Updated: 8 Dec 2008
Icons And Imagery
Who Knows Where The Time Goes
Nothing Else Will Do
When You Were A Child
Here It Comes
Tell Me What You See In Me
On A Night Like This
The Shepherd's Song
Song For A Sad Little Girl
The Call To Action
If The Lord Don't Get You Then The Devil Will
The Man Who Wouldn't Leave Grimsby
The Wild Rover
CHRISTMAS PARTY, NPL TEDDINGTON, 6 DEC 2008
DC, wearing his bright orange jacket, introduced the Xmas festivities by apologising for not having had time to prepare any fancy dress. Sadly he had been too busy recently. This was, of course a ruse. Our Master of Ceremonies had a little plan in store.
He opened the show by introducing Wychwood, a folk duo who come from Banbury, in the Midlands. They comprise Lyndsay Hemphill, and Kevin West. Kevin has always been a Strawbs fan, particularly the more folkier songs back in the Sandy Denny days, but Lyndsay, was not brought up in the UK, and knew nothing of Britisk folk, so became a convert recently. The first folk song Kevin taught her was "Who Knows Where The Time Goes". Saw them supporting Brian and Cathryn at St Neots, last year, I think. Turns out that that was one of their first gigs.
They played two songs, one of their own, called Icons and Imagery, (you can hear it on their Myspace www.myspace.com/wychwoodmusic) and, of course, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes". Lyndsay has a remarkable ability to hold a note. The last "goes" she hung on to for a full twenty seconds.
[Check out their performance from the Christmas party at YouTube. Moer YouTube clips to follow shortly.]
After that, DC announced the Strawberry Fools. Apparently they had been big back in the seventies, but had split up and had only recently, and unwisely, made the decision to reform. I'd chatted to the guys beforehand, and they had all been very nervous. Surprisingly I had never met Pete, Ralph or DC II, before. Really odd as we have all been to so many concerts over the years. If there's anyone else out that who hasn't yet met them, have to report that they are all really nice guys. Dick and Les too, though I have met them many a time before.
Their nerves were unfounded. Their performance was brilliant. The odd tuning glitch was brushed over with humour. Dick, Dave and Ralph were sitting in the front of the stage, with Les slightly behind on stage left, and Pete slightly behind on stage right. Sadly, from where I was sitting I couldn't see Les, and I think Ali, who was on the other side of the stage probably didn't have too good a view of Pete. Hopefully Sue could see all of the band. We all recorded the performance and will pass the film to Dick who hopefully will be able to edit some of it together to get something on Youtube.
Dick introduced the band, "so that you know that we're not a naff tribute band", and admitted that he'd stolen that joke from Dave Cousins.
Dick and Dave shared lead vocals and guitar, with Ralph taking the lead guitar, Pete on keyboards, and Les on bass. Not sure whether Dick's microphone got accidentally turned down, or off, or whether Dick was a little too far from it, but, particularly on "Tell Me", thought that Dick was a bit too quiet. No other criticisms, though. My favourite was When You Were A Child, with some beautiful slide guitar from Ralph.
Chas, dressed in white shirt and black suit and tie, then took over as Master of Ceremonies and thanked the Fools, and announced that they needed a few minutes to sort the stage out but that there was plenty more music to follow. Good to see Chas taking centre stage, but we all wondered what on earth DC was up to. Being Master of Ceremonies is in his blood, right back to the White Bear days. What on earth could he be up to that he couldn't come out and take the microphone.
Where on earth do I start. Chas announced that they were to be joined on stage by none other than Ray Charles. OK, he was wearing a straw hat, probably what is known as a fedora, but fashion was never my strong point. To emphasise the fact that Ray Charles was blind, he was wearing spectacle frames (no lenses), comprising a light pipe full of blue fashing LEDs. And to top off the effect, his hands and face were boot-blacked! DC can hardly be accused of being Politically Correct. Although Chas and Ian knew what to expect they were still cracking up. Because Ray was blind, DC blundered about the stage eventually stopping with his back to the audience, before being helped to the microphone.
Saw Cousins, Cronk and Cutler before at Chatham. I remember it as being for moreof a laid back acoustic affair. This time there was a lot more high energy. Yes, they played some softer quieter numbers, but "Call To Action" and "On a Night Like Thisā" are much heavier. Pretty sure that this was only the second time that CCC have played as a trio, and amazingly, more than half of the songs they played had not been played in their last gig.
Next up was Dave Lambert, solo, (hair swept back in a pony tail, and dark glasses). He started by saying that he was going to do something he hadn't done for thirty years, play a brand new track. He started by playing "If the Lord Don't Get You the Devil Will", a great blues track. I've searched on Witchwood, and can't find any record of Dave playing this track solo since February 1972. Hopefully it will be played again a lot sooner than another 36 years.
Dave's new song was based on two events: a fan letter he received from a guy from Nairobi back in the 70's and a story that John Hawken told of a drummer who wouldn't leave Grimsby. As DL said, a bit of a challenge for a song writer. Musically, this track was beautiful, I could hear overtones of "Stairway To Heaven", but lyrically, I think I'd need to hear it a few times for it to grow on me.
Dave had only planned on playing two songs, so he unplugged his Blue Dean and prepared to leave the stage, but the audience refused to let him. A Dave Lambert solo is a rare thing, so there was no way he was going to be allowed to get away with just two songs. His encore was, in my opinion, the highlight of the evening. Dave felt a bit of audience participation was called for, so he played "The Wild Rover".
The evening closed with The Good Old Boys. I have to confess that Rock 'n' Roll isn't my thing. I can't really tell one song from another and all of the instruments seem to blend together into a monotony. I started trying to take a set list, but I'm afraid I failed. Not every song was introduced, and the sound wasn't good enough to always distinguish the words when there was an introduction. I don't think it was a problem with the microphone, because when Dave Lambert joined them for a number, I could hear every word he sang with crystal precision. I just think it's "rock 'n' roll" to play as loud and distorted as possible.
Although I didn't really enjoy the Good Old Boys, there were a couple of highlights, both of them blues rather than rock 'n' roll. Highlight one was when DL joined them to sing (and play harmonica) for "Hoochie Coochie Man", and highlight two was when Dave Cousins (thoroughly scrubbed clean of boot-black, but still looking well tanned) joined them for "Hellfire Blues".
Amongst the songs they played that I did know, or could hear were "Lucille", "Shaking All Over" and Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well". (Despite myself I did really enjoy "Oh Well"). They played two encores, and during the first I noticed that outside, peering in through the window was Tony Grimmer. Like Hans Christian Anderson's little match girl, he was outside in the cold, whist everyone else was partying in thewarm, trying desperately to warm himself from the heat of his last few matches - oh, OK he was having a cigarette. Afterwards, Tony joined everyone in the bar. Really good to see him again.
Brilliant evening, despite the fact that there was a little too much rock 'n' roll, and not enough Strawbs. All in all though, a triumph for the Strawberry Fools.
Another year, another Strawbs Christmas party...and what fun it was too. First up were Wychwood, who warmed up the strawberry crowd nicely with a song of their own followed by "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" sung beautifully by Lyndsey. Next up, The Strawberry Fools, who confessed to being a tad nervous before their debut appearance, but it didn't show and they went down a storm. Apart from the songs which they performed beautifully the major highlight for me was between songs when David Fool looked over at Pete Fool, who had turned to look at his monitor screen which was next to him and facing out into the audience, and quipped "oh he's on Ebay now". Completely cracked me up!
Tons of highlights, Cousins, Cronk and Cutler brought tears to the eyes in the best possible way - the sounds they created were stunningly beautiful. Chas and Ian's playing complemented DC to perfection. For "Song of a Sad Little Girl" Nigel and I were standing with Hud in between us, and he joined in on the "she wakes up, like a bird, and she feels fiiiiiiine" harmonies just as on the original recording, which was a magic moment. "The Shepherd's Song" was delectable. Pete B. has already described DC's get-up which was amazing - I cracked up once more when he sang "you have shone your brightest lights" in Grace Darling (all will be revealed in time with photos, I'm sure!).
Dave Lambert, up next, absolutely excelled himself and again as Pete B. has beaten me to saying, the crowd were not going to let him go without a third song. His new song, which ties together "Lucky" - the fan who wrote to him years ago from the most unlikely of places, a place far from the nearest city in darkest Africa, and the drummer who wouldn't leave Grimsby, is terrific. I remember Dave once telling me about Lucky's letter in the past - obviously a moving experience which has proved excellent inspiration for a song. Great choice of encore too, perfect party fodder.
The Good Old Boys (the name of a Country and Western band in The Blues Brothers' film, by the way) definitely rocked. Again, like Pete, rock and roll isn't really my thing but it's nigh on impossible with a band rocking as well as they do not to get into the spirit of things. Back at the Travelodge the general consensus of everyone I spoke to was of how impressed they'd been by them, and how they'd like to see them again. Highlights of their set for me are always the bluesy numbers, so of course seeing DL perform "Hoochie Coochie Man" and DC's "Hellfire Blues" with them was brilliant.
And that was all a nice warm up for the debauchery which followed later at the Travelodge, but I'm afraid I haven't got time to write about that. I will just say how nice it was to meet Jody, and also Dirk and Angelica over from Germany again along with most of the usual bunch of sleazy suspects.
I've nothing much to add to the reviews from Pete B and Lindsay (other than to say "thanks, the cheque's in the post" in respect of their kind words about us). However I did enjoy the Good Old Boys set a great deal, and wanted to add something there.
Having caught the GOBs on a few occasions now, I've always come away rather impressed with their performances, even though I'm not always familiar with the material they include. It's just fascinating to watch a really experienced band interact with each other and to get an inkling of just how it's done. The general view amongst the Fools, as musicians, was that they were a pretty stunning band, with some really really good players. I 'm always absorbed by the way the two excellent lead players - Simon Bishop and Pete Parks - trade solos and, hey I know it's basic technique for a gigging band, but they make it look so effortless. (I've seen Simon in both the laoud raucous environment of the GOBs, purely acoustic in High Society and somewhere in between with other bands which he and Hud both play in, and he truly is an impressive player whatever the context.)
And Alan Barratt is just such a pro on vocals, Nick Simper's fantastic bass style (plucking the strings upwards not down, as far as I can see) is compelling to watch too, and of course it's great to see Hud letting his hair down (ho ho) and really getting into his drumming. The two Strawb guest spots worked hugely well - their version of "Hellfire Blues" with DC as lead vocalist was pretty stunning, as was "Hoochie Coochie Man" with our very own Dave Lambert, both of which got sustained rounds of applause from the audience.
It takes a bit to get me to bop, so as far as I'm concerned they were red hot and just what you need for a boogie. (Though there might have been an element of relief at having completed my own duties for the night ....)
Also should add my own very great thanks to the GOBs for providing the PA and for their assistance in geting everything set up. They could not have been more halpful and supportive of a set of Fools making their first appearance together in public - Hud and Simon in particular taking great pains to help us set up (not his fault I didn't get close enough to the mike!) and Nick for kindly letting Les use his monster amp (private Strawberry Fools joke!) and helping him get set up so quickly. True gentlemen all!
Firstly I second both Pete B's and Lindsey's reviews: glad I logged on later than them, saves to much typing....
But to add, what a great evening. It's one of those wonderful events/parties where everyone is made most welcome, no one is left out in the cold (unless they're having a smoke!!) and you always make a few new friends... Then great music, good food, good fun and tbe odd drink (non alcoholic - I was drivng) and what more could you want.... nothing....well maybe only one thing; a fancy dress theme with more scope,,,,it did look like we were all off to a funeral!!
Sing along back at the travelodge was great fun too till the 'Pimpkin hour called and I headed of home with BHB on the CD player - I needed a further fix of Strawbs to drive home.
Speaking as a fool, many thanks to the Good Old Boys who helped us get our setup sorted beforehand, to the Strawbs for letting us strut our stuff in the first place, and to our glorious leader Dick Greener for leading us to the promised land via Bilston, York, and London E11 - thanks also to Mrs G for vacating the premises while we rehearsed.
And not forgetting the very generous and forgiving audience without whom it would not have been such a great experience.
Finally, thanks to those who stayed back at the Feltham Travelodge for making the apres-fool so enjoyable and not forgetting Sue who organised transport for us in her usual efficient way, and for giving Mr D Fool a string of Nun-related material that will I'm afraid last him a lifetime.
We are now available for Weddings, Funerals, and all events in-between for reasonable rates, with or without Dave Claridge. "With" is the cheaper option.