I had managed to miss out the Bluebell Roots monthly sessions in my earlier ’60 by 60’ write ups so am going back to October, November of 2023 and January of 2024 (I’d already written about the December 2023 session as it was a Milton Hide special).

In case you haven’t read earlier posts about Bluebell Roots, it’s a monthly music night run by us and Neil Povey at the Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen in Arlington. Philippa and Michael Vine own the kitchen, a teaching kitchen kitted out with several Esse stoves and a wonderful space for an evening of music and food.

The venue seats up to 40 but we try to keep numbers at about 30-35 for the sake of comfort. Trestle tables are set out refectory style so it’s a lovely, inclusive atmosphere. The first half of the evening starts with 2 songs by us, then 4 or 5 floor spots by locals, regulars, newcomers, those from further afield – the spots are booked in advance and we try to vary them so there’s a chance for everyone to take part.  

There’s then an interval where Philippa, Michael and Marylin serve up a meal, usually cooked from home grown veg from the farm, or local produce, always seasonal, sometimes with their own reared meat, always with a veggie option. After the meal break the special guest for the evening plays a set of 45 minutes to an hour. we then finish the evening with one more song.

A saucepan is handed round for the ‘hat collection’ which goes to the gust musician, with some set aside for PRS licence and, if the collection has been generous, a safety net for the more lean months.

seated audienceGig 22 OCTOBER 1st

Bluebell Roots with special guest Bruce Watson. We weren’t late setting up for this session as Bruce and his wife Gill were staying with us, visiting the UK from Australia on tour and catching up with family. We had time for a chat before setting off for the kitchen with our PA. It’s always nice to host the guest performer as we get to know them a bit more. Often we are turning up a little late and rushing to get everything set up so there’s not really time to chat before we start playing.

Floor spots were by Two’s Company, Andy Melrose, Colin Chapman, John and Di Cullen, Bruce with Donna Canale for one number.

The evening was really well attended and Bruce had a lot of energy which helped keep the audience engaged. He brought songs and stories of humour, sadness and history. Brilliantly performed, it was fascinating and really entertaining to hear of his own ancestors as well as the politics around the first nation peoples of Australia.

The BR sessions are usually on the last Sunday of the mont but in the Summer we had one in the middle of August for Summer Trifle and, as Bruce was going to be in the area for the start of October rather than the end of September, we made an exception.

trio of musiciansGig 23 –  OCTOBER 29th

Special guests The Long Hill Ramblers.  This Brighton trio, Dan, Ben and Laura, expertly performed Appalachian and old time music on banjo, fiddle and guitar with wonderful vocals. Really foot tapping and extremely entertaining, they had a great report with each other and the audience

Floor spots were by Jim and Sue, Bruce and Carolyn, Seffy and Ann with Kathy and Mick, Donna Canale, and Nigel Horn. Another well attended evening. I don’t recall what we actually performed ourselves that night as I didn’t report to PRS on that occasion or keep a set list record – this is usually on our iPad in a free Ap called SetLists. It’s really handy as you store all of your lyrics in there as song lists which you can then add to set lists. You can duplicate a set list and edit it according to the venue / audience. It’s a tool we use loads and help a lot with PRS reporting after gigs. We do charge the set list as we perform, gauging the audience or the time left, so it’s easy to go back and edit it at the end of the evening rather then try to recall weeks later what you did! Like now – ah well!

audience seated at dining tablesGig 24 –  NOVEMBER 26th

Malcolm McWatt, our last featured guest of 2023, lives in London but entranced us with wonderful songs highly influenced by the obvious pride in his Scottish heritage as well as his love for country music. He really blew us all away. We’d met Malcolm quite early on in our music debut when we played at Softly Softly up in London – he was on the bill with us and 2 other acts, including the lovely Evra Abraham hoc has also played at Bluebell Roots.

Running these music nights has really helped us with networking with other artists, often we’ll be able to get gigs at venues that they have recommended, and many of them are very good at sharing the event on social media which helps not just the event but us as hosts too.

Floor spots were by Nick Cant, Bill Harris and Jenny Johnson, Bruce and Carolyn, and Rob Abbot.

Gig 25 – Jan 28th

Special guest Gabriel Moreno, a Gibraltan singer-songwriter who plays stunning guitar and was accompanied by Ned Cartwright on paint and Saxophone. We arrived a little late and weren’t able to chat much to either of them before the start, but we chatted at the end and Gabriel was as lovely as he seemed when performing, Ned was lovely too but had been very much in the background during the performance. 

Floor spots were by Colin Chapman, Bruce and Carolyn, Mark Woodgate, Dave Mantle, Andy Melrose, and Two’s company. We’d miscalculated and had too many floor spots so over-ran but it was fine. Philippa and co managed to keep the food ticking over until the break which we shortened slightly so that the evening didn’t end too late. The plan is to finish before 10 so that guests which have travelled don’t get too late on a Sunday night.

We were planing to go to an Open Mic later in the week with a Moon theme, so we tried out our 2 moon songs at the start of the evening – one that Jim sings on his own (Shine Right back At The Moon) and one we play together (The Spiders Web Caught The Moon). At the end of the evening, Jade got up to perform with us as The 3 Js, for I’ll Dance For you For Tuppence – always an absolute joy.  Audience numbers were low as we’d had several cancellations due to illness so I filmed the whole evening on my mobile ‘phone, live-streaming after asking each performer if they were happy for me to do so. Later, I edited the videos together and put it on YouTube as a single film. It’s not the best quality but the sound is ok and you get a good sense of the atmosphere. https://youtu.be/j4X5l9kUm2g?si=YS3jhTJB0MFghpEN