Twelve months on from our sudden,enforced eviction from The Crown, this week it was time to celebrate.That sudden,overnight closure last February did us an enormous favour.The least said about the circumstances and the disadvantages of our previous venue the better. The Crew is our home now, specifically the mighty Queens Hall upstairs there.In Guvn'or Richard Burlingham we could not have a better host. Richard and his staff have pulled out all the stops each month to make us feel welcome. Richard added to the festive mood on Wednesday by laying on free food and having a barrel of Church End's "What The Foxes Hat" available upstairs. This is by no means the first Church End Ale which Richard has laid on for us Folkies. It's always great to see locally brewed provenance in The Town-if this continues-The Crew are going to get in 2020 CAMRA Guide!
Nor could we have wished for better Guests to get the party going than The Gerry Colvin Band. Gerry is articulate,expressive and eloquent. The consumate Front Man,he whipped up the audience early doors,egging them on to participate, wooing the residents, flattering the town, cajoling the whole company into song and generally appearing to have a good time. There is a lot of gesture,body language and ,eye contact in Gerry's energetic performance.(If he wasn't really enjoying himself on Wednesday he's a very good actor).This shot makes him look slightly mad but I have a feeling he be o.k. with that.Ably supported by his very talented band,its true to say he left everyone buzzing after the briefer first set they did. Below is a shocking photo.A little blurred because the room was going mental at the time. It's only a small cross section of the audience-but they are CLEARLY enjoying themselves and letting rip in a Folk Club? Disgraceful!
Our Good friends Tilting Kettle (specialist bakers based in Bulkington) donated one of their fantastic themed creations as an Anniversary cake. Which I'm glad to say was completely devoured by the end of the evening (Not in one go-we cut it into manageable slices). Delicious as always,Sammie-thanks very much). Most of the pictures on today's blog are by John B.Smith. The two below are mine. The cake design is based on the first Crew Poster Richard ever had printed for us. See how it echoes the plucking hands (that's what I said!),and the brown jacket? Everything was edible except the guitar strings. How clever is that?
There were times,leading up to the event when it seemed fortune was (once more), conspiring against us . Counter attractions nearby the night before (Merry Hell at The Wurzel Bush in Rugby) and at The Tump,Coventry on Thursday (John Richards and Mike Silver) could have affected our attendance. But they didn't.
The Nuneaton News failed to publish our press release beforehand. That was an uncharacteristic disappointment as Claire Harrison is one of our best (sometimes our only) friend in promoting NFC in local media. The local Telegraph of course,wont touch any Folk or Roots coverage with a bargepole unless its syndicated. They've been operating that boycott for years now. God knows why. BBC no longer react to our press releases or requests for a bit of promo,leaving only Anker Radio (with two "Anker Folk" shows a month) to fly the flag. I predict that as Coventry as the City of Culture draws nearer there will be a sudden and cynical revival interest in local Folk music.
. Mysterious gremlins were also affecting one or two of the Online sites too, so that our usual blanket advertising was restricted. (Odd that). So once again, thanks to local sites like Nuneaton What's On, Cov21 and Folk Monthly (always reliable) for getting our posters out on time. And for all the Facebook shares.
The whole family had been poorly during February and up until Tuesday night I had doubts about whether I'd have the voice to compere and singalonga Nunc. I did,but the final disappointment was that my Right Hand woman,the lovely Maggie was too ill to attend. She puts so much effort into helping out at NFC before during and after, that it really is a harder job without her. It's the first NFC she's missed in years. Thankfully she's on the mend now. Love ya,Mags! My thanks to Gill and Flossy who did a great job of filling in on the raffle-both selling tickets and assisting with the draw.
Nunc kicked off a little late. No Sound check (we rarely do get one on home turf,-we just run out of time!) ,and with Flossy, Jon and Mr.Kearney coming virtually straight from work delayed a little,we were a few minutes adrift already by the time we'd got ourselves(and others) organised.As often happens, it was not the full compliment but a permutation job consisting of so myself,Flossy,JK and Jon Harps did the business. We whistled through Cold Haily, All Gotta Die and a Neil Young Segue before introducing the first floor singer.Next up and all the way from Hereford, was John Mosedale, making his Queens Hall debut,.John had already made a big impact in other local clubs and came highly recommended. A pleasant, likeable chap he is carving himself a bit of a reputation in this part of the world. (A good one). His songs were amusing and well sung.I particularly liked his song about a dog with three balls-which was not all that you might expect from that title. (Definitely not Old Shep however). John has a good strong voice and plays guitar well. He was not in the least intimidated by the venue in fact (like many of our guests) he positively thrived on it. I'm sure we'll see him back soon.
Tom Young (and he is!) had already guested at the Queen's Hall since our move there,and I'd been trying to get him back there for ages. He was straining at the leash to get back up on that stage. His quiet and mildly studious demeanour offstage belies the fact that he is a Blues Monster when he's under lights. He sits down calmly,gives a brief introduction and then starts picking. The jaws drop. Tom is one of our many guitar burners who makes complicated playing look easy,Tom chooses his repertoire very carefully. None of these modern Blues Men like Muddy, Sonny Boy or The Wolf. He goes way-y-y-y down South and mines an obscure but delightful vein of Blues gold. You can always learn something new when Tom plays. He's not recorded anything yet,and I chided him for it.
Proving (like Tom), that you don't have to be over 50 to get on in a Folk Club nowadays,the constantly improving Adam Wilson was next. I've made no secret of the fact that if I had enough money and time to fund a record label,I would have already signed Paper Circus and then added Adam to my portfolio. He has a really good voice,he's not afraid to seek out and follow up advice and he's a good guitarist. He also writes his own material. He must be close to an album now, with his magnificent cover versions and original songs all committed to MP3.
He started with "Blues Run The Game," an audience favourite and then heeding my advice tackled "Billy Davey's Daughter." Made famous by the Stereophonics,Adam's vocal range means that he can cover Neil Young or Kelly Jones with authenticity. Lucky guy. He finished with "Ring of Fire" and that was a good call as with the Church End flowing (other beers were available), this was an audience who wanted to sing. He's going to have a go at John Martyn's early work next and Foy Vance. Can't wait.
From youth to the opposite end of the spectrum,the majestic Gandalf of Folk, Des Patalong. Introduced as Billy Gibbon's elder brother,Des exuded loads of presence as he stood up there and hammered out three good songs. Two were covers and one was his own-although Des likes to crack on that he doesn't write songs. His choice of material was excellent. Humour,pathos and social comment. All bases covered inside 15 minutes. "Deep Blue Sea" in particular got the audience bellowing out the choruses. iI's on one of his CD's you know-very good value and with some excellent local talent assisting him as sessions singers. Very reasonably priced. I'm sure he'd sell you a copy if you asked him.
So then The Gerry Colvin Band bounced onto stage to do their "taster" set and no-one was disappointed. Those who'd seen them previously were given an opportunity to enjoy their brand of magic,whilst Newbies were able to reflect on what good value we give them. As the interval dawned no-one went hungry,with plenty of Vegetable stew (and bread to mop it up with) and the cake cut into manageable portions. Truly amazing then that three of those assembled refused to donate to the half time collection-even though it didn't stop them helping themselves to free handouts.
The interval overran a little. All my fault. I got the Nunc running order messed up and the raffle just took ages. We were late getting GCB back up, but they then tore down the hall with a marvellous second set.Michael Keelan (fiddle) and Trish Power (accordion) provided a powerful engine room with Lyndon Webb just a little bit immense playing some excellent lead guitar. Their musical dexterity and Gerry's infectious bonhommie got us all in a good mood. 11pm came and went and yet on we ploughed. In a Grand Finale,we got to see the Geoff Colvin band as we all belted out "Parting Glass."
A lot of very nice things were said over the P.A. on Wednesday and I thank everyone for that. We ended up with about 70 people in the room which was a great turnout given the foul weather, the illness still sweeping the area,the lack of publicity and counter attractions elsewhere. As well as all those wonderful performers and the GCB themselves,I must pay tribute to Sammie,Flossy,Gill,Tom and Harvey on the desk (love you,guys!), our barman Aaron and the lovely ladies of The Crew kitchen for all the help and hard work they put in. Richard Burlingham-thank God you gave NFC a new home.And then there's our photographers. How blessed we are in this part of the world to have so much talent. John Wright, Ray Buckler and John B.Smith. There are many more photos of Wednesday from Ray and John B. in particular on the NFC Facebook page. If you're a member-mosey over and have a look.
You can access more Gerry here :www.gerrycolvin.com if you've not seen him yet-for goodness sake go and seek the band out. Magnificent.