certainly started that way, but in the end the musicians numbered a baker’s dozen with almost the same number of audience.

I was in a Bob Dylan mood and started the evening off determined to be “Forever Young”, and reminisced about the “Girl from the North Country”

Joe Lyon sent us a “Postcard from London”, Ray Davies style. The Degneys were in Hillbilly mode, with Lynda singing “Bluegrass Music” and Tom covering The Bluegrass Brother’s “Heaven”.

Geoff Hollis

Next up was Richard Davies, spilling the beans about what “Silvia’s Mother” had said, followed by a set from Geoff Hollis that included the Bryn Phillips song “Silver and Gold”.

Joan Baez was very much in Bob Hall’s thoughts as he sang “There but for Fortune”.

Birthday-girl Glyn Hudson insisted that “Hard Times Come Again No More”, and then had us all joining in on the naughty bits in her comedy ditty about that pesky fly…


Displaying some nifty guitar work, Penni Neale gave three new songs an airing tonight, including the Emmylou Harris number, “You’ll Never Be The Sun”. Then Jeff Jones reminded us there had not been much sun today, with Jimmy Van Hooson’s “Here’s that Rainy Day”.

For the third number in her set, Sweeney put her guitar to one side to deliver a belting a-cappella version of Declan O’Rourke’s “Marrying the Sea”.

And to bring another great evening of music to a close, Enid Toft sang “The Rose”, followed by “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, both to the impeccable guitar accompaniment of Neil Wilkinson.

And of course, we’ll do it all again next Thursday folks and folkies – whatever the weather!


Twelve on the Twelfth

By |October 18th, 2017|0 Comments

It’s been such a busy week here, with a lot going on in Hairy Photographer land. It’s almost Thursday again, and I’ve hardly had time to pick up my guitar, let alone put metaphoric pen to electronic paper and write about last week’s Singers’ Night.

Is this how retirement is supposed to work!

As a result, this week’s blog is going to be a little light on the wordage, which is a shame, because it really was such a good evening.

It was Friday the 13th’s eve and we saw a dozen performers taking to the stage, providing a wonderful variety of musical delights.

Robin Wynne Jones, got the evening underway, and was joined by Enid Toft on one of his songs.

Joe Lyon, Richard Davies, Glyn Hudson and Yours Truly followed.

We heard from the Degneys, Tom and Lynda, and from the Neales, Bob and Penni.

Brian Peters was in fine form delivering some excellent bluesy numbers, and the finale spot featured Wrexham’s Terry Allen, with his wonderful gravelly voice and equally wonderful harmonica and guitar skills.

And guess what… We’re going to do it all again this Thursday.  See you there.

The Melancholic Moon

By |October 10th, 2017|0 Comments

It was as if the rising Harvest Moon had influenced everyone’s choice of songs tonight, with a mood that was pensive and songs that were reflective.

Ballads, it seems, were the order of the day, and there was a bumper harvest from the dozen AllStyles minstrels gathered before The Feathers function room audience.

Colin Campbell got the evening underway with Bob Dylan’s “Workingman’s Blues”, followed by some equally fine ballads from Cath Bryan, Glyn Hudson, Bob & Penni Neale, Joe Lyon and Chris Birchall.

There was a Scottish flavour to the reflective fiddle tunes from Jim Cole, and accompanying himself on the keyboard, Bob Hall acknowledged the changing season with a fine set that included “Autumn Leaves”.

Lynda Degney went all wild west sporting a stetson on her tee shirt and a pair of silver earrings in the shape of cowboy boots. Together with her husband Tom, they rounded up some Americana and Bluegrass.

And finally, Richard Davies dished up a fine helping of R&B to send us home with.

Merry Hell will be performing at the club in just five weeks time (November 16th).

Only 50 tickets are available and these concerts always sell out, so it will be a tickets only event. (www.wegottickets.com)

Members concession tickets can only be purchased at The Feathers on a club night – and when they’re gone, they’re gone!

A Touch of the Blarney

By |October 4th, 2017|0 Comments

Tuesday Night is Always Karaoke

Thursday night is always a great music night, but this week was something special, with Anthony John Clarke singing the likes of his signature “Tuesday Night is Always Karaoke”, wearing that cheeky grin and a twinkle in his Irish eyes.

We often use the phrase ‘it was one of those nights you just didn’t want to end’ – well this one nearly didn’t!

Anthony John announced his last song at 11.00pm, but it was almost five to midnight when the packed audience finally let him go. And up to that time, not a single person had abandoned ship, such was his engaging and entertaining personality.

As much as his music, and the songs with a liberal sprinkling of humour, he kept us captivated with his yarns, tales of his early Northern Ireland life, and his light-humoured mickey-taking, much of the brunt being fielded by his long-suffering wife, Julie, four rows back in the audience.

Even I didn’t escape, as I went about the task of documenting the evening. Halfway through one song, a wide grin appeared as he added a new verse “Get your camera down to the back. But we really like your hat”.

The third line of the new verse went: “That guarantees I won’t be coming back”.

He will of course. After all, who could not like this fabulous entertainer; a great song-writer with a hugely engaging manner;  unassuming, and to top it all, as nice a man as you are ever likely to meet.

Also to his credit, together with his lovely wife Julie, Anthony John remained in the room throughout both the support sessions and didn’t miss a single floor spot from our regulars: Tom & Lynda Degney, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Robin the Busker, Jim Cole, Richard Ruthin, Penni Neal and myself.

Click to enlarge the pictures

Bye Bye Summer

By |September 25th, 2017|0 Comments

Jez McCann

Yes, with this week’s Singers’ Night being on the eve of the Equinox, it was the last of the Summer. Hello ‘Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness’.

And hello too, to a season of  musical fruitfulness, which was off to a good start with eighteen performers providing a harvest of lovely mellow sounds to a captive audience of forty in the function room of The Feathers.

We were served a surfeit of solos from seasoned regulars, Glyn Hudson, Tom and Lynda Degney, Chris Birchall, Joe Lyon, and Richard and Wendy Eastwood.

“In Christ there is no East or West – Andrew Bowsher”.

Andrew Bowsher

In addition, there were delectable duets from Bob and Penni Neale, Enid Toft and Neil Wilkinson, and Harry Robertson accompanied by John Bass.

The latter two were then joined by the rest of the Tom, Dick & Harry band, Richard Davies and Tom Degney, who ploughed on with a helping of Americana.

Jeff Jones arrived unarmed, so we thrust my 12-string into his hands. It was nice for me to hear how it sounded ‘out front’ after having its frets dressed by luther Harry Miller.

David Rees

Then Jez McCann entertained with her lovely soft vocals and soothing guitar style.

Almost every week there is a new face in the performance area, and this was no exception. Andrew Bowsher performed three terrific instrumentals, including the Bert Jansch/Davey Graham tune, “Angie”, which went down really well. Best of all, he’s just moved to live in the area, so we will no doubt be seeing him again.

And as the Equinox approached ever nearer, David Rees stepped up for the finale spot with an excellent triptych of covers, including Procol Harum’s ‘Homburg’ to send us on our merry way.

Next week:

Anthony John Clark (plus floor spots) £4 (usual concession for regulars). There should be tickets available on the door – or you can book on line to be sure: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/414348

Sweet Sixteen

By |September 19th, 2017|0 Comments

Sam Moorcroft

Twenty six through the door, sixteen of whom provided the sweet sound of music, covering folk, country, americana, blues – and even a bit of good ole rock n’ roll.

Richard Ruthin started off in the sixties with the Searchers song “Every Time That You Walk in The Room”. More of our regulars followed, with some Tom Paxton and Ry Cooder from Bob Neale and Penni leading us up the “Stairway to Heaven”.

Chris broke the “Sound of Silence”, having brought his trusty auld EKO out for a rare airing. Lynda Degney sang “California”, and there was an instrumental interlude from Tom Degney on his magic mandolin.

Bob Hall was tickling the ivories once again this week with the Everley Brothers favourite “Let it Be Me”, and Rod Stewart’s “Don’t Wanna Talk About It”.

Colour coordinated Caz Orton

Harri Owen and Oli Bradley Hughes rocked up with “Hitting the Road” (written by Oli). Both are members of the recently formed local band ‘Clwydian Rangers’. Because we can’t accommodate drum kits in the function room at The Feathers, we’d not met their drummer, Sam Moorcroft. Tonight he came anyway – armed with a guitar, and played a fine set that included his cover of the latest song from ‘Rag n’ Bone Man’, entitled “I’m a Human”.

Another first timer, making her Ruthin AllStyles debut, was Caz Orton. She opened her set with a lovely song she’d written for a friends wedding.

Two guys we don’t see enough of are Alan Wilkins and Mark Thatcher, respectively drummer and bassist in ‘The Alibis’. They too had acoustic guitars as their weapons of choice tonight. Alan opened with a cover of a song by Canadian singer Ron Sexton and Mark Thatcher gave us “Ricky Don’t Lose That Number”, in  honour of Steely Dan’s Walter Becker who died recently.

Raphael Callaghan

Raphael Calaghan plays harmonica with the Tom, Dick and Harry band, and we had a taste of  both that and his guitar for his solo floor spot. First two of his own compositions, “Denim” and “Too Much Rain” followed by a tasty cover of “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”.

The end of the evening was approaching, and tonight Matthew… David Rees became Madonna with the song from Evita, “Another Suitcase In Another Hall”, followed by one of his own excellent songs “Normal Service”.

The finale spot this week fell to Joe Lyon who gave us a lovely cover of  “Postcard from London”, and “A Place in the Sun”. And for an encore, what better to end the evening, than Blue Murder’s “The Goodnight Song”.