Raphael and The Baker’s Dozen

By |July 8th, 2018|0 Comments

In case you’re thinking that’s a cool name for a band… well it would be if it was, but it isn’t.

Raphael Callaghan is, of course, the mighty fine country blues singer who gave us an extended mid-evening showcase tonight, and the ‘baker’s dozen’ refers to the thirteen musicians who performed floor spots before and after.

Originally from Liverpool and now living on the North Wales Coast, Raphael has his own unique style of acoustic blues, gospel and roots. His performance and style of songwriting are the fruits of years of experience playing solo and in various groups and bands. The most recent, and indeed current position, of course, is as the fifth member of our own Tom, Dick and Harry band.

Tonight though, the stage was his and his alone, as he delivered a cracking set of eight songs, opening with “Living Blues”, followed by “Silk For Skin”. Some where old favourites, some were tracks from his latest album “Said and Done”.

As completely inconsistent as it was with the current heat wave, it was nevertheless refreshing to hear “Too Much Rain”.

“This Old Denim” and “Don’t Let the Devil Drive” were amongst the others we heard, Raphael accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica. He threw an a cappella number into the mix and kept us entertained with just the right amount of banter in between songs.

The function room at The Feathers was comfortably full, with a few new faces in the audience too. As well as those who had come to watch our guest perform, there were four gentlemen who were staying overnight in the area whilst walking the length of Offa’s Dyke. Their itinerary had been scheduled to include a stopover at the International Eisteddfod and a visit our little club. We were delighted when one of their group, Bill Hackwell, asked to borrow a guitar and perform a floor spot for us, singing “Putting on the Ritz”, followed by Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing”.

Another Rain Dance
It was also good to see the return of the globe-trotting Peter Leslie.

He too must be finding the heat a bit unbearable as he sang his own plea to the rain gods “Incessant Rain”.

We had a liberal sprinkling of country, folk and Americana from regulars Richard Davies, Tom and Lynda Degney. Some a cappella folk from Steve Bailey, some Scottish airs from Jim Cole, traditional Welsh folk from Rhodri Jones, and some memories of Merseyside from Joe Lyon.

The Eastwoods did what the Eastwoods do best: Don Williams from Richard and Patsy Cline from Wendy. And ‘Mr Blues’ himself, Brian Peters did us proud with his guitar, harp and stomp-box, singing “CC Rider” and “Sitting on Top of the World”.

It had been a superb, full and varied evening of music, with two songs each for the floor-spotters and eleven from Raphael.

Then it was over to our guest for the finale. He sang “Mercury Blues” (K. C. Douglas ) and his own song, “A Time to Leave”.

But it wasn’t quite time to leave, because we persuaded Raphael to do one more as an encore, with everyone in the room joining in on “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”. (Click ► to play)

 

 

Festival Week Frolics at The Feathers

By |June 30th, 2018|0 Comments

To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Ruthin Festival, we held our own mini Woodstock with a Ruthin-centric Singer’s Night in which we showcased four local acts in the second half of the evening.

Fuchsia Jones
First up was Ruthin’s most promising, up-and-coming songstress, Fuchsia Jones. It was just thirteen months ago she made her first appearance at the club, since then we have watched this talented young lady blossom into a confident and polished performer.

The set comprised a string of lovely laid-back ballads that made the most of that beautiful pure voice of hers, and included “Tennessee Whiskey” and Lionel Richie’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning”. Fuchsia finished with the Chris Isaac classic, “Wicked Game”, which also happened to be the very first song she had sung for us back in May 2017.

Ceidwad y Gán
Another young performer whose progress we have followed is Harri Owen. He first turned up back in November 2016 with the only two songs he had learned to play. One of those was the Oasis song “Half a World Away” and we were knocked out by his gravelly, Gallagher-esque voice. Since then he has formed the band, Ceidwad y Gán, with bassist Oli Bradley-Hughes, percussionist Sam Moorcroft, guitarists Tomos Jones and Jake Vaughan-Evans. They played an absolute belter of a set that included a couple of good old sing-along Bob Dylan favourites “Wagon Wheel” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.


Earlier this year the band took part in the S4C Song For Wales competition, taking first place with “Cofio Hedd Wyn”, a song written and composed by Harri’s father, Bov Owen. And as they brought their set to a close with that song tonight, they roped Bov in to play the lead guitar part.

Chester and JonBass
Our third showcase act was Chester and JonBass. John Rowell has been a Ruthin AllStyles member since the club’s early days and his superb bass guitar skills have enriched a number of bands along the way, including Mantra, Raven and Breeze, earning him the affectionate nickname of John Bass.

This recent pairing with Chester Weiss has resulted in a steady stream of bookings all over the region and they are currently working on a soon-to-be-released album.

Chester is a master of the lap steel guitar and this evening we were treated to one of the finest blues performances you are likely to hear, concluding with the Robert Johnson classic, “Stop Breaking Down Blues”.

The Tom, Dick and Harry Band
John is, of course, still a very much valued member of the Tom Dick and Harry Band, and it was quite fitting that we should feature this popular ensemble in the finale spot.


The set began with a beautiful song written by Harry Robertson, “Til I Danced With You”, followed by a string of our old favourites including the likes of “Same Old Blues Again” and “The Letter”, with the lead vocals alternating between Harry and Richard Davies. And for an encore, they had the whole room joining in with “Stand By Me”.

It was a fabulous evening of music served up by four excellent sets of musicians, each with their own distinctive style and thoroughly enjoyed by the packed audience in the function room.

Not forgetting, of course, the first-half floor spots by Chris Birchall, Rhodri Hampden Jones, Joe Lyon, and Tom & Lynda Degney.

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.

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

John Brindley Entertains

By |March 14th, 2018|0 Comments

We’d just got over the “Beast from the East”, when the lovable Jon Brindley breezed in to deliver a Feast from the East.

And the feast that he brought us from the wilds of Wigan, was a takeaway comprising the most diverse collection of covers and original songs as any lover of live music could ask for.

He served up helpings of Clapton, John Mayer, Trad Irish Folk songs, John Fogerty, and many more.

His first weapon of choice was the guitar, which he used for some lively rocky numbers. A string snapped half way through “Rollin on the River” and in true rock ‘n roll style, Jon carried on to the end of the song regardless.

Multi Instrumentalist
Luckily Jon had four instruments to choose from so whilst his guitar tech (me) took care of the restringing, he took charge of the electric piano and slowed the pace down with a set of three of his own compositions.

Then it was on to the accordion for some Steve Earl, including the catchy “Galway Girl”.

Back on guitar after the mid-evening break,  a beautiful french song  “La vie de Campagne”, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”,and Clapton’s “Call me the Breeze” were followed by the Irish drinking song, “Rosin the Bow”.

This was the cue for Jon to pick up his grandmother’s violin for some jaunty jigs that were accompanied by much foot tapping and thigh slapping from the audience.

Then one more on the accordion took us up to the end of the set. Not that we were ever going to let him go so quickly. Jon came back with John Mayer’s “Sweet Little Mystery” that had been requested by Jayne. More Irish folk followed in the form of “The Fox”. Then came the encore where he sang one of his own songs “Sing Out”  accompanying himself on the accordion.

Support
The evening had begun with a round of songs from five of our regulars: Chris, Lynda Degney, Andrew Bowsher, Glyn Hudson and Penni Neale, and the second half was opened with a four song set by another five, in the shape of the full Tom, Dick and Harry band (including John Bass and Raphael).

Charity Cake Stall
During the evening we also had cakes for sale in aid of the nation-wide “Time for a Cuppa” fund-raising campaign in aid of the Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse charity. Cakes had been kindly donated by Ruthin Co-op and two of our members, Glyn and Barbara. The Feathers management kindly donated a bottle of bubbly for the raffle plus a cash donation.

All the tea/coffee and raffle money was added to the donations box on the cake table, adding up to a grand total of £116.35 raised for the charity.

A couple of video clips from the night.

 

Gary Edward Jones in Concert

By |January 30th, 2018|1 Comment


Well… what a fabulous evening of music that turned out to be.

After an opening round of floor spots from eight of the Ruthin AllStyles regulars, Gary Edward Jones began his first set with three of his newer songs, “Animals”, “Sunrise” and “Help me Out Lord”.

Originally booked to perform solo, we were delighted to discover he had assembled a band of four other talented musicians to accompany him: his wife Elizabeth on mandolin and backing vocals; Ben ‘fingers’ Gladwin on keyboard, John Crump on bass, and Dan Logan in the percussion department. The overall sound was polished, balanced and professional, and an absolute delight to listen to.

As the set continued, we were taken on a sublime journey that included songs off Gary’s critically acclaimed 2014 album, The Cabinet Maker, and some that will feature on his next album – a vinyl due to be released on the Jacaranda Records label.

Something About Simon
In addition to his own beautifully crafted songs, Gary’s performance was laced with a fine selection of covers of the songs of Paul Simon. (Click ► to hear Gary sing America)

 

Having spent years shunning any notion of capitalising upon his similarities to Paul Simon, which are both visual and vocal, Gary finally capitulated. But not content to simply cover these in an arbitrary fashion, Gary spent more than two years studying Paul Simon’s finger-picking style, and perfecting the subtle nuances of the American folk singer’s voice, to perfect an authentic sound.

All the hard work has finally paid off, with Gary having recently been signed-up to undertake an 80 venue tour of his multi-media show “Something About Simon”.

And I’m certain the tour will be a resounding success because, as we just witnessed during this concert, the only other person who sounds more like Paul Simon is Paul Simon himself.

The mid evening break was followed by a two song set from one of Ruthin’s newest young talents, Fuchsia Jones (below), who sang the Lorde song “Liability” and Laura Marling’s “Rambling Man”.

Then, as the second 45 minute set by Gary Edward Jones progressed, Fuchsia returned to the stage to take on the lead vocal on “Oceans”, a beautiful and poignant song that Gary wrote about the plight of the refugee children who lost their lives whilst taking flight from war-torn lands.

As this set came to a close there were enthusiastic shouts of ‘more’ from the capacity audience. Gary obliged with the Paul Simon classic “April Come She May”, and then sent us all home with a reggae earworm, in the form of his catchy upbeat song, “Who’s Gonna Love You Now”. (Click ► to listen)

The performers who contributed to the floor spots were: David Rees, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Lynda Degney, Tom Degney, Richard Davies, Penni Neale and Fuchsia Jones.

Next week: Singers’ Night.

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.


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

Kevin Wardman Showcase

By |July 14th, 2017|0 Comments

 

It’s been a good year for the Roses.

No, we’ve not started a gardening page. This was the title of one of the songs our guest Kevin Wardman sang in his showcase set this evening. And I think it’s safe to say it has also been a damn good year for the music too.

A long serving and well respected member of the Rhyl Folk and Acoustic Club, it is some five years since Kevin last entertained us at Ruthin with his superb guitar style, his great stage presence and smooth dusky vocals.

He opened an excellent mid-evening showcase set with Chris Rea’s “Chisel Hill”, following on with “Down Too Deep” off Dougie MacLean’s 1989 album, Butterstone, and Joan Armatrading’s “The Weakness In Me”.

Then came “It’s been a good year for the Roses”. This was originally recorded by American country singer George Jones, but so good was tonight’s performance, you’d have been excused for thinking composer Jerry Chesnut had written it for Kevin himself.

The set continued with “This Year” (White Buffalo), “I Used To Love Her” (Saw Doctors) and the first of three Steve Earl songs, “My Old Friend the Blues”.

The Peter Bond and Bill Caddick classic “One Hand on the Radio” took us up to the break.

Floor spots
Floor spots ensued, with some Ben E King and Woody Guthrie from Chris Birchall and Bob Neale. Joe Lyon reflected on a “Sunny Afternoon”, Kinks style, and Peter Leslie ventured into Paul Weller territory with a super cover of “You do Something to me”.

Richard Eastwood, went all Don Williams on us with “I Recall a Gypsy Woman”, and his gypsy woman, Wendy, sang a lovely laid back version of Dusty Springfield’s 1963 hit, “Only Want to Be With You” .

We had each got three songs under our belts as Penni Neale brought the floor spots to a conclusion with a song released by The Who in the early seventies, “Behind Blue Eyes”.

 

Finale Time
And so it was finale time and Kevin returned to the stage to deliver John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, and two by Steve Earl: “Can’t Remember if we Said Goodbye” and “Copperhead Road”.

As Kevin folded up the sheet of paper containing his set list, the audience were baying for more, with our visitors from Rhyl Shouting: “Geronimo”.

Mrs Wardman duly obliged with a rousing rendition of “Geronimo’s Cadillac”, to the accompaniment of Red Indian war cries from the floor.

Virginia Kettle – Back to her roots

By |May 15th, 2017|0 Comments

 

It is said that a watched kettle never boils, but we just watched Virginia Kettle and she was smokin’.

Virginia, of course, is a significant member of the renowned folk rock band Merry Hell. As such, she shares the vocals with brother-in-law Andrew, and shares the song-writing with her other brother-in-law, Bob. But during her visit to Ruthin AllStyles this week, the night belonged to Virginia.

The first of her forty-five minute spots saw Virginia alone in the spotlight. Whilst not technically unplugged, she was as good as. One voice, one guitar, both sounding beautiful.

Her opening song “Love is a Game” is a song that features on Merry Hell’s Ghost in Our House album, made all the more special for being stripped back to its acoustic beginnings.  “Not Only Birds Have wings” was followed by the song she wrote for, and became the title track for, the band’s latest album “Bloodlines”.

And so the scene was set for this exquisite first-half performance; a tapestry of new songs intertwined with songs that are so very familiar to Merry Hell fans, but presented in a style that was very much Virginia Kettle, and harking back to her roots as a solo artist.

Amid the interesting banter between songs. we were reminded that her first appearance at Ruthin AllStyles was way back during the club’s early days at The White Horse, and before her time with Merry Hell when, as Virginia Barrett, she opened for none other than Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton of the The Urban Folk Quartet.

We were also treated to one of Virginia’s most recent songs, “Growing, Growing, Gone”, written after her eldest son left home to attend university, and her acoustic solo set ended with a lovely cover of the Waterboys hit “The Whole of the Moon”.

As always on our Guest Nights, Intimate Concerts, Showcase Sessions, call them what you will, the support was in the form of floor spots by our regulars. Tonight we had a fine collection of songs from Glyn, Chris, Tom & Lynda, Joe, Richard, Penni and Pete & Di.

Virginia and The Dreamkeepers

For Virginia’s second spot she was joined by The Dreamkeepers: Husband John on guitar, Neil McCartney on fiddle and Nick Davies on bass.

The fuller sound from the four-piece was conducive to more up-beat songs, grounded by Nick’s steady bass line and with a stomp box much in evidence. Much was made too, of Neil McCartney’s sweet and sympathetic violin accompaniment.

The first four or five songs included “Little Warm” and “Steady as a Rock” and were testament to Virginia’s diverse and varied song-writing skills. The overall sound was more akin to the lively Merry Hell style, especially when they broke into the Dreamkeepers’ version of “Build a Mansion”.

More followed: An old favourite, “Bury Me Naked” saw our own Tom Degney briefly join the line-up with his little red Ukulele; the tale of “The Butcher and the Vegan” and their encore song “One More Day Without You”.

What a lovely evening’s entertainment Mrs and Mrs Kettle put on for us, with the help of messers Davies and McCartney. Especially nice in the way that Virginia played her first set solo and acoustic, which always helps strike an affinity with the singer songwriter and opens ones mind to a songs back story.

It was almost like having two acts for the price of one.

(Click an image to enlarge)