Coffee. Black. No Questions.

“Black Coffee Please”

“Certainly Sir, would you like milk with that?”

“Er, no, just a black black coffee please”

“Sure thing, would you like iced water with that?”

“No, just a black coffee”
“Sure; is that the Tall, Grande, Piccolo or tightwad?”

“I’ll take the tightwad”
“I thought you would. Is it to go, or will you be festering at one of our filthy tables?”

Some things used to be so simple. It said something on the tin, such as ‘Beans’ and one had a reasonable idea of what the contents would be when opened. Surprises, back in the day were few. Now this is not the case. Beans with sausage, chilli, this sauce, that sauce – and don’t get me started on how tricky it is to order a cup of coffee. ‘Barista’, apparently translates as ‘irritating person who asks lots of questions’.

So the relevance to our much beloved Acoustic Music Scene?

Give in?

Best be bid Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

teeside poster3

Once upon a time, one could enter the licensed premises (it was always licensed premises then and still is – mostly). The pub would have seen better days. That is folk-code for ‘dump: a broken down hovel which would be improved only by the application of explosives’[1]. However, somewhere within a maze of half glass doors, cracked lino and tiled entrances to toilet facilities guaranteed to entertain; there would be a sign that said “Folk Club”.

Ah- the labelled tin. We knew what to expect within. And usually, sadly, got it.

Then Chairmen and Committees got the idea that customer service should be improved. In fairness, quite a few had the notion that is should be offered at all, but that’s another story. So we got an ‘improved offer’ and ‘customer choice’. We got folk nights, theme nights, buskers, singarounds, sessions, guest nights, singers nights, BYOB. MYOB[2] and of course, Open Mic Nights.

Ah. At last a concept I understand. An Open Mic Night means a night where there is an Open Mic, one can turn up, stand up, open up and do what’ya got. Be it sing, play, joke, rant, rave, declaim or if a pervert; folk dance, no matter; it’s an Open Mic.

..or not perhaps.

News has reached us of an Open Mic night which has turned away an artist previously welcomed because he (or it could be a she, we don’t know the person involved) plays (wait for it) a musical saw.

An electric musical saw to boot.

…and with backing tapes.


I’m not sure where I stand on the musicality of the act: I think that after one song (number?) I’d have got the idea, and had enough of that. Also, it is my personal notion that all backing tapes should be put in a deep hole and covered with the recently shot bodies of those who used them, but then, that’s just my Christian side coming out. However, I thought it was an Open night. It turns out that the committee adjudged things slightly differently and decided that it was openish. Turned him away at the door is the version I heard.

May not be true[3].

Maybe, but…

A quiet week this one: both Carol and I had croaks and splutters so we decided not to inflict croaks on audiences, and instead have been writing and busy organising more gigs for next year. We will be publishing some sort of list on the website for next year soon, but so far it looks like it is going to be lots of fun. We have also been looking at small PA systems. Our Fender Passport is a really good system, but is big and heavy and can’t be left in the car overnight (which we may need soon).  So we’ve been looking. We have heard some stuff working, and have been amazed at the punch, clarity and quality that comes out of a very small box, and which can be picked up for a reasonably modest sum. The leader at the moment seems to be the Samson Expedition XP150 Portable PA System, the Behringer 150 EPA, and the Alto Mixpack Express having been rejected. All the units seem to offer similar spec, and just look like so much fun to play with. Carol says I like them because they fold away into a nice little box.
She might be right.

This week we have few photos for you, just a few snaps of a Wrinkly Wrocker, and  buskers in the centre of Newcastle really (plus a few odds and sods). The two bands we saw busking were similar. Both basically brass led, one with a banjo/guitar/singist and a fantastic bass player. They played in a shop doorway and played good time ska to the passers by. The other was a nine piece, all young folks, nearly all brass or wind. They played good time ska, but not to passers by – they played to a large crowd who stopped, listened cheered and dropped copious amounts of the kings’ coin into the hat. Why the difference? The kids obviously had a big sound, but for me it was that the youngsters had an act. They took turns to solo, moved round, sat up, kneeled down, marched about, jigged and jumped and looked like they were enjoying it – for god’s sake, I saw one of ‘em smile.
In short they entertained.

Now, I need a coffee.
No Sugar.
You want a fist with that?
As the doors of the open mic club close for the evening, the committee member of justice scribbles the legend of truth on the sign ready for next week; it now reads “Open Mic. Terms and Conditions Apply”.
Until Next Time Acoustic Chums
Keep Strummin’

[1] Can you guess which club that is? Yup, that’s the one!

[2] Mind Your Own Business. No; not you, oh, good grief…

[3] No. It might not. It is, but …


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