About Fool's Gold

We are Steve & Carol Robson and can be found in and around the Folk and Acoustic Clubs and venues around the North of England. You can find out more about us here: www.foolsgoldacoustic.co.uk

And finally..?

There come a time when it’s time for a change. Not necessarily a big change, maybe a little alteration to the norm would do. It’ll be ok.

Just ask Norm.

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

…for now.


This week has been a bit different inasmuch as we’ve had a few less shows and so have had more chance to get a few bits of important musical admin sorted out.

Like tidying the garage, and the storeroom.

This has meant that I have rediscovered many things, which, are apparently entirely essential, but it has also meant that several musical items have gone to Jesus.

Things like a marimba or two, a tiny practice amp, several assorted percussion bits, which, I promise, sounded godawful. The resulting space was massively increased when we said ‘Cheerio’ to the old PA system, which has gone on to pastures new, this time even deeper into the folk world than we ever took it.

Next years calendar is still filling up, and the new show is going to be a very big, and important step for us, as it has to be better and different whist still be the same.

A bit like this blog really.


One highlight this week was a trip to Sunny Middlesbro’ to see Peg Powler present their album launch at The Python Gallery.[1] Sara Dennis leads this folk rock outfit and of course we’ve known her for quite a while. Unfortunately it’s really the drummer that we know. David is thumping the tubs in PP these days as well as in emergent folk rock supergroup Hadrian’s Union.

In PP David plays a cut down kit, and therefore only requires two trucks and sixteen roadies to assemble the gear for him and fan him with wet copies of Folk Roundabout as he zones himself into the performance.

As with most drummers, ‘Zoning In’ apparently requires quite a lot of beer.

For the record, Peg Powler put on a very good show of original, story based songs, and their line up of guitar, fiddle, drums, occasional bass and lots of vocals filled the gallery with a very fine sound indeed.

Should go far.


We went to Heugh Battery again this week to do Beat The Drum on the 100th anniversary of the First Battle of the Somme; always nice to play there, it’s a tiny museum with a big heart and nice feel. It’s the place where the only ‘official’ enemy engagement on UK soil happened in December 1914.

I don’t know how the victims of air raids feel about that.

There are some images here, not many, as although the Heugh Battery isn’t licensed, the Wrinkly Wroadies are and usually bring their own.

In crates.

I suppose the main news is regarding this blog.

I have decided to make it occasional rather than weekly. It will still get updated, quite possibly weekly, quite possibly not.

The reason for this is that I feel it’s getting a bit samey, and more importantly I want to write more.

And not post an FG blog?
How can this be?


The FG blog is meant to be about music, and even though Folk Clubs do get a look in, it usually is.
But I want to write about other stuff so will be staring another blog, which will be about anything I fancy writing about.

You won’t escape, as I’ll mention it here first.


Chairman Dave opened his eyes again, this time more carefully. The room looked the same.

Sunshine struggled fitfully to penetrate the gloom through filthy windows, providing just enough illumination to make you wish it hadn’t bothered.

The back room of the King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs had never changed in years and it still looked to same.

And yet…

The chairs were empty, the last member had died years ago, even though they kept coming – every Thursday when the Leek Show isn’t on.

So what was it?

Dave scratched his head and looked round slowly.

He wondered when he’d put on the white cheesecloth and cords. He didn’t even recall buying a white waistcoat, but then; after ten o’clock there were many things Dave didn’t recall.

Like paying the acts for instance.

What was the last thing he remembered?

How couldn’t remember, and it didn’t seem to matter.

And that noise? The sound of voices, distant but growing louder, more insistent.

It sounded like the members, but there hadn’t been that many people in the Folk Club for years and years.

A growing panic rose within him as a thought surfaced, and no matter how hard he pushed it down, it kept bobbing right back up.

As the Folk Club gradually hardened around him and the members, long gone, began to take their accustomed seats (which caused a few arguments) Dave made his way to the bar.

The barman had his back to him but Dave, unable to wait, blurted out, “am I in the eternal Folk Club of heaven?”

The barman turned, Dave couldn’t help but notice the horns.

‘Well’, smiled the barman; ‘two out of three ain’t bad’.



…’Guinness is off.’



And so as the trumpet sounds and angels cry, dogs bark and cats miaow, I notice that nothing has changed; because that’s what they’re meant to do.


Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] I’m sure someone else is on there later in the year, but for the life of me…

Title required…

My right leg has got right fed up.

It got to the point where it formed the opinion – rightly or leftly – that it would be better off going it alone.

So it had a little vote with the rest of me, and blow, me, it voted to b*gger off.

Well, I’m sure we will get on just fine without it; no big miss I suppose – why would anyone need a right leg these days?

Except that the left arm, which wanted right leg to stay, has decided to nip off and join it.

Might make guitar a bit tricky.

Never mind, I’ve got other things to worry about. Brain has received a vote of no confidence in the way it handled the whole right leg thing, and it’s on its bike too. There are three new brains in the wings though. One is a megalomaniac idiot (no change there, he’ll probably get in), one is an insane wrecker and one is a complete winker (choose your own vowels, won’t you?).



Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…



Well, after an interesting and quite possibly important week in the world at large, it is time, Gentle Reader, for you to peer through your special window into the world of unique insanity that is Fool’s Gold.

Insanity not because we are clinically insane; at least not last time my certificate was checked, but because we have the temerity, audacity and yes, stupidity to think that anyone else might be interested in what we do.

You may recall, if memory serves you well, that we have been serving up that which we do, trying to make a go of it as (of all things) musicians. Gentle Readers possessed of very long memories indeed will recall that we tried hard to break into the folk club circle, but the folk club circle (in the main, with notable and welcome exceptions) remained unbroken. I’m sure that the chronicles of The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club (every Thursday in the back room unless the Leek Show is on) did a very great deal to help our chances of breaking in to the In Crowd, but somehow we remained Bloody Tourists.

So, we broke out, rebelled, left the union[1].

We left the world of folk purism behind and had a go at entertainment.

So, for the last 18 months – two years maybe, we have been pedaling our own special brand of lunacy, known mostly as ‘Stories with Strings’. Unless you have been a non-dom at Life on Mars, you will know that this means that we have built a show around the idea that songs have stories, which we can tell, perform the songs (live, natch) and wrap the whole parcel up with visuals on a big screen – some to help the stories, some to backdrop the songs while we play.

And lots of fun it has been too.

We have played big halls, little halls, church halls, village halls, palaces, dumps, toilets, libraries and yes, even Folk Clubs. We’ve played to WI, Probus, U3A, Old Persons, Young Persons, Humans, Animals and Politicians. We’ve had big houses, little houses, small houses and two occasions, the walls.

And it can get tiring.

You might think this is leading up to a retirement announcement, but if you did, you’re out of luck.

What we are doing at the moment is developing the 2017 show. It is going to be slicker, quicker, brighter and better.

(Quite a strap-line, I must write that down.)

One of the problems we have faced, as the show developed, is the amount of gear we have to trudge around and the required set-up time. We’ve had loads of bookings where the person has said something along the lines of “Oh, you can start at 8:00, so if you make sure you’re there by ten to…”.

So this week we’ve been playing with new projection systems, new instruments, and new toys. A recent birthday allowed me the indulgence of another pedal. The pad sounds (to be played live) are coming along nicely. Some new kit, visuals and sound are starting to find their place.

And all of it, even if it is lighter and quicker it will be money for nothing.

Unless the songs are good. Music is my first love, so that means the songs have got to be better too.

We have a setlist for the new show, and several titles on the list have to be written. And they’d better be good.

I’d better start tomorrow.

I don’t like Mondays.

That one was the easiest, hope you found the rest.


And so as the Sunsets on Empire across the Field of Crows and the Light Dies Down on Broadway, I notice that there is no Dark Side of the Moon really, as a matter of fact, it’s all dark.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Not that the union ever accepted our membership. Oddly enough they took our subs though.

Home is where the heart is…

Home is where the heart is.

That’s what they say, and to be fair, they should know.

If they say it’s where my heart is, I’ll go along with it.

How I managed to stay alive for a week in London is, therefore, quite beyond me.

Home again now, and presumably reunited with the vast majority of my major organs, and life is returning to the roustabout, knockabout, roundabout that passes, in FG Towers, for normality.

And, did we have fun, adventures, midnight feasts in the dorm?

Did we?

Did we?
Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


It has been, even by our slightly daft standards, a silly week. It all began last weekend with us finding ourselves doing four shows in a huge engine shed at Tanfield Railway. They had an event, lots of chuff-chuffs chuffing around the chuffing place, and lots of railway enthusiasts, camera bedecked and knowledgeable heads screwed on, wandering hither and yon. The Engine Shed was home to model railway enthusiasts, who had a similar following of knowledgeable types, but they were much much smaller. We found out that an Engine Shed is very big, very cold and very, very, dirty. They’d done their best to clean it out – no complaints, it is after all, home to Thomas and his Pals, but all the leads, cables and anything that went anywhere near the floor was, to put it bluntly, Hacky.

As soon as we finished the last show on Sunday, it was gear in the car and whizz off down the M1 to Potter’s Bar.

‘Whizz’ is possibly over-egging it a bit as the traffic apparently had other things on its mind than actually whizzing. Some time later, and a lug of all the gear into a Travelodge (second floor), we decided to buy a van.

Whether we will or not remains moot, but at the time is seemed like a Chufftingly good idea.


Monday morning and Potter’s Bar U3A. That meant we got to play with the M1/M25 junction at 8:00am, which is very nearly as much fun as it sounds – if you like dying. PB U3A have their big presentations in, heaven be praised, a big theatre, the Wyllotts Centre, so we got to play in a fantastic full tiered 350 seater auditorium which was packed – it also had a huge cinema screen, so we were slightly happy. Even more so when we basically sold out of CD’s at the end – it was, a nice morning.

That evening we were guests at Waltham Abbey Folk Club. Not exactly 350 people, but it was great to get back to a full acoustic, stripped back, seat of your pants concert in the old Folk Club styleee. Great fun.

Two more U3A shows followed, both very good and with big (big) audiences, by the end of this week we have played to just a bit less than 1000 people, so once again, we’re a bit happsicle.

Back home again, and it’s pick up the threads and get on with it. We’ve a few ‘Waters of Tyme’ shows coming up, and will have the new book/CD set on offer – that is if I manage to get the new version of ‘Tommy on the bridge’ mixed and finished today. Fact fans may be interested to know that it started off with around 20 tracks, and the final mixed version has about six. Less, as they say…


New technology has come along since we started doing the show, and I’m keen to reduce setup times and save a bit of room in the car (see second floor comment above), so we’re busy looking at making the show setup leaner. That of course, requires considerable internet browsing, comparing specs, reading reviews and generally me being as happy as a pig in muck.

We’ll see what happens.


I’ve been asked to review some kit for a manufacturer in China; they make clones of well-known pedals and are very good (and cheap). Naturally I said ‘yes’; what would they send me to review (‘cos you get to keep it) – a super distortion box, mega-whizzy flanger; maybe their new super looper?

No, it was a power brick; basically a plug.

However, it is actually very good at what it does, so I won’t knock it. The review will be on Amazon soon, I may not employ this style of prose, as presumably, purchasers want to get to the end of it quickly.

Which is a coincidence, because here we are.


And so as evening falls and the sound of silence descends over the Vales of Folk, the night people stir and the first Shanty man strikes up a chorus.

And soon everyone is asleep.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’





Italians eh?

Italian Gentlemen do not walk.

Should it happen that the need may arise to perambulate from A to, let’s say, ‘B’, then they do not walk.

They strut.

No more proud a peacock ever displayed for the Tudor Kings, no dainty a Dandy danced down the Strand of Edwardian England; finery is fine, but the Italian male, well, he knows what’s what.

And what’s what, is style.

A week spent on Wrinkly Wrehab in Italian Italy has afforded us the opportunity to do some people watching. Which is just as well, as the whole point of a strut is that people watch.

At first, they look like ordinary blokes. Perhaps a slower stride, a more deliberate stance a studied insouciance that takes hours of mirror-based rehearsal to get just right, but once mastered, boy are they good.

It might just be jeans, loafer and a T Shirt that is on display, but – surely those jeans are tapered just so, and the T-shirt; no vulgar sloganism announcing the thoughts of Frankie[1], just an understated designer logo that you have to be ‘in’ to spot.

And the cognoscenti will spot it.

After all, they’re parading too.

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


…which is why there has not been a blog for couple of weeks[2].

And now we’re back, and it will still be a short one this week[3].

We’re right in the middle of gig silly season. Six or seven this week (I loose count), two more today (as you read this) and then off down the A1 back to Essex and Hertfordshire for another four shows. Three big U3A shows (100 or more folks at each) and a folk club guest night. It will be lovely to hook up again with Bill and Jan at Waltham Abbey Folk Club. After doing so many big show gigs with the PA, projector, screen et-alia, a full acoustic, no pluggy-ins, seat of your pants Folk Club will be lovely to do.

There are some pics here somewhere of a big show that we did in a church in Stanley – the one on the hill that can be seen for miles – St. Andrew’s. We did a show there this week and it was one of those that was just a delight from start to finish. The setting was nice, sound was good, place was full and it just went right. The images are of course the work of the Widdled Wretinue that is the Wrinkly Wroadies, just not the one that went to Italy.

There isn’t too much new in the world of FG, except that we have done our first shows in an Engine Shed.

It was complete with the requisite fixtures of an Engine Shed, to whit; oil, soot and clarts[4]. The shows were fine, good fun to do, but should you ever take any leads into an Engine shed, take some wipes.

And so as the accused Folkie of Fate faces the Clarty Halls of Justice, but remembers that all the best songs are really about clarts – at least the ones that aren’t about drinking, fighting and casual liaisons with ladies with no vests, then all will be well.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’




[1] Howerd or Hollywood, your choice.

[2] And did anyone bl**dy notice? Yes they did; thank you very much!

[3] As the Bishop said to the Actress

[4] Not sure what sort of clarts, I’m not an expert, but ones that make your leads all clarty would sum it up.

Chocolate on your pizza?

“Mama always said”, quoth the Venerable Gump, “Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Life may have hard and soft centres, it certainly contains black and white elements, it may sometimes be attractively packaged on the outside only to disappoint within, but life does not come with a handy slip of paper to which the consumer can refer to see what’s coming next, what it’s called and what is within.

Silly Mr. Gump.

No, life is much more akin to a Pizza.

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…



Since we shoved our heads above the parapet of life and announced to a largely incredulous world that we wanted to be musicians, this Italian Comestible metaphor for life has become more apparent, even arriving on one or two occasions, overdone.

You see, Gentle Reader, we are all uncooked doughy disks, arriving in this oven shaped world wearing nought but a thin glaze of tomatoey spread.

It’s up to us which topping we order.

The Fool’s Gold pizza has been sent back to the kitchen a few times lately as we work on getting the flavour balance just right, no too much story, plenty of strings, a good live sound, a workable stage set (that takes some doing) and the growing visual aspect.

At the cost of annoying a Chef or two along the way[1] we have arrived at a concoction that we feel, should taste nice to the ears and eyes of the Great British public.

Let’s call him Brian.

The trick now is to get Brian, and possibly even Mrs. Brian along to shows, if a pizza is on offer, then the menu has to look good.

We used to do a lot of self-promotion. This means hiring a hall and locally dropping posters, fliers, leaflets, bribes anything to get folks along. We have done Radio Promo, newspaper ads, articles and full page spreads. We’ve done warm up gigs, given out lists, got a mailing list, a website even, as I hope you’re aware; a blog.

And does it work?

Not really.

The one thing that seems to work is word of mouth – personal recommendation. We’re lucky to do some shows for organisations, and they refer us on to their chums, and, heavens be praised[2], turn up at gigs.


It worked for us this week. One of only two hires we’re doing this year was at The Little Theatre Cleadon, near the Principality of Sunderland. This is a brilliant venue. It is a tiny theatre, but has a great feel and is a super place to play – although artists must be prepared to set up around the set fixings for whatever the next production is going to be[3].

The pizza had been ordered in advance, and it was with some relief that a decent turnout was recorded – and nearly all had seen us before at a show, and several had dragged friends along. This made for a great evening we even met people who personally knew the subject of some of the songs – that was wonderful.

So was it a good night?

We’ve already rebooked for next year.


So, Acoustic Chums, when you order your Pizza, be sure to specify extra word of mouth.


There are a few photos of the show somewhere on this scattered page of thoughts. They are of course by the trembling trotters of our Retired Retinue, the Wrinkly Wroadies. The hands of the WW were trembling too. Not because they are so ancient that holding a camera steadily presents a challenge. It’s because the theatre has a bar and they were too p*****d to hold anything straight.

We did play other shows this week, all of which were lovely and good fun. We also took our first booking for 2018.


Work has begun on next years show. Tentatively entitled ‘Stormy Stories’ this will be a development of the current show, featuring (we hope) all new songs and visuals. We want to develop the themes and the way the show works, but it all begins and ends with good songs.

So I’d better get back in the kitchen; I’ve got a pizza on the go.



And so as the Swedish Chef of Pizzary Perfection retrieves his smoking pile of cheesy ashes from the oven, I notice it’s another hurdy-burdy-gurdy-furdy-boo you’ve gotten me into.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



[1] That would be me anyway, so it’s hardly a biggie.

[2] Other afterlives are apparently available.

[3] So don’t play there when they’re doing ‘Titanic’. Bad omen.

The tale of the Urchin in Tatters…

Spotting the Bishop, The Urchin in Tatters gathered just enough courage.

“Your eminence;” he tremoured, “beggin’ your pardon Sir, but where’s your apprentice?”

An Apprentice Bishop was a new one on His Reverence, so, practicing good Christian values, cuffed the lad about the head.

“The Curate”, he hissed (not for effect – bad dentures), “is in the kitchen.”

Clutching his basket and newly acquired thick ear, the lad scurried, as he had been indicated, to the kitchen.

The Curate looked up when The Urchin entered. Recognising a Poor Person when he saw one, he opted merely for the raised eyebrow as an interrogator.

“May it please you Sir, me Da sent you this”

And with that, the lad presented the Curate with an egg, all round and shiny and warm.

The Curate had heard this one before.

“Is it a good one?” demanded the wannabe Priest.

The Urchin sniffed and shrugged.

“Da says it’s like ‘em all Sir; it’ll be good in parts”

And so, Gentle Reader, has been our week.

Be Welcome, and read on…[1]


little theatre cleadon

In fairness most of has been good or even better, with just the one grey cloud. Our long anticipated show at Lanchester was pulled at the last moment due to poor ticket sales. We did try to go ahead with the show, but to no avail.

Obviously it was disappointing – very bl**dy disappointing, but it turns out we are not alone. The last few things at the venue have suffered the same fate, so we will learn, duck and move on.

Shame though[2].


The rest of the week has been more standard fare.

We made the trek across this green and pleasant land to far-flung Cumbria to play a show at Torpenhow Village Hall. A great hall too; some of the villages have, by dint of diligent committee-ing secured goodly EU grants (please don’t tell Boris, he’d have a pink fit[3]) and built grand halls. This one was especially good, and proved to be a great venue. We had a brilliant night here, the village folk bought into the show whole-heartedly and we had a great time.


The return journey, now taking us across England’s deep and shadowy lands, proved that Carlisle Council has a sense of humour when it comes to road-work diversions. Leaving the gig we drove eight miles or so to the diversion sign.

Guess which way it took us?

And then, it decided that midnight is a great time for a tour of the Cumbrian hinterland, which to be fair, isn’t when the Lakes is at its best.


The rest of the week has been Care Home Shows and plenty of building up the big show and lots of FG admin – this rubbish doesn’t happen by itself you know…

We have a book just about ready – this will go alongside the Waters of Tyme show and has images and stories in it, as well as a CD of the full show – or at least, it will have when we get the new version of ‘Tommy on The Bridge’ recorded this week.

Next week is the Cleadon Theatre show (amongst other goodness), if I can get the wires sorted out, we will probably have a go at recording the show.

Suggestions for a title for our first live album are not welcome from you lot. We know you, and despite loving each and every pink little one of you[4], I wouldn’t trust you with anything sharp.


I read this week about a Folky, a quite well established act with several tours and festivals tucked firmly under his belt. It seems he contacted a Club and asked if the Chairman might be interested in making a booking.

The Chairman indicated that he had ‘never heard of him’, didn’t go to festivals and never went to any other clubs so, how could he have seen our poor folky, and therefore kindly, b*gg*r off.

Naturally I was shocked to read this.

I thought that Chairman Dave and The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club was but a figment of my imagination.

Then I remembered; although we’ve never been, we’ve been there a lot.


The Urchin in Tatters trailed miserably home. In addition to a sore head, he now also had some tricky explaining to do when the Doctor removed the egg.


And so, as the Urchin of Hope approaches the Bishop of Destiny and receives a Blessing of Great Benefice and 21 days to pay, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time (and hope to see some of you at Cleadon Little Theatre),

Keep Strummin’











[1] …and that’s just the start. Oh, you’re in for it this week.

[2] Why should it be I wonder? Ticket price? Venue? Bar facilities? Us? Little Pink Fairies?

[3] Tell Him, Tell Him (tell him right now)

[4] Yes, even you, with your little Sandy Denny Onesie and well thumbed copy of ‘Folk Roundabout’. Even you.

It’s a little secret…

Another week bites the metaphoric dust. The FG tour bus burns the dust up and down the old A1[1]. The dust settles on one or two projects. And as for the gig where the riot happened?

You didn’t see us for dust…

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


We all have one.
Even you.
Actually; especially you.
Yes you.
I can see you.
And we know about it.
Your guilty little secret.
We all have one.

But not perhaps one quite like yours, as it takes too long to dress up, it’s difficult to get that thing in your size and the mayonnaise gets everywhere[2].

Mine is less messy.


Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s pedals[3]. I seem to have a small peddily fetish going on here, and I can often be caught browsing websites with alluring pictures – of stomp boxes and enticing text about what it does to your sound.

I’ve been browsing again, but have so far resisted the call of the darkside. But we are using a few pedals and will be using a few more. I’m using a volume pedal, not, as nature intended, to control volume, but to mute a signal. I’m using a graphic equalizer, not as you may have fondly supposed to equalize something in a graphic manner, but to provide solo boost. The Fair Lady Porkie, pretty parper of this parish has pedal too. It’s a reverb pedal to add cathedral-like-shimmer to her parping tones.

Not that we needed it this week.


We play for many U3A branches and always have a grand old time. It has meant that we have visited many U3A venues, halls, clubs, libraries, meeting rooms, community centres, and this week, a massive brick church.

Middlesborough U3A meet in a huge brick church, which has been recently, and very extensively, renovated.

There has been some effort expounded on the place. It looks and feels great inside, bright, cheery, warm, well decorated and a nice overall feel. People bang on about Durham Cathedral; I’ve always felt that the Normans got a bit carried away with the stone when building a new shed[4].

But this place had the real cathedral ring and Porkies Parping Stick rang into the rafters rather nicely.

They had also splashed the ecclesiastical cash on the AV setup too, and in true Spinal Tap fashion, a huge projection screen descended behind us, and two more were drawn down on either aisle. Rather t’riffic.

Best of all, a warm welcome, a warm reception for the show and lots of nice noises afterwards.
Very nice.


This week coming we will be limbering up for two nice big shows. Friday evening sees us at Torpenhow Village Hall in Cumbria for a ‘Stories’ gig – should be great fun; then on Saturday, it’s the Lanchester Community Centre gig. We have been blessed with really great publicity for this one so we are hopeful of a decent turnout. Even the Wrinkly Wroadies have been busy promoting by sticking posters in the car windows. I have suggested to Doug that next time the side windows might be a better idea, and the windscreen really should be kept clear. It makes no difference to Pauline, as her eyes are tightly closed all the time anyway.

The Community Centre room is lovely and it too, has a huge screen to play with. It should be grand!


We received an email from Chairman Dave this week. He’s Head Mushroom at The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club, and he wanted to know where we’ve been. He says that he’s noticed that the singaround nights have been a bit quiet as some of the regulars have now been officially declared dead[5]. Several of the dead members still attend, and apparently a couple got up to do a song last week – caused a bit of a stir.

So Chairman Dave was wondering if we’d like to drop back and do a little feature spotette, maybe as many as three songs, if the night isn’t too busy and the room contains less than 20% of the walking folk undead, the Fombies.

We’re considering reply.

Because we’ve never been.


We’ve begun the promised clearout of old equipment. Several boxes of CD’s have left the building and our old PA system has been offered to the world via a certain medium known, apparently, as Facebook. There’s a good local page called North East Music Mart and it seems as though it is well supported by local musos attempting to move on unwanted – or often simply unused – gear.

Who knows, if we sell it, I may get a pedal and service my guilty little secret.

Speaking of which: would you put that down?
No, not there.


And so as the Fombies of Eternal A Capella lurch through another chorus of Fisherman’s Green, and the Chairman of Musical Integrity reaches for a the nearby shotgun of Final Justice, I notice, thankfully, it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] © J. Burness

[2] I was on about Steamed Artichokes with eggless mayo dip; but you; you were in a whole different place. Have you no shame?

[3] Thank Gawd for that.

[4] Controversial? Possibly. I’m sure Durham Cathedral is a very spiritual place. It just doesn’t feel like it to me, if you shoved a stone shed into Photoshop and hit ‘enlarge canvas’ a few times, I wonder what you’d get…

[5] This required a second and third opinion; in the end they just asked the guy ‘are you dead’? When he said ‘yes’, that just about sealed it.

Hey, you!

Was it you?

I’m sure it would be one of you, probably you.

You look the sort.

One minute it’s February, then you look up – May.

I do wish you’d stop doing it, it’s getting scary; in fact, unless you pack it in, Mr. Bottom will have a quick visit to Spankytown.

Be Welcome Other Gentle Readers, and read on…


Another week of musical frolics and fun, a bit less than the previous weeks, but that’s no bad thing as it lets us get on with other FG related shenaningans, more of which later.


We were pleased to be asked to lead the singaround at Croxdale Folk Club this week.

As many of you will know, John, longtime head honcho of the aforementioned folk club died suddenly earlier in the year. The club had been slowly declining for some time, and it was no great mental jump to think that with John’s passing, it would become the subject of a song, not the venue for same.

However it has been rescued by Jackie and Mark (with Sheila too) to live to warble another day.

That was good news.

Better news was the arrival of singers and a few audience on the night – and it’s been a while since you could say that. Turns out, this was the first resurrected folk club night, so we were pleased, and not a bit relieved to welcome a few singists.

The Wrinkly Wroadies were on hand to Wrecord the whole thing with their magical digital dexterity – you try holding a camera steady when you’re that drunk. The images they captured that did not feature the floor, ceiling or bits of table are appended here somewhere.

A special mention goes to Raffaella, who made her debut singing. Good job she chose nice easy stuff; a capella versions of Loreena McKennit and Blackmore’s Night.


And the lass did brilliant too.

Stop me if I’ve told you this before.

It’s just senility that causes it, so you can’t blame me.

We did a show recently and a blokie came up to Carol afterwards.

A very most properly Port Out Starboard Home Gadgie was he, and he objected to Our Heroine in stentorian tones of outrage, disbelief and annoyance.

‘This was meant to be acoustic music – you used electric guitars[1] and a PA system.’

This clearly means that it wasn’t acoustic.

I suppose he had a point.

He also had a hearing aid.

And sat at the back.

Of a very large hall.

That had 110 people in it, all sat – logically – in front of him.

If we had done it acoustic he wouldn’t have heard a thing.

Does that advance the debate?

Thought not[2].


All of which nonsense brings me back to FG. We will be selling our Fender Passport 250 PA (old model, big, and plenty of push – nice sound too). That’s the one that clips together and makes one large box to transport. It is good, but not for the faint of muscle. I think I might mark it up as ‘collection only’, as the Postie might have a coronary[3].


We have been asked lots of times after ‘Stories’ shows, if we have a CD.

Naturally, we do.

However, the CD has the songs on it and not the stories, and some folks want both. The obvious answer seemed to be a live DVD, but that was fraught with technical issues and a hefty price tag to get it done, so we thought about a CD and book combo.

We didn’t have one of those either; but we do now.

Or almost.

The artwork is done, the words about 90% completed, the cover wrap is going to the printer this week, and you, you lucky little punter you, will be able to take away the music CD and a book of words with the stories in it. Sourcing images that won’t get me arrested for copyright infringement has been fun, but achieved[4].

Some new songs bubbling at the back of me bonce, and a couple of shows this week, plus the website to update and the book to finish.

Good job I’m not teaching this week.

Oh; it seems that I am.


And with that bombshell the Grim Reaper of Grimly Grimness romps into the singing room and surveys the Folk Club Faithful of Fetid Fatality and decides not to bother, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next week, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



[1] I don’t think explaining about electro-acoustics or the Fishman system would have helped.

[2] I’m glad that’s all cleared up.

[3] And a hernia.

[4] …Honest, Your Honour

Of Beds, Baths and Obamas…

To suggest we have been ‘on tour’ seems, on the face of it, to be somewhat big-headedly grand. Being on tour means staying in hotels, eating lots of curry and drinking beer whilst only occasionally being interrupted by the business of playing music.


Hang on; I think we’ve been on tour…
Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


We have become experts at the verb to ‘Travelodge’. If you believe the telly, this has something to do with a miniature Gonk[1]-like version of oneself, singing a song about being happy, whilst snuggling into bed alongside you.

If that happened to me (and it usually takes a fair bit of whisky before it does) I’d be out of there like a greased whipped with a bowel condition.

That notwithstanding, there are a few things we have learned. Firstly most clients of Travelodge are of the dwarf persuasion. I know this because of the bath. It is always fun to have a bath in installments. The rooms are huge. Empty, but huge. This is of course a Good Thing, as we can’t leave the gear in the car, so it has to make the trip from the car park to the room. In this case on the second floor.

But there was a lift.

No wonder my back is giving me grief again.

The one we use is actually very good. It’s right next door to Stanstead Aerodrome, and is well appointed. It has a bar and boasts a restaurant. I am aware that ‘Restaurant’ is a much abused term, conjuring as it does visions of Baccahnarian repast, but all too often turns out to be a McDonalds. If they are restaurants, then I am a musician.

But the gaff was nice enough; clean and warm and the aforementioned bar was nice after a gig. And, we had a special visitor too. Nice Mr. Obama flew past the window, preceded, subtly, by two other jets and several attack helicopters. I know customs can be rough, but…

I’m sure he waved, or was it his missus, Calzone?


First up this week was WI booking near Sunderland. It went well, the ladies enjoyed the show and sang, laughed and generally joined in which was grand. The show was notable for another reason though; at the end as they all left (thankfully via the merch table) one lady stopped to chat:

“My brother’s a Folk Singer – plays and sings and that”.

“Oh yes?” Quoth I, conversationally.

“Yes, he’s called Jez Lowe, have you heard of him?”



Three shows in deepest Hertfordshire followed, two with big audiences (170 and 70) and they seemed to have gone well. The last show was for a 61 club in Essex, which we wanted to play at as the lovely gentleman featured in the song ‘Bevin Boys’ goes there. At 90+ and not too well, Francis turned up specially – I hope he enjoyed the song – he was certainly singing!

The journey home was long, probably made longer by the prospect of another (albeit much shorter) trip on Saturday evening to play a big Rotary event somewhere in Unfinished Darlingtonshire.

This turned out to be a Geet Posh™ country hall retreat, wif bow ties ‘n long dresses ‘n fings. It also turned out to be an absolute riot, as they were all out for a good time, with thankfully everyone seemed to have, it was a slightly unusual, but great fun FG gig.


The gear has all behaved well thus far, the big PA getting a good run out and sounding very nice indeed. I have found that I’ll need to add some boost to my PRS for the solo bits. Not that I exactly shred, but Carol’s tenor is talking properly through the PA now, and I need to just lift that little bit over the top for solo bits. This will probably meant pressing my very old Boss graphic pedal into service, as it runs off an old-school battery. Setup time is at a premium for us, so whatever else gets added to the set, it will have to be very quick to set up[2].

Which rules out the greased-up fire-eating dwarves dressed as Dante’s minor demons; as they take too long to get ready, and are not, as it turns out, actually fireproof[3].


We do quite well with the merch at the moment. The CDs themed round the show we are doing seem to go very well. We reckon that if you flog to about 10% of the bodies in the room, that is a reasonable batting average. This proves that 90% of our audiences:

  1. Do not own a CD player
  2. Are skint
  3. Are music lovers.


It’s not about the cash sales (although, that is undeniably a nice bonus), it’s more about getting FG songs out and listened to. So we need to develop that side of things. T-Shirts are an option of course.

An option that lasted about five seconds.

We do however have a cunning plan.

Printers have been contacted and a large job awaits my steaming computer.

More anon.


Next week is more giggage, a bit less than this week, but still busy. Some work for the Man in there too, but hopefully more music, more frivolity and more baths – with or without the dwarfs[4].


And so as the Tour Bus of Eternity heads off to the Great Big Gig of Eternal Pleasure, only to be diverted at Doncaster and terminate – as so many do – at Peterborough, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until Next Time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’




[1] If you remember gonks, you must be as old as me. Or Scottish. In which case, that’s not what I meant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonk

[2] Has anyone got a water-cooled Halogen laser they don’t want?

[3] Always check the label for the kite mark. That way you won’t get burned, and neither will your dwarf.

[4] Where’s the fun in that?

The Digital Jump

I have made the digital jump, and you can blame the decorators. Given that the decorator was me, this means I catch it in the neck, but then: I probably deserve it, for I, the ‘Fool’ bit of Fool’s Gold, have made the digital jump.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…


For years I have made the religious trek to the record store. I have a pile of very probably mouldy vinyl in the garage, all that remains of a much larger collection plundered by Scotswood bandits many years ago[1]. I have only recently sent my huge collection of cassette tapes to Jesus, largely on the rounds that I no longer have a cassette tape. And they sound rubbish: that too. And this week, following the redecoration of FG Towers, and the consequent streamlining of large racks of CD towers, the CD collection has followed.

But not to landfill.

At the moment they are in huge boxes and adorn the dining room still with their silent digital legacy.

We have spent significant amounts of time ripping all the CDs in the collection and dropped them onto a large external drive, also backing them up (or at least, soon). This renders the CDs themselves obsolete. They could go in the garage with the vinyl, possibly to occupy the space so recently vacated by a large box of cassette tapes, but no – Mes Braves – this shall not be!

Technology shall ride to our aid on a white iPad. We’re planning to scan the barcodes and send them off to an online place who promises, yes promises, to pay us substantial Wonga for our old CDs. So far about 50p each seems to be the going rate.


The best bit though, is the fact that the company offers a Freepost service. I wonder what will happen when we struggle up to the Post Office with a wheelbarrow and the first installment of Eighteen and a half tonnes of CD’s?


This week has been another very full one for FG. Last week was six gigs, this week only five (I think), but busy and in the main, great fun. There were some disappointments along the way, however. We did our show at the Alun Armstrong Theatre in Stanley on Wednesday night, and the turnout was – to say the least – disappointing. We made double figures, but not by much. This has brought home to us the importance of marketing and promo, and the importance – nay necessity, of overseeing it even when it’s really someone else’s parish. The show itself was good and everyone there enjoyed it – we actually sold more CDs by percentage than usual. During the interval, I was talking to a bloke who’d seen us last year and come along again. At one point he said:

“I don’t know what’s wrong with this place (Stanley) when it comes to live music”.

He went on to inform me that he’s recently been to the same theatre to see the Acoustic Strawbs.

Apparently we had more in than they did.

I know it’s very wrong of me, but it did make me feel a wee bit better.


The pictures this week are the work of our venerable wroad crew, the Access All Areas (especially the loo) wretainers that are The Wrinkly Wroadies. They turned out for the Stanley show, although it was hard getting them in, as you have to walk through the bar first. They did make it for the second half, but had to leave early to avoid the bar crush at the end.
As far as I know, they’re still there.

Other gigs included a show at City Library, which was really nice, and Care Homes and something at Gibside for the National Trust.

I fear that the job at Gibside is our swansong for that event. We’ve done their evening beer garden shows for a few years now, and it has always been unremittingly freezing. This week it was down to 2 degrees, outside, under a Gazebo that offers as much protection from the elements as a Nun’s honour is protected by her wimple when there’s a randy Borgia about.

It was bl**dy cold. The flute refused, the whistle was so out of tune it sounded like a squirrel announcing a deathly flatulent fanfare, my fingers packed in and the lead runs all wandered astray[2]. The rain and snow (yes, it did) got on the gear. The instruments didn’t like it.
And you don’t get paid.

So I think that next time it comes round, it may be a game of soldiers that we do not play.

Everyone seemed to have a good time though.


This week coming should be good fun. It is we for Hertfordshire and Essex, to play some big U3A shows. Last year was great so we’re looking forward very much to this one. We will probably drop in to a couple of clubs if time and curry allows.


And so, as the digital drive of MP3 Destiny spins into life and the PC of Fate looks at it through the USB of Circumstance, then digitally shrugs it’s shoulders and decides it’s not really there, I notice it is the end of this blog.


Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



[1] When I think about it, it was many years ago. One of the most recent albums to get nicked would be something like Marconi’s Greatest Hits.

[2] How fortunate, then, to have the weather to blame.