Thursday, 10 May 2012


this music bar borrows its name
from a leonard cohen song
his face adorns the walls
part of a giant mural that features the greats of rock
et al
segments of the revolver sleeve
paul's unsmiling face peering out nonchalantly from a pillar
i can't believe it's taken me so long to find this place
it is for music aficionados
not for boozers
not for loud groups of mates out to get plastered
the sound system is clear and bathed in dreamy reverb
it allows no casual interruptions
the lights are low
but the spotlight illuminates the artist
staring out into the blackness
it is difficult to make out the audience
it puts you in the zone
alone with your voice and your instrument
but in touch with the punters
who can hear every nuance of your sound
the genial owner tom jams along with several performers on his digital piano
he is already in my good books for offering me an ale on the house
when i popped in the night before
tonight bill is organising the rea river roots club
he runs a tight ship
a strict diet of two songs per artist
each of whom is summoned to wait in the wings
to take the stage as soon as the previous act finishes
there is an extended set for the special guests - easy street
whose guitarist expertly coaxes his gibson
into bluesy cascades of melodic sound
when my turn comes
i manage to fluff the first verse of radioactive
but importantly don't let it throw me
like it did one night at the prince of wales
and i fare better when properly debuting the great game
the echo makes it sound strangely like the audience is joining in with the choruses
perhaps they are
there is a lovely variety of artists
two acapella acts
one male
one female
singing songs of sadness and beauty
an eccentric old irish fellow
banging away manically on a bodram
a technically accomplished and muscular classical guitarist
and towards the end
a couple of morose-looking chaps
one plonking away on a ukelele
the other stepping up to the mic hands in pockets
to harmonise on the choruses
plaintively bemoaning the loss of public libraries
the nhs
even our social bonds
to 'the big society':
'and when it's gone it's gone
when it's gone it's gone
then it's gone'
and absolutely unforgettable!

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