The evening starts with an introduction by Nigel, telling us about SeeAbility (formerly Royal School for the Blind) and the kids and carers that in these times need to find increased sources of funding, which is what this concert is all about.

Les Wild (compere for the evening) sets a mood and announces opener Stan Graham. I feel for Stan, he has a hard job to do in opening both the big bill, and warming up the large crowd that have turned up for this album launch. Pleasantly, the audience need little urging as Stan has a good set of singalong tunes – easy choruses to pock up, and Stan is quietly enthuastic about us joining him – dropping completely out for a refrained chorus so we can hear ourselves as the audience.

Johnny Coppin is invited to take a solo turn next up (he’s been billed as accompanying Nigel, yet hardly needs an introduction)
Obviously well known and liked within the club for good reason, this nationally acclaimed star only plays a couple of guitar tunes and a keyboard song; surprisingly to me the audience also gently join in at appropriate moments. Doing a bit of research later, I discover Johnny produced Nigel’s album, a snippet I’ve missed in the announcements.

I’ve not seen Tinderbox for a long time, so this listening session is long overdue. They play two songs, one from each of their first couple albums, again starting in the singalong mode that the evening has encuraged.
Monique drops a couple of allusions to her pregnancy, with a comment that she’s feeling hormonal and teary – rather endearing though. They finish with a heart rending song from the upcoming fourth album (estimated release near the end of the year). I guess they’ve been asked to keep their patter between songs short, as Dan hardly gets a word in, leaving his fingers performing the guitar magic to do the talking.

Compere Les Wild has his work cut out while the stage is reset for Martyn Windham-Read & Iris Bishop. Iris’ Concertina and Martyn’s voice are a beautifully different combination, before Martin picks up a guitar to add to the ensemble. Nigel interupts the set to ask Martin to insert a 4th track into his set list – this is a pretty tune that could just go on forever – and that is intended to be interpreted both ways! It was a song writing exercise, intended never to be performed, however if one likes it, its wondeful. Of couse, a repetitive tune and words, if one doesn’t get the vibe, can seem to go on forever!

Finally, after the interval and inevitable raffle draw, Nigel joins the stage, with Iris and Jonny to start; eventually Les, Bob Whitley (on blues harp) and Nigel’s daughter Marianne have all taken part at different junctures.

Nigel is charmingly self-deprecating – he quips “normally after the interval there’s the professional artist for the evening – not tonight obviously!”  He’s also comically just slightly clumsy (only a small amount), able to make light of tapping Iris on the head with the guitar by mistake. This continues as a running joke for the rest of the evening…

There are some good stories behind the songs, and interesting anecdotes about the songwriting and recording process, which I judge not able to be shared here, sorry! (despite the title of the post).

The evening has also been a success for SeeAbility, £650 has been raised on the door and via the raffle, in addition to any album sales.

On the way home I drop in to see Antonia Edgeley-Long at Chaplins – she’s headlining the Sunday Session tonight. It’s a rare pleasure for me to hear her solo voice, more often than not she’s joining Voodoo Vegas for a song or two, or fronting her rock covers band Supercharger Heaven. She finger picks, while singing at a pitch which is slightly elevated from her normal speaking voice. Yes OK, I’m a sucker for female vocalists, and I’ve been spoilt tonight with hearing two with exquisite tones with Monique from Tinderbox and now Antonia.

Andy Stock and AJ close the night with a couple of nicely hammed tunes, or perhaps I should say out-of-tunes, as they have a friendly argument about the guitar and blues harps not matching, all in all a very pleasant Sunday evening.