two lumps or three?

When is a trio not a trio?

When it’s a duo, obviously.

And so it was again this week as our bass playing Nugget remains musically incapacitated by illness and other commitments. Carol and I have begun re-assembling some songs in duo friendly form, and were looking forward to trying them out.

The only question, then, would seem to be, which luckless group of well intentioned citizens would lend and ear to us as we try ‘em out? Especially, on a cold, wet Tuesday in Stanley1?

Who amongst us can reasonably say that we’ve not heard of Jack’s Club?

Well there will be a few, so in the interest of global enlightenment, pin back your lugs…

The South Causey Open Acoustic evening has, or rather had, been held in the salubrious surroundings of South Causey Equestrian Centre for many moons. Hosted by Jack Burness, who should surely need little introduction to regular consumers of this drivel, the club is, or rather was, a beacon evening both in terms of a high quality open evening and also as a venue for showcasing local, national and international artists.

Sadly, the world turns and it became apparent that the evening may have to look for a new home as the business pendulum of the Equestrian Centre swung in a different arc.

Shame really, because a pint of fine foaming ale from that establishment was yours for the asking, in exchange only of a completed mortgage application form and the blood of your firstborn2.

So a new home? Just so.

As a long time resident of Stanley, when I heard it was the Ball Alley, just slightly down the road from the old venue at the Equestrian Centre, I was initially trepedacious, that hostelry not holding the fondest memories for me as a place of wit and enlightenment. As it turns out, as much as the pendulum may have swung at the old venue, it certainly has at the new. The pub is clean, warm, bright and welcoming, decent beers at decent prices and of course, Jack.

It seems that the entire contingent of Local Yokels as they are (more or less) fondly known, has upped sticks and followed, because, although we haven’t been to the club for a while, we were impressed to see vast hordes of folks streaming through the doors – certainly in comparison to some other places – in a seemingly never ending torrent of familiar faces.

What is interesting about Jack’s Club – and so it is referred to by most – is that there is a big audience. Many venues effectively provide a listening group of players awaiting their turn, but not so this club, as there is a regular crowd of folks who turn up week after week to listen, including of course the Fabulous Kitchenettes, rafflemongers, organisers do-ers, performers and, on occasion, backing group – good to see ‘em all.

The musical standard was as usual, very good. Three or four numbers using a PA with a good 10 or so acts to watch. We had the signal honour of closing and trotted out a couple of the newer songs and an oldie.

It is noted by this writer, that Derek and Shaggy, better known perhaps as We Steal Flyers, possibly the hardest working acoustic act in this part of the globe, have come up with another (for they had had a few) innovative and interesting idea.

These two lads, shy and retiring bairns both, especially Derek, run a lively acoustic night at The Trap in Red Row, or is it Haverston, near Druridge Bay in Northumberland. FG have only visited once, but that’s just because it’s quite a step for us. Nights there are really something with a huge range of styles, ages, approaches and folks from pre-beginner status to seasoned pro are all welcomed equally – and it really is equal. If this neo-folk club has inherited anything from ‘the tradition’ it is the way that everyone, regardless of whichever category above they fall into, gets a respectful and appreciative listen.

So, what did they do that was new?

Well, they webcast the night, live, as it happened3

I couldn’t watch it all, but I thought it was great- a really good idea and bound to do the night a lot of good. Naysayers, Luddites, Muckstuckers and assorted Immovable Personages may suggest that the idea is silly as it stops folks going to the night.

That is made of rubber, and when dropped bounces; as:

  1. I wasn’t going anyway
  2. The audience for the webcast was global not local – people all over the world could (and might well have – you should see their contact list) and watched Joe Soap from Northumberland performing on the world stage – even if only for a few minutes.

Well done lads, says I, keep up the innovation!

Just three shorties to finish off with this week,

Firstly, we’ve been confirmed for Ryedale Festival next year – this is undoubtedly one of our very favourites, and we’re really looking forward to it in 2012. Thanks to Richard as usual, and roll on next year!

Secundo, I got flamed (a bit) on Facebook for making a banjoist remark. For the record, I know gags about bass players, drummers and singers too. None at all about baldy guitar players who write folk epics though.4 Some of my best friends sit behind banjos, so to show there are no hard feelings, no more banjo gags. Still, I got the impression that I had huffed one particular banjo operator, which is of course a shame, and apologies are probably due so:

What’s a banjo player’s favourite game? Answer – Ker-Plunk.

Dritte, Sam Coles is completed! That happened tonight after a couple of hard days in the studio. I’m pretty sure it isn’t finished or will need tweaking in response to feedback. If you feel like commenting, that would be very welcome. And how long is it? I really, really daren’t tell you! But you will have time to make a cup of tea. 5

Find it here:


Tis the season to be jolly
Stuff yourself with food and holly
Perhaps the last bit was just folly
As getting it out again’s not so jolly

And with those words of wisdom, I notice that the time has come for the repentant guitarist of fate to extend the olive branch to the banjo player of destiny, who notices too late that it’s still attached to the tree, and with that;

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

1 In the interests of balance, it must be pointed out, that, in Stanley, this is not confined to Tuesdays.
 This is of course, opinion. Not necessarily, therefore, fact. Even though it felt like it.
 It being difficult to do ‘live’ at any other time

4Which is of course, a joke, some people might think I mean it!

5 And Christmas dinner


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