Updated 15 Jun 2011
For once I catch a break in my life. John Ford right down the road from me at The Turning Point.
It was really a pleasant day , early rain gave way to a cool sun shine afternoon. Piermont really is a lovely village right on the Hudson River. The pier itself being directly across from the Turning Point. It has a bit of sad history being this is where the US Doughboys would depart for the front in WW 1. I made it early and ran into Jill right away. I stepped in and gave my 2 cents on the sound check. My friends arrived, John, Lauren, and Jo Ann. I ran into Laura, and Karl and John Ford's drummer from a long time ago, Bruce Zarzeski.
The Turning Point is very intimate,you walk down into it. After a wee bit of libation, John took the stage with his ukulele. First up, "The Midnight Special" with John pondering how an 8 year old English kid could have learned this. A few years later John found himself playing, "P.S. I Love You". In tribute to the Kinks, John gave his Ukulele rendition of " A Well Respected Man". Off with the uke and on with the guitar: Here's what followed: "Wind In The Willows", "Burn Baby Burn", "Floating In The Wind", "Stormy Down", "Benedictus", "When Did I Ever Let You Down".
A bit of a respite, then John the younger took the stage. The duo then favored us with "Strange Universe", "Acoustic Sunrise", "Kissed By The Sun", "Grave New World", "Witchwood". John the Elder left the stage in the very capable hands of John the Younger who performed two of his own, " To Unfold" and "Caught Up". Really smooth pop rockers and an indication that he truly is a chip off the ol' Ford. They were well received and we look forward to more. John then came back up and both launched into, "If I Needed Some One". Next, "Perfect Day", "Heavy Disguise", "Big Hit In India", "Nice Legs Shame About The Face". A quick break and the encore,"Part of the Union".
Yeah, we sang along. John Ford played for a solid 2 hours. That is one long set and all of it delivered with the style and elegance that just comes naturally to John. This along with his stories on the road, his meetings with Hendrix, the Kinks and others really did make for a rather pleasant party and even sweeter soiree.
Next time and there will be a next time, I do so insist you all join us, if the trip isn't too far, I'll pick you up! But you do so at your own peril. But it'd be worth it for an afternoon with John Ford and John the Younger.See you next time.
Wind In The Willows (aka Bread & Fishes)
Burn Baby Burn
Floating In The Wind
If I Were A Carpenter
If I Needed Someone
Kissed By The Sun
Big Hit In India
Nice Legs, Shame About The Face
Part of the Union
Werewolves of London
I wish every single one of you could of have been at the SRO Hawken, Ford & Ford show at the Record Collector in Bordentown (NJ,USA) on June 4. They just plain blasted a hole in that quaint, charming, sleepy little Jersey town.
Ford & Ford played a few songs, before bringing on the man with the magic fingers. It was an evening of Strawbs' songs and carefully selected covers, and it took my breath away. I don't think that music can rock any better and still maintain dignity.
Expected were Ford's "Big Hit in India," (buy it! buy it! buy it!) and the perennial crowd pleaser, "Part of the Union." Unexpected were songs like Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and the howl-along "Werewolves of London." I think that both Lou Reed and the late Warren Zevon would have approved. And is there EVER anything to say about "Benedictus"? We, the audience, were blessed.
One of the reasons that I have so much respect for John H. is that he can jump genres with ease and not break a sweat. Not many keyboard players can do that. But on this particular night, and doubtless with regularity, the Fords strutted their stuff, as well. We know that daddy Ford has it together, but look out for his son. Young John Ford is going to be a tough act to follow in the near future.
Way to go, guys!
Bordentown, New Jersey is a space somewhat in a different time. It is irresistibly sweet and as quaint as they come. It still has shadows of its colonial origins and is just a stone's throw from the majestic Delaware River. For sure you can do the rounds of the 'downtown' area in less than 10 minutes . That being said there were a few very well tended restaurants and a major pub. Bordentown is an even 100 miles one way from where I live and, with Ford and Hawken in attendance, very well worth the trip.
The Record Collector is a last hold out for an independently owned record store. The look is retro and the interior just filled to the brim with an amazing collection of albums and CDs. There is a staging area a few steps up from the store front area. A really imaginative and yet pragmatic use of space. It was an s.r.o crowd and the usual suspects were there, Cinnie, Joannie, Jody, Bob, Sybil, Amanda (hey, where's the hubby?), her dad, Dave, and some guy who said he invented The Cronk-O-Matic.
I didn't do a set list and many of the performances have already been detailed. A first rather truncated set was delivered by John Ford and John Jr. (looking even more the rocker'.. very cool). All here know that John is so accomplished that every song played, every composition, is rendered flawlessly with passion. John the younger, already a seasoned player really fleshed out the set. Truly a chip off the ol' Ford.
Between sets I managed to have a nice chat with John. it's been awhile (man, about 2 years since I had last seen him). The second set was about to begin. John and John the younger took the stage and the announcement of John Hawken brought all to their feet for an affectionate and well deserved standing ovation. John said the last they played together was at Strawberry Fayre. That being said, not a beat was missed nor a "beat" note played. Hawken killed on the surprising "Were Wolves of London". "Part Of The Union" saw Maestro Hawken taking the beer hall rag time piano solo with fluidity and kick ass ease. Once again Hawken, just by virtue of being there, amply demonstrates that he truly is world class and one of THE finest key board players on the planet.
The evening ending with wild applause and foot stomping. The hope being, John x 3 will be there again. Bordentown is sweet but it never sounded sweeter than on June 4, 2011.
Last night was amazing. John Ford is so talented and of course, so is John Hawken, putting these musicians together was a very... very good idea. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner. John Ford Jr was also there with his guitar and back up vocals to support his Dad.
Highlights of the night included John Ford hits such as "Together Apart," "Kissed by the Sun," and "Big Hit in India,"
Strawbs songs that were played included "Witchwood," "Grave New World," "Benedictus," and "Part of the Union." The audience was invited to sing along to the two later songs, to which they responded enthusiastically.
During the duration of the show I overheard several people in the audience saying that hearing the two Johns together gave them goosebumps, I was one of them. It was a very special night, indeed.
Just came from the John Ford and John Hawken show at the Record Collector in Bordentown", "New Jersey. It was an outstanding show. Some of the highlights were: "Heavy Disguise", "New World", "Part of the Union", "Witchwood", "If I Needed Someone" and "Waterloo Sunset". We're lucky to have two of the former Strawbs right at hand here in New Jersey.
Despite threats of more snow in the already snowbound New York City area, John Ford and Ian Lloyd and a group of some 30 listeners came out to hear John and Ian play at the Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ. This is a shop that sells hard to find vinyl and CD recordings and also has a performance stage at the back of the shop. Though small, this venue hosted Pat Dinizio of the Smithereens the night before and acts such as Ian McLagen of the Faces and Graham Parker will be playing there in the future. A few Witchwooders in attendance: Joe Bruno and Jody Bahar, and me.
John was the opening act and played a nice acoustic set accompanied by son, also John Ford. Young John provided harmonies, lead guitar, and rhythm guitar as well. The set consisted of some Strawbs material, John Ford solo, and some covers. The Strawbs material included "Witchwood", "New World", and "Heavy Disguise". Later on, during the end of Ian's set, John joined with the Ian Lloyd band for a rousing sing along of "Part Of The Union" and John also playing on Stories' "Brother Louie". There was also a Lloyd-Ford presentation of the Monks' "Nice Legs, Shame About..."
John's other songs included "Kissed By The Sun", and "Strange Universe". Probably another in there as well. Covers included: Oasis' "Wonderwall", Beatles' "If I Needed Someone", and Lou Reed's "Perfect Day".
Certainly, the biggest crowd pleasers were "Heavy Disguise" and "POTU".
Ian Lloyd put on a nice set. I'm not too familiar with the music of Stories but Ian's band which includes his son David were highly competent. Ian is a showman, part Donald Trump salesman and part David Lee Roth party boy. The Ric Ocasek song he played from one of his solo albums has been stuck in my head since the show.
Great to see John and Jill and young John. Look forward to seeing them again.
There was barely an empty seat in the house on Friday, October 15, when Port Washington resident John Ford returned for his encore performance as part of the Port Washington Public Library's "Live @ PWPL" series.
Ford, formerly of the British progressive rock band The Strawbs, explained why he always refers to himself as "John Ford of the Strawbs" even though he hasn't been with the band in decades. "When I look myself up on the internet, I get John Ford the director, or John Ford Coley [the musician] or John Ford the criminal, so I always have to say 'John Ford of the Strawbs' so people will know who I am," he told the audience.
Tall and lanky with a explosion of hair and a British accent, Ford comes across as charming and amusing, full of anecdotes about his time with The Strawbs, his childhood, and his early influences. The first set began with four songs featuring just Ford and a ukulele. His choices were varied – "Midnight Special," The Kinks' "Well Respected Man," a nicely done version of Bing Crosby's "True Love," and The Beatles "Honey Pie." Switching the ukulele for an acoustic guitar, Ford moved on to "Wind In The Willows" – a British folk song that he introduced to Ritchie Blackmore and performed with his band, Blackmore's Night. This was followed by a new song, "Acoustic Sunrise," from Ford's upcoming album which will include both remakes of his old work and several new tracks. His final solo acoustic number was possibly my favorite – a great rendition of "The Crying Game," a song made famous by Boy George in the 1992 movie of the same name. It's a challenging song both to play and to sing, and Ford did a great job of it.
Ford was then joined onstage by his equally tall and lanky son (wearing matching sunglasses), John Ford, Jr. The duo did a marvelous interpretation of Ford's beautiful "Kissed By The Sun." The set ended with a Beatles medley of "I'll Cry Instead" and "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."
After a break, during which Ford schlepped his own equipment around and joked that he'd been demoted to a roadie, Ford's full electric band, featuring John Ford Jr. on backing vocals and rhythm guitar, Doug Tripodo on drums, Ed Kern on bass guitar and Joe Depiola on keyboard, took the stage and launched into a loud and energetic second set. It's worth mentioning that this was Depiola's first show with the band, and despite suffering a personal loss earlier that day –a death in the family – he shone on the keyboards.
The second set included a mix of originals and covers. Among the best of the originals was "Love Is A Highway," whose verse went "when things get tough you'd better move on" and the tongue in cheek "Big Hit In India." Ford is a witty and lyrical songwriter, but I found that he really delivers when reinterpreting the work of someone else. His version of Oasis' "Wonderwall" was, I thought, even better than the original – more enthusiastic and harder rocking. A real gem was Ford's version of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" which he claimed was suggested to him by Jessica Ley, the PWPL's program coordinator. The band closed with a raucous trio of songs, starting with "Nice Legs, Shame About The Face," which Ford originally did with The Monks, the Strawbs' folksy "Part Of The Union," and finally, Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London" (with some audience participation – Bah-oooh!)
All in all, an energetic performance by a seasoned musician who clearly loves what he does. Jessica Ley promised to bring Ford and his band back in the spring, and judging from the audience response, that's a promise she'll want to keep.
The article was originally published Oct 18, 2010 on PortWashington.Patch.com:
Pssssst, Ben! I know you said you'd do the write-up of the show last night and that's fine. Just don't forget to include what a "best-kept-secret" kinda venue that was--terrific sound, a packed house, what a lovely and picturesque little town Port Washington is and how the show was two parts: an acoustic solo set and an electric set. Mention that Jody was there which was a terrific surprise and, for pete's sake, don't forget about the ukelele! (Who would dream a ukelele would have any place other than on a Hawaiian beach--sort of like how, until seeing Blue Weaver at Twickenham, I never thought an accordian had any place outside of table serenades at Italian restaurants.) But, jeez, "Midnight Special" on the ukelele was a stunner, not to mention my beloved "Well Respected Man" and even "P.S. I Love You". Oh! And remember to comment on John's new drummer who did an incredible job, especially with "New World"...wonder if he's a Strawbs fan...and how it seemed nobody missed the absence of the bass and how John, John Jr, the keyboardist [CB aka Barry], and the new drummer [Doug] did an incredible job in the electric set and how thrilled the library people were with the whole thing.
Good seeing you last night and glad you caught such a terrific show!
Ok now, because of "popular request"....ahem, I have decided to review the John Ford show at the Port Washington Library on Long Island.
Some people are born to perform, to create and to interpret other's art. They do it because they love it and their enthusiasm radiates to audiences who appreciate that kind of joy,vibrancy and talent. John Ford fits this description. Last night I sat with tapping feet, synching lips and lot's of clapping as John lead off with a solo acoustic rendering of the the old English tune "The Wind And The Willows" (he had played bass on a version of this on the second Blackmore's Night album, Under a Violet Moon.).
From there he proceeded with highlight after highlight. There were solo career tunes like "Together Apart" and "Love Is A Highway" and of course "Big Hit In India". Strawb songs written by old stalwart Dave Cousins such as "Stormy Down", "Witchwood" and "Grave New World " were mixed with Ford's Strawb era contributions "Heavy Disguise" and ultimately "Part Of The Union". It was great to hear Hudson & Ford's "Burn Baby Burn" as well as The Monks' "Nice Legs, Shame about the Face" (now that was a Ramones moment).
The covers were quite eclectic including the now legendary Uke set that included "Midnight Special","P.S. I Love You" and "Well Respected Man" among others. The band took on Oasis' "Wonderwall" and John Ford Jr. captured the essence of Greenday's "The Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)" quite well in spite of the energizer bunny blinking out in his Taylor guitar. The young offspring backed his father quite well indeed on guitar and vocals with plenty of energy. The band as a whole was tight and able in spite of the lack of a bassist. CB Wilson rallied his Korg synth to replicate the huge orchestrations or mellatronations of the more progressive older material like "Grave New World" and "Heavy Disguise". The new drummer [Doug],was right on the money and provided all the proper muscle and subtleties for the finely crafted set. Daddy Ford is a seasoned showman who is quick with quips and stories that easily charm his audience.
I was very happy to meet John's right hand gal Jill who was selling t-shirts and CD at the rear of the auditorium. She, not surprisingly, was equally charming.
As a venue the sound was excellent at the filled up Library. I work at a library in Queens myself so I know. I spent the whole day working at a library only to dash out and drive a few miles to another. For John Ford and band it was very much worth it.
Photo by Ann W. Latner
I thought that I knew every long-haired musician in town, all two of them, but apparently I was wrong. I was unaware that living in our midst is John Ford — singer, songwriter, musician, and long-haired Port Washington resident. Ford was part of the British folk/progressive rock band the Strawbs, who achieved success in the 1960s and 70s. In addition to his work with the Strawbs, Ford had several bands of his own as well solo work, and projects with other musicians, such as Ritchie Blackmore (of Deep Purple and Rainbow).
Before I talk about Ford's performance, I feel compelled to offer kudos to the Port Washington Public Library for launching a new series (Live @ PWPL) designed to reach a different demographic. This was, without a doubt, the most exciting concert I have seen at the library in a long time. I left the library feeling very fortunate that we have such an excellent resource in our midst. And the price of the concert cannot be beat (it's free).
Ford, a tall, leggy man with a shock of hair and an English accent, was absolutely charming. He was humorous, self-deprecating, and entertaining – and this was all before he started playing. He's the sort of a guy that makes you feel that you want to be friends with him.
The first half of the show was a solo acoustic set, featuring Ford on guitar and ukulele. He played songs from his years with the Strawbs ("Stormy Down"), solo work ("Together Apart"), and with the band he formed with former Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson called Hudson Ford ("Burn Baby Burn" and "I Don't Understand"). The songs were all well done, but some, such as "Kissed By The Sun," the song penned for his daughter, were heartbreakingly beautiful.
Interestingly, Ford really shined on some of the work by other artists that he decided to cover. His ukulele rendition of the Beatles' "P.S. I Love You" showcased the clarity of his voice and was particularly delicious, as was his version (also on the ukulele) of The Kinks' song "Well Respected Man." He was the bass player in the Strawbs, but he is clearly a competent and versatile guitarist. The ukulele was an interesting touch, but I didn't feel it worked as well with the old prison song "Midnight Special."
The second set was with his band, which included a keyboard player, drummer and Ford's son (named John Ford as well) also on guitar. The younger Ford, tall and leggy like his dad, also provided back-up vocals. When the band started playing, I was almost blown off my seat! I didn't know they allowed music that loud at the library. The full band played Strawbs songs, Ford's solo work and some covers, most notably an absolutely incredible version of Oasis' "Wonderwall" (better than the original). It was all I could do to stay in my seat. The band was tight, well-rehearsed and able to handle the occasional minor technical difficulties (guitar problems, cable issues) that arose.
There were a few strange moments: I had a flashback to the movie "Spinal Tap" during the performance of the Strawbs hit "Witchwood." I kept imagining a mock Stonehenge being lowered onto the stage as the band played on with great sincerity and seriousness. At one point, Ford turned over the microphone to his son, who did a cover of Green Day's "Time of Your Life." The younger Ford had the vocals dead on, but I'm just a little tired of that song.
A highlight of the second set was a song that Ford had done as part of punk rock band, The Monks, in the 1980s. The raucous and entertaining song had the dubious title, "Nice Legs, Shame About The Face." Another highlight was the sardonic "Big Hit In India" in which Ford basically mocks his own career. You have to like a guy who can do that.
Ford closed with "Part Of The Union," a song which was voted by the New Statesman (Britain's political magazine) as one of the 52 best political songs. All in all, it was an evening very well spent. The library's auditorium was close to full with people of all ages, from children to seniors, but most were baby-boomers getting another taste of the music they grew up on. I, for one, will definitely go to the next Live @ PWPL event, and I'll be hoping that the library is considering bringing John Ford back for another show.
Review reproduced by permission of the reviewer - see PortWashingtonPatch.com .
Photo by Ann W. Latner