FAFFING ABOUT (2021)

This is the, "what's been happening at FAF" column.

Here you'll find regular updates on FAF activity, trivia and gossip......

8/6/2021

Pete & Louise did MC duties and Martin gave us a rousing start with Springsteen’s Badlands before doing the Joe Jackson song Is She Really Going Out With Him? And Simon & Garfunkel’s Baby Driver. Sandie played a Belgian hornpipe and the Andy Cutting tune Henry Blogg and Sean sang Once I Had A Sweetheart and a new song about refugees What If? Sonia did John Tam’s Rolling Home, the tradtional Farewell Sweet Lovely Nancy and Mike Heron’s Hedgehog Song. Tony & Grace were also feeling the power of nature with Garden Song, then So Long It’s Been Good To Know You (Tony’s retirement song, recent event!) and Tony sang Ry Cooder’s Across The Borderline. Stuart celebrated the  joys of beer with Ale, Ale, Glorious Ale and Fred Wedlock’s Jogging Song as well as Jez Lowe’s We’ll Hunt Him Down. John B performed Dylan’s Marching To The City, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2) and Tower Of Song and Andy C did Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, Ripple (Grateful Dead) and Lay Me My Money Down. Steve gave us the second Jez Lowe song of the night Old Bones, Dylan’s Fourth Time Around and John Smith’s Great Lakes.

25/5/2021
The day after Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday, so participants were invited to perform Dylan songs if they wished to commemorate this event. This invitation was taken up with enthusiasm by many performers – not surprising perhaps given the known Dylan fans among our regulars! Tony was MC for the evening.


Kicking off the show were Steve Goodfield, joined by Jo Cullum for her first appearance at FAF for a little while, to perform a 2-song set of Dylan classics Farewell Angelina and Boots Of Spanish Leather. Next up was Kath, who played 2 concertina tunes Margaret’s Waltz and Jimmy Allen. Back into Bob songs next with Martin singing Adele’s song (sorry, Bob Dylan’s song…..) Make You Feel My Love. Following that, James performed Bob’s Senor with some appreciative comments about his percussive guitar style. Sean kept the Dylan theme going in style with A Simple Twist of Fate, followed by John B performing Bob’s It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry using a drum machine for effect and rhythm accompaniment. Sonia then provided a Bob-free 2-song set – first up Barney, a variant of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, then Foolish You by Kate & Anna McGarrigle. During Sonia’ set, Andy looked after the dog, in preparation for swapping over of duties later on! Andy D was next in the spotlight with Girl Of The North Country, well remembered as regularly performed at The Old Stillage sessions in St George a few years ago with Tony, Grace and others. Tony & Grace then did a 2-song set of Dancing At Whitsun sung by Grace in recognition of the time of year, and Bob’s Like A Rolling Stone sung by Tony. Andy C then returned from dog-minding duties to perform Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down and John Prine’s wonderful The Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness. Rose finished off the first round of songs with While The Gentlemen Go By learned from the dearly departed Ray Croll, with words by Rudyard Kipling, all about smugglers and contraband…, then Good Love Gone Bad by The Everly Bros.


Into the second round then, with Martin performing Chris Wood’s beautiful This Love Won’t Let You Fail, followed by James’s second Bob song Gotta Serve Somebody. Sean then played the timeless Just Like A Woman, followed by John B doing Blind Willie McTell - acapella this time. Andy’s second song was the gospel classic Always Lift Him Up And Never Knock Him Down by Blind Alfred Reid. Finishing off the night was an extra song by Steve & Jo with their 3rd Dylan song Buckets Of Rain to bring the evening to a close.


Finally, Tony screen-shared a photo of Pondlife sent from Devon where they are on holiday! Tony explained that they were hoping to join us tonight to perform a couple of songs, but the internet signal at their campsite unfortunately wasn’t up to it. Looking forward to seeing the Pondlifers next time! All in all, 12 Bob Dylan songs were performed on the night – a fabulous effort which I’m sure the man himself would have been proud of!

(Thanks to Tony for doing the write-up this time while Pete was away 'getting it together in the country' with Pondlife)

11/5/2021

Louise & Pete hosted as we entered the merry, merry month of May! Martin kicked off with Bob Marley’s One Love and did a great version of Year Of The Cat, playing the piano part particularly well. Sarah sang the Detectorists theme before Steve did some Dylan, Where Are You Tonight? and the traditional Hares On The Mountain. Stuart also went trad with Broomfield Hill as well as a nod to the forthcoming Eurovision with Fred Wedlock’s Song For Europe. Tony & Grace sang The Nightingale and an updated version of Tony’s Sleaze and Andy D had his own song White Man’s War and Norman Blake’s Ginseng Sullivan. Louise & Pete mixed things up with Come To The Hills and White Rabbit and Kevin honoured the great Kermit The Frog with Rainbow Connection and Clive Gregson’s Home Is Where The Heart Is. Sonia sang some Paul Brady The Island and the lovely Janis Ian song Jesse and Andy C did My Name Is Carnival (Jackson C Frank) and a Django Reindhardt instrumental. Sandie’s tunes tonight were La Mal Aimable (The Unlovable) and Andy Cutting’s Ricer while Sean had a new version of Knocking On Heaven’s Door (the George Floyd version) and a new instrumental Live Wire. Terry sang The Tennessee Waltz and a great version of She Moves Through The fair and Rose did the Kate Wolf song Green Eyes.

27/4/2021

In the week that saw the passing of Jim Steinman and Les McKeown, it was notable that nobody took on any Meatloaf or Bay City Rollers songs (although Stuart was tempted)! Tony & Grace hosted this evening and kicked off with Drink Up Thy Cider (after a trip to Somerset) and Tramps And Hawkers. Andy and Sonia performed separately, Andy singing Shady Grove and The Hard Times Of Old England and Sonia Power In The Union (for Mayday) and A Place Called England (for St George’s Day). James had a song written the day before At Any Moment and also did Gram Parsons’ She and Louise & Pete resurrected a couple of their previous songs Crazy Man Michael and Sweet Greens And Blues. Stuart also marked St George’s Day with Half English and was joined by Carol for How Come and the brilliant Les Barker shanty Ben Kenobi (for the upcoming Star Wars Day). Kath played Planxty Irwin and Winster Gallop and Steve sang Good As Gone (Robin Williamson), Sailing To Philadelphia (mark Knopfler) and Joanna (John Smith). Nice to see Geoff back again, although internet problems meant he could only do one song, Steve Earl’s The Devil Put The Coal In The Ground. Andy D sang Spencer The Rover and his own song Money, Rose did Annie’s Song and Martin the Cat Stevens song Here Comes My Baby and Blue Öyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper.

13/4/2021

Pete & Louise were ours MCs for the latest virtual FAF. Stuart sang about the ‘delights’ of nature in Road Kill and one of his favourites Cigarettes And Whisky And Wild, Wild Women. Tony & Grace were rocking on Steve Earl’s Steve’s Last Ramble and more sedate on The Garden Song before Sandie played Traveller’s Joy, The Canal In October and Bonny Kate and Sean did The Oak And The Ash and a new instrumental Unlocking The Spring with his usual dexterity. Louise & Pete revived Bury Me Naked before Pete switched to keyboards (and a harp sound) for the lovely song by Jeanes Simple Jayne, also accompanied by a recording of a blackbird from their garden. Steve sang a couple of John Smith songs Perfect Storm and There Is A Storm and Jez Lowe’s These Coal Town Days and James played Juanita (Gram Parsons) and Keep Your Distance (Richard Thompson). The great songs continued as Kevin sang It’s All Just Talk (Clive Gregson) and You Can’t Stay Here (Stan Rogers) and Martin did Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, Springsteen’s Because The Night and the traditional Dark Eyed Sailor. Terry sang The Cheesecake Song and George Stait’s Glad You Came, Rose sang If and The Cuckoo and Tony finished the evening with another Springsteen song No Surrender.

23/3/2021

We were back to our regular virtual FAF this time with Tony & Grace doing the MC duties. Sonia & Andy went solo and Sonia began with Universal Soldier and Leon Rosselson’s The Olive Tree before Andy sang two Tom Paxton songs, Willing Conscript and The Last Thing On My Mind. James sang Gram Parson’s Grievous Angel and his own Well Of Souls, Sarah did Who’s Loving You? and her own Pictures For Us All (remembering her Mum) and Martin gave us Sandy Denny’s Fotheringay and Tim Hardin’s Reason To Believe. Steve took us to Ireland with Galway And Mayo (Saw Doctors) and Joh (Four Men And A Dog) and Sean spoke up for the Irish with his song Name And Shame about Pontins decision to ban anyone Irish to keep out travellers. Sandi played the O’Carolan tune Blind Mary and Jack’s Maggot and Pete also gave us a tune on the ukulele The Hen’s March. Andy sang of his beloved butterflies with Orange Tip and I Kiss My Sweet Land Farewell and Terry did Paul Metsers’ Writer’s Song and Tom Waits’ I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You. Stuart celebrated 50 years of CAMRA with his tribute Give Me Ale and followed with Loudon Wainwright’s Ukulele Song while Keith & Joy joined forces for I’m Only Sleeping before Keith sang Dig A Little Deeper In The Well. Tony & Grace sang Thirty Foot Trailer and Ralph McTell’s Masks And Gowns and Rose rounded off with Freight Train.

9/3/2021

A great night tonight - our first ever virtual gig with the brilliant Miranda Sykes, who gave us a great set full of a selection of beatutiful songs and one or two old favourites. We look forward to seeing Miranda in person at FAF before too long!

23/2/2021

This virtual FAF was hosted by Louise & Pete. Martin got things underway with a fine version of Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes and A Hard Rain’s Are Gonna Fall and Andy sang his song about delivery drivers inspired by the Ken Loach film 'Sorry I Missed You' The Singing Postman and a love song (unusual for Andy!). Kevin sang the Sue Stevens song Rainbows and Ralph McTell’s The Hiring Fair and inspired by the hope of an end to lockdown in June, Gill did Long Long Tunnel by Canadian Shelley Posen. Louise & Pete performed a stirring version of Heart Of Gold and the rather more gentle Mingulay Boat Song and Sonia sang the Donagh Long song Never Be The Sun and Maggie Holland’s A Place Called England. Tony & Grace had got creative with Bob Marley as they sang Jabbing, adapting Jamming for the current times and to mark the upcoming St David’s Day they sang Calon Lân (A Pure Heart) in both Welsh and English. James did a very tasteful version of Simon & Garfunkel’s America, Jon a really nice Shoals Of Herring and Stuart pulled out a couple of his witty wordplay parodies with Ra Ra It’s Putin and Marie’s Wedding. Keith & Joy sang some Eric Bibb, Shingle By Shingle and Keith followed with Put Your Foot Down, Sandi played a Swedish tune and another called Lodge Road and Sean sang his Two Minute Love Song and Quaranteen. Rose did Shake Sugaree and the Nora Jones song Lonestar before Keith saw us out with Keep Your Lamp.

9/2/2021

Our virtual FAF this time, hosted by Tony & Grace, had more than a hint of love about it as we neared Valentine’s Day, with love songs aplenty. Stuart started with an old standby The Napoli and then Linda Thompson’s No Telling What A Love Song Will Do, Martin sang John Martyn’s Angeline and his version of Shady Grove and Gill (this week from Sutton Coldfield) sang about the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers and the Pete Mundy song Take Your Time. Louise & Pete were joined by their backing ‘band’, The Buena Vista Social (Distance) Club (aka Pete) for Chan Chan with Pete playing lead uke and a fine kazoo solo from Louise. They followed with the delightful little song Birds And Ships with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by Billy Bragg. Kevin sang a love song by Bert Jansch and Eddie Walker’s Stolen My Heart Away and we were pleased to see James who did his own terrific song Best We Don’t Know. Sarah gave us Smokey Robinson’s Who’s Loving You?, Alison did I Love My Love and Keith (with great gusto) sang the Fishermen’s Friends song No Hopers Jokers And Rogues (joined by Joy) and Every Day I Have The Blues. Tony & Grace were looking ahead to Mardi Gras with The Mermentau Waltz and Tony marked his Mum’s 91st birthday with one of her favourite songs The Last Farewell. Sean had a new topical blues song for us Waiting For That Jab Of Mine and sang House Of The Rising Sun in memory of the Animal’s guitarist Hilton Valentine and Sandi played two tunes, Postman’s Knock (for when the Valentine’s card arrived) and the other simp;y called Valentine. Geoff joined us from his attic and sang Tending My Sheep and Accentuate The Positive, Terry sang the Beth Nielson Chapman song I Find Your Love In Everything and Steve gave us Gold Miner’s Lament (written with his late brother) and John Smith’s Coming Home. Andy sang the tongue in cheek Winston’s Bust and the Carter Family song When Silver Threads Are Gold Again, Lola did Ye Banks And Braes and Kingston Town and Rose the traditional The Turtle Dove and The Cuckoo. Keith led the massed chorus for Keep Your Lamp to finish.

26/1/2021

Virtual FAF was hosted by Pete & Louise and Tony & Grace got us underway by marking Burns Night with A Rose-bud By My Early Walk and Tony sang Loudon Wainwright’s Middle Of The Night. Steve was on good form with Leonard Cohen’s Tonight Will Be Fine and a John Smith song and Louise & Pete did an updated (about the US election) version of Confounds The Science as well as Dirty Old Town. New to our virtual FAF, we had Kevin & Gill, Kevin singing Stolen Dreams (The Birdscarers) and Play Me A Love Song and Gill Albion Heart (While & Matthews) and We’re Not Over Yet (Clive Gregson), ably assisted by each other. Martin sang some Cat Stevens Father And Son and Simon & Garfunkel’s America and Sonia & Andy marked the anniversary of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with Carry Greenham Home and a passionate This Land Is Our Land. Gavin got into the shanty spirt with Weatherman and Highlife Hightide (written with Si) and Keith (with Joy singing along) did We Can Work It Out and You’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Vally By Yourself. Sean sang Springsteen’s Land Of Hope And Dreams (also sung at the Biden inauguration) and a new tune for the mandolin Those Who Left Too Soon while Sandi played some Scottish tunes Kelso Accordion And Fiddle Club and Stronsay Waltz. Kath aslo gave us some tunes, Winster Gallop and Margaret’s Waltz and Andy played his own 0.5% and Elizabeth Cotton’s Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie. Terry sang Dancing At Whitsun and Softly As I Leave You (made famous by Matt Monro, who Tony revealed had played in an army band with his Dad!), Rose did Nicola Clark’s I Liken My Love and If (David Gates) before we went out with Keith leading a lusty Keep Your Lamp.

12/1/2021

A new year and another virtual FAF, hosted by Tony & Grace. Stuart got us under way with Sister Josephine and The Foggy Dew and Tony & Grace sang the first of this evening’s wassails Here We Come A-Wassailing and their comment on the covid world Ramping It Up. Martin had experimented with a new tuning for John Martyn’s Couldn’t Love You More and also sang Springsteen’s The Price You Pay and Andy did the old time Bright Side Somewhere and his own Money. Louise & Pete sang the Merry Hell song Bury Me Naked and marked the quick passing of time (noting that it was five years since David Bowie died) with Who Knows Where The Time Goes? Sonia & Andy had The Old Fox Wassail Number 1 and Bunch Of Thyme and it was great to see James back again after his brush with covid singing the Bee Gees classic To Love Somebody and his tribute to Bowie Ashes To Ashes. Keith sang Dimples and Fiddler’s Green (with Joy joining in heartily), Geoff popped in with another wassail and Alison had a a modern take with Homeless Wassail as well as The Woodcutter’s Song. Sean was commenting again on current events with Knock It Man (after Elton John) and Hold On, with Sandi adding a lovely backing vocal before she played some morris tunes Liberty Bodice and Jack Robinson which had many of us dancing and waving hankies around our living rooms! Gavin sang Thank You NHS and a new song Oh America, Kath played Salmontails and Planxty Irwin and Rose sang Like A Sad Song (John Denver) and Freight Train. Keith sang us out with Keep Your Lamp for everyone to join in.