July 2013

Newsletter No 238 30 July 2013

A few less than last week but new faces and top quality performances kicked off by DON & HEATHER welcoming people with Allan Taylor's IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU but with BANJO JOHN warning of a STORMY MONDAY we had JO off singing HALLELUJAH. Then we had a nice new duo of LES RENSHAW & JOHN STIRLING who were soon off DOWN WHERE THE DRUNKARDS ROLL while newcomer ALAN went all lyrical over LORD FRANKLYN as did MERDY over the PRETTIEST GIRL IN TRURO. Undaunted JIM & LYN were off down to the BELFAST MILL and CARL was off SINGING THE AGES DOWN with JUDE singing the praises of BOLD RILEY. The second banjo of the evening in TONY's hands played THREE TUNES including THE JUNE APPLE before CHARLES told us the unlikely story of how the heiress courted the poor young farmer with THE GOLDEN GLOVE and ROD explained how the ROCKET MAN was lonely out in space, a no brainer really. Next GED was out on the railroad for A DOLLAR A DAY as COLIN told us how he co-wrote LANDSCAPE FIGURES with his friend who sadly died recently before DAVID gave us his take on the SHIFTING WHISPERING SANDS. Back for a second JO lamented MY LONELY SON before BANJO JOHN whooped it up with JOHNNY B GOODE and LES & JOHN both said I WISH I WAS IN NEW ORLEANS. Rising to the interval break PETE started with the story of the GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY as GED reckoned he would FLIP, FLOP AND FLY when COLIN said he would tell us a GHOST story.

In the raffle Jude took the wine, Anne got the Road Atlas before Jackie won the chocolates and passed them round leaving CARL to direct us FROM THE ARMOURY TO THE CROWN and COLIN claiming ANYWHERE'S A BETTER PLACE TO BE (Harry Chapin). Poet MARK then celebrated the cave paintings in Lescaux with BULLS as TONY celebrated getting BACK FROM LONDON with his own tune on the banjo and ALAN returned with SALLY FREE AND EASY. With one from the Who, ROD sang us MAMA'S GOT A SQUEEZEBOX as more traditionally CHARLES related THE GYPSY DAVY and JIM & LYN did the same with MUIRSHEEN DURKIN as did MERDY with BLACK JACK DAVY. On the other hand JUDE was bang up to date with AUNT MARIA by Steve Knightley as PETE set about it with BEAT THE DRUM and MARK was tracing his family tree to lace makers with his own SARAH'S LAMENT. Building up to a big finish GED kindly kicked off with the LAST MINSTREL SHOW which got its own round of applause and LES & JOHN kicked on with PARADISE (John Prine) and TAMP IT UP SOLID so it don't fall out, a mining song. This left COLIN to give us another of his best songs MR BOJANGLES and DON & HEATHER to thank everyone concerned and quietly suggest we all STEAL AWAY.

Newsletter No 237 23 July 2013 

Hosts Mark & Jan invited RUTH, KATH & STAN to open with MOONSHADOW as the room filled almost to capacity. On early CARL told the story of the blind pit ponies in GALLOWAYS before MARK sang a new song WHOEVER CHOSE followed by JAN with MOLLIANNWN. Then MERDY was picking bottles of rum from every tree in FIDDLER’S GREEN as BANJO JOHN got those BEALE STREET BLUES leaving DAVE HOWARD with the BALLAD OF LOVE AND HATE. Metaphorically DON & HEATHER were then KNEE DEEP IN A RIVER which ROBIN thought was KILLING ME SOFTLY while ROB was still COURTING TOO SLOW. A welcome visit from HEATHER McNEILL had us all singing CALEDONIA and no wonder JAN commented SHE WILL BE LOVED just before KATHIE played SI BEAG SI MOR. Obviously ROD thought this was a bit of a REVOLUTION but JOAN just said QUE SERA SERA and PAUL had those HESITATION BLUES. Visitor IAN INNES plugged in a tiny amplifier for his solo DON’T KNOW WHERE (Norah Jones) just as PETE took the LAST TRAIN AND RIDE and ED confessed I’VE STARTED LEARNING TO PLAY THE GUITAR. This all gave KAMRAN the DEAD SHRIMP BLUES as JOHN CONDY stomped on TOM PAINE’S BONES being watched by BANJO JOHN who was LEANING ON THE LAMPOST.

Trying to avoid his screaming fans ED kicked off the second half with SHE IS WOMAN and SAM dropped in for JOHNNY B GOODE just as ROD opened up his SQUEEZEBOX. Artistically DAVE HOWARD told us about VINCENT and from WW2 CARL was in the cemetery saying HELLO HANS as JAN gave us a blues version of LAYLA. Coming back IAN INNES asked us to STAY CLOSE TO ME, Tommy Emmanuel inspired, as KATH, RUTH & STAN cheekily dedicated NAUGHTY BABY to the new baby, Jillian and Dolan Daniell's new grandchild!?! At the other end of the scale PETE made the nice observation KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR but ROB was more rustic with the RAWTENSTALL ANNUAL FAIR as HEATHER McNEILL chased after THE WHITE COCKADE. Next MERDY explained why there can never be two captains in THE BELLE BALLERINA OF THE BAY followed by PAUL telling us what MAMA DON’T ALLOW which had KATHIE with KAMRAN assistance declaring I'm GOING BACK HOME. Heading to a big finish on this bumper night JOHN had THE WHOLE NIGHT SKY to go at but  DON & HEATHER went for the SPANISH BURGUNDY while JAN & MARK ended the evening ROLLING MY SWEET BABY’S ARMS and why not? 

Newsletter No 236 16 July 2013

Still hot outside and with a great bunch of people even hotter inside. KAMRAN & PETE did a brilliant job hosting a perfect evening of music, song and verse with loads of craic. 

PETE kicked off in the RABBIT HILLS while JIM & LYNN were in the COTTON FIELDS helping PAUL to look for a TWO DOLLAR BILL. After a hard day in the fields ROB was ROLLING HOME with BRIAN clearly understanding his FEELINGS and MERDY reckoning it was all part of life's rich pattern with MAY THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN. However, JO was off to the CURRAGH OF KILDARE and MIKE was somewhere in CALEDONIA while DON & HEATHER were chilled out with LET YOUR BANJO RING as was BARRY who was saying JUST WALK ON BY. KAMRAN was then extolling the virtues of FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS while TONY was off to the LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN followed by GED on the MIDNIGHT SPECIAL and KATHIE expressed her liking for JELLY ROLL. On a serious note ED related the perfidy of the Management in THE GRESFORD DISASTER while JAN idealised the life of the FACTORY GIRL and PETE claimed that it was different DOWN WHERE THE DRUNKARDS ROLL. Pretty soon MERDY had REASON TO BELIEVE that JO was soon to hit THE OLD ROAD and leave for home at the interval which was upon us.

A grand raffle saw Jackie win the New Map Book of the UK & Ireland, Heather take the wine home to Derrick, Martin collect the roses for Hilary and Vic win the Sangria before KAMRAN played us a great instrumental DARK WAS THE NIGHT COLD WAS THE GROUND. MARK, the poet who hadn't been for ages, then delighted us with the philosophical poem OUR THOUGHTS ARE FREE but JAN & KATHIE were off ROLLING IN THE DEW and TONY went all political with YOU AIN'T DONE NOTHING IF YOU AIN'T BEEN CALLED A RED. Next JIM & LYNN started off a bout of chorusing with RING OF FIRE followed by BRIAN with DELILAH and ROB with THE OLD PUBS but GED soon put a stop that jollification with EASY IS GETTING HARDER from our favourite Iris DeMent. This made PAUL get out the KEY TO THE HIGHWAY and DON & HEATHER to recall WHEN I WAS A COWBOY OUT ON THE WESTERN PLAINS and for some reason ED to remember a beach incident with the FAT LADY'S BUM. Again serious MIKE took us back to ELLIS ISLAND - Phil Coulter's BALLAD OF ANNIE MOORE who was the first Irish immigrant to the US processed there and MERDY reminded us in another way of the American approach to things with MR PEABODY'S COAL TRAIN as did JIM & LYNN with the FOLSOM PRISON BLUES. Closer to home Poet MARK gave us his thoughts of Manchester's Central Reference Library with CHERRY ON THE TOP but TONY insisted he was going to RIDE ON before GED announced that he had JESUS ON THE MAINLINE. Undeterred PAUL celebrated the racehorse STEWBALL as DON & HEATHER reminisced about the RARE OLD TIMES and KAMRAN went off in a DREAM and MIKE was off with the WILD COLONIAL BOY to round off a brilliant evening.

Newsletter No 235 9 July 2013  

We knew it was hot outside when we came in but surprisingly it became even hotter on the inside as lots of highly talented people came to perform in front of our great audience. With some new faces and many occasional visitors it was an excellent mix given a quick stir by DON & HEATHER with the requested STREETS OF LONDON and another twist by JIM & LYNN who introduced us to THE SPANISH LADY. In the CLOUDS were JAN & MARK as PAUL revved up his WHEELS ON FIRE and KATH & STAN were WATERBOUND. IF WISHES WERE FISHES was CARL'S reply as Dave MATHER & Pete ROBINSON from Salford City Radio responded with their excellent BORN & BRED before JOHN CONDY scared the life out of us with THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD. There was then a big welcome back for JONATHAN BEECH who, as usual, surprised us with YOUR SWANKY FLAGGED UP CAR (full of stickers) WON'T GET YOU INTO HEAVEN ANYMORE was followed by JOAN'S equally interesting story of her weekend trip to see THE ROLLING STONES and cheeking her way into a front seat and staying the night in an en suite Homeless Hostal?? Good on yer Joan! This prompted HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS from CHARLES and AT THE END OF THE DAY as JOZEPH, aptly put it, which left JEAN FINNEY saying I'M CONFUSED. To complete the circle ARTHUR MARSHALL sang his own romantic COLD WIND FROM THE NORTH would blow warm: the opposite of hell would freeze over, leaving JIM & LYNN to start a second lap with A MON LIKE THEE followed by MATHER & ROBINSON with another home made WHEN OUR SHIP COMES SAILING IN and DON & HEATHER with THE SPEED OF THE SOUND OF LONLINESS to take us to the interval.

In a hectic Raffle Barry was first out with the wine, Jan was a close second for the Shortbreads, Vic snook in third for the Toblerones and Ann was last but not least for the Dark Chocolate Bar before MATHER & ROBINSON were forced to sing THE LONG GOODNIGHT as Pete had to go to pick his wife up in town. Back again with us NORMAN came next with two to catch up, first THE TRICKY QUESTION OF BEDDING A GIRL & second THE GOOSEBERRY TREE before JONATHAN returned with another John Prine song HELLO IN THERE and JOHN & CARL combined to take us through THE NORTH WEST PASSAGE. Obviously to CARL it was a SUMMER BREEZE but for KATH & STAN it was more like 900 MILES as CHARLES insisted we should SAY HELLO AND WAVE GOODBYE but either way PAUL had those SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES so it fortunate that JAN & MARK had lots of LOVE AND HAPPINESS. A history lesson came next from JEAN who explained the execution background to ORANGES AND LEMONS but for JOZEPH it was enough YOU BROKE MY ACHING HEART and for ARTHUR heading for his narrow boat trip his thoughts were on THE NIGHTINGALE. 

Coming into the final straight JIM & LYNN sang I'M AN ORDINARY MAN before JONATHAN drove us all instrumental with his WINDY AND WARM and KATH & STAN were still chasing that BANJO PICKIN' GIRL. Picking up the pace JOHN & CARL pinched the Beatles great version of NORWEGIAN WOOD while JOZEPH insisted we DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY before ARTHUR put us all to bed with his brilliant FENCES and a fabulous evening came from nowhere and blew us all away. 

Newsletter No 234 2 July 2013 

Another great mix of old and new faces all sporting loads of talent before an equally excellent audience. Opening with old favourite DON & HEATHER reminded us of the tragic life of MARILYN MONROE before ROB shot off on the GREY FUNNEL LINE and JIM & LYNN rushed off crying I'LL TELL MY MA. Next DAVID from Rochdale related the story of GEORDIE with KAMRAN having the CANDY MAN BLUES which prompted PAUL to come up with WALKING MAN also inspired by hearing Seasick Steve at Glastonbury. In response PETE offered up his own LOVE SONG whereas JAN turned to Sam Sparrow's BLACK AND GOLD as DOREEN went into her garden and confessed of all her plants, I JUST CAN'T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES. In response to Jan's artistry we then turned to EDDIE, another man who plays all the right notes in the right order, and he rolled out THE SAILOR'S HORNPIPE and two others in fine style followed by POET DAVID who was wildly requested to do his DEAD DOG SCRUMPY all of which left JANICE admitting I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR. We certainly had found what we were hoping for when we saw MICK HARE walk into the room and when he sang WAITING HERE FOR EVERYMAN it brought the house down. CHARLES then told us of when I DREW MY SHIP ACROSS THE HARBOUR and MIKE COSGRAVE conducted an experiment with new song ROOTS by Steve Knightley before KEN sang Don McLean's O MY WHAT A SHAME. Heading in to the interval ARTHUR had us in tucks with POLONIUS THE BADGER as did ED with Les Barkers story of THE THREE BEARS before DON & HEATHER had everyone singing with the DIAMANTINA DROVER.

In the raffle Alan won the wine, Ken took the chocolates and Doreen walked away with the biscuits before MIKE had us back in tune with THE CURRAGH OF KILDARE. For KEN it felt like THE WEEK BEFORE EASTER but for CHARLES it was like CLOSING TIME (Leonard Cohen) as EDDIE took flight with some O'CAROLAN TUNES, SI BHEAG SI MHOR and two more. Next PETE gave us the punchy HEY JOE, what you gonna do with that gun in your hand, before JANICE with MICK told us about THE DARK EYED SAILOR and PAUL said the sky's the limit WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS and the same was true for DOREEN about the Cornwall she talked of in OCEANS. Seafarer ROB then related the tale of the ELLEN VANNIN as KAMRAN confessed he was GOING TO BROWNSVILLE and JIM & LYNN were off on THE IRISH ROVER. More traditionally DAVID was away with THE HIGHWAYMAN as ARTHUR unsheathed his concertina for MRS McGARRITY'S LAST DANCE and JANICE & MICK were HOME AGAIN. This reminded JAN that WHEREVER I HANG MY HAT THAT'S WHERE I CALL HOME and PAUL wished us all the best with MAY THE ROAD RISE UP TO MEET YOU as JIM & LYNN chased after THE MOUNTAIN DEW. Returning DAVID then sang Janis Ian's best song AT SEVENTEEN which nicely set up MIKE to lead us to the door with THE RARE OULD TIMES. Mega.

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