The Old Indian Syrup

Want to know how to get gigs? Want to be in demand by folk and acoustic clubs up and down the breadth of the land? Do you yearn for the clamour of the telephone as your agent rings to confirm another booking?
And that’s without the sex and drugs.

This is folk; after all.

We looked into our crystal ball to find the answer to the above questions, and apart from a blurry image suspiciously like my mush in the back of a spoon, there was no enlightenment.

Why is that?

Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…

This blog is a strange beast. I mean, I write it, and I don’t understand it. The visit figures are rapidly approaching 30,000, and this voluble voluntary of rot is consumed regularly in lands far and near. If the globe had corners, there wouldn’t be one that was safe from the FG blog.

Thank you.

Given that information, I’d better sharpen up my quill and think of something interesting to tap about. Ohhhhh, yes; there’s…

This week began with a visit to The Dolphin on Sunday evening at the suggestion of Acoustic Chum John ‘The Power’ Jeffery[1]. This is a very easy going and gentle sing around evening in the company of lovely folks. A very nice club to visit, pics below; somewhere.

During the past few weeks we have written to many the folk club, theatre, gallery, café and goodness knows who else, all enquiring politely if they might be interested in having FG drop by, with a  pocketful of musical merriment, guaranteed to bring a smile to the lips of the casual punter. When I were a lad, birthdays brought sorrow and joy in equal measure. Joy because of the bright packages containing wondrous delights to entertain and educate, and sadness because it meant a string of inevitable and badly handwritten ‘thank you’ letters. The polite acknowledgement was drummed into me by me Mum. You can see where this is going can’t you?

I am amazed at the number and type of organisation/venue that do not bother to reply to polite enquiry emails. Even to say “Dear Sir I would rather rip out my own tonsils with a corkscrew than have you lot darken our doors.”

Many places have sent polite replies, some have offered us spots, which is lovely, others have replied to enquires about availability and rates for hire. Some, however; and you’d be surprised at some of them, just don’t seem to have had the same sort of Mum.

Ashington was established[2] by  Æsc, a Saxon who had a sense of humour; and was subsequently developed by lots of people without one. The town had, as a youth, a tough paper round and the scars still show, especially where the Council got involved. Mining and heavy industry provided pay and suffering in equal measure until both decided that the Saxons were right after all and headed south for the winter. The recently departed Mrs T, in her own way (without any discernable sense of humour) drove home the final nail as far as the mining was concerned.

However; were the good worthies of the Burgh bothered?

In the main, yes they were, as they had no work, pay, food, homes or pride, but the town survives to this day, a testament to The Saxon with Humour and Town Planner Without.

So now they mine talent.

Local talent that is, the very best sort as it is fresher and closer to the allotment. The Pitman Painters hail from Ashington, although they ultimately gave it up as a bad job: no sooner had they finished painting a pitman, but the bugger would move and have to be recoated.

Nowhere is the local musical talent placed upon an acoustic pedestal better than at Ashington Folk Club.

We are long-time visitors to the club and have come to recognise and appreciate the special contribution to the local scene that the club articulates. High profile guests are often presented for the delectation (and later consumption) of the masses, but there is a regular forum for floor talent in the shape of the Folk Club. Now held in The Portland, a sort of ‘Weatherspoons Without’ pub, it nonetheless boasts a splendid function suite upstairs which has become the recent replacement home to the club. Following moons without count just round the corner at the Miners’ Institute (see, I didn’t make it up after all) they moved to the new home just recently. The Miners’ was a Council run venue which had frankly suffered at the hands of a cash strapped Local Government and had grown, to be kind about it, tired. Knackered would be another way to look at it, but not so kindly.

And so we, this Thursday, for Ashington.

The venue, as mentioned is upstairs in a (big) pub. The room is nice enough, if a touch on the cool side. The barman, Nanook, didn’t seem to notice.

Ben and Doug were in attendance as ever, a good PA was set up ready and the room was set fair for a grand evening. The night we were there (probably because we were there), the turnout was unusually light, but we did have a very good night in the company of the aforementioned local talent. Mike Slaughter was very good, his bluesy picking very convincing and enjoyable. Others from the floor put in sterling performance, manfully, womanfully one and all. The pics below, cortesy of the Wrinkly Wroadies, give some idea of the goings-on. They have a new website too.

Are you a pre or post lactarian? As a confirmed pinky extender when partaking of the old Indian Syrup I, naturally am a pre-lactarian. But with tea bags, then it might be different.

The link to Acoustic Music?

I should have though that was obvious, please; do try to keep up.

When composing a new song are you a lyrics then tune, or a plonk then warble? Some say, that Sir Macca of Liverpool composes with silly nonsense lyrics, then writes the proper nonsense later. Sir Elephant of John has a lackey to scribble words for him, which he changes to fit a tune. We are all different; I myself tend to compose while idly playing, and then suddenly find I have a song. In the past, if I have tried to write a song about something, I always ended up with something different. However that latest project, the Folk Prog Concept Epic EP Song Cycle Tale (snappy name huh) currently enjoying the title of “The Cautionary Tale of Mr Harland Goodnight” has been an exception. This tale of an Ashington thief (I have got it in for Ashington at the moment, haven’t I?) has more or less finished the writing stage and is ready for rehearsing. Then the backing tracks will go off to the guest vocalists. There, that got your attention. Stay tuned for updates in the blog as the project unfolds.

Not that it will unfold much this week. The FG big show rolls into town at Startforth Community Association (Barnard Castle) on Wednesday 24 April, for a show starting at 7.00pm. We hope to see a few friendly faces in the audience! In further FG Big Show news, we are delighted to welcome Chris Kelly on board for the show at Alington House in Durham on June 8th, it’s always a pleasure to play with Chris.

That doesn’t really sound right, what I meant was…

No; I’ll only make it worse.

No room again for news from The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club, except to quickly mention that the changes at the top have meant that Chairman Dave has had to take on an assistant to help advise him on the ‘new direction’ the club is going to take. Like the Saxons, it’ll be South for the Winter[3].

And so as the touring artist of fate arrives at the Travelodge of Destiny and discovers that in the North the expression ‘Travelling Light’ means bring your own lightbulb I notice it is the end of this blog; thanks for reading.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] No, I don’t know why he’s called that either. I think it’s because he used to work for Duracell?

[2] Why is a question history declines to investigate

[3] What a great name for a band.

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