Thursday, 7 July 2016

More than Content with The Wilsons

      Did you see what I did there? A clever reversal of one of the Bard's famous quotations. Actually there was no Winter of Discontent at Nuneaton Folk Club last night. There was no discontent at all. Far from it. The return visit of  Winter Wilson to The Crown as the featured July 2016 guests was a treat all round.
        Last July, 2015-one year ago, we set up NFC for Sean Cannon with the outside temperature still hovering at  around 34c by 8pm. The interior was like a sauna. Last night twelve months on, and with a rotten,soggy English Summer in full drizzle, the temperature was just slightly above ambient outside. Inside the warmth was as much about Julian's new bank of lights and the hot air rising up from the room below, as Wales simultaneously took on Portugal.  
      So much has happened since last month's NFC session.Not one but two exits from Europe and with Wales having selfishly eclipsed England's meek surrender against Iceland, the kick off for their first ever Euro 2016 Semi-Final was thoughtlessly scheduled by EUFA to coincide with the opening floor spot last night. This undoubtedly affected our attendance a little and lent a noticeably more fluid rotation between the performance area upstairs and the Big Screen in the bar downstairs.
      Those who still came enjoyed another good night, with more debuts, many welcome returns from old friends, and a distinct "family" atmosphere with at least four acts comprised of relatives. Plus the sheer delight of two eclectic and electric sets from the multi-talented Winter Wilson.
       Our featured guests demonstrated why they are kept so busy with tours, festivals and club appearances. Kip and Dave are vocalists of extraordinary depth and clarity. Their vocal range is admirable and their breathing control remarkable. They write and record much of their own material and their instrumentation (which includes guitar,accordion,flute and banjo) is  flawless.  They are also two of the nicest people you could meet on the Folk Circuit, with no front, no side, no affectation-just an evident pride in their work. They travelled all the way from Lincolnshire (and back again afterwards) and worked extremely hard to entertain us. They kept up a banter and patter throughout and never complained once. 
Winter Wilson
         Of the other acts, NUNC who are rapidly becoming JUNC as, (hurrah!) the wonderful John Kearney continues to rehearse and perform with us, started with a couple of very enjoyable versions of " Bring It On Home" and " Down Where The Drunkards Roll."  Enjoyable for us anyway-but  as the audience started singing along too we must have got something right. 
NUNC. John's halo has slipped. 
      Rob Oakey had guested briefly with Andy Jones and his Cherooty board (at least I think that's what Andy had called it!) earlier this year. Last night he made his guitar debut and plucked us out a couple of tasty blues numbers including San Francisco Bay.  We will draw a veil over his unfortunate version of Postman Pat, as children may be reading. 
Rob Oakey
      Also making their NFC debut were Blues Division, with Arnold Chave on guitar and Sophia Barrington on lead vocals. Arnold assured us that he had his Mojo working, which was good news all round. 
Blues Division
     With Mick Harris also in the room, we had three members of Black Parrot Seaside together in a music venue for the first time in 21 months. Four, if you count Susie Sanders, who has guested occasionally with BPS. Sue, happily now  returning to full health after a long illness, soon took to the stage and wowed everyone with her versatility. A sensitively played slow number was followed by a deftly fiddled set of jigs and reels.
Sue Sanders
       Our previous Sound Man Tom Veasey was back from the USA, and by special request,  he was joined by his mum, dad and sister for a couple of tunes. The " Von Veasey Family"  version of "Drowsy Maggie" fair rattled along. Tom,Simon and Sally-Ann Veasey had been on the NFC stage before,but Emily too was making a debut.
Cripes! it's the Von Veaseys!
Ditto Brendan Kearney, who I think,in joining his dad for a few songs was also making his debut there. The boys did a cheeky version of Brillig's slightly naughty Pirate Song "Fair Warning."
John and Brendan Kearney-you have been warned.
       Like The Veaseys, the Kearneys and Sue Sanders, John Neal is Nuneaton based. He is a regular about town and hosts Monday night sessions at The Fox in Attleborough. John gave us a couple of songs including a sensitive version of John Martin's "May You Never" which was well received by the audience.
John Neal
Rounding off a jolly good first half, Chris Tobin, one half of next months featured guest billing, got the audience singing as he always does. Chris was a little off colour, but you wouldn't have known, as he got the roof lifting (again!) with Billy Fury's "Half Way to Paradise."
Chris Tobin
       We had by now whipped the audience into a frenzy with all this talent, and Winter Wilson continued the quality with an inspiring set to conclude the first half. One brief wee/beer/raffle break later and the fun began again. The audience were really up for it by now as NUNC roped them in for noisy versions of their Buddy Holly segue and Flossy's peerless delivery of "Perfect."
     It damn near was Perfect,  as Winter Wilson then kept the momentum going. A second, longer set to top the evening, with Blues, worksongs,Traditional  and  contemporary numbers all delivered with pace and panache. They took us down mines, up mountains,onto quaysides and onto battlefields.  No wonder they sold so many copies of their latest album "Ashes and Dust" afterwards!   
Kip & Dave-first half

One of the nicest aspects of NFC is to see that part of our audience is always made up of visiting musicians. Not necessarily expecting to play, but just turning up for the Craic and to have a look at who is on. Last night for example, it was good to see Dave and Julia Taylor, Andy Jones and Paul Moore there. Not performing-just chillin' and lending support to local "live" Folk Music.  
       Finally a word of thanks for Matt Mallen Allen. It was Tom Veasey who recommended Matt to us as his replacement Sound guy. Tom's welcome advice was our gain. Between us, Matt and I have spent a few bob lately building up a bank of our own NFC equipment: D.I. and mike leads,a P.A., new desk and quite a few gizmos and gadgets. This has various benefits. One of which is that we no longer have to drag Julian out whilst he is eating his tea to ask if we can borrow this or that.   Matt was like a man with two hats last night,and the sound was definitely up a notch. (Or two). Not only that-he sings.He's back out front next month, doing a floor spot!