Once again, a memorable evening at The Bell. Monks Kirby yesterday, with some fine musical performances from Sly Old Dogs and Friends and the usual robust chorus singing. With the added bonus of a belly-busting platter of sausages and roast potatoes provided for the audience by mine host and Spoon player extraordinaire, Paco. I'll miss him and the Family when he finally retires!
I had thought that with it being a long weekend, and some performers being at Shrewsbury Festival, it might have been a quieter than usual night. How wrong I was. Usually, as I drive to and from my village to The Monk, across Warwickshire's tortuous and deserted Northern Corniche, I meet only a moth and the occasional rabbit. En route last night, I met not only one, but TWO oncoming vehicles. In this part of Warwickshire, that is virtually a traffic jam.
Inside, the room was gratifyingly full. I could see that Colin, Martyn and Richard were missing from the Sly Old Dogs usual line-up, but the incomparable Dublin Legend Mr. Sean Cannon was already settled. Later my Soul Buddy John Kearney would arrive, and added to the SODs strongly traditional repertoire, this would lend an undeniably Irish theme to events as the night unfolded.
As well as the usual regulars, I got talking to a friendly crowd of young folk who had driven all the way over from Leicester and Loughborough to sample the hospitality there.They were most impressed. One of them has already joined Nuneaton Folk Club's Facebook Page, hungry for more, and they will definitely be returning to MK. They liked the eclectic cross-section of music and the free cuisine. ( I'd already been out for a Family Nosh-up at Turpins, on the A444, so had no more room for not even one sausage. Bloody typical!).
Sean was Sean, and as well as singing a few tear jerkers about the Old Country, he took us down on The Bayou with Jambilyah, and to Spain, with a song which had Paco and quite a few audience members singing along emotionally, as if their Tortillas were leaking, or their Chaps were giving them gyp.
|Sean Cannon on a shirt and with a fan at Monks Kirby last night.|
The Dogs were in fine fettle, other than the joke telling, which elicited the usual audience groans. One of the ones John Mac told was surely handed on to him by the builders at Stonehenge? Paul Kelly and Bob Brooker treated us to both self penned and traditional songs, and I particularly liked Nigel Ward's instrumental segue of "Dawn Chorus/Jabet's Ash."
John Kearney got everyone joining in with his inimitable version of "Downtown", and the "Irish Gospel"(!!) song he often starts his own solo set with-" Come Lay Your Burden Down." Cheryl took us off to Marrakesh on the express, and bravely included a long instrumental during which you could have heard a plectrum drop.
Pete Willow kindly gave me the slot after Sean each time round, so no pressure there,then. I hurriedly dropped the plan to give "When I Get To The Border," a first airing, and did "John Ball" and " Shine On" instead. (Good call). For my third contribution, fellow Mac Awe John Kearney joined me, in a MoT set favourite " All Over Now." Given the strong Celtic flavour which was emerging, I introduced it as a Bobby O'Womack song.
There were several highlights, but for me, The Sly Old Dog's ribald and increasingly frantic version of "Whiskey In The Jar" was probably the most memorable one. It just got faster and faster. The tables were pounding, and Paco was beginning to struggle with keeping up on Spoons, as Pete and JK's fingers became a veritable blur. When the Sods are in this kind of mood, they really are...Top Dog. Live music, well sung and expertly performed on a Sunday evening, with a large and well-fed audience. You can't beat it.