The Unkindest Cut of All…

The Government push to austerity was noted and lamented by us all.

But possibly not noticed.

We all felt bad when the rural arts touring scheme for homeless budgie jugglers was axed. The subsidy for the toffee yoghurt miners of South Wales was chopped in half[1] and we all felt sad. When Social Services cancelled their outreach project to help gay, single parent, transgender moles with mobility issues fill in their benefit forms, we were mildly outraged.

But we didn’t really notice.

Until perhaps, now.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on.


***TONIGHT (unless you’re reading the repeat) FG plus Ian Tyzack Saltburn Community Arts Centre – £6 – 7.30 Doors ***


Have you noticed how the cuts are starting to bite?

Of course you have.

Potholes remain unfilled, traffic light bulbs fail and are not replaced; verges grow to tropical levels and road signs, twist and fall, to remain as mute collateral damage in a financial war we will, in the end, lose.


Take libraries for instance.

(aaaah, now you see where I’m going – well done yourself)

Local Authorities, faced with in-year budget butchery, have decided that the public libraries offer an easy, and largely immobile, target. They have been sold, off, closed, locked up and if the moustache wiggling leader of the Council had her way, they’d probably burn the books too.

However, Gateshead LA has come up with a wizard wheeze and allowed groups of volunteers to keep some branches open. These good worthies are valiantly striving to keep things going on a budget that would make a shoestring seem grossly extravagant.

Every now and again, they cluster together for a mutual socal and bl**dy good cathartic moan about the cuts. To help the wine and canapés slide down, they like a bit of acoustic music…


So far we’ve done two, and they’ve both been great fun. It is unusual being in a library after hours and giving it six-nowt in the Acoustic Volume stakes, providing the musical backdrop to whatever it is that a roomful of Librarians (volunteer)  talk about[2].  We’ve been well received and had a few steers for other gigs. Collections and donations are rather generous too. Mind, you if you are late with a song, there is a hefty fine…


Midst a caliginous autumn eve, we for The Daleside Arms, home to Croxdale Folk Club. Regular Gentle Readers will remember we went a couple of weeks ago and it was packed for Bran Willoughby and Catherine Craig. ‘Great’ thought we (insofar as thought has anything to do with it) ‘we’ll go again’.

Well, it wasn’t quite so packed. But it did happen.

More or less anyway. We played for John and Jacqui and the Wrinkly Wroadies, and John kindly invited us to do a guest night on Feb 25th 2014. It would be lovely if it could be well attended…


Friday and a rare treat for me. My son (bass playing, natch) took me to see Steven Wilson at the City Hall in Newcastle. A really good night of top class prog ensued, full stage show, my favourite bass player (Nick Beggs, the second most famous member of Kajagoogoo) on bass and Chapman Stick, a song was considered short at 15 mins, so I was quite, quite happy. Excellent night. A couple of photos are in the Gallery as illustrations, not from the night.


Saturday Night and we, by road, for St John’s Chapel in Upper Weardale, where men are men[3] and Brother Crow  and ‘Turkish’ Chris Milner, of Istanbul and Langley Park fame were in Concert in the Town Hall. ‘Town’ Hall in St John’s is a delightful irony not lost on visitors to this rural outpost. A great venue and an admission by voluntary contribution – good idea that – and a grand night of acoustic entertainment was on offer. It’s hard getting a decent crowd out to anything these days, so Chris and the Crow Brothers (Andy Davison and Graeme <Just Call Me Jon> Carroll[4]) did well to get a receptive and interested group of filled tables to listen to and clearly enjoy the show. Great sets and certainly value for money as there was over two and a half hours covered by close. Chris’ stage patter took us on a world tour of his exploits recounted in anecdote and song. The photos are from my iPad, and Chris wins the prize for the ‘most reflective shirt in the west’. It’s probably Turkish.


Our plans for next year continue, with two more gigs added to the calendar this week. However, before I start to bang on about that, there’s this week and next to get out of the way before the acoustic season (for us anyway) starts to slow down.

Far and away our best year, our campaign to bring FG to the masses[5] winds up with a show in Saltburn tonight (last Sunday if you are reading the repeat), and then a mad week starting on the 28th, with video recording and gigs in Coventry and… Lanchester Library.

Funny how circles complete themselves innit?



And so as the librarian of justice closes up shop, swaps woolly cardy for leather waistcoat and heads off to the Folk Club to bellow out shanties, we for a change get the chance to “SHHHHHHH” at him, I notice it is the end of this edition of the FG blog.

Thank you for reading.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep’ Strummin’

[1] Have you ever tried to chop yoghurt in half?

[2] Turns out it’s lending out books. Not much of a surprise, really.

[3] …and that’s as far as I’m prepared to go.

[4] …who plays keys in a Deep Purple tribute band. Jon Lord. See? Look, if I have to explain them all…

[5] Which makes us sound like a form of flatulence. Fair enough.

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