This is the, "what's been happening at FAF" column.
Here you'll find regular updates on FAF activity, trivia and gossip......
A fabulous way to end the FAF year, with festive fun, food and song, all hosted by our MC, Stuart. Eddie got us in the spirit with some nicely played Christmas tunes on the guitar and a gentle song of his own. Tom was in a gentle mood too with his version of You’ve Got A Friend before Tony & Grace sang Winter Wonderland and Tony’s ode to ageing rockers I Saw Status Quo When They Played Standing Up. Stuart had brilliantly re-written Elvis’ Guitar Man as Ukulele Man, a tale of a struggling player going around the nightspots of Kingswood, Downend and Chipping Sodbury before finding an audience at FAF, with Pete providing the uke licks. They were joined by Louise for a more sedate version of Alan Hull’s Winter Song. Sean performed for the first time (after 30 of marriage!) with Sandy on the squeeze box for Sweet Bells, the Yorkshire carol and Sean then gave us another rendition of Woody, The Loudest Floorboard In The West. Terry did a splendid Lord Franklin and was then joined by Sarah for Silent Night, a beautiful version full of harmony and counterpoint. Richard took things to another level, sporting a wig, Elton style glasses and tinsel horns for a lively Lily The Pink before being joined by Roger for Ging Gang Goolie! Roger then performed in angelic fashion, including You Are My Heart’s Delight followed by Jane with a great version of the Kipper Family’s The Ivy And The Holly and her own song about the birth of Jesus. Andy D was on familiar ground with Jesus On The Mainline and Pretty Fair Maid and Dave marked the passing of Roy Bailey with Miracles before the hilarious tale of someone who actually gets the gifts of the 12 days of Christmas and the chaos that ensues! Dave was joined by Elisa and Alison for a rather fab Ragtime Carol. It was good to see Trevor, The Bard Of Windmill Hill who began in political mood with a story of what it takes to become leader of the Conservative party and then turned to humour for Has Anyone Seen The Elephants? Next, a surprise for Sarah as we sang Happy Birthday on a significant day for her and she was given a bottle of bubbly from the committee. She then sang the classic Joni Mitchell River and was joined by Terry for The Christmas Song. Andy C sang Universal Soldier and Joe Hill and Steve did I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You and Gypsy Girl. The evening was ended in fine style by Martin with Poor Old Horse.
A splendid evening, notable for a great spotlight set from Jo & Steve and the first appearance of the FAF t-shirts, modelled by members of the committee including our MC, Pete. Richard started us off, complete with wig and tambourine hurling in a version of My Bonnie. Stuart & Pete marked an upcoming even for Stuart with When I’m 64 and an upcoming event for us all - It’s beginning To Look A Lot Like Brexit!. Some tasteful stuff from Terry, included a song about trawlermen and also from John (David Gate’s Guitar Man and Elton John’s I Need You To Turn To). Eddie gave us his usual humour with Mad For You about less than domestic bliss as well as a lovely version of Lucky Old Sun and Jane sang unaccompanied on The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and her setting of Hardy’s Colours. Sean sang The World Turned Upside Down and unveiled a new song, Woody, The Loudest Floorboard In The West, his latest on our squeaky friend and a nod to Benny Hill. He now leads Geoff 2-1 in the squeaky floorboard songwriting race! Tony did Precious Time (with Grace) and Eric Bogle’s Now I’m Easy and we were intrigued by Lynne & Helen’s new name - Duo 41, which they explained was the combined number of strings on a fiddle and autoharp. They gave us some wonderful Swedish folk tunes. Andy sang Sitting On Top Of The World and the excellent 0.5% and it was nice to see Keith, he did the fab Beatles song You Can’t Do That and the Shirelles’ Sha La La. Martin sang about wagoning and did his version of Let Union Be. The evening belonged to Jo & Steve who were in fine form. They sang three Lucinda Williams songs, the Child Ballad Clyde's Water, Milk Carton Kids’ Michigan and old favourites Edge Of The World and Long Black Veil.
Andy was our MC for what has become a traditional marking of Remembrance Day, particularly poignant this year as it was 100 years since the end of the first World War. Stuart & Pete started with Jez Lowe’s If I Could Buy A Blighty and a Tom Lehrer song, followed by Tony with a version of Billy Bragg’s Between The Wars and his own When Leicester Won The League in tribute to their recently departed owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Nice to see Pat back again and singing some Dylan (Shelter From The Storm) before Jane gave us her own Red Poppy and a version of The Green Fields Of France. 12 Volt Joe did a couple of Andy’s songs, Body Count (about Vietnam) and Picture In My Pocket (about his grandfather carrying a picture of his grandmother on the first World War). Steve was in similar vein with his own My Grandad’s War and Eddie was in reflective mood, singing Going To A War I Don’t Believe In before returning to his usual humour for a song about love in the allotment. Sean sang The Days Before The War and his twist on Universal Soldier - Universal Credit. Geoff sang a brace of anti war songs, Shipbuilding and Chris Wood’s Spitfires, Richard did You Are My Sunshine and Waltzing Matilda and John gave us a medley of first World War songs on the accordion, plus a wonderful Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Sarah sang Sting’s Fragile, Colin did two songs from War Horse, Andy C Rambling Boy and Martin The Road To Passchendaele. The evening was rounded off by an extended Pondlife/Red Notes ensemble with their version of The Green Fields Of France.
A busy night with a special guest spot from Kitchen Kapelye. Tony was our MC and we returned to the traditional layout after experimenting for the last few FAFs. Tony & Grace got us started with some cajun and Tony performed O’Carolan’s Sí Bheag Sí Mhor on the harmonica in honour of the forthcoming Bristol Harmonica Festival! Richard was in good voice, singing about the lot of miners and one if his favourites, Swing Low. Jane sang unaccompanied, including a song to mark Remembrance Day, and then we had another Richard, doing Rigs Of London and Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. Terry was in his usual good voice with The Bonny Broom and I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me before Sean sang of the high seas in Elizabethan times (Captain Ward & The Rainbow) and a version of The Cuckoo. Nice to see 12 Volt Joe again for a song about old cowboys relegated to doing the cooking and Spanish Johnny. John B sang his own take on Strictly Come Dancing in his witty style and we had a new face to the club, Mick, who gave us his own spin on the Big Bad Wolf folk tale from the wolf’s point of view. Steve also did Springsteen, Geoff sang Windy Old Weather unaccompanied and John T did Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. Phil returned with a surreal tale of a logger and an almost full strength Pondlife marked Halloween with the spooky Lady Eleanor, made all the more so by one of the lights going out during the intro! A splendid and varied evening was rounded off with an extended set from Kitchen Kapelye. Jenny, Steph, Cath and John played an excellent selection of eastern European Klezmer and even had Tony & Grace dancing in the aisles!
A busy night with some great performances, with Stuart as our MC. He and Pete kicked off with a seasonal Autumn Almanac before being joined by Louise for White Rabbit, in remembrance of Marty Balin. Jane followed with her West Country Anthem and a tale of the lifeboat William James Holt, and Andy D (who seems to have discovered a new squeaky floorboard in the new setup) did some John Prine and Springsteen. It was nice to see Dave back again after a long absence and he gave us his tribute to Chas Hodges, performing Mustn’t Grumble and In Sickness And In Health. Geoff took us into the world of murder, magic and revenge with two traditional songs including a fine version of The Bows Of London before Tony & Grace lifted the spirits with some Cajun and Tony’s version of Neil Sedaka’s One Way Ticket To The Blues. Sean played some very tasteful guitar on a Pentangle tune and did Les Barker’s take on Whisky In The Jar, and Gavin & Simon played Gavin’s new song Seasons. A new performer at the club, Trevor, sang two songs which both featured the delights of moonshine, including his own Fireflies and Steve did Dylan and Robin Williamson’s October Song. John was in fine form on the accordion with a waltz and two reels, Andy C had us all singing along to The Last Thing On My Mind and Gayle sang a lovely version of Who Knows Where The Time Goes? The evening was rounded off by Martin with a stirring On The Border.
Pete was our MC tonight and we began with Andy C singing an Alex Campbell song before Jane gave us her own song Gypsy Girl and a setting of a Will Ogilvie poem. Pondlife were in reflective mood with The Blue Cockade and The Parting Glass and John lifted the spirits with some polkas and his ever popular mussette on the accordion. Andy D did some old time on the banjo and a splendid version of Mike & Lal Waterson's The Scarecrow, Sean sang about Salvador Allende and the police infiltration of environmental campaigners and Martin sang Lord Franklin and Jex Lowe's High Part Of The Town. It's always good to see new faces, and tonight we were pleased to welcome Friggit, a three piece from Swindon who sang shanties and of all things nautical (there is a boating lake in Swindon, apparently!) and Jan & Ian from the Forest Of Dean, who did some fabulous versions of songs by Nancy Griffith, Paul Williams and Jimmy Webb. Look out for an extended guest spot from Jan & Ian sometime next year.
A quieter night with Andy as MC, who kicked us off with his own When Jimmy Ruffin Sings and the bluegrass song Ain’t No Ash. Richard was on fine form, complete with Elton type guitar specs as he did Folsom Prison Blues and Pick A Bail Of Cotton. Stuart & Pete followed with The Napoli and I’m The Urban Spaceman (with Richard on kazoo!), and Jane did her usual tasteful versions of poems. Terry sang John Condon and The Wonder Of You and Sean had a new song, Ballad For A Broken Country as well as revising his Squeaky Floorboard song - now a lament for things past since we changed the room layout! Gavin was in reflective mood with Choose Forgiveness (inspired by the Father of Stephen Lawrence) and Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning? (about 9/11). Eddie was also quite mellow with an ode to Glasgow and Spanish Lady before Sarah marked the recent passing of Aretha Franklin with Rock Steady and a version of The Thrill Is Gone. A welcome back to Tom, who sang Elton John’s Your Song and his own Lasso The Moon and Andy C finished the first round with some ISB and It’s All Over Now Baby Blue. There was time for another round of a song each, including Terry and Sarah (Unforgettable), Sean (Have I Told You Lately?) and Gavin (Three Little Birds).
A new look FAF tonight as we turned the room sideways for a more intimate feel. With a prompt start, we were able to get everyone in without running too late. Sarah was our MC and started us off with Stuart & Pete in lighthearted mood, doing Roseville Fair and Hole In The Ground. The first of five (!) Johns was next, making a return after some time and giving us some Townes van Zandt and Hank Williams. Tony followed with Peter Bond’s Joe Peel before being joined by Grace for a stomping Jambalaya. Jane sang her own song about a trip to the Tropicana at Weston and the title track from her new CD, Down Frocester Way. Eddie had food on the mind - Does Anyone Really Like Suchi? and his ode to the greasy spoon about the Arches Cafe. Geoff brought things down to earth again with a fine rendition of Nick Drake’s Black Eyed Dog and Megson’s Generation Rent before Steve, in splendid form with John Smith’s Perfect Storm and Milk Carton Kids’ Let It Go. Our next John was new to the club and sang John Denver and the Eagles (Peaceful Easy Feeling), then Andy D resurrected an old song of his, Golden Cap about the sea cliff in Dorset. Gavin returned to his local history, Don’t Play With Fire about the 1996 Staple Hill Fire and to his northern roots in North South Divide, and Andy C did a couple of his favourites, Shady Grove and Good Old Bowling Green. Three Johns in a row - our next John (accompanied by Steve) did Frankie And Johnny and Leonard Cohen’s Tower Of Song, John B did a brace of Jake Thackray songs (Roly Poly Girl and Personal Column) and John R some fabulous French tunes and polkas on the accordion. Martin rounded off with another accordion on a version of New York Girls.
Andy took charge on a busy evening. Richard kicked off (pun intended) with Football Crazy to mark the start of the season, then Andy D gave us some Johnny Cash/Alison Krauss and John Prine songs, as well as one of his own about the loss of countryside habitats. Jane had her poems-set-to-music (including Thomas Hardy in saucy mood), before a pair of Steves - Steve G with some Springsteen and Dylan and Steve S with two of his own (one containing no rhymes). Our second Andy of the night did a fine Rolling Home and Sean was in typically political mood with his own songs (Twitter King - guess who that's about?). Good to see Gavin again doing his local history (remembering 50 years since the Bristol flood this time). Stuart & Pete provided Northern Soul done folk style with The Snake, John (accompanied by Steve G) did Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Leonard Cohen's Tower Of Song and Geoff gave us a quiz, asking to find the connection between Jackson C Frank's Blues Run The Game and Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (Answer - Frank and Denny were a couple for a while in the 60s). Tony did one long self penned song, a kind of talking blues about Grenfell Tower.
As the heatwave continued, we gathered in the round once more with Stuart as MC. Richard kicked off by marking the 19th anniversary of the club with the the first song he sang on the very first night - Worried Man Blues. Stuart, Pete and Jim took us to the seaside (La Mer) and celebrated Sooty's 70th birthday with Teddy Bear's Picnic, Sean was in political mood (The World Turned Upside Down and his own Grenfell) and John entertained with his dazzling array of accordion tunes. Following a fine version of The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Geoff performed a GK Chesterton poem, The Rolling English Road to his own tune, something that Jane is well known for and she added two more of her interpretations tonight with musical versions of poems by Thomas Hardy and Eliza Cook. It was nice to see Lynne and Helen with their autoharp and fiddle duo, giving us Cape Breton, Scottish and Flemish tunes. Terry was in his usual form with I Live Not Where I Love and What A Wonderful World and Kath did some splendid concertina tunes (Margaret's Waltz and Planxty Owen). Tony marked July with Springsteen's Independence Day before being joined by Grace for a rousing What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? (they had been to Harbourfest!). Steve S showed his new found ukulele skills on It's All Over Now and Maggie's Farm and Martin was joined by Jackie for The Blue Cockade and Let Union Be. Stuart & Pete also lead the throng in a Happy Birthday to Tony. It was marvellous to see so many instruments tonight - 8 guitars, 2 ukuleles, 2 kazoos, 2 accordions, an autoharp, a fiddle, a banjo, a concertina, a washboard and a room full of voices!
Another scorcher in this hot summer, the World Cup was hotting up too (England still in!) as Pete took MC duties for another 'in the round' session. Regulars included Steve, who started us off with a couple of Dylan songs, Jane, with two of her own songs, Eddie, with his usual surrealism, Andy, including his song Benefit Street, Geoff, reflecting the weather with Summer The First Time and When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease (with Pete on uke), John (Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Dylan's Blind Willie McTell), Pondlife, who were joined by Alison for Meet Me On The Corner, Jo, with some John Prine, Andy (Hard Times Of Old England and some Tom Paxton), Laura played classical guitar (a piece by Keith Hyett) and Martin (Hard Times). Stuart and Pete did manage a nod to the England team with Three Lions. Nice to see some debuts - Kath brought her concertina for the first time and played a splendid tune, Geoff sang unaccompanied for a couple of traditional songs and Nigel (almost a debut, he had been once before) gave us two of his own songs.
For those avoiding the World Cup tonight, shorts and bare feet were the order of the day on a hot mid-summer's evening. We sat in the round and Tony was MC, starting us off with some Cajun and his version of Match Of The Day. Nice to see John again with some tasteful contemporary songs and Jane with her poetry set to music and a rousing Van Diemen's Land. We welcomed back the Klezma combo Kitchen Kapelye who's tunes included the Rabbi's Hornpipe before Gayle did some Judy Collins. Stuart & Pete reprised their Song For Europe as most attending hadn't been the time before. Geoff had got his fingers around the impossible chords of Nick Drake for beautiful versions of Northern Sky and River Man, Andy gave us a song about his Dad (an accountant who wanted to be a carpenter) and Martin played John Martyn's Couldn't Love You More.
Stuart took MC duties on a warm evening at the Cross Hands. Eddie kicked off, singing about a run-in with the law in Chepstow, including the loss of his trousers! It was culturally downhill from here, of course! Just to prove it, Stuart and Pete sang Fred Wedlock's Song For Europe (with some new verses from Stuart) and followed with Waterloo. Jane brought some sanity back with a couple of lovely and beautifully sung songs, one her own, the other a poem set to her own tune. Roger marked Armed Forces Day with a hymn and a bugle call (played on the harmonica). Terry was in fine form again, singing some trad and a Paul Metzger song before Sean marked his retirement by doing a new song with the apt working title of Retirement Song Number 1. Andy (on banjo) did a fine version of Between The Wars, Sarah had a nod to the season with Summertime while Tom was distinctly non seasonal with Autumn Leaves. Great to see Steve Smith returning to perform, he did Whatever You Do, Don't and Another Day I Didn't Die (about getting older). John marked another anniversary (the 75th) with a rousing accordion version of The Dam Busters March, Colin a version of Sloop John B and Martin some traditional stuff.
Pete took the MC role tonight. We had plenty of familiar faces, kicking off with Eddie and his Zimmer Frame Rock, Andy D with a new song and his version of Which Side Are You On? before Roger was Makin' Whoopee! Pondlife did some of their old favourites and there was an English theme from Geoff (songs by Stephen Duffy and Maggie Holland) and John (an accordion medley based around English Country Garden). Tony & Grace Provided some Divine Comedy and The Battle Of New Orleans, Andy some Tom Paxton, Colin did a couple of sea shanties, Keith delighted with two Eric Bibb songs and Martin some trad. Our relative newcomer was Laura with some fancy fretwork on the guitar.
Another busy evening with Stuart as MC.
A wonderful, packed night with our guest, Reg Meuross. Reg sang his songs in an understated style, which highlighted his perfectly crafted and observant lyrics and precise melodies. He touched on many sides of life and was passionate in his politics. Andy was our MC and introduced a few floor spots from Tony (a comment on Ausiie cricketers to the tune of their national anthem, all in an Aussie accent), Sean (his song, Cradle To Grave about the NHS), David & Jacqui (Back Home In Derry), Steve (a couple of contemporary songs), Trevor, the Bard of Windmill Hill (wonderfully witty poems), a smaller Pondlife (The Blue Cockade), Jo & Steve (Botany Bay and Long Black Veil) and 12 Volt Joe (Two Left Shoes and Dark Eyed Girl). Another great FAF evening!
Another packed night with Tony as MC, lots of variety and some new faces. Tony & Grace kicked off with some Cajun and All The Little Chickens In The Garden. Humour came from Eddie, John B (You Make Me Feel So Old and a wonderful Mike Scott song, Royals), Richard, with his usual array of percussion and kazoo and Stuart & Pete (Hunting Tigers Down In India and I Wanna Be Like You). There were old favourites from Roger (showing his range on Ole Man River), Phil (Woody Guthrie and a tale of Amelia Earhart), some Tom Paxton from Andy and two James Taylor songs from Geoff (with Pete on djembe for Fire And Rain). We had some old time songs with banjo from Andy D and Sean did West Country Maid and his own instrumental, Pachelbel’s Revolver (a small canon!). With Easter coming up, we had an unusually high number of songs with a religious theme (four songs in a row about crucifixion must be a FAF first!). Jane set the ball rolling, followed by three piece, Busk (Gavin, Simon & Rob). Gayle’s songs had a gospel theme to them too. We always love to see new people at FAF and tonight we had a splendid crop. All the way from Taunton came Alec & Jules, together known as 200 Hurts with some beautiful singing and fine guitar playing. They did a wonderful version of The Lakes Of Pontchartrain and two of their own songs, one about the Mary Rose and the other a ‘sequel’ to Blackwaterside called Matching Eyes. Regular accordionist, John, brought along his new group Kitchen Kapelye (with Steph and Jenny on fiddles and Cath on mandolin) to play some Klezmer. Another John made his solo debut with some Hank Williams and Merle Haggard. Although a club regular, Gordon gave his first performance, singing Leaving On A Jet Plane and the Pentangle song, No More My Lord.
After a quiet night last time, we had a bumper crop of performers with plenty of variety, all overseen by MC Sarah and it was good to see some different instruments being played. Stuart kicked off (despite jetlag) with Ra Ra It's Putin (nice knowing you Stu!) followed by an equally jetlagged Andy. Sean chose to do one long song, Matty Groves before we had the delights of autoharp and fiddle from Lynne and Helen (making their FAF debut). Steve brought a whistle to play on and ISB song and we had wit, taste and passion respectively from Eddie, Tom and Andy. Pete on djembe joined Geoff to reprise the song from the previous FAF and then by Tony on harmonica for a bluesy folk song. Another new collaboration was Sarah and Terry with some beautiful harmonising on Wild Mountain Thyme. We had blues from Keith, accordion tunes from John, Springsteen and Shakespeare from Martin, a Jake Thackray fave from John and Tony's comment on modern polititians - World Leaders, A Folkin' Rap. Stars of the show tonight had to be Louise, Sarah and Alison with a wonderful celebration of International Woman's Day in the form of Older Ladies - and all dressed to kill too!
A select few turned out on a freezing night. With Pete as MC, we huddled together and sang in the round. Everyone got to do a few songs and we had contributions from Steve, John, Andy, Martin, Geoff (with Pete on djembe) and Sarah (who charmed us with her Turkish flute, the ney).
Tickets are now on sale for Reg Meuross on April 10th, price £8 (advance)/£10 (on the door if available). You can buy at FAF nights or get in touch via the 'Contact Us' page.
A brilliant night with our guest Mike Scott. Mike took us through his observations on all manner of things in his wonderful songs, full of wordplay and wit and delivered with his warmth and charm. There were a few floor spots too, introduced by Tony, with a strong contingent from the Nova Scotia. Tony & Grace got us underway with a Cajun tune, followed by the Willbees with Adge Cutler's Sweet Violets. Sean produced a splendid bouzouki to play his own song, Voices, 12 Volt Joe did Carolina Star , Gary a welcoming song for refugees and Helen sang beautifully, a song about a female coal miner. Geoff (accompanied by Pete) sang a revised version of his Squeaky Floorboard song, complete with a verse about Mike Scott! Martin gave us some Springsteen, Pete (from the Nova) some Jaques Brel, Steve some tasteful guitar playing (as usual) before Stuart & Pete rounded off with Texas Love Song, just in time for Valentine's Day.
Money raised from the door takings at our Christmas do in December has been donated to St Peter's Hospice. We are pleased to say that another £50 has been given via Jon Davy's page.
A decent turn out with Stuart as MC, who got us under way with his version of the Ben Kenobi sea shanty. Eddie tackled a Nick Drake song, John did a range of witty ditties - one about prunes, one a Pan Ayres poem set to music and a Jake Thackray fave. Paul made a return to the club, singing his own songs about the countyside before Steve gave us a Martin Simpson song and Tom a lovely version of Every Time We Say Goodbye. Geoff continued with some traditional songs, as did Martin, while Roger had anecdotes, a limerick, a joke and a song! Terry sang some old favourites, Danny Boy and The Wonder Of You as well as his ode to the Vindaloo (to the tune of Only You). Andy returned to Hard Times Of Old England and Tony reminded us of how Flanders and Swann viewed the weather. John was welcomed back with his accordion and we had a taste of France from him.
The new year kicked off with Andy as MC. What looked liked being a quiet night picked up with quite a good attendance, but with only a few to begin with, we held the night in the round. The two Andys were the first two acts and it was good to see Andy D back with his banjo! Eddie showed his softer side with a beautiful instrumental, complete with cuckoo sounds followed by Pondlife, greeting the year with the Gloucestershire Wassail and some witty observations on Donald Trump. Gavin & Simon had a sporting theme with songs about City & Rovers and WG Grace, Colin snag songs about the turning of the year, Keith gave us some blues and his fab version of the Kink's Sunny Afternoon and Martin did a couple of U2 songs. It was nice to welcome back Jane for a second visit and she charmed us with her versions of Thomas Hardy and a song about Concorde.