Clennell Hall Special Edition

As a child an abiding and impressing memory is of Mr A Jolson declaiming, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the Moooooorning.”

Thus states the old song.

He[1] is, however, in that assertion, completely wrong.

I beg to differ with one of the eldest statesmen of popular music in one important regard: location.  He has not been to Clennell Hall Folk Festival.

Clennell Hall from afar

Why such a disputatious start to this week’s Fool’s Gold Blog?  As ever Gentle Reader, you find yourself with little choice but to be welcome, and read on…

Firstly the housekeeping news; the CD is ready and on sale for a paltry £8. Expect to have one forced upon you at gigs! This week has been quiet for us as we have done a few rehearsals and been brushing up on some of the back catalogue ready for our visit to Clennell Hall on Saturday.

I remember how pleased we were some time ago, when we spoke on the dog ‘n bone to Dave Foreshaw, who had the impeccable taste to give us the nod. Given that we have still to celebrate FG’s second birthday, I feel proud of our achievements so far, and getting a toehold on the festival scene is a biggie for us. So a big ‘thank you’ first of all for Dave, who despite protestations to the contrary, is very much Mr Clennell, and facilitates, ensures, chivvies and even dresses in purple, to make sure that the Festival goes well.

Clennel Hall, recently

Clennel Hall, recently

And go very well indeed it does.

This year we only took part on the Saturday, it had clearly begun well the previous evening, as, by the time we arrived at 10.30 am, there were faint scurryings of bleary-eyed campers, clutching their detached heads and singing the ‘Never Again’ song – a promising start then.

We were met by Dave who got us parked up and left us to it – as he says – “You all know what you’re doing”.[2]

Dave Foreshaw

Mr Clennell

It soon became clear to us that Clennell Festival is quite special. Set in and around an impressive Country House, now hotel, Clennell Hall is a beautiful spot in Upper Coquetdale in Northumberland.
The setting is lovely and the scenery around even better. The place was crawling with folkies of all shapes and ages, tradsters, singer songwriters, morrismen (and lady morrismen), and thankfully a fair representing of Joe Public – to whit, an audience!

Four simultaneous venues ran in parallel during the day, supported by good bar catering, good real ales and a lovely setting – perfect!

Also in attendance was virtually everyone from the northern contingent of the Folk Scene. To list them would take too long and be of little interest to readers from further afield, but we met and chatted with a huge number of good friends, an excellent start.

FG Live

FG Live

As players, we tended to gravitate to our venues, the Marquee and the Reception Area – turned out to be a huge Victorian style reception room, now utilised by the hotel for the business of welcoming guests. We did see Trev Reed do the first shift in the Marquee and hats off – he did a great set, excellent playing and singing at such an unconscionable hour (liked the persiflage too,Trev!) Few Broth indisposed, it fell to Trev to kick things off in style.

Next after wandering, chatting and a welcome warming coffee, friends jiva entertained us royally as ever, and we sang our little heads off as part of the honorary jiva choir of harmonious(ish) backers. Excellent set. More wandering chatting, spot of food in the bar, alcohol also taken, then more wandering and chatting before catching up on itsAcoustica doing a strong set. Good turn out for them too.

Our sets were back to back. In other words, two hours, one after the other – ouch, me fingers!

First spot was in the aforementioned Reception and we elected to go acoustic. This was our highlight, as we ran out a strong set and really enjoyed it – which, Gentle Reader; is important. By the end we had a fair audience, but no time to chat as we were ushered off one stage and …

…onto another. Another hour in the Marquee, using an unknown PA, and with more people outside than inside – but they were listening.[3]

In short, an excellent day for us, an invite back, a booking, a couple of CD’s shifted, good friends and a great set of playing.

Andy Higgins

Caption Competition - what is he thinking?

Sadly we missed Jack & Wendy -although we heard a bit of Dave (The Thunder) Minnikin in the marquee – see, I said they could hear outside, as , tired bunnies, we crept homeward.

Still; next year…

So until the rogue purple underpants of time begin their assault on the whites-only wash cycle of eternity, I notice it’s the end of this blog[4]. Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Or rather Kahn & Donaldson, as it was them what wrote it

[2] At this point, Dave had never actually met us!

[3] Probably

[4] Atr. Iain Pattinson, the genius behind Humph Lyttleton’s delivery


15 thoughts on “Clennell Hall Special Edition

  1. Hi Guys, good to meet you at Clennell Hall – Sorry had my hands full (as a host) elsewhere so disappointed not to get to see & hear you. As I was up at CH from Thursday ’till Monday I had three great days of music. Did a two hour stunt including an “invited folk” sing-a-round and a 30 minute opening spot on Sunday Morning -the finale with Kimbers Men and others was wonderful. Hope to see you soon.
    Take care John.

  2. Some of us have been to (North) Carolina… I was completely underwhelmed by it (I can’t believe that Mr. Jolson was singing about Burlington NC, which is a dump). It must be nice somewhere, around there, since a Mr. J Taylor quite likes the place…

  3. Who is Peegeetips? I’ve been trying to find him/her. Very misterons.
    £8 I’l have one. OH? I already have one. doh!

    • Peegeetips is my mate John. He lives in America, which is why he thinks £8 isn’t enough for our CD. He isn’t all that mysterious, unless one considers the wider implications of free evolution of course.

      • Don’t know if you know Richard (Grainger; he’s the main man) – he’d be the one to ask about performing. I think there is a singaround at some point on the Saturday… not sure.
        Hope to catch up with you soon, and welcome homeski to Eileen!

  4. I think some parts of “Framwellgate” Moor are very lovely. May be I should write a song about it and see if it makes me a famous and very rich musician. Who knows?

  5. “When I wake up in the morning and the sun is in the sk—–y.
    and the starlings are shouting in my ea—-r
    and the dust is flying up and down my streee—et.
    I take my cup of Tea and sit upon my patio—
    to enjoy the sites and sounds of Framwellgaaaa–te.
    The Moor is so pretty,
    the shops are Oh so quaint
    the take away’s have left their rubbish ouu–uut
    and the neighbours are all still asle—-eeeep
    I’m thinking what a lucky boy am I—I-I-I-I—”
    Their, sorted, Bound to be a hit.
    hehehehehehehehehehhehehehehehehe. OH! I do love my publ hic

  6. No same bottle, I just don’t need much encouragement.

    What do think of the new song? I may have to write more as it’s very short and I haven’t yet got a tune or chords but I like it.
    Joking apart, when I was fooling with this I had radio 3 on and as I finished a song similar to mine was played ! how bazar is that?

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