The Long Road Home

Night falls.

The creeping darkness roars from the far horizon towards us, relentless, tireless, darkness.

It brings the night, the inky black and the prospect of troubled, disturbing dreaming. But not to the casually grinning folkie, as all it brings to us is the prospect of another gig[1].

Or, in the case of your favourite blogging folkies, several gigs, several b&b’s, lots of new Acoustic Chums and some interesting and illuminating experiences.

Allow me to interest and illuminate, as Gentle Reader, you are bid welcome, and read on…

Last week’s blog was the shortest, least illustrated ever. This week I’ll try to remedy the latter without over extending the former.  So without ado:

Chapter The First

In which FG play for the U3A

Monday and FG for Felling to play at the community centre for the local branch of the University of the Third Age. This was our second foray for the U3A and is very interestin’ and rather good fun. A much harder audience in some ways, they hang on every word, tale, one liner and especially; song. Warm applause at the end, nice words and then…

… lots and lots of feedback. People coming up to talk about the songs and what they meant to them, the instruments, the show – all sorts of complimentary feedback and amazingly, lots of CD’s sold. Tips and contacts; it was like Christmas.


When visiting a new folk club for the first time:

  • Do give the Chairman a free CD for the raffle.
  • Do not give him a fiver, a large wink and a whispered “extra ten minutes and nothing more said”[2]


Chapter The Second

In which FG plays Sarfend

top hat…and the very next day, we headed Sarf to Sarfend to play at The Hoy and Anchor Folk Club. Very, very interesting for us to visit a club quite a distance away and see that Folk Clubs seem to run in a similar way, even in the land of the Southerner, where ‘Essex Girls’ is worshipped, not as a documentary, but as a guidebook. The club was very welcoming and we did an extended set, about a third of the evening. Well received, and more CD’s sold. Interesting that a folk club is the only place that a bloke can turn up for a pint wearing a full morris man top hat, complete with feathers, rosette, badges and assorted decorations as occurred to the wearer to be a good idea; and no-one, not one person, so much as turned a hair.

Essex is a great place for a cultural exchange: you should see what they exchanged it for.

Chapter the Third

In which your heroes play Bishop Stortford Folk Festival

Bishop Stortford held a one day mini festival in the garden of The British Legion last Sunday. A lovely setting (see pics) and some acoustic chums – both new and old to meet. We played a hard hitting set and got asked back, so I imagine we must have done ok. Lovely afternoon, spent in the sun listening to some lovely music, highlights for these ears being George Papavgeris and Louise Jordan. Nice sound for an outside gig. We travelled back straight after playing, which meant we rejoined Northern Life at midnight.

When the B&B landlady asks “do you want the full cooked breakfast?” please remember that life on the road means life without toilet paper.

Chapter the bit without a number

…because this wasn’t a gig, but a new chapter for FG

… as we did our first care home. This was a really nice experience and the launch of Carol on bass. Dave will be off, busily getting on with his life soon (just as it should be) so we are preparing for the next step by putting Carol on bass[3]. Her bright red uBass made its debut at the care home, and we had a lovely time (although it was a bit hot) and were rebooked on the spot. The residents all seemed to enjoy the music and the chat and our brand new set of Geordie tunes and songs was well received.

We visited a lovely gentleman in his room after the show. Rather too frail to make the journey along the corridor, he’d listened from his chair and wanted to say thank you to us.

We would like to say thank you to him.

What to do at a folk club while waiting for your turn:

If you want a gig:

  • Smile
  • Listen attentively
  • Join in where possible
  • Applaud warmly

If you do not want a gig:

  • Sleep
  • Practice
  • Read a book
  • Barbecue

Chapter the Last

In which we trundle to Hartlepool

We played the Smallcrafts Club at the end of this week. An interesting room, very long and thin, small stage, but nice atmos and sound. Few in the audience but we played well, I thought, and were appreciated by those present; more CD’s sold, will have to get some more stock. Gentle Reader Andrew Dorian, he of the large lens and posh camera came along and did us the great favour of taking a few photos. He is a bit good, so find Andrew R Dorian on FB to see his work; thanks Andrew! The other photos[4] are of course the work of The Wrinkly Wroadies who have supported all the gigs and taken hundreds of photos. Special thanks to Doug for not burning the club down; but that, as they say, is another tale…

If you want to stand out from the guitar toting crowd, may I recommend this:

and a free gift for you all, just so you can join in with the fun here

(the download is a pdf file hosted on our website, it hasn’t got any viruses in it, at least, not that I put there, oh the website is down Sunday morning, pesky provider, please try later)

Chapter the Final

In which something happens that has naff all to do with FG

I am delighted to announce the newly rejuvenated King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Ecumenical and Universally Welcoming Acoustic Music Club (the acronym comes out as KHAWLEAUWAMC, they need to work on that) is proving to be a wonderful success. Last week saw the welcome return of Sellotape (the band with the name that sticks) with Julian and Sandy still producing the kind of acoustic show that drops jaws at a hundred paces. Julian expertly played his signature D maj chord, and it was interesting to hear Bohemian Rhapsody played entirely in D major all the way through. Not to be outdone, Sandy sang all the parts, the operatic section being a highlight as she ran round the room screaming “Scaramouche Saramouche” at the top of her lungs in order to create a rotary speaker impression.

It certainly made an impression.

And so as darkness falls outside the folk club and inside members respond variously: singing about the setting of the sun, the light of the day, the end of days or simply setting each other alight, I notice it is the end of this edition of the blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Incidentally, when night gets to Stanley, it has a tendency to go round.

[2] A tenner is the usual minimum

[3] As well as vocals, flute, whistle, tenor guitar and metallophone. And that’s just the first half.

[4] Also excellent, naturally. Grief, the things you do to keep folks happy…


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