Kieran Halpin

By |August 23rd, 2016|0 Comments

20160818-3914It’s certainly not unusual to hear a Kieran Halpin song being sung at Ruthin AllStyles. Several of our members have one or more in their repertoire. In fact, tonight must have been the first time in the past several weeks, that Peter Leslie hadn’t turned up with yet another under his belt!

He didn’t need to of course, because tonight those songs came straight from the horse’s mouth.

They came fast and furious. They came sweet and sublime. This quiet and unassuming Irishman certainly knows how to break out a lyric and weave it into a melody. It is no wonder that his songs are so popular.

20160818-3919I had personally never been a “follower” as such. Yet time and time again throughout the evening I found myself thinking “I know this one”. These were songs I’d heard many times over without fully realising their provenance.

It seems I had in fact been a fan all along, quite by accident – and definitely a future follower.

Kieran Halpin’s songs are musical maps of his journey through life. His tools are observation and understanding. You can imagine folk would hardly notice him as he sits in a crowded bar listening and watching, gathering stories and adding colour to his lyrical palette.

20160818-3911Meeting Kieran for the first time, I have to admit I found myself wondering whether this taciturn gent from the Emerald Isle would eventually crack a smile.

He did. Just one or two, mind. But when he stepped up to the microphone, the smiles were all on us. His humour was subtle and dry, and we thoroughly enjoyed the craic. Each song was introduced with a tale and with a twinkle in his Irish eyes, and he teased us all into joining in on the choruses.

His first set opened with “Walk like a Champion” and ended with his hilarious take on teenagers, “Bat in the Attic”.

Along the way we took in the likes of “Everyone Loves Someone”, “Sorrow”, the uncharacteristically optimistic “Angels Are Smiling”, and an angry protest song, “Ben Parkinson’s Friends”, citing the futility of the Blair/Bush engineered Afghan War. This was tempered by the lovely “Long Lost Friends”, and one of his most commercially successful songs “All the Answers”, recorded by Dutch country and pop singer, Ilse DeLange.

And at the same time we learned about his travels, trials and tribulations, and how within the short space of little more than a week he will have visited Holland, Wales, Scotland, Northern and Southern England before returning to Germany where he currently lives.

Whilst engineering the sound during this first 45 minute set, I felt I had got to know, and really like, this talented and gentle man.

20160818-3946Floor Singers
During the opening round of songs from our floor singers, as well as the one that followed his performance, our guest respectfully remained in the room to listen to, and appreciate our own efforts. This is a courtesy we applaud and appreciate.

It was Penni who kicked off the evening appropriately with an Irish lullaby, “Tura Lura Lura”, followed by Peter who sang “The Busker”, and Lynda with “Only You”. I paid homage to Bob Dylan, and Mike Whittaker sang “No-one will Love Me Like You Do”.

Nine of us regulars did two songs each. Tom Degney started the second set of floor spots off with his “Dr Jazz” medley, Glyn told us “The Lark Sang Melodious”, and Joe’s message was “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”. The last of our members to sing before rejoining the packed audience for Kieran Halpin’s finale set was Peter Stevens with “Carry a Torch for You”.20160818-3930

The beautiful “Sleep With an Angel of Paradise” was a brilliant opener, followed by “Nothing to Show for it All”,  “New Years Day”, and “Glory Days”. With a glance at the clock he announced his last song would be “Closing Time”. This took us way past closing time and Kieran disconnected his equipment. But we wouldn’t let him go without an encore, so he came into our midst to sing “I Will Remember Love” completely unplugged. It was a lovely end to an evening filled with beautiful music.

A Welcomme at The Feathers – with Finnan & Chrimes too!

By |July 12th, 2016|0 Comments

…and Frank, John and Andy are more than welcome to pay us a return visit whenever they like!

Some twenty-six months have gone by since Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes last entertained us back in our days at The Cross Keys.

20160707-2602This was their first appearance at our new, larger venue, so it was great to be able to draw an audience from further afield, and in particular to play host to some of our friends from the Rhyl club.

An Eclectic Mix
The Chester based trio treated us to an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary music performed on a copious array of instruments: John on guitar and autoharp; Andy on guitar, mandolin, 5 string banjo and accordion; Frank on upright bass, guitar, mouth harp and accordion. The list goes on…

20160707-2597They opened their first set with Ernie Sheldon’s “Bring Me a Rose” followed by the traditional folk song “The Jolly Wagoner” and “Hush Hush”.

“Leaving the Land” and “Reconciliation” followed, and then they brought their first set to a close with a tribute to the Wales football team, acknowledging the squad’s success in the Euros 2016. Their performance of “Rhondda” had the entire ‘massed Ruthin AllStyles choir’ joining in the chorus 🙂

Thirteen Floor Spots
Prior to Welcomme, Finnan & Chrimes’ first set, the evening had begun with a round of floor spots by club members and visitors. Thirteen of us in all, doing two songs each.

20160707-2562Joe had opened the evening, Beatles style, followed by John and Ros covering the Eagles and then breaking out the kazoo for “Urban Spaceman”.

Terry Mealey was next up, delivering some country goodness, Hank Williams style. And then Glyn Hudson’s a cappella “Lark Sang Melodious” prompted some fine ‘community singing’.

Peter Lesley closed the early evening segment with his own song “Relentless Rain” and the Dave Wilson song “I’m The Soldier Who Lost The War”.

After our guest’s first set we had the beer break and raffle. Jayne asked Lynda Degney to make the draw for the bottle of wine – and she promptly pulled out her own ticket! Well, as it was her birthday, we all forgave Lucky Lynda and sang the Birthday song!

20160707-2578She and Tom opened the second half of the evening with some Blue Grass Music, then Tom stayed on stage to accompany Richard and Harry. John Rowell was up there with the Tom, Dick and Harry band of course, providing good solid bass line for their delicious helping of blues and R&B. And as the other three returned to their seats, John swapped his bass for an acoustic guitar to treat us to some tasty Lindisfarne.

20160707-2595Penni Neale was the last of the floor spots, with “What’s the use of wings if you cant fly” and “Autumn Leaves”.

W.F & C Part Two
Frank Welcomme, John Finnan and Andy Chrimes returned to the stage and opened their second set with three songs honouring the war dead of a century ago. A poignant and moving “Only Remembered” was followed by “The Battle of the Somme” and “Reunion Hill”.

With all three sharing lead vocals, there were some brilliant harmonies and plenty of audience participation on many of the sing-along numbers as they livened the tempo with “East Virginia” and “You Win Again”.

20160707-2615They ended the set with Emmylou Harris’ song “Rollin and Ramblin”, about the sad demise of Hank Williams.

Goodnight after a really good night
It was a truly fabulous night of music both from the floor singers and our guests. We couldn’t let it end without an encore, of course, so the trio sang “Goodnight Song” then launched straight into a terrific lively medley with several of the evening’s performers joining in on their guitars and banjos and with practically everyone in the room singing along.20160707-2575


Ben and the Baker’s Dozen

By |June 26th, 2016|0 Comments


Ben Robertson

No, it’s not the name of a new band. It was the roll-call from last Thursday’s line up at Ruthin AllStyles.

In addition to this week’s Showcase performer, thirteen of our regulars conspired to provide a fabulous and diverse evening’s entertainment ranging from the likes of Crystal Gayle and Jim Reeves from Richard and Wendy Eastwood, J.T. from Peter Leslie and The Beatles from Joe Lyon.


Cath Bryan

Chris sang Foggerty and Christy Moore numbers. Cath Bryan’s diversity included songs from The Pretenders and Springsteen. And we had a nice bit of twelve bar blues from Richard Davies in the form of a Hank Snow song followed by Steve Earl’s “Pilgrim”.

Mike Whittaker gave us two excellent Mike Whittaker songs including “Seashells”. Colin Campbell boarded the “Freight Train”, whilst Lynda and Tom Degney  took off with a song about Amelia Airheart’s Last Flight.


John and Ros – Get a Room!

John and Ros Ryder sang “I Saw The Light” and then two songs about a kiss which they concluded by acting out the lyrics. Maybe they should have followed up with Lloyd’s “Get A Room” 🙂

The highlight of the evening was a half hour showcase performance by Ben Robertson. At the age of just nineteen, Ben is fast establishing a presence on the local folk and festival circuit. He has an accomplished guitar style with a maturity that belies his years. He is articulate and precise whilst at the same time fluid and easy to listen to.

20160623-2146His set included a couple of lovely instrumentals including Arany Zoltán’s “King of the Fairies” and his wide ranging vocal covers included songs from Pink Floyd and Richard Thompson. In fact his version of Thompson’s “Bee’s Wing” was one of the most beautiful I have heard.

Ben is currently studying for a science degree at Manchester but I predict we will be seeing a lot more of this gentle natured and unassuming folk singer from Pentre Halkyn in the future. He is certainly very welcome to make a return visit to Ruthin whenever he wishes.


Strumming, Bowing, Squeezing and Cake!

By |May 27th, 2016|1 Comment

20160526-1287Okay. Let’s take these in reverse order.

The cake was courtesy of Ros Ryder who had the good grace to turn 65 on club night, which meant we all got to sing the birthday song and stuff our faces during the break.

The squeezing was all down to our guest Jon Brindley, who opened his Showcase set with a jaunty tune on the accordion. Now I have to admit I’d never been a huge fan of this instrument, associating it with (very) traditional folk, the more ethnic musical genres and old Parisian Music Hall movies.

Until now, that is…

20160526-1307Jon’s performance, was none of the aforementioned. That first tune “On Denham Hill” had every foot in the room tapping, and he followed up with a most beautiful song written for his mother, entitled “Essence of a Song”, the softly played accordion a perfect backdrop for his remarkably good singing voice.

Then for the strumming, he took to his guitar with a selection of songs that took us from loud and lively to soft and finger-pickingly gentle. One minute were were all clapping along to the beat, the next we were silently taking in every note and nuance.

During the beautifully gentle ballad “something Missing There” you could have heard a pin drop in the room.

20160526-1335-2-2Jon Brindley is not just a great musician, he is an excellent entertainer. During his set he weaved in and out of a wide range of musical genres as he moved effortlessly between accordion, guitar and the violin that he played so exquisitely.

When he announced that on what would have been the great George Formby’s 112th birthday, it was only fitting he should sing “Leaning on a Lamppost”, we were at first all quite amused, only to be fascinated and amazed at such a unique and original rendition.

20160526-1282The AllStyles Regulars

Before and after Jon’s Showcase, we heard from a selection of our regulars. The evening was opened with some R&B and bluesy goodness from Tom, Dick and Harry – plus John Bass.

We had some Americana from Lynda, some Dylan from Chris and some Rocking from Robin.

20160526-1309After the beer break – or should I say, the beer-and-cake break – we had Joe Brown from Joe Lyon, a duet from John and Ros, some Jim Reeves from Wrexham Ron and some fine originals from Peter Leslie. Enid and Neil gave us a bit more Dylan but with a twist, singing “Make You Feel My Love” in Welsh. And Penni guaranteed us a fine Bank Holiday by singing the Gershwin anthem “Summertime”.

20160526-1289Then it was time to bring Mr Brindley back on stage for the finale spot, at the end of which nobody was going to let him leave without an encore. He obliged with the Woody Guthrie classic “Deportees” that, even though written about a 1948 air crash, is as poignant today in light of the current refugee crisis. Jon’s cover was without doubt the most touching I’ve ever heard.

We had by now, well overshot our usual bedtime, but no-one cared. To the cries of “more”, Jon picked up his accordion one last time to send us home foot-tappingly happy with memories of as fine an evening’s entertainment as you would get anywhere.


A fine set from John Williams

By |May 2nd, 2016|2 Comments

20160428-0433Following an opening round from club regulars, we enjoyed a fine showcase spot by that wizard from the Wirral, John Williams.

John arrived well prepared and fully equipped with his own mini mixing desk which meant he could have his three instruments connected, adjusted and ready to go, to save pfaffing about between songs. He had a four string tenor guitar, an eight string Cello Mandolin and a metal bodied cross between a guitar and a banjo. And if that wasn’t enough, he also brought along his own fiddle player, in the shape of Chris Wilcox, to accompany him on a couple of his songs.

20160428-0418John opened his set with the Richard Shindell song “One Man’s Arkansas” followed by Springsteen’s “Downbound Train”. Then a couple of Mark Knopfler numbers, including a great version of “Romeo and Juliet”.  Many of these were songs we know and love, and as a nice touch, John provided crib sheets with the chorus lines for the audience to join in.  And it worked.

“Northbound 35” and “Wagon Wheel” followed, and we were treated to one of John’s own songs, “Wellington Road”. And when Chris stepped up to accompany on his fiddle the effect was quite beautiful.

It was a fabulous set, expertly performed. Aside from a heart-stopping moment when his expensive Bose T1 FX mixer unit leapt off the stand and crashed onto the hard tiles, John transitioned seamlessly between his trio of instruments. It appears Bose equipment is made of strong stuff!

After the break we had more songs from the floor, with most of us doing up to three each.

20160428-0478There was a distinct Merseyside flavour in Joe Lyon’s set with a great version of The Beatles’ “Things we Said Today” and Gerry Marsden’s “Ferry across the Mersey”.

Peter Leslie sang “Relentless Rain” (his own composition) and J.T.’s “Fire and Rain”. His performance was a million miles away from being a damp squib however, as he turned out a fine performance on his wonderful sounding travel guitar.

John and Ros did a selection of songs by Paolo Nutini, Nat King Cole and the Drifters, plus the classic “Cry me a River”.

20160428-0488Making a welcome return to the club, Peter Stevens gave us “Silvia’s Mother”, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and his signature song “Comedians and Angels”.

Skeet Williams had turned up unarmed. “Just to have a listen” he said.  We were having none of it and as a result, we got to hear his intricately picked “Light and Dark”, written for his partner and played tonight on a borrowed guitar.

20160428-0471And then we were treated to the sweet voice of Dawn Hesford accompanied, of course, by Alan. They sang “Spring Becomes the Rose” (Bette Middler), “World of Our Own” (New Seekers) and Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”.

Well we know only too well where the time goes  – and it goes there too fast! Because before we knew it, we were at the end of an evening that had given us a fantastic and varied program of music.

So “Time After Time” was a perfectly fitting song for our evening’s guest performer to do in the finale spot, followed by the Stereophonics’ “Dakota” played on the cello mandolin, which had been requested by Jayne.

You can catch John Williams at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion on 1st of June, at Chester Christian Folk Club on the 18th and at the Llangollen Acoustica Fringe Festival on July 16th.


John Williams and Chris Wilcox


Phil Bates Rocks a Full House at The Feathers

By |April 3rd, 2016|0 Comments

20160331-021And what a full house it WAS!

No fewer than forty familiar faces turned out for our Guest Showcase Night, plus twenty ardent Phil Bates fans who’d travelled far and wide (from as far away as Carlisle and Northampton) to see this fantastic musician strut his stuff, up close and personal, in the relaxed and cosy atmosphere of our venue at The Feathers.

It has to be said: we could have sold all sixty tickets – several times over – to fans of the former ELO Part 2 front man. However, and we’ve said it before, Ruthin AllStyles is a singers club, run primarily for the members who turn up week after week to perform and entertain, and pay the princely sum of thirty bob a week for the privilege!

So when we are fortunate enough to be able to engage the services of such a popular professional musician, we make no bones about the fact we charge those fans a fiver to join us for an evening of diverse and varied entertainment featuring such a fine artist at the top of the bill, whilst members come in for their normal fee in acknowledgement of their regular contributions.

These special events are about making music, not money. In any case, I’m certain that all those visitors would agree that a night like this would have been cheap at thrice the price!

20160331-068Of those regular members, several turned up armed, and readily became part of the communal support for our main act.

John Williams was tasked with opening the evening, having travelled over from The Wirral with his lovely partner Svet. It took him mere seconds to have the whole room entranced with the sound of his four string tenor guitar.

Then some hairy photographic bloke got up and warbled followed by everyone’s favourite busker, Robin Wynn Jones, who was joined by Tom Degney and on mandolin and John Rowell on bass, to form an impromptu band.

20160331-001Next up were AllStyles stalwarts Joe Lyon and John Ryder, the latter being joined by wife Ros on backing vocals. As a treat for ELO fans, John did a cover of “When I Was A Boy” from the new album by Jeff Lynne. Then, from Sunny Rhyl, we had the harmonious Hesfords, Alan and Dawn , followed by Denbigh songbird Penni Neale.

Richard Davies took us on the “Sea of Heartbreak” with crew members John Rowell sporting a rather fetching headband, and Tom Degney who then remained on stage to accompany his wife Lynda.

Then we had “Hard Times Come Again No More ” sung by Glyn Hudson. Her a cappella version of this the American parlour song had the audience joining in from the off.  And it turned to be a good rehearsal for the final part of the evening when Phil Bates reprised that very song, to the accompaniment of his own slide guitar.

Glyn not only brought the first segment of the evening to a close, she had, that very day, also brought her working life to a close. And we were all delighted when she distributed cake to everyone during the break by way of celebration to mark her retirement.

20160331-033Cake eaten and glasses refreshed, the time had come for Phil Bates to take to the stage with his famous holey Takamine guitar for the first of two forty-five minute Showcase Spots.

He opened with a couple of songs from his first album Naked, “Love Affair with the Blues” and “Kind Hearted Woman”, before launching into the classic ELO number “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head”.

Then followed a string of songs that we all know and love including some Beatles classics, as well as his own compositions.

This was Phil’s forth, or maybe fifth visit to our club, and it has been something of a tradition that our own John Rowell gets up to join him on bass guitar for several numbers. They sound so good together, I swear they should organise a tour!

20160331-076It’s hard to pick out favourites from such a fabulous set list, although because I have a crazy sense of humour, “If I’d Known I was Going to Live This Long, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Myself” has to be up there. Also “When the Shit Hits The Fan” which had the entire audience singing along with reckless abandon. Both of these are Phil’s own compositions – so I’m not the only one with a crazy sense of humour!

Since starting to write this post, I have come across a review of the show by Keith James Sinclair who runs the ELO Beatles Forever  website that endorses and recommends Phil Bates to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO & Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, Wizzard, The Idle Race, ‘Brum Beat’, The Beatles and related artistes. So I’m including here (with Keith’s kind permission) part of the review, which you can read in full by clicking through to his website.


Keith James Sinclair

His spellbinding performance at the intimate and homely Ruthin All Styles Music Club in North Wales more than proved his pedigree as a top class guitarist with a twenty-two song set of premier Blues, original compositions and select covers – albeit with a little enjoyable support from his friends: the singers and players of the above institution.

We heard just the one ELO and two Beatles acoustic interpretations – a wonderful rendition of “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” as well as “She’s A Woman” and “I Saw Her Standing There” but this concert was more about the music of Phil Bates and the music that sparks his musical fires.

Whether it was newer songs “You’ll Never Be Alone” and “Empty Rooms” or the older “One Sky” and “Life In the Slow Lane”, Phil’s own material slotted in perfectly with the smooth Blues of “I Need Your Love So Bad”, “Mississippi River Blues”, “The Sensitive Kind” and “Hard Times Come Again No More”.

The deep sorrow of the Blues was balanced by succinct observational irony of “Going Overboard” and “Waiting For the Sh*t To Hit The Fan” yet the highlight of the night for this writer was surprisingly not that wonderful ELO cover but a sublime version of Ray Davies’ “Waterloo Sunset” – as Phil said, one of the greatest songs to come out of the Sixties.

And finally, I’d like to thank my lovely wife Jayne for her help in organising the evening, Joe Lyon for helping set out the seating, the club members who remained behind to clear up after everyone had gone, and John and Cathy Rowell for providing hospitality and overnight accommodation to Phil Bates and his family.

And of course, thanks to all the club members for their continued support and for making this such a special evening.

More live music next week folks
Chris Birchall

(Click on the image to enlarge) 




Showcase – The Man In Washington

By |February 20th, 2016|2 Comments


Chris Yeoh – The Man In Washington

Despite the never-ending toll of cold and flu victims, a respectable twenty five turned out for our Showcase Evening with “The Man In Washington” Chris Yeoh.

Our club was the first stop of the tour to promote his new album Sea Green, two days before it’s official launch on Saturday.

Through Chris’s songs, the album relates the true story about a man who lost his mind and lost his love and went to sea alone in search of god.

20160218-0888During the evening we heard a selection of songs from the album, one or two that he reprised from an earlier visit to us last November, and a couple of nice covers too.

Of those on the album, “Fire and Clay”, “Starstruck Battlelines” and “Mercy” are the songs that stuck the most in my mind. Story telling songs in true contemporary folk fashion.

Of his covers, the stand-out song was an a cappella version of “The Grey Funnel Line”.  This ended up with the massed choir of the AllStyles audience joining in on the chorus lines.


Colin Masterson

Between Chris’s two sets, we heard from regulars Tom, Lynda, Richard, Joe, Alex, two Colins, and Myself, and we each contributed up to three songs.

Colin Masterson gave us his usual helping of Beatles goodness plus a great version of the O’Jays classic, “Love Train”. Meanwhile Colin Campbell served up a fine trio of Dylan songs: “Forever Young”, “Make you Feel My Love” and “Workingman’s Blues”.


Colin Campbell

Alex sang Elton’s “Your Song” and the Garth Brooks/Kent Blazy song,** popularised by Ronan Keating, “Tomorrow Never Comes”, both beautifully finger-picked. Joe’s set included “Blue Songs on a Red Guitar” and Lynda took us for a “Walk in the Irish Rain”.

Richard joined in and played “The Games People Play” plus “City of New Orleans” and Tom turned out a couple of instrumentals on mandolin and dobro.

Then it was back to Chris Yeoh for the finale spot, which included the song everyone was taking about at the end of the evening, my own personal favourite, “The River”.  This is an absolutely beautiful song written only recently in honour of Chris’s grandfather who passed away over Christmas. And we were privileged to have witnessed it’s first ever public performance.

It was nice to see several copies of The Man In Washington’s CDs changing hands before he disappeared into the night to embark on the three hour drive back to Somerset to prepare for his album launch event at ArtSpace in Bath on Saturday.  If you missed out on getting the CD, there will be a link here on the website shortly to purchase or download a copy.  Or you can check it out on Chris’s Website.


Merry Hell at the Feathers

By |November 22nd, 2015|1 Comment

How gratifying to see our little club bursting at the seams for Merry Hell’s first showcase at The Feathers.

Thirty five of our members were joined by twenty five visitors from far and wide who had purchased tickets on-line. They came from Conwy and beyond, from over the border in Nantwich and one couple even travelled from Sheffield, such is the draw of this fantastic folk rock band.

Continuing our relatively new format of adding variety to guest nights by having club members perform floor spots, Raphael Calaghan opened the evening followed by songs from Robin, Joe, Ros, John, Lynda and Tom.

20151119-9774After a five minute beer break all Merry Hell erupted as the three talented Kettle brothers John, Andrew and Bob burst straight into the energetic “Dreaming of the Time” with John’s wife Virginia sharing the lead vocal with Andrew.

They continued in a similar vein with the catchy “Let’s Not Have a Morning After” then their swipe at the Bankers, “Crooked Man”, before slowing things down a touch with “Allendale” in which Andrew sidelines his distinctive gritty voice in favour of softer melodic tones for this beautiful ballad.

20151119-9777Next up Virginia grabbed a guitar and injected fun and hilarity into the proceedings with “Bury Me Naked” a song which I swear would give Britain its first win in ages if it were entered into the Eurovision Song Contest.

It is upbeat, fun and catchy, and knocks spots off anything we’ve heard on Eurovision since Katrina and the Waves’s 1997 winning entry.

20151119-9789“Lean on Me” and “Hope You Don’t Mind” were followed by the title track off their new album “Ghost in Our House” and Virginia related the tale of how they had to convince their young son that they were really singing there’s a goat in our house so that he wouldn’t be afraid of the dark!

More of their old favourites followed, with “Finest Hour” bringing their first set to a close.

Richard and Wendy opened the second half of the evening followed by Tim, Cath, Geoff, Glyn, Penni and Chris before our headliners took to the stage once more.

20151119-9811This popular Wigan based folk rock band last appeared in Ruthin in 2013 at our previous venue, The Cross Keys.

Although the Feathers is no stadium, it does afford twice the audience capacity and whilst still not large enough to accommodate the full eight-piece band, Merry Hell were at least able to supplement their acoustic(ish) line up with bass player Nick Davies and Neil McCartney on violin. Ironically, their drummer Andy Jones actually lives in Ruthin but there was just no room at the inn! Nevertheless, it was good to see Andy make an appearance, even if it was just to look after the merchandise table.

The band’s second set began with the lovely ballad “Emerald Green” followed by a whole raft of upbeat favourites.  It wouldn’t have been a Merry Hell gig without “Drunken Serenade”, “Build and Mansion” and “Lovin’ The Skin You’re In”.

20151119-9783“One More Day Without You” was to have been their last song – but the Ruthin AllStyles audience were having none of it. After all the shouts of “More” had died down, an extended violin solo intro from Neil led straight into the punchy “Let The Music Speak For Itself”. A truly fitting encore that flowed seamlessly into the (by now obligatory) foot-stomping “Raising Merry Hell” finale.

It was a night of Merry Hell at their very best. Energetic, uplifting, funny, entertaining, inspirational – all these words and more describe this band. Their twenty-two songs planted twenty-two earworms. Three days later and I still can’t get their songs out of my head.

What the Hell – I don’t want to get their songs out of my head!

Click on an image to enlarge

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Halloween Ho Down

By |November 2nd, 2015|0 Comments


Quintessential Quirk Karen White provided a taste of Australian folk music

Each week when I prepare the room for our music night at The Feathers, the first task is to jack up the pool table onto its trolley and wheel it out of the way.

Imagine my surprise this week when I was confronted by… a coffin! Not just any old coffin either. It was a monster sized coffin with “Shipping to Transylvania” stickers all over it! Worse still it was as heavy as a pool table – but without the trolly! Eventually I managed to drag it into a position were it could be used as a table for the front row. Not so much a coffee table – more of a coffin table! I didn’t dare look inside!

Ah well. It was after all the night before All Hallow’s Eve and I guess it was one of the props for whatever entertainment the pub had lined up for “fright night”.

Qintessential Quirk Karen White

Karen White

Our own “eve before fright night” entertainment included a visit from ‘down under’ by singer entertainer Karen White. Karen performs in Australia as the “Quintessential Quirk” and warned us that her songs might be a little ‘risqué’. Although a little bit of “nudge nudge wink wink” never did anybody any harm, and normally goes down well at the club, Karen’s 30 minute showcase was met with a somewhat mixed reaction. Half the audience loved her songs whilst others found some of the Aussie risqué lyrics just a little too near the knuckle.

One song that did succeed in getting everybody on side though, and singing along enthusiastically, was her quite lovely version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.


Glyn with Penni on guitar

For the rest of the evening we had our usual diverse and entertaining collection of floor singers.

Richard kicked things off with “A Lesson Too Late For The Learning” which was very approproate seeing as it was the eve of Tom Paxton’s 78th birthday. Richard was then joined on stage by Tom Degney for “500 Miles Away From Home”.

As always, Tom was much in demand as a support musician and he accompanied Joe Lyon on two Eric Burdon songs: “House of the Rising Sun” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstand”. And of course, he provided the music for Lynda’s set comprising “Carolina Star” and “No Stranger To The Rain”.

Ros Ryder took “Just One Look” and husband John observed “She’s Got Something About Her”. He also injected a bit of humour into the proceedings with the grammy award winning song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”


Cath Bryan

George Live gave us Roy Orbison’s “Crying” and Lennon’s “Imagine”, whilst Penni Neale took us from Gershwin’s “Summertime” all the way up Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven”

Glyn begged the question “if you can fancy me my dear” in her a cappella version of “The Wedding Song”, I gave my customary nod in the direction of Bob Dylan, and Cath went all Simon and Garfunkel with “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard”.


Pete Madley with Ian on mandolin

Almost every week we seem to have someone new turn up to do a floor spot. This week it was Pete Madely from Blackburn. Pete was meeting up for a song-writing weekend with his pal Ian who, although he lives 40 miles in the other direction at Llanfechain, has become almost a regular at the club.

After Ian paid tribute to the late great Lou Reed with “A Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache” followed by “Pale Blue Eyes” be swapped his guitar for a mandolin to accompany Pete on a Sam Baker number and one of Pete’s own songs “Long Hair Girl”

All in all it was another great evening at the club.

See you all next week folks!


By |September 19th, 2015|0 Comments


Jabberwocky – Gill, Jilly, Ian and Mick

This week The Feathers went all Jabberwocky.

But not in the way Lewis Carroll intended, for there is nothing nonsense about this popular North Wales band, comprising Ian, Gill, Mick and Jilly who paid us a return visit to perform a Showcase featuring covers from the Seventies up to the present day.

They performed two tight sets, opening up with The Sherbs’ 1976 hit Howzat! followed by the equally upbeat Etta James number In The Basement.  In fact, upbeat is the best way to describe Jabberwocky as they rolled out song after song that had everybody’s feet tapping. One of my personal favourites was Mercy (Duffy), with Price Tag (Jessie J) coming in a close second.

20150917-8686Besides Jabberwocky, there were thirteen other performers providing a lively and varied evening of music.

Tom Degney was as hard working as ever. As well as accompanying Lynda for her spot, and joining Harry and Richard for theirs, he also gave a fine instrumental performance of his own composition The Road to Dent on his trusty mandolin.

John Rowell was ever present too, providing the bass line for Tom, Dick & Harry and later accompanying Rockin’ Robin Wynne-Jones who was making a welcome return after a summer cruising the country’s waterways on his narrowboat.

20150917-8679We are so used to seeing John performing with others on his six string fretless bass, it is easy to forget that he is also an excellent solo performer. And so it was nice to see him taking to the floor with his acoustic guitar to give a fine performance of Syracuse the Elephant (Stackridge) and the Lindisfarne classic Lady Eleanor.

Richard and Wendy had honed and perfected their a cappella medley of songs they have been performing over the summer as part of a four-part harmony group, only to have it blighted by an errant echoing low level feedback caused by a spare mic that had been moved out of position. It was switched off from the main speakers and so was barely audible to the audience but was still connected to the stage monitor. I was gutted I hadn’t realised what was happening until well into the song.  As off-putting as it must have been, I must say the pair still put on an excellent performance.

Finally, Jabberwocky completed their Showcase with a fifteen minute finale spot. For an encore they sang So Glad You Made It which nicely rounded off a great evening – and it was we who were so glad they made it back to the club.

You can catch up with Jabberwocky’s latest exploits on their website.

The full compliment of performers was: Jabberwocky, Tom & Lynda,
Richard Ruthin, Harry, George, Penni, Glyn, Wendy & Richard, Chris,
Robin, John Ryder and John Bass.