Of course, it had never really been away-just fragmented a little and lacking a central base for a while. Perhaps a fitting way to start this account is to acknowledge the input of the people who couldn't be there last night-Dragonhead, for example, Nuneaton based, and flying the flag with their Beacon Folk Club, when no-one else did. ( Come see us soon, guys).
But although we had guests from as far afield as Coventry and Coleshill, last night was an unashamed celebration because the biggest town in Warwickshire without one had re-found its Folk Club. A lot of work went into this launch, beforehand and during the evening. The massive turnout last night justified all that. Collectively-we knew there was a void and that we could fill it. We were proven hugely, massively, gratifyingly correct last night.
This huge audience was edifying given that on the same night, Quill were round the corner at The Abbey Theatre, and a much-respected fellow Club, Hinckley Act, was in session up the A5. As soon as we launched into " All Over Now " and the audience bellowed back the chorus lines it was obvious it was going to be a good night.
Dave Webb then bravely followed us: a veteran of the local Folk Scene who'd been away for a while. Finger in The Jar followed, and they were remarkable, given that one of them, Phil Benson, had been slogging away on the P.A. system since well before 7pm. Each time I was on that stage I could see the faraway shape of Phil, picked out in the lights like some demented Rick Wakeman, his hair standing on end with sweat and static, flailing away at the sliders and buttons. It was just 10 minutes before the start that Phil finally coaxed this monster into life. (The dramas audiences and performers don't see!).
Sue Sanders followed FITJ and played us two haunting, traditional tunes. Mr Moonlight David Parr then performed two completely apposite songs including the " Molecatcher's Song." Katherine Fear gave us a lovely solo song and was then joined by Simon and Sally Anne Veasey who made a right proper Folk Noise together. They should go out in this format more often. It rocks.
Doyen of next month's guests Sly Old Dogs (and many other Folk Bands) the irascible Bob Brooker then showed us just how well instruments can be played. He defiantly wore his stunning shorts on the first night of October, meaning that some photos of him playing whilst seating will have to be airbrushed. Still-he sold some CD;s and donated one to the raffle. Simon and Sally Anne returned for their slot, adding another genre-atmospheric country to the proceedings. Wonderful. And it was left to Karen, one half of K.C. Jones to conclude the half with a couple of powerful songs, one of which she'd written. Those of us who had not seen her before realised where the accolades we'd heard had come from.
The audience were buzzing during the interval. I don't think anyone had expected it to be quite that good. As we furiously tore up an ice bucket full of raffle tickets, Thrup'nny Bits opened the second half with their remarkable three-part harmonies. The raffle prizes took rather longer than anticipated, and we had to hold some over, so many were donated. John Kearney then (literally) took the stage-almost into the bar below as he demonstrated first Pogo and then Irish Dancing. I've never had a song written about me before but " Jolly Boys" was bloody hilarious. You left out The Mankini and the Male Nudity though John-it needs another verse.
Light and Shade was the theme of the night. The divine Terry and Jan followed John's irrepressible County Nuneaton good humour. They have been on the Folk Scene even longer than us. They did two sophisticated, almost jazz-oriented songs. Terry's solo brought a spontaneous round of applause from an audience who seemed hardly able to believe their good fortune in finding this treasure trove of talent in Treacle Town-and for FREE! Rock Chick Maria Barham (our guest along with her mate Carole Palmer in December) followed.Another powerful voice with incredible range. She played a rock and roll medley which the audience adored. Swing those pants, Madge! Could it get any better? Oh yeah. Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan closed the Guest slots. Quality as always. Two people who have given BPS such support over the years.
And so we came to the end of a marvellous night. We closed with " Folking Liberty" and " Go Lassie Go." The former perforated by some Pete Townsend windmilling from an increasingly tired and emotional Dave Parr. I bet he has a headache this morning.
The latter making the windows shake-much as we had hoped. A tremendous start. Three figures raised in the raffle, which will go towards keeping admission free. The room full throughout. We ran out of glasses (occasionally-replenished due to the hard work of pot collectors), we ran out of chairs, with them standing four deep at the back. Deep, deep joy, and thanks to all who contributed and participated.
Credits; BBC CWR, Coventry Telegraph and Nuneaton News for their superb advance publicity. Abbey Theatre, Hinckley Act, Bedworth Folk Club and Atherstone Folk Club for their goodwill messages and determination to work co-operatively with us . Julian Harkins, guvnor at The Crown and his hard working staff. For having the vision to offer us their venue and then backing our night with extraordinary enthusiasm. The lovely ladies who helped us with the raffle tickets. And the performers, who demonstrated that this part of the Midlands is packed with music talent.