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So far Chris Birchall has created 354 blog entries.

Much Music, Two Birthdays and a Cork Hat

By |March 11th, 2020|0 Comments

Birthday boys, Dave Ryder and Joe Lyon

Okay, so the music bit is fairly straightforward: Thursday nights at The Feathers are always blessed with much music. It is, after all, Ruthin AllStyles Music Club’s reason raison d’être.

So what about the two birthdays?

It’s all got to do with the Birthday Paradox. Well almost. You see, statistically, If you have a room of just 23 people there’s a 50-50 chance of at least two people having the same birthday. In a room of 75, there’s a 99.9% chance of at least two people matching. Seems far-fetched doesn’t it? But it is, in fact, true; follow the link above if you don’t believe me, it’s fascinating.

Neil Martin

Now here is the caveat. Although we had twenty people in the room, messers Ryder and Lyon share the same birthday week rather than the same birthday day. But that didn’t stop us from marking the occasion in the time-honoured fashion by singing Happy Birthday and bestowing chocolates upon them.

…as a hatter!
When it comes to Cork Hats, Neil Martin not only wears them well, he sings about them too. In a song written very much in the style of Leonard Cohen, during his protracted French campervan holiday, Neil told us the tale of buying the hat, of the lady who sold it to him and… well, shall we say the parts he left out were there to read between the lines.

Penni Neale and Enid Toft

Penni was back amongst us, recovering remarkably from major surgery, with a voice sounding as sweet as ever. We kept her busy, accompanying Enid, as well as doing her own spot and ultimately returning to the stage for an encore in the finale.

Tonight’s roll call:
Alan Thompson, Lynda and Tom Degney, Neil Martin, Penni Neale, Enid Toft, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin, Dave Ryder, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Pete Kirkham, and Cath Bryan.

What… Thursday Already!

By |March 4th, 2020|0 Comments

Neil Martin

Blimey, time goes fast when you’re having fun. Just now it seemed like last Thursday was yesterday and here I am, writing this just one hour before next Thursday.

I’ve been so busy with boring stuff like trying to get a straight answer from my insurance company after a minor prang in the car, I keep tripping over myself coming back in the opposite direction.

Thank goodness for music and by the same token, for Thursdays too. So as much as it sounds as if I’m complaining, I’m not really. Running the club, with my lovely wife Jayne, is something I really look forward to. We are so lucky having such friendly people, both musicians and audience, who support and contribute to, the local live music scene.

This week, we were delighted to welcome Neil Martin back from his Motorhome Adventure in Northern France, going wherever the Mistral Winds blew him.  He came back with ten new songs, four of which we were privileged to be amongst the first to witness.

Alan Thompson and Linda Griffiths

We heard a new song too, from Linda Griffiths and Alan Thompson. Touching words written by Linda following her recent visit to Auschwitz, set to a fabulous score by Alan.

The rest of us did covers. There were some mighty fine ones too, including “The Wild Rose” by our very own Kylie and Nick Cave coupling, Cath Byan and Pete Kirkham.

Robin the Busker busked, Lynda, Tom and Richard dished out a helping or two of Americana, I did Neil Young’s “Old Man” and Joe Lyon gave us a lion’s share of Mersey sounds.

Having kicked off both halves of the evening, we dragged Neil Martin back on stage for the finale to give us a much needed Cohen ‘fix’, to which we all said (and sang) “Hallelujah”.

 

Eighteen Wandering Minstrels

By |February 26th, 2020|0 Comments

Dylan Burns

It was another evening of fine music down at Ye Olde Feathers Inn with no fewer than eighteen wandering minstrels – some of whom had wandered a little farther than others.

We are accustomed to welcoming musicians from outwith the lovely Vale of Clwyd. Indeed some of our regulars travel from the North Wales Coast, Tom and Linda Degney for instance, who make the journey from Rhos on Sea each week, come hell or high water.

Wrexham, Chester and The Wirral are not too far either it seems and last week we had a visitor from Porthmadog.

Dylan Burns and his mum Andrea

This week’s long-distance award, however, goes to young Dylan Burns and his mum Andrea who wandered into the Function Room after a mamouth 4,739-mile journey from Portland, Oregon, on the west coast of the US.

They had made a couple of stops along the way, one of which had been at the Gwersyll Yr Urdd centre in Glan-Llyn, near Bala. It was all part of a trip to show Dylan the country of her birth.

Dan Smith

Fourteen-year-old Dylan did an instrumental spot on his fiddle in the first half and after the break, accompanied Andrea who sang us a lovely song in Welsh. It seems Andrea has been keeping the language very much alive since emigrating to the United States in her twenties.

Another youngster playing at the club for the first time was Dan Smith who sang to his own accompaniment on the ukulele.

It was good to see Alan Thompson back at the club with his beautiful self-penned songs. And Enid Toft too, who’s usual accompanist, Penni, is currently out of action through illness. We are all looking forward to Penni’s return but in the meantime, it was good to hear Enid singing a duet with Richard.

Angharad, Lyn and Laura were also in good voice, providing us with some truly lovely close harmonies.

Bewitched

Maybe it’s my age but this bewildered MC can never remember what is the latest version of their band name, so I shall call them “Mamma G and the Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Bebop Brunettes”.

Suffice to say, we’d had a varied and bewitching range of music and it fell to Deborah Jackson and Skeet Williams to fill the finale spot, which they did in fine style with their own song, “The Trouble with Wanting”, the catchy chorus of which had the whole room joining in.

Tonight’s Roll Call: Robin the Busker, Dan Smith, Chris Birchall, Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Enid Toft, Glyn Hudson, Bewitched Brunettes, Robin Spreckley, Joe Lyon, Alan Thompson, Skeet Williams, Deborah Jackson, Dylan Burns and his Mum, Andrea.

Thirteen on the thirteenth

By |February 17th, 2020|0 Comments

John Williams

Luckily our music nights take place on a Thursday, not a Friday. Not that I’m superstitious, touch wood, because it was too wet to go hunting for a four-leaf clover. And anyway, I might have lost my rabbit’s foot scrabbling about in the dark.

What a fine music night it turned out to be, with luck having nothing to do with it.

Amongst the musical baker’s dozen was a ruck of regulars, some welcome returnees, a couple of new faces and a clutch of impromptu collaborations.

The wizard of the Wirral, John Williams is always a welcome sight when he can make it to our club, busy as he is with festivals and guest appearances all over the show. It was he who got the evening off to a fine start with a couple of songs with his four-string tenor guitar. Later in the evening, John swapped this for his trusty cello mandolin and recruited Tom Degney for some banjo accompaniment.

Lizzy Pegler

As usual, Tom was in demand, accompanying Lynda and collaborating with Robin Spreckley as well as taking his place in the Tom, Dick and Harry band. During all of which he was seen brandishing guitar, mandolin, banjo and dobro.

Lizzy Pegler was back, for the first time this year as was Chester musician Will Riding. Both treated us to some of their fine own home-grown songs.

Two new faces graced the stage. The first was Bill Melis who hails from Porthmadog, followed by Denbigh guitarist Stewart Jones.

All in all, it was another great music night at The Feathers.

The night’s roll call: John Williams, Robin Spreckley, Lynda and Tom Degney, Bill Melis, Lizzy Pegler, Chris Birchall, Will Riding, Steve Juckes-Hughes, Stewart Jones, Joe Lyon, Tom, Dick & Harry.

Richard Ruthin, Robin Spreckley and Tom Degney

The Dirty Dozen

By |February 12th, 2020|0 Comments

Joe Lyon

Well… Perhaps not dirty as such, in fact, you could say our twelve musicians cleaned up in terms of approval from an appreciative audience in the ‘comfortably full’ function room.

Richard Ruthin showed a clean pair of heels. getting the evening off to grand start singing “Across the Great Divide” with Tom riding shotgun on his trusty dobro.

Making an appearance after a few weeks absence, Jim Cole imparted a Scottish flavour with the ‘Margaret Waltz’ on the fiddle, followed by Dave Ryder who performed “In My Time on Earth” from the Waterboys latest album.

Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was Pete Kirkham’s opening song and Glyn Hudson was in an a-Cappella kind of mood with the traditional folk offering “Bunch of Thyme”.

Tom and Lynda Degney

Lynda Degney took us over the Irish Sea with the Tim O’Brien song “Colleen Malone”, and we know it must be true because Tom followed up with “It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie”.

Joe Lyon “Tried To Tell Us We’re Too Young”, before “Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon”. Geoff Durno sang “About Mary” and then recruited Richard and Tom into his impromptu band for “First you lose the Rhyming”.

“Mr Bojangles” and “Need Your Love” were my contributions, the latter with added Degney Dobro.

Pete Kirkham and Robin Spreckley

Robin Spreckley gave his recently updated mandolin it’s first airing since being worked-on by Geoff Rowlands, by opening his set with a fine instrumental. Then he was joined by Pete Kirkham for “I Shot the Sheriff”.

We were taken up to the break with two lovely ballads from Cath Bryan, “Blame It On The Sun” (Stevie Wonder) and “I Am Titanium” (David Guetta).

Another song each in the second half took us cleanly up to finale time and the honours fell to the hastily formed Geoff Durno Band – comprising Tom, Robin, Richard and Geoff – who sent us heading off into the night to the “Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia”.

 

They (Tennessee) Waltzed in and lit up the room

By |February 4th, 2020|0 Comments

“What a Great Night”, “Exceptional”, “Terrific Performance”, “So Talented”, “All This for a Fiver!”.  The plaudits came thick and fast, both on the night and afterwards in messages and on Social Media.

And justifiably so. Sarah Lou and Jimmy Rae put on such an excellent and varied show, they had the capacity audience captivated from the very first note to the final chord.

Tennessee Waltz is billed as a ‘contemporary country duo’ whereas, in fact, they are so much more. Throw into the mix, a helping of Americana, R&B, Modern Folk and even Rock ‘n Roll, and you get a clue as to why this endearing duo appeal to so many people.

Jimmy has written so many great songs over the years, from the lively “Four in the Morning”, the tongue-in-cheek “Stick Your Rotten Job”, to the touching ballad “Under the Mersey Moon”, plus many more, including a lovely song written with Sarah Lou, called “One of the Good Guys”.

As wonderful as these songs are, they were cleverly interspersed with popular covers guaranteed to get the audience singing along. These featured the work of some of the country greats from the last 50 years, such as Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers and The Eagles.

The very first time Jimmy and Sara Lou visited Ruthin AllStyles was on a Singers’ Night three years ago. On that occasion, they performed a song Jimmy had written after watching an interview with Eddie Cochran’s mother who was clutching onto her dead son’s guitar. This touching ballad “Eddie’s Guitar” segued into the late rocker’s “Summertime Blues”. I was so pleased they did it again this week, especially as they tagged “Come On Everybody” onto the end of it.

With polished performances throughout, complimented by superb vocal harmonies, the end of the evening seemed to come far too soon. An encore was called for and was fulfilled with the John Denver classic “Country Roads” – with the entire room joining in the chorus.

As always, the first and second halves of the evening had begun with a round of floor spots and this week, those doing the honours were: Lynda and Tom Degney, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Skeet Williams, Deborah Jackson and Brian Peters who was also roped in to play harmonica on one of Tennessee Waltz’s blues numbers.

If you missed the gig, here’s a little taste of what you missed…

Tennessee Waltz

Roy Rogers is Riding Tonight

Mr Tin Man

Sweet Sixteen

By |January 28th, 2020|0 Comments

Tom, Dick and Harry with Enid Toft.

Not that anybody was singing the Billy Idol or Chuck Berry songs with Sweet Sixteen in their titles, nor were any of this week’s musicians even close to that age. But there were sixteen performers and the sounds were sweet.

Bill Malkin

First Time Back
Amongst them were a few we were seeing for the first time this year: Glyn Hudson gave us some a Cappella sing-alongs; we had some tasty self-penned numbers from Bill Malkin and you’d go a long way to hear sweeter harmonies than those generated by brother and sister duo Linda and Alan Thompson.

It was good to hear Enid Toft singing again too. With her usual accompanist, Penni, currently laid-up, Enid leaned on the Tom, Dick and Harry trio as her backing band.

It was a lovely night of sweet music and the task of bringing it to a close fell to the aforementioned band, who sent us home with a great version of the Willburies song “End of the Line” still ringing in our ears.

This week’s roll call: Lynda and Tom Degney, Steve Juckes-Hughes, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Alan Thompson and Linda, Brian Peters, Pete Kirkham, Cath Bryan, Bill Malkin, Dave Ryder, Tom, Dick & Harry, and Enid Toft.

Next Week: Sarah Lou and Jimmy Rae, aka Tennessee Waltz, will be entertaining us with two 45 minute spots. At the time of writing, there were just ten non-members tickets left on WeGotTickets. Members can get their usual concession and there will be limited floor spots, so, by all means, bring your instruments.

January 16th Singers’ Night

By |January 22nd, 2020|0 Comments

Tom Degney and Richard Davies

This rainy weather… well, it’s just not cricket, is it?

Still, we weren’t going to let a little drizzle – okay, downpour – oh all right then, have it your own way… we weren’t going to let a little deluge stop play.

Ten intrepid musicians turned up at The Feathers. Add to that, the dozen or so audience members and it made for warm and welcoming musical gathering for our second singers’ night of the year.

One person who has a habit of throwing a curveball to catch us unawares and amaze us is Pete Kirkham. This week he did just that at the folk club with a Whitesnake song (written by Michael Price and Dan Walsh) “Ain’t no love in the heart of the city”. Click the ► below to listen:

 

Robin Spreckley

Collaborations
There were a good number of impromptu collaborations, with messers Davies, Degney, Durno and Spreckley randomly popping up to accompany each other and anyone else who threw out the challenge.

And when it came to the finale spot, Steve Jukes-Hughes had a little surprise for us.

If you remember, last week he introduced his daughter Catryn to the AllStyles stage. Well, it appears there are two songbirds in the Jukes-Hughes household and this week it was the turn of his lovely wife, Helen, to take to the microphone.

And what a fine performance it was – made even more special when we discovered it was the very first time she had sung in front of an audience.

It was a superb way to end a special night.

This week’s roll call: Richard Davies, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Lynda and Tom Degney, Geoff Durno, Robin Spreckley, Pete Kirkham, and Steve and Helen Juckes-Hughes.

Geoff Durno, Richard Davies and Tom Degney

A Fab First Singers’ Night of 2020

By |January 13th, 2020|0 Comments

Wow, what a wonderful start to the New Year, as the club enters its twenty-fourth year and its sixth at our current venue.

No fewer than sixteen performers braved the damp and dismal weather and with more than double that number in attendance, the room was comfortably full, making for a great atmosphere in the back room of The Feathers.

Dave Ryder struck up the first chords of the new season with some mighty fine sing-along numbers, followed by Robin Spreckley, Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon, and Chris Birchall.

Welcome Return
It was good to welcome back Pete Hodgson and John Helm (left), performing as a duo with Pete on guitar and John on mandolin.

After the break, we had a rare appearance from someone we really don’t see as often as we’d like – the inimitable John Sellers (below). John followed up a cover of Bruce Springsteen “Western Stars” with a great song that he had written about the Kings Arms in Denbigh.

We had songs from Cath Bryan and from Pete Kirkham who gave a rather splendid version of the 1930s Hoagy Carmichael classic, “Georgia on My Mind”, made famous, of course, by Ray Charles.

Robin ‘the Busker’ Wynne Jones enlisted his namesake Robin Spreckley and Tom Degney for some old favourites including “Copperhead Road”.

A New Face
Steve Juckes-Hughes has become a regular at the club over the past year and after his spot, he introduced his daughter Catryn, whose beautiful voice captivated everyone in the room. Her rendition of “Fields of Gold” was quite spellbinding. (Click ► below to listen)

 

One Man Band
Brian Peters was the last of our super sixteen to perform and he treated us to some splendid blues numbers, juggling guitar, harmonica, kazoo, beatbox and a foot tambourine.

Our ‘Random Name Generator’ selected four of the night’s performers to fill the final 20 minutes of the evening. The last of these was the ‘one-man-band’ that is Brian and the earworm he sent us home with was the 1954 American folk song “San Francisco Bay Blues”.

Happy Melodic New Decade

By |January 2nd, 2020|0 Comments

Use the next/previous link to view each of the four albums.

We look forward to welcoming you all back to The Feathers on January 9th for our first Singers’ Night of the year.

Meanwhile, Jayne and Chris would like to take this opportunity of wishing all you lovely followers of Ruthin AllStyles a truly happy, healthy and prosperous 2020 – and beyond.

Being the start of a new decade, many of us are reflecting on the one just gone. There have been many happy moments, not least the club’s twentieth birthday celebrations in October 2016 – and a few sad ones too. In January 2015 we lost Bryn Roberts who had been attending the club since its inception in 1996. He had been the kingpin of the band Mantra and after that, Raven. Then in October 2018, Neil Wilkinson passed away suddenly. Click on their names to visit the tribute pages.

Anyway, we thought it might be nice to look back in pictures. Over 2,500 have been uploaded since the site was launched, so we’ve grabbed a handful from each year to put these four albums together. They don’t quite cover the entire decade though, only because this website and our involvement with the club only began in 2013. So if you have any pictures to add from 2010, 2011 and 2012, do please email them to me at chris@ruthinallstyles.co.uk.

 

Album 1 – The Cross Keys Years