Ah, there you are. Expecting drivel again I suppose? Tuned in for a weekly shot of folky nonsense is it? I imagine you think that I’m going to talk complete musical rubbish using a sentence construction that is outlawed by the International Red Cross, The Red Crescent and The Tufty Club?
Correct in all particulars; well done perspicacious Gentle Reader and be Bid Welcome and Read on…
Seafest has in the past been held in Scarborough. This meant some serious legging it between spots on the festival programme. In those days we had our double bassist with us and it was a bit of a pantomime sometimes getting us all up and down the cobbled alleyways at, as the sailor might have it, a rate of knots.
At this point Fate intervenes, in the form of a change of venue. The politics I wot not, nor want to wot; not wotting being better; what?
So this year we headed for Whitby for the Sea Festival inaugural visit. Another change was the venue – the whole festival – bar a couple of fringe events held in the nearby museum was berthed alongside in The Resolution . This venue is a large Hotel right on Skinner Street and features two rooms for the festival. Upstairs was The Bridge, set up as an acoustic concert room, with PA provided by the nimble fingers of Mr Graham Brotton, and on a couple of occasions, me – more of that anon. Downstairs a big (BIG) room with a stage, along the lines of a large Wetherspoons type of pub venue. This too had a PA, and certainly more of THAT later.
So the line up?
All the usual suspects, us, Turkish Chris Milner, Almost Glenn Coggin, The Stormies, Bill Aidair, Sara Dennis, Wendy Arrowsmith and of course host Richard Grainger, and many many more. We also enjoyed sets from Helen Pitt and Steve Dawes; good stuff. Lots of Acoustic Chums to chat too and for us a great social weekend with the chance to play about five times I think. The first time was undoubtedly the best. This was the Song Competition, a windmill at which we always tilt. This is taken Seriously. We elected to play acoustically as setup time is limited and we were using The Beast and the Bing-Bong Machine.
You know those times when you play, and it becomes apparent to you and everyone else present that several fundamental truths have settled like an albatross on your head. These include:
- Inability to play
- Inability to sing
- Inability to remember words
- Ability to mess up any and all instrumentals
- Ability, in short, to ———- up big time and completely die.
How we laughed.
Let’s just say we didn’t win.
But Bill Adair, one of the pros featured over the weekend did win – with a great song about the Herring wives. Nice guy too. Also a very nice first effort from Doc Brotton who was there as half of Amber Moon.
So we played the sets up and down stairs, and thankfully most of those went fine, even to the extent of CD sales.
On Sunday I became embroiled in the system to help out as sound guy in the big (BIG) room. PA had been kindly loaned by Acoustic Chum Richard Ridley, and he was playing elsewhere, so, would I mind..?
No, I wouldn’t.
So now we have a compact Fender Passport with three mics and two lines going through a six channel Alesis mixer. Still, enough for who is on in the room, and between us all, we managed to get a good sound. Main problem was that the speakers were below head height, so the people at the front found it loud and those further back lost a lot of sound. Ces La Vie.
Any road up, we were getting along nicely, nearly at the end when Amanda Stormcrow pops up beside me and tells me that the next band (band!) on have two guitars, four vocals, one bass, and a cahon.
I left them to it.
As it happens we again managed to get workable sound for the lads, by utilising some of the oldest tricks in the soundman’s bible – I cried a lot until someone helped. This particular band turned out to be four young lads who played traditional shanties untraditionally and very, very well. Sail Pattern is the name, and they were very good indeed, full of belt and blast, with a good sound and some very good musicianship; clearly learned in the Hallowed Halls of Metal. I thought it worked very well.
We are just about to launch new song “Rake Down The Moon” on to a largely indifferent public. It’s one of those songs that will need an introduction live, so save time, I’ll introduce it here, then I can just refer audiences to the blog.
This song is back to smugglers again. In this case the well developed network of smuggling that was prevalent in Wiltshire of the 1650’s. This also encompasses the old folk tale of the village idiots who where caught trying to rake the moon out of the village pond to see if it tasted of cheese. In my spin on events – and there are many versions of this tale – the villagers are certainly not idiots as they invent this cover story on the spot to fool the inspecting excise men. The gin they smuggled was hidden by day in various places, church crypts, cellars and in this instance at the bottom of the village duck pond. Surprised while they effect the evening retrieval prior to the next stage onward on the smugglers trail, the wily smugglers effected idiocy and came up with the prefect cover story. This is a bit of a sing along number, and you may manage the words, methinks:
Rake down the Moon
Rake down the Moon
Rake down the Moon me boys
While the excise men ride by.
Once again, much to our disappointment we have failed to get along to The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club and must rely on the tales of spies; almost certainly untrue. It seems that this week they tried to spice up the evening by having the first World Championship ‘Stand Like A Shantyman’ competition. This was open to all regulars and guests and was judged along the lines of a horribly mutilated Miss World competition. Competitors had to adopt the pose they felt most represented a shantying shantyman mid shanty. They were provided with a helpful helpsheet for help, which helpfully helped with such help as:
- Transfer all body weight to back leg.
- Place thumbs in belt loops
- Tilt head as far back as possible
- A Stripy Jumpy is advisable
- A Cap is mandatory
- Stick tummy out to replicate a beer tum (if required)
- Cupped hand round right lug is optional
As a tie break, they had to answer questions from the compere; it seems that the most popular answer on the night was “end all war and poverty, Brian”.
And as the festival season of fate clashes with the weather forecast of destiny and we test the theory that tents can float, and find out that they float about as well as a breeze block, I notice it’s the end of this blog.
Until next time Acoustic Chums,
 Yes, I know I said Acoustic Concert, but this acoustic concert had a PA in it – OK?
 But not by us…
 Regular Gentle Readers will recall that the Beast is a Guitarlele and the Bing Bong machine is probably a metallaphone.
 The competition. Not Miss World. She wasn’t there. She had a gig at The Bridge.