Actually, I lied about the beads and a plurality of bards and banjos is stretching it somewhat, but who among us can resist an allusion to a 60-year old show tune based on a Borodin melody and a bit of alliteration?
Saturday was dancing in the street and some bluegrass – lunchtime drinking to the sound of The Hole in the Head Gang. Singing along to The Band’s The night they drove Old Dixie down was particularly pleasurable. (Here we record the first sighting of the Banjo Player).
Sunday was blessed with clement weather for the Classic Car Show in the Market Square and beyond. Never mind all the glamour stuff, I was much taken by this sparkling little Simca 8 from days of old (1938-1951 to be precise). I’d forgotten all about the Vauxhall Wyvern – they don’t name them like that any more – while a rock’n’roll smile could be the only possible response to the Pink Cadillac.
The weather held, too, for the Big Lunch, a community picnic down by the river. Lots of people and here we record the first sighting of the Bard reciting the Stony Live! poem.
Monday and I’m singing along to Goodnight Irene with the Blisworth Tunnel Rats. Not as folk punk as the name would suggest, this was back porch country in the Fox & Hounds. And the Banjo Player played.
Tuesday and there are over 30 people in Poets’ Corner in the Library. Some new faces, the Bard gave us that poem and the Banjo Player gave us an ode in celebration and rebuttal of all the banjo jokes (although not all 271 as listed here). Personally I was quite pleased with my third Back Garden Haiku:
“Another thing I have learnt /from the grass: line feed / strimmers are rubbish”
to which I got concurrence. And so a few yards down the road to finish off the evening with a folkish whiff of the ’60s with Freespirit downstairs in the Crown.
Wednesday we stayed the course with the King Biscuit Boys back at the Fox & Hounds. a two man blues outfit with the younger and dreadlocked Craig outstanding on harmonica – a brief Ode to joy while his mate was changing guitars not the only bonus – washboard, melodica and the captivating bowl-shaped metal ‘tongue drum’ (which looked nothing like any of those Google images has just thrown up). They fell foul of the three pubs in a Stony Live! night syndrome, which was a shame because fewer people saw the more varied second set. I’m glad we stayed (though they should have slipped some of that Bo Diddley in earlier).
Feeling the pace, Thursday was restricted to the lunchtime concert in St Mary & St Giles Church with the necessarily slimmed down Church Orchestra. If I’d realised the programme had been arranged around the 60th anniversary of the coronation I probably wouldn’t have bothered and starting with the national anthem – “Long to reign over us” indeed, in this day and age, not to even think of the absurdity once Charles gets his few years go – did not augur well (we stayed seated – no-one noticed) except it was a rather lovely arrangement. And they couldn’t find a suitable tune with 60 featured anywhere so they settled for When I’m 64 and threw in the Coronation street theme later on. There was a beautiful waxing and waning arrangement – brass band-like with the trombone at the bottom of it – of John Lennon’s Imagine, which sounded all the better for being an instrumental, without the words. Throw in that Toccata & fugue on the fine old organ and a couple of more than decent piano solo pieces, one from a remarkable flame haired young (middle school) talent, and no regrets.
Friday we’re back upstairs at the Crown for An evening with the Bard and friends ie. most of the usual suspects, though the evening was not without surprises. And while at 8 o’clock it looked like the poets might outnumber the audience, fears were soon allayed. Some fine sets from all, with the ever dapper Poeterry straying from his usual beat to take us racing at Ascot (albeit on Ladies Day) while crossover poet Ian McEwan segued from a sensuous John Donne piece into an invitation for his partner to “decorate your vag” to Auden rhythms, managing to slip in a mention of Rainer Maria Rilke while he was doing it. And the Bard did recite the Stony Live! Poem one more time. And to quote from that ode (and back again) “the drink flowed free like poetry” though we had to pay for the beer.
And so to Saturday and what is now well established as one of my favourite annual musical moments, MK’s own Concrete Cowboys doing their self-appointed signature tune, Bob Dylan’s You aint going nowhere. More lunchtime bluegrass at the Fox & Hounds, where the clock stands forever at 18 minutes to one. Accomplished musicians with fine voices, still fresh for all their 30 years existence, I’m not so sure the Everly Brothers’ All I have to do is dream has more impressive interpreters anywhere, even in Milton Keynes. There is more than enjoyment going on here. The eagle-eyed will have already spotted the presence of the hardest working Banjo Picker in Stony Stratford in the photo above.
Sunday and it’s a mostly chilly with outbreaks of sun Folk on the Green (different organisation, OK, but nevertheless effectively the climax of Stony Live!). Plenty of people as ever on the Green and a varied bunch on stage. Best for me were The Broadway Twisters, a rockabilly trio plus one – double bass included – looking and sounding the part. Near the end someone (hi Jon) came up to me and said I was a dead ringer for Jerry Garcia; given I’d looked in the mirror earlier in the week and thought, “Bloody Hell, I look like Jerry Garcia” this was double-edged as I’d trimmed the beard so I didn’t. Could be worse. It’s always when I see Rolf Harris staring back at me that it comes off.