Some Sundays…

Some Sundays I sit at this keyboard and ease out onto the screen a few ideas that have been living in the swirling mist of my mind for a week. There is a bit of battering into shape, some hammering of phrases, but the main shoe is already formed. Other weeks, and this is one of them, I sit and stare at the screen, look inside the chamber of imagined prose and find the table laid ready, but sadly, bare.

But it’s not as though nothing has happened, quite the au contraire, mes braves.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…

For a start, the FG instrument collection has been reduced by two. John ‘The Power’ Jeffrey, well known troubadour of this burgh, has expanded his own arsenal of acoustic awesomeness with the addition of my Taylor 810 CE. This is a lovely, lovely instrument that I enjoyed playing and had a grand sound. I tend to be heavy handed with the old plectrum, so it was quite loud. Hence now I play the PRS Angelus SE, and love it to little pink bits. Hopefully Mr Power will get many gigsworth of enjoyment out of the instrument.

I rarely play mandolin these days, so it’s a bit silly to have two. Especially when one is an Ovation. I am pleased to report that Andy ‘Ace’ Higgins, chief guitar pilot of ItsAcoustica has taken possession, for a paltry sum, of said Mando. We look forward to hearing what he does with it. Probably some shredding solo of complex virtuosity. I hear Catherine is writing, so we await with baited wossname…

We have also returned back to base after a break in Cornwall. A lovely tour round places has recharged the batteries a bit, and despite having to do a little ‘real’ work, we’re back in the saddle. We had a particularly nice evening at The Acoustic Warehouse in Devon. Not a Folk Club, but embracing all styles, the club is in a former pub – they built a new, much bigger one a few yards away – the place is set up like a very small theatre – good sound, nice lighting and a houseful of punters – excellent. We did a 50 minute set, and really enjoyed it. Also very good indeed to see Acoustic Chum Glenn Coggin again. Top stuff.

Pics of this and Bideford FC are of course from The Wrinkly Wroadies, the famous rock photographers. Rocks don’t move you see…

I think that, as a renowned Man of Mystery, I shall be discrete about what were up to on the musical front, save but to say, that we have been mightily encouraged by recent responses to the ‘Stories with String’s shows we’ve done. So we’re writing, arranging, and thinking hard about how we can improve the show visually, organisationally, but most importantly of all, sonically. This has led us into uncharted musical waters, and sailing blindly towards the sun, I can report that it’s lots of fun.

The aforementioned Mr Higgins once christened us ‘Prog Folk’, I hope we can build on that idea…

New material.

We all need it.

We need it for the Care Home set, especially as demand for it is on the rise, four next week I think. The Care Home set is unlike anything else we do – there’s virtually no crossover – and is designed as much to engage audiences as anything else.

But learning new songs quickly does have its benefits when it comes to FG songs, as new chord progressions and ideas leap out.

Hopefully.

The Bevin Boys song is ready for us to rehearse into shape, adding Carol’s bits, will it be bass, or flute, or whistles, or tenor guitar? Good question that, as long as the answer isn’t, ‘all of the above’.

Another idea has surfaced, not too much to say about that as it might – might – use some of the new approaches alluded to earlier, but as a title it would be ‘The Widow’s Penny’.

So at the moment, we’re working hard to keep the ball rolling, so far this year we’ve done about 100 shows (that’s Care Homes, Folk Clubs, Libraries, Museums, Acoustic Clubs, and goodness knows where else – but not floor spots, we’ve done hardly any), and one thing we have learned is that there is every bit as much work behind the gigs than there is actually performing. Carol is the main brains of this part of the organisation, largely on account of me not having any, and she is constantly chasing, organising, checking, arranging, Travelodging…

It is still a source of amazement to me that it is so hard to get in touch with some organisations. Some, are very good – U3A’s and the like, others (better not say, but I bet you can guess) are hopeless. Promises made, emails sent then ignored, promises not so much broken but torpedoed and sunk with all hands; it’s amazing that some places manage to survive at all.

Can’t say where they are, as that might cause offence.

Chairman Dave, Leader of the The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club[1] has no problems with communication as he doesn’t bother with it much at all. He has managed to burrow the club in a warm and comfy place, where it simply isn’t necessary to burden the half dozen regulars with new acts.

The regulars are all players themselves, usually unaccompanied singists of note[2], and they have managed to perfect a system whereby they always get a gig without the tiresome problem of listening to anyone else. The six regulars have a six week rota you see, this also means that it is so much easier to clear the room at the end of the evening.

And on that note[3], I see the end in sight, and so as the last chord reverberates around the club, the triumphant hosanna hangs in the eaves, and the artist, perspiring, reaches out to the audience for approval only to find he’s gone to the bar for some nuts, I see that the end (but only of this edition) has arrived.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Every Thursday, in the back room. Unless the Leek Show is on. Obviously.

[2] The only use one.

[3] I only use one.

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