Step on it…

Ah, the great British Summer. It can always be relied on to deliver. Just not sunshine, warmth, blue skies or anything that resembles the summers of children’s fiction. Especially around the Glastonbuty festival.

However, the poor state of the weather means that damp folkies, moist acousticians, or even soggy singers can seek solace in a page or two of tripe.

By good fortune, that is exactly what you’re reading.

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

If you are a petrolhead, it will be alloy wheels, go faster stripes or furry dice. If you are into DIY it will be the latest power tool, if you are female, it will be everything in the shop[1]. I refer of course to toys, trinkets and gadgetery, the shiny geegaws, appurtenant impedimentia, which, while not strictly necessary, are much sought after.

Guitarists are well catered in this regard.

Any amount of trinketry is available for the gullible[2], easily led[3] and cognitively challenged[4] plank spanker. As I’m currently playing with our live sound, I am losing hours of otherwise useful time gazing at YouTube videos of products. I’ve found the weirdest stuff imaginable, roughly as useful to Fool’s Gold as a tin of gold paint is to a Parrot. However it is fun, and I’ve found two things:

  1. You can pay the earth for pedals
  2. You don’t have to pay the earth for pedals.

It’s probably just me, but I like pedals. They will figure in my developing rig, but only very subtly. However, that doesn’t stop me dribbling over pedal websites like a Vicar in Amsterdam.

Hence acoustic chums may like to head over to the wonderfully named http://www.donnerdeal.com. Not, as you may suspect, an online emporium of loosely Turkish comestibles, designed to give you loosely Turkish tummy, but a Chinese company who cheerfully buy pedals from other manufacturers, take them apart, and make their own versions, to the same standard, at about a third of the price.

This week has been another week of FG madness, and therefore highly enjoyable. A Care Home, a Village Fete, a ladies group, a Primary School, Armed Forces Day in a park and a Concert venue.

Keeps you off the streets and on the road, I suppose.

All lovely times and good shows, highlight for me? Hard to choose, we were honoured to support Armed Forces Day, the Care Home Folks are always nice to do something for, nice to be back in a school for a bit, but I think Newbiggin Maritime Centre was the highlight for me. A full FG two set performance of Stories with Strings, the big PA, a big projection wall, lights, all the gear in other words, and even, heavens be praised, an audience. Not a huge one, granted, but they all enjoyed it bought CD’s and signed up for the newsletter, which, unlike this blog, is sensible(ish) and written in English.

Pictures this week are, as usual, the creative work of our ever supportive mobile (mostly) road crew, The Wrinkly Wroadies. In fact we quite often celebrate (or lament) a gig with a curry in our local emporium of fine Indian cuisine. So much so, in fact, that we are tolerably well known. The waiter passed by our table last time we were in;

(this waiter comes from the great Indian state of Byker)

“Howman; is that yor Muttha in Laaa pished again?” he asked, conversationally.

“Why not likely” sez Ahhh, “It’s the forst time shiz been pished th’daay”

Next week is slightly less insane, although only a bit. Hopefully we will be working on some new songs, and also resurrecting a couple from the back catalogue – we did ‘Sundown’ a couple of times this week and it was tremendous fun to play it again – even if I am now playing a slightly different lead as I can’t remember the original part.

So, we’d better get on with it.

As the clouds of inevitability cover the hopeful Glastonbury skies and the first big drops fall upon the upturned faces of the masses, it seems that God really doesn’t like Florence and the Machine.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] The first shop.

[2] Me

[3] Me again

[4] Guess who?

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.

Hello, is that Morris..?

It seems that one can no longer rely on Aunty Beeb to tell the truth. At least not at the time, or about themselves. The newspapers similarly seem bent on printing anything that isn’t so much news as gutter gossip garnered from private voicemail. And a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis…

What is needed in this world is a beacon of clarity and truth.

Yes, clarts-free reportage is what’s required.

But where to find it?

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…

It is with sadness that we record the passing of another club this week. Hot on the heels of the Richmond Folk Club closing its doors; Acoustic Chum Stephen Matthews has informed us that The G String Acoustic Club held at The Angel in Topcliffe is to follow suit.

While I am very sorry to hear it, I cannot blame Stephen at all for making what must have been a hard decision to contemplate. Falling numbers and lack of support to the club from the pub and low numbers through the door are cited as the main reasons, as well as all the work that goes in for little reward coming the other way. Pity ‘cos this was nice venue with a nice ‘feel’. We wish to record our thanks to Stephen for his efforts to get things going; it was fun while it lasted.

This week we have been busy bunnies. It isn’t often that you get the phone call unexpectedly, but we did this week and FG will be heading to Snod’s Edge soon to provide suitable minstelry to the community there assembled, for the purpose of Christmas Celebration. We will do our entire Christmas repertoire at the gig; there’s the Christmas shipwreck song, the Christmas Smuggler Song, the Christmas ghost story…

…I’m sure it will be fine.

Plans are well advanced for our next year giggage, I may be able to report more in detail next week, if it all goes to plan.

If not, I’ll stay stumm and pretend I never mentioned it.

We played at a number of new places this week. Firstly on Sunday at The North Terrace in Newcastle. This is much more of an open mic kind of night, but with acts booked to do half an hour or so on the night. This we did, and met new Acoustic Chums and must congratulate Jonathan Tait for running a tight ship (Sinead- you were great) and we found out that we can survive a pub gig. Pub gigs are different to clubs or halls, insofar as people studiously avoid listening, but still seem to appreciate the face that you are there. In my case, not all there, but you get the idea…

I mentioned a blog or two ago that I hooked up with my old band mate Ian at a Jez Lowe gig. Turns out he runs Durham Folk Club at The Tap and Spile on a Thursday (Framwellgate Moor). We went down and had a lovely evening with some chums. ‘Some’ means about six, but it was meeting of friends with good songs, company and ale. We had been to Croxdale on the Tuesday where ‘some’ meant us and two others. Now come on chaps…

Well done to Jackie for keeping the evening afloat, and it was great to see Sheila Finn (who many of you will know) playing her whistle. Again we like Croxdale Folk Club, many’s the happy memory of Fred and others there, so support for it would seem to be needed.

Chris Milner is guest there this coming Tuesday (27 Nov 2012), if you can make it, please do and support old Turkish and give him our love.

Or you could come and see us play at The Candlelite Club in Newton Aycliffe.

You pays your money…

This week’s Grumpy Rant is brought to you courtesy of the letter ‘F’.

Facebook.

In common with many Facebook newbies, when we launched FG onto the Facebook Ocean, we plotted a fairly open course. Friend this, like that, message the other. The result is that we have hundreds of ‘friends’ whom we do not know.

And it is becoming apparent that we do not wish to know some of them either.

I am not, in the general way of things, especially prudish nor yet prurient[1]. I have been known to employ descriptive[2] language from time to time, when the occasion demands it.

I am however sufficiently world weary to become disenchanted with the number of Bucketmouth Posters on Facebook who need to display their stunted vocabulary in meaningless posts. We saw a post from a ‘friend’ who had a cold and described it in terms most graphic, every swearword that could be forced into the art of describing a cold was employed in his post.

I don’t know if he got better or not as he is now an ex-friend. As are quite a few others – basically because I can do without it; and now I know where the ‘unfriend’ button is.

</rant>

You will, Gentle Reader, doubtless be aware that I am full of good ideas about how to inject new life into the apparently ailing club scene. Regular Readers (and if you are not a Regular Reader, I hear prunes are very good) will recall my idea ‘Strickly Go Folkin’ [3], well; I fear I have surpassed the idea with great goodness and ingenuity.

This involves Morrismen.

For those not from this manor,[4] and who may never have encountered a Morrisman (well done) then a little explanation is in order.

First take a dozen strapping middle aged men of varying sizes (that bit is important, if they are all the same size it isn’t nearly as funny). Next strip them naked, cover them with glue and push them through a jumble sale. Add bells to taste and blacken faces. Do not attempt to get them p*$$£d, as they will do that bit for themselves. The result should be like a tinkly scarecrow minstrel who smells like a sweaty brewery.

Having successfully distilled some English folk history for you; what is it, I hear you ask, that I wish to do with the Morrismen?

No; not that, shame on you. It is illegal and their mums wouldn’t like it[5].

No, I have a wonderful idea:

Morris on Ice.

There.

Just dwell on that thought for a moment or two and savour the entertainment value to be have of a full Morris side, complete with Old Dame and Accordion, gaily skipping onto the ice – and then the fun would begin…

…sometimes I think I should be Prime Minister.

And so as the sands of time invade the underpants of life and the nurse of destiny delivers the E45 of weekend, I notice that it is the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] I’ve done things with jelly I’m not proud of, although, when I think about it, the night went well.

[2] For which read: Saxon, Profane, Rude or just plain filthy.

[3] Last ish – Ed

[4] This rubbish gets read all over the globe –imagine!

[5] Neither, I fear, would they.