In The Beginning…

Have you ever wondered how folk clubs started?

Neither had I.

But, whilst on a mini-break to the Dead Sea recently, I was furtling about in the back of a cave, and, mid-furtle, came upon an ancient text. You could tell it was ancient as it had on it a Woolworth price sticker. In the half light, I could make out that the ancient Aramaic text[1] spelled out the words “How Folk Clubs Begat”.

So now I know, and before long; so will you.

Be welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…

Who’d be a promoter eh?

Not I.

Not much of a promoter, obviously, but when we set up gigs for ourselves, I always find that I worry too much if anyone is actually going to turn up at all.

So I approached last Sunday evening’s event at The Beamish Mary, celebrating the Beat the Drum CD-EP with some small trepidation and a small packet of nappy liners.

I needn’t have worried.

The room was soon well filled with a cross section of Gentle Readers, Acoustic Chums and also some new faces as well.

We’d put the PA in, and made an effort (or Carol had) to make the room as nice as could be.

John Jefferey kicked off the evening with some thoughtfully chosen pieces, and a pleasure it was to see him perform again, complete with drum! Chris Kelly next, and as usual, a perfect, dry witted performance from him set the musical bar to his personal high standard. Next came good pals jiva; they jeeved the audience with their distinctive style and sound, again a real pleasure, had me rockin’ away at the back. Finally we welcomed Stormcrow to the stage to do what The Stormies do best, which is knock ‘em dead with a full on presentation of some of their great narrative songs. Thanks to all of these friends, who enter the portals of the famed, right under the sign marked ‘Department of “Without Whom…”’.

A few words followed from Help for Heroes rep Mark McNally and it was time for FG to hit the boards. In perfect three piece formation we hit the ground running with Dave’s bass giving us that bit of extra punch. Forty-five minutes and a rockin’ version of ‘Sundown’[2] later and it was all over1, and time to relax. The evening went superbly well from our point of view, everyone seemed to enjoy it, we were extremely pleased (and grateful) and we raised £250 on the night. Not too shabby. Thanks to everyone who turned up and supported, even those who were drygulched by the Wrinkly Wroadies for raffle tickets, there’s a future for them both.

As Highwaymen .

In the beginning there was the Pub. God looked upon the pub and thought it was alright but a bit quiet Thursdays. And so he created the Folk Club. God looked upon the folk club and saw that it was good.

But a bit empty.

And so he created the committee, the better that the Folk Club should be filled.

God looked upon the Folk Club and the committee and saw that it was good.

Or good-ish, as the committee had little to commit to (not that it prevented them meeting).

And so he created the regulars. The singers that sing, the players that play, the strummers that strum, the poets that pote and some other pluckers who own banjos.

And God looked upon the Folk Club and saw that it was a nightmare.

And so He called forth The Chairman.

Unto him he gifted the horns of power and the large bunch of keys of importance, and unto him was also gifted ‘the power’.

And God looked upon the Chairman and saw that he had created something that made people wet themselves.

The next day was Thursday, and God had tickets for Jez Lowe down The Washerwoman’s and so did naff all but sing.

On the last day God thought long on how to bring joy unto the Folk Club and at length, he called forth…

…the Audience.

The Audience was bemused, often lost and invariably confused, but they turned up every Thursday, ‘cos God said they must, and sang lustily, and drank beer and went home again.

And God looked upon the Folk Club and saw what he had created.

And that’s why there is only one Earth.

We hope to be able to make an announcement very soon concerning our next, full length album, and also a very exciting theatre gig which should be coming up before too long. At the moment, it’s all a bit MI5, so we must for the moment turn up our collars of our raincoat, and walk down wet streets in Black and White, pausing only briefly under a gas light to light a cigarette.  As soon as we can, we’ll spill the beans…

Last bit of FG news for this week is the birth of yet another song. I may have trailed this last week – you must excuse me; I don’t read this rubbish – but a catchy, upbeat song about the Blacklegs is coming your way at an FG show soon. This one refers to Londonderry’s men, The Candymen and the Blackleg miners, and in my imagination, is a song by the retained miners who were routinely bumped out of their homes and out of their jobs by capricious mine owners when they felt that a cheaper work force might be available. The particular episode occurred in Silksworth in 1891. The wonderfully named Candymen where the vagabond band of strong-arm enforcers used to handle the evictions, while the Blacklegs were the miners who broke the strikes of the time and worked the coal below while their erstwhile compatriots suffered mightily above ground. They were not, it must be owned, held in universally high esteem. The song is called ‘Three Shillings and Ten’, the amount paid to the working miner of the day.

And so I notice once again that the hands of time look like the frantic waving of a drowning banker and the clock face looks like the lifeboatman’s head as he studiously looks the other way[3].  So as the non-rust strings of eternity impart the nasty red blotches of impossibility on your fingers, and the long lasting tone of promise turns into the elastic flatulence[4] of reality, I notice it’s the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] What, you don’t accept that I can read Ancient Aramaic? You accept the rest and quibble that?

[2] Please Note: this does not mean that the song was 45 minutes long.

[3] Ooooh, topical.

[4] If anyone does actually have elastic flatulence, you are assured of my sympathy – it must be awful.

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