About Chris Birchall

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Chris Birchall has created 281 blog entries.

Neil Wilkinson

By |October 30th, 2018|1 Comment

It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Neil Wilkinson.

Neil was a long-time member of Ruthin AllStyles Music Club. A quiet unassuming man, he was loved and respected by his fellow musicians and by the audiences who listened to his music. Over the years he has provided guitar accompaniment to singers like Christine Scott and more recently, Enid Toft. One of his last performances here was at the end of July, with fellow band members Llinos Finnie and John Rowell as part of their recently formed band ‘Breeze’.

I consider it a privilege to have known Neil and to have had the honour of introducing him, and being able to witness first hand his incredibly precise and polished style of guitar playing.

He will be sadly missed.


Neil’s funeral will take place at Pentrebychan Crematorium on Wednesday the 21st of October at 11.30 am.


Singers Night October 18th

By |October 25th, 2018|0 Comments

Sorry, there is no write-up this week due to hackers blocking access to the site.

I have managed to get some pictures uploaded though and big thanks to all who made Thursday yet another great night of music at The Feathers.

Here’s the roll of honour…

  • Rhodri Hampson Jones, Lynda Degney, Tom Degney, Joe Lyon, Colin Campbell, Alan Thompson & Linda, Dave Hytch, Geoff Durno, Chris Birchall, Neil Martin, Robin the Busker, Richard Eastwood, Wendy Eastwood, Brian Peters, Tom, Dick & Harry with John Bass

October 11th Singers’ Night

By |October 17th, 2018|1 Comment

Tara Crank

Following on from last week’s Jon Coley concert, it was back to normal with our regular Thursday Singers’ Night.

Not that there is anything wrong with normal. We are so lucky at Ruthin AllStyles, to have a vast number of musicians frequent our weekly sessions in the function room at The Feathers.

In addition to a small core of die-hards who we see on a regular basis, there are those we might see once a month or so, those who we might see once in a blue moon and, of course, the steady trickle of new faces.

Tara Crank

And with them comes a wonderfully diverse range of styles and genre, helping the club live up to its ‘AllStyles’ epithet.

The evening was opened by Carmarthenshire lass Tara Crank who was making her third visit to the club, bringing with her a unique and personal interpretation of songs by Joni Mitchell and Lisa Hannigan, complimenting a sweet and pure voice with some rather nifty guitar work.

Then she served up a lovely cover of the 1980s song by The Chieftains, “My Lagan Love”, singing a cappella, interspersed by some beautiful solo passages on her violin.

Richard Davies with Dawn and Carol

Two ladies making their AllStyles debut were Carol and Dawn, who we have seen a time or two at the Rhyl club. They recruited Richard Davies as second guitar for the Kate Wolf song “Across The Great Divide”, following up with “Roseville Fair” by Bill Staines.

Richard was kept busy, joining Tom Degney to accompany Enid Toft on the lovely traditional Welsh song “Myfanwy” as well as both doing their own spots.

The evening progressed in fine style with some great sets by Richard & Wendy Eastwood, Steve Bailey, Jim Cole, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Lynda Degney and Rhodri Hampson Jones.

And before we knew it, the evening drew to a close with an encore from Tara singing one of her own compositions, “Postcards”.

See you all again next Thursday.

“Flowers” performed by Tara Crank

Jon Coley in Concert

By |October 10th, 2018|0 Comments

Click below to hear Jon Coley singing Cocaine Blues

The function room at The Feathers was comfortably full as our guest musician Jon Coley opened with the very first song he’d ever learned to play. It was the Bert Jansch version of the traditional Irish folk song, “Down by the Black Waterside”.

He followed on with a selection of self-penned songs, many of them autobiographical, interspersed by some covers performed is his own unique style.

Playing on his trusty Gibson, we witnessed some nifty fingerstyle melodies and gained an insight into his skills as a wordsmith and storyteller.

One of my personal favourites from this set was a song he’d written for his sister, entitled “Good Girls Have Bad Dreams”. And of his covers, I fell in love with his interpretation of Woody Guthrie’s “The House Carpenter”. Watching Jon’s fingers made me feel dizzy as he executed the rolling riffs, and the bluesy Jerron Paxton number “Cocaine Blues” was just sublime.

Jon brought the first half of the evening to a close with the first public airing of a brand new song about living with your mistakes, “A Sweeter State of Mind”.

As is the norm for our concerts, both of our guest’s sets were preceded by a round of floor spots.  No fewer than eleven of our talented regulars performed up to two songs each, providing a fine and diverse mixture of genres and styles, acting as the perfect foil to Jon’s bluesy folk numbers.

For his second set, Jon brought his other two guitars into the equation, the most interesting of which was a lovely old f-hole jazz guitar dating back to 1935. This had been given to him by a fan whose father had played it back in the day with the Duke Ellington Band. Jon did the old guitar deserved justice as he delivered some lovely ragtime blues in the form of the Muddy Waters, song “Turn Your Lamp Down Low”.

More great songs followed, each one introduced with a little back story, and after his last song “Can’t Make It Rain”, Jon responded to the calls for more by abandoning the microphones and walking amongst us to perform his encore completely unplugged.

It was a beautiful finish to a lovely evening of fine music.

The floor spot performers tonight were:

Rhodri Hampson Jones, Wendy and Richard Eastwood, Richard Ruthin, Tom and Lynda Degney, Fuchsia Jones, Chris Birchall, Cath Bryan, Pete Kirkham and Penni Neale.

Click below to hear Jon Coley singing Can’t Make It Rain

Two Robins Do Not a Winter Make

By |October 2nd, 2018|0 Comments

Robin Wynne Jones

Although it is true that the regular appearance of one particular Robin does herald the end of the Summer. For people’s busker Robin Wynne Jones, tends to spend those balmy days weeks and months on his narrowboat cruising the waterways, singing to raise money for charity in between stop-offs at a number of prominent folk festivals.

As the nights draw in, we have the pleasure of hearing his barmy tales and listening to some of the songs that have helped Robin raise over £9,000  busking for Cancer Research.

The other Robin who made an appearance at The Feathers this week was not Robin Red-Breast but Robin Spreckley, and it’s always such a pleasure to enjoy his animated performances as he delivers his own particular style of song, along with mandolin accompaniment.

The real Wayne Fontana (Photo ©Daily Express)

The Game of…
Adding a touch of amusement to the proceedings, a gentleman turned up and introduced himself as Wayne Fontana. The sixties rock star (real name, Glyn Ellis) had lived in Ruthin during his teens before becoming famous for the 1965 hit “Game of Love” with the Mindbenders.

The fun started when a few of us started Googling ‘Wayne Fontana’, only to find that, whilst this guy bore a passing resemblance, he had miraculously grown a silver mop where a bald dome should be.  The sight of his fellow audience members tapping away at their phones must have made him realise he’d been rumbled. Announcing he was going to get a drink, the imposter headed through to the bar where he serenaded the barmaid with a few bars of ‘Game of Love” before heading off to “Catch his 10pm flight”, presumably to La-La Land 🙂

Robin Spreckley

Back to the Music
The evening also saw a flock of our regulars perching behind the microphones, namely Joe, Chris, Rhodri and Andrew. We spotted Alan Thompson and the first of only two female songbirds of the evening, his sister Linda, the other being Lynda Degney.

With Lynda, of course, was husband Tom, who also accompanied Richard Davies during his set.

And multi-instrumentalist Tom took to one of his recently-built banjos to accompany Robin the Busker in the finale spot, rounding off with a medley based around “The Belle of Belfast City” and “All For Me Grog”.

Richard Davies and Tom Degney

Next week we have the wonderful Cheshire Singer/Songwriter Jon Coley. Jon will be performing two 45 minute spots, but do please bring your instruments, as the evening will begin with a round of Floor Spots as usual.


Folk Songs, Birthday Songs, Wedding Songs and Kinky Songs

By |September 25th, 2018|2 Comments

Listen while you read. Click ► on the MP3 below for one of the best solo covers of Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” that you are ever likely to hear.

Alan Thompson performing “Needle and the Damage Done”

Steve Bailey

It was Neil Martin who got things underway this week with Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr Bojangles” and then, in honour of what would have been Leonard Cohen’s 84th birthday, he sang a great version of the great man’s “Boogy Street”.

Steve Bailey was next up, with a fine a cappella helping of traditional folk

Tom Degney gave us a Tim O’Brien song, before accompanying Lynda on “Making Good Time” by the Gibson Brothers.

Back from his hols, Joe Lyon told us all about the “Comedians and Angels”.

Karen White

Our next act is known as ‘The Quirky One’ whose material has been known to — how shall we say, contain expletives that are pretty much commonplace in her homeland of Australia. Tonight, however, Karen White was whiter than white – although I have to say, one of her songs was a bit kinky, inasmuch as “Thank you for the Day” was written by Ray Davies and recorded by The Kinks.

She also gave us some lovely Kirsty McCall songs which Karen has recorded for her forthcoming new album. We always enjoy seeing her and John on their annual ten thousand plus miles pilgrimage to Ruthin. Check out Karen’s  website, http://quintessentialquirk.com.au/pc/

Singing unaccompanied, Glyn Hudson delivered “The Wedding Song” to mark the fact her daughter is about to be married, and Penni Neale gave us “Little Things Mean a Lot” which she has been asked to sing at Glyn’s daughter’s wedding next week. Penny also sang a fabulous version of “Reconciliation” written by the Irish singer/songwriter Ron Kavana.

A traditional American folk song “Cold Rain and Snow” was Cath Bryan’s contribution before accompanying Pete Kirkham on Chris De Burgh’s “Lonely Sky”.

Neil Martin

Chris headed the “Revolution”, singing the John Lennon song of the same name, followed by “Jealous Guy”.

Then we had another great set from Alan Thompson, which included Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” and “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead.

What we “All I Want is a Quiet Life” – and so Neil Martin gave us his homegrown song of that very title as a fitting end to a lovely and varied evening of music.

Same again next week?

Thursday the 13th

By |September 18th, 2018|0 Comments

Flossie’s brand new album: Live – June 2018

No. It was nowt to do with superstition. The reason Jayne and I went AWOL last week was because we were taking a well-earned short break, Ee bah gum, up int’ Yorkshire Dales.

We also got to see the lovely Flossie Malavialle performing songs from her brand new live album, at a gig in the Sports Club over at Ulverston .

So I trust you will excuse the rather short post and join me in thanking Tom, Lynda, Wendy and Richard for setting up and running the evening in our absence, to Capt’n Pugwash (aka Rockin’ Robin) for being the MC. And thank you too, to all who turned out to support them, either as performers or as members of the audience.

This Thursday (Sept 20th)

It is another Singers’ Night, so do come along and join us in the function room at The Feathers.

…and looking forward 2 weeks to October 6th, we have a concert by the fabulous

Jon Coley

This young Chester musician has carved out a unique style all of his own, encompassing the romance of Folk and the heartbreak of Blues.

Jayne and I have twice seen Jon perform. Once at The Nordic Church in Liverpool and again at Thornton Hough Village Club, on both occasions doing the support spot for Gary Edward Jones. We had no hesitation in booking him to come and share his music with us.

Tickets are available at just £6 from WeGotTickets. Members concessionary tickets are available at The Feathers on club nights.

30 Cakes Hath September…

By |September 11th, 2018|0 Comments

Blowing the candles out this week were Wendy Eastwood and Gwynn Jones

Well it certainly feels that way in my house, we have so many family and friends birthdays during this, the ninth month. What is it about the run up to Christmas? Wouldn’t you think everybody would have been too busy to be frisky!

Anyway, two of said birthdays also occurred in the Ruthin AllStyles stable. Songbird Wendy Eastwood and regular audience member Gwynn Jones. I’m far too much of a gentleman to give a lady’s age away. Suffice to say they clocked up 120 years between them …and the candles were evenly distributed 😉

As we all scoffed cake during the break, birthday boy Gwynn also won the wine in the raffle. But the icing on the cake (and which goes to reinforce my earlier observation) was that Gwynn became a granddad in the early hours of the following morning.

Penni Neale

Penni Neale got the proceedings underway, giving her new toy its first public airing. There was nothing to see but plenty to hear courtesy of the unique Tonewood Amp strapped to the back of her guitar. Willie Nelson’s “Till I Gain Control Again” had the honour of being the first song it delivered.

A tale of the legendary “Carmarthen Oak” and the associated floods was Richard Ruthin’s first offering with additional mandolin accompany from Tom Degney. Tom stayed stage-side to accompany Lynda on “Plant Your Fields” and other bluegrass delights, before flying solo on his ukulele to play “The Third Man”.

I was in a Beatles kind of mood and my guitar was ‘gently weeping’.

Pete Kirkham (left) gave us Glen Hansard’s “Falling Slowly” with Cath on guitar, after which he took charge of it for the first time at the club (he’s been quietly learning to play, the dark horse) and the song he chose was the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt”.

Richard Eastwood doffed his cap to Don Williams with “We Should be Together”, and Wendy went all Swedish in an ABBA kind of way.

Cath Bryan sang a jewel of a song called “Hands” and Andrew Bowsher picked out some fine instrumentals on his parlour acoustic.

One of our newest ‘regulars’ is Denbigh’s Alan Thompson and in addition to some Ryan Adams goodies, he sang Stephen Stills’ “Four and Twenty”.

We always welcome new faces to the club, especially because they often become regulars. This week it was Lester Parrott, who hails from Llangollen. “Black Jack”, and Bob Dylan’s “I’ve Got the Worried Blues” where amongst his excellent songs.

The finale came before we knew it.  We had already heard The Carpenters’ “Only Just Begun” and a beautiful rendition of two lovely French love songs from Mike and Rosa (pictured below). The earworm they sent us home with tonight was the rhythmic classic, “Carnival”. (Click below to listen)

Next week: A Singers’ Night hosted by the Degneys and the Eastwoods.

End of August Gathering

By |September 4th, 2018|0 Comments

Click and listen to Bob Dylan’s epic tale “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” as told by Neil Martin


Peter Leslie

Thirteen musicians plus another seventeen in the audience, made for a comfortably full function room on what turned out to be another excellent evening of music.

It was an evening that began in fine style with a set by Wrexham songwriter Peter Leslie and ended in equally fine style with the smooth sonic and vocal reverberations of Penni Neale.

And in between we had a wonderful varied mix of style and genre. We had solos from Linda Griffith and Rhodri Hampden Jones, original poetry from Colleen and finger-picking instrumentals from Andrew Bowsher.

Neil Martin

In addition to some of his own material, Neil Martin told Bob Dylan’s epic tale of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”. (If you clicked the soundbite above, you should be listening to this right now).

Country, bluegrass and Americana was the order of the day so far as Richard Davies, Tom and Lynda Degney were concerned.

Joe Lyon raised a music glass to mark the 77th birthday of John McNally, founding member of The Searchers, and I ventured into Beatles territory.

It’s no secret that Alan Thompson is a fan of Ryan Adams, so it was no surprise to hear he and Linda sing “My Wrecking Ball”. They followed this beautifully with Jason Isbell’s “If We Were Vampires”.

Finale time came with Penni’s lovely version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”.

Fuchsia’s Showcase

By |August 28th, 2018|0 Comments

Twelve months last May, a shy fifteen year old turned up to one of our Singers’ Nights armed with a guitar and two songs.

Since then we have watched her blossom as a performer, growing in confidence and developing her vocal and guitar-playing skills to the point where she has found herself performing at many events locally, including this year’s Graig Aid festival. And earlier in the year, opening at Rhyl Pavilion for the award-winning Scottish band, Skerryvore.

Having invited Fuchsia Jones to perform an extended spot at the club, we were delighted to see the function room at The Feathers packed with an appreciative audience as she showcased half a dozen or so of the songs that have defined her musical journey.

That audience included her family, of course, as well as her guitar tutor, Skeet Williams, who sat with baited breath as she opened her set with the lovely Welsh language song “Dy Lygaid Di”, written by Gwyneth Glyn.

She followed up with songs by Britney Spears, Ed Sheeran and Laura Marling

“Wicked Game”, by Chris Isaac, had been one of the very first songs on her first visit, along with Ray Lamontagne’s “Jolene”. Both had pride of place in tonight’s showcase which she drew to its conclusion with Paolo Nutini’s “One Day”.

Scarlet Jones

Floor Spots
The evening had begun with floor spots from nine musicians performing up to three songs each. We had “Carolina Star” from Lynda Degney, and her husband Tom delivered a protest song “For What It’s Worth” written by Stephen Stills.

Cath Bryan sang Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. Penni Neale sang Willy Nelson and Paul Simon; and I sang Beatles and Bob Dylan.

It was good to welcome back two members who we’d not seen in a while. Peter Stevens gave us John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “The Contender” (made famous by Christy Moore). Ron (from Wrexham) Stevenson sang the Russ Hamilton 1957 hit “We Will Make Love2, and the Five Penny Piece number “Ee By Gum”.

Peter Stevens

Fuchsia’s sister Scarlet has performed at the club once before and tonight we were treated to a lovely a cappella rendition of the Welsh language classic “Ar Hyd Yr Nos”.

It was Richard Ruthin who brought both the first and second rounds of floor spots to a close, doing so with “Moonshiner”, and the rousing classic “Putting on the Style” in the lively style of the ‘king of skiffle’,  Lonnie Donegan.

Finale time was upon us, so we brought Fuchsia back on stage to sing “Creep”, by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and for an encore, “Liability” by the New Zealand singer, Lorde.