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)

Edwina Hayes

By |April 4th, 2017|0 Comments

“The sweetest voice in England”, “Like a soft blanket” and “A very talented young lady”, are just a few of the many plaudits Edwina Hayes has received from the likes of Nanci Griffith, Perez Hilton and Michael Parkinson.

We saw all of the above, and more, as this lovely lass from Yorkshire played to a capacity crowd at The Feathers Inn last Thursday in the latest of our series of Intimate Concerts.

Having opened shows for the likes of Jools Holland and Van Morrison, Edwina has performed at many prestigious venues including The Royal Albert Hall.

This week she put the same warmth and passion into performing for us at Ruthin, as she did when she played at the iconic Glastonbury Festival.

She gave us an insight to how she had got into performing and song writing, before opening her set with a song off her second album Pour Me A Drink, entitled “Leave A Light On For You”, followed by her first public performance of a brand new song, “It’s All About Love”.

And the fifty music lovers who were packed into the pub’s function room, responded with rapturous enthusiasm, hanging onto every word as she delivered a lovely mix of Country and gentle Folk-Americana.

They were singing along with many of the well-known covers that she interspersed with her own material, including the songs of Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson and that famous Randy Newman song, Feels Like Home, which Edwina recorded for the soundtrack of the Cameron Diaz film, My Sister’s Keeper.

And to bring a wonderful evening of music to an end, her encore included another brand new song, “Fare Thee Well” and the Nanci Griffith song “I Wish it Would Rain”.

Before each of Edwina’s two 50 minute spots, the audience were given a sample of Ruthin AllStyles Music Club’s home-grown talent, with an eclectic mix songs from a dozen of the members.

Wendy & Richard Eastwood

There was time for one song each with one or two members delivering another after the break – to fulfil requests from our guest! 🙂

Amongst them was someone who just happens to be one of her biggest fans. In fact, hardly a week goes by that Wendy Eastwood doesn’t sing an Edwina Hayes song. Wendy’s enthusiasm was one of the reasons we decided to book Edwina, to hear her perform those lovely songs in person.

The full supporting cast comprised:

Richard and Wendy Eastwood, Penni Neale, Peter Leslie, Chris Birchall, David Rees, Joe Lyon, Tom & Lynda Degney, Richard Davies, Cath Bryan and Glyn Hudson.

Almost Blue

By |February 21st, 2017|0 Comments

Almost Blue – Nice Work If You Can Get It

Yes it was Thursday, and yes it was Almost Blue.

I’m not referring to the sky, nor to the mood, not even to my jokes! No, the Almost Blue that added colour to our Thursday night at The Feathers, came in the shape of the recently formed jazz/blues duo of that name, otherwise known as Wendy Eastwood and Andy Murtagh.

In a departure from our usual format, Andy and Wendy were already playing as people were arriving for the evening, their music creating the ambience of a laid-back hotel piano bar. As audience members and musicians settled in and were seated, they did so to the lovely background sounds of classics such as Moon River, The Nearness of You and Fly me to the Moon.

Just after 8.00pm, as we prepared to launch into our usual first round of floor spots, the duo sang “Autumn Leaves” as a tribute to the late and much loved Bryn Roberts on what would have been his 67th birthday. It had been one of Bryn’s favourite songs, and he’d been a frequent performer at the club since its inception in 1996 right up until his untimely death two years ago.

Bob and Annie

The first of those floor spots was by Andy Murtagh’s sister, Annie, and her partner Bob. They opened with Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” followed by “Last Train at Midnight”.

Next up was another Bob. Bob Neale this time with a taste of Donovan. More Donovan was served up by Glyn Hudson with “Colours”. Then it was Richard Eastwood, whose songs had a distinct Jim Reeves flavour.

“Bus Stop” by the Hollies was the first of Joe Lyon’s numbers, and I got all sloppy with Henry Priestman’s “Valentine’s Day”.

Dan Cooper

New Face
It’s always nice to welcome a new face to our Singers’ Nights and especially one from the younger generation. Dan Cooper sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Guns ‘n Roses classic, “Sweet Child of Mine”.

Lynda Degney bade us to “Teach Your Children Well” and Tom sang about the sons of the pioneers. Tom remained on stage, and along with John Bass, accompanied Richard Davies, who sang “Sea of Heartbreaks” and “Galloway to Graceland”.

After the beer break, Almost Blue entertained us with an excellent mini showcase of six songs, finishing the set with Gershwin’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It”.

Penni Neale was also in a Gershwin mood with “Summertime”, and by way of contrast, served up “One More Cup of Coffee for the Road” courtesy of Bob Dylan.

Dylan was also on Bob and Annie’s mind as they returned to the stage to sing “It Ain’t Me Babe”

Cath Bryan sang Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going” and “Take Me Away” by Oasis.

Rhyl singer/songwriter Tom Goodall is always a welcome addition to our Singers’ Nights.

This being the closest one to Valentine’s Day, he brought his good lady along. Having celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary on the 14th, he dedicated his first song to her, one of his own fine compositions, “Second-Hand Rings”. Tom followed this up with “Home Again”.

And so it was almost time for us all to go home again. For the finale, we got Almost Blue to send us out into the cold with the Cole Porter classic “Too Darn Hot”

Click the pics to enlarge

Let us know your thoughts – or just say “Hello” – in the comments box below

Jim Bazley Showcase Concert

By |January 21st, 2017|0 Comments

We were delighted to see a close-to-capacity audience in the function room of The Feathers this week, forty-six in all, eagerly assembled to watch the amazing Jim Bazley perform a Showcase for us.

A few new faces joined thirty-six of our members, a dozen of whom came armed with instruments to provide the support in the form of floor spots.

And that’s how the evening began, with Lynda and Tom Degney singing “Only You” and “Moonlight Midnight” within their set of two songs each. Next up there was some John Mayer loveliness from young Jack Eagle, followed by the sound of Robin-the-Busker singing “The Sound of Silence”.

Some Dylan from me gave way to John Wright’s “She Wore Black Clothes” from Geoff Hollis, to take us up to part one of night’s headline act.

The First-Half Showcase
Jim opened his first set with one of his own compositions.

“Moocher” is a lively, fast moving tune that admirably demonstrates Jim’s technique of keeping a steady bass line throughout, whilst using his other seventeen fingers to play out the melody, at the same time seamlessly adding in some beautiful chiming 12th fret harmonics.

Next came three covers, all very different, starting with the 1930s all-time standard ballad, “Blue Moon”. This was one of the first tunes Jim tackled when he first started to transition from classical guitar to this more adventurous advanced style of finger-picking.

Then came the Stereophonics song, “Dakota”, followed by Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. In his fabulous instrumental interpretation of this 1972 hit, Jim is faithful to the famous guitar riff that predominates throughout the song, and at the same time playing the voice part.

As “Superstition” ended on a perfectly pitched 12th string harmonic, Jim moved on to “Rolling”, an early song that features on his first EP.

Having had a crafty peek at Jim’s set list, I knew what was coming next; two songs that stretch dexterity to the limits and leave onlooking guitarists with their jaws on the ground. They also happen to be my own favourite Jim Bazley covers.

In “The Eye of the Tiger” Jim manages to simultaneously play, not only what are effectively the bass, rhythm and lead parts, but percussion too. I’ve heard other cover versions, where the performers have used a looping pedal to build up the musical arrangement, but none so effective a this.

In fact the only pedal Jim uses is an echo pedal to recreate the authentic sound of the original “Dr Who Theme”. As the percussive bass line begins, you can almost imagine the Tardis materialising in the corner of the room. Just mind-blowing to watch and listen to, and what a way to end this first set.

Floor Spots Part Two
The beer break gave everyone a few moments to reflect upon the forty-five minutes of magnificent guitar wizardry they had just witnessed. The room was buzzing and the air filled with superlatives. More than once I heard something along the lines of “can’t believe there were no backing tracks”.

Then, raffle drawn, wine, CDs and a toilet brush won (yes you did read that correctly!), it was time for more from our local musicians.  Ladies first, Wendy Eastwood reminisced about Old Spice aftershave in “Daddy’s Little Girl”, and Cath Bryan sang of “Satin Green Shutters”.

Two blokes followed, with Hugh Taylor’s set featuring Mississippi John Hurt’s “Louis Collins” and Joe Lyon opening his set with the Neil Young song, “Four Strong Winds”.

Then it was back to the ladies, with Glyn Hudson getting everyone to join in the chorus on “Hard Times Come Again No More”, and with Penni Neale having everyone in stitches laughing with Tim Firth’s “Same Thing Twice”.

The Finale
Jim opened his second set with some classic country picking courtesy on the Chet Atkins number, “Windy and Warm”. Next came “Freight Train” which transitioned nicely into “Trambone” and ending with a touch of improvised Rag Time.

Some classic picking featured next the Don Ross tune “Tight Trite Night”, and then his own arrangement of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”.

“Every Breath You Take” began with the authentic intro and as overlaid the instrumental melody part you could almost hear Sting’s distinctive voice  coming out the the guitar.

Moving toward the end of the evening we were treated to some more Jim Bazley originals. First “Clang”, which features on his current CD, and “Evolution” which was absolutely spellbinding. I swear he chose that title because if he carries on like this, man will evolve into a being with sufficient fingers and limbs to execute all of the picking, strumming, tapping and percussive parts in this, his final song.

He said it was his final song, but the audience had other ideas.  Shouts of “More” brought him back, to finish on two more of his own compositions, the funky “Slinky Slide” and the exquisitely beautiful “Autumn Flow”.

It was a terrific evening’s entertainment by an exceedingly nice bloke. If you are reading this and weren’t able to attend, do get along to Theatre Clwyd on the 3rd of February where Jim is appearing along with Me and Deboe and The Goat Roper Rodeo Band.

Listen with a good pair of headphones or speakers turned up loud! – Enjoy

Elfin Bow – A Fairytale at The Feathers

By |October 1st, 2016|0 Comments


20160929-4550Forty-four folk fans witnessed something special at The Feathers tonight. Some had heard Elfin Bow before, some had heard about her, some had seen my relentless banging-on about this gig on social media for the past week, and succumbed to their curiosity. But of one thing I’m certain, all were glad they came.

As people were leaving at the end of the night, the compliments were flowing freely. It was heartening to eavesdrop these parting conversations. “Lovely”, Wonderful”, “Brilliant” were just a few of the superlatives I could hear being bandied about. One person came up to me and said “I’m lost for words – gobsmacked”.

Nice to know my ‘banging-on’ about it had not been in vain.

Elizabeth Anne Jones, aka Liverpool musician Elfin Bow, is in the final stages of preparing for the launch of her first album.

Based upon what we heard tonight, I think I can safely predict it is destined to be met with the same critical acclaim as her husband Gary Edward Jones’s first album “The Cabinet Maker” which spent several months in the Radio Caroline album charts in 2014, knocking U2 off the number one spot.

I’m sure that once this album is released, and the songs get the airplay the deserve, Elfin Bow will be filling venues throughout the land, without the likes of me having to ‘bang-on’ to publicise them.

Elfin Bow has an unassuming, yet commanding, stage presence. With outfits that reflect her love of art and colour, this lovely lady lights up the room.

Her original songs are beautifully constructed, some delicate, some lively and, true to the modern folk tradition, they all posses an interesting back story. Similarly, when she sings the odd cover, she makes it her own.

For her showcase tonight, this Liverpool lass alternated between guitar and mandolin and was accompanied by local musician Skeet Williams and percussionist James Christian. Having spent recent weeks working with her in the studio on material for the album, the pair have become fully attuned to her somewhat unique style.

20160929-4548Skeet, renowned for his intricate finger-picking guitar technique, has skillfully transferred this to the banjo. His delicate fills and riffs elevate that much maligned instrument way beyond its bluegrass roots.

20160929-4545The bodhrán, most commonly regarded as being the heartbeat of traditional Irish music, is most commonly to be heard competing in the loudness stakes with the clapping of hands and the clacking of clogs.

James has skillfully reined in and tamed this ancient instrument, using the tipper, the brushes and his bare fingers, to provide the subtle percussive accompaniment so fitting for Elfin Bow’s songs.

During the many ballads, we found all three instruments giving the vocals space, room to breath, unrushed and relaxed. You could almost hear a pin drop as the audience hung on every word of Elizabeth’s beautifully crafted lyrics.

20160929-4518Elfin Bow’s Showcase consisted of 40 minute mid evening performance, plus an extended finale at the end of the evening.

Of her original material, I found it hard to pick a favourite. On each of the three other occasions I’ve heard her play, I have come away with a different song in my head. They are all earworms. They are all catchy. If pressed I probably say “Grimshaw and the Fingerclaw”. Or maybe “Sweet Jonathan”. Or “Daffadilly down”. Or…   You can see were this is going, can’t you! 🙂

20160929-4540The three covers she sang were all old favourites of mine even before I’d ever heard her lovely versions: Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”, “Humble Me” by Nora Jones and especially that lovely old traditional folk song made popular by Christy Moore, “Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair”.

It was one of those evenings you really didn’t want to end, but when it did, it was Elfin Bow’s hand-clapping, foot-tapping upbeat song, “Prairie Madness” that sent us all home happy bunnies.

As is the tradition on our Showcase nights, the first and the second halves of the evening were opened by a round of floor spots from our regulars. Tonight we heard from Keith, Jim, Glyn, Chris, Peter, Penni, Robin, Richard, Lynda, Tom, Joe, Neil and Enid.

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The sign of a true professional. Skeet Williams doesn’t let something as trivial as a broken tuning key get in the way of a perfect performance – not when there is a pair of bull nose pliers handy! read all about it…