North, South and Salty

Life may be busy, it may be hectic even, but as quoted by our purple performing pals jiva, Life is Good. The milometer on the tourbus has been tumbling over like a fast moving counting thing this week. And we have been very busy.

Why?

Be Welcome, Acoustic Chums, and read on…

This week we went to Dickie Mashers’ re-invented Acoustic Rotherham. We went to support and to see what was going down in what to us is the deepest of souths.

On arrival we found that Rotherham town centre presents itself as a sort of post modern cultural Beirut. It is the sort of town centre that some planners thought was a good idea after a good lunch, so they built it. The betting shops are nice, as are the large brick establishments for the consumption of huge quantities of cheap booze in the company of Sky sports. There is even a rubbish bin (empty) and a pavement (full). Please think not that I traduce the place. At least not without reason; it’s a lot like Gateshead.

The new venue is The Bridge, which from the outside is unprepossessing, but inside is welcoming and pleasant. The music room was full with a rotation of showcasing acts (there’s an image).

The idea is that there should be folks there to see you play, write reviews and jot in little black books the names of those who may, at some distant future point, ‘get the call’.

None of that was especially visible on the day, so we settled down to play our spot, which turned out to be the last of the day. By this time, the beer had been flowing for some hours, so we decided to give it the beans. The spot flew past; we trotted out some of the big songs, and hopefully won approval in the room, if not from the absent talent scouts.

Richard (aka Dickie) Masher works very hard to motivate the musical community in his part of the world, and I hope his activities attract the attention they deserve.

Pretentious? Moi?

My dear child, I should say so. Just because one is scribbling a little concept album thingy, you shouldn’t think one has went, well; aaall arty.

One has been arty for bloomin’ years.

At least insofar as love of the concept album goes. Lamb Lies Down, The Wall, Tommy, Ziggy, and King Arthur have all enjoyed quite a lot of spins on the old turntable in their time[1]. There are of course many more.  The bigger the concept, the bigger the cover artwork, the bigger and proggier the noise, the better as far as I’m concerned. My musical deity is Rick Wakeman, which should tell you something.

Given that we tend towards narrative songs, given that I like to shove in instrumental passages; given that they can be (like this sentence) quite long; then it seemed quite natural to come up with a concept story Folk Prog understated little epic.

So this week I have been plonking away on my trusty Ovation (not the Taylors, odd that) and have come up with a nice little series of songs chronicling the adventures which befall a small time Ashington[2] thief who seeks the Streets of Gold in old London Town. Progress has been made and the bits begin to hang together. It will be sometime before ‘The Cautionary Tale of Harland Goodnight’ is recorded, but that my small acoustic chums, is part of the fun.

Anyone seen my cape?

We have added a few gigs to the list – gigs not club visits – and are delighted to welcome Ian Tyzak as support for our shows in Middlesbrough and Saltburn, good to have him aboard! Also new this week is the shop page on the website. Now you can purchase and download the new (and the old) FG CD-EP’s, for the princely sum of £4. The system seems to work well enough, if you want to see how we did it, head here. FG will also play a show at Alington House in Durham on 8th June, tickets a fiver.

An inveterate coward (I have a long service medal in pro-active cowardice) I prefer not to put my head above the parapet, especially when the vitriolic shrapnel is flying. Facebook this week was such a place. However, I would like, for my own peace of mind, to note that when a public figure dies I suggest it is a good idea not to post to the world vitriolic comment complete with name and photograph attached. Partly because I think that it is the sort of action that could very easily come back to haunt you in time to come – once posted; never reclaimable – but mostly because the taking of public pleasure in the demise of another; whatever their politics, seems shameful.

Monday and the FG tourbus pointed snout for Saltburn. Not just because we like the club very much – it is a very friendly place – but also because Monday night saw a hotspot by longtime Acoustic Chums Stormcrow, known and held in affection by one and all as The Stormies. Mark and Amanda Hadlett are Stormcrow. Indeed they seem to breathe Stormcrow. It was a real treat to see The Stormies, on home turf, surrounded by chums and giving it the special form of Six Nowt that only they deliver. All the hits were played, Here Be Dragons, A Curious Case of Murder, and of course to top it all off, a hell for leather rendition of Justice, with virtually everybody in the room joining in on anything they could pluck, strum, parp, bop, thump or in the case of the couple in the corner[3], bonk.

The room was packed out, one of the best turnouts we have seen anywhere for a while. That meant singles from the floor, but we managed to sneak in Tommy Ferens[4] and Rake Down The Moon, and got a hell of a buzz when the room took off in the chorus – wonderful! All in all a grand night. The photos from Rotherham and Saltburn are as ever the handiwork of the Bewildered Box Brownie Bearers, our own Wrinkly Wroadies.

As the words have somewhat racked up this week, you may, Gentle Reader, have to wait until next week to find out what has happened to the breakaway group at The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club. Regular Gentle Readers will be aware that Big Gwen and Ralph the Fiddler have struck out on their own. Apparently it has all come to a head and there may be big changes ahead for Chairman Dave and t’committee. We shall see…

And so as the contemporary folk singer songwriter (that means no melodeon) of fate walks into the reconstructed folk club of modernity (that means no Guinness), the politically re-imagined Chairman (that means no beard) of destiny immediately offers him the guest spot of fate (at 11.00pm on a Bank Holiday night – this isn’t a bloody fairy story) and the world, it seems, is exactly the same as before.

Until next time Acoustic Chums

Keep Strummin’


[1] As LP’s, cassettes, CD’s and (legal) mp3 downloads. Who says the music industry is dying?

[2] Please note, not everyone in Ashington is a thief. That would be untrue.

[3] It was a cahon. The other bit of the ‘couple’ was Dave Brunskill. What did you think it was… you didn’t!

[4] ‘Sneak in’ a 6 minute song – that’s FG style for you.

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