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!

 

Guitar Workshop hits the right note

By |July 1st, 2015|3 Comments

150630-0835What began as something of an experiment, our Guitar Workshop turned out to be a great success with a steady flow of enthusiastic guitarists turning up during the evening.

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Ronnie Parry (right) giving one-to-one tuition

It was nice to see some of our club members but equally, the many new faces who hopefully might look in on some of our regular Thursday Night meetings now that they have found us.

The three professional tutors, Ronnie Parry, Skeet Williams and Gareth Evans each began with a short presentation explaining their musical backgrounds and how they got into tutoring.  After a demonstration of their own particular styles of playing and a question and answer session, the attendees split into smaller groups for practical “hands on” tuition.

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Gareth Evans (right) demonstrating fingerstyle and percussive techniques

It was fascinating to see the three different approaches and there was plenty to learn, to the benefit of beginners and the more seasoned players.

Another highlight of the evening was a talk by guitar maker Harry Millar who has workshops in Treuddyn near Mold.  Harry imparted a mountain of useful information about getting the best out of one’s guitar. He then set up a little “workshop area” where he was kept busy throughout the evening examining and adjusting many of the instruments that had been brought along.

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Harry Millar working on a guitar in his improvised “workshop”

We are grateful and indebted to the four experts who gave their help and advice freely.  Do look them up by following the links below.

Thanks too, to Ruthin Festival Committee and The management of The Feathers Inn for helping to make this event possible.

The tutors:

  • Ronnie Parry.  Well known locally on the open mic circuit, Ronnie is a Community Course Tutor with WEA Cymru and also offers private group and one-to-one guitar tuition in the Ruthin area.
  • Skeet Williams. A professional session musician who over the years has played for and toured with more bands than most of us have had hot dinners! His latest project has been with the Gary Edward Jones band and is responsible for those beautiful delicate finger-picked guitar licks that are very much part of the overall sound of their latest album The Cabinet Maker.  Skeet also offers one-to-one guitar tuition throughout Denbighshire.
  • Gareth Evans. An exceptionally gifted guitarist who’s Goliath Guitar Tutorials have become become an internet phenomenon, attracting millions of hits and earned him the coveted YouTube 100,000 Subscriber Award.
    UPDATE: Gareth’s YouTube channel has since more than doubled that achievement with currently 271,122 subscribers and more than 37 million views
  • And do have a look at the website of Harry Millar Guitar builder/technician

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Left: Skeet Williams teaching ‘Al Fresco’. Right: Ronnie Parry offering advice to one of the attendees.

Bluegrass Showcase

By |June 23rd, 2015|0 Comments

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We’ve always said we’d move mountains to bring great entertainment to Ruthin AllStyles, so this week we moved in the Conwy Mountain Bluegrass Band.

150618-0683Half of the band, of course, have all but taken up residence here in the Vale, as Tom and Lynda Degney are regulars at the club. They make the journey from Rhos on Sea most every week with Lynda on vocals accompanied by Tom on guitar. And as we know, being a multi-instrumentalist, Tom also steps up whenever asked to accompany a whole host of members on his mandolin or dobro.

In the band though, their roles change somewhat with Tom on banjo and mandolin and as we soon discovered, Lynda plays a pretty mean upright bass. Ian, who has visited the club in the past, played dobro and completing the line-up we had Tony on guitar and lead vocals.

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Brandon Ridley

These fab four bluegrass buddies provided a highly enjoyable half hour Showcase Spot that had the audience foot-tapping and singing along.

The rest of the evening was filled with a fine selection of floor spots from regulars Harry, Richard, Chris, Tim, Mike Kendrick, John Bass and John Ryder.

Dave Hytch brought along his rich baritone voice and recruited a ruck of AllStylers to form an impromptu backing band.

150618-0669Elaine joined us from Denbigh with some Joni Mitchell songs, and Wendy with numbers from the likes of Patsy Cline.

To round off what was yet another super evening we had some blues courtesy of young Brandon Ridley from Rhyl who was making his first ever visit to the club.

Fifteen performers in all and a packed house!

Singer’s Night next week folks with Enid hosting the evening – so you’ll have a no doubt welcome break from yours truly’s corny jokes!

Bob & Annie Headline a Great Night of Music

By |June 12th, 2015|0 Comments

150611-0572I think we’ve hit on a winning formula by occasionally spicing up our regular singer’s nights with a half hour spot showcasing talented musicians from other clubs in the region – and beyond. It seems to add focus to the evening whilst still providing ample opportunity for members’ floor spots.

If it remains popular we will look at possibly making it a monthly feature.

150611-0575Last night the “spicing up” was undertaken by Bob and Annie, a duo from Old Colwyn who are members of the Rhyl Folk and Acoustic Club.

The couple have a distinctive and entertaining style with Annie’s animated vocal performance complemented by Bob’s guitar playing which ranges from soft and gentle to powerful and aggressive, across an eclectic range of covers from the likes of Dylan, Cohen and Cash.

Midway through their set was a wonderful segway in which Marianne Faithful’s Lucy Jordan morphed seamlessly into Janis Joplin’s Last Train.

150611-0579This was followed by a great version of Frankie and Albert which was an interesting mix of the Lead Belly and early Dylan versions and the more well known Frankie and Johnny incarnations recorded by (among many others) Cash and Presley.

Before Bob and Annie’s showcase, no fewer than a dozen performers provided a lively and varied first half which was kicked off in fine style by Lynda and Tom, followed by Richard and Harry with John providing the bass line. Then we heard from Phil, Chris, Joe, John Ryder and Cath before Neil and Enid took us to the break in fine melodic style.

150611-0583Most also got to do another number each in the final segment of the evening and we managed to squeeze a couple from Denbigh songstress Elaine Walker too.

And then we got Bob and Annie back on stage for a fabulous rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s All I’m Thinking About Is You for the finale.

The Gods were smiling on us

By |May 29th, 2015|0 Comments

150528-6394Well we’ve had some great club nights in the twenty weeks since moving to The Feathers, but this one tipped the scales!

It saw our featured act, The Hedge Gods, playing to an enthusiastically appreciative full house, along with floor spots from no fewer than eleven other performers.

150528-6367To say the Hedge Gods went down well would be a gross understatement. Feet were tapping, hands were clapping and there was even a collective “Yee-Haa” or two during one of the lively country numbers!

150528-6360Since their first visit to Ruthin AllStyles as a newly formed trio almost three years ago, James, Darren and Will have played 86 gigs and have honed their craft, gelling seamlessly to produce a full, well rounded exciting sound.

150528-6369Writing all their own material, they describe themselves as “Pulp Fiction meets Tom Waits” and “The future sound of Skiffle”.  In reality they defy categorisation. They are a unique instrumental rhythmic acoustic power trio whose entire style has evolved despite, or perhaps even because of, “musical differences”.

It was hard to pick a favourite from their 40 minute set, but if pressed I’d have to say mine was Wonky Apple Swing.

In addition to all this, they are three really nice lads. They effortlessly engaged with the audience and everyone in the room instantly warmed to them.

150528-6410One of the nice things about the way our Showcase Evenings are structured is that the regular members all get to do their quota of floor spots.

There were a couple of new faces this week too. Wrexham duo Tony and Gary perform under the name of TAG. Tonight they treated us to a couple of self penned comedy numbers that had everyone roaring with laughter. The second of these, a shameless adaptation loosely based on Smokie’s Living Next Door to Alice, had us all singing along to the chorus.  This rewrite was about someone called Brian who sees dead people – famous dead people – and was titled Living Next Door to Elvis. It was absolutely hilarious!

There were some super contributions too from Tom & Lynda, Richard, Joe, Chris and Mike Kendrick.

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Regular member Harry must have painted a favourable picture of the club because a group of his artist friends turned up to swell the audience. And there was nothing sketchy about his performance as he took to the stage backed by Tom, Richard, John Bass and Enid for a finale set that included Raining in my Heart and the John Legend classic All of Me.

A great ending to a superb evening.

♫♪♫ Find out where the Hedge Gods are playing next on their Gig Guide ♫♪♫

Gallery (Click image to enlarge)

Hanks Company Band

By |May 8th, 2015|1 Comment

150507-5976-2Whilst only 66.1% of the population turned out to vote last night, we had a massive turn-out at the club. There weren’t enough empty seats left to accommodate even the LibDems diminished quota of MPs!

And what a great evening’s entertainment it was. Hank’s Company Band headlined with a Showcase performance at the beginning of the second half.

150507-5985Singer/songwriters Emma and Paul, who hail from Rhuddlan, formerly performed as Hobo Heart and are now hitting the circuit again following a two year break. Their spot at Ruthin was the first of a whistle-stop tour of North Wales clubs in readiness for appearances at the Llangollen and Chester Fringe Festivals.

Their 30 minute set of country goodness started with four of their own songs: I see just fine, Keep up with the Song, Dredging the Lake and my personal favourite: Low Rental Blues. Then they wrapped it all up with a couple of excellent covers of Townes Van Zandt’s Colorado Girl and Orphan Girl by Gillian Welch.  These guys went down really well with the audience and I’m certain we’ll be having them back at The Feathers in the not too distance future. •Visit their YouTube Channel

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Emma and Paul – Hanks Company Band

Not only did we have a superb showcase, the support acts were pretty amazing too. No fewer than thirteen performers who  gave us three numbers each ranging from trad folk to contemporary numbers plus songs from the last six decades.

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Sam and Eleanor

Apart from Emma and Paul, there were three new faces this week.

Sam, who edits and produces the substantial FolkLife Quarterly Magazine from his home in Malvern, Worcestershire, took time out of his holiday in North Wales to visit our club.

Dueting with his wife Eleanor he gave us a couple of traditional folk songs in both English and Welsh.

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Pete, a new face from Powys

Then we had Pete who travelled up from Llanfechain in Powys with his pal Ian. Pete treated us to two instrumentals on mandolin and a frisky medley on the fiddle.

It was Ian’s second visit and his set included Lou Reed’s Sweet Jane and one of his own songs, My Life in a Stolen Moment inspired by having heard his musical idol Bob Dylan saying those words in an interview.

Another second visit was made by Colin from Leeswood way, whose numbers included some Pink Floyd covers.  I do like it when “new faces” gradually become “regulars”.

And speaking of regulars… there was a fine and eclectic collection of songs from the likes of Joe, Ros ‘n John, Enid and Neil, Glynne and Yours Truly.

The evening finale came from Penni. She did a couple of Ryan Adams songs (we all sang along to Dirty Rain) and then she sent us home giggling to the sound of Tell me if I say the Same Thing Twice.

More of the same next week folks…

Rag Mama Rag rock The Feathers

By |March 15th, 2015|0 Comments

150312-9819The stage was set with an impressive array of instruments which included a Henderson Acoustic Guitar, National & Dobro Resonator Bottleneck Guitars, Weissenborn Acoustic Lap Steel and a Ukulele.  There was also a quite unique “bass drum” in the form of a wooden case and foot pedal with which Ashley Dow kept a steady foot-tapping beat as he worked his way through the stringed instruments during Rag Mama Rag’s lively and varied repertoire.

150312-9833Yet it was to the left of the stage that Deborah Dow provided the main percussion with Washboard, Spoons and Tambourine as well as providing Backing Vocals and some superb Harmonica fills.

During the two sets we were treated to Americana music of the 1920’s and 1930’s with their mix of Country Mississippi Blues, East Coast Ragtime, White Country, together with a selection of contemporary covers and their own compositions.

150312-9830They did a great version of Skip James’ ‘Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues’  and their real sing-a-long numbers such as ‘No Matter How She Done It’ ensured audience participation creating a great atmosphere.

Being slap bang in the middle of a 24 date UK tour, Ashley joked about the amount of super-glue he was having to use on his worn-down finger nails. The intricacy he displayed playing 1860’s instrumental, ‘Rally Round The Flag’, on the lap steel, you’d never have guessed.

150312-9832Ashley and Deborah moved from Essex to live in France some years ago and have since built a reputation as one of Europe’s finest country blues acts and regularly perform at major festivals in France, Belgium and Germany. It was great to have them back at Ruthin.

To open both halves of the show, we had songs from Richard, Tom & Lynda, Joe, Chris, Tim and from Jezz who plucked some sweet sounds from her lute to accompany her equally sweet voice.  All of which made for a wonderfully varied evening of live music.

If you missed it, you really missed out!

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Ken Nicol

By |November 10th, 2014|0 Comments

141106-2920Making his fourth or even fifth visit (no one could remember for sure) to Ruthin All Styles Music Club, guitar maestro Ken Nicol was a big hit with the audience this week.

141106-2891It was certainly his second time at our upstairs room at the Cross Keys. He can recall doing a guest night at the Castle Hotel and the club’s founders, Llinos and Campbell can remember booking him during the club’s time at the White Horse.

It was great to see them both in the audience this week – the almost capacity audience, I might add.  It would be good to see and hear them up front on the odd singers night too (hint hint)

Ken, who was a member of Steeleye Span up until 2010, and before that The Albion Band, gave us an enjoyable and varied evening’s entertainment.

His often humorous songs intermixed with more serious lyrical self penned songs and splendid instrumental numbers that showed off his immaculate finger-picking skills using three differently tuned Fylde guitars.  His latest, the Ken Nicol Signature Guitar, was made especially for him by Fylde’s Roger Bucknall who also crafted the fine ukulele which we heard on a couple of numbers.141106-2859

The evening was kicked off by our own “boy band” Tom, Dick, Harry and John Bass  with four excellent numbers.

All in all a splendid evening’s entertainment.

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Gary Potter

By |September 27th, 2014|0 Comments

Gary Potter (Stock picture)

Gary Potter (Stock picture)

Although short on numbers, the evening was thoroughly enjoyed by those who did attend this week’s “Evening with Gary Potter”.

Sadly, Raven had to cancel at short notice due to circumstances beyond their control, so John Ryder stepped in to open with three songs,  before introducing our guest for the evening.

Right from the start Gary was relaxed and smiling and the atmosphere was more like a soirée in your own living room. He wasted little time asking for requests and getting the audience involved!

Apart from his own wonderful dexterity and inventiveness on the guitar, he had asked a friend, Felix Bellingham, to join him for the evening and they combined – Gary generously giving him equal status on solos and his own choice of tunes. The combination of different styles made the set even more enjoyable.

Felix Bellingham (stock picture)

Felix Bellingham (stock picture)

After the Interval John started the second half with a song, followed by young Dan from Mold. Himself a jazz guitarist who has only recently started performing, and only on his third visit to the club, Dan went down well with the audience and at the end of the evening both Gary and Felix were very generous with their praise of him, both encouraging him to keep on doing what he is already doing so well.

Before Gary resumed his set, Felix played and sang a selection of songs with his unique gravelly voice. Gary rejoined him and eventually finished the evening off in virtuoso style.

Report by John Ryder

Video by Peter