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21st December 2006

The Spotlight this evening was on club hosts - jiva.

Spotlight night attendances have been dwindling recently so it was especially pleasing to see such a good crowd for the last meeting of 2006. But... as a result the floor spots were limited to one apiece but it meant we managed not to miss anyone who wanted to perform! To those performers who came to listen, or decided to forgo their spot this evening, we owe you one!

Special thanks to Dave Page for driving the Ashington PA system for the floor spots, and also to Eric Laverick for snapping a few photos of jiva.

You can Listen to an mp3 Soundbite of each performer, and...

Full Christmas carol performed by jiva
Starting off the evening
was Dave Anderson with his well crafted self-penned song 'The Storyteller' complete with guitar effects too.


Alex Okon was next and after a bit of 'bother' with his stick-on transducer his guitar was then miked up. He gave us Bach's Cantata #147 - better known as 'Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring'. Lovely.



In Christmas spirit Geoff Pickard told a seasonal joke before singing the Jerry Rafferty song 'Her Dad He Never Liked Me Anyway'. Geoff will be support for the Special Guest night in March.


First Northumbrian piper tonight was Alan Bailey who, in fine form, played 'The Eriskay Love Lilt' and 'Parnell's March'.


Dave Donohoe was next up and, sporting a brand new Dobro guitar, he played a great bottleneck instrumental piece. Wow! We look forward to hearing more.


We'd not seen them for quite some time so it was good to see
Ray Derrick and Eric Laverick who gave us a spirited rendition of 'Shoals of Herring'



Time for more Northumbrian pipes, this time with Ann Sessoms. Tonight she played three Scottish tunes - 'Tweedside', 'Ward Spray' and 'Buttered Peas'. As always, very enjoyable.


Old English were next and, with their authentic traditional harmonies, sang 'The Tinker'. Don't forget, they also run the Chillingham Folk Club.
To finish off the first part of the evening Tony Hamblin was unaccompanied (even though he'd brought his banjo with him!) and sang with great feeling 'Cousin Joe/Billy Don't You Weep For Me'.


Don't forget

We're closed throughout January - for a rest!!!

We're back on 1st February 2007 in the Folk Bar with a Singers Musicians & Poets night. Plus that night there will be an extended set from Jo and Jon. Jo is the daughter of Al Giles (of Old English - the one who doesn't play guitar) and it promises to be a good evening.

10 & 11 Spotlight

Listen 1                              Listen 2

Three years they've been running this club, and jiva finally got to do a spotlight of their own.

See below for two quite different reviews of the evening - on the left by Mike Jessop... on the right by ???


The long awaited and well deserved spotlight of jiva provided a Christmas special to a busy crowd at Ashington on December 21. Not only do the visuals match but the co-ordination of timing, harmonies and choice of material was as usual, excellent.

Kicking off the first of 2 sets at 9:30, Jimmy introduced their own Dream On "rapidly developing as an opening number" ahead of a JSD Band stylised version of Dylan's Don't Think Twice (It's Alright). Melanie's Christmas Lullaby had a wonderful build up and superb harmonies before, a personal favourite they have introduced me to, their recruitment for peace song, The Cause. "Tell the Brave Politicians" ........ if only they were!

Switching to a 12 string for a 12&6 combination brought us the Crosby Stills Nash & Young number Four and Twenty before closing the first 30 minutes with Linda Thompson's waltz, No Telling.

Second set was started on the 12&6 arrangement with Richard Thompson's - Galway To Graceland. Local mining traditions, and especially the routine drudgery of a life threatening occupation, came over well next on All Day, Every Day. With a most unusual capo arrangement next we had the "Woolworth's song" finely executed in Nanci Griffith's Love at The Five and Dime, based on E, A, and B7 chord arrangements. Now with Val on the 12 String we had a brilliant rendition of a seasonal tune - Silent Night - absolutely outstanding, which saw Jimmy acknowledge at the close, the enjoyment of the crowd singing with "Hey, Hey, Hey", ..................or was that him practising his Santa impersonation !!!! Closing with a pair of self penned songs, they gave us Some Way Home, the first time I'd heard this one, and, finally, One More Song - ahead of a well called for and deserved encore of their own Different Dreams.

Well done to Jimmy and Val - not only for this special night but for holding this Club up and supporting so many locals in fine live music for years.

Mike Jessop

Tired and drained from manhandling two PA systems in the Bothal Suite, jiva were obviously pre-occupied with running the night as usual, ensuring that all floor-performers got a spot and that trainee soundman (Dave from Cramlington) had all the advice he needed.

In the rush to get things ready (the Institute wasn't open when they arrived) they only managed a partial soundcheck before moving their mics and guitars off stage in preparation for the floor-spots. After the floor spots the break was longer than planned, as jiva's equipment was put back on stage amid a veritable spaghetti of cables.

Jimmy introduced "Dream On", a jiva-penned song which is now traditionally their kick-off number. It was obvious from the start that there was something amiss with the sound - Jimmy's Brazilian Rosewood Taylor 810-L1 Limited Edition sounded thin and weedy while Val's Indian Rosewood Taylor 810-CE effortlessly filled the room... "I think I might be a bit loud" commented Val. Soldiering on, they played a creditable JSD-Band-influenced version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" - alas, their beautiful harmonies couldn't disguise the fact that the guitar balance was abysmal. Melanie's "Christmas Lullaby" was an excellent choice of song for this pre-Christmas performance - Jimmy downtuned his 6th string to D to change the timbre of his guitar, Val sang well with feeling, and the song built up nicely. Had the guitar blend been correct we could almost feel the snowflakes falling from the fretboard. A change of pace next, as they accelerated into "The Cause" - a self-penned song recruiting for peace... ah yes, "Tell the brave politicians" (if only there were any). Jimmy switched to the beautiful big-bodied trim-waisted Taylor 855 12-string (affectionately christened "Missy"). The 6th pair of strings were downtuned to D, which accentuates the deep rich sound of this Indian Rosewood instrument, and complements the crisp sound of Val's 6-string 810-CE... that's the theory anyway, but sound gremlins continued to plague as Jimmy's deft picking struggled to be heard over Val's two-capoed playing throughout Crosby Stills Nash and Young's "4+20". Would the misery never end? Switching the 12-string over to Val's settings as they finished the first spot with "No Telling" improved the balance somewhat, but it still left a lot to be desired. jiva's beautiful arrangement sometimes brings tears to the eyes - well Jimmy was sweating so much that it was running into his eyes, stinging like hell and leaving him unable to open the left one at all through most of the song!

Gimme a break! Sure enough, there was a 10-minute respite during which time Val re-tuned the 12-string to standard E-A-D-G-B-E while Jimmy checked and double-checked every connection... alas to no avail, as his 6-string sounded no better, and his 12-string settings yielded very little output - most curious as everything had been honed to perfection over the past few weeks with the PA no doubt annoying their neighbours in Blyth as they did their customary hour per day rehearsals, perfectionists that they are.

Slightly later than planned, jiva were back on stage with the 12/6 string combination, Val singing lead on Richard Thompson's "Galway To Graceland" - the guitar balance was a little better, but somehow Jimmy's playing didn't come out from it's first half hiding place. Jimmy then swapped over to 6-string for jiva's own "All Day, Every Day"... and realised that, in the melee of checking over the PA as the minutes ticked inexorably by during the break, he had forgotten to return his 810-L1 to standard tuning... if it ain't one thing it's another! Hurriedly re-tuning (and, no he didn't take enough time time to get it spot on) he sang lead on this song about the memories of the hard coal-mining times for north east families and the legacy of unemployment, lost friends, depression and coal dust. Normally the guitar arrangement on this produces a magical and mystical blend that transports the listener, but tonight it didn't quite get there - shame, 'cos it's a such a beautiful song. With a double capo arrangement on Jimmy's guitar they sang "Love At The Five And Dime", their own up tempo take on a Nanci Griffith song which is rapidly becoming a favourite with audiences as their picking styles counter each other exquisitely (when both guitars can be heard) and they lift the chorus so that it is almost impossible not to join in. Val changed over to the 12-string for the Christmas carol "Silent Night" - beautifully arranged. Jimmy acknowledged Ashington's singing before introducing "Some Way Home", the newest song to emerge from jiva's songwriting. This bounced along well - if you listened carefully you could actually make out some of Jimmy's guitar - but, just when we thought all was getting better, he totally messed up the words to the last verse... so he stopped the song, started again at the beginning of the last verse and they managed to reach the end without further mishap. Another jiva-penned classic was their closing number - "One More Song" which is great to finish the night with as it reminds us all of the joy and warmth of friends and music and swapping stories and memories... another song with an irresistible chorus.

"Thank you and goodnight..." What's that? Cheers, shouts of "ji-va, ji-va" and "more!" - the customary end-of-spotlight reaction.

Jimmy and Val thanked everyone and encored with their well-established semi-autobiographical "Different Dreams". "... in the end it all turns out the same (just the same), in the end it all turns out the same (every day), in the end it all turns out the same" - let's hope not, jiva are capable of much better than this.

"Goodnight! Merry Christmas!"

And an hour later, with bar staff itching to go home, Jimmy and Val finally packed away the last of the Ashington equipment and struggled down the fire escape to cram their own gear into the car... it's amazing how much you you can get inside a Honda Jazz, thoroughly recommended. It seemed a helluva long way home to Blyth - "Some day, some way home..."

You always get great value at Ashington Folk Club.

A spotlight act,  9 floor spots, 22 songs and tunes and all for only 1 (remember, 'It's In The Bag').

Thanks jiva
Thanks to everyone for tonight
Thank you for your support over the last three years

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