Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Oakwood, Glossop (18.12.2010)

Not an open mic night, but I wanted to say a little about The Oakwood in Glossop because I’ve played there a couple of times with the band Old Man Pie, and on both occasions we were so well looked after, I just wish a lot more venues were like this.  The pub is situated on High Street West and has two rooms downstairs, and an upstairs area where the bands play.

Although it was slow to get going (because of the treacherous icy conditions outside) the people of Glossop eventually emerged from their homes and showed themselves to be a right fun loving crowd.  We played a relaxed first set with a few new songs (that still need work) and a few old songs off the first album.  After a thirty minute booze break we went into a more rocking set, including Beer Monster, Butcher of Banham, Leaky Old Roof and Mackerel Fishing.  People were dancing, heckling and there was general merriment, so you can’t ask for more than that.

For once I could hear my own vocals crystal clear in the mix and was able to emphasise some of the odd words and phrases of those pie songs.  The organisers provided us with free drinks and for some random reason, sunglasses.  Outside was the bleak mid winter and inside we was partying like the summer had returned.

They put on some wonderful music at The Oakwood most Saturday nights and concentrate on original bands and performers who write their own material.  This is in preference to the plethora of covers bands who dominate the live scene in many small towns.  I would thoroughly recommend you take a trip to The Oakwood anytime your near Glossop.

Also of interest:

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Every Man Has His Critics* - The Hop, Wakefield (13.12.10)

The Hop in Wakefield has a well established and lively open mic every Monday night.  I’d been to a couple earlier in the year and there were some fine performances going down, with a friendly audience too.  The night is usually run by local musician Ryan, but on this night his friend, Sebba Williams, another quality guitarist and singer has stepped in.

You have to get to The Hop early if you want to play because its usually a busy one.  But maybe I'm a bit too early this time round because there are only a couple of folks in the place.  No matter, you get a warm welcome here, so I peel off a few layers of winter clothing and settle down with a Pale Gold, courtesy of Ossett Brewery.

It’s not long before people start to drift into the place.  A few musicians carrying keyboards and guitars, some college kids here to support a friend of theirs and Seb too, who sets up the pa.

Two female vocalists practice a sweet song near where I’m sitting and it puts me in the mood for Christmas and what I hope will be a good finish to a tough year.  Some of their friends join in and its great to hear people just enjoying music in that way.

Seb kicks the night off with an excellent cover of I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.  It’s a current favourite at open mics and deservedly so.  He follows this with a song called Shine, which it turns out is written by a friend of his Chris Sharp, and this is the high point of the set for me.  A well written song about the one that makes him shine.  I love it when people cover each others songs.  I've included a video of Shine being performed by Chris and Seb (below).

A young singer called Lucy follows Seb and she is joined by her friend.  They have character and presence these women and the audience certainly appreciates them.  The pub is gradually filling up and the bar area is now busy with people listening to the music and talking with their mates.  It’s a good mix, if you can listen to the music and also have a bit of banter going on, people enjoying themselves is what its all about.

Then Lucy took the care free step of playing ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ by The Wurzels which was great fun.  The last time I heard this song at an open mic was at The Cider Rooms in Bristol, where they also (naturally) sang ‘I am a cider drinker’.  That was a night and a half and features in my book ‘Open Mic Travels'.

I was on after Lucy, taking beat poetry to the stage and wondering what people would make of it.  Some in the crowd were clapping along to Smells of London and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that.  A group of lads towards the back looked like they were enjoying it too, laughing at some of the lines in ‘Its been a good year for the spiders’ though I never intended them to be funny, but if that’s what you take from it then cool.  However, a tall and dowdy looking woman with her boyfriend frowned back at me for my entire set as if to say WTF!?  And it’s true that every man has his critics and if you worry about that you’ll never do anything or take any risks.

I enjoyed my set at The Hop, but I enjoyed the next singer even more.  A song writer by the name of Scott Wainright, and I stole that line at the top of this entry from his album title.  I’d seen Scott play here before and very much enjoyed his performances.  He’s got a great way with the audience that gets everyone involved.

“Do you know what I’m getting for Christmas?”  He asks us in his Barnsley accent. “No? Neither do I, I was just wondering if you knew!”

“I’ve got CDs with me if you like my music,” he suggests. “Guys you could buy your wives one and give her a surprise.  She might not like it, but she’ll get a surprise!”

Scott’s brought some slay bells with him to accompany his first song and during a harmonica burst also manages to introduce I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas into the mix.  He sits down and growls out the vocals, crashing his right leg up and down to the music.  He howls at the microphone and wails out his Gospel blues.

In his last song he musters up some audience participation and has us singing along to Blueberry Jam.  He shouts ‘Do you know what Mamma's making?’ and we shout back ‘Blueberry Jam’ and he asks do you know what Pappa's making? And we all shout Lemonade!  At least that’s what we're supposed to do, but I found myself forgetting the lemonade bit and just shouting blueberry jam all the time, which didn’t have the same effect.

After Scott’s set I buy a CD off him.  I usually buy CDs if they are on offer because if someone has gone to all that trouble (as a music lover) it would be rude not to!  I'm often disappointed and get a CD home from someone who is a good performer, only to find I now own another lack lustre album that will never be played again.  But Scott’s album is a good body of work, its well recorded and the songs are imaginatively presented with unusual instruments enhancing the songs.  I’ve included a link to Scott’s website (below) if your interested, give him a listen.  He may have his critics, but don’t we all?    

Scott is followed by the legendary Little Elvis, a one time Elvis impersonator now retired from the job.  His real name is John, but it’s proving difficult to kick that Little Elvis tag.  The last time I was at The Hop Little Elvis, sorry John, played a few covers and to be honest, they were bad.  But I reckon John’s been practising since then because his playing seems to have come on leaps and bounds, and although I don’t know the song he’s singing, he delivers it in a relaxed style which works for me.

I had to get off half way through John’s set because I’d made a promise to call in at The Hop in Leeds, a night which is run by the talented Leeds based song writer Matthew Belmont.  Matthew had asked me to bring over some of the beat poetry and (since I don’t get asked that often) was more than happy to oblige.  Unfortunately, by the time I negotiated my way out of Wakefield and over to Leeds (a route I don’t know too well), found a place to park (it was busy and hard to find parking) and walked through the dark arches (they really are called that) the performers were pretty much done.  So I’ll wait for another night to tell you about The Hop in Leeds, but what I will say is that it has the most awesome sound system.  A very expensive piece of kit perfectly arranged in an unusual space to give maximum acoustics.

* The title of this blog is taken from Scott Wainwright’s album of the same name which can be found here: