Elastic Walls, Flexitime and a Carrot’s Appendage

By |August 13th, 2019|2 Comments

Mamma G and the BeBop Brunettes

Well, we broke a couple of records this week. With our highest number ever for a Singers’ Night, no fewer than fifty-two revellers squeezed into the function room, just over half of whom were minstrels.

Jules & Chris

And in fact, the only way we managed to give each of the twenty-eight performers their two-song floor spot was because that number included a trio and a couple of duos, in addition to which, regulars Wendy and Richard Eastwood offered to forego their solo spots and perform duets, as did Cath & Pete and Skeet & Deborah.

As an added bonus, however, this did mean we got to hear some of Wendy and Richard’s fine harmonies, Cath and Pete’s wonderful interpretation of Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue’s Wild Rose”, plus a rare opportunity to hear Skeet sing!

Mark Thatcher

New Faces
We were delighted to welcome Jules & Chris who travelled from the other side of the mountain to make their Ruthin AllStyles debut. They sang “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin and Jim Croce’s “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” on what was hopefully their first of many visits.

The two other new faces came from a little further afield. From Montreal, in fact. Ian & Sharon Hanchet were holidaying in the area with Jeff Jones, and as well as their duet spot, Ian accompanied Jeff on a couple of blues numbers.

They also enlisted the services of bassist Mark Thatcher. At the start of one number, Mark was heard to say “I don’t know that one. What’s the first note?”. Not only did he pick it up straight away, but he also went on to contribute a rather tasty bass solo to the delight of the appreciative audience.

Ian & Sharon Hanchet

The evening had begun with some lovely close harmonies courtesy of Mamma G and the Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered Bebop Brunettes 🙂 .

Angharad, Lyn and Laura might be confused about what to call themselves but they certainly had us all bewitched by their beautiful close harmonies.

In fact, girls, why not go with Bewitched? Nice and simple, that would be a great name for the band.

Elfin Bow
To round off what had been an exceptional evening of music, it was a pleasure to welcome back the lovely Elizabeth Ann Jones, aka Elfin Bow, who captivated us with two of her latest songs, “Dorothia” and “Lay With Me”.

Skeet Williams and ElfinBow

Elizabeth’s gentle style of playing resulted in the sweetest sound you will ever hear from a banjo, mellifluously blended with Skeet Williams’s immaculate finger-style guitar. Add into the mix some lovely backing vocals from Deborah Jackson and what you get is a beautiful performance that has been captivating audiences at gigs and festivals throughout the summer.

By now, we were already twenty-five minutes past our normal finish time so, in for a penny in for a pound, we brought Elizabeth back for an encore. She gave us a brand new song “Oh How the Strong Ones Fall”, inspired by a recent walk in the woods behind her home nestled in the folds of the Clwydian hills.

If you liked what you heard, you can soak up more of the same when the three perform an open-air concert, Elfin Bow – Live in the Woods at the Woodland Skill Centre in Bodfari on the 30th of this month.

We’ve got our tickets, click here if you want to join us.

Click ► below to listen to excerpts from Elfin Bow’s finale spot.

Tonight’s mammoth roll-call:
Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon, Mike Hastings, Chris Birchall, Mark Thatcher, Neil Martin, Ron Stevenson, Tom &, Lynda Degney, Alan Thompson, Mamma G & Bebop Brunettes, Peter Leslie, Wendy & Richard Eastwood, Cath Bryan & Pete Kirkham, Deborah Jackson & Skeet Williams, Jeff Jones, Ian & Sharon Hanchet, Jules & Chris, Lizzy Pegler, Robin Spreckley, and Elfin Bow.

Alan’s rude carrot

And finally…
The “Carrot’s Appendage” …what’s all that about?
Well, Alan Thompson’s contribution to the evening wasn’t limited to his colourful tee shirt and excellent songs. He also donated a rather rude carrot that he had grown in his own garden, which was won in the raffle by a bemused Lizzy Pegler.

Jeff Jones, Ian Hanchet and Mark Thatcher


In Fine Voice

By |August 6th, 2019|0 Comments

Wendy Eastwood

It was a balmy evening and the room was comfortably full with just short of forty in the audience and seventeen performers providing the entertainment.

The first of these was Wendy Eastwood, who got the music off to a fine start with Crystal Gayle’s  “Brown Eyes Blue” followed by the Eagles song “Love Will Keep Us Alive” with Oohs and Ahhs provided by husband Richard.

It was good to see Coventry musician Pete Jackson back for a second visit and this time he treated us to some fine instrumentals on his guitar. Sadly, their lovely little doggie was poorly, so he and his wife had to leave early but they have a caravan in North Wales now, so hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of Pete in the future.

Pete Jackson

Tom Degney was also in an instrumental mood as he wowed us with his mastery of the dobro. Then through the evening he variously accompanied Lynda, Richard Ruthin and Jeff Jones, alternating between dobro, mandolin and guitar.

In Fine Voice
The rest of our regulars came up trumps yet again, with a wonderful selection of covers and originals. The whole audience were in fine voice too, joining in on many of the songs and not just the well-known numbers, for when Peter Leslie sang of one of his own compositions “Relentless Rain”, the gathered throng was voluminous on every chorus.

As the end of the evening approached, Penni Neale sang out a plea for “A Little Help From (her) Friends” before providing a little help to Enid Toft by accompanying her for the finale spot. It is so lovely to have Enid back in front of the microphones, with Penni providing vocal harmonies as well as instrumental accompaniment.

And then it was time to go home. Although that almost didn’t happen for three of our coastal members, Richard, Tom and Lynda, as Richard’s car had been firmly blocked in by a person or persons unknown. Luckily, a solution was found with Penni driving the three to St Asaph, where the Degney’s car was parked and they, in turn, took Richard home to Rhyl. The final part of the relay operation took place the following morning with Richard enjoying a bus ride back to Ruthin to liberate his car.

As John Lennon said: “There are no problems, only solutions”.

Tonight’s roll call…
Tom and Lynda Degney, Pete Jackson, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin, Jeff Jones, Cath Bryan, Mike Hastings, Peter Leslie, Pete Kirkham, Wendy and Richard Eastwood, Neil Martin, Penni Neale, and Enid Toft.

Something About Gary

By |July 31st, 2019|0 Comments

As I write this, Gary Edward Jones is preparing to go on stage at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for the first of twenty-seven concerts, performing his show “Something About Simon”.

Gary Edward Jones

The hour-long Edinburgh version of the show, which catalogues the life and music of Paul Simon, had a preview airing at Thornton Hough Village Club at the weekend but before that, Gary joined us at Ruthin for last Thursday’s Singers’ Night, treating us to a couple of the songs from the show.

He is, of course, a superb songwriter in his own right and he opened the evening with “Take me Back” followed by “Composing Skies”.  After the mid-evening break, the music continued with Gary’s fingers picking out the familiar and distinctive intro to the Paul Simon classic “Still Crazy” and then the song that Paul Simon reputedly wrote during a visit to the North West of England in 1963, “Homeward Bound”.

Several in the audience had already experienced the “Something About Simon” show. Many saw it at Theatr Colwyn last month but for those who haven’t yet, these two songs provided a valuable insight into what to expect.  Gary’s interpretation of Paul Simon’s music is really authentic and his guitar playing is absolutely true to the style of the man himself.

We are so lucky to have Gary and his equally talented wife, Elizabeth (aka Elfin Bow) living on our doorstep and as members of Ruthin AllStyles. We wish Gary every success with his month in Edinburgh and that is will give his show and his music the recognition it deserves and lead to even greater things.

John Williams

Floor Spots
But back to our Thursday evening at The Feathers. It was, of course, a regular Singers’ Night and it turned out to be one of our busiest of the year, with nineteen other floor spots providing a magnificent mix of originals and covers to a packed room.

We had another visit from Wirral musician John Williams two days before his duo gig with Erica Harwood at the wonderful Woodland Skills Centre in Bodfari (which was absolutely brilliant and featured a support spot by Penni Neale).

It was good to see return visits from Alistair Irving, Mike Whitaker, Jeff Jones and from Ian Buchannon who also stepped up to accompany Tom Degney and Richard Ruthin on his dobro.

Ian Buchanan

Regulars Richard Eastwood, Neil Martin, Joe Lyon and Pete Kirkham turned in some fine performances, as did the strong female contingent, Wendy Eastwood, Enid Toft, Cath Bryan, Lynda Degney, Lizzy Pegler and Penni Neale.

With so much fine music, we forgot to watch the clock (well, we turned a blind eye, more like) and when Alan Thompson stepped up to do the finale we were already almost half an hour past our normal finish time.

Alan followed Ryan Adams’s “Come Pick Me Up” with “Take This Heart Of Gold”, a Mandolin Orange song that he had recently discovered. It was a lovely end to another fabulous evening.

A Quiet Night …NOT

By |July 24th, 2019|0 Comments

John Williams

There is always some speculation at the start of the evening. Will it be busy or will it be a quiet night? I’m half expecting Joe to run a book and start taking bets, especially when he’s egged on by his partner in crime, Robin the Busker.

Even as the music commenced at about five past eight, it was looking like being around ten or so performers and people were looking though their song lists to decide what they would sing in the second half.

By 8.20pm all that had changed and we ended up with sixteen performers and nearly double that number in the room.

Part of the appeal of Ruthin AllStyles (and part of the challenge in running it) is not knowing from week to week, just who might turn up – and we are rarely disappointed. Mr John Williams had taken time out this week, from his busy schedule of gigs and festivals and journeyed from Merseyside to entertain us. Similarly, Peter Leslie from Wrexham and Richard & Wendy from Abergele.

Alistair Irving

Making his Ruthin AllStyles debut was another Wrexham singer/songwriter, Alister Irving. He gave us two excellent self-penned songs and I really hope we see him at the club again soon.

A couple of guys we’ve not seen much of since the Clwydian Rangers disbanded last year, were Oli Bradley-Hughes, and Harri Owen. And so it was great to welcome them back, not as a band, just a duo, making music and having fun.

And then, of course, there was our ever-growing band of talented regulars who bring such an eclectic mix of superb music week after week. Robin Spreckley, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon
Chris Birchall, Mike Hastings, Lynda and of course, the hard-working Tom Degney.

Harri and Oli

Having accompanied several performers on his mandolin, dobro and guitar, Tom joined Penni Neale in the finale. First on Gershwin’s “Summertime” and finishing with one of my favourite songs, Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning”, taking us right up to 11.00pm – on the dot.

Something About Next Thursday
So what will this coming Thursday bring? Well, all I can say is that our very own Gary Edward Jones is in the final preparatory stages for the 27-day run of his “Something About Simon” show at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival. A little bird tells me he might just pop along to give us a little taste.

Collaborations Galore

By |July 16th, 2019|0 Comments

Tom and Lynda Degney

A dozen performers, more than twice that number in the room, the tables overflowing with choccies – and a birthday girl.

The chocolates were courtesy of Lynda Degney, who was celebrating her birthday, and the club responded in the customary fashion singing a rousing “Happy Birthday” song and presenting her with… you’ve guessed it… a box of chocolates!

Tom Degney and Richard Eastwood

Lynda, of course, is one of Ruthin AllStyles’ longest-serving stalwarts and this week she and Tom got the evening underway with what was the first of many collaborations.

Armed variously with a guitar, mandolin or the dobro, Tom was by far the busiest, accompanying Richard Ruthin and Richard Eastwood during their respective sets. Richard, in turn, joined his wife Wendy Eastwood for some ABꓭA themed duets.

The rest of us flew solo, with some fine musical aerobatics from Joe Lyon, Jim Cole, Chris Birchall, Peter Leslie and Neil Martin. And, unusually of late, there was time for a second spot each performer after the break.

Cath Bryan and Pete Kirkham

Then for the evening’s finale, Cath Bryan and Pete Kirkham hooked-up for a lovely version of the Chris de Burgh song “Some Things Never Change”.

One thing that really doesn’t ever change, is the fact that however busy or relatively quiet it is, we are always assured of a great evening’s entertainment in the function room at The Feathers.

Tonight’s roll call: Lynda and Tom Degney, Joe Lyon, Jim Cole, Chris Birchall, Peter Leslie, Wendy and Richard Eastwood, Richard Ruthin, Neil Martin, Pete Kirkham and Cath Bryan.

On Yer Bike

By |July 10th, 2019|0 Comments

It is always nice to welcome a new face to our music nights. It’s also nice to welcome performers who travel some distance, often from the other side of the country – even from the other side of the world!

There were three new faces tonight and whilst none of them crossed continents to get to us, two of them did travel some seventy miles. But what was most noteworthy was the fact they had cycled… all the way from Telford.

Bill Malkin

Dave Hopkins and Rob Hubbleday (above) were on a stop-over in Ruthin whilst on a cycling holiday which would take in Bangor and Dublin. I had this picture in my mind of them peddling away with their instruments strapped to their backs but that romantic notion was soon dismissed by the fact their wives were following on by car.

The Telford duo entertained us, appropriately enough, with a travelling song, “Wagon Wheel”, and the Loving Spoonful hit “Daydream”.

The other ‘new face’ belonged to Chester musician Bill Malkin. Bill sang two of his own songs: “The Big Picture Painter”, inspired by photographs his sea-faring father had brought back from Japan at the end of the second world war, and “Scrappy Dave and Wiley” written following a visit to a wolf sanctuary in Canada.

Our visitors had joined us on a typically busy evening, with fourteen other performers, mainly from our core of regulars but also including blues singer Raphael Callaghan (right).

After doing her own spot, Penni Neale was kept busy accompanying Enid on guitar and duetting with Neil Martin on a beautiful version of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”.

The rest of our regulars turned out a superb mix of songs, as always. The room was ‘comfortably full’ and a good time was had by all.

Tonight’s roll call: Chris Birchall, Richard Ruthin, Lynda and Tom Degney, Raphael Callaghan, Richard and Wendy Eastwood, Cath Bryan, Pete Kirkham, Bill Malkin , Joe Lyon, Mike Hastings, Dave Hopkins , Rob Hubbleday, Neil Martin, Penni Neale, and Enid Toft.

Just Singing in the Rain ♫♪

By |June 25th, 2019|0 Comments

Alan Thompson and Linda Griffiths

“Relentless Rain” and “Dirty Rain” were just two of tonight’s songs that pretty much summed up the sort of summer we’ve been having. Nevertheless, we all turned up at The Feathers with a warm outlook and a sunny disposition for another super Singers’ Night.

Alan Thompson and his sister Linda set the musical wheels spinning with a Ryan Adams song followed by one of Alan’s own songs “Try”.

“Ride On” by Christy Moore was Lynda Degney’s first offering and Tom sang one of his own songs, declaring he was “Just a Rambling Man”.

Richard Eastwood

Did I mention the rain…?

Tonight, Matthew, Richard Eastwood was Don Williams. Peter Leslie, on the other hand, was Neil Young, before singing one of his own songs, dedicated to the summer of 2019, called “Relentless Rain”.

I opened with the “Sound of Silence” and then broke the silence with “All Along the Watch Tower”.

Glyn Hudson sang about “Nancy Spain” and “Our Town”. Mike Hastings took us “Half a World Away”, Oasis style, and Penni Neale gave us a musical weather report with “Dirty Rain”.

Peter Leslie

Neil Martin took us up to the break, and back to 1974, with a wonderful interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Who Shall I Say is Calling?”

After the Break

Glasses refreshed and the raffle drawn, we had eleven more songs from the eleven performers. After singing “Copper Kettle”, off Bob Dylan’s 1970 album, Self Portrait, we persuaded Neil to perform an encore of his own songs, “Blue is My Colour of Choice”. It was a lovely way to end what had been a lovely evening of music with covers and original songs in almost equal measure.

Next week – An intimate solo concert with Virginia Kettle. The lovely front Lady from the award-winning folk-rock band Merry Hell, will be singing some of the songs we know and love that she has written for the band, as well as some written especially for her solo appearances.
Just £5 on the door (regular members get their usual concession). There will be floor spots too, so bring your instruments.

Please note the earlier time: Doors 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

Another Full House

By |June 19th, 2019|1 Comment

Mike and Rosa

Wow… for the third week running, the function room at The Feathers has been ‘comfortably full’ and with half those present being performers numbering just shy of twenty.

The evening began as smooth as you like, with Sade’s “Your Love is King”, performed by Mike & Rosa. We love it when these guys pay us a visit; Mike’s immaculate guitar accompanying Rosa’s lovely voice is a joy to behold. They followed up with a song in French, “La Mer”.

Listen to Your Love is King, performed by Mike and Rosa

Lizzy Pegler

Lizzy Pegler gave us a couple of home-grown songs. “Hilarious” was the first she’d ever written when she first started playing seven years ago. The second was her latest, “Dirty Money”.

A Scottish flavour was on the cards as Jim Cole stepped up to the mic with his trusty fiddle to play “Sarah’s Song” and “Robert the Bruce”.

Tommy Steel and Joe Cocker were on my radar, then we had a revival of Bluegrass from Lynda Degney and a helping of Americana from Tom.

Glyn Hudson enlisted the services of her guitar tutor, Skeet Williams, to accompany her on “Leaving Nancy” and “Our Town”.

Skeet remained on stage to accompany Deborah Jackson on two beautiful songs, “The Trouble with Wanting” and “Nobody’s Lonely Tonight”, before giving us a masterclass in finger-style during his own set.

Wendy was absent with a sore throat, so it was down to Richard to represent the Eastwood clan. Quite appropriately, he sang the Don Williams classic “All I’m Missing is You”.

Joe Lyon took us up to the mid-evening break with “Those Were the Days” and “Sunny Afternoon”.

With a total of eighteen performers, there was only ever going to be time for one spot each. However, as is the convention, whoever opens the evening (while the bus is still filling up) also gets to open the second half, a task that was conducted in fine style by Mike & Rosa. They treated us to the French version of “Autumn Leaves” and one of their own compositions “Happy”.

After flying us to the Moon, Bing Crosby style, Pete Kirkham declared “I Wanna Be Like You”.  Then Cath Bryan gave us “Broken Wings” and Nanci Griffiths’ “Trouble in the Fields”.

We had some lovely sounds of John Denver courtesy of Geoff Durno and of Emmylou Harris from Penni Neale.

Before we knew it, it was finale time. This week the honour fell to Tom, Dick & Harry with John Bass. They served up a fine selection of songs opening with one of Harry’s early compositions “Hungry Heros”. and finishing with the Ben E King song “Stand By Me”.


Singers’ Night June 6th

By |June 12th, 2019|2 Comments

What a fab night it was. Eighteen performers and with the audience almost doubling that number, making for a great atmosphere in a comfortably full function room.

The bar was set high early on in the proceedings with an impromptu collaboration between Pete Kirkham and Cath Bryan, singing “The Wild Rose” accompanied by Mike Clark on harmonica.

It was good to see Mike – otherwise known as ‘Squeezebox Mike’ – back at the club again and he did indeed come armed with his trusty squeezebox which he used to great effect during his solo set, as well as when he jumped up to form a trio with Tom and Richard.

Another Mike, also an occasional visitor, was Mike Hastings from Mold who gave us a couple of enjoyable numbers in his set.

Robin Spreckley used to be an occasional visitor. Well, not any more. He’s almost as regular as the other Robin, Robin (The Busker) Wynne Jones.  Both were on duty tonight and both were in fine form.

We are lucky having a great number of occasional visitors as well as our core of talented regular members. We don’t know from one week to the next who will turn up, making every week different and ultimately, so very enjoyable for audience and performers alike.

During their solo sets, Wendy and Richard Eastwood slotted in a lovely duet in the form of the John Prine and Emmylou Harris ballad, “Magnolia Wind”.

And with lots of fine solo sets from Lynda and Tom Degney, Enid Toft, Penni Neale, Richard Ruthin, Chris Birchall, Joe Lyon and Neil Martin, the mix was as eclectic as it could be.

Two new faces made an appearance this evening. Hailing from Coventry, Pete and Wally were up this way on holiday with their families and found us on the internet. They gave us a fine set with their guitar and banjo combo, so we called them back on stage for the finale, sending us home with a lively “Trouble in Mind” buzzing around inside our heads.

Tonight’s Roll Call: Chris Birchall, Mike Hastings, Cath Bryan, Robin Spreckley, Mike Clark, Lynda and Tom Degney, Pete Kirkham, Pete and Wally from Coventry, Wendy and Richard Eastwood, Enid Toft, Penni Neale, Richard Ruthin, Robin the Busker, Joe Lyon and Neil Martin

New Face, Familiar Faces and Glad-to-be-back Faces.

By |June 6th, 2019|0 Comments

David and Tom Petie

After a couple of quietish weeks, it was good to see the room comfortably full. Thirty music lovers in all, and the performers numbering nnnnn-na-na-na, nnnnn-na-na, Nineteen.

The new face belonged to Tom Petie, who was over this way with his dad, David, holidaying in Llangollen. It’s always good to see David who was once a regular at many of the clubs in the area before moving to pastures new at Colne, over in Lancashire, They did a set each as well as collaborating on one of the songs.

Two of the glad-to-be-back faces belonged to Richard and Wendy Eastwood, whose Thursday evenings up until the end of May are spent rehearsing with the Harmony Singers. From now until September their focus changes to Monday evenings where they perform at St. John’s Methodist Church in Llandudno (Next to M&S), raising money for local charities, which means we will see more of this talented couple at Ruthin. The Harmony Singers concerts are brilliant, by the way. Highly entertaining and well worth going to see.

Wendy and Richard Eastwood

Having just finished a stint with Ruthin Musical Theatre, Cath Bryan and Pete Kirkham were back for what will hopefully be the first of many appearances over the coming months.

Harry Robertson was back and in fine form, hooking up with his ‘Tom, Dick & Harry’ bandmates, Tom, Richard and John Bass.

Peter Leslie spoiled us by turning up two weeks on the run. Wrexham Folk Club’s summer recess means we get to hear more of his lovely home-spun songs.

Enid Toft and Penni Neale

And it was good to see Enid Toft doing a full set of her own again, accompanied by Penni Neale. We’ve missed her lovely voice since her former accompanist Neil Wilkinson passed away last year.

And then, of course, there are the stalwarts, the regulars and the semi-regulars who contribute their vast talents and give the club the wonderful character that it has. We are so lucky to have so many creative and enthusiastic members, many of whom travel from as far away as Rhos-on-Sea, Chester, Birkenhead and the North Wales coastal towns.

Here is last week’s roll call…

Pete Kirkham, Joe Lyon, Neil Martin, Lynda and Tom Degney, David Petie and his son Tom, Glyn Hudson, Cath Bryan, Tom, Dick & Harry with John Bass, Chris Birchall, Penni Neale, Enid Toft, John Williams, Peter Leslie, Richard and Wendy Eastwood.

See you all next Thursday.