What’s in a name?

If music be the food of love, then folk is the salad to the heavy metal burger and fries. The two cannot be in any way nutritionally linked, but are as anathematic as sweet and sour, new and old or banjo and tuneful.

Or, then again, are they?

Be welcome Gentle Reader and read on…


Heavy metal may have something to teach us folk and acoustic musicians; especially when it comes to the noble and important art of choosing names. A good name is all important, The Rolling Stones, – that worked, Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias perhaps less so.

Fool’s Gold is the name we chose and there’s a story that I made up on the spot at one gig to go with that.

But heavy metallers have some rules to help them generate a really good name. Look at Acoustic Chum Graham Carrol, his alter ego (as a rockster) band was playing in Stanley the other week and the board outside read as a black litany for the dead, his band was top: Wytchkraft.

So, the rules then:

  1. Mis-spell the name a bit. K and Y are good letters to put in or swap out.
  2. Use something Germanic or Nordic, umlauts are good. It’s very metal.
  3. Make sure there is some oblique reference to the occult. Witches, monks, chanting and candles are all good reference points
  4. If the name can hint at something a bit, well, illegal, than that is all to the good. Or sex; that works.
  5. A place reference is sometimes a good idea, especially if it is unpleasant.

So; “The Bensham Benedictine Bunny Bonking Bad Boys” might be a good start.

Or my personal favourite:


There are those on the circuit who are really into something. I mean really into it, often to the extent of dictating a style of dress – and it’s always the blokes in dresses that you should worry about. Usually it will be a style of music, a particular artist or, often, an instrument. It might be blues or banjo, Blind Lemon Meringue, blowing down a goats nose or playing the Czech Shepherd’s Sheep Calming Pipe (that one is true, by the way[1]). Such enthusiasts are usually unable to comprehend that the rest of humanity is not also greatly moved by their passion, and would, in the main, choose a slow and lingering death over another song[2]. A good example of this phenomenon is PE teachers, who in some ways are therefore just folkies, but with added sadism.

I have been browsing the Internet in search of the unusual this week. The unusual on the ‘net is badly named, largely because it is so easy to find, and generally has no clothes on. However I did find some lovely instruments made by a new company called Emerald Guitars. Their claim to infamy lies in their radical use of carbon fibre as a construction material. The strength of this material enables the design and construction of some radical instruments, and I was especially drawn to their harp guitar. A thing of monstrous beauty and creative scope, I love it dearly; an appreciation made mightier still by the understanding that it would be, to all practical purposes, useless.

A rare visit this week for us to Billingham, to visit longtime Acoustic Chum Norm Rookes. Norm runs an acoustic night in the Catholic Club. The night is casual and welcoming, it was good to meet Norm again and hear him do a few of his own songs which are delivered in a very particular style based around his lilting melodic voice. There was a good turnout of locals: indeed this club is a bit unusual as it does seem and feel local; there were no circuit regulars to be seen (but wait, was that THE Claire Hamill – I believe it was…wow, full show there on Aug 17th). Some riveting stuff from the floor, including impromptu duos and blues jams. FG again got the honour of closing and we dragged out a couple from the back catalogue, ending with a foot-to-the-floor version of ‘Don’t Ask Me’.

Photos once again are courtesy of the Wrinkly Wroadies, for whom Folk and Acoustic Clubs have become a veritable home. In fact the sooner they are in one, the better…

This week has been a good songwriting week, or at least, potentially so. I imagine, Gentle Reader, that you will have seen pictures of those vast aerodromes in America where obsolete aircraft are sent to die, mummified in the aerospace equivalent of cling wrap and tinfoil? I have a folder of songs, all written and worked out, that serves a similar, graveyard, function. This week’s haul was four pieces, all completed to varying degrees of success, of which I think one will make it into the set list, with a possible two more if I knock them down and build them up again from the foundations. Not a bad hit rate I suppose.

More club visits next week, ahead of Dorman’s Folk Festival (formerly Nature’s World) in M’boro at the weekend.

And so, as the condiment of time pours the minutes onto the songwriting plate, and the knife and fork of harsh judgment get stuck straight in, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] We’ve seen him, and Tony, you’re great!

[2] As the two go hand in hand, it’s not actually much of a choice.


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