Ben and the Baker’s Dozen

By |June 26th, 2016|0 Comments

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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.

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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.

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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” 🙂

Showcase
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.

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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.

CAUGHT LIVE: PHIL BATES @ RUTHIN ALL STYLES MUSIC CLUB

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) 

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Showcase – The Man In Washington

By |February 20th, 2016|2 Comments

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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.

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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”.

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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

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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.

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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”

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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”.

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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!

Jabberwocky

By |September 19th, 2015|0 Comments

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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.

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Wendy Eastwood Showcase

By |July 24th, 2015|0 Comments

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Wendy Eastwood with “The Band” (from left) Tom Degne, Harry Robertson, John Rowell and Richard Davies

What a fantastic turn-out we had for Wendy’s Showcase! It was by far the busiest night of the year audience wise. And in terms of performers, Thursday night at The Feathers had more variety than a Sunday Night at the Palladium!

For in addition to the Showcase, there were thirteen support acts featuring no fewer than twenty performers!

Wendy put on a stunning performance. You could tell she had selected her best loved songs and put together a carefully considered set list that flowed seamlessly, with each song complimenting the next.  There was just the right amount of banter between each number, engaging and entertaining.

Wendy and Richard

Wendy and Richard

She had the audience eating out of her hands. Was this really the same lady I recall stepping nervously up to the mic at the Rhyl Acoustic Club three or four years ago to announce she’d never really performed in public before?!

To open her set, Wendy enlisted the help of “The Band”, in the form of Tom, Dick and Harry plus John Bass, for three rousing numbers before going solo for the beautiful and touching James Blunt number, Carry You Home. Then it was Love Has No Pride by Bonnie Raitt followed by a lovely Edwina Hayes song and the amusing Donnalou Stevens ditty Older Ladies.

Next, her other half Richard joined Wendy on stage to sing Ring of Fire as she multi-tasked on guitar and kazoo.

Finally, as The Band were reassembling and sorting themselves out for the final number of Wendy’s showcase, she stepped to one side and cleverly maintained continuity with an acoustic song on her ukulele.

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Chris ‘n Alan

The Support acts

To open the second half of the evening, we welcomed visitors Chris ‘n Alan who had found our club whilst holidaying in North Wales. This talented couple from Kent treated us to two beautiful songs sung by Alan with his unique nine-string guitar to the accompaniment of the beautifully haunting sound of Chris’s Bass Recorder.

Check out their SoundCloud channel for more of their music

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Robin

We also heard from Joe, Chris, Lynda, Penni and Glyn. There was a helping of country blues from Harry and from Richard. Tim went all electric on us this week providing an instrumental interlude accompanied by John on bass.

There were two Peters. Peter Stevens’ set included Goodbye, Adieu, Farewell, and Peter Leslie lulled us melodically with songs from Richard Thompson and James Taylor.

Making his first appearance since we moved to our new venue, Robin from Melin y Wig sang two of his own songs with mandolin and vocal accompaniment from family members Henry and Helen.

Phil Townson

Phil Townson

Another two self penned songs followed from Phil Townson, At the End of the Day and The Ballad of Sue and Jango,  performed on his sweet sounding Greek bouzouki.

By any standards it was an exceptional evening of music with so much local talent assembled in one room.

But the night belonged to Wendy who returned to the stage with Tom, Richard, Harry and John Bass for a finale spot that concluded with some fine yodeling to send us all home happy.

See you next week folks for a Singers’ Night acoustic singaround.


Joe Topping Showcase

By |July 10th, 2015|1 Comment

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Joe Topping

  • Fourteen performers.
  • Two new faces.
  • Two birthdays.
  • …and a Showcase performance that was the icing on the cake.

One of the nice things about our club is that you never know who is going to turn up. There were the usual suspects of course, including Tom, Dick and Harry who got the evening off to a flying start with fine R&B and country blues set, with John Bass keeping them all in the groove.

Peter Leslie, from Wrexham visited us for the first time last week to see what we are all about.  This week he was back again, this time to road test his guitar after Harry Millar had worked his magic. The master luthier himself was sitting in the front row nodding approvingly – not only at the lovely rich sound but also at Peter’s playing style as he sung two of his own compositions, Just Dreaming and Sea of Clouds.

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Chester Wiess

This week’s new faces belonged to Chester Weiss and Ben Robertson.

Chester hails from Llandegla and is an accomplished musician who’s played in several bands including Chester and the Pole Cats and Stone Blue .

A multi instrumentalist, Chester’s current weapon of choice is the steel lap slide guitar on which he performed a bluesy set that included John The Revelator which he sang very much in the style of Curtis Stigers, as featured on the biker television series Sons of Anarchy.

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Ben Robertson

Ben Robinson is a young man from Halkyn Mountain who is becoming well known on the folk circuit. His impeccable fingerstyle playing was evident throughout his set which included a lovely instrumental and Ralph McTell’s ‘The Girl From The Hiring Fair’.

Ben can be seen performing this weekend at the Folk at the Hall in Trelawnyd and later this month in the Folk on the Farm festival on Anglesey.

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A Walk in the Irish Rain – with Lynda Degne

Joe Lyon went all Joe Brown, Chris went all Neil Young, John & Ros yodled and went all French (although not at the same time!), Glyn went acappella with some lovely traditional folk songs and Wendy did what Wendy does best with that ‘voice of an angel’ of hers.

Well all I can think is they must have lowered the retirement age considerably because during the break we celebrated Lynda’s milestone birthday with cake and John Rowell’s “not quite milestone” birthday with more cake.

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John Rowell (John Bass) changes to the Acoustic for a solo spot.

We all know that when Lynda sings about rain – it rains! So the umbrella we bought her came in handy when she sang A Walk in the Irish Rain for us!

The flamboyant “Elton John” style sunglasses we got for John prompted a change of instrument.  It’s been a while since we heard him play acoustic guitar and sing. His Lady Eleanor was superb.

The Showcase Spot

150709-1510The standard of musicianship throughout the entire evening was absolutely fabulous – so good in fact you’d have been justified in saying, rhetorically, “top that!”

But top it we did! For we were fortunate to have none other than Joe Topping come over from Merseyside to perform a forty minute Showcase for us. Joe is a professional musician with a great voice, easy guitar style (in the manner of making something complex appear so easy) and a wonderful talent for songwriting. He is currently doing the rounds promoting his new album The Vagrant Kings and tonight we were treated to a number of solo acoustic versions of its tracks as well as some as yet unreleased songs.

My own personal favourites from the night were Cat on a Cold Slate Roof and This Love and Lack of Money will be the Death of Me.

The album itself takes a sideways glance at the Folk scene, infiltrating the genre with the blues and Americana influences he picked up whilst walking 1400 miles with a guitar on his back from Chicago to New Orleans to raise money for hurricane victims!

It was recorded in their keyboard player’s studio using a wonderful collection of vintage mics on Joe’s bottleneck slide guitar, the Hammond organ, a pedal steel and percussion.

If you liked hearing Joe at the club, I urge you to buy the album. It really is tasty.

Phew! What a brilliant night of music that was!