Being an amateur musician, a kind of hobbyist troubadour, a strolling minstrel is great fun. We swan about being Fool’s Gold, playing our songs and meeting shed loads of marvellous Acoustic Chums. But like the moon, is there a dark side?

Be welcome Gentle Reader and read on…

This week we have been busier than ever on the Help for Heroes project. Coordinating artwork, getting it approved (or not, we’re still waiting), arranging and contacting venues – all this an’ more. Also, we got back into the studio and have the final track backbone laid down; just time for me to fiddle and twiddle on top of the basic structure. (stop press – we have a near final mix ready, as this is quite a simple song, just seven tracks…)

So, the CD is nearly done, artwork and packaging sorted out and some nervous times ahead as we wait for people who we have contacted to get back to us. The early signs are promising, but we are waaa-aay too long in the tooth to be counting ’em chickens just yet.

We’ve even thought of offering ourselves out to do house parties, all to raise a few bob for the charity. A bit like Tupperware, but with more Fool’s Gold and altruism.[1]

We’ve added a section to the website all about the project, so if you’d like to catch up, head over to:


And if you’d like to understand the fuss, we’ll be doing a support slot this Thursday at Ashington Folk Club, opening for Mary Ann Hampton.

So this week out and about?

Twice, at the time of writing, although we intend to get down to a local session tonight.

Thursday saw us back at an old, old haunt, namely The Grey Horse at Consett. John Gordon organised an open night at which chums ItsAcoustica were the guests (guests at an open night – that’s progress for you). A good atmosphere in a packed pub makes for a great night, if not a great night for hearing the music. But we knew that going in, and duly had a great night. Lots of Acoustic Chums on hand, all of whom also did a floor spot, apart from Chris Kelly – c’mon Mr K, we miss your dry wit (dry? You have to add water to the powder…). jiva, the travelling manifestation of the metal monster that is Blyth’s riposte to Meshuggah, but with more ukeleles, showcased wonderfully.

John Brindle was on fine form and several others including ourselves laid forth our wares for the audience. ItsAcoustica produced a strong set which showed that they are quite capable of taming the pub beast, Andy will want to do more, methinks.

Friday and the Wrinkly Wroadies piled aboard the FG charabanc for a road trip to Guisborough, having had a wee first. A really good night here at the Cricket Club. Tinker Dick on inimitable form, some very strong talent in the room, a grand natter with long-time AC Bernie Johnson and very interesting to see Broadband again after a long gap – a grand set. Then a long drive home in the small hours, so we had a wee first[2].

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As heralded previously in these pages, Stormcrow have released their latest recording. This time, it takes the form of a home produced twelve track; almost concept album entitled Cliff Land. The songs, all from the pen of Mark Hadlett, tells tales of Teeside and grow from the places, events and people from those parts. Mark collected a very strong team of contributors to the project, from the local music community, and even allowed FG to parp and plunk in places. This CD is home recorded, but that observation should not be confused with ‘badly made’. Mark has done a superb job in the production and has created, in my opinion, the best Stormcrow recording so far. The songs are all punchy and strong, although there are moments of light and shade which helps CD flow. Strong belters like ‘Hellfire Club’ are counterbalanced by lighter more ethereal moments such as ‘Coatham Marsh’. Amanda Hadlett and Sam Coles, the other constituent parts of The Stormies are well represented, and the contrast between Andanda’s exuberant and powerful vocals and Sam’s mellow voice adds further shading. Special mention for the contribution of Mimi O’Malley on low whistles, the haunting voice of that instrument fits in so well, and played this well, counterpoints the songs very well indeed. The artwork is very well done – again by Mark, talented lad – and makes a very nice package. I know how much work went into producing this project, and it seems to these ears that it paid off handsomely. If you are new to Stormcrow, this would be a recommended starting point.


So what of our favourite club – The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs? Yes, well that has been busy this week too.  The chairman has been showing the regulars his new toy. Apparently he has a new piece of software. When he receives a polite email from strangers who enquire about playing,  or when the club is open, or when the  next open night is; all he has to do is hit a <alt> <ctrl> <p> and the email is printed out, ready perforated on medicated paper.

What will they think of next?


Some of the regulars are here too, I notice the early arrival of Sandy and Julian; Sandy has decided that it was time they were back on the circuit and has armed herself with all the essential Folk Club accoutrements. Lemmee see now, that would be…

  • Make up; check,
  • Floaty scarf; check,
  • Bouffant Hair-do and expensive drink; check.
  • Innate and natural ability to sing and/or play…

She’s also decided that they need a name; after all, everyone has to have a catchy name, something that indicates that they are strong, reliable and have songs that will stick. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage… ‘Sellotape’.

If you think you’ve met these people, then, Gentle Reader, that’s your fault; I only make them up.[3]


As to the dark side of the Acoustic world mentioned in the header, so far we haven’t found it, people are people regardless of whether they have a guitar attached to their tummy. However I have it on the very good authority of Gerry O’Driscoll[4]: “there is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact it’s all dark”.


And so, I notice the groaning noise emanating from ‘Word’ and realise that my high score is in danger of being beaten again, so as the folk club virgins of destiny glumly sit awaiting their turn to follow the local Semi-Pro hero, and meanwhile the Acoustic Angel of Purity meets the Distortion Pedal of Fate, I notice it’s the end of this blog.


Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] Tupperware may be more tuneful

[2] See? ‘Wee Small Hours…’ Oh I give up.

[3] To be honest, you couldn’t make up the real thing…

[4] Yes he does. And very famous he is too.


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