Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Mac Awe On Tap

       The annual bash at Nuneaton Beer festival saw a few personnel changes for this year's Friday Night entertainment. Upstairs in the mighty Co-op Hall, Dugdale Street, this fluid co-operative (made up of Nunc and Blues Monkey this year), did two 50 minute sets, serenading Tickers and Topers alike with an eclectic mix of music. 
          Yes it's that time of year when, courtesy of Ray Buckler Roger Brown and Barry of Nuneaton CAMRA,  this loose collective of musicians known generically as Mac Awe On Tour changes from a virtual band to a real outfit.  Courtesy of NFC Sound Men Matt Mallen Allen (loaning the equipment) and  Dave Smart (driving it).  
      Quite a lot of local musicians have guested for MOT since we started doing this a few years back. This year's line-up had (back from previous line-ups) Flossy McDougal. Geoff Veasey and John Kearney, all from Nunc. Jon Harrington (Harp) and Paul Moore (lead guitar) from Blues Monkey joined us, and John's son Brendan flew in from Cork to play bass ,cajon and sundry other instruments.  
Dave Smart supervises the Mix. Look carefully and you'll see Brendan.
     As before, the two sets comprised a mixture of Blues,Folk Country and contemporary music. Our playlist included two Robert Johnson songs as well as blues from Leroy Carr Little Willie John and Jimmy Reed. Folk music included examples of songs written by Woody Guthrie, The Incredible String Band and Richard Thompson.
Paul is about to Duck Walk. Or he's trapped his finger.
      From a general pop category we  included hits by  Bob Marley, Petula Clark, Eddie Reader,Bob Dylan, two songs originally recorded by The Everley Brothers and Buddy Holly, The Beatles and The Stones. Some of which will have been subjected to the infamous Nunc 'Mash-Ups' -running one song into another at an unexpected tempo or offering  a very different arrangement to the original. 


       Country, and U.S. influences mean we'll probably be doing songs by Casey Chambers, two from Neil Young, and others originally recorded by John Prine. We had a great night and the beer wasn't bad, either. Most of us  sampling the provenance. Nuneaton Folk Club were among local organisations sponsoring a barrel, and their choice, Cwtch,provided  by the Welsh Tiny Rebel Brewery got lips smacking all round. Local breweries represented included Byatts,(Coventry)  and Church Farm, Church End (confusing,eh?) Kendricks and Sperrin (all from Warwickshire.
Dave Smart's gone off to top up his beer.

   "For those who like this kind of thing,"  (courtesy of Fred Bison) here's the complete set list.

How Long Blues
 Black Jack David
Vigilante Man 
Need Your Love So Bad 
Shame Shame Shame 
After The Gold Rush 
Rave On/Everyday 
When will I be loved/Bye Bye Love 
Love In Vain 
I saw her standing there
All Over Now 
DownTown 
If I had Possesssion
 When I get to the Border 
Sitting on Top Of The World
Cold Haily Windy Night 
Standing Round Crying 
Weather With You 
Down Where The   Drunkards Roll 
All Gotta Die Some Day 
Angel from Montgomery 
Bring It On Home
Perfect 
Don't Worry/Wild Rover
Knocking On Heaven's Door

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Pre-Election Rave-Up

       Apologies for the delay in posting this review of last Wednesday's Nuneaton Folk Club evening. Something even bigger was going on the next day and my sleep patterns got a little disturbed. Added to which,I had to collect all of the NFC's considerable collection of Sound equipment the next morning,in readiness for Mac Awe On Tour's appearance at the CAMRA Beer Festival on June 16th. Of which,more later. 
     Anyway. It was another simply stunning night upstairs at The Crown on June 7th. All superbly masterminded and driven from the desk of Sound man Dave Smart.  Despite foul weather all day, and with many familiar faces missing,it was again,standing room only. We were treated to outstanding entertainment from all who took to the stage.
     Nunc kicked us off, with a new segue of CSNY's  "Find The Cost of Freedom " into Neil Young's angry homage to the slaughter of innocents at Kent State University, "Ohio." They followed that with  "Angel from Montgomery" and concluded with "Bring It On Home To Me."  Gratifying to hear the audience singing along with these three so enthusiastically.
     Maria Barham followed, showcasing three typically brilliant songs from her excellent repertoire. Including a particularly fine rendition of "Sirens." Maria is the Guest at Bedworth Folk Club next week-another opportunity to catch up with a gifted performer who gives unstinting support to Coventry and  Warwickshire Folk venues. 
      Andrew Buckley,making the short trip over the County Line from Leicestershire  then made a very capable and assured debut. He entertained us with three songs from his latest album, "Mainly Blue."  Expertly sung and played. 
Andrew Buckley


       From a new friend then, we moved on to two old ones, as Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan, hosts at Bedworth Folk Club did an accomplished spot  ( I had to get a towel to mop it up).   Their openers  included reference to the very recent loss of Vin Garbutt and they finished off with that nagging earworm "Down By The Dockyard Wall."  This is an adaptation of  "Watch and Chain" with different words,originating from Shep Woolley. The audience  belted that one out with real vigour.
Malc and Gill
 
           More debutees,then. Sam Shemmell and Jesse Desai followed. Not quite as planned, for Sam very generously left the stage after two numbers, and invited Jesse to borrow a guitar and give us a third tune, solo.
Jesse Desai 
      Sam's powerful, passionate vocals won the Crown faithful over immediately, and Jesse's confident performance also drew warm applause from them. We'll certainly invite Sam,Jesse and Andrew back.
Sam Shemmell
          Sam's spot was the perfect platform from which to launch the first of two rousing,entertaining sets from the thoroughly exemplary Duncan McFarlane and Anne Brivonese. Duncan's percussive guitar work and strident vocals, counterpointed well with Anne's superb fiddle playing and accompanying vocals. They took us to the interval with a rapid set of songs from their impressive catalogue of traditional and self-penned work. 
Anne and Dunc at work
         After the interval,the raffle and two more songs from Nunc, Anne and Duncan stepped back up again and picked up where they had left off,their energy seemingly unabated. . They treated us to the romping "Bed of Straw" and their own version of " A-Begging I will Go," The poignant "Circle For Danny," and the heartwarming "Turn The Bones Around." Capped off with a storming encore-the hilarious finale-"Drinking Song." All introduced and linked by Duncan's very personable and cheerful banter. 
        Now I've seen this duo before,and I have the good fortune to own several of their albums. Their CD's are wonderfully produced and expertly mixed-but good as they are,they do not fully reproduce the quality of Anne and Duncan "Live." I knew they'd be good, and the NFC audience adored them. If anyone gets a chance to see them locally-I cannot recommend them highly enough. You'll tap your feet,sing along and come home feeling thoroughly positive. 
      


Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Folk of Anker Folk

          It's good to know that people are listening to this programme. Online as well as in hospital! And of course, for those who wish to refresh their memories, most of the shows are all still available via a "Listen Again" facility. Most of the tracks we have featured are generally available elsewhere, although some you might hear for the first time, because they are from my private collection and are quite definitely unique.
           It's always healthy to have a balanced debate about who is featured and who is on, but as John Goodman and I put in all the hours of voluntary, unpaid work researching, recording and broadcasting the show, it is our choice of music that gets air play. Although we do occasionally get requests which we are happy to comply with. 
       "Anker Folk" does not purport to represent any one genre,although it is important to understand that when the idea was first pitched, it came as a result of a conversation and then meetings between individuals from the Hospital  Radio Station and Nuneaton Folk Club.
        When it goes out "Live" it is broadcast internally, via the Hospicoms service, externally on AM, and world-wide,On line.  I know that people have listened to it in all three forms because they have told me so. Most if not all programmes are available via a "Listen Again " facility-so if you can put up with me and John wittering away between tracks, you could put it on, minimise it and then have it playing whilst you work on your novel or thesis on your desktop P.C.
        For some time I have been promising to publish a list of artistes featured so far. We did our First show in September 2016-so we are still in our infancy and not yet a year old . Even so, I'm proud to say we were nominated for a Specialist Radio award towards the end of last year. We didn't win in the end-but it was nice to get some recognition. 
     Though the shows are once a month, we did do two Christmas programmes and two in March 2017, with a Comic Relief Special added in. Just for interest, and to try to demonstrate that we are doing our best to represent all genres, here is a breakdown of who we've played so far. Those asterisked have played at Nuneaton Folk Club.  Any cynics amongst you may note that Nunc, the NFC Resident Band, have not been played at all. 

LOCAL TALENT -Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Coventry etc

Paul Moore*                            Daisybell*                     
Rod Felton                              Kevin Dempsey*          
Bob Brooker*                           Dragonhead*                
Thrup'nny Bits*                      Steve Adams                                 
Des Patalong*                          Allan Richardson                         
Hedgehog Pie                           Paper Circus* 
  Pennyroyal                             Maria Barham*                          
  K.C.Jones*                              Bill Bates*                        
Izzie Derry *                             Nick Drake  
Dave & Julia Taylor                  Brian* & Marie Phillips  
Norman Wheatley                  Malc Gurnham & Gill Gilsenan*
Black Parrot Seaside*               Kristy Gallagher* 
John Kearney*

OTHER ARTISTES

Ed Sheeran       Ralph McTell                  Alison Krauss
Scarecrow             Molly Davies*              John Renbourne  
James Taylor     Loudun Wainwright           Eric Clapton
Lou Monte                Geezinlaws           The Spinners        
Tim Hardin         Eva Cassidy                     Bob  Dylan
David Bristow       Johnny  Butten             Dougie McClean 
 Mike Oldfield       Bert Jansch                Kate Rusby 
Joe Ely                  Lyle Lovett                  Christy Moore        
Joan Baez            Judy Collins                Vashti Bunyan
Nick Dow             Claire Hamilton            Zeid Hamdan
John Tams             John Richards*          Donovan
Cosmotheka           George Formby              Gregg Cave        
Peter Sellers            Pete Seeger                 Jackson C.Frank    
K.D. Lang                 Luke Kelly                    Winter Wilson*           
Sting                      Bonnie Raitt              Spiers & Boden  
Martin Carthy           Eliza Carthy            Cara Dillon                    
Si Barron*            Phil Hare*                   Billy Bragg            
Shirley Collins         Kathryn Tickell           Gerry Rafferty
Peggy Lee               John Prine                    Johnny Cash
Bonzo Dog Band     Paul Robeson                 Nic Jones 
Oscar Brand             Jean Richie                  Gordon Giltrap     
Roy Harper             Eddie Reader                Sunjay Brayne
 Dick Gaughan        Lonnie Donnegan          Joel Sonnier
J.J.Cale                  Krauss & Plant                Kirsty McColl
Charlie Drake           Cat Stevens                   Joni Mitchell     
Jeff Beck                  Kate Wolfe                    John Martin
Simon & Garfunkel  Maddy Prior                Downes and Beer      
Danny Pedler & Rosie Butler Hall*                Peggy Lee  
Richard & Linda Thompson                          Peter Paul & Mary
Gren Morris & Sam Stephens*                    Pro Cantione Antiqua
Bob Kirkpatrick and Ashley Hutchings           
                                                                      
BANDS

Steeleye Span            Mr. Fox                         The Dubliners 
Amazing Blondell       Young Tradition        The Battlefield Band 
Jethro Tull                    Brier                               East of Eden
The Chieftains             Gryphon                          Capercaillie
Show of Hands            CSNY                              Led Zeppelin 
 Sweeney's Men          The Fureys                      Morbid Angel  
 The Watersons           The Imagined Village       The Pogues   
 Folly Bridge                 Incredible String Band     Pentangle   
 The Young 'Uns           Ocean Colour Scene         Prelude  
  Beggars Velvet          The Carter Family          Fairport Convention
                                    Kim Lowings & The Greenwood*  

NOTABLE OMISSIONS

-some of these are pencilled in for future broadcasts.......and some  are not......

Ewan McColl         Alex Campbell Folk Group        Clannad
Bellowhead           Norah Jones                             Sandy Denny
Seth Lakeman       Dando Shaft                              Glyn Finch
 Taj Mahal              Ry Cooder                                 Altan            
Horselips               De Dannan                                Planxty
The Byrds              Leonard Cohen                         Woody Guthrie
Tom Paxton            Melanie                                     Alain Stivell
Jon Harvison          Geoff Higginbottom                  Roving Crows    

    

Friday, 5 May 2017

Thrup'nny Bennett

         It is no coincidence that the last time I blogged was a month ago, after the previous month's show. In the interim between then and now, Nunc have had gigs at Atherstone and Fargos in Coventry, numerous holidays and several illnesses. Unfortunately, mine coincided with the lead up to last Wednesday night and so I was unable to sing with the band or compere, owing to Bronchitis.To say we were up against it  was an understatement. Yet still we triumphed.
     On Tuesday ,the night before, Dave Smart and I set the stage and P.A. up, putting in another late night session at The Crown in the hope that come Wednesday  I would be able to flick a few switches and get us under way. Dave would be a little delayed before the start,but that preparation paid off, as by 7.30pm I'd got all the mikes working, done a sound check and got a Folky iPod compilation playing through the speakers.
       Leading up to that point we'd also had a few logistical problems,with several advertised artistes unavoidably  indisposed and having to juggle in late replacements. . As things turned out,improbably. this made for a magnificently balanced programme with something for everyone on the Agenda.    An additional bonus was spotting Maria Barham,  in the audience and bless her, she was recruited too-after we had started!
       John Kearney  compered the evening, and then with Flossy it would be Nunc  (The Duo) as House Band,with me sidelined due to lack of voice. John did us a nice couple of songs and then he and Flossy did "Ae Fond Kiss" together and " Me Husband's got no courage in him"- a track you'll also find her singing on Pennyroyal's last album. 
          Maria stepped in and having had a wrestle with John Kearney's guitars straps, started with a lovely version of Joan Osborne's "One of Us."  What a talent she is, and how nice it was to see her back up on the NFC stage again! We are all really looking forward to her guest spot in December already. 
Maria Barham 
    Andy Jones had pedalled along the towpath to join us and he added three nicely balanced, unaccompanied numbers to good effect. He also took loads of photographs. And then cycled back home. (Eventually). What a Hero!

         Jan & Campbell Perry then gave us three polished numbers,as they can always be relied upon to do,before Glyn Finch,he of the Twisted Barrel Open Mic nights at Fargos,  warbled his way moodily through "Hard Times,"  and then added a couple more including (I suspect?), one of his own? Glyn returns in August, to share the Top Billing with Brian Phillips,as a double-headed guitar treat to compensate for the disappointment of losing Kristy Gallagher's advertised spot. 
Glyn Finch


         Dr Bennett-that is, Sarah Bennett and Dan Gascoigne-then took the stage to conclude a highly enjoyable first half with an extended set. Great to see talented YOUNG artistes up on our stage when we are told so often that they don't appear in Folk Clubs! They were as good as I have ever heard them They started with "House Carpenter"-a nice version of one of my favourite songs, added a take on Dylan, did some of their own stuff and then finished with their excellent interpretation of "Anjii." We even squeezed in an encore from them.
Dr Bennett

     After the interval, Nunc did my favourite song from our current set, "Angel from Montgomery." Vanity then got the better of me and I tried to sing the choruses along with them. There was nothing there vocally from me after the first verse other than  mournful grunting.  
          Time then for our second Featured Guests, Thrup'nny Bits. Like all of the evening's performers, the TB's are good friends to NFC and did not disappoint, with an eclectic set including their cleverly rude "Bold Sir John" one of their many ornithological titles, "The Magpi,e"  and even a Christmas Song. Being one of (many!) Election Eves, the poignancy of " Bring Out The Banners " was  not lost on the audience who sang the chorus (and others) with the usual spirit and not without some sadness. 
The Thrup'nny Bits

Friday, 7 April 2017

Si Far Si Good

         Thanks again to momentous work behind the scenes during the previous 24 hours,last Wednesday night at Nuneaton Folk Club turned out to be another great night. As often seems to happen, there were various melodramas being played out beforehand. It is no over-dramatisation to say that without the input of our latest Sound Engineer Dave Smart, we would have gone ahead ,but purely acoustically. Most of the acts we have had at The Crown (Nunc included) can and do perform without a P.A. in other venues . But with such a big room to fill, a lively audience and an elevated stage,it is always a reassurance at NFC to have some amplification available.
       Still getting our heads round setting up without Matt or Tom to guide us, Dave, Jules and I got the stage set up successfully on Tuesday night. Very late, as there was a drama group rehearsing in the room until 10.15. But try as we might, we could not breathe life into the mikes and leads even though we had green lights on everywhere. On Wednesday afternoon, Dave bless him, having pondered overnight (and downloaded the Yamaha amp catalogue), went back in and had another go. This time, successfully. I have not known Dave that long, but he is like a Jack Russell with a rat once a Sound System and a spaghetti of cables is put before him. The perfect characteristic for mixing sound at The Crown. He even messaged me,bless him, once he'd got everything working, just to put my mind at rest,to let me know all was functioning. Such determination is the hallmark of a great Sound engineer. Anyone can push the sliders up and down. It takes a certain brand of cussedness to set it all up beforehand, and to break a stage down after a hard day at work!
         A secondary drama meant that both Flossy and John Kearney were poorly, so 24 hours beforehand it became clear that I was (alas!) Nunc-less and compering solo. I needed to squeeze another floor spot in. The Wright Brothers complied, at a (very!) late hour,and after I'd done “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy,” Chris and Max opened up with a couple of numbers. One with a verse dedicated to me in it. 
         Paul Moore followed and (at my request) started with a very classy version of “Sitting On Top Of The World,” then added a song of his own and another blues. Most of these photos which follow are by John Smith,who drops in from time to time. There are plenty more by him on the NFC Facebook page and in the "Gallery" section on the NFC website. 
Paul Moore: sitting on top of the world
      Jak and Jacky (or Jacky and Jak) then made their first appearance at NFC.  A duo formed from members of Frayed Knot (whom we'd seen before). Having followed Paul and The Wright Brothers,  it had been a very organic night of Nuneaton based music up to that point. They gave us a protest song about Chilcott, and a couple more rousing numbers. 
Jacky & Jak (you decide!)
       Des Patalong gave us a delightful song from the Sharp as Razors back catalogue, one lamenting those wicked folk who serve us up “Bad beer.” With Anzac day imminent he followed it with the haunting Eric Bogle song “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” Sensitively sung to a silent and appreciative audience, it was a long song, and a measure of Des as a trouper that he then quit on two, realising he had already filled his 15 minute spot. Much appreciated, as that kept us to time. Des will be back at NFC next month with Thrupp'nny Bits. 
Des in pensive mood and full flow. 

         The Way Out made their debut,next, coming all the way over from Loughborough to join us for the first time. They did three complex songs very competently. Lovely vocals, and some great instrumentation from this talented duo. 
The Way Out

.       Izzie Derry had been fighting off the lurgy last time we saw her at The Crown but she was in great voice and on form,with this return. She sang two of her own including “Walking” and a lovely cover of “Yellow Taxi” which the audience sang along with very enthusiastically.
Izzie Derry. She's still walking.
.
         And then it was time for Si Barron to assail us with two sets:one before the interval and one after. I first saw him at Bedworth Folk Club. As a performer, he was pleasantly understated beforehand and afterwards,talking to audience members. “on stage” he let his talent do the talking. It has taken a while to get him to The Crown,but he did not disappoint last night, making his debut there.  Sweating under Julian's merciless banks of stage lights, in his trademark tweed jacket with his varsity specs, he pounded out a string of cleverly arranged Traditional Folk songs over two quality sets With his boyish quiff and a charming smile, he looked like a young Alan Bennett,and sang like a mix of Nic Jones and John Renbourne. He played a charismatic style of all of these, with a hell of a lot of his own stuff added in.
Si Barron
     One of many things I admire about Si, with a compere's hat on, is that he does not waste time on long,ponderous anecdotes and stories between songs. Rather than filling in with waffle, he chops along through his set list efficiently and enjoyably. This gives an audience more of what they hoped to see and hear. If they'd wanted Stand-up,they would have gone to Comedy Store. Seeking a lecture on the ethnicity of Folk Song, they could go to Cecil Sharp House. None of that from Si . He does not stint on information-he just releases it in useful sound bites and gets on with the main business. He had two encores and would have done more, time permitting. A club organiser's dream.
         When I got back home it was early morning. With Adrenalin levels slowly dropping back from “hysterical” to merely “critical”, to unwind I started watching the BBC Folk Awards on the red button. What a disappointment, after participating in (yet another) vibrant evening of "live" music in one of Warwickshire's (many) excellent Folk venues. No contest,really. Presided over by the verbose,other worldly claptrap of Folk's Uncle Bulgaria,Mark Ratcliffe,bouquets and tributes gushed, in an oily stream across the stage,delivered from a pathetic lectern built by stagehands to look like some MidWest hog pen. The presentations were just words words words and yet more self-congratulatory words, all read from an autocue.
          I turned it off after about half an hour of gabbled gobbledegook and a procession of bands of a thousand fiddles. It's another World, BBC Folk, but it's not my world.It represents something I barely recognise. Good luck to all the Folk Royalty: The Luvvies and the Divas. I see what they are trying to do, glamming up a traditional and organic music source. But it is not for me. After a, dynamic evening, compering the real thing:a pulsating living breathing experience bursting with passion and good intent,it all seemed very wooden.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Nothing to Fret About

       Last night was a first for me and (I suspect),for quite a lot of other people. For the first time ever, I was privileged to be invited to a Film Premiere. I'd hooked up with local Film Producer Lee Price, whilst he was still filming Frettin'-his second full length feature film. No spoilers, but it is shot entirely locally and features an exclusively local cast. One or two of whom I already knew to talk to or nod at and a good few more I recognised on my first preview screening.
      Still keeping it local, John Kearney and I were delighted to be invited by Lee to contribute a little music clip to the soundtrack. Which we did. Part of "Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy," recorded in my living room. No spoilers,but thanks to Catherine Nellany's sumptuous acting,not a dry eye in the house last night as that particular bit of film rolled by.
Lee had also asked me beforehand to rustle him up a Shanty Crew. So,on one hilarious December day the (landlocked) Hawkesbury Trawlermen recorded "Blow The Man Down,"live upstairs at The Lord Hop in Nuneaton. ( Told you I'd make you famous, Barry!).
     The Hawkesbury Trawlermen are exclusively drawn from The Nuneaton and District Elderly Gentlemens' Binge Drinking Society (Folk Club Section). Our monthly meetings are held in The Felix Holt which is now the town's only Wetherspoons. On that afternoon, we had held our annual "works do" previously in another hostelry,and we arrived for the recording at The Hop in (shall we say?) a relaxed state. Suffice to say that at least one Trawlerman fell asleep during part of the recording. 

    Quite how Lee then mixed this up to the very high standard full-blooded soundtrack version broadcast last night, God knows.
       Lee had also persuaded Nunc to provide a half hour of live music before the show. As they are  The Nuneaton Folk Club House Band and The Crown's gaffer had a part in the film,this seemed quite appropriate. Plus, John Kearney lives in Whitestone and Flossy and I being related,had parents, grandparents and other relatives born in the town. Entirely sensible then,with all the local involvement, that the Premiere was held in Nuneaton's Abbey Theatre.
      For me therefore,a little bit of a personal ambition was achieved last night. I'd played the Arts Centre before, long ago, and the Theatre Foyer last November. I'd also seen some of Simon Winterman's excellent productions there. Finally getting on that stage with a big audience in front of us was an ambition fulfilled and a real honour. Make no mistake,The Abbey is an absolute gem of a venue. The sound system is a dream. The lighting is fully professional. The front of House staff are always helpful and pleasant. The bar always has plentiful stocks of Church End Fallen Angel available-surely one of the best Real Ales produced in the area?Inside,The Abbey has a generous stage with a wide apron, and the seats are cleverly tiered. It has been properly designed,and the acoustics are ace.
Nunc at The Abbey Theatre
      Whilst in Black Parrot Seaside, I only ever played a few theatres. Theatre On The Steps in Bridgnorth springs to mind as a memorable gig and I think we once did another one in Lichfield. I've always found them iconic places. Possibly because I read Drama at College,and then taught it for many years. ( Nunc followers may have noticed that, judging me on my stage shirts alone, I always like to make my presence felt when performing. I wore two shirts last night:one under the other. Just to be safe).
      We put quite a bit of planning and rehearsal into this appearance beforehand, concentrating specifically on timing. You cannot muck theatricals about. I am delighted to say that,as planned, we opened on time as the audience began to filter into the auditorium, and we finished bang on time,right on cue, as it were. Leaving a slightly nervous Lee to introduce his Pride and Joy in person, just after we said "Adieu to Sweet Lovely Nancy." As the opening titles rolled I checked my watch. 7.01pm.
      The audience were more than up for it, bless 'em! Perhaps it was the Fallen Angel, but they sang the Choruses gamely,although I bet quite a few hadn't come across that much Folk and Country previously. For the record ( alas,not literally. Not yet anyway).. we did:"Twas On an April Morning", "Weather With You," "When I Get To The Border," "All Gotta Die Someday," "Down Where The Drunkards Roll," "Angel from Montgomery," and " Bring It On Home," before leaving things to Nancy. We had a great time: the Adrenalin was really pumping.
      The film was very clever. (Didn't Frettin'look good on the Big Screen!) I hope Lee won't mind me describing it as a kind of Comedie Noire set in Warwickshire. An unlikely couple are drawn together by tragedy and broken dreams and shadowed by a larger than life irascible rogue, the mysterious Nancy. They endure a sequence of scrapes,some comic,some not so.
      The film has some classic moments which only those born within the Sound of Camp Hill will fully appreciate. There is laughter,there is pain and pathos. There is a lightly optimistic ending which comes as bit of surprise after all the trauma, and leaves it wide open for a sequel. If you like the work of Sean Hughes you'll enjoy this.
      I bet there was a riotous backstage party afterwards, but being proper Rock and Roll,we had already decided to support The Sly Old Dogs in their nomadic quest for a new home. Having carelessly lost The Bell and The Denbigh Arms in Monks Kirby,and the Wood Farm Brewery Tap, their March 2017 session was to be held in the home of The Tump Folk Club at The Humber Hotel in Coventry. A venue,in many guises, we have played many times. I hope, given the SODs recent track record,The Humber is  insured against sudden closure.        
Max Wright takes to the floor
     We proved conclusively that, with a headwind, clear traffic, and entirely within the law, you can travel from Central Nuneaton to downtown Coventry in 15 minutes. So anyone from Cov who has not yet been to Nuneaton (or even Beduff) Folk Clubs just because it's "too far!" or it "takes too long ...well...just...meh!
      We arrived at The Humber just as the first of three halves were ending. Later, replenished with appropriate beverages we sang along with a classic SODs (and Friends) repertoire, endured a slightly above average joke from Tool, and contributed a few songs ourselves. John did "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"( a fine old Traditional Folk Song) and together we did "Di Di The Ice Cream Man," (one of mine) and "Dont Worry/The Wild Rover" (one of his). Paul Kenny led the assembled company in "Whiskey In The Jar" as a fitting finale. The SODs are now off to sample another new kennel, out Brandon way at the end of April. I hope the Club Committee have a back-up plan!    

Friday, 3 March 2017

Nunc at Tump Folk

       Last night(Thursday) Nunc completed a busy week as the featured Guests at The Tump, nowadays based in The Humber Hotel,Coventry. Previously, it was homed in other venues including the original setting in Brinklow ,Warwickshire. (Hence the name). Always a friendly club,wherever it was, with a loyal cohort of regulars and presided over regally by Karen Orgill.  It was an honour and a privilege to play this venue again as the Main Guests. (The first time I did so was with Black Parrot Seaside, many years ago now).
     It had been a busy six days for us, with a set at the (nearby) Twisted Barrel Brewery Tap last Friday, a little cameo from John Kearney and I at the final Sly Old Dogs at Wood Farm on Sunday, and our stint at Nuneaton Folk Club Wednesday night. Frankly, I wouldn't want it any other way. What Nunc are doing is a whole new departure for me,and although we work hard on rehearsals (yes..we do,Karen Orgill!), the end result is an absolute blast for us, and increasingly, audiences seem to like it. This is absolutely no reflection on the various BPS members, but I'm having more fun now than I ever was-and it seems, doing  gigs more regularly too. That's not a criticism-just evolution I guess.  Though we mostly do covers and rearrangements of other people's work nowadays, last night we managed to include one of my songs and one of my sisters. Both well received. 
      The Humber holds lots of memories for me. I grew up in the area and as a kid I played on the park just round the corner. Later, in a brief period working for The Parks Department of Coventry City Council, I mowed all the parks and grass verges in the area-and there were plenty. I spent my last night as a single man drinking in the Humber with workmates. My dad and my Uncle Bill worked across the road in the massive,long since demolished assembly shops and factories of  Stoke Works of The Rootes Group. 
      Nowadays the area is a mix of old artisans houses and newer stock. Many are Student Lets, as Coventry University is just a short walk away. Where steam locos once shunted and assembled goods trains at Gosford Green Depot, the tracks are long gone and a Primary School stands on the site. 
         The Tump in its current home is a lovely club. In recent memory I've seen it absolutely rammed:a big concert room, filled to overflowing:the stage piled high with guitar cases and music stands.  The car park congested and the streets around full of customers' cars. That was for a Rod Felton Memorial Night,when  I had the honour of singing the Great Man's lovely song "Curly",accompanied by BPS and David Parr.
      Last night was a much cosier occasion. I knew all but a few in the room,and even in their previous format,Nunc had already done an extended floor spot here. So it was like a home from home. Very informal with a high standard of banter and heckling. The beer was good, and reasonably priced. The radiators were on,and the bar staff were friendly. The Tump is a little jewel and it deserves more support, more regularly. 
       Besides the two sets we did, music was also provided by Campbell Mckee, Max Wright, Nigel Ward, Rob Oakey and the wonderful Terry and Jan Wisdom aka "Highly Strung."   Max had brought his banjo and did a few songs including "Putting On The Style. " Campbell was extraordinarily upbeat-I think his overseas trips are doing him the world of good. He did Donovan's "Catch the Wind," and Lal Waterson's "Mole in a Hole." 
     Nigel sang a song and played some lively instrumentals on his fiddle. Rob Oakey too was in lively  mood and good voice. He did "Homeward Bound", a Woody Guthrie number and "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde."
      Before performing second half,, Terry and Jan proudly handed me their DVD (which I'd been looking forward to playing since they first told me about it). Alas, as yet I have been unable to play it!  I had hoped to feature their work on "Anker Folk" so as to bring their talents to a wider audience.Terry's sparkling guitar work is always complimented by Jan's immaculately timed rhythm guitar and her immaculate pitch. Terry is approaching 80 this year and he's bloody annoyed about it, but it is always lovely to see these two. Long ago once gave up Folk but thankfully were persuaded back into it again. They are  still cutting the mustard and putting some of us younger performers to shame with their energy and enthusiasm.  At my request they did "One Meatball," and also gave us a few other treats including "Rocking hair."
        Thanks to Max Wright we may well be sticking our first effort up on You Tube soon. Over the two sets we sang 18 songs-and still they wanted more. So we finished with our Irish Reggae version of "Dont Worry/Irish Rover."  Making it nineteen at all. We tried to mix it up a little, with some Trad.Arr. some comedy and Flossy's gorgeous rendition of "Ae Fond Kiss" thrown in to stimulate the tear ducts. ( Campbell has been known to break down playing or listening to certain songs-I thought we had him for a moment, but his eyes were only watering because he had trapped his little finger in a ring pull. 
 

Full Set List

First Half:

Twas on an April Morning 
Black Jack David
Downtown
Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy
After The Goldrush 
The Call 
Albert Balls 
John Ball 
Cold Haily Windy Night 
When I Get To The Border/Soldier Soldier

Second Half;

Down Where The Drunkards Roll
Weather With You 
Ae Fond Kiss
All Gotta Die Some Day 
Angel from Montgomery 
Bring it On Home To me
Perfect 
All The Good Times 
Don't Worry/Irish Rover