An interesting evening last night out at Ridge Lane, where a myriad of performers almost outnumbered the guests for a while at The May session of Atherstone Folk Club. .Norman Wheatley headlined and he did two entertaining sets comprising the usual mix of repartee, wordplay, clever one-liners, comedy songs and classics. This included the erudite "Gruntled" the Tom Lehrer charmer about Poisoning Pigeons and an imaginative rearrangement of "She Loves You." I have struggled with that Beatles song ever since having heard the Peter Sellers version, which is truly disturbing. He also did a quirky cover of an Incredible String Band number about Hedgehogs. Tragically, Steve Beeson (who told me once he loves the ISM) actually missed this one. Norman had his backing band Dave Fry with him, making some of the chorus singing truly memorable. Deafening, even.
Guitarist Steve Beeson also comperes AFC, and he was, well, just wickedly naughty last night. Deliberately mispronouncing our name as often as time permitted. What a cheeky boy he is! This running gag was because, (famously), Steve struggled with announcing us at Atherstone's opening night-and we've never let him live it down since. Indeed, it's all on a recording which I could be persuaded to put on YouTube unless he sends me a substantial postal order. I don't see what the problem is. Steve himself is a member of er..The Jar of Fingers..um...no I'm sorry, I meant Finger Up The Ear..or is it it Fingers of The Jar? Anyway, Ginger in The Jar (I think) opened both halves. They've obviously been rehearsing, as they sounded quite good last night and Phil kept his eyes closed throughout. Judging by comments Steve made last night he obviously thinks I have a down on Atherstone, just because that lovely, friendly old town features (not too benignly) in a song we do. (I'll be setting the record straight on that in a later Blog Steve. Just for you).
Dave Fry then stepped up to the mike. He gave us the City of New Orleans on his doughty 12 string and finished with my favourite Jon Harvison song. Half a World away. Yup. That's where we felt we needed to be whilst Dave was singing.
Elaine and John Meechan did a versatile spot featuring concertina guitar and accordion-though not always necessarily at the same time. With an election tomorrow John was obviously in a fighting mood. They did a couple of social comment songs. I liked the John Tams inspired one from War Horse. And the Yorkshire one. Perhaps they were the same song? John warbled gamely about pensioners' rights in Skipton. That's where my Grandad (and great Grandad) Oldfield were born. Slightly unintelligible lyrics for anyone South of Silsden, or if tha didn't kna' t' Skipton area laike, but a' thowt it wa' reet gradely.
It was good to see Brian and Marie Phillips out and about locally again. Obviously the Cornish Visa issues had been eventually settled and they had finally managed to get through customs and away back north. from Kernow. I'd heard an ugly rumour that Brian had been detained and strip-searched near Torpoint. Just because he'd been smuggling out Pasties in a body belt. But apparently he was merely a little too keen to re-enact a Dixie Chicks song, and the cctv (Cornish circuit television) had picked him up mooning at a Pisky. . They were in fine voice, and played some melodious, thoughtful stuff.
And then there was us. Warming up "the crowd" for Norman's second set. We started with our new song " Down Our Street," and it very soon got away from us. I'd convinced myself that I'd learned all the lyrics by now, so for the first time didn't bring any along. I practised it by singing it aloud all the way there. This was not fully appreciated by the good people of Stockingford, who looked a little frightened. I didn't sing a correct version between Whitestone and Ansley Common. This worried me somewhat. As I began to sing I realised that The sound balance didn't seem quite right. Mick's Mandolin boomed out of the speakers next to him. This threw him-and us, so the start was anything but even.
We followed that with the Nic Jones favourite "Courting is a Pleasure," and that was more steadily paced. It is a song both sad and angry,which is quite apt for a Folk Club, really. We hadn't thought this out at all, because as all three of us were quaffing Church End's delightful "Goat's Milk" bitter we really should have paid homage with our Beyoncé cover about the awfulness of being a goat. But instead we finished with "Albert Balls." The chorus singing was delightful quite honestly. (Well done to you all).
We got another festival gig out of last night, so all in all, a profitable evening.