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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Origins

Another one bites the dust. No not another departed folkie to lament, but rather another set of seven days disappear over the hill in a cloud of dust and hoofbeats. If Time rides that horse any harder, we’ll all be in Sundown by the time the morning comes.

On which poetic note, I had better bid you Welcome, Gentle Reader and invite you to read on.

The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs public house was built in the late 1950’s, embracing the ‘bloody miserable’ style of pub architecture then prevalent. It retains much of the original warmth and character to this day.

As well as the lino.

In its heyday the pub sold rather poor beer, at rather inflated prices to rather fed up customers who had strayed from rather more welcoming establishments elsewhere.

The heyday has long since passed, however with a stubbornness that makes one proud to be British, it continues to sell poor beer at inflated prices.

There are less customers.

In addition to the darts team (membership two) it also has a vibrant Leek Club (membership four), which meets regularly to discuss leeks, using descriptions that are, frankly, a double-entendres aficionados dream.

The final draw to the establishment is the long-standing, or at least long-wilting KH&WL Folk Club, resident on the premises since the foundation stone was laid.

Some stuff sticks and refuses to wash off.

The club has been run, overseen, dominated and generally cudgeled into shape by Chairman Dave. Chairman Dave has been in charge since the first chairman disappeared in 1959, whilst on a lone trip to the loo.

Dave has firm views on what a folk club should be.

Warm, welcoming, open, inclusive and friendly are watchwords.

They are words that Dave watches carefully, to make sure that none of them accidently apply to the club. Dave formed his views about folk music in the 50’s and has seen no reason to update his thinking, on the grounds that you’d have to think first. Chairman Dave regards Sandy Denny as a young upstart and reckons that if Fairport Convention stick around a while longer, they might be worth a listen.

You can spot Dave easily if you ever go to the club. You will need to go with a regular; not because it is hard to find, but because you will not get in without one. He’s the lad at the front, with the big beard, a large leather hat, wearing a waistcoat of black, somewhat eggy material and corduroy trousers that make your legs itch just to look at them. His white granddad shirt is not a stylistic choice, it’s just that it belonged to his Granddad[1].

The club runs on traditional lines.

Or tracks, if you prefer.

The first half of each evening is a sing-around. Regulars take turns, in the same order, to sing[2] the same songs each week. They do this out of a sense of duty to ‘the tradition[3]’. Then after the Beer Break, there is often a guest, who will be well known to the club members as he (always He) is usually one of them.

Singer Songwriters, funny songs, guitars (anything with strings that isn’t a fiddle) are discouraged[4]. There is a raffle and in keeping with ‘The Tradition’ the winner is ‘in the bar’.

Regular guests from further afield visit annually, you can set your clock by them. Of course they’re getting on a bit now, and one could be forgiven for feeling that not only do they know the songs because they’ve done them so much, but because they were there at the time.

It’s usually a grand night; you should get yourself down.

It’s a lot nearer than you think.

This week the world of Fool’s Gold has been as gloriously daft as ever. Bookings in, bookings out (we’ve had a couple of cancellations, double booking and illness – it happens), good news from museums and libraries, recording project still moving slowly forward – the Narrator arrives this evening to record his parts. Two Care Homes and two club visits to report on. Monday saw us at The Iron Horse in Newton Aycliffe. Genially hosted as ever by John, it was good to meet up and sing along with friendly regulars. I am very pleased to report that the resident star (and he is too) Mr. Bert Draycott is up and about and as entertaining as ever. Only Bert could get five minutes of top quality material out of reading out his medical notes. A grand impromptu spoons solo from him and John finished the night.

Thursday was Ashington FC upstairs in The Portland, which the barmaid informed me was ‘probably the most expensive pub in Ashington’. She was right too.

A small room turned up which was shame as they missed the heating, which was on tonight.

As it happens, it was an easy, gentle evening, we did a couple of sets as there is a rule about ‘no show without Punch’, and resident trio Greenheart Junction did a feature spot – well done them for their individual take on classic folk songs. Other spots from regulars concluded the night, which you can see in the documentary photographs captured by our own Primordial Paperatzi, the Wrinkly Wroadies, who once again show what you can do with a camera, even when you’re too *****d to stand. I must admit, I hadn’t expected them to do that with them.

The final event of the week was a concert in Hebron Village Hall. We had the privilege to meet Gareth Davies-Jones and play support to his fine set. This was a village social night, despite the interesting ‘Snatch Raffle’, which encouraged the social niceties of The Somme. There was also a small drumming troupe, and (not kidding) cotton wool provided. Hailing from the favelas of Hexham, the group pounded the… seventh bell… out of their drums to excellent rhythmic effect. From what I could tell behind my cotton wool.

A lovely venue, the church has lovely acoustics and we enjoyed playing to a good house. Jim and Allyson Wigfield, well known on the local folk club circuit are to be commended for their sterling work.

And so as Time and his horse disappear once again on the road to Destiny, leaving behind only the faintest whiff of Dobbins’ legacy, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] There is a story that Dave’s Grandad was due to be buried in the shirt. He wasn’t, so it makes you wonder if he’s hanging around in the wardrobe.

[2] Unaccompanied. What do you think this is; fun?

[3] …as is Traditional.

[4] By being broken in two, while the owner is stripped naked and flogged through the streets. At least that’s what it says in the Constitution.

Bookends

Glad to see you – sit down; are you well?

Never mind that, we have work to do. After all, it has been many the week since I allowed myself the luxury of a good old rant.

So buckle up, be welcome and, Gentle Reader, Read on…

folk club poster

Lest you walk away from this blog (and how very dare you) with the impression that everything in the FG garden is rosy, I’d better inject a quick dose of reality therapy here.

Looking back at our recent posts, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that everything we do is great, wonderful, triumphant, successful etc. etc. etc.

To be fair, most of it is like that – the vast majority in fact. But in the interests of balance, here’s another side…

You probably know that we’ve been doing some library shows. Basically we offer the shows to the library, and they promote it amongst their constituency, and we trot along, do the ‘Stories’ show and the library is able to engage with a group of people and point out just how wonderful they are: “see; over there; a computer…”.

And so it usually goes.

But.

Recently (and it was a while ago probably) we went to a branch library somewhere in the deepest, darkest Dumpshire. We had been previously, discussed the show, emailed, confirmed, rung up and spoken and provided posters and so on.

On the day, the Library staff seemed surprised that we had actually turned up but had heeded government warning about the health risks posed from using blu-tak by not putting any posters up.

Or mentioning the event.

To anyone.

At all.

Presumably tired out by all the effort thus far expended, the staff proceed to ignore us, nodding only to a corner which was to be the performance area. Then they went back to talking.

Which they continued throughout the entire time we were there, not venturing anywhere near throughout. They were genuinely surprised when people did turn up – presumably due to our publicity, and we had a nice time. We left, and I think I’m right in saying we got a ‘Thank You’ from the Librarian.

Mind you, she didn’t look up from the cat she was neutering.

Balance.

It wasn’t like that this week (or anywhere else, thankfully).

We went for a second visit to Newton Aycliffe Library. Last time we were there we had a great time and were thus hopeful. Initially, we were disappointed as the posters and fliers were nowhere to be seen. Strange, last time they were as keen as mustard and had advertised in the local press and all sorts.

Surely not another one like, you know, that one?

It turned out that the reason for the lack of publicity is that it had been taken down when the room limit had been reached some weeks previously.

They were right too, in fact a bunch more folks turned up on spec and frantic chair finding games ensued. We did the ‘Beat The Drum’ show, and everyone had a grand time, singing, clearly enjoying the show and generally making us feel great. Especially when they bought a load of CD’s too.

The reason for this unabashed wallowing in the mud of self-congratulation?

The library service is in my narrow, blinkered and undoubtedly biased view, quite a Good Thing. They fulfill a number of extremely valuable community roles, only one of which has much to do with books.

We’d like to go back again to Newton Aycliffe, but we have to wait while the staff re-apply for their jobs, the viability of the branch is assessed, new working conditions are drafted and, inevitably, the service is further reduced.

Moreover, this is the third round of this cultural butchery and it is not confined to Darlington, but is also rampant in Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and Durham too.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom. There may not be money for libraries, but we hear that Cotswold Council paid £19, 000 for the services of a ‘Motivational Magician’.

Now, that’s what I call magic.

Photos are this week courtesy of The Wrinkly Wroadies, who, as our road crew, look after the equipment, or at least all the bits they can name.

</rant>

So, this week again busy bunnies. Apart from the Newton Aycliffe show (which really was good fun), we’ve been as busy as ever with other musical ventures. Just one care home this week, but a few more have been on to us, which is lovely. A big meeting on Tuesday may yield more loveliness (we will have to see about that, I must be learning something in me old age as I’m keeping me gob firmly shut), and we got an invite to play a main stage spot at a Festival in Kent – lovely lad that Bill Pardon.

Recording has moved further forward since I took the decision basically to start the Harland album all over again. Listening back, the takes were good, nice choons with nice ideas, but it lacked a certain tightness. One quick injection of music technology later, and ‘crikey’ – that sounds better. We’ve got more done in a week that in the last six months, I’ve given up guessing when this will be ready, but it is moving forward faster than before.

Finally, we’ve diaried in a round of Folk Club visits. We haven’t been out much for a while, so it’s time to hit to road in what I like to call “The FG Floor Spot Tour’. You’ll probably be able to get T-Shirts ‘n everyfink.

Should you be remotely interested in having a natter, a pint, or pretending to be a librarian and talk through our contribution, we will be at:

Monday 2nd March The Bridge Folk Club

Monday 16th March Iron Horse Folk Club (Newton Aycliffe)

Thursday 19th March Ashington Folk Club

Tuesday 24th March   Cutty wren Folk Club, Redcar

Tuesday 7th April Foggy Furze Folk Club, Hartlepool

Thursday 9th April Beamish Mary Folk Club, No Place

Please note, these are not gigs, nor nuffink like it, (although the Foggies are very kindly giving us an extended spot) we’re just dropping by.

And so as the librarian of doom reads the date-stamp of destiny and caustically informs the folky of fate that his ideas are overdue by forty years, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

Your Vote Matters…

Now, what time to you call this?

I’ve been waiting here since this morning waiting to tell you all this news; and you? Don’t give me that ‘practicing’ story – you can’t kid a kidder – you’ve been anxiously scouring the media for the latest election updates haven’t you – I know how caught up in it you are.

Still it’s not really relevant to us musos is it.

Is it?
Be Welcome, Gentle Reader and read on…

We received another royalty cheque from CD Baby this week. It wasn’t for very much but it was nice to get. There has been much made in the media recently about the likes of Spotify exploiting artists and essentially robbing them of income derived from internet play royalties.

If you are Taylor Swift I don’t doubt that is true.

If however you are Fool’s Gold there is an added twist to the story, and it cuts both ways.

Working on a very rough rule of thumb, over that last year FG tracks have been played on the likes of Spotify, iTunes etc. once or twice. Or to put it another way, based on fag-packet calculations somewhere in the region of 54,000 times. Give or take a thousand or so.

That’s a heck of a lot of plays.

That’s a heck of a lot of listens.

Many of them were contiguous too, so people listened to whole albums rather than the odd track, although that happened plenty of times too.

So, here’s the conundrum; are we as minor fighters in the Acoustic Bullring, pleased with the number of plays, or conversely are we a bit hacked off that such an apparently large number of plays gains us a pittance in royalty?

After bank fees and currency conversion, we’ll get about £35 for 54,000+ plays and all that exposure.

Fair enough?

Discuss.

This week has again been a busy musical one for us. We went out to Ovingham Bridge End and had a grand evening in good company. The pics are of course the handiwork of the Wrinkly Wroadies, who between then took 156 photos. I have trimmed that down just a bit so that you don’t spend the rest of the day clicking. On Friday we went to the Lamplight Centre – sorry, the rebranded Alun Armstrong Centre, which is the same as the old Lamplight Centre but with the council in it too. This is actually a good and quite large theatre.

Which is a good job as it was pretty full.

Acoustic Chum John Wrightson, his band and chums have been developing a musical play/presentation about the Seaham Mining disaster of 1880. Part concert, part dramatic narration, part multimedia presentation, you can see why we’d be interested. It was in fact very well done. John’s songs were as ever very good indeed, presented by a great acoustic band and a sequenced piano track. This caused a couple of musical chums present (of whom there were a great many) to comment, but Joe Public (of whom there were a great many more) probably never noticed a thing. The sound was very good indeed, at the end I turned round to see Roly Hindmarsh grinning down at me from the mixing desk, which explained that. All in all a very interesting and well presented evening, and it was great to see a hefty turnout (there must have been 120 -150 folks there) and at the end, the vast majority rose to their feet in standing ovation – for folk/acoustic music in Stanley – wow.

In other developments, we’re producing a CD for a certain acoustic chum and have thrown the kitchen sink into the project. Country covers is the name of the game here, and we’re busy using software to build a very meaty sound. This will be very interestin’ when we get it completed later this year.

A couple of care homes filled in the gaps – again really good to do, nice to see folks enjoying themselves.

A couple of bookings arrived in the week too, can’t say too much about the Folk Clubs, but I might mention that the 2016 booking we took midweek will once again see us travelling to Dutch Holland for at least one gig, this time in the North at a place called Den Hagg. I’ve never met Den, but apparently he’s a really cool bloke.

You may have noticed that there is a forthcoming election. Dave, Nick, Ed and that Lady from the Greens along with Nice Mr Farage[1], have identified Folk Clubs as a key marginal battleground and are hastily bringing forward policies to win over folking voters.

Dave the Tory of course has it all taped. Folk Clubs will be made more efficient by trimming all the excess and performance targets will be introduced. Mr C has suggested that there are too many redundant chords, and that many of them sound quite like other ones anyway and all this duplication is inefficient. It seems that the government think tank for folk, (Tories Organising Singer-Songwriter Event Redundancy Services) have suggested that B is really quite close to C and that E is pretty darn near F and so downsizing the scale to make C and F redundant would result in much greater efficiencies. To this end a Tory government would bring forward legislation in the new parliament to make it illegal to play C or F. Enforcement would be by all guitar players sending their instruments to a Government modification centre where all the notes on the fretboard which produce these tones would be welded shut. Whistle players would have their offending holes blocked up (which would be uncomfortable to say the least) and singers told to avoid illegal notes on pain of a fine and three points on their singing licence. There are of course exemptions. There are two; one is for anyone who is a Tory, and the other is for banjo players as they have no idea what notes they are playing anyway.

And neither does anyone else.

UKIP of course have all the answers at their fingertips, just next to fags and pint pots. It’s really very simple, all Folk Clubs would play traditional folk English Folk Songs (with exemptions for the Ireland, Wales and the other place, wossname?) and songs from other parts of the world would be gradually phased out and relocated back to where they were originally written. Calypso rhythm would be redesignated ‘Lake District Rhythm’.

Ed, on t’other hand has decided that all singers would have to sing through the nose. Dunno why, he jusht dihd thatsh all.

And so as the swingometer of fate gyrates wildly between rapturous indifference and rabid disinterest; it seems that in the end, nowt much has changed.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] Yes, well I have to say that, as Carol won’t let me write what I’d really quite like to. But it would be a mixture of twerp and prat. You work it out.

Good Grief, Godiva.

I am advised that we should be careful what information we share online. Be careful on Facebook, I am cautioned. Part ye not with thy email, nor yet thy surname, and definitely not thy phone number. Thy address shalt thou keepest safest, and sharing thy web address is right out.

Makes you wonder how to get any blinkin’ gigs.

But there is a way.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on…

So, Coventry eh?

Lady Godiva or Godgifu to give her a more likely appellation, as the story goes rode in the nuddy through the streets of the city so that her nasty-pasty husband Leofric might lift his oppressive taxes, and generally stop behaving as a caddish panto villain. Out of respect for her selfless and decidedly chilly act of noble altruism, the townspeople turned their backs, closed tight their shutters and generally averted their gaze.

Mostly.

Peeping Tom, for it was famously he, copped a bloody good eyeful, and according to legend uttered the medieval equivalent of “Phwooooar” before promptly being struck blind by a kind and merciful God.

But good for him[1], because someone should always check. It is due to Tom’s mindful peeping that we are sure that Lady G was not in fact a right royal minger[2], [3]and that the legend can stand as a testament to something or other.

And put Coventry on the map too. As we shall in October when on the 29th inst. we play The Shakespeare Folk Club.

You didn’t see that coming, did you?

Oh; how did we get it? From a nice man we met on Facebook. Thanks Ian.

So the FG bandwagon continues to roll and we are busy planning plans and plotting plots for 2014. So far 2013 has been our best year ever in terms of developing, playing and doing some memorable shows. And still the clubs…

…and so it was, Gentle Reader, that we, with thought for neither consequence nor highwaymen, for Aycliffe Village. John Snowball is the main man here. He runs a distinct Folk Club in one end of The North Britton. It has regular guest artists and singarounds. The singarounds are generally populated by a group of firm friends, who enjoy the company and camaraderie of the evening every bit as much as the music. It is also often home to Bert Draycott, shy and retiring unless awake and all round Good Egg. Bert is The All England Champion Spoons Player (and bar) although he is reluctant to mention it. Much.

A very nice evening, relaxed and laid back and good to see George and Bob playing in a new formation as North Road with Dave (fiddle) and Tony (vocal and octave mandolin) – a rousing noise they create; very good too. The last twenty minutes or so is now an all-join-in session. Photos are courtesy of the Wrinkly Wroadies, who are setting up their own Photo Agency to be called “WrinkleVision”. Anyone interested in this venture needs their head seen to.

I was asked again this week: “why have you got it in for banjo players?”

The simple answer is of course, that I haven’t. If a consenting adult wishes to enter into communion with a device undoubtedly spawned in the deepest pits of hell, forged upon the burning anvil of Beelzebub’s own bum, it has nothing to do with me. The fact that they choose to carry on this practice in public places is a matter for their own conscience and social standing, and the fact that a game of Ker-Plunk is not only more satisfying but sonically very similar, is neither here nor there.

Each to their own says I. Tolerance and appreciation to all. I mean there will be those who think my playing is rubbish.

Of course, they should be shot.

And so to the end of the week, which for the purposes of the blog is usually Thursday, but this week, confusingly, is Saturday.

Because I wanted to put a report about the new, old Dorman’s Folk Festival. New because the Dorman’s Club is the new venue for this two day carousel of North east music, and old because at the previous venue, Nature’s World, it has been going on for many years.

The event has a strict 15 minute policy. Everyone gets 15 minutes, which is not a long time. The rule is the same for the great, the good and for us too. And it’s strictly enforced. I’m pleased to report that the new venue is very good – a big field with large club attached. The day was hot and sunny and the stage and PA (manned by the ever resourceful Yorkie Gibson) in fine fettle. David Kidman was MC for the day and kept everything running to time and in good order. There was a good procession of folks across the boards (see photies), and it was a pleasant day. Fifteen minutes is tough to get right, a bit raced and difficult to project what your music is about, and – it doesn’t half go quick when you’re up there. Lots of Acoustic Chums present on the day, good sets from Ian Tyzack and good chums jiva – they were in fine purple form, on a ukulele high that saw Jimmy sport his sixties headband. Just Us Kitchy Retro and Kay Death in good form. Well done to the organisers and all involved – I hope Sunday is as good.

The songwriting has moved on and Ascension Day is ready for practicing. Oh, and the Highwayman song has re-surfaced in an new guise – jolly good so far, I wonder if that is two songs, or one; time will, as they say, decide. We may get it/them ready for playing out at some point, but there is so much to do…

…recording, the website, more new songs, a video and a trip playing in Essex. Theatre gigs and more theatre gigs for 2014.

And that’s just next week, but we will be on the road at some point.

And so, as the festival litter picker bumps into the Country style flatpicker, then falls into a twelve bar banjo driver and we end up in a whole mess o’ blues, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] Tom, not The Big G. Hence the small ‘h’. Please mind your grammar.

[2] Minger is defined in the Urban Dick and Harry as someone who fell out of a tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down. You see, you should always check.

[3] The Scottish usage of the term is less pleasant. It would be.

Anyone for Tennis?

It is one of my earnest ambitions to turn up at Wimbledon one year, just to shout “C’mon Tim”, loudly at an inappropriate point. This is not to attempt humour, but simply to indicate to the masses that I have a huge fund of personal indifference whether or not the chap on the right can poing the ball over the net in a manner calculated to cause disappointment on the part of the chap on the left.

Tennis?

Tennis Bats?
No connection with folk, roots and acoustic music is there?
Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…

Funny old week this one. Busy as heck with all sorts of life; the sort that fills a day without you really noticing, except one is unaccountably tired. (late edit, on which note: pics and words about Ingleton Funraiser will be in the hallowed tome next week)

Some good FG stuff though, as the email equivalent of the phone ringing has been, if not clamorous, at least more intrusive than usual. We hope to be able to confirm a few more FG headline shows before too much longer, and some may be a bit more theatrery and a bit less clubby. Even a bit ‘not music venuey’. But, let’s see what happens.

The new website is doing wll for us, or so it would seem anyway, nice and easy for us to use too, always a bonus. What’s that? You’ve not seen it yet? Oh well in that case… here it is.

Not so very long ago we went to The North Britton, home of Aycliffe Village Folk Club, and this week, unusually, we decided to inflict ourselves upon them again. Inflict it probably was as neither of us were firing on all nine cylinders, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. In the absence of the holidaying Mr Snowball, the evening was MC’d by Mr Bert Draycott (wcsp[1]) in a style that cannot be copied or even accurately described, other than perhaps to point the imagination of the Gentle Reader in the right direction by inviting anyone who has not seen Bert, to simply fill a mental tin bath with a miner, some pit boots, a set of spoons, a bunch of stories which are incredibly unlikely but probably true, charm, wit and a dance routine that doesn’t but should, involve the aforementioned pit boots.

That should do it.

We had a lovely evening again, and had the signal honour of finishing the night. Rake Down The Moon was our final, subtle, sign out.

The only other outing this week was to Gibside, near Rowlands Gill in the lovely pastoral idyll that is Gateshead. Gibside is a large National Trust property consisting of a house that is not there and a big estate that is. They have a music evening o’ a Friday called Sundown (how apt) and we were invited to do a few half hour sets, which as you can imagine, we did. The weather was, to put it mildly, bloody awful. As this is usually an outdoor event, I invite Gentle Readers to imagine what that did to visitor numbers. That’s right; they don’t like it up ‘em, and they don’t like it when it’s *&^%$£ down on ‘em either. So it was that we played our sets in the café, to a few hardy souls who were most appreciative. Plus we got asked back, and got asked to do a few more events, including some at other NT properties, so: washout? Nope. Far from it.

The images again courtesy of The Wrinkly Wroadies who are turning into expert snapspersons of the Folk ouvre. Our thanks again to them.

As I tap on Friday evening, we are girding our musical loins for the Ingleton Folk Festival Fundraiser tomorrow night. Again the forecast is poor, but we will be there and a full report will probably see the light of darkness next week.

The Sandman exists. So does Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Yeti, Sasquatch and of course, the Great Sock Spirit. In a similar vein, Dave the Chairman of The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Arms Folk Club has unveiled his latest plans to rejuvenate the club, from the morass into which it has descended. The club currently caters for a very few real ale stained leatherclad gentlemen[2], who regard unaccompanied songs about fish as the only true music. As we know a few of those, we’d fit right in, but Dave wants to encourage the younger generation, say persons just below pensionable age and preferably still in possession of their own, or someone else’s, teeth, to come along and perform. To this end he has announced a fish themed folk talent show tentatively entitled “Britain’s got Pollock”. Participants can apply for a 20 minute spot to show what they are capable of, or sing, whichever takes the fancy, as long as the songs are about fish, have a fish theme, or in which a fish takes the lead role[3].

And so as the peripatetic Tennis Team of fate inadvertently calls in at the Folk Club of Destiny, and get booked to do a night of Banjolele music by the short sighted Chairman of Chance, I realise that the end of this blog, is but a few words away,

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] World Champion Spoon Player. It’s in his contract that is mentioned.

[2] And one woman. At least medically.

[3] At this point puns involving words such as Plaice, Net, Catch etc are invited from the whole shoal.

Nyaaah!

Aeroplanes and ships have Radar, the better to detect one another. Bats and submarines have Sonar, some people of a certain disposition reputedly possess Gaydar; and why not; while burgers merely have Shergar – which is a diversion. So what early warning system is possessed by Folkies and Acoustic Musos to give them an early heads up on the gig that lies ahead?

Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on…

Not as much outage and aboutage this week for us. The day jobs have been rather demanding and the fact that the big car has been undergoing medical attention has curtailed it a bit. But, we for The Bridge on Monday evening. The Bridge proudly announces itself as one of the oldest folk clubs in existence and is run by the genial – as long as you know the rules[1] – Dave Minikin. As ever, it was good to see a few Acoustic Chums in the room, and there was a great turnout, the room being pretty full with performers and a few listeners too. We once again had the honour of closing the night, one which we are very grateful for, and gave us a small conundrum to juggle[2]. This was an outing for the three piece FG which meant that Dave joined us on bass. The first set went well enough. Dave is fitting in well, we got the volumes more or less right – although Dave is on electric bass, we only use a small floor wedge and Carol and I play and sing acoustically. A first outing for the 8 string Uke doing a (gasp) traditional song went well and so, all to the good. Then at the end of the evening we had about eight minutes to fill, and most of our songs are about five minutes. I suppose we could have played one quickly – the Pinky and Perky version, or one very slowly, The Barry White rendition, but in the end, it was an outing for ‘Sundown’, which including the short intro is eight minutes long. Huzzah.

The photos this week are all from the Long-standing Lensmen, the Senior Snappers, the Rusty Recorders that we know and love as The Wrinkly Wroadies.

A new recording of an old song – in fact I don’t think we ever did record it properly, is linked below. This is ‘Baby Blue’, which is inspired by a photo I saw of Carol (Wor Porkie) as a baby; wherein she is possessed of the most fabulous Baby Blue eyes. The song develops the idea, and tells a tale for those with ears to listen.

Other events this week. Too late for last weeks blog (a bumper number of hits this week, thank you all), came a meal Chez FG, with Graham and Doc Brotton, the guitar playing and managerial brain respectively of Blue Sun. The March 23rd double header gig at The Cluny 2 is a landmark event for all of us and we were talking that through as well as socialising in a musical sort of way.  It ended up with Blue Sun having a website, which the good Doc is operating on as we tap.

Another revelation regarding this gig was that the listings sites trawled the Cluny gigs page and added us to the ticket sales gig listing.

Good?

No, not really.

They added us before the Cluny put the details up. That means they felt free to make their own up, and so confused us with another Fool’s Gold from Los Angeles. Can I point out that we are not an Afro-Fusion ensemble? Thanks[3].

A good friend of FG is a certain Mr Bert Draycott. Bert is undisputed World Champion Spoons Player, and a turn of note on the circuit. His songs, generally about miners, mines and mining life, are full of flavour and history and never fail to engage and entertain – but how, I hear you murmur darkly into your beard, does he ensure that all present understand that this, is a folk song? The answer to that, oh Gentle Reader, is simple. At the end of each song he sings a long drawn out concluding note which goes: “Nyyyyaaaaahhhhhhhh”. Now, you know it’s a folk song. Those who have seen him before await the Nyyyaahh with anticipation and delightedly join in. Thus is it in Bert’s honour that I commend to you the Folk and Acoustic Early Warning System – Nyahdar™.

We all possess Nyahdar™, it’s just that some have a more recent model than others. Some artists Nyahdar™[4] starts pinging before they walk through the doors, others have to wait until halfway through the first half before the first green blooop appears on their mental screen. Nyahdar™ goes off to alert the visitor to a new club as to just how trad a given venue is likely to be. Nyahdar™ is sophisticated and scans the room for evidence and, based on what it tracks, will thus alert the user.

It goes something like this.

You walk into the venue.

It is a pub, not a hall or theatre.  Nyah.

It’s a pub that has not heard of carpet, but prefers floorboards, or better still, lino. Nyaah.

The room is full of men. Men of a certain age and deportment suggesting that it is possible to live on real ale. Nyaahhh.

The first three turns are unaccompanied singers. Nyyaaahhhh. They all sing with their hands thrust deep in their pockets – what’s down there? No one knows[5]. Nnnyyyyyerrrarrrrhhhhhh.

So you can see that Nyahdar is quite a useful assessor of the climate within a room. And the artist can thus navigate carefully through the sea of choices when it comes to deciding what is likely to work in the room.

If in doubt, it is advisable that Acoustic Chums stick to their setlist.

Just make sure you finish each song with “Nyyyyyaaahhhhh”.

And so as the Radar of Fate bleeps the presence of the iceberg of Destiny, and the Captain of the ship suggests you turn it off and on again, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until Next Time, Acoustic Chums

Keep Strummin’

(nyyyaaaahhhhh)


[1] Things like – thou shalt not natter while the turn is on and Thou shalt get a fat lip if thou shouldst wander about when the turn is on. All perfectly fair.

[2] Jugglable Conundrums are a right bugger. Try juggling yours and see what I mean.

[3] The only fusion we do is Con.

[4] If I plug mine in it updates. Can I counsel against plugging yours in, as it might do more than update.

[5] And I’m not looking.