Top Trumps

And now for the word forecast, we go over to Steve at the blog bureau.

“Yes, Jim, the outlook here is for shortened blogs, as for the past few weeks, we have been subject to some whoppers”.

Best get on with it then.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…

Saturday saw Carol and I make the journey into town (that’s Newcastle, there are no others) to see Acoustic Chums Andy & Catherine, better known as Its Acoustica perform an all too rare live set. The venue was The Trent House, an old pub up by the hospital, which has been renovated to the point that it is now designer scruffy, rather than what it was when we played there; genuinely scruffy. The room upstairs is long and narrow and has a few bendy bits which allow audience members to hide, but Andy and Catherine had set up well at the pointy end of the room. Also in attendance where String Theory, a band from Barnsley and pals of ItsAcoustica. A treat to see our former bassist Steve ‘The Nugget’ Wilson on sound man duties too!

String Theory are a rootsy three piece, guitar (bloke) mandolin (bloke) fiddle (not bloke) and they make much of being hard to find on the internet. Which they are, unless you use the cunning search “string theory”. Their main presence seems to be a my space site, here. Whatever happened to my space? <sighs>.

Andy and Catherine played two sets, showcasing some of the new material as well as highlights from the back catalogue. I’ve always liked the ItsA noise and enjoyed the set, and hope that the new stuff makes it onto the CD currently being recorded as it sounded as though it has real life in it.

Facebook informed me this week that Donald Trump was an ‘inspirational person’. That is probably true, but what he inspires me to do has to do with a big boot and some dangly bits. But wait; someone must have inspired me to start walking down the musical path.

It was Rick Wakeman, on Whistle Test[1] that did it for me. I’d just started listening to Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd and all the others of the prog prime time movement, when up on my grainy black and white TV set appeared a very thin bloke with long blonde hair, who appeared to be wearing chain mail and a cloak, but who was completely surrounded by keyboards.
And he was playing them all.

My damascene moment came when he made his way round from one keyboard to another and swapped hands, one to the other. My teenage gob hung open in awe, and it was a genuine adolescent moment of “I want to do that”.

So blame Rick.

…blame him for the concept album, The Cautionary Tale of Harland Goodnight. We have made some small progress on that this week and hope to get some rough guide tracks down in the next week or two, but we have been very busy…

On Wednesday and we for Barnard Castle to play a Stories with Strings Attached show for Startforth Community Association. Nice hall in the local school, and teas and raffles laid on, but the local population seemed to prefer the TV soaps, maybe it was the early start? However a few brave souls ventured out and we played a selection to our hosts, and to be honest, had a good time, CD’s sold too, so not bad. Felt sorry for the organisers though.

Last weekend we played a brief set at the Memorial Hall in Warkworth, supporting a contortionist magician called Chris Cross (see what he did there?) This was a curious experience for all sorts of reasons, but it was great to see the village turn out in their droves and fill the hall. The grainy photo is of Mr C swallowing a sword (sort of) from Carol’s phone, as my camera gave up the ghost.

The main event of the week was our guest night at Netherton Folk Club. Way out in the Coquet Valley beyond Rothbury, Netherton is one of our favourite clubs, in a lovely wooden room in the village hall. We decided to do the our Guest night there acoustically – or nearly so as Dave was able to join us at the last minute, so a hasty re-draft of the set and the second half saw us in trio formation. Needless to say it was a great night, right up the valley in a tiny village hall. Great company and chat, some super music and a good, tight set from us. Thanks to Jack as ever for having us as guests. The photos are from the Wrinkly Wroadies but have been chopped down as there were some splendid younger performers; sadly they left before we could get Mum’s permission to us the photos. A sad commentary on today…

Great changes are afoot at The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club. Under the directorship of Chairman Dave the club has thrived to the point that the same four people go every week, and the four guest nights a year are one of the four people who go every week. T’committee have forced upon Dave a co-Chairperson who will mentor his management. Quentin the Mentor will oversee and approve Dave’s decisions as regards the future direction of the club. Dave’s projected night of Irish Music has been replaced with a night of feminist liberalist avante garde free form banjo wresting and the St George’s Night celebrations has been re-imagined as a open night for singers focussed on the oppressed, depressed and downtrodden; which sounds like it might be a laugh.

As we strive to keep the word count below what they apparently call ‘long form blogging’, I see that the open mic night of destiny called to the young musician of fate and as he retrieves his mouth organ from the orifice of judgement, and he realises that his future lies not up musical paths but, as the audience kindly informed him, Up Yours.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] The actual moment is about 4 minutes in. Still makes me smile.

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