Once more, dear friends…

Busy Acoustic Bunnies; that’s us.

We have been beavering (should that be ‘bunnying’?) away this week trying get a grip on all the balls in the air, irons in fire, ships in the harbor and tortured metaphors in the blog. We’ve bought noticeboards, year planners, diaries and datebooks. Online, offline, inline, outlined and now, thankfully, defined.

But it’s only the 5th January!

What can this mad panic be in aid of?
Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on.


Cluny 2 on January 19th; you are coming, aren’t you?

Firstly, I hope you have made your New Year Resolution. That’s the promise you make to yourself on January 1st, and break by lunchtime. However, if the resolutions were a little more folk related, they might be easier to keep. So here are a few suggestions for:

The Folk Singer’s Resolution

  1. Play as many folk clubs as possible in a year
  2. Try to get thrown out of as few folk clubs as possible
  3. Learn lots of new songs
  4. Forget lots of old ones
  5. Learn to play a new instrument
  6. Never play that instrument in public
  7. Get some new stage banter
  8. Try not to get thrown out of clubs because of new stage banter
  9. Drink less

10. Break no.9 a lot.

Some Acoustic Chums will be aware of the existence on this musical plane of one Mr Phil Graham. Phil has been a larger than life figure on the scene for a while, as host of the late lamented PHOM open nights, as a member of Tre, Out on a limb (with his minder, David) and as part of Man With Stick (no, no one really knows). He is also a solo performer of some gusto, photographer and MC. So if he suddenly disappeared you’d think more folk would notice, wouldn’t you?

Phil has been struck down with Guillan Barre Syndrome. At least he has managed to contract something as hard to understand as his band’s name! Basically, the lad has a condition that has attacked his nervous system and left him paralysed from the neck down. After eleven weeks on his back, he has some returning mobility to his left arm and his Gob, praise the lord[1], is in fully functioning order.

We know this to be true as we went through to the Middleborough Mending House for Knackered Folkies to have a chat. Phil is in remarkable spirits and is positively bouncing – without actually moving – with purpose. If willpower and positivity is medicine, he’ll be right by next Thursday. The reality is that he has a hill to climb. I hope as many folks as possible are there to give him a hand up.

Janet has put in a heroine’s performance so far – have a medal!

We spent a lot of time last year, planning this one. Now it’s arrived, all our plans have started to loom closer and are approaching fast.

This month we have acoustic chums jiva’s songwriters symposium which we support (and probably damage) and of course our Cluny 2 gig on the 19th (just thought I’d mention it). We are also going to itsAcoustica’s gig at the same place the weekend before – that should be a good ‘un too. Then we have a few clubs scheduled in to visit.

So not too much to play with as the Actress said; but (as the Bishop replied) enough, so if not that causing the fuss; then what?

Some time ago, I wrote a sequence of songs about a Victorian Villain called Harland Goodnight. This sequence of songs can be firmly blamed upon Ace Higgins of the aforementioned itsAcoustica, as it was he who first mentioned FG in the context of prog-folk. That got me thinking…

If prog rock can have Lamb Lies Down, The Wall, Quadrophenia (not prog I know), Tales from Topographic Oceans (not short, I know), and Kiss’ ‘The Elder’; (I know, I know, just not good), then why can’t FG have a prog-folk concept album! Hooray!

Anyway, it’s finally wrotten and Carol and I have to get it learned , then get some guide tracks out to the misguided folks who have agreed to participate.

Thursday and we and a brace of slightly dented Wrinkly Wroadies for Jack’s Club. For anyone within Acoustic distance of Durham, that appellation will need no clarification. If you are our regular Bosnian Gentle Reader (are you mad?) then further words of enlightenment may be called for. There has been a Folk Club at The Beamish Mary for long enough. It has gone through various incarnations, days of the week, owners (as has the pub) and has finally landed into the stewardship of Jack B Burness. Jack is very well known round this manor, both as a performer, songwriter, heckler and impresario. His profile on the scene is to be admired and he has put his own stamp on the revitalized (like the pub) Folk Club. Thursdays is the day to aim for, and get there early as it gets very full. We often don’t like open nights with lots of performers as there is usually a cattle market rush, cables, plugging, The Tuning Song, fx pedals, music stands, sheets and usually, The Tuning Song again. Jack has decided to clean up this process. You have to be ready, tuned and prepared. No stands, no sheets, no cribs, no backing track, hit the stage, plug in Jack’s jack and I’m alright (Jack). The result is an easy going night, with little fuss, no real pressure other than the need to do well. On Thursday there was over 50 in the room, plenty of audience and at least 20 or so performers (see pics, Pauline’s as Doug’s wing is still damaged). Great standard in the room, lots of good friends, great music and we was dead chuffed to hear the room roaring along to Rake Down the Moon. Excellent night.

As you can see, some great performers, itsAcoustica showcasing their stuff, nice to see Peter Dilley and of course Mr Twist!

Friday night was an odd one, acoustically speaking. We were very lucky to have a few of our tracks played on a Dutch radio station. Great fun to hear us following Blackmore’s Night, and a grand Dutch band, Scrum. But it was also a salutatory experience. I have always thought that our home studio efforts belonged to the category comfortably labeled ‘pretty good’. I now realize, having heard them back to back with pro level stuff that they belong to the group called ‘pretty good for home recordings’. We will have to raise the bar several notches for the next effort. Given that we can’t run to studio fees for recording, maybe we will involve an expert in the mix and mastering stage. Time will tell.

At the bottom of our road there is a Club. Not a Folk Club, a Klerb.  The Kingdom of Geordieland is into two tribes divided[2]; Pubganners and Clubganners. Porsonally, Ah gan th’pub, but others spend their time differently in the great institution that is The Working Man’s Club[3]. Clubs feel the need to put on entertainment, or ‘Torns[4]’. In days of yore, the Torn would be a band, a comedian, a novelty act or a singer – with a band, often the ubiquitous resident band. In short, the music was live.

The window contains a lot of posters, from which I deduce the following:

These days, they have singers. Just singers. Aint no band. Just a bloke with an unlikely name, or a bord with an unlikely name and (in the eyes of physics) an  unlikely skirt  and an mp3 player. This is not live music. It is singing to a backing tape and is soulless. It has no swing or movement, but it pays well and judging by the posters in the window, there is no shortage of volunteers.

So we get ready for The Cluny in two weeks, a few clubs in between and that should keep us busy. So, as the word counter of fate races towards the ceiling of interest and the metaphor police begin to knock at the blog (so to speak), I realise it is the end of this blog.

Happy New Year

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Several Lords are available, you pick yours and I’ll pick mine

[2] According to the prophet Scott Jobson

[3] Often the ‘work’ is more theoretical than, as it were, work

[4] Turn. Keep up.


2 thoughts on “Once more, dear friends…

  1. Hi Steve & Carol……I copy and posted your blog this week and took it through to the hospital for Phil to read, and so this is his reply………..

    It is an esteemed honour even in times of prolonged illness to be featured in such an auspicious organ. It was great to see you when you visited spending an hour or two on matters concerning our music. Let me use this page to personally thank you both and to pass on my very best wishes to fellow readers.

    Janet Graham on behalf of Phil x

    • You leave my organ out of this.
      It was great to spend time with Phil and Janet; the reply shows that Himself is in fine fighting’ mood, and we all wish him all the best.
      Now you just lie still and rest.
      But not for long!

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