Friday, 30 May 2014

Three Gig week.

     Three appearances this week, and hoping to make Sly Old Dogs this Sunday. Without rehearsals or band bookings, it's essential for me to keep the old pipes and tubes operational. "Use it or Lose It," as they say. I've sung eleven songs, and only one was a Black Parrot Seaside one. And even that wasn't one I wrote. That's definitely some kind of personal first.
     On Monday I sampled Acoustic Night at The Fox in Attleborough, Nuneaton, for the first time. It is a pub I know well, but not one I've sung in before. An informal set up, with musicians sitting in a (kind of ) circle, up one end of a huge lounge, and taking it in turns to perform.  I already knew John Neal, and my distant Cousins Tom and Simon Veasey. But as the others there did not all introduce themselves,  I cannot give them all a name check.  Which is a pity, as some of them were really good musicians!
    Although the only unaccompanied musician there, I was invited to do four songs.  I had NO  problems whatsoever with complying!   I did "All Over Now, " "If I had Possession," "Jesus On The Mainline, " and "Need Your Love So Bad."  The assembled company gave me some spirited accompaniment, with steel guitar, 12 and six string guitars, banjo, mandolin, acoustic bass and various blues harps, it sounded pretty good.
     On Wednesday, fellow Parrot Arnie joined me for a floor spot at a Bedworth Folk Club Fund-raiser in the Rugby Clubhouse. Gren Morris and Sam Stephens were the main act there. I enjoyed them. They were very different.
    Arnie and I opened with " If I had Possession," as we both really enjoying belting this Robert Johnson song out. Semi-Parrot Malc Gurnham joined us, and it went along with some welly. We followed with "Peggy Gordon" -our own arrangement, which nearly always catches out audiences who want to sing the original version. We finished with "Albert Balls," dedicating it to Tracy Emin and that lovely bed piece she's selling for God knows how many millions. I'm afraid...I'm not going to bid. Even if it starts at 10p.Phil Benson sneaked a cndid snap. 
I'm not losing my patience with Arnie. I'm helping the audience with the Chorus to "Albert Balls."
    Malc and Gil hosted and sang several songs in each half. "Blackleg Miner". and "Over the Lancashire Plain,"  for example. Other artistes on included John Kearney, Dave Webb and that oldest swinger, Joe Roberts. And I won yet more deodorant in the raffle. Good job I like Lynx. 
     Last night I made a late decision to go to a Singaround at Coventry's Tump Folk Club. I was just psyching myself up for another bash at the lovely Rod Felton song "Curly" when in walked Rob  Armstrong, Roddie's erstwhile partner in The New Modern Idiot Grunt Band. No pressure there then!  I still went for it, but got my verses mixed up a little. It is such a beautiful song, but it's bloody hard to sing, and I'm damn sure it's even more difficult to play along to/with. Rob gave me a (literal) pat on the back afterwards and added "Well done mate." That meant an awful lot to me, as I persevere with this very personal challenge.
    As The Bold Parrot Blog readers will know, besides losing Roddie, we've also recently lost a Founder Parrot, Graham Caldicott. So I next sang his excellent song about Night Ladies in Coventry "Dirty Gertie. ". It's one we've done  as  a band all over the Midlands, along with his other songs, "Vacuum Cleaner " and "The Blueland Boy."  Emotional for a few of us, as there were people there who once knew Garsi as he liked to be called sometimes. Or who had seen him performing with us.
   Later in the second half,  "Hairy Folker," Nigel Ward, who was sitting next to me, set me up a treat with the perfect link. He played a couple of tunes about Hares. It would have been churlish then, not to have revived an old BPS stalwart "The Bonny Black Hare." So I did. As I'm fond of the loppy- eared chaps. 
Amos, Amon and a snap of their hero.
     My final song was "On Raglan Road." Things were getting very wistful,and it seemed to suit the mood.
    Nigel and Rob did a foot-tapping duet before Nigel added some more jigs reels and tunes including his own," Jabet's Ash."   Rob was on tip-top form:both his singing and playing were as good as ever. I especially liked his version of " San Francisco Bay," and the Springfield's "Island of Dreams,"  moodily growled out. Colin Squire was in a mellow mood, too. He seemed in a fairly nautical vein but also gave us a spirited version of "Nancy Whisky." (See what I did there?)  Sheila Rigg sang a couple of lovely songs-"Let No Man Steal Your Time " was my favourite.        
     Elsewhere, it was mostly first names only. Another Colin took us (as he often does) through a variety of Irish/Scottish tunes-but he also gave us a new slant on "Casey Jones," Still about the doomed engine driver, but not the famous song-a different one. Cheryl  never shies away from a challenge, and she included " Need Your Love So Bad," (a really different interpretation to ours,  and that lovely piece "Ashokan Farewell" in her contribution. that's a tune  which I rarely hear played on a guitar. Christine gave us tuneful performances of "Scarborough Fair,"  and "Last Thing On My Mind."  John The Growler warbled a few atmospheric pieces including "Strange Fruit" and "It Ain't Necessarily So".  I won the raffle again-a bottle of red wine which will go well with tomorrow's home-made Spaghetti. Bolognaise. So we'll draw a veil over the couple who strayed in, and then made a none too unobtrusive departure glaringly obvious, as they decided this fine, eclectic diversity of music was not for them. Philistines.