Rules of engagement

As the summer sun sinks slowly into the west and the winter moon giggles just beyond the eastern horizon, I notice that the warm festival season (they don’t, in fairness always go together like that) is ending and a new season of performances, song writing and recording is about to start.

With all that upheaval, it’s a good job that you have a nice, stable, sensible blog to rely on, isn’t it.[1]
Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…


Over the last few weeks the social media has been full of clubs making little announcements. Usually these announcements have to do with how the club is going to run.

In other words: Rules.
Rules about what you can do; can’t do or in some cases, must do.

Just recently one of our favourite places introduced a ‘no music stands’ rule. Fair enough for us, we don’t use one; unless you count as a place for Carol to put her flute when playing it in the same song as her guitar. Would that be covered I wonder?
Probably not. But it would need explaining.

Then there is the ‘acoustic only’ rule. Well that’s Dave out, and Carol’s new uBass out too.
Fair enough, the club is the club and the arbiter of all that is good for us.

Oh, then there’s the rules about introductions – not too long, must be funny, must be; like Goldilocks’ porridge, just right.
We went to one club once and were told they had a rule ‘no singer songwriters’. Oh.

Other places have a rule about what you must play; something that everyone can join in with. Or bring along songsheets so everyone can play along – presumably that place does allow music stands, or has a big floor.

Then there’s the themes, St George, Burns, Wartime, music hall – all have their own theme nights down at your local Folk Club. Trades. Yes they have their own theme nights, songs about sailors, the rural idyll, miners; in fact the only trade that doesn’t have a theme night seems to be Part II Certified Electricians.

It’s only a matter of time, so if I was you, I’d get writing.[2]


This week we have had a fairly quiet time, it being the first week back at the chalk face. However we did find time to attend Mark and Amanda Stormcrow’s wedding anniversary bash at Skinningrove. This was an opportunity for the local musical community to come together and commiserate with Amanda and have a bit of a play and a chinwag. It was a great afternoon, and another example of what a depth of talent and camaraderie there is about the place; it was great to catch up with lots of folks, and to hear them play. Hearty congratulations to Mark and Amanda too. The photos are of course courtesy of The Wrinkly Wroadies, who have decided to dress the Roady part properly, sporting AC/DC T-shirts, shorts, sandals, pony tails, beards and huge ‘access all areas passes’. I don’t know yet what Doug will wear.

We also played at a Library in Gateshead at a staff social get-together – that was fun – givin’ it large in a library!


Talking of Carol’s new uBass, she has been practicing. No, not playing the bass; she’s fine at that bit. It’s the bass player’s expression that she has been busy perfecting. If you watch a band playing, often it will be noticeable that everyone on the stage is having a great time, apart from the bass player – miserable sod.

The bassist often stands pretty still. Facially immobile, features locked into an expression of interminable boredom, occasionally lightened by a quick glance of terminal misery. This is not because the entire evening might be spent making an expensive piece of electronic wood go “dum-dum, dum-dum”[3] but actually -and I know this as a poor bass player myself – because it’s difficult. Concentration is all, and as it is not cool to look as though you are thinking, bass players elect to look miserable instead. It’s in the rules.

Expect to see Carol going “dum-dum, dum-dum” soon.

Info about a Kara uBass here


Some excellent news for us this week. We have been booked for another two libraries, two festivals for 2014 and have been offered a spot at that little venue in town, oh wossname… Sage, yes that’s the one. We will be playing a Sunday lunchtime concourse spot in early 2014 – we did bounce a bit when we got that one.

Saturday and our show at Middlesbrough Studio Theatre, Toft House, see our website for details, and hope to see some of you there, support is courtesy of the excellent Ian Tyzack.

 teeside poster

And so as the folk club finalises the latest volume of rules and floor singers discover that all songs must now be socially inclusive and only songs about Fisherpersons, Underground Face Workers and Jolly Jack and or Jane Depending on which way your Boat Floats Tar will be allowed; I notice that rule about keeping the blog short has been, to put it mildly, ignored.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums

Keep Strummin’


[1] Well; isn’t it?

[2] “Oh I’m a jolly sparky,
Me screw driver in me hand
I’ll wire the green up to the red
And my, won’t life be grand?
I’m your Part II certified sparky
An official electrician
And I’ll never use your loo,
No, not without permission.”

[3] Hands up if you recognised the bass solo from “Gaudete”


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