As we all congregated in the Conservatory of Eyre Court we were welcomed by Adrian our MC for the night. Gerry was kept busy taking down the names of performers as they arrived and also helped with the photos. So many thanks to them both for a job well done.
Mike and Adrian started the night off. Mike was battling with his finger that was rather swollen from doing too much gardening. Their first number was an Alan Taylor number called ‘Banjo Man’. Allan ‘Spud’ Taylor, was born in Brighton in 1945 and was an electrician at racetracks in Brighton and elsewhere, he began playing as an amateur in pubs and folk clubs in the city. We agree with the words in the song “Good to know he’s (they’re) a friend on mine!” They went on to sing an early recording of ’16th Avenue’. The song was written by Thom Schuyler, and recorded by American country music artist Lacy J. Dalton. It was released in September 1982 as the second single and title track from the album 16th Avenue. Thom Schuyler said that after he wrote the song, he considered it “too much of an ‘industry’ kind of song” and had it filed away until a publisher asked if he had any new material. A song plugger then took it to producer Billy Sherrill, who produced Dalton’s recording of it.
Next to perform was Steve, a favourite of all. As we have quite a few Steve’s, we call him ‘Squeeze Box Steve’, as he plays a concertina. ‘Jim Jones at Botany Bay’ was the number with which he started. It is a traditional Australian folk ballad dating from the early 19th-century. The narrator, Jim Jones, is found guilty of poaching and sentenced to transportation to the penal colony of New South Wales. En route, his ship is attacked by pirates, but the crew holds them off. When the narrator remarks that he would rather have joined the pirates or indeed drowned at sea than gone to Botany Bay, he is reminded by his captors that any mischief will be met with the whip. In the final verse, Jones describes the daily drudgery and degradation of life as a convict in Australia, and dreams of joining the bush rangers, (escaped convicts turned outlaws) and taking revenge on his floggers. Steve’s second song was ‘New York Girls’. This song is by Gaelic Storm and appears on the album Tree (2001)
Next was another Steve with his guitar. He started off with an Ian Hunter number, called ‘Irene Wilde’,This song was inspired by an event that happened when Hunter was 16. At this tender age he was rejected by a girl at Barker Street bus station in his hometown of Shrewsbury. He said his rise to stardom was inspired by this rejection. Then he did the James Taylor version of ‘You’ve Got A Friend’. It was originally written and recorded by Carole King in 1971. The same year, James Taylor released it. It won Grammy Awards for both King and Taylor. Dozens of other artists have recorded the song over the years, including Dusty Springfield and Michael Jackson.Taylor’s version was released as a single, and reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. The James Taylor version also spent one week at the top of the Easy Listening charts. James Taylor and Carole King performed “You’ve Got a Friend” together in 2010 during their Troubadour Reunion Tour. In 2015, Taylor performed an acoustic rendition of the song at Hótel de Ville, Paris, at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, in tribute to the victims of the January 2015 Íle-de-France attacks.
We were very happy then to welcome Doreen who started off with one of Maurice’s favourites called ‘Bring Him Home’ a song from the musical Les Misérables. The song is sung when Valjean is standing over Marius at the barricade. It is a prayer with the lyrics “God on high, hear my prayer. In my need, you have always been there”. Her second song was called ‘On A Clear Day’. The song is also known as On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and is a musical with melody by Burton Lane, and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. These lyrics were based loosely on ‘Berkeley Square’, written in 1929 by John L. Balderston. This concerns a woman who has ESP and has been reincarnated! The musical received three Tony Award nominations. The Broadway production opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 17, 1965 and closed on June 11, 1966 after 280 performances and 3 previews.
Then came Fran who is a very talented flautist. Often during the evening you can hear Fran playing in the background and it is really lovely to hear her harmonising with the others. We learnt that Fran was a hang glider for 16 years, and has been a glider pilot for a further 16 years. We will miss seeing her for the next two months as she is going gliding on the continent. She had us mesmerised with ‘Annie’s Song’, (also known as ‘You Fill Up My Senses’) This was written as an ode to John Denver’s wife at the time, Annie Denver. Denver “wrote this song in July 1973 in about ten-and-a-half minutes one day on a ski lift to the top of Ajax Mountain in Aspen, Colorado, as the physical exhilaration of having “just skied down a very difficult run” and the feeling of total immersion in the beauty of the colors and sounds that filled all senses inspired him to think about his wife. Annie Denver recalls the beginnings: “It was written after John and I had gone through a pretty intense time together and things were pretty good for us. He left to go skiing and he got on the Ajax chair on Aspen mountain and the song just came to him. He skied down and came home and wrote it down… Initially it was a love song and it was given to me through him, and yet for him it became a bit like a prayer.”
Adrian then introduced Andrew and June who he said were better known as ‘The Amycrofters’. They started off with a song entitled ‘Falling In Love’. It was performed by Norman Wisdom in an episode of ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’. They had recorded a lot of material on TV as Andrew was going to have surgery on his feet. They knew he would be sitting with his feet in the air while recovering, and as this happened to be one of the recordings, it was possible for them to learn it. Norman Wisdom was playing Mr Ingleton, and he was introduced by Miss Davenport, the librarian in the series. It was well done and very funny. As it was Easter, June thought the next song would be very appropriate. They had first heard it at a folk session in Bridport where Val and Dave go. It was called ‘Passing Through’. The first verse has the following lyrics:- “I saw Jesus on the cross on a hill called Calvary, “Do you hate mankind for what they’ve done to you?” He said, “Talk of love not hate, things to do, it’s getting late, I’ve so little time and I’m only passing through.”
Then it was nice to welcome Richard. He had a hybrid octave mandolin. He played ‘Cronin’s Hornpipe’. He was then joined by Steve on violin, and they played ‘The Red Haired Boy’. This goes back to a Scottish tune called Gilderoy. According to Samuel Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife), Gilderoy takes its name from a very popular song in the 18th century about a Scottish outlaw named McGreggor, and nicknamed Giolla Ruadh which means red-haired lad, who was executed in 1636. So the roots of the tune are definitely older than the Civil War. The melody of Gilderoy is very close to that which we now play and call the Red Haired Boy. Then Richard did a song called ‘Mist Covered Mountain’. This is a traditional song and therefore has no particular artist association. It is believed to have originated in Scottland.
Simone very kindly emailed me a copy of the poem she wrote and recited last week. It was called ‘Beach’.
There was a beach that we once knew, I want to say hello to you
To build a fire amongst the waves, explore those secret deep dark caves
Inspire our minds in Golden Sand, crunch the pebbles hand in hand
Climb the cliff to gather flowers, while away our youthful hours
Where we have a seagull view, watch the sails on sea so blue
Kiss our dreams into the skies, on our beach where love lure lies . . . As always “Well done Simone”.
Madelaina has just arrived in Seaton and on the spur of the moment stood up and did a poem called ‘O To Be In England, Now That April’s Here’. This is also known as ‘Home Thoughts, from Abroad’ and was written by Robert Browning in 1845 while Browning was on a visit to Northern Italy. It was first published in his ‘Dramatic Romances and Lyrics’.
Steve Walker said he can’t sing so he played tunes on his violin. First off was ‘A Lament’. According to Wikipedi, a lament or lamentation is a passionate expression of grief, often in music, poetry, or song form. The grief is most often born of regret, or mourning. Laments can also be expressed in a verbal manner, where the participant would lament about something they regret or someone they’ve lost, usually accompanied by wailing, moaning and/or crying. Laments constitute some of the oldest forms of writing and examples are present across human cultures. Next he did very lively versions of ‘Pipe March’ and ‘Barren Rocks Of Aden’ on the violin. We were able to play along with him. Thank you for your music.
Nick said he was only going to do the one number and sang ‘Woodstock’. He said there were many versions of this song but he had rearranged them to
come up with his own version. The first verse of the song goes like this:-
‘Well I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road
And I asked him tell me where are you going, this he told me:
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock and roll band.
Got to get back to the land, and set my soul free.
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden’.
Then came our own Mr Jurassic Folk in the form of Peter Arnold. Peter always comes out tops with whatever he sings and plays. He had dug out an old one called ‘The Two Magicians’. Peter explained that the words in this song were about a lusty blacksmith, and not a rusty blacksmith! The chorus was a sing-a-long which had the following lyrics:- And he said, “Bide, lady bide, There’s nowhere you can hide. For the lusty smith will be your love, And he will lay your pride.” The second song was well known and called ‘A Daisy A Day’. It was a song written and performed by Jud Strunk and The Mike Curb Congregation. It reached nuber 4 on the US. adult contemporary chart and 33 on the US country chart in 1973. Thank you Peter. We always love to hear you performing.
Piano Pam was next to show off her talents on keyboard and as a singer. What talents this lady has. She started off with an Art Garfunkel song called ‘Bright Eyes’ from the film Watership Down. Written by Mike Batt for Watership Down. At the request of director Martin Rosen the song relates to the transition from life to death. This is highlighted by Hazel, a rabbit character in the film, when she was wounded by a farmer’s gun. At the end of the short animal life-span, Hazel departs his body and enters a spirit world. Next Pam performed ‘Those Were The Day’s’. She chose the Mary Hopkin’s 1968 version of the Russian folk song. This was produced by Paul McCartney, and became a number one hit on the UK singles chart. It is a well known song, so again, we could all join in.
Adrian asked Doreen and Pam to do an item to bring us up to our interval. They chose ‘Amazing Grace’, a Christian hymn, published in 1779, with words written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed into service in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel off the coast of County Donegal, Ireland, so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. He continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.
Adrian and Mike started the second half with ‘Wagon Wheel’
This was followed by Rob who had sneaked in rather late. His first song was ‘Garden Girl’. This song is asking how a girl (who had a bird sitting on her for hours,) could hold the bird so long. The answer is of course that she was a statue! Next was a number called ‘Outward Bound’. The words and music were written by Tom Paxton. He said it was inspired by the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the sadness and sense of loss that he felt.
Steve Walker did a lively medley on his violin. ‘Farewell To Whiskey’ by Neil Gow, was followed by ‘Atholl Highlanders’.
Steve ‘Squeeze Box’ did a Cecil Sharp number called ‘Rebel Soldier’.
Nick did an Elton John number that we all knew called ‘Candle In The Wind’.
Richard picked up his banjo and was accompanied by Nick on guitar. They did ‘Father Kelly’ followed by ‘Out On The Ocean’.
Adrian then asked Andrew and June to complete the evening with something in which we could all join. They played a medley of well known jigs.
So ended another entertaining evening at the Eyre Court Hotel. Thank you to all those who came through the door, whether you performed or were part of the audience. Without you all, we could not keep this evening going. There are many of us that look forward to the first and third Wednesdays in the month, which is when we meet. So our next meeting will be on May the 3rd. Andrew and June will be the MC’s to welcome you all.