Friday 21 December 2012

It's Christmas!

Here's a little festive treat for you - we are pleased to be able to bring you the 1981 Christmas night at Bangor's Glanrafon Pub in its entirety! The event took place upstairs at the legendary venue (now the "Yellow Pub") on Friday 18th December 1981 and was headlined by a special once-only extended line-up of jocular country combo The Yahoos, supported by all manner of festive talent.

Originally a trio of Scott Saunders, John Cratchley and Martin Wilson, The Yahoos on this occasion were quite different, augmenting their line-up with Malcolm Budd and Andy Beaumont of the Rub-a-Dub Jug Band on banjo and fiddle respectively and Maeyc Hewitt and Alan Holmes of the Pinecones on drums and bass. It's not entirely certain whether all the original line-up were also in this extended version, but front man and songwriter Scott most certainly was. The group played a set of Christmas themed country songs, specially penned for the event by Scott and never repeated. Malcolm and Andy also both had short solo spots during the evening.

The evening kicked off with a rare solo appearance by Cut Tunes' enigmatic leader Gary Cut, who performed a rousing version of Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas with the assistance of Alun Rhys Jones and Wil jones of the Alun Rhys Jones Band on backing vocals. Drummer Maeyc Hewitt then joined the trio as they performed Alun's classic Pot of Gold and their interpretation of perennial show standard Till There Was You.

Following Malcolm's moving rendition of Scarlet Ribbons, a special one-off group treated the audience to a variety of Christmas standards. The Festive 5 were a vocal harmony combo who got together specially for the night and comprised Scott Saunders on guitar and lead vocals, backed up by the harmonies of Pinecones Maria Hycz and Alan Holmes and The Bellman mastermind Phil Layton. The festive cheer is palpable on the recordings, with the audience cheering and laughing at Phil's hilarious Ian Curtis dance moves as he harmonised on the likes of Frosty the Snowman and Sleigh Bells.

Next up was Andy Beaumont, who enthralled the audience with his interpretation of Tom Lehrer's Christmas Time Is Here by Golly, a song he still enjoys playing 31 years later as the audience at this month's open mic night at the Auckland Arms in Menai Bridge can attest! All that was left then was for the rest of the Yahoos to join Andy on the stage to whip the crowd into a festive frenzy.

Much of the music contained here is of slim artistic merit, and the recording quality leaves something to be desired, but what the hell - it's Christmas! pour yourself a few beers, switch the TV off, crank up the volume and you'll be transported back 31 years to that crowded upstairs room full of melodious Christmas cheer!

1    Gary Cut - I Believe in Father Christmas
2    Alun Rhys Jones - Pot of Gold
3    Alun Rhys Jones - Till There Was You
4    Malcolm Budd and Ann - Scarlet Ribbons
5    Festive 5 - Winter Wonderland
6    Festive 5 - Sleigh Ride
7    Festive 5 - Little Drummer Boy
8    Festive 5 - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
9    Festive 5 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
10    Festive 5 - Frosty the Snowman
11    Festive 5 - White Christmas
12    Festive 5 - Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
13    Andy Beaumont - Christmas Time Is Here by Golly
14    The Yahoos - Introduction
15    The Yahoos - Tasmania
16    The Yahoos - Country Christmas
17    The Yahoos - Christmas in Tuscon
18    The Yahoos - Another Christmas Without Snow
19    The Yahoos - Granpappy
20    The Yahoos - The Finest Meal
21    The Yahoos - We'll Hang Our Stockings on the Bedpost

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Saturday 1 December 2012

The Baudelaires

The Baudelaires were a short lived but unique group, existing between February and May 1984. In fact, the trio never decided on a name but when they were invited to support the legendary Cut Tunes at Bangor University on 29th March 1984, Gary Cut needed a name to put on the posters and so christened them The Baudelaires. This was to be the sole public performance of the group, who were memorably described by an audience member as "the worst group in the world ever".

Listening to the recordings made by the trio however, it becomes clear that the world in 1984 just wasn't ready for a group who operated so far outside the fashionable scenes of the period. The line-up of acoustic guitar, violin and bass sounded light years from the lyrical folk sound normally associated with such instrumentation, coming over more as a meeting between Sun Ra, Edgard Varèse and the Velvet Underground.

The group explored unorthodox harmonic and rhythmic structures, stitching together composed and improvised sections into an out-there post structural mélange of uncompromising wonderment. Although the trio were not averse to performing the odd song, their true strength lay in extended instrumental compositions such as the hour-long Concerto for Strings, composed and recorded in March 1984.

The Baudelaires - Concerto for Strings (1984)   1:00:00

Alan Holmes - acoustic guitar
Nicki Dupuy - violin
Scott Saunders - bass guitar

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