Adrian May is a songwriter living in Essex and is a long time friend of some of our residents. When we were offered the chance to book him in his duo with Murray Griffin, a pairing known as Face Furniture, it was something to look forward to. Adrian’s songs are observational but usually have a slight sense of the ridiculous to keep you grinning, albeit sometimes wryly. His songs are accompanied by competent guitar and excellent ukelele playing, something very apt since Ryburn 3 Step’s latest venture is a ukulele band. Murray’s bass playing is hugely inventive and supportive, even though he was missing his upright bass, presently unplayable due to a shoulder injury.
Their first half was a range of selections from Adrian’s latest project entitled A Comedy of Masculinity. A prologue was followed by Soft Man, a comment on male ‘outliers’, ie. those not into football, cars, etc.
The Blackbird & the Crow was about unlikely things joining together, and other songs included a rant called Sons & Fathers, the allegorical Something Like a Man about waiting for masculinity to catch up with modern life and a song outside the suite but very topical for R3S – Everyone Plays the Ukulele Now!
The second half was taken from other suites of Adrian’s songs, particularly Discovering England. The optimistic (for some of us) Left Wing Swing commented on the recent success of Jeremy Corbyn while The Skiffle Train journeyed from The Peasant’s Revolt to the present day via WW2 and the 1960s. John Ball, a Lollard priest involved in and executed after the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, gets several songs in the suite, the one included here being The Pieces of John Ball whose body was dispersed to Coventry, Chester, York and Canterbury. Discovering England, English Anthem, Nobody hates the English, and Goodnight England followed and the night finished with a very confusing George Formby spoof called Leaning on a Window, An Old Bastard’s Love Song and my personal favourite, Everyone’s Drunk in Essex. It was a very unusual night and well received, particularly by the cluster of ukulele players attracted to attend.
Thanks go to the residents, floor singers, and pit band, who did their usual stuff, including a couple of ballads with a few deaths to remind us of our true heritage. Phoebe and Lawrence wowed us with their “Broom dance”, which involved a lot of very fast leg and arm waving and a minimal amount of sweeping. Very impressive.
The songs included:
An early Wassail Song from Steve Harrison & Annie Dearman
The ballad Captain Carr – Tim Edwards
A medley of fiddle tunes from Nev
Tim Hardin’s Reason to Believe from Terry Evans
An election inspired Silly Birds by Chris Manners
Poor Old Horse from Pete Coe
A spectacular performance of Dewie Dells of Yarrow from Chris Coe
Excuse Me, Mr…. from Alice Jones.