I think it’s time you did some work.

No, really, I sit here week after week tapping, and you just consume it – it’s time you made a contribution.

So this week, you’re going to do some work.

Imaginary work obviously; I wouldn’t want to set the bar too high.

And that’s what you’re going to do to help with this week’s blog – imagine it a bit, and help it come to life.

So what do you have to do?

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

It’s Cropton Village I need help with. Creating the scene in mere words is difficult for one so clumsy a wordsmith as your author. So I need your help by imagining it for me. What you need to do is close your eyes and read carefully, conjuring the scene as you go.

Yes, I know; I didn’t say it would be easy.

The highlight of last weekend was the Ryedale Folk Festival, not at Ryedale this year, but in the sleepy peacefulness that is Cropton, deep in the North Yorks moors. Imagine, if you will, a field full of frolicking folkies, full of festive fun and expensive beer. Conjure, if you can, the idyll of a picture postcard English Village, baking in early summer sun, the smell of singeing singers and frying festival folk drifting on the languid breeze.

Got that?
Ok, open your eyes.

It was like that honestly. Ryedale has been my favourite festival since I first went three years ago, and the new home had me concerned. As it turned out it was as wonderful a weekend as at the previous venue, perhaps as this was the first year, and what with one double dip recession or another, perhaps slightly fewer bums on the grass than the organisers, in fevered dream, may have wished for.

But is was good.

The best bits?

The people. No doubt about it. Newbies, veterans, folkies and funsters. Friends old and those of but a moment ago slipped easily into a dreamy summer mental haze – fuelled by aforementioned beer from the local brewery and generally had the best time. The music was excellent – of course it was; looking at the playlist, it would be. I don’t want to do a huge list of people that you either:

a)      don’t know

b)      do know, so don’t need telling; or, most likely of all –

c)      don’t give a flying foxbat about

but all the great and good (and then us) were in attendance. ‘Turkish’ Chris Milner did his famous MC Milner turn, Richard Grainger turned in his organisers cameo, The Stormies, ‘Almost’ Glenn Coggin, Blue Sun, Steve Dawes & Helen Pitt, Penni McLaren-Walker, Peter ‘The Tie’ Taylor, Trev (world champion songwriter) Reed – oh ‘undreds of ‘em – all turned in great musical sets to the appreciation of the there assembled Brethren of Folk. I should talk about Sue and Roy, without whom the gates would have clanged shut and bands performed in silence and darkness – only one or two would have benefitted from that. Then there were all the helpists; Brenda, womanfully keeping the Village Hall open all weekend, Jane on merch, Graeme the Sound[1] – oh grief, loads of them. The bottom line is that a beautiful setting, some marvellous weather, tremendous people and some darn nifty musicians produced a weekend to be very proud of and long in the memory to linger.

The Tannhill Weavers were the standout ‘main’ act for me, and provided Saturday with its highlight and finale. We schlepped off late on Sunday afternoon, citing work on the morn, but – what a weekend! Thanks to Richard and Jeanette for organising and inviting us to play.

Pics are herewith and more can be found at:


Returning to Planet Reality was eased by the subsequent visit to Folklines in The ‘Boro on Wednesday. We have played mixed poetry and music nights before, and have found then to be a slightly surreal experience – not in any sense a bad thing – just very different to your usual night. Hats off to Sara Dennis for having the vision and drive to put it all together. Students from the local University music tech course produced a sound that was very good for such a challenging shape of room – long and very low. FG played late, after Acoustic Chums Blue Sun turned in a fine set, and we seemed to go down well enough in the room. After a certain time, and probably after a certain amount of Stella, I tend to take the view ‘let’s go for it’, so we went for it, and at least a bit, got it.

We did not, alas, manage to stop by at The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club this week. This was a shame as they had a ‘spot the chord’ competition, where the audience could jot down the chords being used by the acts, with points being awarded for artistic interpretation and technical merit. Initially young Timmy won with a perfectly executed A minor, until he was disqualified for the illegal use of super glue, whereupon the prize was shared by the other players of the evening, all of whom managed a D major. Well done one and all.

The rest of the week has been spent organising and doing admin for the Help for Heroes gigs. They’re tipping in well at the moment, and keeping track of what we have arranged with whom is a challenge – but again, tremendous fun. We look forward with baited anticipation – can you have baited anticipation, I wonder – to Thursday next when we support Prelude at Ashington Folk Club, but before that, Tuesday sees us kick off the HfH promotions with an extended spot at The Ball Alley in Stanley, familiarly know as Jack’s Club, and thanks to Mr B hisself for the opportunity to get started on home turf, should be a great night.

More info on the giglist

Bassplaying son Dave[2] will be around at the weekend for another rehearsal with the low slung acoustic bass guitar, and hopefully he’ll be available to join us at one or two giggles.

Having been bewailing writers block to jiva on Friday (whilst passing over impossible[3] quantities of the King’s own coin – the new Taylor is now legit!) Saturday saw the birth of a new song! Smugglers the theme, Moonrakers the tale, with lyrical help from some Ruddy bloke called Kipling[4]. He should stick to the cakes.

I feel that the keyboard of justice has tapped enough of the blog of interminability, so as the festival folkie of fate bounces up to the big barman of  beeriness and whips out the last fiver of fortune to receive the change of sweet b-flat all; I notice it’s the end of this blog,

Until next time, Acoustic Chums

Keep Strummin’

[1] Graeme is an unusual soundman. He makes sound, not necessarily volume.

[2] Actually, there are at least two more bass playing sons knocking around somewhere. I saw them a moment ago, where did I put them?

[3] Which can be taken one of two possible ways, I suppose.

[4] No; y’see his name was… oh, what’s the point?


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