Tag Archives: rod standen

162. PHIL ERICSON (aka PHIL THE MUSIC QUILL) AND FRIENDS at RFC. Tuesday 28th March 2017. A review by Gemma Boyd.

Phil Ericson’s Feature Night at Romford Folk Club, The Sun pub, Romford, East London – 28 March 2017

From left to right: Nora Kelson, Phil Ericson, Jackie Gregory and Jo Gregory. Photograph by Charlie Martin.

Better known by some as Phil the Music Quill, singer-songwriter, guitarist and music journalist Phil Ericson’s feature night marked the last performance after 24 years at The Sun pub for Romford Folk Club members before their migration to a new venue; The White Horse pub in Chadwell Health.

Club regulars were out in force to support Phil, whose two sets featured a well-assorted choice of original songs penned by both Phil and others of his songwriter friends, much-loved classics such as ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton, and a world premier! Especially warming was how Phil invited an array of his artist mates up on stage to join him, then served bread pudding to all with the introduction of his song (a personal favourite), ‘Nan’s Bread Pudd’n’’.

First up was ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’ by new retiree, Phil on vocals and guitar. His work is hallmarked by amusing but simultaneously poignant lyrics about his life and family, and for this number he was accompanied by Neal Price on Dobro. Neal’s stripped-down slide guitar solo added an authentic blues feel reminiscent of American Delta blues guitarist and singer, Booker White’s 1940 recording of ‘Aberdeen Mississipi Blues’.

Phil’s easy banter with the audience paved the way for his first ever performance of love song, ‘Two Hearts Become One’ (lyrics by Jose Gallindo-Herrador and music by Phil). This contained some pleasing modulations, an intriguing time signature, and was performed with real feeling.

For his song, ‘Grandad’s Seven Hats’, Phil added yet another layer of interest with his inclusion of comedian and author, Nick Barrett, who placed grandad’s seven hats on Phil’s head as he sang. You could hear a pin drop as the audience concentrated hard on, and resonated with his words: “Now I am a grandad and I wear an old flat cap. I look just like my own dad….”

‘Riding Thumb’ by Phil’s songwriter friend, Tony Partis, chugged along enjoyably, aided by Neal Price and Monzur Rahman on percussion. It’s a song about picking up a blonde hitchhiker who has “never-ending thighs” with a great twist at the end: The blonde turns out to be a mugger who pulls a gun on the narrator!

Following a round of cheering and thunderous applause from his audience, Phil concluded the evening with a fitting commemoration; his ‘Romford Folk Club Lament’, sung alongside Rod Standen on guitar and Glyn Protheroe on percussion. A ‘wet paint’ sign was hung on the wall behind them signalling the end of the club’s time in this soon to be commercially let basement.

One thing’s for sure, though – Phil Ericson and his music really put the ‘folk’ in Romford Folk Club, whose members will continue to meet every Tuesday at 8 pm to play acoustic folk, country and blues for years to come.

Gemma Boyd

160. MIKANORA (+ Open Floor) at RFC, “The White Horse” PH, Chadwell Heath. Tuesday, 11th April, 2017.

(Photo: G.Walker)

I have known the duet Mikanora (that is Mick Turner and Nora Kelson) for some time, as they are regular performers at (and involved with the running of) Romford Folk Club – now resident at The White Horse PH, Chadwell Heath. (For a description of the venue, but not the club, see my review #78). As is usual with RFC, regulars are often asked to perform an occasional Feature Night, and tonight was the turn of this popular duet.

The featured artists played a two-part set preceded by various Open Floor spots. Best of those this week I thought were The Rom Shanty Crew (now expanded to a six-piece vocal group) with their ‘Last Of The Great Whales’; and Gemma Boyd‘s newly written violin piece ‘The Boatman’s Mumbles’. I played a song by my friend, song-writer Tony Partis called ‘Riding Thumb’ with Rod Standen assisting on percussion.

(Photo: G.Walker)

Mikanora as usual had arrived armed with an array of diverse instruments: guitars; mandolin; mandola; concertina; bodhran; and low-D whistle. They began their set with ‘The Rout Of The Blues’, and included two of their amusing originals: ‘The Hermit’ and ‘South Of The Border’ (about US President Trump). Covers included: ‘The Bonny Ship The Diamond’; ‘Nancy Spain’; ‘Mantelito Blanco’ (a Spanish song about a tablecloth); ‘Donkey Riding’ (which is not about riding donkeys, but about logging); two Richard Thompson numbers ‘Crazy Man Michael’ and ‘Dimming Of The Day’ (‘You can’t have too many Richard Thompson songs’ said Mick!); and a fine version of ‘The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald’ on which Nora shone with concertina. A well deserved encore was called for, and given in the form of ‘Whiskey In The Jar-O’ which was performed with the aid of Gemma on fiddle.

It was another very entertaining evening at RFC thanks to Mikanora. Their set choice was varied, interesting and at times amusing. Thanks also due to MoC Smolowik; all the Open Floor performers; Garry Walker for the photos; and everyone at the club for organising the gig. PTMQ

151. JO GREGORY (+ Open Floor) at RFC. Tuesday, 28th February 2017

Jo Gregory at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

Jo Gregory at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

It is always very satisfying for me to see one of my friends getting their own gig (as promoting my friends’ talents is originally what my website was designed to do). Jo Gregory is a fine singer who has been singing in pubs on and off for years. (She is also a published poet, and plays guitar a bit too). She has been a regular at Romford Folk Club for some time, and they gave her this Feature Night to show-case her talents. But Jo being Jo, she brought along several members of her very talented family to help out too – upon which, more anon…

The usual Open Floor spots preceded each of Jo’s half-sets of course. best among these this week I thought were the duet Mikanora covering ‘Spanish Castles’; and father and daughter team Steve and Hannah O’Driscoll doing ‘The Jolly Tinker’. I played my ‘Nan’s bread Pudd’n’… ably assisted by Rod Standen who played washboard for the first time ever! Cheers Rod! (For a review of Rod’s gig at RFC recently, see my review #139; and a review of Rod’s album Poetic Force #109).

L-R: Micky, Jackie, Me, Jo. (Photo: Garry Walker)

L-R: Micky, Jackie, Me, Jo. (Photo: Garry Walker)

Jo, who has a wide variety of musical influences, delivered a great range of songs during the course of her set; beginning the first half with her fine rendition of ‘The Skye Boat Song’ (the RL Stevenson lyric version); followed by the Trad Irish song ‘She Moved Through The Fair’. Both were sung by Jo, as usual, unaccompanied – and in her usual unique style. A complete change then ensued in the form of Patsy Cline’s ‘You Belong To Me’; and Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’. Then at this point Jo asked me to accompany her on guitar for ‘Killing Me Softly’; and her elder daughter Ellie for ‘The Rose’ – during which mother and daughter harmonised beautifully. And so ended the first half to great applause.

Half time included a discussion on a bombshell development that evening, that the host venue The Sun, had given RFC a month’s notice to quit their function room! So ideas were bandied about as to where the club could move to. This will be an ongoing topic for the club members, so watch this space. Not all bad news though… I won a Seasick Steve CD in the raffle! Anyway, after a couple more floor spots, Jo was back for part two.

Jo and Ellie (Photo: Garry W)

Jo and Ellie (Photo: Garry W)

She began her second set by reciting her published poem ‘At What Cost?’ – a short but poignant verse about three of her Great Uncles who died in the Great War. She followed this with ‘Let It Be’; before inviting her younger daughter Molly up for ‘A Thousand Years’. Again, Mum and daughter harmonised beautifully, and was received very well by the audience. ‘Nothing Compares 2u’ followed. It is one of the first songs that Jo ever sung in public, and has become a firm favourite. Jackie Gregory, another member of her truly talented family then joined her, along with Micky Brown on guitar and yours truly on percussion, for ‘Blanket On The Ground’. Then finally she finished with ‘Blooming Heather’, asking Gemma Boyd to accompany her on fiddle. This, like most of her songs, inspired everyone to join in. Encore was required of course; and Jo chose to sing ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ with her elder daughter Ellie again. And thus ended another fine evening’s entertainment at RFC. Thanks to Jo and her clan for their performances; and to the club for hosting it. PTMQ

139. ROD STANDEN (+ Open Floor) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB. Tuesday 10th January, 2017

Rod with The Quill (Photo: Garry W)

Rod Standen with backing from The Quill (Photo: Garry W)

When my friend Rod Standen told me that Garry Walker of Romford Folk Club had given him a Feature Night, I was of course keen to go along. These monthly Feature Nights at RFC, are where one of the club’s regulars are asked to perform a set. The next one (in February) will be Jo Gregory.

I arrived at the venue after work, and Rod showed me his Set List, which comprised of a great variety of covers. Surprisingly, he didn’t want to perform any of the tracks from his album Poetic Force (which I reviewed last year. See entry #109). Another surprise was that although Rod often asks me to join him for the occasional number, this time he wanted me to accompany him for every song. Flattered, I of course agreed.

But first, the usual Open Floor section of the night. All the regulars played one or two good songs. Pick of the bunch this week were in my opinion, Smolovik’s cover of Robert Johnson’s classic ‘Crossroads’; and club boss Garry Walker’s self-penned ‘Romford Town’. As a tribute to Peter Sarstedt who died recently, I played his timeless classic ‘Where Do You Go To My Lovely’; and I was also requested to play my silly song ‘Grandad’s 7 Hats’.

Rod’s eclectic set included classics such as ‘Proud Mary’; ‘Sailing’; ‘Gypsy Rover’;  ‘Durham Town’; ‘Love Is All Around’; ‘Streets Of London’; ‘Country Roads’; and an old favourite of Rod’s ‘Travellin’ Down That Lonesome Road’. Rod’s instruments of choice, were an old banjo (that he’d bought as a wreck from Ebay and has recently restored to a very good condition indeed) and acoustic guitar of course. Encore was demanded; and Rod chose to play ‘Scarborough Fair’. The set finished with great applause. There was at all times, a great deal of audience participation during the set, and this is something that Rod was aiming for all along. I was glad to be asked to join him. A good evening’s entertainment. Thanks to Rod, the club, and all the regulars. PTMQ

132. YAEL BEBB (+ Open Floor) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB, in The Sun PH. Tuesday, 22nd November, 2016.

Yael Bebb at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

Yael Bebb at RFC (Photo: Garry Walker)

Recently, Garry Walker of RFC told me he had booked Yael Bebb for a feature session at the club, and recommended that I come along. I was intrigued as I knew nothing about the lady or her music. He had met and seen her play at Rochester and Dartford earlier this year, and was impressed enough to invite her to the club. I met and had a chat with Yael before the evening’s proceedings began. She has apparently recently moved from Kent to Essex, and plays a lot around her new county home; and is involved in the Dengie Folk Music Sessions around the East Essex area. She also performed (and went down well by all accounts) at the Leigh Folk Festival this summer. She had arrived with a group of friends (some of whom would join her shortly for part of her set); but let’s leave them sitting at their table for a while….

As is usual with these feature sessions at RFC, the night begins with an Open Floor spot where anyone who so desires can perform a couple of songs. And as usual, a wide range of styles and abilities is represented; all admirable in their way. Master of Ceremonies for the night was Smolowik who got the ball rolling with a couple of good songs. Notable among those present were club boss Garry who sang two fine trad songs; Rod Standen who has recently released an album called Poetic Force. (See my review #109); singer Jo Gregory who sang a beautiful rendition of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ and will perform a feature set at RFC next February; a gentleman called Keith who played an oud (a remarkable instrument of Middle-Eastern origin related to the lute); and a lady called Jan who recited an impressive Shakespearean sonnet that she’d written. I played David Coverdale’s ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ and my own song ‘The Boys Of The Old 83rd’… but I offer no critique of my own performance!

Ken, Yael, and Janice (Photo: Garry Walker)

Ken, Yael, and Janice (Photo: Garry Walker)

After a short break it was time for this week’s feature spot. Accordion in hand, Yael seated herself in the performance area and began her short but eclectic, and internationally flavoured set, which included French, Scottish, and English tunes; and the African-American Spiritual ‘Wade In The Water’, for which the audience joined in. I particularly enjoyed her version of Fairport’s ‘Crazy Man Michael’. At one point Yael invited two friends to join her – regulars from the Dengie Sessions. These were Janice Higgins on recorder; and Ken Saunders on accordion. They played well together as a unit and are obviously well-practiced. A thing that I like when seeing musicians play live is a little explanation before each song; and Yael did not disappoint in this. I quite enjoyed her set, and so did everyone present – as evidenced by a demand for encore. I’d recommend seeing her and her friends if you are into Folk music and live in the Essex area. Thanks to Garry of RFC. PTMQ.

Link to the Dengie Folk Sessions FaceBook page

109. ROD STANDEN “Poetic Force: Poetry In Emotion” (2016)

Poetic Force (Pic; Rod Standen)

Poetic Force (Pic; Rod Standen)

I bumped into Rod Standen at a gig at Romford Folk Club a short while ago (see my review #99) He played ‘Voices Of The Night’, (a track from his album Poetic Force: Poetry In Emotion) during the Open Floor session at the club before the headline act. It was an interesting piece. I had a chat with him afterwards and he kindly gave me a CD copy of the album for review.

Poetic Force: Poetry In Emotion is a concept album. There are seven tracks in all. Lyrically each is a famous poem of the Romantic genre put to Rod’s music.  Blake; Wordsworth; Gregory Smith; John Clare; and William Henley’s work are all represented; and there are two poems from Longfellow. Talking to Rod after that gig, he was enthusing about the power of verse to inspire his music. I can see that myself, because at the age of about fifteen I remember naively trying to set the words of Tennyson’s ‘Charge Of The Light Brigade’ to my own Rock music – and with only a limited knowledge of the guitar at the time, had to give up. (Thank God I have never been tempted to reawaken that project!) But the concept has long been in my head; so I warmed to Rod’s idea immediately. (Something slightly overlapping this work is Ange Hardy‘s recent concept album on the life and works of Coleridge: Esteesee – see my review #72).

Rod has produced a very interesting album. It is clear, I think, that the music is merely a vehicle for the verse – and fair enough too. These classic poems need no appraisal from me – and nor am I qualified to do so. Musically it is good, although the accusation of ‘saminess’ may be levelled at the collection by some. Each track has a busy acoustic guitar part which is fine but a little repetitive (although I must emphasise, played by Rod very well indeed); and there is little variation in vocal melody from track to track. Even so, I found it very pleasant to listen to as I worked at home recently – and it is for listening to after all, due to the use of the classic verse.

Rod seems to have done almost everything himself on this project: from writing the music and recording the songs; to designing the sleeve; writing the notes on the excellent enclosed leaflet – and even personally sticking the label on the CD. He told me that he recorded the whole album whilst his wife was on a shopping trip one day! This is a unique collection, and Rod is to be highly commended for it – and at only a fiver, it is real value for money! I’d say buy it if you have an appreciation of the Romantic poets; or even if you just like something a bit different. PTMQ.

Rod will be playing a live session at Romford’s TIME FM 107.5 (Karen Lennon Show); this Saturday, 25th June at 11AM. Worth having a listen, I think.

The CD is available from Rod’s Ebay page

Or, for those local to Romford,  from Fairkytes Arts Centre, Hornchurch Essex

Contact Rod …  rodstanden62@gmail.com