A.J. Walker

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Muppets Forever

The chest infection is lingering on but isn't as bad as it was. And I managed last week to cycle to work, to actually work – and to do two open mics again. I played at the open mic at the Dispensary on Monday night. It was a good crowd again playing. Andy they had more beer choices this week too, which was nice to see (after they only had two ales on last week). Later on in the week I played at the Belvedere for the first time in ages at John Witherspoon's night.

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Dispensary Open Mic

Played four songs on Monday and three on Thursday. Not bad eh? Trying not to start off automatically with 'Oh My Sweet Carolina' and actually going for one of either 'Couldn't Get Arrested' 'Whiskey in my Whiskey' and 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn'.

On the Monday I met a local who'd returned to Liverpool after living in Aus and was just getting back into the place. It'll be like he's never been away in no time. He played his three songs and I chatted to him about other venues with open mics. I recommended the Belvedere on Thursday – and yes he did go and play there too. I'm an influencer!

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Barry, brilliant as ever

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Great to see John play again. It'd been a while.

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There were a few people in the small room. Cosy!

Lots of regulars there all on top form – and someone's grandmother (who'll remain nameless) was enjoying the evening with a great deal of toe-tapping and she even regaled us with a couple of songs
sans guitar.

Bit mad to hear a fair few people singing along with
Couldn't Get Arrested and Whiskey in my Whiskey in the Belvedere. It felt like I had a chorus being sung like the muppets on Fraggle Rock. But it was nice though.

Not sure whether I'll get to any open mics next week. If I do it'll probably just be the Dispensary one as I am going to a Sofar gig on Thursday (I do wish autocorrect would stop changing that to Solar gig). Of course that is assuming music is still on in the middle of this week of random mourning (you can play cricket or rugby, but not football?).

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Me, looking like an old overweight white bluesman. It's just the shirt I tell ya!

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John, the host with most.

Thank you everyone, including the muppets!


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If Music Be The Food Of Love

The footy season is indeed now over but last week magical Anfield held another event: the Rolling Stones first Liverpool gig for nearly fifty years. When the tickets went on sale I briefly considered getting one. I mean an iconic band in a wonderful stadium. I'd previously watched one gig there, which was Paul McCartney in 2008 (the Capital of Culture gig). I'd done the same that time to by not getting a ticket when they first went on sale but really wishing I had as it approached. Then the day before the gig an acquaintance said he had a spare and I snaffled it up in super quick time. It did not disappoint. But I'd never seen Macca before and I've been lucky enough to see the Stones several times including the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, at Twickenham, and at Glastonbury, so I didn't have quite the same push to spend the one hundred pounds or so on a ticket. Still on the day I was kinda jealous of everyone going. You really can't beat a live music event - be it giants of history like them or newer or more intimate events.

Felice Brothers

So I decided that I'd get a ticket or two for gigs which would fill the need (and be cheaper than seeing the one band (or two if you counted the Bunnymen)). I quickly got on the case and over a couple of days got myself a ticket for the brilliant Felice Brothers, who are playing Leaf on Bold Street in a few weeks, and Frank Turner for later in the year (October). I'll keep my eye out for another gig or two and still come in below the cost of seeing Jagger, Richards and co. Notwithstanding that it did sound like it was a top night and everyone seems to have enjoyed Anfield that night and I do kinda wish I'd gone. Having the Felice Brothers and Frank to look forward to is pretty damn cool though.

Frank Tagain

Over the last couple of weeks I have not done a single open mic, which is rare since the return of them to the hostelries in Liverpool. And so it was that I decided to go to a new open mic night at the Angus who had announced they were to move their night to a Sunday and have it on a more regular basis (at least whilst the football season is in abeyance). John Witherspoon who I know from his hosting the mic at the Keystone (and now the Belvedere) is to be the new host but on this occasion he had to pass it on to another regular guitarist: Mike Blue. I pootled down to the Angus just before the start time at 8pm and found there was only one guy with a guitar already there; this turned out to be Mike. Shortly afterwards he got up to play and introduce the night asking if anyone for requests, saying he hoped some people would turn up to play soon. But town looked quiet everywhere as far as I could tell from my walk to the Angus - and from the people passing the windows of the bar. Quite a few people would be playing in the Jacaranda open mic which has been going for some time now. It'll take a few weeks of word of mouth for this new night to become more widely known (not everyone is on Social Media all the time - hard to believe I know). Eventually I let it be known that I could go up an play lest Mike end up playing the whole night as a gig and I went up and played three of my usual songs ('Oh My Sweet Carolina,' 'Heart Breaks Like the Dawn, and 'Whiskey in my Whiskey' - the last one being the Felice Brothers who I'll see at Leaf). Then Mike returned. He hadn't seen me play before, so for a nice change he'd not been subject to the same songs week after week.

As the night moved on it became more apparent that other singers were unlikely to turn up, at least not in numbers, and Mike continued playing some great songs (largely requests from the audience) including a couple of great Neil Young covers. The couple in front of me then suggested it was my turn to go up again, probably to allow Mike a toilet break and opportunity to refuel and I duly did (I felt obliged) playing 'You Couldn't Get Arrested' and 'Splendid Isolation.' Mike continued and finally after he played a fine U2 cover I went up a third time and played my own U2 cover (albeit a trad song) 'Van Diemen's Land' and (half a version of) 'Somewhere Down the Road.' Mike played on till time was called and beyond - and that was that. We shook hands and chatted. Like John and Ali, Mike was an accomplished guitarist with a good voice and stage presence and was a thoroughly nice chap, it was a shame a few more (or even just one more!) people didn't go up to play.

Several people in the bar said they enjoyed my songs which was a) nice and b) made me wonder what they had been drinking.

I've a soft spot for the Angus (for it's music and its beer) and I really hope in the longer term the open mic will succeed, whether that is on a Sunday or another night. Ultimately it will always be a moveable feast due to football supporters being an important part of its clientele; and because of the regular professional gigs it hosts. It was good to get back to playing in front of people again and I won't leave it as long to the next time. Maybe even the Belvedere on Thursday?


Onwards and Upwards. And yes: Play On!


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Still Strummin'

Played at the open mics in the Keystone and Angus over the last couple of weeks. Great to carry on with it. But I do wonder whether I should do fewer and in the intervening weeks practice more - and maybe write some songs too. We shall see. It'll be a hard drug to give up.

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Strumming' at the Keystone a couple of weeks ago.

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Good to see Barry playing for the first time and the return of Sam Lee too. A nice evening all round.


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Cold weather on Wednesday night meant a smaller group of players than usual Meant the players who did turn up did a lot more than the usual three or four songs.I ended up playing eight songs. Eek!

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One of my favourite pics of me playing - the Angus.

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Another fab open mic at the Keystone


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Keystone Three (for me)

After missing John Witherspoon's open mic at the Keystone the week before I did make it last week again for my third appearance out of the four they've had. It was upstairs again and was very well attended with regulars from the previous weeks. I was second up thankfully and played three of my usual - Heart Breaks Like the Dawn (C Prophet), Oh My Sweet Carolina (R Adams), and Splendid Isolation (Zevon) - and unlike the previous time I did mess any of them up. Yippee! In fact it felt to me like it was the best I'd played them; at least three songs together anyway. Not saying it definitely was, but it felt all right to me nothwithstanding what it sounded like to everyone.

All the performers were fab - many doing their own songs - and the mood was great again. It's definitely becoming a week highlight.

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The Keystone had my favourite tipple on too - Jaipur from Thornbridge - so it was a doubly good night all around.

Won't make it next week as Liverpool are on the box (on a Thursday in the Premier League!) against Newcastle so I dare say I'll be in the Fly or Head of Steam watching that. Hopefully we'll beat them well to make up for missing the open mic. Don't know if there will be one the following week with it being so close to Xmas then (Dec 23rd) but if it is then I intend to be there.

Hopefully next year I'll get a few songs written and perform them here. Could happen.
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