Music related postings

Gary Edward Jones

It was just four weeks ago we were last at the Black Park Chapel, on that occasion, to see Henry Priestman.

The support that night was by Elfin Bow, a brand new Liverpool band led by Elizabeth Anne Jones.

She’s a busy lady, that Elizabeth, for tonight she was back at this lovely new music venue at Halton near Chirk, to provide the backing vocals for her husband, Gary Edward Jones.

20160521-0901Gary is an accomplished musician and producer whose first album, The Cabinet Maker spent many weeks last year at the top of the Radio Caroline charts and receiving rave reviews left, right and centre.

His second album is currently in the making and it was good to be able to preview some of his new material as it comes together, in the knowledge that some of the new songs we heard will be destined to appear on the CD.

What I can reveal is, we are in for a treat. One of the great things about independent artists such as Gary is that they are not obliged to jump to the tune of a record company’s money moguls. How often in the past have we anxiously awaited a follow-up album from a well known singer only to find it is little more than a reworking of the first. Sound-alike songs whose sole purpose is to perpetuate the knee-jerk sales whilst that particular artist is flavour of the month.

20160521-0845Gary’s new songs, on the other hand, are fresh. They are pushing the boundaries. They are forming an exciting creative journey for Gary and promising many great new musical treats for his fans and followers.

It takes brave man to do this. I recalled that it was exactly 5o years ago this weekend, that Bob Dylan endured the shouts of “Judas” from a Manchester audience when he “went electric” for the first time. There were no such shouts at Chirk as Gary swapped his vintage Martin D35 acoustic to wow us with a completely new sound on the Fender Telecaster.

One of the songs we heard was a composition from twenty odd years ago, entitled “Mother”, reworked and brought bang up to date.  Another was a song that he had written literally the previous day. It was called “Kiss Me Goodbye” and the polished performance following next to zero rehearsal time, was a testament not only to Gary’s musicianship, but to that of his brilliant bassist Oscar South and his nimble fingered keyboard player Jack Becall too.

And throughout the show, Elizabeth’s contribution went far beyond providing the backing vocals as she took variously to the violin, mandolin and xylophone.20160521-0882

Rhiannon Scutt

20160521-0841The evening had begun with a fabulous set by the support act, in the form of Rhiannon Scutt. This was a class act; a real ‘sit up and listen’ act.

The freelance musician from South Yorkshire had the audience captivated right from start to finish with her beautiful voice and quite unique guitar technique.

The first three songs confirmed her skills as a song-writer, my favourite being “When She’s Free” which was one of the songs that had featured on Mark Holdsworth’s floating music venture, The Narrowboat Sessions.

20160521-0836Her seven song set featured a fine mixture of songs, some of which she wrote as part of the accomplished duo “Rita Payne“. And when asked to do one more, she delivered a lovely cover of Damian Rice’s “Trusty and True”.

Rhiannon is a singer/songwriter to look out for and is well deserving of a headline spot of her own. Let’s hope she ventures over the Pennines again very soon.



By |May 23rd, 2016|0 Comments

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Henry Priestman and Elfin Bow at the Black Park Chapel

20160415-0105H.P. sauce was on the menu last night. Sauce, banter, gags, giggles …oh yes, and some belting music too!

All this was served up by Henry Priestman and Les Glover at the very first gig to be held at the newly refurbished Black Park Chapel in Halton near Chirk, a community driven project with the aim of protecting our heritage and encouraging expression, confidence and creativity through music.

20160415-0111Since leaving Merseyside band, The Christians, Henry has forged himself a solo career playing venues all over the country, from Festivals to Folk Clubs, grand Theatres to humble House Gigs. Tonight he was performing with trusty sidekick Les Glover. They make a great double act, music’s answer to Morecambe and Wise. And yes they did “bring me sunshine” on a dank cold evening. Highly entertaining, with lots of laughs between the songs as they ribbed, teased and bounced off one another.

20160415-0078But if H.P. and Loved-up Les were the main course, we were served up a tasty starter in the form of Elfin Bow.

Having been a backing singer in many bands, including that of her husband Gary Edward Jones, the deliciously diminutive Elizabeth Ann Jones has recently struck out on her own, forming Elfin Bow, comprising Oscar South on bass and electronic wizardry, and with Maz on backing vocals.

20160415-0064-2Their performance was so polished it was hard to believe this was only their third or fourth live gig.

Their set opened with a beautiful, haunting, almost choral-like number, sung a-cappella, save for some very subtle synthesized backing produced by Oscar’s box of tricks.

And as the set continued, it was easy to see that this flame haired songstress is set to establish a firm foothold on the music scene with a unique and refreshing style all of her own. I can’t wait for the release of Elfin Bow’s first album, which is currently in the making.

20160415-0058The whole evening was a musical treat that did far more than just whet the appetite for the subsequent monthly concerts that have been planned by godfather of the local music scene, Mark Holdsworth (right) as an adjunct to his popular Narrowboat Sessions.

One of my favourite moments was when Elizabeth joined Henry on stage the lovely ballad Valentine Song that Henry co-wrote with Lotte Mullan.

Let’s hope the Black Park Chapel will become a sought after and well supported music venue, and fulfil its aim to raise money for good causes. The next concert features Gary Edward Jones on May 21st.



By |April 16th, 2016|0 Comments

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Merry Hell at the Altar with a very Grateful Fred


Merry Hell rocking it out at the Nordic Church

Can you just imagine the telephone conversation…

“Hello, This is Grateful Fred …No not dead, FRED …Yes, we’d like to play Merry Hell in your church”.

Well Colin Maddocks (aka Grateful Fred) and Merry Hell’s Virginia Kettle obviously managed to convince the powers that be, that their intentions were good and that the request had nothing to do with Zombies or Satanism, because the Concert For The Refugees went ahead this week at The Nordic Church in Liverpool, raising over £1,300 for  “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)” who undertake amazing work throughout the world helping refugees.


The Good Intentions

It was a great night of music at this magnificent venue, with Wigan-based folk rock band “Merry Hell” in the headline spot, supported by ‘The Grateful Fred Ukulele Trio” and “The Good Intentions”.

And that’s how the evening started – with Good Intentions. Or at least two-thirds of them. Peter Davies on guitar and Gabrielle Monk on accordion, opened with a lovely set of Americana Country songs from the band’s extensive repertoire.


The Grateful Fred Ukulele Trio

Then it was over to the Grateful Fred Ukulele Trio.

I’d heard good things about these guys but …Wow! this was not the sort of sound I was expecting from three blokes strumming ukuleles!

This was largely because there was little or no traditional uke strumming going on during their fantastically entertaining set. And definitely no leaning on lamp-posts!

These guys have transformed my perception of that humble little instrument forever! Colin has put together a band in the classic lead, rhythm and bass formation – but using ukuleles instead of guitars!

Yes, that’s right, I did say bass!  Halfway through their first song I found myself wondering why they had a bass player hidden away somewhere out of sight.  But no. It was Colin, stage centre, with a tiny (in bass instrument terms) bass ukulele, who’s 21 inch scale was producing a sound as deep and rich as you’d expect from a full scale bass guitar.

20160223-1129His right-hand man Vince Gillespie made a tiny uke sing like an electric guitar, with lead riffs at times reminiscent of those heard on Elvis’s Jailhouse Rock album.

The Rhythm section came in the animated form of Pete McPartland performing on a six stringed uke and sharing lead vocals with Colin.

Their set was varied, lively and highly entertaining, with Pete and Colin ripping through the instrumental solos with the rock ‘n roll style face-offs normally reserved for Quo rockers Parfitt and Rossi.  Magic stuff!


Folk Rockers, Merry Hell

And the rock ‘n roll continued …with the gusto and fervor that comes with every Merry Hell performance. The infectious enthusiasm, the rousing melodies and the catchy meaningful lyrics  had the whole audience tapping, clapping, singing along and (quite literally) dancing in the aisles.

You never see a glum face at a Merry Hell gig.

The old favourites were there, including the likes of Drunken Serenade, Crooked Man, Baker’s Daughter and Bury Me Naked, and some new favourites too like the title track off the “Ghost in our House” album. There were moments of  poignancy, and a sense of outrage even, on their the anti-war song Old Soldier.

20160223-1156Then, at the end of the evening, just before their usual rip-roaring finale, they silenced every tapping foot and touched every heart in the room with the most beautiful a cappella rendition of a brand new Bob Kettle song, Refugee.  All six band members took a verse each. How they did it without choking up on the touchingly beautiful sad lyrics is testament to their professionalism.

All in all, a fabulous evening thoroughly enjoyed by the capacity audience who all gave generously to the worthy charitable cause. And it was all down to the organising skills of Virginia Kettle and Colin Maddock.

We are ALL grateful Fred!20160223-1173

By |February 25th, 2016|4 Comments

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Ace of Spades – a video tribute to Lemmy

Three days ago the world of metal was hit with the news that Lemmy had died suddenly, shortly after celebrating his 70th birthday.

He had grown up here in North Wales where he reputedly acquired the nickname Lemmy because he was forever borrowing money off his friends “lemmy a fiver”.  When he ventured into the wider world, he joined a band called Hawkwind then one called Motorhead and the rest, as they say, is history. Rock history. He became the stuff of legend.

Now, I have three musical sons and as a family we seem to embrace everything from punk to modern folk. It is Isaac who most embraces the metal genre, whilst at the same time leaning toward folk rock. So it was no surprise when yesterday he turned up with his band, The Beekeepers, and asked would I help film a quick video for their laid-back acoustic cover of Ace of Spades.

We quickly cobbled together a concept for the shoot, that would be done against a projected background of a grainy black & white Motorhead video. A ropey projector was borrowed from (I can only assume) a member of the dead pixel society 🙂 , and we were good to go.

The shoot itself took just shy of an hour and then Isaac spent most of the night on the edit. The result was just what we had hoped for – a shadowy, raw, gritty and gutsy cameo that I hope is a fitting tribute to the late great Lemmy.

If you like this version by Isaac and the Beekeepers, click here to go to Bandcamp where you can buy it for a £1 donation, every penny of which will go to Cancer Research U.K.

By |December 31st, 2015|0 Comments

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The Telegraph – Best Folk Music Albums of 2015

Click the picture to read the review

Click the picture to read the review

There’s a great read in The Telegraph this week. The 58 best Folk Albums of 2015, reviewed by the paper’s culture editor Martin Chilton.

There are some of the names you’d expect, such as Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention plus some newcomers too.  I was particularly pleased to see Wirral lad Joe Topping up there with his new album The Vagrant Kings, and the Wigan based folk rock group Merry Hell (whose drummer Andy Jones lives in my home town of Ruthin) with their third album A Ghost in our House and Other Stories.

It’s a great read and a good way to find additions to your folk music collection.

And if you like your music live, you can catch Merry Hell, up close and personal at Ruthin AllStyles Music Club where they will be performing a Showcase on Thursday 19th November. Get Tickets (£7)

By |October 25th, 2015|0 Comments

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