Holly, sparkly lights and the need to put a tree in a window indicate to my razor sharp sleuthing sense that Something Is Up. Folk Clubs are having parties, mince pies are much in evidence and toasts are being jovially exchanged along with small pieces of folded paper bearing unlikely images and even more highly unlikely messages. But is this the real meaning of Christmas for the folkie?
Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on.
I announced last week in a shock horror probe exposé that we are to start including not just songs by other people, but traditional songs by other people into the act.
Regular Gentle Reader that you are will merely raise a quizzical eyebrow at this comment.
And how right you are.
We have learned some trad songs, the sort of thing that you’d hear at any folk club. But of course there’s a bit of a twist. Or at least we hope there is. We have the words, we have the chords: in some cases y’bugger we even have the tune, but it wouldn’t be FG if we left it at that. In some cases it’s the arrangement that we have played with, melodies, instrumental twiddly bits have been added, dropped and fiddled with. In other words we have tried to do something with the songs, something to make them ours (or at least a version of) rather than reproduce what others do, and probably do better. Hopefully you’ll be able to see/hear what we have been up to soon, and then you can tell us what you think.
Recording once again starts to loom in the FG horizon. I am really keen to get the old studio fired up and the next few projects under way. So what stops you, I hear you ask?
You will be astonished, Gentle Reader, to learn that I am about to use the T word.
Yes that stuff.
When God invented poverty, he created it in several flavours. Not that I would dare to say that we suffer in any way, just we don’t have enough of it; hence time poverty. However, this must be redressed and we have a number of interesting ideas to use the studio so that we can record foundation tracks live and together, which I feel might add a more, well, live feel to the recordings. We shall, as they say, see.
When we get time.
Which brings me to…
I’m missing my prog-folk roots. That’s long songs with lots of instruments, time and key change, capes and hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs is of course, the folk bit.
I feel a prog-folk epic coming on; the story is all about the King of the Hedgehogs taking all the dry leaves for himself and leaving his spiky minions cold and shivering deep beneath the wildwood, until the Erinacein hero Heraculus, in league with Squirrel –Leige’s daughter…
…maybe the story needs some work; but the point of all the prog silliness is that I have been looking into more music tech, partly because recordings are looming, partly because it could be used live, and partly because it’s shiny and has knobs on.
Mostly because it’s shiny and has knobs on.
I’ve been investigating samplers and sample players. This follows an internet session where I stumbled across a small American company (it would be – wait until you hear this bit) who have released a sample library containing thousands of samples of… …a buffalo drum.
Think buffalo hide and a Cherokee war party after 5 pints of Stella, and you’ll have a fair idea of the soundscape – but it’s wonderful! So the little grey cells are churning, and quite a lot of this stuff is free too!
And so Friday and we and the Wrinkly Wroadies for The Artsbank Centre in Saltburn. This is a showcase gig that is invite only and run under the auspices of Saltburn Folk Club, to whom we are indebted.
Held in an Art Gallery on the main drag in Saltburn, this is a very pleasant evening which feature three acts in an evening each performing around the 45 min mark. Rumours that the local Kate Rusby gig might hold numbers down proved unfounded as the place filled up nicely, with one or two Acoustic Chums in attendance, but mostly new faces to us. Mark and Amanda being the obvious exception as they blended anonymously into the Friday Night Saltburn crowd as seamlessly as Winston Churchill appearing in an episode of Ivor the Engine. The Saltburn organisers Guy, Tony and The Stormies organise things extremely well, good unobtrusive PA, nice setting, good room and an eclectic bill for each performance.
Tonight, as it transpired was no exception.
On the bill was Tony Morris, FG, and Ironopolis.
Tony was introduced as eccentric and if the point required embellishment, hand it to the lad, he did his best. Tony has a unique presentational style and indeed act. Declamatory poetry backed by lyre or thumb piano is interspersed by unaccompanied songs or a recital on his enormous collection of enormous flutes. These instruments are genuine ethnic goat herding instruments and appeal to the goats as apparently they will flock to the sound of one of their own. These instruments are seriously amazing, as it Tony himself, and we applaud the gentleman.
FG were up second and we did our current set including the flute, whistle, ukes, bing-bong machine and the guitars. Apparently folkies like us, as they will flock round when they hear one of their own in pain. However, we did what I felt was a good set – it’s not often I say that either, but is seemed to go down well in the room and nice words were bandied about afterwards.
Ironopolis are a concept folk act, insofar as they present a sort of sonic tableaux of the songs of Graeme Miles. Seven strong, they take this work seriously and present a homage to the work of the great man.
A review of their work is to be found here
Preparations for The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs continue apace as Chairman Dave does his best to prepare for a grand evening. Apparently the unopened packet of nuts is to be broached in honour of the occasion. Pie and Peas, are confirmed as headliners and Julian has learned all the Christmas songs he can that start in D. And continue in D. And end in D. Other acts rumoured to be turning up include The Ferret Wranglers and Janice and her Amazing Spoons so it should be a great night. We must try to get down.
So, the real meaning of Folkie Christmas?
The real meaning of Christmas for the folkie is of course peace and goodwill to all acts, wherever they are and whatever they perform. And especial peace goes to anyone who is snowed in and can’t get down to the club, as that means an extra song for me.
So as the Festive Ferret eyes the Trousers of Christmas and wonders up which leg lie the Best Baubles, I notice it is the end of this blog.
Until next time Acoustic Chums,