Staggered yesterday to find that, on a cold November 5th night, with (apparently) counter-attractions like burning effigies outside, more than ninety people turned out for our second Nuneaton Folk Club night at The Crown. And heartened to see that despite the (various) P.A.'s available malfunctioning, all of the audience stayed, to add their raucous, enthusiastic support. And chuffed by such tremendous positive feedback afterwards.
Most performers we had chosen for that night are used to working with or without amplification. But when you've been told it is available, and then it suddenly isn't , well that can come as a nasty surprise. Especially if (as some of us had) , you'd already done a gig elsewhere that afternoon. So the vocal chords were stretched to capacity, in a full room. The entire cast rose to the challenge magnificently.
Black Parrot Seaside opened with a defiant "All Over Now" (seemed apt at the time), and "The Odeon." The audience bellowed out the choruses, and Sue Sanders fiddled away merrily along with us from the sanctuary of a few rows back.
The constantly improving Finger In The Jar followed-not an easy task, being the first non-resident Band to perform without a safety net. They coped brilliantly. "John Ball " was a canny choice.
Daisybell (what a great name-who thought of that?) followed, with a storming debut. Never saw Sally-Anne as a Folk Rock Chick, but my how she stomped her boots on that stage and pounded that accordion/squeezebox/concertina/ bellows thingy like she was pummelling Simon's chest after he'd burnt the dinner. They threw the kitchen sink at the last instrumental. Brilliant girls! Well done!
Follow that? Easy. KC Jones did. Karen's mighty vocals would fill a room that size with or without a mike. It soared to the back, as a Guest butterfly, inspired, emerged from behind the new "Nuneaton Folk Club" banner and took wing. A beautiful moment. John Kearney then became the first solo artiste, and again, had no problem filling the room with "Jolly Boys Holiday," and a very wistful Remembrance song.
Sly Old Dogs then followed, having finished with the lampposts outside. I've spent a lot of time with this lot, and I knew they would be the right act to open our Guest Season. A rumbustious 30 minutes' Craic followed, with the audience showing no signs of tiring.
But we gave them a brief break anyway, to refuel and unload waste material, before BPS kicked off the second half with " Albert Balls." We sacrificed a second number to keep to time, and because we felt the audience deserved a treat. We drew the raffle, and then Malc Gurnham and Gill Gilsenan took to the stage. This gave Gill a welcome opportunity to rest from heckling, although she managed to fit plenty in on stage, giving Malc earache during each number.
These future NFC guests were followed by another. The excellent Maria Barham, on next month, partnering Carole Palmer. Last night Maria also had a surprise guest, Flossy McDougal, who joined Maria duetting on " Perfect." A surprise, because I had neglected to warn Flossy that I'd set this up with Maria beforehand.
With the street cordoned off outside and flashing lights and sirens due to an unfortunate RTA causing havoc below, Sly Old Dogs returned to give us more of the same. All the old favourites were there. Richard's breathless sustained note on the Tuba? Bob's multi-instrumentalism and shameless CD commercials. Tool's majestic plucking ( I think that's the right word). Paul Kenny's splendid Asphalt Dance. Pete cooking up a sweat on the chord-changing Gypsy Laddie-O. Nigel's endless fiddling. (And some good tunes on the string instrument too). Collectively they worked the audience into a lather, and even worked in an encore without me introducing one.
Thanks to Dave Parr, Phil Benson, Arnie, Dave Parr, Martyn Gilder, Gil Gilsenan, Tom "Triffid" Veasey, Nelly and Julian and many, many more for all the help, advice and support. Couldn't have done it without you.