Thirty through the door, eighteen of whom were performers, was a respectable turn-out for a damp grey April Thursday.
And what a fine shower they were.
Lynda must dread this time of year because she always gets the blame when it rains. Still, she can’t stop singing about it and tonight it was Carol King’s “Crying in the Rain” (recorded by the Everly Brothers) that took her fancy. Penni took us dancing through the “Dirty Rain” ( Ryan Adams) before spreading a little April sunshine into our lives with a quite beautiful version of “Stairway to Heaven”.
Joe sang “My Home Town” and then because we know Liverpool was his old home town, he took us back for a stroll through John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields”.
We had a belting version “Your Song” from John Ryder, a touch of the dark side of Cash from Bob Neale with “Delia’s Gone”, and an a cappella “She Sings in the Valley Below” from Glyn, which had a good number of the audience joining in with the chorus.
I paid homage to country legend Merle Haggard, who had died the day before on his 79 birthday, by singing “Today I started Loving You Again”.
Cath Bryan sang Stevie Nix, Colin Campbell sang Dylan, and Mike Whittaker sang Mike Whittaker, giving us a gentle folk song followed by some rocky rhythm and blues.
Armed with his mandolin, and with Alex Fairclough accompanying on guitar, Matt Ellis did a fine version of McCartney’s “Dance Tonight”, followed by Alex singing Paul Weller’s “You Do Something To Me”.
Harry Robertson enlisted Tom Degney and John Bass to accompany him on two great bluesy numbers, “Sporting Life” and “The Letter”.
It was good to see Brian Peters back again for the first time this year, this time armed with a custom built (in North Wales) steel guitar. He had every foot in the room tapping to “Rolling and a tumbling” (Muddy Waters) and the 1930’s classic “Walking Blues”, written by Son House and recorded by everybody from Cash to Clapton and Bonnie Raitt to Bonamassa.
And to draw a great evening of music to a close Dawn and Alan Hesford produced a stonking finale with “Chelsea Morning” and a classic song, that they’d learned only last week to sing at a friend’s wedding, “At Last”. And although it was at last time for us all to wind our way home, we managed to squeeze an encore out of them, which was appropriately, “Bye Bye Love”.
‘Passing the hat around’ is not something we do often at Ruthin AllStyles, but tonight we made an exception…
When Bob sang the Johnny Cash lament “Delia’s Gone” earlier in the evening, it was apparent by the lyrics that a defibrillator would have been of little use to save her.
There were, however, at least two people who wouldn’t have been in the audience tonight, had it not been for these vital pieces of equipment and The Red Cross in North Wales urgently need £10,000 to replace eight of their ageing machines.
And so Bob Neale, together with fellow members of Denbigh Harriers running club, are planning to raise funds by running, walking and, if needs be, crawling, the 176 miles of the Offa’s Dyke Trail on June 17th.
I’m pleased to say the hat was suitably heavy when we handed it over and hope that the kindness of the audience will go a little way to kick-starting the fund.
If you would like to contribute, go to Bob’s Just Giving page