After the euphoria of last month's Nuneaton Folk Club night, an absolutely torrid and turbulent three weeks. followed I had personal upsets, health niggles and family worries. Compounded with the fact that Black Parrot Seaside folded once more, this time terminally.
What followed could have gone either way. I had some very low moments in between then and last night, but then I had the best birthday present I could wish for. That is, friends old and new, absent, there in spirit and present, all pulling together for the common good to get a third successive NFC show on the road. Three Days of Freedom Peace and Love (and Flu'!) up the A444 at Bedduth Folk Festival) had taken a heavy toll on booked performers, some of whom were just too poorly to be there. But even so, absent friends worked hard behind the scenes on Tuesday and yesterday, loaning us some sound gear to help make sure that all went smoothly. Last night was a triumph for teamwork and co-operative working: where individual egos, creative differences and personal interests were all set aside for the common good.
I'm not being a luvvie here, when I say that each act yesterday was of outstanding quality. Providing a night which oozed quality. Nunc- a new acapella collaboration, making their debut, kicked off with a Christmassy rendition of "Gaudete " and "FairyTale in New York". That got the sizeable audience singing and Saucy Suzy Sanders continued the Festive Theme with some fiddled Carols,Yuletide songs and tunes. John Neal, another talented Nuneaton musician, made his NFC debut with three songs including a Ralph McTell one (no not Streets) and his own compositions. Hilary Wilson made it three out of four newcomers, with a mesmerising performance.
Bob Brooker, free of The Sly Old Dogs, then brought the house down with "Stockton Quays" and "Willie McBride. He sold some CD's too-and one Raffle winner chose his "Songs From The Sea" in preference to a cheeky bottle of Zinfandel! We will NEVER hear the last of that! Daisybell- Folk Spice-and their delightful harmonies then entertained the audience before Kristy Gallacher, a fourth newcomer to the NFC stage, closed the first half by giving us a preview of next months Featured Guest. She sang three songs including a very clever arrangement of Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Mi".
The raffle draw was completed thanks to Flossie and Sue Sanders selling, Julian's generous donations, and to Brian for the Christmas Cake. ( I explained to him you don't have to bring one to gain admission, but he insisted!). Thanks also to Pete Matanza and his missus for diligent ripping, tearing and folding during the interval. (They also dealt with some raffle tickets). Carole and Maria seemed delighted with their prizes. One Direction and Ollie Murs Annuals.
Nunc then returned to tell us " All The GoodTimes are Past and Gone." But clearly they weren't. Some brilliant chorus singing from the audience followed before. John Kearney got the audience laughing and singing again with "The Jolly Boys," and a unique Reggae-Irish composition eulogising a dodgy booser out Brum way. Then it was time for Maria Barham and Carole Palmer to finish the evening. As always, great value for money, fantastic songs, lovely arrangements, stunning harmonies. The encores fused with the finale as Julian himself demanded more.
Tom Veasey kept it in the family by doing an excellent job on sound. He too had been very busy at Bedworth Folk Festival, but after a heavy working day he drove the whole set-up masterfully expertly and with minimum fuss. Many MANY thanks, Tom.