Thursday, 5 May 2016

What a Sound Night

          A lot of water had flown under many bridges since Sly Old Dogs last brought the house down at Nuneaton Folk Club. They are a big act in every way,but they certainly get The Craic going,of which more later.
       Last night was always going to be difficult for me. One year ago to the night  I stood on the landing at the top of those stairs and took the most harrowing 'phone call of my life. I won't go into detail, but I had to leave and hand the compering on to someone else and rush to Coventry University Hospital. The outcome involved bereavement,heartbreak, funerals and a lot of family sorrow over the following  weeks.
         So it was comforting to enjoy such a grand night yesterday and to have the joy of a big audience, royally entertained, to take my mind off stuff. Despite a number of regular faces missing,  a whole lot of new ones filled the gaps,including quite a few newcomers. Nuneaton Folk Club is a roaring success:part of a framework of local clubs working in partnership, which provide Coventry and Warwickshire with extraordinarily good "live" music every week.It's enough to uplift anybody! 
      I usually start a Blog account by going through the performers, but I must pay tribute first today to the Sound Guys,Liam Johnson and Matt Mallen Allen. It's no secret that I haven't got a clue when it comes to Sound Engineers. I can change a plug and flick a switch-the rest of the trailing spaghetti and complicated Starship Enterprise desks remain a mystery to me. Having lost the excellent Tom Veasey behind the desk, he very kindly unearthed Matt Mallen Allen for me, before leaving for The Caribbean. Matt has been a jewel since he took over, and was mortified when he  realised that a pre-arranged holiday meant that he wouldn't be there last night to mix for The SODs. To say he literally went the extra mile thereafter to ensure all went well is no exageration. Once Matt realised he would be in "SkeggyVegas,"  in true Tom fashion, he unearthed another diamond to stand in for him last night: step forward Liam Johnson and take a bow.
Matt on deck and  engrossed in his work last night

             SOD's by their own admission,are not an easy act to stage. On home turf at Wood Farm Brewery,all acoustic, and bolstered by add-ons into a veritable Folk Orchestra,they are magnificent. Trying to capture that essence on a small stage, frying under lights,being a multi-instrumentalist,six-piece band, miked up and through a P.A. things become a whole lot more complicated. However, Liam was unflappable. He handled them and all the preceding acts diplomatically and expertly, using an amazing combination of equipment including the old Black Parrot Seaside P.A. Afterwards he confided that he had never been in a Folk Club before and had never mixed "Live " acts anywhere previously. Well he'll go far then, is all I'll say.
           Nunc kicked us off with John Kearney joining us on a Buddy Holly Segue, and then Flossy and I aired " 'Twas On an April Morning."  
Junc doing Buddy Holly

Max Wright had snuck onto stage at other NFC nights as part of other enterprises,but at last we got him up solo and he delivered "Putting On The Agony"  in style and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken."  Two chorus songs the audience responded to enthusiastically. 
Max is just Wright
       Andy Jones followed,and managed to squash in Trad Arr and Medieval  Latin Plainsong into his floor spot. Jolly David Parr was in serious mood and gave us three fairly serious songs from his notorious "Songs of Sex and Death " Album.
     Those gorgeous glamourpusses Daisybell, in revised format, previewed next month's set by giving us lovely harmonies and a trio of songs which went down very well.
Daisybell are in The Pink
Maria Barham, a longstanding friend to NFC modestly did a couple of songs, and then invited up Nunc's Flossy  to duet with her on an outstanding version of "Perfect."  John Kearney followed,still so fresh from being in The Windy City you could still smell the wind on him. (And thanks for The Buddy Guy T-shirt, Buddy!). Nunc concluded the half with "Cold Haily Windy Night" and "When I Get to The Border," -the choruses of both songs echoed heartily by an audience who had clearly enjoyed the first half.
Sly Old Dogs go barking mad at The Crown
       Raffle and announcements of forthcoming attractions at Atherstone and Beduff completed, it was time for The Main Event. Those who had not seen or heard SODs before were just blown away.The audience singing was both astonishing and memorable. They romped through their usual repertoire, with the  highlights being Paul's unique Irish dancing and some extended instrumental breaks showing just how together this band can be. 
         What is nice about NFC is the number of ordinary people who come up afterwards and say in person," I've not been to a Folk Club for years but we loved that." We appear to be restoring faith in the genre in so many circles, and I always tell them that they can see this standard every Wednesday somewhere local in Coventry and Warwickshire-and on Sundays too! 
Part of last night's audience enjoying The Craic

                  Finally-lovely to have Sue Sanders back with us. Sue has fiddled with Black Parrot Seaside (sounds rude) and Sods,and has done solo spots at The Crown and all the other local venues. She's had one hell of a battle,and let's hope she'll be back up on that stage soon.