A fish that’s learned to fly..

Sam Jones

Sam Jones

Nights like tonight are how a weekend constrained by work in the morning should be eased out of.  Of course, like many of us I was forlornly checking Facebook for scraps of how the boys might be going down at Glastonbury (and thanks to a kind chap called Colin uploading some videos, as well as a few pictures arriving, I saw much more than I thought I would – scan the FD Facebook Group to see).  It sounds like a rip-roaring success we were confident they’d achieve.

The third biggest crowd in Avalon over the weekend, and whilst perhaps not as lively as they’re accustomed to, a lively crowd nonetheless and an encore demanded and delivered – there’s a video of the crowds reaction as Ken was leaving the stage (with the obligatory picture from Waggy in the background) which suggests that there might have been a fair number of new Hell Hounds indoctrinated into he fold this afternoon.  I’m sure further video and photographic evidence will feature over the next week or so!

But for me today was leading up the M1 to Mansfield to the Brown Cow for one of Sam Jones’ acoustic evenings – a somewhat hidden gem of a fortnightly event that takes place showcasing both Sam himself as well as a fine array of other talented performers.  Tonight we had Sam, Paige and an unknown quantity for me called King of Rome – something I twigged as being a reference to the famous homing pigeon from Derby (don’t even ask how I knew that…)

The only thing that spoils the night really is the need to drive 23 miles to get there and thus not drink – but then I’m generally thankful for that when the alarm goes off on Monday morning! Sam is a fairly quietly spoken and modest chap to talk to – but then put him behind a microphone and an amazing transformation happens, he’s got a fantastic voice and frankly the power he belts out I’m amazed he has one left by the time he’s finished a couple of songs.

He kicked off the evening in fine style – after delaying a little to let the pub populate a little, even upon starting observing that everyone in the pub were people he knew.  Maybe that’s true, and potentially disillusioning after still coming down from playing a big stage at the Isle of Wight Festival, but certainly for me at least he knows me through putting on these events so that very observation is testimony to their success.

No sooner had he finished a rousing version of Blue Hotel by Chris Isaak were we disturbed by a policeman entering the pub as a silver Mondeo had rolled into the middle of the main road outside – it didn’t belong to anyone in the pub mercifully although the temptation to nip outside and take a gander was a bit too much!  Big Love by Fleetwood Mac was another highlight of the set for me.  In the meantime I had the chance to talk racing pigeons with Martin from The King of Rome!

King of Rome

King of Rome

So, The King of Rome is a famous racing pigeon from Derby who in 1913 navigated his way from Rome back to Derby in some kind of competition – with an average speed apparently of 1.3mph – so presumably he stopped off a few times for some pigeon-based diversions (or maybe he had to fend off Dick Dastardly and Mutley en route!).  As for the band, they hail from North Nottinghamshire and tonight comprised of Martin on vocals and an intriguing eight stringed guitar, and Ian with a Bouzouki and a regular guitar.

They describe themselves as Americana Country Folk Irish English music on Facebook – that probably covers it!  I really enjoyed their set – in the notes I sometimes remember to keep to remind me of songs or thoughts I noted ‘lovely mellow melodic folk’ – so there you go!  Martin’s vocals added some grit to the intricate string plucking going on – and well, it was great – stand out tracks for me were covers of Johnny Come Lately by Steve Earle, Frankie’s Gun by the Felice Brothers and Tecumseh Valley by Nancy Griffith (all of which I subsequently looked up I might add!).

Being as they took their name from The King of Rome then it was only right that they played the song devoted to this most marvellous of pigeons, entitled King of Rome and written by David Sudbury – Martin was even kind enough to dedicate it to me after our pigeon based discussions from Facebook had overspilled into the bar before the performance.  It’s a small world as one of my Derby based friends only recently pointed me at some kind of campaign to commemorate the bird in question more fittingly, hence knowing about it in the first place.

Paige Seabridge

Paige Seabridge

Paige was next up and on typically sparkling form – the songs that stood out for me was her own composition Alive, but also covers of Stay With Me by Sam Smith, Songbird by Eva Cassidy (dedicated to Suzy, and on cue got her crying a bit), Hey Ya by Outkast, You Got The Love in a Florence style, although it’ll always be Candi Staton’s vocals that sit in my head and Beautiful Day by the Levellers which will always guarantee a feisty singalong and finished with one of my favourites, a cover of Home by Gabrielle Aplin (and provider of the article title).

Then Sam was up again – I am terrible at identifying his songs even though I’ve come to know them quite well and have lost his EP, so must get another – so the titles are probably wrong but Lay Me Down Again and Trouble at the Mill featured early before Paige joined him to provide some backing vocals, then he played and Paige sang a lovely cover of The Glass (prompted by yesterday’s write up – wow, the power of waffling in a blog, huh?).

Sam finished up with a cover of Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac and then what I’ve described in my note on my phone as “that awesome slide guitar song that mentions being homesick and troubadours” – it’s a brilliant song, I remember being blown away the first time I saw him playing it.  With time marching on I called it a day just as King of Rome were getting up for another set – alas, a reasonable drive home, a few things to finish off (including this) and work in the morning were top of mind – a pity!

Paige and Sam performing together

Paige and Sam performing together

But well, a pretty safe bet on Paige and Sam entertaining me was bolstered by getting to see a new band and enjoy them too.  You should definitely get yourselves down to one of Sam’s nights – it certainly beats staying in and moaning about what the BBC chose to show (or not show) from Glastonbury on Facebook which is what many people apparently decided to do instead!  With lots of plotting and looking forward to forthcoming festival dates it promises to be an exciting few weeks!

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