. The weekly Ruthin AllStyles Folk & Acoustic Singers Night has become a firm favourite in the music lovers’ calendar, attracting performers and audience members from all over the Vale of Clwyd and beyond. With dozens of musicians, some[...]
Well, that was another corker of an evening. The main event, of course, was a superb showcase by Katie and James, aka Igloo Hearts.
However, we also managed to squeeze in no fewer than twelve floor spots, including some Egyptian vibes from Yasmin, from Wrexham, who was visiting the club for the first time.
After the floor spots, we all settled back to enjoy an hour of beautiful sounds courtesy of our showcase guests Katie and James. Listening to their lovely mix of original songs and covers, it is hard to believe they have only been performing together for a couple of years or so. In fact, one of their first performances as a duo was on one of our online lockdown shows.
Their music and harmonies left us all spellbound, and the shouts of “more” saw them closing their set with a fine Radio Head classic.
For the final segment of the evening, the Random Generator delivered some extra songs from Peter Leslie, Tom Degney and the Jackson Williams duo, Skeet and Debs. and what turned out to be a “see-ya-later” spot from Canada Phil before heading off across the Atlantic for three months.
Next Thursday – a little bird tells me that the Wizard from the Wirral, John Williams, will be back behind the microphone following an enforced sabbatical whilst recovering from surgery.
Isn’t it great that things a gradually getting back to normal?
Last Thursday evening saw our first post-pandemic guest spot in the form of the lovely An Croenen and her side-kick Frank Hives.
The duo, who hail from Chester and Helsby, performed a delightful 45-minute, mid-evening showcase, or “big spot”, call it what you will.
The logistics worked out well, with our regulars each performing a two-song floor spot to open and close the evening. This is a format we shall certainly use in the future.
Their performance was nothing short of magical, with a mixture of originals and covers that had the audience joining in the choruses. Frank’s laid-back guitar style complimented An’s sweet, mellifluous vocals. Their finale song, Scarborough Fair, complete with the harmonious Canticle, was the best version I have ever heard.
We knew it would be a great little gig, having heard them first from their videos on our online shows during the lockdown. How fabulous it was to see and hear them in 3D and stereo!
It was more than a grand night. In fact, it was a ‘grand’ plus £132.
Yes, that’s right, last Thursday’s fund-raising evening raised a total of £1,132no less, thanks to the incredible generosity of everybody who tuned-in to enjoy what was an absolute belter of a music night.
Regulars and Guest Appearances
Pretty much all the songs were dedicated to the charity RENEW and its relentless fund-raising to help the refugees locked-down on the Greek island of Leros. Many had chosen their songs for the meaningful lyrics, others had included a special introduction. Club regular Robin Spreckly updated one of his own protest songs and incorporated a specially rewritten middle eight.
We had a first-time visit from The Christians former frontman, Henry Priestman who introduced his lovely “Beautiful Dreamers” with a special message to the club and to the charity.
Merry Hell (right)contributed their hauntingly beautiful, a Cappella, “I Am Coming Home, I Am a Refugee, written by band member Bob Kettle.
Accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, Gary Edward Jones sang the beautifully poignant “Oceans” which he wrote after hearing about the three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea during 2015 as he and his family fled war-torn Bagdad.
The evening had opened with “Only Human”, a song penned by club-member Alan Thompson after attending a talk given by one of the founders of RENEW about the desperate plight of the refugees on Leros.
Accompanied by a slideshow of pictures taken by the charity’s volunteers, the video has since been used during several fund-raising events. And then to close the show Alan and his sister Linda had recorded a special “lock-down” live version of that fabulous heart-wrenching song.
If you missed the show, it is available to replay at the bottom of this page. Near the beginning, Louise Edwards gives a brief explanation about the work done by the Buckley based Refugee Essentials North East Wales (RENEW). Herself, one of the group’s volunteers, Louise has also hosted fund-raising concerts at her own music venue, The Tin Shed, in Treuddyn.
Above all, enjoy the wonderful locally-produced music by as talented a bunch of musicians to be found anywhere. The show is three hours long and if you skip through to the best bits, it will only take you… erm… three hours 😉
“What a Great Night”, “Exceptional”, “Terrific Performance”, “So Talented”, “All This for a Fiver!”. The plaudits came thick and fast, both on the night and afterwards in messages and on Social Media.
And justifiably so. Sarah Lou and Jimmy Rae put on such an excellent and varied show, they had the capacity audience captivated from the very first note to the final chord.
Tennessee Waltz is billed as a ‘contemporary country duo’ whereas, in fact, they are so much more. Throw into the mix, a helping of Americana, R&B, Modern Folk and even Rock ‘n Roll, and you get a clue as to why this endearing duo appeal to so many people.
Jimmy has written so many great songs over the years, from the lively “Four in the Morning”, the tongue-in-cheek “Stick Your Rotten Job”, to the touching ballad “Under the Mersey Moon”, plus many more, including a lovely song written with Sarah Lou, called “One of the Good Guys”.
As wonderful as these songs are, they were cleverly interspersed with popular covers guaranteed to get the audience singing along. These featured the work of some of the country greats from the last 50 years, such as Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, Patsy Cline, the Everly Brothers and The Eagles.
The very first time Jimmy and Sara Lou visited Ruthin AllStyles was on a Singers’ Night three years ago. On that occasion, they performed a song Jimmy had written after watching an interview with Eddie Cochran’s mother who was clutching onto her dead son’s guitar. This touching ballad “Eddie’s Guitar” segued into the late rocker’s “Summertime Blues”. I was so pleased they did it again this week, especially as they tagged “Come On Everybody” onto the end of it.
With polished performances throughout, complimented by superb vocal harmonies, the end of the evening seemed to come far too soon. An encore was called for and was fulfilled with the John Denver classic “Country Roads” – with the entire room joining in the chorus.
As always, the first and second halves of the evening had begun with a round of floor spots and this week, those doing the honours were: Lynda and Tom Degney, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Skeet Williams, Deborah Jackson and Brian Peters who was also roped in to play harmonica on one of Tennessee Waltz’s blues numbers.
If you missed the gig, here’s a little taste of what you missed…
There was a ‘full house’ in the function room at The Feathers Inn, when the former frontman of ELO2, Phil Bates, performed a concert for us at Ruthin AllStyles Music Club.
The popular singer, who now lives in Germany, has been to our lovely little club every two or three years since way back in its days at The Castle Hotel and The White Horse when club founders Llinos and Campbell Finnie were at the helm.
I first saw Phil up at the Cross Keys back in 2013 and this is his second time here at The Feathers. On every occasion he is a big hit with the audience, performing a broad mix of covers and original material, with the occasional ELO classic thrown in too.
This week he opened with a bluesy set before progressing onto more rocky numbers and in the second half when he was joined by his wife Jo on electric piano and our own John Rowell on his fretless six-string bass, with Raphael Callaghan contributing harmonica accompaniment toward the end of the evening.
Phil entertained our capacity audience with a mixture of covers and his own compositions, some of which reflected his wry sense of humour in songs such as “If I’d Known I’d Live This Long I’d Have Taken More Care Of Myself”, and “I’m Going To Viagra”.
If I had to choose my personal favourites from the evening, it would be a toss-up between the Beatles cover, “My Love Don’t Give Me Presents” and Peter Green’s “Need Your Love So Bad”. (See the videos below)
As always, the evening began with a round of floor spots by a selection of our regulars who frequent the club’s highly popular Singers’ Nights which attracts musicians from all over the region. A song each from Chris Birchall, Joe Lyon, Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Glyn Hudson, Raphael Callaghan and Steve Juckes-Hughes got things off to a fine start.
Our next concert is on the 30th of January when Wirral-based country duo, Tennessee Waltz make a welcome return and in May, our own Gary Edward Jones will be opening for the renowned Colorado singer-songwriter David Starr.
A playlist of videos from the concert courtesy of Jim Hoban, devotee of all things ELO
Click the menu button [≡] for the listings
In fact, every single pair of eyes in the room were smiling, whilst those Irish eyes were twinkling as their owner’s beautifully crafted songs were interspersed with tales of his Irish upbringing and anecdotal yarns about his musical journey through life.
You will go a long way to find a more entertaining and engaging folk singer than Antony John Clarke. He has his own unique style of modern folk songs with words that conjure up pictures of life, painted with humour and a not insignificant touch of the old blarney.
He was accompanied on piano by his lovely wife Julia, who also wore a beautiful smile throughout the evening despite bearing the brunt of many of his jokes. It was Julia’s 63rd birthday and Anthony John made much of the fact that it heralded the beginning of the annual eight-day period when he is technically a year younger than her.
The humour comes effortlessly, both within the songs and in the narrative between them. The whole of his performance is full of fun with lively and uplifting songs such as “The Cockerel Has Done a Runner”, “We Pulled Through”, “I Hate Camping” and “They Don’t Write Them Like That Any More”.
As with his 2017 concert, Anthony John and Julia stayed over in The Feathers’ comfortable accommodation which once again resulted in him overrunning our usual finish time by almost an hour. Not that anybody objected.
The room was comfortably full and as always, both halves of the evening had begun with a round of songs from the floor, on this occasion courtesy of regular members Lynda and Tom Degney, Robin the Busker, Richard Eastwood, Joe Lyon, Chris Birchall, Glyn Hudson, Richard Ruthin and Penni Neale. We also welcomed a first-time visitor from Eastbourne, folk singer Nick Cant, who happened upon our lovely club whilst holidaying in the area.
I think it’s true to say he couldn’t have picked a better evening to do so.
For Ruthin Festival Week we always try to do something special and this year we ended up with something very special.
Virginia Kettle’s association with Ruthin AllStyles Music Club goes back way beyond her long-established role as front-lady with the award-winning folk-rock band, Merry Hell alongside brother-in-law Andrew Kettle.
Back in the club’s early years, when it was called Ruthin Folk Club, with The White Horse as it’s meeting place, Virginia Barrett, as she was back then, opened for none other than Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton of The Urban Folk Quartet.
Since then she has appeared at the club on numerous occasions as part of Merry Hell, as well as with her side-project Virginia and the Dreamkeepers, so it was lovely to have her back simply as Virginia, with just her acoustic guitar, to treat us to a lovely intimate concert.
The prolific songwriter that she is, we were treated to an evening filled with a fine blend of covers and original material including many of the familiar numbers that Virginia has written for Merry Hell.
She opened her first set with “Nobody Knows Me Like You” written for the band’s 2014 EP “The Ghost”, followed by a song about children growing up and leaving home, “Growing, Growing Gone”. And then a stripped-back a cappella version of “Bloodlines” from the album of the same name.
“Everybody Needs a Little Warm” was next from this lady who herself ouses ‘warm’, both in the lyrics of her songs and in their delivery. Her warm personality carries through to the tales she tells, along with the back-stories to her songs. She also has a wonderful way of engaging with the audience, who responded by enthusiastically joining in on many of the choruses. To this end, a prompt board, creatively constructed in the style of a ransom note, helped us through one of the more lengthy choruses.
For her song “Violet” she displayed a photo of Annalisa Flanagan, a young primary school teacher who holds the world record for having the loudest recorded voice, reaching 121 decibels, and was the inspiration for the song.
The Audio-Visual continued with a glass of red magically appearing for a song that featured wine. The trend didn’t, however, extend to her rendition of “Bury Me Naked”. 😉
Virginia concluded her final set with a lovely acoustic version of the Waterboys’ 1985 hit “The Whole of the Moon” and then for an encore it was a bluesy number, “Straight Down the Middle”. It was a fine earworm upon which to end a fabulous evening with this lovely and talented lady.
As always, of course, we had some songs from a selection of our regulars to open both halves of the evening, twelve in total, each performing one of their favourite songs, providing the perfect ‘entree’ for the main course. They were: Lynda & Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin, Mike Hastings, Glyn Hudson, Joe Lyon, Neil Martin, Penni Neale, Mike Whitaker, Chris Birchall and Richard & Wendy Eastwood.
It was an evening that delivered all that was promised as we were treated to a lovely collection of covers and originals from two of Merseyside’s finest.
John Williams, of course, is a frequent visitor to our regular Singer’s Nights when he travels from Prenton on the chance of a floor spot and every time he delights us with his music. Tonight he opened the first set with one of his own compositions “Wellington Road”.
Sitting across from him was fellow Wirralite Phil Chisnall. It was Phil’s first visit since the club moved from the Cross Keys to The Feathers. His apology for a sore throat was totally unnecessary. He’d handled it like a pro, dropping the key of his songs a semitone or two. You’d never have known there was a problem as he delivered his first song “Every Morning Blues”, which Phil described as a ‘happy blues’ song that he had written on one of life’s good days.
The format for the evening worked really well. with both of our guests on stage at the same time, taking it in turns to perform their songs, occasionally accompanying each other, and with plenty of banter in between. It was nice to experience their individual songwriting talents as well as hearing some great covers as diverse as the Stereophonics’ hit, “Dakota” and Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel. And when Phil played “Albertross” on his acoustic, it drew audible gasps from the audience. Adding variety to the evening, Phil had everyone in stitches as he delivered a hilarious monologue, Stanley Holloway, style “Albert and the Lion”.
Knowing how audiences like to join in with the choruses but are sometimes reluctant because they don’t know the words, John had placed a sheet of paper containing the lyrics of all the join-in choruses on every table. The gathered throng didn’t hold back; the room was ‘comfortably full’ and the atmosphere was wonderful.
Before each of the Williams and Chisnall sets, we had a couple of songs each from a group of our regulars. To open the evening we had a duet from Penni Neale and Neil Martin. They sang the beautiful song written in 2016 by Sting, “The Empty Chair”. This first session also featured performances by Lynda and Tom Degney, Richard Ruthin and Joe Lyon.
After the break, Neil Martin and Penni Neale did their solo spots, as did Chris Birchall. Then we had a couple of songs from one of John and Phil’s former Merseyside mates, Gary Edward Jones. When I say ‘former’, they are still mates, it’s just that Gary moved to live in these parts a couple of years ago. 🙂 Merseyside’s loss is Ruthin’s gain.
John Williams opened their second set with the first song he’d ever written, “Peel Island”.
It was a great diverse set that included the fabulous Robert Johnson song “Walking Blues” by Phil on his resonator guitar and ending with the guys duetting on the rousing Old Crow Medicine Show/Bob Dylan song “Wagon Wheel”.
Then, before we hauled ourselves off home, they responded to the shouts for more with the Mark Knopfler song “Haul Away for Home”.