It's a sobering thought that the first song I ever sang fronting a band was John Lee Hooker's "Dimples," and the last song I sang, fronting one of the many collaborative sessions at The Anker Inn Blues Sessions,43 years later,was the same song. I don't suppose our paths will ever cross again now, which is a shame. I loved this venue and the musicians I shared a stage with there. Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter.Through heatwaves,Beasts from The East and falling leaves we made our way there. As an audience member or backed on stage by some fine musicians,the Anker Jamm Blues nights were just bloody good FUN!
Yeah. I know. FUN! In a small Tory-returning provincial town with airs above its station and a serious apathy problem. Not supposed to happen,beyond your four walls, is it? Fun is something you have watching Premiership Football on your Sky T.V. Or gawping at some X Men crap on your iPhone. Nibbling your Kentucky Fried Chicken or Chinese Takeaway.
Or noodling secretively away on one of your very expensive imported mail order guitars at home whilst singing into your hairbrush-that's FUN,yeah? Not enjoying real "live" music played with fire and passion in a pub. Surrounded by other,living breathing people. No holograms,no transiently flickering images on an HD screen. Just raw energy and a good laugh.
I met John Lee,briefly,once. Shared a cup of coffee with him. All I learned was that regardless of skin colour, if you don't have The Hurt, you can't sing The Blues. Not even worth trying. Apparently he told this to everyone he met and its quoted in all his biographies. But he was absolutely right. You can't sing or play the Blues unless you've known grief,hunger,sorrow,longing,oppression or all of those things.
Which is perhaps why dwindling audiences and a virtual boycott by musicians has finally closed the Blues Jamm. I'm going to miss it. Which is selfish,I know. I met some really good people there,and a whale of a time. So all kudos to those who DID try to support it, and Yah! Boo! to those who gave it a wide berth,presumably intent on maintaining their precious egos and fragile reputations.
So step forward Michael Luntley,John Kearney, Anne and John Harris,Lesley Wilson,Flossy McDougal,Paul Moore Peter McParland,Angus Ellis,Jon Harrington, Simon and Sally Anne Veasey, Greg Daffern, Dr Bennett,Dan Gascoigne, Tom Young ,Miles Walker,Rob Oakey, Wes Hall,Max and Chris Wright et al. Plus the few people who just turned up like The Lone Ranger, had a busk and then slipped away again into the night. You at least, gave it a go. And if I missed anyone out,apologies. I lost a good friend tonight and the grieving is distracting me. Message me privately and I'll add you to The Roll of Honour.
This excellent venue,in a pleasant town pub, serving decent beer, survived several management changes. All those in charge did their level best to create a welcoming atmosphere and to support Live music. The stage was fab,the acoustics were great,the P.A. was splendid,and what audiences we pulled in were knowledgeable and enthusiastic.Now it's gone the rest of you can go away and drool over your Bellowhead albums. Or put your Ed Sheeran collection into alphabetical order on Tuesday nights. Or write swingeing "Dear Sir" letters to post on Facebook or Folk 21.
It goes without saying that the October 2018 gig there featuring Drunc Monkey is cancelled.But there is a legacy which we owe to The Blues Jamm at The Anker. For had we not all jammed and improvised and larked about together,then the band would not have morphed from that little wooden stage to become a half-decent band, way beyond Nuneaton's sunny shores.