Tom Degney had just opened the evening by helping us say “Bye Bye Blues” with fine medley comprising that very song, plus the likes of “Sally” and other Olde Tyme favourites.
The room was rapidly filling and close to capacity with faces old and new, when from my vantage point at the M.C.’s mic, I saw an apparition that teleported me right back to 1980’s breakfast television… Was that really Timmy Mallett who’d just entered the room?
It wasn’t, of course. But Andy Pinder bore a striking resemblance to the colourful, bespectacled, presenter, broadcaster, and comic as he appeared in the doorway. Had he been carrying a pink foam mallet instead of a guitar, the illusion would have been complete. “Blaaah!” and “Utterly brilliant!” were the (catch)phrases that came to mind.
Andy had been a regular back in the days of our Thursday night gatherings at Ye Olde Cross Keys, during a six-month work placement in North Wales. A stint that ended almost exactly two years ago when he returned to his home town in Hertfordshire.
We’d never quite known what to expect back then: a poem, a sonnet, a folk song, or a ditty. Always light-hearted and mostly very funny. His many self-penned odes dedicated to the club, Ruthin, and the Vale of Clwyd, quickly gained him the nicknames “Poet Laminate” and “The Bard of Denbighshire”.
For this flying visit, the jovial Andy didn’t let us down. His first song “The Professor from Liverpool” could well have been a humorous observation about the number of migrants our club has taken in from ‘Scouseland’. His second song, set to the tune of Elvis’s “Love Me Tender” had the whole room in stitches. The word ‘Tender’ had been variously replaced with ‘Rough’ and other adjectives, many of which made me realise I’d made the right decision to put him on well after the nine o’clock watershed! 😉
Also visiting North Wales this week were two pretty young songbirds from Hampshire. Sisters Chloe and Josie Haskins were on a family holiday in Betws y Coed and decided to seek out our little club. They performed a lovely set of contemporary songs including “Life is Good” and Hayden Panettiere’s “Telescope”.
Another two new faces this week belonged to Gaz & Craig. This duo from Llandudno run the Sunday evening Open Mic sessions at The Blue Bell, Conwy. They came along, armed with guitar and cajón to give us “Folsom Prison” by Johnny Cash and Ketch Secor’s “Wagon Wheel”.
There were three more duos on the bill. Tom & Lynda’s set included an old favourite “Ring the Bell”. John & Ros reprised an old Dave Clark Five number “Because I Love You” and Annie & Bob did a great version of “Bad Moon Rising” that included an extra verse written by Bob. It fitted in seamlessly and I’m sure John Fogerty would have approved.
Tom, Dick & Harry gave us a great set accompanied by John Rowell on his six string fretless bass. Their songs included “The Wayfaring Stranger”, Elton John’s “Shiloh”, and Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”.
Joe Lyon took us on the “Ferry Across the Mersey”, Geoff Hollis said “Farewell to the Life of the Rover”, Chris did a Christy Moore song, and Penni Neale sang Don McLean’s beautiful tribute to the artist Vincent van Gogh before having “Just One More Coffee for the Road”.
Tim Eastwood managed to smuggle not one, but two sets of bagpipes into the room, cunningly concealed within a guitar case. He needn’t have resorted to such subterfuge however, because our audiences always enjoy the foot-tapping jigs he produces on his Border and Uilleann pipes.
Mike Whittaker sang his own composition “Hometown” which, he pointed out, is quite different to the Adele song of the same name, followed by “She was only Seventeen”. Again, his own song, not the similarly named Beatles number 🙂
Wrexham’s Peter Leslie is another of our regulars who brings us a lot of original material. Tonight he gave us the first song he’d ever written, back in his early twenties, entitled “Paradise Bay”. And then, being a self-confessed Kieran Halpin fan, Peter couldn’t resist singing one more of the great man’s songs before his appearance ‘Live at The Feathers’ next week (Thursday 18th August). Peter sang “Wouldn’t Have it any Other Way” and did the song proud.
And so we approached the end of another superb evening of live music, with forty-four in the room, exactly half of whom were performers.
The finale spot went to one of our friends from Rhyl Folk & Acoustic Club, who was making his first visit to Ruthin AllStyles since we moved to our new venue. Vince is a fine songwriter himself and introduced his first number “Sentimental Country Song” as being a tale set within a dream. Someone had apparently once told him it was best appreciated in the company of a psychiatrist 🙂
We all came out the other side unscathed however, after which he gave us the Townes Van Zandt song “Poncho and Lefty” (made famous by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson) and as a fitting end to the night did an a cappella traditional Irish Folk Song.