Once more we arrive at blog day, and once more there is a large webpage which seems, unaccountably, to be covered with the shuffling ramblings of an intoxicated Acoustic Ardvaark (1). Well, it is important not to jump to conclusions; mayhap the little articulated critter isn’t intoxicated, just happy. There’s only one way to find out; be bid Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

This week we have visited Cramlington Folk Club after quite a while of leaving them in peace. A good turnout of players, there must have been fourteen or so acts. We opened part two with some suitable festive offerings and Rake Down The Moon, which is not especially festive, unless you are a smuggler with a cheese fetish.

We went down well in the room and I was once again, pleased with our performance – twice in a row now! We had to use some elastic time, just get the set right.

The concept of elastic time should be familiar to quite a few Acoustic Chums. Time needs to be elastic, so that the time you have to play it neatly fits whatever material you have to offer. I first discovered elastic time when teachering some eight year olds in Gateshead. Lessons could grow or contract depending on the time available. I say teaching – I was teaching the first three rows, there were the usual dozen or so kids at the back drinking and playing cards(2). You always get that. Even in folk clubs.

Teachering is a great grounding for surviving folk clubs. It does not help to deal with unruly audiences, deal with heckling or even the look of boredom on some people’s faces – but it does teach you how to duck.

The analogy between the folk club and the classroom is one which only a very puerile and superficial writer would exploit.
Here goes.

The first thing that should happen in Folk School, is registration, where all the singers have to answer to their names and pay the raffle money. A prayer to the God of your choice that laryngitis will not visit you that day, then, Numeracy – “How many Shantymen does it take to empty a bar”, the answer to that rather depends on the way on the way in which you interpret the question. Literacy next, the lyrics to “The Bonny Black Hare ” are a poetic description of English pastoral life. Discuss. (3)
Finally Physics, if a banjo player is horizontal when he exits the pub, was he drunk or was he thrown? E=Pii+(e#) (easy: he was Pie Eyed plus his banjo was out of tune).

Wandering through Newcastle this afternoon, I noticed that things have changed. A huge poster advertises the panto (4), which this year is the tale of Aladdin. However, I noticed that one of the lead characters is Mr Twankey.
Mr Twankey?
Now, apart from the fact that only a particularly abusive parent could give his son the surname ‘Twankey’, then make it worse by gifting him the forename Aladdin, presumably the part of Mr Twankey renders the role of Widow Twankey somewhat difficult to deliver with any real conviction. Unless of course, said Mr. T simply lies very still for a couple of hours pretending to be dead– that would make it work. If panto can be subject to such revisionist history, perhaps we can import the notion into folk songs. Maybe a version of ‘Fiddlers Green’ where the sailor gets better at the end; or ‘Streets of London’ featuring a Lottery winner? Just a thought.

And so to Saturday, or the last day of the bloggy week. We and the Winkly Wroadies for Bedlington Community Centre, by invitation.
Michael Whipp (Acoustic Chum) had invited FG as well as Cake and Ale (Gerry and Christine and jiva (Jimmy and Val – all Acoustic Chums of standing) to help raise funds for BRIC (adult re-education in the pursuance of employment; as I understand it). This is the second time that Michael has valiantly sought to put on events and in the humble opinion of this scribbler, been somewhat let down by those who promised to support. Notwithstanding the politics, jiva had supplied a very nice (tinkly) PA and we set to for a night of acoustic revellery. Each duo did two spots, and all seemed to go well enough – nice sound too. jiva were on top form, slick, professional and a lovely sound; all the work they put in is clearly paying off. We put in a few bits to try them out. There were no adverse comments, so we assume that we can keep them in and keep working on some of the traditional songs we are starting to pull together.

And the Ardvaark?
He wasn’t intoxicated of course, just happy; they never get violent anyway – after all, Aardvark never hurt anyone.

And so, as Santa sings to his reindeer and urges them over the banjo player’s house so they can deposit his gift down the chimney, I notice it is the end of this blog.
Until next time Acoustic Chums,
Keep Strummin’

(1) The Acoustic ones are the best, as you will know if you have ever inadvertently plugged in an Ardvaark.
(2) Things are much better now; the kids have to go outside to smoke.
(3) It is entirely possible that you have not heard this song. If so, it will help to understand that the hair in questions belongs to a fair maiden. Nuff said.
(4) Oh no it doesn’t…


One thought on “Ardvaark

  1. Good to see you at Bedlington – well done on the Christmas medley.

    They say that it takes 10 years to become an overnight success… we’ve been working hard at it for almost that long. First jiva performance was 2003, so next year must be the one!

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