I hope you all have a good break over Easter. Our next meeting is a club night on MONDAY 9th APRIL . The March meeting was a good one which marked St. Patrick’s Day with the third appearance at the club of Irish accordionist and singer DECLAN GAYNOR plus a special guest over from Ireland, JOHN McHUGH. Declan is a regular fixture on the Irish dance circuit who plays to hundreds at the Irish Centre in Digbeth. John is over from Ireland to tour maybe 20 times a year. They both had their own personal style and both were skilled musicians and singers who got our feet tapping and left me feeling inspired.
While our guest artists set up, TONY TRENTHAM started off with some creative electronic sounds and a mellow but classy rendition of some great standards (I’m in the Mood for Love, Satin Doll, Smile, Margarete, Pigalle, September in the Rain and more). Tony didn’t let a bit of untimely competition from the soundcheck stand in the way of some quality music. JOHN SHELLEY keeps coming back with new tunes and debuted Unforgettable and Whistling Waltz, alongside Brin de Musette, Over the Waves and La Mattinata: nicely done. Then it was time for the guest artists. Declan Gaynor gave us a real quality performance. We knew what to expect: fast fingers, danceable keyboard backing, traditional Irish melodies with traditional Irish twists and turns (plus the Cuckoo Waltz), an easygoing stage presence and relaxed entertainment. For whatever reason, it worked particularly well in March and everybody seemed to be moving with the music at some point. We had medleys of hornpipes, jigs, reels, and old time waltzes with Declan finishing his first set by singing The Fields of Athen Rye. This was a highlight two years ago and went down just as well this year: he’s got a great voice. Declan then gave the floor to John McHugh while Declan backed him on keyboards – no prepared backing tracks while John was on, but the two held together just as well as if there had been. John’s style on the accordion was maybe a bit harder and faster, with even more runs and ornaments, maybe a less relaxed feel but just as entertaining. John gave us medleys of American tunes and hornpipes, picked up a lot of speed on The Rakes of Mallow and then instead of pausing for breath he launched into singing a very passionate version of Dublin City in the Rare Old Times which rounded off the first half brilliantly.
In the break SIMON GARDNER showed how his playing is progressing: familiar tunes (Quattro Seviliano, Yuri, Is Moving), but the renditions were more powerful, more expressive, freer on the instrument. Keep watching this space. And then another member who knows more tunes than I’ve had hot dinners, NEIL LAUDER, decided to redress the balance and celebrate St David’s Day with Sospan Fach, Men of Harlech and The Ash Grove (beautiful tune), finishing movingly with Morte Criste. The guests were in a relaxed mood for the second half and really went for it with their performances. Declan began with polkas from County Kerry, jigs such as Dingle Regatta and the Seat of Ennis, hoe down numbers including Turkey in the Straw and Dixie and a set of rumbas (Save the Last Dance for Me, Spanish Eyes, finishing with Sally Garden in a set of reels. Even the rumbas had a definite Irish flavour and all the better for that. John Mc Hugh gave as good as he got with a lot of well known numbers including Tipperary, You are my Sunshine, the Irish Washerwoman, the Bluebell Polka. I saw John Shelley break into Irish dancing at one point. Declan finished with the Jacqueline Waltz as a tribute to Andy Banks and finally a set of reels including the Maid behind the Bar(but she had left the room by then). It was a very enjoyable evening that blended acoustic instruments, singing and electronic backing, entertainment-style performances and traditional music and created a real atmosphere with something for everyone.
Now by EASTER MONDAY I’m sure everyone will be relaxed by the bank holidays. Never mind if you’ve got work the next day, come along to Catshill, bring your instruments and play, I’d like to hear it. We are hoping to add a couple of new ingredients into the club night and make some great music. I hope you can be there. For more information, contact Poppy Middleton on (0121) 743 6637 or Matthew Butcher on matthew_butcher(at)rocketmail.com.
CLUB ACCORD: Catshill Social Club, 13a Meadow Road, Catshill, nr. Bromsgrove, B61 0JJ: 2nd Monday of the month: 7.30pm
Committee: Ingrid Gould; Matthew Butcher; Pat Hill; Mike Fallon; Sabina Gardner; Poppy Middleton