Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A Tale of 3 Festivals:(2 and 3)

2. Sunday 7th July Bulkington Food and Real Ale Festival 
          And so on to the following day. Warwickshire again. This time Bulkington Food and Real Ale Festival,set in the imposing grounds of Weston Hall.Originally intended as three days of Peace Love and Gluttony,with the music provided by North Warwickshire's three major Folk Clubs. 
         As things turned out it was actually condensed into Saturday and Sunday.  It had fallen to Nuneaton Folk Club to provide Sunday's afternoon's entertainment and because I knew that weekend was busy for many of our regulars,I'd decided on two sets from Nunc with one from Dragonhead sandwiched in between them.
           To be honest,I had feared the worst when I found out we'd drawn the Sunday. The Festival was due to close at 6pm and with the counter attraction of Bulkington's Annual Carnival and Fair nearby,I thought even that we might be packing up early. How wrong i was! Having checked that road closures for the procession would not deprive us of access,we were setting up by 10am. This had the advantage of trucking the gear in before the stallholders had set up and getting Paul Moore to a midday Christening without any divorce papers being filed. 
         With the acts playing in a vast Wedding-style marquee and a copious beer supply handily racked up inside, there were also all kinds of goodies on sale at stalls outside. A sort of Woodstock with Pulled Pork and Leek and potato pies. There were swing boats and donkey rides,roundabouts,Craft Stalls and a CAMRA stand. It was all rather lovely,and despite it being very warm outside the sumptuous marquee was packed by the time we got under way.Here is a glorious photo of us all packed onto the stage. And for once you can actually see:there are six of us. 
           Providing our own P.A. had proved a bit of a logistical headache. The plan was to use a combination of the gear owned by John Harris and Paul Moore with some extras chucked in by myself and John Kearney. I have to say that it worked. It sounded great,there were few glitches.  Ann Harris drove Dragonhead's mighty mixing desk rather well. Friends and family beefed the audience up and with (thankfully) plenty of quality Real Ale left (including some Church End) still flowing things went very well.  
        I doubt we'll ever have the luxury of playing to an audience who were mostly seated in armchairs for a while. Or the benefit of toilet facilities that were what you would expect of a Great Western Hotel. 
        Nunc played two one hour sets and Paul "Five bands" Moore also guested with John and Anne.  So there were some very tired tootsie pegs at the end of another very long day.  I managed by dietary input better though and managed to keep a good blood sugar balance. I think we all slept well that night. 
3. Sunday 14th July North Earlsdon Neighbourhood Association  Fair
       This was the homeliest of all three. It was staged in Coventry's Spencer Park:a community asset where local residents pay for the upkeep and maintenance of all amenities. Which,(as you might expect being Earlsdon)includes Tennis Courts, a Pavilion, Kiddies Play Equipment and a bowling green

      I was most impressed that Jon Harrington's ex Esther had arranged a flypast of a Lancaster bomber over the park just before we started,but I was disappointed to discover later that this was merely a coincidence. I confess also to a tremble of excitement as Des Patalong was spotted wandering through the park with a drum under his arm. But he had not come to see us. Oh no. He was off down the road to play with the other Artisans at a session in The Windmill .
      Once again it was a DIY set up,with the Nunc guys trucking in all manner of sound equipment before setting up on the steps of the aforesaid Pavilion. The other band booked had not turned up,so once again we did an extended set list,this time playing for nearly two hours without a break before falling down exhausted.  

      Here you can see that once more bassist John Harris is hiding. Behind some imposing trellis work this time. But he is there. You can just can see the outline of his guitar. Just to the right of him,Anne Harris once again,did a sterling job on the mixing desk.
       It was a proper family occasion,with gazebos,deckchairs,and blankets on the ground. We all thought it would rain-but once again-it didn't. We had our usual crowd of young fans gyrating about right in front of us. I commented on this over the mike, pointing out that some of our audiences were probably missing out on early bed times by not playing their toddlers Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson to dance them into soporific oblivion. 
      Flossy and Martin cleaned up on the raffle prizes which made us feel a bit guilty but as we donated our appearance fee to the NENA Fighting Fund,we didn't feel so bad about it really. 

A Tale of 3 Festivals:(1)

       I think my views on Local Festivals which like to promote "local" acts (but actually operate musical apartheid instead,with participation restricted to mates only)are well documented elsewhere.Excluded for many years from two notorious "local" Jollies,I have actually had a whole lot of fun over the last few weekends by playing elsewhere. Performing  at friendlier and more welcoming venues where having a good time seems to be valued above ego. With not a Diva in sight or earshot. Size isn't everything:there is excellent stuff going on all over the county thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of people like Doug Armstrong,Matt Mansfield Dutch Van Spall and many others. Power to the People!                                                       
          Although the two major Summer events I refer to above attract massive audiences, actually this one wasn't that small!   It is always a pleasure for us to travel South in the County. We've always had a good reception at Long Itchington and Stockton Folk Clubs. Last Summer  we greatly enjoyed closing Folk On The Water at Napton and earlier this year we had fun on our return to  The Lord Leycester in Warwick. 
      But The Old Town was looking particularly magnificent for the two days of music, merriment and mirth and particularly on this Saturday as we arrived,feeling privileged and honoured to get an invitation at all. (Bless you Marion Fleetwood!)  It took some time to get onto the Recreation field (because of the queues/crowds) and even longer to get off again (even more crowds). 
     Though the weather was warm,it was humid, and it began to rain as Coventry Singer Songwriters set up. This change in the weather worked for all performers as more people crowded into the marquee to shelter from the drizzle. Dave Taylor was performing his epic " White Boots" as I arrived,as he and Julia were on before John Neal. 
       John had persuaded George Van Wristell to join him,so this gave me a chance to finally see this fine musician performing. George is a loyal supporter of Nuneaton Folk Club but I cannot for the life of me persuaded him to get up on stage there. Which is a pity. He is a fine musician, particularly on the mandolin where he is much in demand as a Sessions man. John performed some of his own songs,dragged our own Paul Moore in  and got the crowd singing before we took the stage.
John Neal
      Tyburn, unfortunately,were indisposed,which meant a minor reshuffle for the organiser and a slight readjustment to our set list. We were actually up there playing for about an hour in our six-piece format. Technically  it was Drunk Monkey who took to the Acoustic Stage  at 1pm as  all six of us were involved. I'd had a slightly fraught journey there via public transport,but fortified by some Purity American IPA from the pop-up pub nearby,it all seemed to go swimmingly well.  
      None of the photos taken that day show Dragonhead's bass player John Harris in his full glory, but he was there,giving new meaning to the phrase "back line." Indeed if you scrutinise this view  closely you can see his foot just to the right of Flossy's left boot. The rain intensified,the crowd drew nearer,and all hail to the group of small children who danced energetically in front of the stage throughout our set. We managed to get the audience singing well before "Knocking On Heavens Door" and our Finale involving some Irish Reggae enthusiastically sung. Special thanks to Doug Armstrong for compering the afternoon and to John  Bird for mixing our sound so sympathetically.  
        Whilst the rest of the band went off to forage,I stayed on to watch Flesh and the mirror,who were really rather good. They did a selection of their own songs and some covers,and played them all with a youthful intensity which was really endearing. With a charismatic female singer and supplemented by strong musicianship,it could have been us,ninety years ago.   
Flesh and the mirror
           As they ended their set I realised that I'd been standing up for over three hours and my feet were going numb. I had totally lost contact with the others and I was beginning to regret having not eaten earlier. Being a T2D I was beginning to feel a bit wobbly. So I went off to search for a food boost. Big mistake, All the stalls were by now four deep and I needed input fast. I queued to get off the Rec and over the Tramway Bridge,by which time Greggs was my salvation. (Other food outlets are available-but they had no queues so a couple of ham salad rolls rallied the Blood Sugar Levels. 
        I was so disoriented by this time that I rang home and said  I might stay on to catch Merry Hell in the bandstand at 6pm. (Good job I didn't-they were on Sunday night!) It had now been four hours since I'd managed a sit down at all due to Stratford being utterly RAMMED so the X18 was an attractive prospect. I took the bus home and three hours later I had travelled the few miles back to North Warwickshire courtesy of public transport. Rock and Roll.  

Friday, 5 July 2019


      For a little downtown Folk Club like ours,it was quite a brave thing  to do to attempt to cross boundaries and have a go at staging something above and beyond the usual candles in bottles and fingers in the  ear scenario. We've always danced close to the edge at NFC,and have usually pulled it off. Wednesday was no exception. Joe O'Donnell's Shkayla are a big name:a Festival and circuit band with some internationally rated musicians.That they would come along at all was a coup for us. That they impressed a large audience with their two excellent sets was a marvelous bonus and was personally very satisfying.
      NFC audiences are endearingly broadminded. They will embrace Blues,Country,Roots, Gospel,Americana, Rock, Singer-Songwriter,Comedy,in fact anything that entertains. Most of them accept that nowadays "Folk" is only a label,part of what is now a very broad church. Those that don't,(thankfully) stay away and take their musical prejudices elsewhere. 
       Anker Folk Radio audiences have the same tolerance threshold. We give them the same eclectic diet and they don't seem to mind. Must be something in the air in Nuneaton,for The Ragged Bear Festival each Autumn attracts visitors in from all over the country,who enjoy  a very wide range of musical experiences.  
     Before I rave about the sheer exuberance of our Main Guests and  praise an epic performance from them,I'd like to pay tribute to the floor singers. Who don't actually sing from the floor-they have to climb up on a ruddy great stage and do their thing in front of a sea of expectant faces. Under banks of lights and occasionally behind swirls of smoke added by our eager back room Boys Harvey and Tom. Earlier in the week I'd had to delete a new "friend" from the NFC Facebook Page,after he had a strop because he could not instantly be added to the running order on Wednesday. I tried explaining the rules (not just ours-many Folk Clubs operate them including some of the ones he was quoting at me as "friendlier,") but he did not want to know.
       Had he bothered to check the place out first he might have seen what he would have been up against. The quality of our floor spot singers is legendary. This is because we vet them first-checking them out locally or listening to their material-before letting them loose on that gigantic stage. This is actually doing them a favour but our "friend" could not get his head round this. Yes,such a process kills spontaneity. On the plus side,it spares us sitting through anything too excruciating. 
       We were deprived once again of our lovely lady singer Flossy,so it was just four guys named Nunc who kicked us off.Only those who host Folk Clubs know how tough this opening spot is. People are still coming in.The bar is busy. No-one has come to see us. Our job is to simply to capture their interest,hold it and then hand it on to someone else, warming the audience up for the main act. We did "Vigilante Man," "Sitting On Top Of The World" and finished with a new arrangement of "Bad Moon Rising." Not Folk Music,all American,but that's how we roll. 
        And that baton was handed over to the extraordinary talent of Coventry's Adam Wilson. A great guitar player,and a vocalist with an astonishing range. He's an unassuming chap and is refreshingly ready to tackle any aspect of contemporary music. So  his own unique arrangement of "She Moves through the Fair" and one of his own compositions were part of his set. 
Adam Wilson
      Pete Grassby has been along as an audience member before, but this time,knowing what a good all round entertainer he is, we got him up on the stage as well. Two very clever songs of his own and an instrumental  number on the melodeon. Very high standard,all three. Pete runs what used to be Rowington Folk Club. It's had a number of homes and is no longer in the village itself,currently being based in Bar Catalan, Warwick. 
Mr. Melodeon
          Lesley Wilson,local girl then followed,making a return to the NFC stage.Two Wilsons on one programme! (And two more to come in 2020)  Lesley has Salsa lessons on Wednesdays so can't always make the first half. (I've told her-she needs to combine the two!). We're glad she made it as she did three quality numbers including one of her own. 
Lesley Wilson
          So the audience had been spoiled by a varied diet of all kinds of quality music. We had whipped them into a frenzy (well we'd kept them awake) and  Shkayla maintained the momentum with an opening set which combined some identifiable Celtic patterns with some 21st century musicianship. At times it was difficult to know where to look. I found my eyes darting from player to player as they traded solos,swapping them back and forth seamlessly. 
                 That first half left the audience gasping. After the interval John Kearney and I did a song apiece whilst the raffle tickets were folded.Then we had the draw and handed the stage back to out guests. A word I use often in my Reviews and Blogs is "eclectic." I like eclectic and I truly believe that "Folk" is a bit of a misnomer, stereotyping  as it does, in some closed minds, Roots and Traditional music. 
           Shkayla's music touched a lot of people by blurring the lines between genres, extending horizons and exploring panoramas.I overheard a few comments about electric folk which took me back. The band members would point out (correctly) that they are not Folk. They are Celtic Rock. They are certainly very innovative. I'm old enough to remember having seen Family, Eclection Alain Stivell and Fairport Convention in their embryonic stage. Experimental. Creative. Imaginative. Mind-expanding.
           It was a truly memorable evening. It worked. It was a triumph.The standard of musicianship was outstanding. The quality of the arrangements was remarkable. The rapport and chemistry as they fluidly exchanged musical passages was sublime. These thoughts reflect not only what I felt,but reflect also the general consensus of some very heavy traffic on our NFC Facebook Page afterwards.. I heard echoes of Yes, Jon Hiseman's Colisseum,Gary Moore  and of Caravan. Others heard Horslips or Thin Lizzy's Black Rose Suite. What we all heard was Joe O'Donnell's  Shkayla. One word: WOW!


     Sunday night,the last one in June and suddenly it's time for a midsummer lark out Willey way. ( Oo-er matron!) The Sly Old Dogs are in monthly session again,with their coterie of accompanying musicians. Having missed a few of these entertaining end of month sessions recently  because of other music commitments,it was good to join a group of like-minded people and let off a bit of steam again.
     The Dogs went through their usual repertoire of traditional songs with as much gusto as always. The solo turns were varied, interesting and entertaining. I lost a bet because Bob Brooker didn't sing his new(-ish) song "Tanner for a Herring" Or the "Wild Geese." A shame.He did Stockton Town instead. Which is not bad,either.  
      Craig Sunderland put us all to shame with a magnificent version of "Galway Shawl." I could have spat. It's taken me two years to perfect learning the words to that song. Now I can never perform it there again.He also did a cracking cover of one of my favourite Nic Jones's songs."Little Pot Stove." It carries a clue in the lyrics revealing why Nic named his best selling album accordingly. Beautiful melody,beautiful song,haunting chorus,beautifully sung.  
         Poachers Pocket,always a canny pair,have made a constructive move by importing Carol Gillespie into their line-up and becoming a trio. This has also had the benefit of making them considerably better looking. It also extends their sound and their repertoire. Added to some pretty funky  instruments which have an air of Ikea about them,there was an intriguing look and feel about the new incarnation of the band. The day before, they had been over the fence in my neighbour's back garden, apparently.( I missed them then because we were out. But I would have waved)..
        Colin  managed to take a high profile as a SOD and was also Jackie Elmer's accompanist. This meant he was rarely off our screens. Together they did a couple of songs,with the favourite "Last Thing On My Mind" being particularly well received.   
               John Kearney and I had Sue Sanders sitting between us. We weren't sulking but decided instead to do separate numbers. John did his inimitable segue of "Three Little Birds" and "Wild Rover." Later he added a powerful composition of his own.
            Sue Sanders did one fiddle instrumental and a vocal, Max Wright stuck to guitar rather than banjo (no comments please!) and I chose to do " Bedduth Bank" in the first half and " Vigilante Man" second.  

            Brian Jordan put his distinctive plant  on a couple of traditional songs including a beautifully sung and played "Sligo Reel." I think NFC crowds would enjoy his unique style. Brian's been along to The Queens Hall to have a look but we've not persuaded him to get up on the stage and perform yet!!

             Allan Birkett also has a recognisably different style. Among his two numbers was a version of "Matchstalk Men," by Bryan and Michael. It was uncannily close to the original. Most of the audience had heard my parody of this,"Albert Balls" and Craig (who was sitting next to me) seemed puzzled by their reaction. A few even sang my version of the chorus rather than the original. Alan ploughed doggedly on and finished a creditable version. He also does "Spinning Wheel"-so I'd better not do my parody of it "Sid's Bags" if Allan is there. 
         All in all another good night,good beer and good music. Incidentally, the eagle eyed among you might have noticed that few if any of these photos were actually taken last Sunday. They are from Volume 37a of the John Smith portfolio. It wasn't dark at any point on Sunday night  in fact,with the sun taking its time setting over Cloudseley Bush crossroads,some of the photo opportunites were lost due to the halo effect. 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Trawlers in Albany Road

Finally our modified new Shanty Crew took to the oceans on Sunday 9th June. It sailed less than serenely into Coventry and docked in The Albany Theatre Studio. The Hawkesbury Trawlermen stepped from the pages of our imagination and into reality on what was advertised by the organisers CVFolk as an afternoon of unaccompanied singing. We joined with John Morris and Thrup'nny Bits in presenting just that. It wasn't too bad.
I’ll admit that at times along the voyage it seemed as if I’d taken on  too much. Music was a hobby to be enjoyed and developed  at leisure during retirement. The hobby  grew from singing occasionally in a band, rolling on gathering moss and momentum and extra commitments.  One band became another-involving forward planning and extra paperwork. Rehearsals also needed adding to the calendar. 
         As I changed bands I started running a Folk Club too. Time consuming with background admin which only other organisers would understand.Then  I became involved in Hospital Radio and ended up co-presenting two music shows a month. After training,I became a fully accredited NHS volunteer. The show is received far beyond the Hospicoms network, with  a following on AM and Online. I  have met a lot of fabulous and  dedicated people who volunteer to give up their own time to make the lives of others better.
        About the same time I began reviewing albums for a music magazine. No payment received,but I’ve always been quite good at writing and have always enjoyed it .So it was never a chore. The broadcasting and reviewing deepened my knowledge of all aspects of the music industry. I had to do a lot of research just to keep up. 
          Could I fit in one more? Yeah! Of course! Over the years I had hugely enjoyed the regular and informal meetings of kindred spirits in a local Wetherspoons. Folk Club organisers, Musicians and, singers, we’d all lunch together and  network or just gossip for hours about those who were daft enough not to join us. Some very productive ideas and projects came from these sessions.  Some very daft ones too.
       One such idea began as a joke then evolved into something real. An Inland Shanty Crew. Most of us had sung Sea Songs previously and had led on them. Landlocked and many miles in every direction from the sea,we drafted out a name,(Dave Webb's suggestion), a logo (Phil and Malc)  and a set list. All this was in our vivid imaginations until we began rehearsing. Before or after the Wetherspoons sessions,(And in a different pub: Tim Martin does not allow singing in his).  It was fun. We sounded quite good.
        We made a few mistakes.Drafting in newcomers began to skew the dynamics of the Group and changed the chemistry. Rehearsals suddenly seemed hard work. A few floor spots at local Folk Clubs already arranged were postponed. Yet most of those who knew of the evolution of The Hawkesburys  wanted to hear them,having prior knowledge of most of the voices. In their minds they could envisage it working. There were times when it felt that  everyone wanted to be the skipper leaving the Crew a bit thin on the ground. Still we persevered,and after some readjustments and a few (un) dry runs in The Lord Hop we made our debut at a CV Folk Concert in The Albany Theatre. 
     The assembled crew that day were Malc Gurnham.Dave Webb.Phil Benson,Bob Brooker.John Meechan and myself. No-one booed or jumped ship as we did two 45 minute sets.The audience seemed fairly benevolent in their reaction. .In between,John Morris and his magnificent voice kept the audience entertained and the Thrup'nnies just did what they always do best. Colin Squire kept everyone in order as the compere and all in all,it wasn't a bad debut. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in fact. 


Friday, 7 June 2019

NFC Night 5th June 2019

      I seem to start all of the posts about NFC monthly sessions by making excuses and saying that the dice were loaded against us,the odds were stacked,etc etc etc. And then going on to enthuse about what a good night we had. (Well those that attended,anyway. Can't speak for the stay-aways). But once again,that's exactly how it was. 
       Illness reared up and clouted several of us  over the head beforehand,added to which there were some genuine logistical changes we had to make. All in all we started late and ran over a little bit, but I feel I speak for most when I say we had once heck of a time. 
     Mags had been sidelined with a back injury and was unable to help me set up the room beforehand and run the raffle during the interval and afterwards. No Flossy,the shining star of Nunc who makes all the blokes in the room go all soppy whenever she sings. NO JBS to provide us with the usual array of excellent photographs. But although we missed you all terribly (and your absence was noted),we made a damn good fist of things anyway. Come back soon-and Ian Bourne, too who would have been there if he could. Ian, we send good wishes for a swift recovery. 
        Volunteers rallied round and joined forces to fill in the gaps. Gill Gilsenan,Barbara Wyatt and Anne Beeson helped with the raffle. Andy Jones and Ray Buckler (as you can see,here and elsewhere) provided a fine photographic record. Having all three North Warwickshire Folk Clubs there and playing added a real family flavour to the evening. As did the innovative nature of some of the acts. And,it being John Kearney's 57th birthday,some revellers had responded positively to a call to bring in cans of baked beans as surprise gifts for the Human Jukebox. We made a gift of them to Nuneaton Foodbank afterwards. 
          So we started by singing "Happy Birthday" to JK and to Harvey James one of our young Sound technicians,whose birthday it was on the day before. Then a Flossy-free Nunc opened with three numbers, including a rousing version of "Copperhead Road."  I was there only thanks to antibiotics and a key to the private loo' given that a UTI had poleaxed me for 24 hours. The photos suggest that were standing poles apart but actually I was so zonked out I hadn't given any thought to where I was standing.
          Atherstone Folk Club's Resident House Band Finger in The Jar followed. They chose a trio of songs reflecting the D Day 75th Anniversary the following day,including the autobiographical tale of a serviceman of the time, and culminating in a version of "Oo'er The Hills and Far Away." This came complete with an additional verse cleverly fitted in to reflect the situation. It got everyone singing as besides its poignancy,it's a great chorus song.
       Next up we had a totally new and unique experience for NFC audience members, indeed (unless someone knows different), for any English Folk Club audience. Cor Cymraeg were a quintet who sang each song only in Welsh. Andy Jones, well known to NFC audiences,introduced the songs. Sospan Fach of course being a song beloved of Welsh Rugby fans was familiar to many of the audience. Having said that,in the days when Bedworth,Coventry and Nuneaton were dotted with collieries there would have been hundreds of welsh speaking miners living locally. Diolch yn Fawr,Cor Cymraeg.
        Anyone walking in at this point might have been excused for wondering if they had been transported from Nuneaton to Llangollen and had blundered by mistake into the 2019 Eisteddfford. Another nice touch was to invite their Hungarian choir member forward to give us a solo traditional folk song from her home country. Hungarian songs,in an English Folk Club, performed by a Welsh choir. Wow!
           Malc and Gill followed. NFC regulars,they are Bedworth Folk Club's Residents and they too added a D Day slant to the occasion,including a version of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone." Our audience sang along with it very movingly. BFC have now moved permanently to what was previously their temporary accommodation at Trent Valley Working Mens Club. Like our venue,it has a raised stage a bar in the room and as an added bonus the car parking is free and extensive. Next Wednesday's Guests are Will Finn and Rosie Calvert. It's a friendly club,a ten minute step up the road from where we are based,and free admission with a raffle,like ours. Give it your support.
            We had been trying for ages to fit in Tyburn to do us a turn.Hedley Stone,Dave Cook and Jan Richardson. I'd seen them at a few local clubs previously. Jan is no stranger to NFC but to get the trio playing at NFC was a challenge. Dave bless him, is not at all well and could not make the steep steps onto our stage. So the lads miked him up from the floor,and fed his guitar through the P.A. You can see though the photo below that,although not ideal, this worked o.k. We were able to see and hear Dave's fine guitar playing. As someone wrote elsewhere, "Tyburn did, hands down, the best version of "Killing The Blues" I've ever heard, Jan's voice gets better and better, and the interplay between the guitars and fiddle was spellbinding."  Their arrangements certainly showed great thought.
           So having supped already at the table of excellence,what better way to follow Tyburn than our first Guests of a double bill, the unaccompanied vocal harmony trio Thrup'nny Bits.The Bits treated us to a selection of material from their extensive repertoire of published recordings.This Including their latest,featuring songs about the Peterloo Massacre.Initially they tried to carry off Des's remarkable track record of impersonating Billy Gibbons with his trademark shades. 
           Amidst their catalogue of traditional (and venerable) material they also added the cleverly rude "Bold Sir John," and finished with "Breaking Wind Suddenly," A song which includes the classic line "I blamed the dog...but they knew it was me." 
             Time for the interval and the all important Raffle then,as Gill and Barbara weaved among the throng tempting gamblers by inviting them to win a most impressive array of priizes, generously brought along by performers and audience members. As Gill and Ann Beeson were still feverishly folding tickets,Nunc got the second half under way with audience friendly versions of "Knocking On Heavens Door" and "Irish Rover." Both featuring audience-only verses. 
             The draw produced some interesting results. Tyburn had a clean sweep,picking up several prizes.The bottle of Port did not last long:the Malteesers and Dairy Box went early,as did the Prosecco and other bottles of Fizz. Soon all that was left was the classic Nunc style Shirt Of Many Colours donated by John Kearney who has a wardrobe full of them (Me too!) A gasp rippled round the hall as the last winning ticket was revealed as belonging to....(drum roll) John Kearney. 
             Well the audience by now were shattered. Exhausted but pumped up. What better moment to bring on the excellent Rob Halligan to close the evening? Dressed to look the part and with an impressively compact box of tricks at his feet within dabbing distance,he sounded it,too. It's a long time since I've seen a guitar made to work that hard, He must have fingers of steel.
              Rob supports many local good causes and charities. He does an awful lot to support local music. He is an honest and decent man who writes powerful songs of great strength. With a few covers sprinkled in, his set was an energetic,pulsating wall of sound. He engages the audience and works them like another instrument. Those few who had not seen him before were most impressed. No wonder,as he rose to several encores,he had lost that jacket and was down to his shirtsleeves. A cracking way to finish another excellent nightup int The Queen's Hall. 
            So despite the challenges, we surmounted all the logistical problems and continued our record of putting on innovative and eclectic music which crosses many boundaries and covers many genres. Can we raise the bar any further? Well yes we can. July sees us premiering Celtic Folk Rock,with the debut at NFC of Joe O'Donnell's Shykayla. This is a prestigious coup for us. It is something we have never tried before,and we'll need all and every one of our 340 Facebook Friends to come along and support such an adventurous project that night. See you there? 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

May 2019 Review

   To my shame,this is the first account of anything musical since reflecting on Iota's brilliant May Day performance at Nuneaton Folk Club. In fairness,I was abroad for 10 days in May and struggling with health issues in between gigs for the rest of it. I have no photos for most of these gigs as either people didn't take them or none were posted up on Social Media. 

Out at The White Horse
      On Saturday 4th, Nunc were the Guest Act  at the White Horse Mini Folk Festival in Seagrave, Leicestershire. A new venue for us, this was at the kind invitation of Dave and Julia Taylor. It's a nice old pub,in a pretty spot,and the weather was unseasonably warm-or so it seemed. Actually we thought we were to close the evening,but as things turned out, we did our Guest spot-and then the singing in the Round continued up to closing time. 
     We were very well received and made very welcome.  It was a very game effort from the audience gathered upstairs in the loft opposite the main pub.They sang along with all our choruses. The other floor singers covered a most eclectic mix,covering everything from steel guitar blues to poetry.   We managed to raise a lot of money for Rainbows, a very good cause,being a Children's charity dealing with early bereavement. A subject close to my heart.

Earlsdon Festival
     Two days later we were out in the open air,making a return visit to Earlsdon Festival. The streets were rammed and we had a good turn out to see the full six piece giving it some welly. Quite a few people turned up to support us,which was nice. Including The Reutts,with Linda aka Linda Dickson whom many of you will recall fondly from the local Folk Scene before the onset of her illness. The oddest moment to be honest,was being asked by security to remove my hat upon re-entering The City Arms. Never been asked to do that in a Wetherspoon's before. Sort it out,Tim! Top marks to Colin Halliwell, Caroline White and Alchemista for a first class job on the sound mixing.  

Atherstone Tour Package  
On Wednesday the 29th,May we joined in with Bedworth and Atherstone Folk Clubs as part of a Pizza and Folk Night organised by Phil Benson. Other acts on the bill were Finger in The Jar,Pete McPartland, Malc and Gill,David Parr,John & Elaine Meechan and Brian Phillips.  We were asked to close the evening,and as we were among friends who knew all the songs,the choruses were returned robustly! Both Flossy and I were struggling with throat problems so there was much hacking and hawking off mike in between verses!

MotoFest Coventry 2019
    On Saturday 1st June we were hugely excited to play Broadgate,in the packed centre of Coventry. Surrounded by muscle cars,under the Elephant,opposite the balconies of Las Iguanas,Cosy Club and all the other restaurants in what used to be Cathedral Lanes, other than an earlier Godiva Festival,this was for me the largest crowd I'd  yet played to  in my home town, We had a great response and got those Balconies singing to "Knocking On Heaven's Door."