A Grand Night

By |July 1st, 2020|0 Comments

Alan and Linda Thompson – Only Human

It was more than a grand night. In fact, it was a ‘grand’ plus £132.

Yes, that’s right, last Thursday’s fund-raising evening raised a total of £1,132 no less, thanks to the incredible generosity of everybody who tuned-in to enjoy what was an absolute belter of a music night.

Henry Priestman

Regulars and Guest Appearances

Pretty much all the songs were dedicated to the charity RENEW and its relentless fund-raising to help the refugees locked-down on the Greek island of Leros. Many had chosen their songs for the meaningful lyrics, others had included a special introduction. Club regular Robin Spreckly updated one of his own protest songs and incorporated a specially rewritten middle eight.

We had a first-time visit from The Christians former frontman, Henry Priestman who introduced his lovely “Beautiful Dreamers” with a special message to the club and to the charity.

Merry Hell – I Am Coming Home

Merry Hell
Merry Hell (right)contributed their hauntingly beautiful, a Cappella, “I Am Coming Home, I Am a Refugee, written by band member Bob Kettle.

Accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, Gary Edward Jones sang the beautifully poignant “Oceans” which he wrote after hearing about the three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea during 2015 as he and his family fled war-torn Bagdad.

The evening had opened with “Only Human”, a song penned by club-member Alan Thompson after attending a talk given by one of the founders of RENEW about the desperate plight of the refugees on Leros.

Louise Edwards

Accompanied by a slideshow of pictures taken by the charity’s volunteers, the video has since been used during several fund-raising events. And then to close the show Alan and his sister Linda had recorded a special “lock-down” live version of that fabulous heart-wrenching song.

Rewind
If you missed the show, it is available to replay at the bottom of this page. Near the beginning, Louise Edwards gives a brief explanation about the work done by the Buckley based Refugee Essentials North East Wales (RENEW). Herself, one of the group’s volunteers,  Louise has also hosted fund-raising concerts at her own music venue, The Tin Shed, in Treuddyn.

Above all, enjoy the wonderful locally-produced music by as talented a bunch of musicians to be found anywhere.  The show is three hours long and if you skip through to the best bits, it will only take you… erm… three hours 😉

Week 15 – Ruthin Allstyles Charity Fund-raiser

Week 15 – Ruthin Allstyles Charity Fund-raiser in aid of RENEW► As always, to watch this on rewind, fast forward to 5 minutes. The donations link will stay live until Saturday night, should you wish to donate to this worthy cause. https://www.paypal.me/RuthinAllStyles or you can donate by Bank transfer direct to RENEW – (Refugee Essentials North East Wales) at Lloyds Bank. Name: CARE UK RENEW Sort Code: 30-99-14 Account No.: 41788268 IBAN: GB95LOYD30991441788268 **Please reference all donations ‘Ruthin All Styles’**

Posted by Chris Birchall on Thursday, 25 June 2020

 

 

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

Phil Bates in Concert at Ruthin AllStyles

By |November 18th, 2019|2 Comments

John Bass, Raphael Callaghan Phil and Jo Bates

There was a ‘full house’ in the function room at The Feathers Inn, when the former frontman of ELO2, Phil Bates, performed a concert for us at Ruthin AllStyles Music Club.

The popular singer, who now lives in Germany, has been to our lovely little club every two or three years since way back in its days at The Castle Hotel and The White Horse when club founders Llinos and Campbell Finnie were at the helm.

I first saw Phil up at the Cross Keys back in 2013 and this is his second time here at The Feathers. On every occasion he is a big hit with the audience, performing a broad mix of covers and original material, with the occasional ELO classic thrown in too.

This week he opened with a bluesy set before progressing onto more rocky numbers and in the second half when he was joined by his wife Jo on electric piano and our own John Rowell on his fretless six-string bass, with Raphael Callaghan contributing harmonica accompaniment toward the end of the evening.

Phil entertained our capacity audience with a mixture of covers and his own compositions, some of which reflected his wry sense of humour in songs such as “If I’d Known I’d Live This Long I’d Have Taken More Care Of Myself”, and “I’m Going To Viagra”.

If I had to choose my personal favourites from the evening, it would be a toss-up between the Beatles cover, “My Love Don’t Give Me Presents” and Peter Green’s “Need Your Love So Bad”. (See the videos below)

Floor Spots
As always, the evening began with a round of floor spots by a selection of our regulars who frequent the club’s highly popular Singers’ Nights which attracts musicians from all over the region. A song each from Chris Birchall, Joe Lyon, Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Glyn Hudson, Raphael Callaghan and Steve Juckes-Hughes got things off to a fine start.

Our next concert is on the 30th of January when Wirral-based country duo, Tennessee Waltz make a welcome return and in May, our own Gary Edward Jones will be opening for the renowned Colorado singer-songwriter David Starr.

A playlist of videos from the concert courtesy of Jim Hoban, devotee of all things ELO
Click the menu button [≡] for the listings

 

 

 

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

By |October 17th, 2019|0 Comments

In fact, every single pair of eyes in the room were smiling, whilst those Irish eyes were twinkling as their owner’s beautifully crafted songs were interspersed with tales of his Irish upbringing and anecdotal yarns about his musical journey through life.

You will go a long way to find a more entertaining and engaging folk singer than Antony John Clarke. He has his own unique style of modern folk songs with words that conjure up pictures of life, painted with humour and a not insignificant touch of the old blarney.

He was accompanied on piano by his lovely wife Julia, who also wore a beautiful smile throughout the evening despite bearing the brunt of many of his jokes. It was Julia’s 63rd birthday and Anthony John made much of the fact that it heralded the beginning of the annual eight-day period when he is technically a year younger than her.

The humour comes effortlessly, both within the songs and in the narrative between them. The whole of his performance is full of fun with lively and uplifting songs such as “The Cockerel Has Done a Runner”, “We Pulled Through”, “I Hate Camping” and “They Don’t Write Them Like That Any More”.

As with his 2017 concert, Anthony John and Julia stayed over in The Feathers’ comfortable accommodation which once again resulted in him overrunning our usual finish time by almost an hour. Not that anybody objected.

Floor Singers
The room was comfortably full and as always, both halves of the evening had begun with a round of songs from the floor, on this occasion courtesy of regular members Lynda and Tom Degney, Robin the Busker, Richard Eastwood, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin and Penni Neale. We also welcomed a first-time visitor from Eastbourne, folk singer Nick Cant, who happened upon our lovely club whilst holidaying in the area.

I think it’s true to say he couldn’t have picked a better evening to do so.

Virginia Kettle in Concert

By |July 3rd, 2019|0 Comments

For Ruthin Festival Week we always try to do something special and this year we ended up with something very special.

Virginia Kettle’s association with Ruthin AllStyles Music Club goes back way beyond her long-established role as front-lady with the award-winning folk-rock band, Merry Hell alongside brother-in-law Andrew Kettle.

Back in the club’s early years, when it was called Ruthin Folk Club, with The White Horse as it’s meeting place, Virginia Barrett, as she was back then, opened for none other than Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton of The Urban Folk Quartet.

Since then she has appeared at the club on numerous occasions as part of Merry Hell, as well as with her side-project Virginia and the Dreamkeepers, so it was lovely to have her back simply as Virginia, with just her acoustic guitar, to treat us to a lovely intimate concert.

The prolific songwriter that she is, we were treated to an evening filled with a fine blend of covers and original material including many of the familiar numbers that Virginia has written for Merry Hell.

She opened her first set with “Nobody Knows Me Like You” written for the band’s 2014 EP “The Ghost”, followed by a song about children growing up and leaving home, “Growing, Growing Gone”. And then a stripped-back a cappella version of “Bloodlines” from the album of the same name.

“Everybody Needs a Little Warm” was next from this lady who herself ouses ‘warm’, both in the lyrics of her songs and in their delivery. Her warm personality carries through to the tales she tells, along with the back-stories to her songs. She also has a wonderful way of engaging with the audience, who responded by enthusiastically joining in on many of the choruses. To this end, a prompt board, creatively constructed in the style of a ransom note, helped us through one of the more lengthy choruses.

For her song “Violet” she displayed a photo of  Annalisa Flanagan, a young primary school teacher who holds the world record for having the loudest recorded voice, reaching 121 decibels, and was the inspiration for the song.

The Audio-Visual continued with a glass of red magically appearing for a song that featured wine. The trend didn’t, however, extend to her rendition of “Bury Me Naked”. 😉

Virginia concluded her final set with a lovely acoustic version of the Waterboys’ 1985 hit “The Whole of the Moon” and then for an encore it was a bluesy number, “Straight Down the Middle”. It was a fine earworm upon which to end a fabulous evening with this lovely and talented lady.

As always, of course, we had some songs from a selection of our regulars to open both halves of the evening, twelve in total, each performing one of their favourite songs, providing the perfect ‘entree’ for the main course. They were: Lynda & Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Mike Hastings, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Neil Martin, Penni Neale, Mike Whitaker, Chris Birchall and Richard & Wendy Eastwood.

 

 

An Evening with Williams and Chisnall

By |May 8th, 2019|2 Comments

It was an evening that delivered all that was promised as we were treated to a lovely collection of covers and originals from two of Merseyside’s finest.

John Williams

John Williams, of course, is a frequent visitor to our regular Singer’s Nights when he travels from Prenton on the chance of a floor spot and every time he delights us with his music. Tonight he opened the first set with one of his own compositions “Wellington Road”.

Sitting across from him was fellow Wirralite Phil Chisnall. It was Phil’s first visit since the club moved from the Cross Keys to The Feathers. His apology for a sore throat was totally unnecessary. He’d handled it like a pro, dropping the key of his songs a semitone or two. You’d never have known there was a problem as he delivered his first song “Every Morning Blues”, which Phil described as a ‘happy blues’ song that he had written on one of life’s good days.

Phil Chisnall

The format for the evening worked really well. with both of our guests on stage at the same time, taking it in turns to perform their songs, occasionally accompanying each other, and with plenty of banter in between. It was nice to experience their individual songwriting talents as well as hearing some great covers as diverse as the Stereophonics’ hit, “Dakota” and Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel. And when Phil played “Albertross” on his acoustic, it drew audible gasps from the audience. Adding variety to the evening, Phil had everyone in stitches as he delivered a hilarious monologue,  Stanley Holloway, style “Albert and the Lion”.

Knowing how audiences like to join in with the choruses but are sometimes reluctant because they don’t know the words, John had placed a sheet of paper containing the lyrics of all the join-in choruses on every table. The gathered throng didn’t hold back; the room was ‘comfortably full’ and the atmosphere was wonderful.

Neil Martin

Before each of the Williams and Chisnall sets, we had a couple of songs each from a group of our regulars. To open the evening we had a duet from Penni Neale and Neil Martin. They sang the beautiful song written in 2016 by Sting, “The Empty Chair”. This first session also featured performances by Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin and Joe Lyon.

After the break, Neil Martin and Penni Neale did their solo spots, as did Chris Birchall. Then we had a couple of songs from one of John and Phil’s former Merseyside mates, Gary Edward Jones. When I say ‘former’, they are still mates, it’s just that Gary moved to live in these parts a couple of years ago. 🙂 Merseyside’s loss is Ruthin’s gain.

Gary Edward Jones

John Williams opened their second set with the first song he’d ever written, “Peel Island”.

It was a great diverse set that included the fabulous Robert Johnson song “Walking Blues” by Phil on his resonator guitar and ending with the guys duetting on the rousing Old Crow Medicine Show/Bob Dylan song “Wagon Wheel”.

Then, before we hauled ourselves off home, they responded to the shouts for more with the Mark Knopfler song “Haul Away for Home”.

 

 

A superb sold-out concert by Gary Edward Jones

By |March 13th, 2019|1 Comment

Gary Edward Jones has spent the past two or three years writing his “Something About Simon” stage show, practising the songs of Paul Simon and honing his finger-style guitar skills to equal those of the master. Jayne and I were privileged to have been present during his 2017 ‘tester’ concert and at the official launch of the “Something About Simon” concert tour at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre last November.

During this time though, he was still writing and building up a collection of his own new songs in preparation for a second album sometime in the not too distant future.

With the “Simon” Summer and Autumn tour dates rapidly filling up, Gary decided it would be nice to do a few early 2019 concerts showcasing his own material and we were delighted that he chose Ruthin AllStyles for one of the first. And as we suspected, it was a sell-out.

Opening his first set with a couple of new songs “I’m a Good Soul” and “Skin”, Gary followed up with “Free Falling To The End”, which is one of my personal favourites off his 2014 album, ‘The Cabinet Maker’.

Cycling between his Recording King Dreadnought, a custom Collings and a lovely parlour size twelve-string, we heard a fine mix of this brand new material including “Cheap Red Wine”, “Take Me Back”, and one that is so new it hasn’t even got a name yet. It was a beautiful tear-jerker of a ballad.

Gary’s wife Elizabeth was on hand for most of them, providing piano accompaniment and some lovely subtle vocal harmonies. But then, as a bonus, she treated us to a performance of one of her own latest songs, “Moth in the Wool”, written under the ‘Elfin Bow’ moniker, with Gary adding a rich bass line on a bass ukulele.

During the second half of the evening, Gary provided a little taste of his Paul Simon material with “The Boxer”, “America” and a cameo performance of “Still Crazy”.

Two more new songs, “She Moves Like the Summer Wind” and “King For a Day” were followed by a selection that we know and love from 2014, including “Mr Lonely Times” and “Bang Bang Bang”.

Then with about half an hour to go, Gary spotted a late arrival in the audience. It was Skeet Williams, who had toured with Gary in the past and featured on the Cabinet Maker album.

Skeet was dragged up onto the stage, protesting that he’d not played those songs for a few years. Apart from a few overheard quips of “What key is it in?” and “How does that go again?”, you would never have known. What followed was a testament to the camaraderie and musicianship of these guys as they tripped effortlessly through “Superheros”, “Real Life Paradise”, “Walk You Home” and the beautifully poignant “Oceans”.

Why is it that time always seems to fly when you are having fun. It was time to go – but not before they succumbed to the cries of ‘more’ by playing “All I Want is You” as an encore.

The opening support spot this evening came courtesy of Ruthin AllStyles regulars, Robin the Busker, Richard Ruthin, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Lynda and Tom Degney, Neil Martin, Chris Birchall and Penni Neale.

►For a special treat this summer, why not get your tickets booked for the “Something About Simon” show which is coming to Theatr Colwyn on the 5th of July.


 

A Warm Welcome

By |November 26th, 2018|1 Comment

Because Ruthin AllStyles is a club with hugely popular Singers’ Nights, we tend to limit the number of Guest Nights to just four or five concerts a year, plus a sprinkling of Showcase Spots.

On this basis, we try to ring the changes and will often book new artists who have previously turned up to do a floor spot that resulted in a good reception from our audiences.

On the other hand, there are one or two acts that we are always pleased to welcome back every couple of years or so. One such is the Chester based trio, Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes.

Thumbs-up from birthday boy John Finnan

And we weren’t disappointed. As always, Frank, Andy and John treated us to a fabulous evening of uplifting entertainment, with musicianship and energy that belies their years. People talk about The Stones being brilliant in the autumn of their music careers. Well, I can tell you, these guys can give them a run for their money …and they look several decades younger than Jagger and co 😉

The most senior member of the band is John Finnan and it turned out that he was celebrating his 80th birthday on the very day of the gig. Pre-warned of this, we had commissioned our in-house pâtissier,  Glynis Hudson, to bake a cake. In the event, John’s wife Margaret had managed to smuggle in a cake too, so our audience on the night were very well catered for, both musically and gastronomically.

John Finnan and Andy Chrimes

The musical side of the menu was diverse and varied, with the three alternating between various guitars, banjos, accordions and the double bass.

They gave us songs from the British and American folk scene, and from the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, with John recounting the time he was at a Chester folk club in the sixties when a young American singer by the name of Paul Simon borrowed John’s guitar for a floor spot and breaking it in the process.

There was even a Merry Hell song in the set as the lads sang Virginia Kettle’s beautiful ballad “Arundale”.

And no Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes gig would be complete without a bit of Procol Harlum. Andy Chrimes took lead vocals and with both he and Frank Welcomme playing their respective accordions, this version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” really did skip the light fandango and was something to behold.

As is always the case on our concert nights, the support act came in the form of floor spots from some of our regular members.

It was Robin the Busker who got the evening underway, followed by ten others, each contributing a two-song set.

Following a WFC finale comprising a medley of old favourites which saw pretty much everyone in the room joining in, when I hear comments like “wonderful” and “best night ever”, it makes me feel proud of our little club and its enthusiastic members. And it makes all the behind-the-scenes work well worthwhile.

The Floor Singers:
Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Geoff Hollis, Geoff Durno, Chris Birchall, Robin the Busker,  Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Peter Leslie and Neil Martin.

 

Red Hill Revisited

By |November 14th, 2018|2 Comments

We have been enjoying Alan Thompson’s music here at the club for going on four months now. Since he and his sister Linda discovered Ruthin AllStyles, their floor spots have become one of the highlights of our Thursday evening gatherings.

So this week we had a special treat as the pair not only performed a showcase but also brought in John Evans, the third member of their former band Red Hill, to join them on a few of the numbers.

It was a balanced and well thought-out set, comprising covers (did someone mention Ryan Adams? 😉 ) and some of Alan’s beautiful self-penned songs, all graced with some absolutely beautiful harmonies. Their voices really do work well together and their relaxed style makes it look so natural and so easy.

The former Red Hill line-up, Alan Thompson, Linda Thompson and John Evans

It was the second time we have used the new ‘split showcase’ format which seems to be going down well.  Alan and Linda opened the evening with two songs, opened the second half with four, and then did a couple of numbers in the finale, allowing plenty of opportunity for floor spots (in this case from twelve other performers). The overall result was a varied and balanced musical program.

One of those floor singers was their friend and colleague John Evans and it was their turn to back him as he performed one of his own songs just before the finale.

The rest of the Floor Spot singers were: Chris Birchall, Steve Bailey, Penni Neale, Lynda and Tom Degney, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Richard and Wendy Eastwood, John Williams and Richard Ruthin.

Altogether making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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.

Update:

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