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So far Chris Birchall has created 264 blog entries.

Summer Solstice Sing-along

By |June 27th, 2018|0 Comments

There were no pagan rituals, or dancing around a neolithic ring of standing stones, but what we had instead was a circle of friends gathered in The Feathers to celebrate the joy of music.

That said, Tom Degney did “Shimmy like his sister Kate”.

Then Lynda went into Don Williams mode with “Don’t You Believe”, and I served up a slice of Bread in the form of “Guitar Man”.

Bob Neale morphed into Bob Dylan with “One Too Many Mornings”, and Richard Eastwood informed us that “Roses are Red” in the style of the 1962 Bobby Vinton hit.

Wendy Eastwood then joined her husband for the Alison Krauss/Don Williams duet, “Lay Down Beside Me”.

And so a very pleasant evening, in which we had the rare opportunity to perform five songs each, was brought to a close by Penni Neale. And she took us from the first day of summer straight into Autumn with a beautiful rendition of the song that has become something of an anthem for Ruthin AllStyles. Every time I hear “Autumn Leaves” I can’t help thinking of the late Bryn Roberts. It was one of his favourite songs. (Click ► below to listen)

Next Thursday is our Festival Week Singers’ Night, when in the second half of the evening we will be showcasing four of Ruthin’s musical acts: Fuchsia Jones, Breeze, Ceidwad y Gan, and the Tom, Dick and Harry Band.

 

14th June Singers’ Night

By |June 17th, 2018|0 Comments

Peter Hodgeson and John Helm

And what a busy night it was, with no fewer than fifteen singers presenting a broad body of music, with something to suit everyone’s taste.

Some musicians were busier than others, being called upon to take part in various impromptu collaborations. Tom Degney, of course, was as always ready and willing with mandolin and dobro, and John Helm was kept busy with his bass guitar.

John provided the bass line for Peter Hodgeson on Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” followed by Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. Swapping the bass for his bouzouki, John also chose a Van Morrison classic for his own set, roping in Richard Davies to join him on guitar for “Star of the County Down”. Then he was back with his bass to return the favour for Richard, who sang “You Never Can Tell”.

Andrew Bowsher

Cath Bryan sang Imelda May’s “Big Bad Handsome Man”, before providing guitar accompaniment for her own big bad handsome man, Pete Kirkham.

Pete delivered a reworked Gilbert and Sullivan song “I Have Seen You Often”, with new lyrics written by himself, from the production of “Dame Agatha’s Greatest Case” in which they are appearing at Denbigh’s Theatr Twm or Nant on the 28th to 30th of this month.

Lynda Degney gave us two Gibson Brothers songs, “Remember Who You Are” and “Fools Hill”. Then husband Tom chose the Grateful Dead’s “Midnight Moonlight”, before transporting us back in time with Dame Gracie Fields’ signature tune, “Sally”.

Liverpudlian, Joe Lyon got all nostalgic with Gerry Marsden’s “My Home Town”, followed by Joe Brown’s “I’ll See You in my Dreams”.

Keith Hawley

I doffed my cap to Paul Simon with “Something so Right” and “Slip Sliding Away”, and Jeff Jones saluted Bob Dylan by singing “Make You Feel My Love”.

Andrew Bowsher was also in a Dylan mood with a fine rendition of “Mr Tambourine Man”.

Well I “Wasn’t Expecting That” but that’s exactly what we got as Keith Hawley performed the Jamie Lawson song of that very name, followed by a rather tasty version of the Beatles classic, “Here Comes the Sun” (click ► below to listen).

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Robin the Busker put an impromptu band together with the aforementioned Tom and John, to give us “Skin” by Rag’n’Bone Man.

Then as it was approaching bedtime, it was Penni Neale who took us, metaphorically and melodically, up the “Stairway to Heaven”.

And finally, we were delighted that Carmarthenshire songstress Tara Crank (pictured right) had paid us a second visit. With a voice so reminiscent of the great Canadian folk singer, Tara gave us Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”. She then brought what had been a fabulous evening’s entertainment to a close with the beautiful Sandy Denny song “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”.

Jimmy Rae, Sarah Lou and friends

By |June 13th, 2018|0 Comments

Appearing as the duo, Tennessee Waltz, Jimmy and Sarah treated us to a splendid evening of Country, Americana and R&B.

For a lively start to their first set, they put their foot on the gas with the song of that name which features on their album from their trio incarnation, Jimmy Rae and the Moonshine Girls, followed by another original, “When We Are Old”.

Their set leaned heavily on Americana with some great covers amongst their home-grown songs, including the Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic “Roy Rogers is Riding Tonight” (click ► below) and the beautiful  “Crazy”, written by Willy Nelson.

This first set was brought to a close with two songs written sixty years apart: “Eddie’s Guitar”, penned by Jimmy, telling the story about Eddie Cochran who died in a tragic motor accident during his British tour back in April 1960. This segued seamlessly into the  American rock star’s classic, “Summertime Blues”.

Full Supporting Cast
Prior to Tennessee Waltz taking to the stage, we had a round of floor spots from our regulars, and after the mid evening break, it was the turn of Skeet Williams who gave us a great guitar solo before being joined by Fuchsia Jones, accompanying her on “Tennessee Whiskey” and the beautiful Welsh language song by Gwyneth Glyn, “Dy Lygaid Di”. (Click ► below to play)

Next we had a song from Paul Reaney, called “A Town Like This”, the title track of the Birkenhead singer’s 2007 album.

Sarah and Jimmy had brought Paul along for the ride. But it wasn’t a free ride, far from it, as he joined the pair for many of the songs in their second set. He certainly earned his keep by adding some great guitar riffs along the way.

Just as in the first half, many of the songs were up-beat with Sarah Lou’s voice in sweet harmony to Jimmy’s rocky tones. These were interspersed with gentle ballads, many with Sarah taking the lead vocals, reminiscent of the great Patsy Cline.

And before we knew it, finale time had arrived. “Under The Mersey Moon” is a lovely song off Tennessee Waltz’s latest album “One Day”.

Then for an encore they gave us a good old country song in the form of John Denver’s “Country Roads” with the whole room joining in.

The supporting floor spot performers were:
Tom and Lynda Degney, Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon, Rhodri Hampden Jones, Mike Kendrick, Richard and Wendy Eastwood, Skeet Williams and Fuchsia Jones.

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

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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