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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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