A box of mixed confections…

“Life”, said Forrest Gump famously, “is like a box of chocolates”.

Equally well known, is the follow up line “you never know what you’re gonna get”.

Less well known perhaps, is the last line, which ended up on the cutting room floor “Unless you look at them little pictures under the lid”.

This week our chocolates have held a few surprises, some nice, others simply surprises. Acoustic Chums too have fumbled in life’s bag of Revels and drawn out some soft centres which, on the whole, should never have been in the bag – they certainly weren’t written on the wrapper.

So, Gentle Reader, let us, hand in hand, skip lightly down to the Sweet Shop of Acoustic Music and see what’s written under the lid.

Be Welcome, and read on…

This week one of our tastiest treats was at an evening organised by Acoustic Chum John ‘The Power’ Jeffrey. He simply got a room sorted out and asked a few Acoustic Chums to drop in and have an evening of round the room musical goodness. So it was that a few of us turned up and did exactly that, many exploring the bottom layer of Acoustic Chocolate, just to see what centres lay in store. Longtime chums jiva, who in fairness should send their box of choc back to the maker with a stiff complaint – THAT wasn’t on the lid – were a welcome treat, laying down several of their famous messhuggah-tinkle grooves to an appreciative room. Jim Wigfield (Soft center with nuts) gave a few of his self penned highly original songs, Trev and Renata[1], found some local confections to please the audience with and of course, Mr. Power himself showed that he has lost none of his joi-de-plunk and produced some very well done songs. Full Circle, that is Paulene and Ian Young also delved into the box and found some praline delights to lay before us. Ant Wilson played a grand selection using, to my interested ear, what looked like a baby Taylor – I should’ve asked Jimmy and Val, not only could they have told me the model, they could probably tell me the serial number and the colour of the luthiers boxers. I believe a local prog-folk-experimental-fusion duo also attended but they probably just lowered the tone.

The photographs are hand tinted by the Wrinkly Wroadies. They have finally grasped how digital photography works now that I have explained that it is simply magic.

Earlier, we had another surprise centre, delivered to us by the Great Confectioner in the Sky. We’d been booked at Horden Methodist Chapel, for what we took to be a church do. Certainly the venue was in the Church, and a lovely building it was too, but the good worthies of Horden had simply organized a gig round FG, and thrown it open to the community. We had a large room, filled with punters curious (presumably) as to what the show was all about. A couple of hours later they left, (presumably) the wiser and (hopefully) the happier.

They certainly should have, as we had an excellent night – people sang, laughed and generally made all the “I am having a good time” noises that we could have wished. We’re going back next year, thanks to all the organisers as it was a great night.

I have been known to chunter on a bit within the pages of this blog, often (but by no means exclusively – no-one is a better chunterer-onnerer than I) about gigs and attendances. We’ve certainly had our best year ever and part of the definition of best is ‘learning’. And sometimes that can be expanded to ‘learning what not to do’.

We had a gig at Fuse media Centre on Friday, the third I think we’ve had there. The Fuse cannot be faulted – the venue is fantastic, the main theater is absolutely brilliant. The staff are great, supportive and helpful. The facilities are really good and so the list goes on. It has however got one time flaw – which the staff cheerfully acknowledge – which is that it is in the wrong place.

Originally constructed to help the school next door deliver high end media courses, it struggled when the course (and the associated funding) were pulled soon after opening, and became a community resource. Sadly, although very near to the school, it isn’t near the heart of the community, requiring a long walk or car journey to get there. With the other delights offered by the fleshpots of Prudhoe nearer to hand, it is not surprising that the good Burghers of Prudhoe take their custom to a more convenient elsewhere.

However some folks did turn up and we had a good show – but it would have been so much better had the place been filled – it is another regrettable instance of use or lose it, which in this instance looks like having an inevitable outcome.

But we do hope not.

In other news this week I notice that it is time for the election.

Yes, The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs committee is up for re-election, as is the post of Chairman.

Chairman Dave has been at the helm now since the sixties and has developed an iron grip on folk club policy, which is re-enforced and encouraged by a specially made pair of blinkers so he can’t see what is going on around him. In most cases, Dave has been elected un-opposed over the years. Maybe the job he was doing was respected and appreciated by all, maybe no-one felt they could do it better, maybe no-one knew there was an election – Dave often found it easier simply not to tell people – it was so much quicker. However, this year, a copy of the club rules has been found behind the cistern in the gents where it has been for safe keeping these last twenty years. Upon (very careful – it’s a bit soggy) perusal, it seems there should be a free and open election every year to vote in a new committee or approve the old one.

Dave has got competition.

Little Sid, known as a reformer, a rebel, a revolutionary for change – has put himself forward to stand against Dave.

Sid, now in his early nineties, is a firebrand. He wants new blood, new music, new faces in the club. As long as they don’t do anything noisy, or use them guitars, or sing songs they’ve written themselves, Little Sid is all for it.

Sid is on the left wing.

Dave wants no truck with change. Things are all right as they are. Things don’t need to change. The club will be fine and next years guest list should be the same as this years.

Again.

Dave is on the right wing.

What no-one has noticed, among the seismic and titanic battle that has erupted between these two giants of the local folk scene, is that sitting quietly in the corner is young Fiona[2]. She plays the pipes, rather nicely if you like the sound of a sack contain seven fluffy puppies being prodded with a selection of hot knitting needles, has been quietly observing the opportunity. She and her partner, have an interest in music. They have travelled. Last year they went to Sunderland and saw new acts, heard new sounds, had their eyes opened to the possibilities that lie beyond the melodeon and whistle horizon.

And they liked it.

If she stands, she may not win. Actually she won’t win, Dave will, but that’s by-the-by[3], but if there is no clear majority she may hold the balance of power.

Maybe she should stand on the Hot Puppies Platform and see what happens?

And so as the wind of change blows through the folk scene only to be defeated by the air-freshener of conservatism, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] New CD available now. It’s Happy, so it can’t be folk.

[2] Fiona is in her mid forties, which is why, in club terms, she is young.

[3] The election scrutineer is Dave’s neighbour Gerry Mandering.

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Musical Loft Insulation

Loft insulation, building societies, double glazing, kitchen replacements, home loans, legal services and of course famously; viruses on your computer.

All of the above are apparently worth setting up a cold calling telephone advertising system presumably to generate business. That got me thinking[1]

 

“Hello, is that Mrs Cannyperson? Oh good,  I’m sorry to disturb you; my name is Steve of Fool’s Gold – Acoustic Musicians; we’re having a promotion in your area, and I thought I’d give you a ring to make sure you are aware of us…

…No, No, not at all, we aren’t trying to sell you anything, just make sure that you get the acoustic music you’re entitled too… yes that’s right, it’s like a government grant. Do you think you have any need for Acoustic Musicians? I see, well, we could come round and take away your old worn out musicians, and install a whole new Acoustic Duo for you if you like? No, there’s no obligation and there is a ten day cooling off period; if you don’t like the band at the end of that time, you can return it for a full refund.”

Be welcome Gentle Reader, and Read on.

 

This week Fool’s Gold will be:

Sunday 16th September – South Shields Folk Club

Tuesday 18th September – Croxdale Folk Club

Thursday 20th September – The Cutty Wren Folk Club

 

Our week began with us and a brace of wrinkly wroadies at The Monkey on the North East coast. It was a nice evening as ever, Keith on fine form as MC and a new Gentle Reader for us to meet. Stuart had read the blog and downloaded the DiNgle (our new song for PC) and had drifted along to see us, as it were, in the wood. Nice to meet you Stuart, hope you enjoyed the evening. Stuart gave some useful feedback on the DiNgle download, and it is still available for download here, if you haven’t yet grabbed your copy.

The rest of the week is writing and recording, we hope to pick up the pace with that, and mayhap more DiNgles to come!

That is, until Saturday when we headed for The White Bear in Masham to support a fundraiser organised by Mic and Susie Darling in Aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Good cause, think we, so off we go. It was a very pleasant day indeed; lots and lots of Acoustic Chums and Gentle readers, great to chat to folks, sunshine, beer, music –ahhh! The photos make a better record than words, but suffice to say that we spent a lovely day, in grand company and enjoyed playing a half hour set. Well done to Mr Arrowsmith on the sound too, never easy to get a good noise outside, but it worked. We slipped off early in order to get back, as we want to be very well prepared for our Beat the Drum in South Shields on Sunday, but for that report, Gentle Reader, you will have to wait…

I wonder if there is a retail outlet somewhere called ‘Folkie Outfitters Inc’. It should be on one of those out of town industrial estates where they have ‘outlets’. Some of them must be quite close to outlets as they seem to be full of —-, but our shop, Gentle Reader, would be full of top quality gear. The waistcoat section alone would be as big as a football pitch, with special sections for leather, pre-stained and silly colours. The piped music would be a cause of frequent fighting, but peace would reign in the moleskin trouser department, where folkies with comfortably confined gentlemans’ indispensables could be observed simply sitting and smiling. Bandanas, badges, and brogues; half moon spectacles and skimpy, floaty, girly tops in sizes measured in acres – but with a reinforced understructure to combat that which gravity would haul earthwards, would jostle for shelf space with dog eared copies of the folk roundabout – which is admittedly difficult to wear is still much valued. Fob watches, stick on pony tails, granddad shirts, pre-stained t-shirts featuring dates in the 60’s – what a place! There could be a booth at the back of the emporium were ladies and gentlefolkies could get hairstyles that might have suited them twenty years ago[2]. If anyone out there is searching for a business opportunity, I commend this as an excellent way of losing your life savings.

 

Somewhere along the evolutionary trail that leads from the primordial swamp, through single cell life systems and eventually to Italians, there lies a twisted and distorted gene, one that drives those who possess it in the twisted spirallness of their DNA to believe that playing the mouth organ with the guitar is a Good Idea. This is the musical equivalent of rubbing your tummy and patting someone else’s head, but usually is less entertaining. The aim is usually to deliver an approximation of a Dylan song. The Burb Dylan emulators have a nasty habit of trying to sound like Dylan.

And sadly, many succeed.

 

There is little to be gained by tapping on, so I feel this is a good juncture at which to draw this episode of Acoustic Silliness to a well deserved close. So, as the Festival Season judders to a halt and the Welly Boot farms close for the year, and the festival bars half heartledly wash the plastic glasses and dream of the £8 pint for next year, I see that it is the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] Unlikely, I know…

[2] I would not mind one of those, thank you.