Well if variety is indeed the spice of life, this week we had more spice than Rusholme’s famous Curry Mile in south Manchester!
We had instruments with four strings, six strings, eight strings and ten strings; an instrument with a pipe to blow in and a bag to squeeze, and an instrument to squeeze that’s played with keys.
And they ranged from a delightful sounding twenty pound Uke to a shiny brand new Gibson on its very first public outing.
The music of the night was as varied as the weapons used. Everything from trad folk to country, Beatles to Bacharach, BeeGees to Dylan.
Stephen kicked off the proceedings with some goodies from Buddy Holly and Burt Bacharach. Richard went the extra mile. Well, 500 of them actually with Railroaders’ Lament otherwise known as 500 Miles Away from Home popularised by Peter Paul and Mary in the 60’s. Then Lynda took us to the Northern Plains and bade us Plant your fields again.
Both Richard and Lynda were accompanied by Tom, variously on guitar, mandolin and dobro, before he took to the mic himself to declare Ain’t She Sweet to the sweet sound of his little red ukulele.
Tim also produced a little red Uke to sing us some traditional folk songs before reaching for his border bagpipes to play a lively jig that had hands clapping and feet tapping.
If you were wondering what instrument might have ten strings, well that would be my 12 string guitar with the E and A octave strings removed. Well, D and G actually because it’s tuned down two semitones for a richer sound! The lower tuning also helps when you can’t sing the high notes. This certainly helped with my attempt at the BeeGees’ To Love Somebody, before capoing up for a couple of Neil Young songs!
John and Ros’ set included included 500 Miles (the Proclaimers’ version) and Stay until it’s time for you to go.
There were plenty of Ooo’s as Joe showed off his new Gibson (I had a noodle on it. It is lovely) and he also got Ooo’s from the impromptu backing singers at the back of the room as he delivered John Lennon’s Woman!
Penni, Bob and Glyn descended from Denbigh bringing musical goodness that included John Prine’s Unwed Fathers from Bob, some acapella folk and a comedy ditty from Glyn. Penni also had us all smiling with Tim Firth’s Same Thing Twice before lulling us with a lovely version of The Nearness of You.
Fraser and Toots run an “All Styles” Acoustic Club at The Woolpack in their home town of Buckingham. Holidaying down the road in Llangollen, they’d brought with them their guitar and accordion. And boy are we are glad they did, for they performed for us a lively and uplifting set of self penned songs. Fraser quipped that their third song was one they’d written together but couldn’t agree on what key it should be in, so they put both versions together for a unique sound that bizarrely worked very well!
The finale spot this week featured our friend from over the border, John Williams who was making his first visit since our move to The Feathers. John is a prolific performer in and around the Wirral and Merseyside, not only as a solo artist, but as part of the duo Ffrench & Wwilliams and also with a newly formed band.
Performing with his four string tenor guitar, his first set included a song he had written for a friend who’d separated from his wife but could never sing it for him as they’d got back together! And for a rip-roaring singalong finale he changed to his custom made cello mandolin to play Bob Dylan/Ketch Secor’s Wagon Wheel.
Phew! Just reading back through this, I realise it’is a mammoth post. But then it was a mammoth evening with no fewer than fifteen performers. We finished late but we finished happy.
More of the same next week? I think so!