Here we go again (and again)

I didn’t have much to say this week; then, unfortunately, I started typing and found that my fingers were full of drivel. So, it behoves me not to dwell upon the formalities of introduction, but to bid you Welcome, Gentle Reader and invite you to read on…

Songwriters need an armoury of tools. Amongst these tools are such weapons as[1], inspiration, perspiration, and yes, fear[2]. Songs are a bit like the number 32 bus. You wait for ages and then three come along together. You always know the good ones too. They quite often appear fastest and have a certain ‘Ching’ as they pop into existence. From this, Gentle Reader, you will gather that I’ve been writing again, and as you are most perspicacious[3] you’ll know that an FG song can be somewhat… long.

Good, then you won’t be disappointed with the new stuff then. I’ve also thrown a few rules out of the window with at least one. The idea of a verse being followed by a chorus, repeat until dead, is one of them. Thematically, a few differences too. One is a historical thing about shipyards, no change there, but another is inspired by the final moments. Sounds Jolly don’t it? Well in a way, yes it is. Look, you know what my sense of humour is like, some people think it isn’t even a sense of humour, more of a highly developed sense of self-destruction, but there you have it, and it’s quite useful when songwriting.

As is t’internet.

Other little things played with recently are chord tutors, theory pages, progression generators and melody transcription tools, as well as some wonderful arrangement software. Hopefully, you’ll be able to hear the fruits of these labours before they go mouldy.

Another week in and the year is still taking shape for us. A few gigs down and the picture is starting to emerge.

So far it has been like that; the year ahead is on a roll of undeveloped film, and, as it is processed, the picture starts to slowly reveal itself from the fog.

I realize of course that using a metaphor such as a roll of film dates my writing, but on the bright side, not as much as it dates your reading!

So what does the picture show?

At the moment it looks like it is going to be very, very busy. And, interestingly, a game of two halves.

One half is certainly going to be Care Homes. We’re getting calls and have umpty tump bookings to do them. Just as well we enjoy doing it then, because one thing is for certain, if you didn’t enjoy it, you’ve no business being there in the first place.

This means doing a good show, which in turn means having the right material – so; this week has been spent at least in part, learning new songs which fit the bill. I do draw the line in some places, we were asked if we knew ‘Y Viva Espana’ and not only do we not know it, we will never know it.

This isn’t purely musical snobbery on my part. It’s just that it is difficult to play a song while your internal organs are sequentially shutting themselves down in protest. However, there are some really good old songs that we do perform, and that’s it – we try to perform them, not just bash out the three chords.

So much for Care homes, what about the other half of the year?

That’s going to be more mainstream FG stuff and will be FG material, plus some folky covers that we’ve added. Once again, the Gods have been kind and I think we worked out that there are three or four new songs that we need to work up to a playing out standard.

So, we will be in libraries, Village Halls, conference rooms and Folk Clubs too.

We have more folk club bookings this year than ever before, and added a new one this week.

Much had we heard about Bedale Folk Club and never the chance to go and see.

So, by charabanc in good spirits we for Bedale this week. Wrinkly Wroadies safely ensconced in the back, colouring books provided (they are for Pauline to hit Doug with), we headed Sarf.

Workmen have been upgrading the A1 for some time now and have a cunning plan to ensure that wherever we are going, that’s where the roadworks will be – a feat successfully managed on this evening. However we arrived at the Riverside Club, which is, as the name implies, a Club. So the big function room provided the venue and a few good worthies braved the slightly inclement evening.

We’ve been to quite a few clubs with strap-lines. Often it will be ‘The Friendly Club’ or ‘The Welcoming Club’, or sometimes, ‘The Club where we have enough locals having a nice time and you lot can s*d off, Club’. However, Bedale really is a friendly place, and made us very welcome throughout the evening –a nice bunch of folks.

We played a few songs, enjoyed everyone elses’ contribution and at the end of the evening were invited back to do a hotspot for them later in the year – that was a very nice round-off to the night and we look forward to that. Photos, naturally, are by the fossilized fotographers, the Wrinkly Wroadies.

Life has been busy apparently (we’ve never been) at ‘The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club’. Apparently it is still on, in the back room, every Thursday, unless the Leek Show is on. And equally apparently, they have been looking around other clubs and have noticed that they all have strap-lines or slogans to go underneath a banner used to adorn the performance area[4]. Chairman Dave has decided that, in his attempt to modernize the club and drag it into the nineteen seventies, they will have such an adornment too. The first problem is what slogan to adopt. Apparently Dave announced this idea last time and put out a suggestion box. It seems that the regulars mistook what sort of suggestions to put in it, and Dave was subsequently disappointed to discover that most regulars felt that the suggestion box should be placed, quite firmly, in a place it was never designed to go and which would undoubtedly cause him to walk funny. So in the true spirit of the club Chairman Dave has taken it upon himself to come up with a strap line. So far, it’s a toss up between, “Dave’s Really Great Folk Club” and “Did you know this is Dave’s Club”, neither of which really fit either the purpose, or indeed on the banner.

So there will be a committee meeting and the new committee (they all switched seats a bit) will decide on the mission statement of the club.

My money is on the word ‘Folk’ being in it.

And probably another word too.

And so as the hands of time once again continue their relentless march across the face of fate, I notice indeed that the face of fate could do with the Clearasil of Justice to eradicate the pimples of outrageous fortune, and also announce that it is the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’

[1] fear surprise and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

[2] I realize that any Gentle Reader below the age of about 40 will probably not get not get that reference, so here’s a link:

[3] No, it’s not another word for ‘smelly’

[4] Oh yes, this stuff is planned you know – not just hoyed together like a tatty stew.

That was the year that was…

Boys And Lasses Like Santa.

It’s my new organisation, and you’re all invited to join.

Membership brings with it, as you might expect, certain privileges and rights. Chief among these is, as a member of the club, you get to put up your Christmas tree in September. You are allowed to wear silly bits of felt on your head and be insufferably jolly round the shops.

But wait – Boys and Lasses are already doing this – am I too late to organise this movement or, as I am beginning to suspect, is Christmas already organised Balls?


Now I have nailed my colours to the festive mast, be bid welcome, Gentle Reader, to this the Fool’s Gold 2014 roundup.

Now, pray; read on…

City BTD poster


2014 eh?

Who’d have thought it?

No sooner do these year things start than they’re over.

But this one – well this one has been a bit special.

Momentous even.


So many changes, developments and hopefully good ones at that – it seems that FG is a very different beast to the ragamuffin enthusiast collective it was in December 2013.

So what went on? What sticks in the febrile, fevered brain of your favorite idiot?

…The biggest change was the decision to make music a priority.

As full time workists, we were keen but usually tired. Recording took forever and it was getting hard to muster the enthusiasm to go out to clubs in the evening.

Now that we are (semi) retired, that’s all changed. Now we are permanently tired, have no time at all for recording and never go to clubs in the evening.

Well, hardly ever.


That’s the scores on the doors, or at least most of the score on the door. Our year planner has 148 things what we did. That does not include floor spots or club visits. That’s gigs, bookings, care homes, libraries etc. And the interesting thing is that up until April, when we packed in and threw the towel of work into the face of The Man, we had 20.

Then it went daft.

We decided that life is for the living, not the working to make a kind of living. Cue the early pension and a revised contract. Carol now spends all day looking for the kitchen[1] and we spend all day every day playing at Fool’s Gold – which oddly enough seems to take all day.

FG is now a musical beast. We do Folk Clubs, shows, festivals, talks for groups, presentation shows and Care Homes. We write, rehearse and play. We phone people, mail people, meet people and talk gigs. In short we have a bl**dy good time enjoying being musicians.

That’s amateur musician to you.

I got told recently that we’d ‘gone professional’.

Laugh? I nearly passed me fags round.

For us the music is about enjoying life and enjoying what we do. It is nice when it pays for itself – puts petrol in the tank, pays for a jolly or takes us out for a meal, but if we ever thought of ourselves as professional, doing it just for money, I think it would rob the game of most of the fun.

Apart, perhaps from one thing.

We, that’s the Mehm Sahib and me (the punkah wallah), do take it very seriously, so if there is an element of professionalism, it’s when we see a ‘pro’ perform and we say to ourselves (not too quietly either) “we can do that”.

And we do.


Highlights of the year?

Blimey, that’s a hard one.[2]

Too difficult to think of really. Highlights include:
Lymm Folk Club where we went down rather nicely, Loughton Folk Club where it was so hot we nearly melted, Festival on The Moor where it was so muddly that we thought it was cow doo-doo, which unfortunately turned out to be the case, Beat The Drum in Consett, where we got it right, City Library shows which were great fun, the new CD – which sounds quite good, certain shows – mentioning no names – where the publicity was done after we started playing, Weardale Town Hall which was a blast…

I noticed myself playing something the other day and realised I could not have done it a few months ago without turning my fingers into a half hitch with a fully spliced monkey’s fist[3]. I heard Carol belting something out at a gig recently and thought “She sounds rather good”…

We have some great gear, thanks to retiring and very supportive Wrellies. I’ve a new PRS Angelus SE (no, not the American one), Carol parps through a decent flute and some nice whistles, the tenor is a Martin and the uBAss is magical…

…but none of the above really matters if I sit back and think what is really important, and that is simply that we are enjoying the music, enjoying life and enjoying playing for you all[4].

Only 50 gigs on the board so far, but… Roll on 2015!


I’ve hear that The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club is revising its policy towards visiting guests. Apparently they are to be allowed to live as long as they don’t play a guitar or a song they wrote themselves, which is a huge step towards a liberal inclusive society. Chairman Dave opposed this change, on the grounds that there is nothing wrong with music from 1715 and we should jolly well stay there.

He only changed his mind when someone pointed out that Guinness, and therefore folk music, was not invented until 1769, at which point he relented and said that he would try to drag the folk club right into meaty bit of the 18th Century.

Which is progress.

However, before you reach for your instrument, and pack the car, remember that the club (every Thursday in the back room) has a booking policy. If you want to play, you need to give your name and your King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs licence to play voucher to the door staff. If you feel that you may not have said voucher, it’s bluey-purple and has a 20 just to the right of the picture of the Queen.

That usually does it.


And so as the sand timer of fate pours the grains of destiny towards the lower bowl of fate, and several sharp bits get stuck in the underpants of inevitability, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’









[1] I keep hiding it behind the hoover, and so far she hasn’t found it.

[2] The Wrinkly Wroadies have immediately leapt to the ‘Bishop and Actress’ punchline, so to save time, I suggest you do too. Yes I know it’s childish – so, if you think about it, is making up nice noises on a guitar.

[3] Which may make some sense to knot fans. I do hope not. (sic)

[4] Mainly those of you without some form of independent locomotion.

And so, to work…

The world of part time work, is much better than the land of full time work, except for those bits of time when you have, for want of a better expression, to work.

The life of the musician(s) can also be isolating. Rehearsing, writing, recording and admin – all the back room activity that is, for want of a better expression, the work.

Family duties similarly (by now you should really know where this is heading), while not onerous, rather often joyous, still need to be worked at and serviced, and that requires, for want of another way of putting it, work.

You really should have gathered by now that there is a trend appearing and probably an excuse coming.

So, only one thing for it – Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…


This week I have had to play at Learning Consultants for a couple of days, which is actually quite a nice way to play; sometimes I can even help.

I think.

Then a family wedding – yes a real white dress, flowing veil and smart uniform jobby. We wish Brad and Laura all the very best of fortune for their future life together. It was a grand day.

In Arundel.

So I spent at least two days on the M1, which if fun could be numerically calibrated would explore the deeper, darker recesses of negativity. But would get ten from Len, probably.


So music then?

Well, we did manage a gig at a Care Home we’d not been to before, but are going back to so I suppose it went well. We did manage a couple of very short practices for the Christmas Set, which is looming very large on the horizon, time for the cotton wool beard, the silly hat and let the fun commence.

At least that’s what it says on the big tin of ‘Oil the fun of Christmas’ I got from eBay.

I hope it’s alcoholic.

I think we’ve got 16 shows in December, given the month effectively finishes for us on the 23rd, that’s not too shabby I suppose.

Then there’s the admin.

This year has been daft for us. We’ve explored new places to play and even new ways to play. We’ve played in all the usual and most of the unusual places. The trick now is to keep it going. That is Carol’s department, so she has been sending off emails, making phone calls and building a contact list like a little good ‘un. The seeds are sown, the conversations starting, so now we will just have to see what happens in 2015.

Which is the last bit of news; one thing that will happen is another CD. This will be ‘The Cautionary Tale of Harland Goodnight (thief)’.

Snappy, huh?

This project has been on the back burner for around two years, songs written, melodies worked out then more or less parked while we did other things.

This is a different project as it is (wait for it) a concept album.

Yes, I know.

However, it’s on the way.

The tale, all about a young man from Ashington who in the late 1800’s makes his way to London to find a life of crime and an unhappy ending, is hopefully going to be supported by a number of acoustic chums contributing to the recording, either singing the parts or playing, thumping, tapping, parping, scraping or even plunking whatever it is they thump, tap, parp, scrape or plunk.

I think there is something on the website about it.

Next week, is normal service with six gigs, including two days with two shows.

Bring it on!

Before I leave you, I must share the news, dripped into my eager ear by someone who was there (I wasn’t – it’s been a busy week so we couldn’t go).

Apparently there has been more outrage at The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club.

In a club where ‘outrage’ is pretty much considered a starting point for something more interesting, this is not unusual, but this time they started the outrage themselves, from, as it were, within.

Apparently the Landlord, dissatisfied with the numbers the club has been getting and consequently the low bar sales, told Chairman Dave that he had to wake his ideas up and get more folks in. Naturally, he did this from a very safe distance lest Chairman Dave’s celebrated tendency to eat people he dislikes kicked in.

However a quick committee meeting, which is the usual method getting people to agree with Dave, generated a few ideas to put bums on seats.

Dave has never been one for the great outdoors, preferring to leave the appreciation of the natural world to others while he eats it. However, he does know that others like it, so he was keen to approve a suggestion that the club have a Naturist Folk Evening.

The posters went up and apparently it caused quite a stir when two local organisations interested, presumably in Folk music, turned up, as it were ‘en masse’.

Well, it certainly put bums on seats.

As the word count climbs once more, and the call of Cubase grows ever louder, I feel the call of the recording studio, in much the same way as the folk club virgin feels the call of the loo, just before going on.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’











How to avoid politicians…

Ah the political tumult.

Nice Mr Farage has a grin like a Cheshire Cat (not any of your foreign cats, a CHESHIRE cat). And one with a job. And a private pension plan probably; and don’t even ask what colour it is. Our fearless leader, Shiny Dave and his faithless minion Little Nicky quake beneath their bedsheets, fearful that at last, someone may have woken up and worked out what votes are for. That leaves just Our ‘Ed, who if the world turns on a very eccentric axis could be our next fearless leader. Until he gets kicked out, in which case the party will be Edless.


And the connection in all this, to our wonderful, peaceful, calm and unruffled world of Acoustic Music?

Simple, if you play enough during a week, you can cheerfully miss the whole lot.


Especially if you go whence Nice Mr. F[1] gets his Cat-Grin.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader, to this, the FG Blog, and read on…


Yes, a few days on the road for your fearless FG chums as we trundled across the M62 in search of Cheshire. We found it, just after the M62 ran out, and deposited ourselves ready for a brace of evenings in a couple of Folk Clubs. The first was in Lymm, at The Spread Eagle, this was our second visit and first as guests. So 2 x 45’s from us, running though some of the new stuff and quite a few well known songs too. A grand evening with great regulars, very friendly lot too, who sang lustily along, all great stuff and many thanks to Bernard. If you are in the neighborhood, it is well worth a visit on a Thursday evening.

The next evening (Friday, fact fans) and we in good order and finery for Bollington Folk Club. Another very nice and friendly club, with a fantastic variety of talented regulars, we gave of our best and had a lovely evening, thanks due on this occasion to Pete, and we hope to be back to see them again before too long. Bollington bosts an embarrassment of pubs, the one you require is the ‘Dog and Partridge’. A fine club in a fine hostelry.

The pictures are of course, courtesy of our travelling road crew, The Wrinkly Wroadies. Pauline has a habit of surprising Folk Club MC’s by smiling happily up at them and announcing “We’re The Wrinkly Wroadies[2]”. And why not for it is, in fact, true.


We also did a library show this week, and discovered that ten in the morning is not necessarily the best time to hold a musical event. We always let the libraries choose the time, on the grounds that they know their communities better than we do. On this occasion it might have been better to suggest that we know music audiences better than they do, as we managed to get very few out of their beds.


Ah well, ah me, it happens to us all. The previous library show[3] attracted around 40, so you can’t win ‘em all.

Additionally, we were next to a big window with our projection screen.

Can you guess what’s coming next?

The Autumnal Sun of County Durham blessed us all with its benefice and smile and completely wiped out the projector into the bargain.

Nil Desperandum, Acoustic Chums, we thought ‘There’s only two lovely punters; we’ll turn the laptop screen round and they can see that’.

Well, it worked, but turned out to be a Bad Idea.

Because we played our songs to the top of their heads as they stared intently at the supporting visuals that were meant to be behind us.

Y’lives and y’learns.

You may not be able to win ‘em all, a no-score draw is sometimes all you can hope for; but Tuesday we got a few points on the pools form. We’d been invited to a Primary School to do our ‘Beat The Drum’ show. Adapted for the consumption of primary pupils (by dropping the rude words from ‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres[4]), we were presented with 120 or so Y3-6 pupils, just my fightin’ size. We had an absolute blast and great fun it was too. They’d all been doing some research prior to our visit and so when we did our WW1 medley, the rafters fairly rang.

And they even liked the FG stuff too!


The new CD-EP is out now. I’m sure it will join the others on CD Baby (Amazon, iTunes, Google, et alia) in due course but for now, “Dancing with Moonlight’ is available from us and at gigs. The price, as before is £4. We are fairly chuffed with it as it marks a progression in songwriting, performing and recording. A home project studio can never replace a professional setup, but then again, CD sales are unlikely at this point to replace the thousands of pounds a pro studio costs.

I like the sound our little studio captures.

And it’s fun.

So there.



There may be new Gentle Readers, attracted to this rolling river of acoustic drivel, so it behoves me to explain to them, the poor lost souls, what The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club is.

That could of course take a long time.

So the potted history is that TKHAWLFC is a traditionally styled folk club, held in the back room (unless the Leek Show is on) every Thursday. All are welcome, or at least tolerated and rarely eaten.

The whole shootin’ match is guided by the benevolent hand of Chairman Dave. Dave understands ‘Benelovent’ in the same way that the Borgia Popes understood ‘Subtle’, so some blood is, invariably, on the carpet.

This week it seems that a visiting singist, unaware of the political affiliations of the club dropped an inadvertent clanger[5]. (Chairman Dave is a staunch Labour Supporter. Only because the local branch of the Provisional Wing of the Chairman Mao Agricultural Suicide Activists closed after an unfortunate misunderstanding with the local police and the Army Bomb Disposal Team, but he is staunch). So the visitor launched into a spirited rendition of a 70’s song, re-arranged for an Unaccomplished Singer. Dave re-arranged the blokes nose before the rest of the Committee hauled him off and explained that ‘Maggie’s Farm’ is not a paean to Tory rural re-organisation.

And with that convoluted tale out of the way, as the Floor Singer of fate is reminded by the Cricket bat of Karma of that forty-four choruses is enough, I notice that this is the end of the blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



[1] ‘Nice’ is a word. Not necessarily an opinion.

[2] Her face is a picture of innocence. Which is how you know to be worried.

[3] At two in the afternoon. Is that the dogwatch? Or The Catnap?

[4] No. You’re quite right. We don’t do them anyway.

[5] An inadvertent Clanger is one thing, an Unexpected Soup Dragon is quite another.

Short Change

I hope you don’t feel short changed, really; I don’t.

It’s not nice.

There you are, walking home in the very early morning after a pleasant evening with friends spent, largely horizontally, at your local opium bordello, when you realize that you have change in your pocket from five pounds.

And you’re sure you gave her a tenner.


(for those of a nervous disposition, an alternative would be to substitute the bordello for a sweet shop, which, in some ways, would work)


Either way, that’s when you feel short changed.

And I hope, small Acoustic Chum, by the end of this blog, you don’t feel that way.

Why so?
Be Welcome Gentle Reader, and read on…


Basically it comes down to lists.

Oh, and deadlines, them too.

This blog malarkey is great fun, but boy, does it eat into time – it’s not that I don’t have much to tell you, what with the Fool’s Gold adventures we’ve been having and are about to have. Far from it, in fact as you have already discovered, I can tap away about nothing at all.

No, the worry is that because we have so much to do, that this might be in the running for the fastest tapped blog ever – and that’s why I hope you don’t feel short changed.

Of course if you’ve been to a bordello, it probably serves you right.


This week gone has been totally musically nuts. Six playing events, that’s two care homes, two libraries, a National Trust property and a large plastic box.


The library shows are going very well indeed, thanks for asking, and we’re getting better at the presentation, so the Stories with Strings shows are getting quite popular. We played Esh Winning and Newton Aycliffe libraries this week and both shows went down well with re-books – which is a good indication as to whether it went well or not. In fact we sold out of CD’s, which is a new and rather pleasant experience.

Which brings me to another list item: the new CD.

It is finished!

More or less.

The main recordings are all done, the rough mixes completed, two tracks finalized and mastered, and just a few tweaks to complete on the rest. Artwork is almost complete, CD’s ready, boxes on order and we’re all good to go. Why on order? The old stock has been used up to replace the aforementioned sold out CD’s – please, keep up.


So the new CD?

It’s an EP like the last two, and is called ‘Dancing with Moonlight’; a reference to Moonlight Pavane, which has made it onto the list. The full track listing is:

  1. In The Cage
  2. The more things change
  3. Jarrow Song
  4. Moonlight Pavane
  5. The Wall


As long as Cubase behaves and we find a time mine, it should be ready for Lymm on Thursday, but we’ll see about that.

front cover

We also did ‘Folk in a Box’ in Darlington, where we met the very nice Bride Jackson. This was a bit different. A large(ish) placcy box, which is internally draped in black curtain and painted black with tight fitting doors. Guess what? It’s dark in there.

Not to mention warm.

The idea is that one audience person at a time sits and listens to one song at a time.

Like I said, a bit different.

It was dark, warm and quite a lot of fun too!


This coming week sees us out and about in the early part of the week, libraries and care homes, then off to Cheshire – we’re guests at Lymm Folk Club on Thursday, and on Friday have asked Bollington Folk Club if we can drop by.


We still haven’t heard from The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club though.

It’s odd too.

They had a free Barbie on a few weeks back and were looking for people to play – oddly enough, their email worked fine then…

However, I’m sure Chairman Dave will be reviewing the club rules to see what advice they give when it comes to booking new acts – and I know it won’t be easy.

Those tablets of stone weigh a ton.


I cannot sign off this week without a word of apology to our good chum Mr David Pratt, who has been the butt of my sogennant sense of humour over the last couple of weeks and has endured it all with dignity and good humour. So I promise not to take the wotsit out of his department of the music business for a while. Thank’s David for your forbearance.

Right, that’s it, a world record blog tapped. Back on with the list.

Best not go to the Bordello.


So as the drummer of destiny begins the count in to fame and falls at the first fence.

Or was it the third?
No hang on, its, one, two, three…. Erm…

I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



Drummers and Icebuckets. Why not?

Ah, I thought it was you, creeping up the stair, softly; anxious not to wake the household nor yet let them into your guilty, sordid little secret.

No, I can understand why an apparently respectable member of musical society[1] would wish to keep hidden the fact that they, on occasion, when the weakness is strong, read this, the foul testimony of acoustic rubbish that is the Fool’s Gold Blog.

Well, turn down the sound, and move that mouse quietly and once again, Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


This week the blog leads off with a something a little different. The Ice Bucket Challenge has swept the consciousness of the nation, or at least it has for those whose consciousness might benefit from a light beating. My own views are, if you wanna, then do it, if you don’ wanna, don’ do it.

We don’ wanna.

However, we have been nominated.

Enter the pages of this august tome one Mr John James Kelly, whom I have known since 1969, and we can therefore be really quite rude to each other without either of us taking particular offence. He did wanna, and nominated us, for which Gee Thanks. However I was already busy washing me hair, so we had to find, and elect a substitute. Thankfully I was in contact with Prog Folk Superduo ‘The Iron Pirates’, and asked it they would mind being our surrogate in the Ice Bucket Challenge. They didn’t know what a surrogate was, but said yes anyway, and this is what happened…


Manual, late edit footnote thing.

We’ve discovered a very silly ‘feature’ on ipads – if the sound doesn’t play on your iOS dvice, you can go to settings > general > sidebutton > and turn it ‘orientation lock. That will let the sound play. It will still play when you turn the setting back again. Bizarre. The only thing more bizarre was working out the fix…

If your device doesn’t play the sound (which would be  shame) try this link:


Unfortunately the sound was busted on their video camera, which was made in one of those countries for which the Quality Control Standards of Taiwan are an aspiration, so you couldn’t hear who they nominated. By carefully reading the lips, I thing they might have mumbled something about someone called ‘Chairman Dave’…


A busy FG week again, a rather posh outing to Selaby Hall to play for the Friends of Bowes Museum at a Garden Party. There was a marquee, there were cucumber sarnies and there were hats, even a member of the real I-am aristocracy, and I don’t mean the bass player from Queen. It went quite well we thought, as we mixed up the FG set with a few local songs and trad numbers, and we left the place intact and talked about it for hours – all the way down the drive in fact. A gig at The Lantern Club in Hexham – that was nice to play for those folks who really don’t get out much, so it was nice to do something that they enjoyed. Plus a care home which we hadn’t been to before but got asked straight back – a nice week of playing.

There are some pics of Selaby Hall knocking around here somewhere, courtesy of course of our travelling support unit, The Wrinkly Wroadies, who after a few at the bar, usually have to be supported themselves.

Mrs Wroadie has obviously had a few as she is sporting a rather fine plaster cast on one wing. Mind you, it is useful as Mr Wroadie is sporting a large bump on the head – the cast makes the perfect weapon…

Next week four shows and a folk club visit. Blimey, pass me a damp cloth.


I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking that I have it in for drummers.

I haven’t.

I have it in for everyone.

One of the freedoms of writing a blog is the wonderful sense of distance imparted by the Internet itself. Tapping alone at a keyboard, it is easy to forget that somewhere, sometime, somewhy someone might actually read it.

Therefore I tend to gambol happily skipping into a perfumed and private private world of the imagination, where I can say anything – anything at all, with the absolute guarantee that any indiscretion will be instantly forgiven simply because it is never actually voiced.

Then of course I hit the ‘publish’ button and that veil is lifted and the consequences are there to be reaped.

So, if this week you spot a bit of the blog that you think would offend a drummer – do us all a favour.

Don’t read that bit to them.


The cause of this seemingly random attack against the percussive classes is of course our very own good acoustic chum, the percussive prince himself David Pratt. It came to my attention that he has been referred to as ‘Dangerous Dave’. Now that, my small acousticians, is like a red rag to a bull to an idiot like me.

All sorts of cartoons have been floating around inside my head, wherein to be fair; there is plenty of space.

Unfortunately this week we have been busy creating the animated cartoon which I hope brought a small chortle, a chort, if you will, to your lips when you saw it earlier. That being the case, this paragraph is to presage what is to be come; I’ve been sketching and although I thought it was funny, the real and ever present danger of litigation has stayed my impulsive hand,

That and it isn’t finished.

So, next week, all being well, God being in his (or indeed her) Heaven, and barring a lottery win – in which case you can all get knotted, there should be a cartoon strip in the blog in which Dangerous Dave auditions for The Iron Pirates.

Clearly, this has nothing to do with us, or indeed anything to do with reality.

Of course not.




Should we even bother trying?

CD sales I mean: is it actually worth it at all?

In the days were we see the big heavyweights like Coldbum, Radiobonce an Yee’nall [2] releasing their cd’s for free (and they are not by any means the only ones), should we even be bothering to attempt to relieve the concert going public of their hard earned fivers in exchange for shiny plastic disc containing allegedly pleasurable sonic delights? It’s easy to download CD’s and apparently anything you might want to listen to in the way of new music is either on Spotify or YouTube – I didn’t know that there are full albums on YouTube, but there are hundreds if not thousands of them.

So, should we bother?

I suppose not – but only if we are as big as the afore mentioned U2[3] where the reasoning is that the album can be given away as the huge stadium tour is where the dosh is really to be trousered. But for us, as home producers and playing the size of shows that we do, selling a few quids worth of CD’s at the end is still very much worth it.

Even if we’ve only ever made 18/6d[4]


And so as we approach the drum solo of Destiny and the rest of the band of Life joins the audience in the bar, I notice it is the end of this blog,

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] Which, to be far, is where that argument falls flat on its face,

[2] Look, you should have to do some work.

[3] Well, that gave that one away.

[4] 18/6 is actually the natural time signature of many drummers. In fact, in most, it is the only time signature.

A funny old game

It’s a funny old game this amateur music game.

The harder you try the harder it gets sometimes.

Sometimes the things you think are going to be great turn to ashes in your mouth while the gig you feared above all turns out to have a sweet taste of success.

A funny old game then.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on…

wolsingham library poster

Below is the latest adventure featuring our new chums, The Iron Pirates. The Iron Pirates are an acoustic duo performing more or less original progtastic folk songs. They are working hard to get on the Folk Club circuit[1]. This week they happened across a club called The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs. The poster said it was singer’s night, so they went in…[2]


(WordPress seems to struggle with the image order – hope it works ok for you)

Another busy week – aren’t they all. We began with a visit to the ever genial Jim and Marilyn Gibson’s informal acoustic night at The Cross Keys in Esh. You could makes jokes about Esh if you had that sort of mindset (I have) but the evening is very gentle and laid back. All are welcome to a round the circle format evening. Very nice.

Next, another gig at Van Mildert College, not as jolly as last week as it was in the JCR[3] (this is Durham you know) and the seats were very hard so we had an audience with numb bums by the end. However, it went well enough and we worked well. Then to Blackhall library to do a Beat the Drum show for 50 Year 5 pupils.
The library was well set up for us as we’ve been before – but not to peform for children. We set up and wondered how it was going to go.

Would it be above their heads?

Would they respond?

Would they let us live?

Never Fear, Gentle Reader, all was well. Or even weller than that. The gig was great fun, I had the most fun since leaving the classroom and we had a very good hour or so. A couple of bookings for schools means it all went well – a good gig.

Lots of practice and a couple more Christmas gigs picked up during the week, but the main event was Langdale Folk Festival Fundraiser this Saturday. Two and half hours there and…

A stunning setting at Dungeon Gill, a lovely pub, great beer and fantastic setting. Plus a music hungry good mood audience.

What could possibly go wrong?

…it didn’t really work for us.

We were first on after the house band (featuring an excellent lead guitar from Acoustic Chum Den Fisher) and we struggled to get the hang of the PA. Following the excellent  Rock and Roll (more or less) set from the house band, the contrast to us was too big and we had to work very hard indeed. Not too comfortable then.

Still all was not lost as we had an all acoustic spot in the folk lounge in the afternoon. Forty minutes on much more comfortable turf for us.

And it was to a point.

Sadly late running meant that 40mins turned into more like 25.

…and two and a half hours back.

Hey ho.

Still it looked like the Air Ambulance buckets were filling up very nicely, and that’s what it was all about. Well done to all who laboured!

Onward Mes Braves.


Next week, hopefully we’ll get a bit more on the new album done. I had a firtle through Cubase the other day and found that all the guide tracks are there and two if not three tracks are finished! Still more work needed…

No time for lallygagging about here then.


As so as the roundabout of Folk whizzes past, and the prancers of fate go down as well as up, some riders wave and just a few are loudly sick, I notice it is the end of this blog,

Until next time Acoustic Chums

Keep Srummin’

[1] It sounds oddly familiar…

[2] …oh! That’s OK. We’d never be that stupid.

[3] Junior Common Room. Keep up at the back.

Out with the old

Some weeks the blog is all ready to go. Sunday morning is a leisurely beating from the wife, then ‘click’ and it’s gone. Other weeks, it’s more of a frenzied typefest to get the thing done before the next beating.

Guess which one it is this week?

‘Ouch’ – late again.

Be Welcome Gentle Reader and read on.


Before we go any further, the new little cartoon character, Frank the Folkie, is joined this week by Flossie the Flautist, and together, they form a band. What might it be called I wonder?

Thanks to Acoustic Chum David Pratt for the suggestion to add Flossie to the cartoon family. David is a musician and plays the drums too. Talented man.


A quick update on all things FG before we get to the all-important drivel; this week a club South Shields (pics by the Wrinkly Wroadies of course) a good night there in a different, small and quite warm room – good evening though despite forgetting what a capo is and what it is supposed to do. A care home, lovely gig there, a summer fayre and a summner school at Van Mildert[1] College in Durham. That was great night too. Oh, and a ‘Stories with Strings Show’ at Lanchester Library too.

So there.



Could anyone, preferably someone who knows the answer tell me how this mysterious mechanism actually works?

Back in the day, there was MySpace, which was great, really useful, was easy to use and everyone got along just fine.

Then they improved it and everyone left.

Now there is Facebook.

I’m not sure I like Facebook, nor do I trust it; but is seems to be a necessary evil – full of misinformation, untruths, gossip, malingering pussy cats and trivial gossip.

But enough about our page.

There has always been, running alongside, but slightly further back in the mix, Reverbnation. For those not in the know, it’s a musicians social network, everyone gets a page and can enter gigs, pics, sound, profiles, messages etc etc etc.

So far, so what?
Well, it has charts too.

We are currently Number 4 in the Folk Chart for Durham. Hooray for us.

We have been Number 2 in the Folk Chart for Durham. Hooray for us.

And Number 17 in the Folk chart for Durham. Serves us right, probably.

Fine, but all in the same week?


There will be a mechanism, a logic, an algorithm for how all this wonderful nonsense works.

Trouble is, I think I know what it is.


We rarely use Reverbnation, unless they kindly remind us, and I tap something into the page. Then we go up a bit. I might upload a song. And we go up a bit more.

A few pics?


But, and as the Bishop said to the Actress, it’s a sizable butt, we also yo-yo merrily around the chart if we do nothing at all.

The bit that really make me raise a Roger Moore inspired eyebrow is that when one pursues the ‘free’ promotions which one has apparently ‘earned’, it turns out that it is, like a badly restored edition of Fireball XL5, strewn with obvious and visible strings. Enter all your data, claim your ‘free promotion’ and guess what?

<Enter your credit card details here>

I may look like I came down with the last shower, and leave an equally damp trail to the door of Silliland, but if it’s free…

Beware, as they say, of Greeks bearing gifts.

You didn’t know Reverbnation was Greek?

It may or may not be, but it’s all Greek to me.


There have been those of you, out there in Gentlereaderland, who have been worried.


Champing at the bit and generally loose about the bowel.

The cause?
It has all been quiet at our most favorite venue of them all, The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club[2].

Chairman Dave, rested and reinvigorated after his annual sojourn at Whitby[3], is back at the helm of the folk club, ready for a new season.

To save time, Dave has booked all the same guests as he did last year, most of whom he knows personally, and he is on financial terms with them all. This makes it much easier to organise the club, posters can be re-used, or even dispensed with altogether as most people can recite the guest list by heart. There was one year when Chairman Dave put on someone who played a guitar, but when everyone enjoyed listening to some new songs, he vowed never to make that mistake again.

So the new season beckons. Chairman Dave and the new committee, Big Nigel, Musty Sandra and Dorothy the Door[4], have decided in advance which nights everyone will enjoy, and to save time, which ones they will not.

They won’t come to those.

There will be theme nights at the KH&WLFC this year, songs about death will be the first theme, subsequent evenings themes will include Songs about death with a chorus, songs about death without a chorus but a bit you can hum, and songs that make you wish you were dead.

There will be open nights too. Make sure you arrive early and get your name on the list, it is best if you:

  1. Are related to a committee member
  2. buy Dave a drink
  3. have been attending the club for at least thirteen years.
  4. play melodeon and can name the classic lineup of Fairport.

And with that, I notice the word counter is heading for a lexical coronary and so, as the folk club of fate opens its doors for the new season and it’s out with the old and in with the… hang on, it looks like ‘old’, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’



[1] I found out what a ‘Van Mildert’ actually is, and apparently as long as they are all over 21 and the fish are returned afterwards, it’s perfectly legal.

[2] Held every Thursday, in the back room, unless the Leek show is on. Get there early to get a seat, as there are only two.

[3] Dave likes to go the week after the Festival. That way it is much easier to complain about the quality of the acts.

[4] No. Not because she looks like one, it’s because for the last… ooooh how long…. Lemmee see…. Oh yes, four hundred and seventy years she has sat behind a table in the murky darkness of the club entrance and merrily mugged attendees. She is so good at it, that on walking in people find themselves suddenly clutching a handful of raffle tickets and wondering what happened to their trousers.

A weak in music

Wake and remember musical jobs to do; rehearse, writing, practice, recording, arranging gigs, meeting people updating websites, blogging, following the scene on facebook to see what is happening.

Then, after breakfast, more of the same until bedtime (which might be after a club visit or if you’re lucky, a gig) then dream about music until it is time to wake up and do it again.

Blimey, we need to go back to work for a rest.

But what else could fill the week of your crusaders for the lost chord[1]?

Be Welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


This week has been pretty much a revolving meander through the list in the paragraph above, but with a few additions and diversions along the way.

Monday saw us visiting The Bridge Folk Club in central Newcastle. I am aware that this rubbish is consumed around the globe, and that you, yes you, Gentle Reader, may not know what The Bridge in central Newcastle actually means.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then…

The Bridge is reputedly the oldest club still running in Newcastle and it is certainly based in one of the oldest pubs. The Bridge (much refurbished now, but still nice) is situated at the North end of the High Level Bridge, a double deck affair with rails above and road below. When I say it is at the end, it might be better to say on the end. From the club room upstairs, performers and audience could cheerfully wave at punters on the buses below or the chuff chuffs above as they pass – oddly it isn’t particularly intrusive. The view from the other window must be the envy of every other club in the land as, filling the window there is a rather impressive vista containing a large Norman keep, built in 1067 by one Mr Bob Curthose, mate of the new King Billy the Oneth (also called William the B*stard, and that was by his mother). This is of course the new castle that gave the city its name; just as well as if it had been named after the builder we’d all be living in Shortpants.

The club is fairly traditional but very welcoming. Completely acoustic, which is nice, and a wide variety of talent wanders up the stairs on a Monday evening. You will be welcomed by one Mr Dave Minikin who will be very nice to you (until he gets to know you). Dave runs the club very well, keeping all and sundry to time and on task. The absence of PA in the room is welcomed by us as it allows plenty of freedom, and less to worry about. This Monday saw a variety of regulars (see pics, courtesy again of The Wrinkly Wroadies, photographers to the stars, or at least of the stars if Doug falls over after a couple of Peronis[2]) and several visitors. The highlight of the evening was seeing Richard Ridley and his band Devil’s Water launching their new CD, ‘The Channels’ and filming a bit of a video too (with another Acoustic Chum, the talented Ian Brown).

Richard and the lads put in a sterling set, and showcased their brand of traditionally contemporary maritime music. The CD is available from Richard and the band and is very well worth a listen, especially if you are occasionally moved to the odd “Yo Ho’, then this would be right up your, er, channel.

Expertly recorded, (the sound is very good indeed – which really helps), the four, sometime five, piece band run through a mixture of traditional and original maritime songs. The original stuff is mostly Richard’s and is much more than proficient and sits well into the theme of the band. Expect to sing along, expect to enjoy, expect to be entertained.

Oh, we played too.

The rest of the week was a round of jobs. Mostly musical. A good few more bookings too, thankfully, and lots of work on the Beat the Drum show, the first gig for which is very soon. No pressure.

Friday and we for SWAP, the songwriting group that we grace with occasional presence. Run by longtime Acoustic Chums jiva, the honorary patron of the group was in attendance, this ‘een.

Anthony John Clarke is well know on the circuit and his address to the group was very ‘tresting – hearing his take on subjects like performance, songwriting, audiences and a number of others was very helpful – thanks to AJC. He also played a couple of songs and demonstrated rather capably, that it is one thing to talk about it, but it is also useful to be able to do it – which Gentle Reader, yes he can.

The last outing this week was to Saltburn to hear the Colin Holt band (feat. Snake Davis). This was a house concert in the abode of Ray Freeman who thinks I won’t write about him in the blog.

Right; where to start?

Ray is a new Acoustic Chum and a very good AC too. He doesn’t know it yet but he (and son Ben) will apparently be appearing soon on the stage of The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club (in the back room as long as the leek show isn’t on). He will be doing his standard set of Judas Priest, Kiss and Iron Maiden covers, all played on a battered old guitar he has (just the one, poor lad). He really needs some space to rehearse in too, so if anyone could point him in the direction of, say, a fully appointed performance area (preferably with bar) I’m sure he’d be grateful.

The Band played a solid set, very professional and very musical, with Snake Davis showing exactly why he is a world class sax player, and it was nice to see Ben joining the band on piano for a couple of numbers.


Now it’s time for bed, then we can get up and do it all again.


And so as the ship’s bell of destiny is answered close by in the mist by the Ferry Foghorn of fate, I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] It’s usually a C7

[2] The Peroni is on draught, and mortgage application forms are available at the end of the bar.

Highs, Lows and Newtons

Well, well, well.

Another week rolls by and it’s blogtime again.

Oh, well, I suppose it shows that life is, as ever, busy.

So just what is it that fills up an FG week?
Be welcome, Gentle Reader, and read on…


We haven’t been out and about as much this week – at least not to folk clubs. We only managed to get out to play once, which was on Monday to the Ship at Low Newton.

Low Newton is not a place you can get to by accident, you have to have confidence that at the end of the road, there is a something. Low Newton sits on the coast between Seahouses and Dunstanborough and is, to put it mildly, out of the way. It is also idyllic; a small square of cottages squashed round a seafront village green with an old fashioned (and that is putting it mildly) pub jammed into the top right hand corner. It is lovely there and very welcoming, even to the extent of warmly welcoming wandering singer-songwriters.

That is because, as with many of the more rural Northumbrian gigs, this place is largely a tunes session. There is a rule of thumb for Singer Songwriters, which is to use the number of squeezable instruments in the room as an indicator as to how you are likely to be received – in this case, you could have squeezed one wall of the pub and the whole place would have responded with a flatulent low C. We need not have worried – the night alternated between sets of tunes and songs and the organisers were very welcoming. FG got two and we even managed to get the place bellowing along to ‘The Guiding Light’ so all is well. We left a bit early as the journey back to Durham involved sleds, huskies and a couple of trusty Sherpas.

The only other playing gig was a trip up to Alnwick on Saturday evening to join Fiona Elcoat for her radio show; Big Boots and Celtic Roots. This show is very popular and the Facebook based Social Club was in full throat throughout the evening. Fiona has a great approach and made the evening very easy for us – we managed eight or nine songs in the three hours, plus plenty of chat, banter and general daftness. This show is available live on t’internet and we think the girl done brilliant.


The pics this week are from us the Wrinkly Wroadies and also courtesy of MySpace, which decided to re-release loads of pics we’d put up years ago. Many Acoustic Chums to be spotted in these photos from 5 or 6 years ago – some no longer with us.


Other than that, it has been all hands to the creative pumps as bookings start to roll in for Beat The Drum, which is our new show, based round some of our existing WW1 material, plus new songs, as well as all the inbetweeny bits, videos, letters, narrative etc. These new bookings mean that the new songs have to be polished and the presentation side all completed and made nice and shiny too. The new finishing song is called “The Wall” and reflects on the number of men that are remembered simply by their names written on the walls of war memorials. I haven’t been able to get the chorus out of my head, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

We are very please to announce a number of gigs for Newcastle City Libraries. Pleased to get them of course, and also very pleased as two (at least) will be in the Newcastle Central Library Bewick Suite. Did you know the library had a fantastic staged venue within its book lined walls?

Me neither.

6 August Stories with Strings Newcastle Central Library Bewick Suite 6.30pm

17 December Beat the Drum Central Library Bewick Suite 6.30pm

More dates tbc


Chairman Dave[1] has been very busy lately. The King’s Head and Washerwoman’s Legs has been carrying on as usual, and carrying on is a good way to describe the way it does things. Chairman Dave has managed to have his own way (as usual) and the last couple of guests included an ensemble of melodeon players who played tunes from Holland. All the tunes were in Flemish. Then there was an unaccompanied singer[2] who sang songs of rural Wiltshire – they were in Flemish too. However Dave has relented enough to pressure from the younger contingent[3] within the club and has booked an act that features a guitar. It is unclear if anyone will be allowed to play it.


And so, as the Venerable and Aged Folkie of Fate is finally called to The Great Folk Club in the Sky, he arrives to the news it’s a guest night and there will be an extra raffle, and I notice it is the end of this blog.

Until next time, Acoustic Chums,

Keep Strummin’


[1] New readers start here: Chairman Dave is the cheerful dictator in charge of The Kings Head and Washerwoman’s Legs Folk Club which meets every Thursday in the back room unless the Leek Show is on. It is open to all and is a traditional folk club. That means it is run almost entirely on a diet of nepotism and cheery corruption and that singer songwriters are tolerated, then eaten.

[2] Because he was very smelly.

[3] Fred and Ether Barnaby from the house along the street. They recently celebrated their fifteenth anniversary. Of retiring.