The Olympics is near upon us. We are about to be enveloped by a wave of large persons in ill fitting track suits, some bearing what look suspiciously like large 99’s with flame where the ice cream should be. I am constantly being reminded how excited I am about it. The fact that I am reminded by a Lord of the Realm who has feet not on this world, or am reminded by the official, and very fitness related sponsors such as McDonalds and Coca Cola does nothing to retard my increasing lack of engagement. Or to put it another way; I’m pig-sick and it hasn’t started yet.

What I need is some musical silliness.

And so do you, so Gentle Reader, be welcome, and read on…

Our Beat The Drum launch – more of a ‘thank goodness that’s finished’ chillax – night is on July 1st at The Beamish Mary, No Place, Stanley on July 1st at 8.00pm. Hope to see as many GR’s and AC’s there as possible!

And so Sunday arrived, and we and The Wrinkly Wroadies headed for The G String Acoustic Club at Topcliffe in North Yorkshire. We took it seriously as this was a H4H charity gig. So it was that we arrived like a Genesis show[1] into the village late in the afternoon. The club is held in a very nice pub – The Angel – and we were based in the Pool room for the evening. We set up what looked like a small music shop in the corner. Wasn’t that much really, 5 guitars, a bing-bong machine, a flute and some bass pedals. Oh, and a mixer, synth unit and small floor wedge. A trailer cable, large stand and a selection of midi cables. Not much really.

The club is run by Acoustic Chum Stephen Matthews, and we had a very convivial first hour as a sing-around, including good AC’s Stormcrow, who were restrained in much the same way that The Titanic was successful. Excellent as always. Nice to see Maggie Gee again too – she were good an’ all. Then FG did a 45 min stint with me doing the bass pedal dance on occasion. We enjoyed it enormously and hope everyone else did. Something went right as we shifted a fair few CD’s and passed the £300 mark for money raised for the charity. Not bad since we don’t officially start for another fortnight.

We are delighted to announce that we will be playing in September for a local WI branch. This is H4H related and we think it’s great!

Jack’s Club on Thursday had its inaugural night in the new – or very old – home; The Beamish Mary Inn at No Place, near Stanley. The club originally started there some thirty odd years ago, and has migrated around with many hands on the tiller and through lots of venues, until it returns to the spiritual home in the Back Room of The Mary. The night was, as you can imagine, very well supported and the room was packed out. Excellent turns from all concerned, and indeed some Wrinkly Wroadie pics are in the gallery this week.

Friday? Oh, it must be Carlisle then. The Carlisle Folk and Blues Club is held at Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United who play a game involving a ball and chaps in stripy jumpers. A fantastic turnout, 60 or 70 in the room, and not all musicians! Some great floor spots from the assembled Cumbrians, then it was the turn of the visiting Geordies from Essex: we were given the signal honour of closing the night, and went down well enough to be offered a support slot next season – heavily chuffed we are, as the quality of their guests is stellar. Thanks to one and all. More piccies in the Gallery.

Final bit of news this week is a big thanks to the Man with the Mic, the Gadgee with the Gob, the Bloke what Spoke; Mr Terry Ferdinand. Saturday morning saw us live in the Studios of Bishop FM on Terry’s Saturday Show plugging the Help for Heroes EP for all we were worth and singing live – Carol even added a variation into a flute solo by dropping it – didn’t work for radio though. Great fun and a listenership all over the globe, and some great support on the Facebook thread from Acoustic Chums and Gentle Readers in the UK, US and Australia – thanks very much to you all, it was fantastic! And thanks to Terry for the invite, the time and the opportunity.

This week sees us heading for Consett. In the opinion of some navigators, this is considered a mistake, but not us. We are headed for a fully acoustic (if we have our way) folk concert at Blackhill Comrades Club. Now, at this point, I must state that I like Clerbs. I had a gold card for many years as a member of Condercum Road WMC, and when you ain’t got many pennies, Clerbs are great. I belonged to the Clerb near wor hoose for a bit, until I realised that the cause of my local celebrity was my mastery of the magical art of speaking in sentences that did not require reliance on that ancient word, repeated severally to add emphaisis.

You may know that we are currently bedding in the New Song. The New Song is called Year and a Day, and it will not be long before it is an Old Song. However, the New Song is notable as it features some new instrumentation. One is the amazing magical bing-bong machine; Carol’s Metallaphone, which is most jollificacious, and of course my new Yamaha Guitalele. This is a six string uke, which plays in a manner amazingly similar to a Spanish guitar with the capo on 5. That’s because, essentially, that’s what it is. However it makes a nice noise, and we are sporting it about the place with pans of ash… sorry, panache, and generally having fun with it. Part of that fun is that it has got a Name. Most our instruments (Amazing Magical Bing-Bong Machine aside) do not have names, but the pint sized Guitalele has; Ladies and Gentle Readers, I give you… The Beast.

Yes, the tiny guitar has been christened The Beast, because, like the Metro Centre calling its new toilet facilities ‘exciting’, it is wholly inappropriate[2].

The Wrinkly Wroadies are intrinsic to The Beast, and indeed to the arrival of said Beast to any gig. Pauline is The Bearer of The Beast, and carries it aloft into the club, preceded by Doug, similarly lofting (and frantically waving) a lit bic lighter as he is, officially, The Acolyte of The Beast. I process behind, in funereal step, bearing the instruction manual; The Book of The Beast. Carol hides behind the door as she thinks it’s all a bit silly.

As it happens the Book of the Beast is an interesting tome, it has two pages, one in Chinese[3], and the other showing a picture of a wee tiny Spanish guitar, with the words ‘This way up’ printed underneath. Helpful.

We have seen a number of beginner singer-songwriters of late. This is worrying, as some of them are very, very good indeed. There are a few, however that we think should take on board:

The Fool’s Gold Top Tips for Guitarists[4]

  1. Face the audience. The alternative might be mean and moody, but seldom works as a spectacle.
  2. Check that the stings on your guitar are also facing the audience. It works better this way round, trust me.
  3. You may be nervous, but fear not, you are nowhere near as terrified as the audience.
  4. Remember the technique of successful guitaring – hit strings with one paw, wave other paw around the strings at the other end. At this stage of your career, it doesn’t matter which paw is which.
  5. If you can sing, by all means do so. Please consider the alternatives first.
  6. Most of all, do it, then do it again, then again somewhere else, and keep on doing it. It gradually gets less painful. And for you too.
  7. We aren’t at that stage yet

And so as the hands of time spin frantically round the clock face of increasing word count, and the Concert Chairman of Fate, wonders if he can pay off a band that is playing for free, I notice that it’s the end the blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums

Keep Strummin’

[1] This requires you to believe that Genesis could get themselves all in the same car, along with the road crew, and get all the gear in the boot.

[2] They did do that. I went and they weren’t.

[3] Why has the Chinese page got loads of text on it? What are they telling them that they aren’t telling us? Is it a conspiracy? Probably not.

[4] A disclaimer at this point, is, I believe appropriate. If anyone thinks I can play the guitar, and am in any way fitted to offer advice to others, please report to a nearby medical facility immediately and declare yourself ripe for recycling.


4 thoughts on “Enveloped

  1. As usual a very erudite blog – and totally endorse your thoughts on the upcoming sports stuff. Best suggestion I have heard so far is that every Olympic competion should be held in Greece; after all they invented the stuff. There are three reasons which verify this point of view: 1. It would help their ailing economy to have the tourists back (even if only sporty ones) 2. Nobody would be scalped on transport or accommodation costs, as both could be booked 4, 8 or 12 years in advance and 3. Other countries (like our struggling one) would not be required to build very expensive stadiums (stadia ?) in prime locations like London. xxx Your thoughts might be appreciated xxx

    • Erudition is an aspiration, but may be some way off! Thank you for your comments about the blog – much appreciated – and; given the views on the Olympics, I feel you may be the second Prime Minister to bear your name, albeit with somewhat different policies!

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