Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Admirable Nelson

      After the enthusiastic reaction to the previous entry ( at least four Stalkbook 'likes'), it is evident that a few people are still reading/following the MoT Blog, so herewith a little cameo picture of a sultry musical evening in South Warwickshire yesterday. JK and I shared a floor spot at Stockton Folk Club.Stockton Warwickshire,not Teeside. Out Long Itchington way,beyond the Blue Lias which is a charming canalside pub where I used to go fishing as a youngster.          It was a return visit for us both, but this time without Flossy who was awa' in Northumbria searching for Uhtred and getting her head together on Holy Island. (Or was it Holly Island?) We were in exalted company, with a strong guest list and some quality musicians like Max Wright,John Wright and Jan and Campbell Perry sitting it out in the audience.
     Based at the excellent Nelson Club, we were astonished to find on arrival, that the car park and Main Street were jammed with vehicles. Alas, they had not all come to see us. There was football training on nearby and I think maybe, a Pool Fixture inside. John went upstairs to tune his guitar and I went to get a round in. The bar was “lively.” A heady mix of Folkies and Young Bloods, the latter loudly proclaiming specifically and punctuated by a lot of Industrial language, who was going to get what, and in what order, later that evening. 
     The Folkies were proclaiming very little although one or two looked a bit anxious. The bar staff were initially overworked, especially as the Timothy Taylor decided to go awol just as we arrived. During the thirsty wait for a new barrel to be pulled through, reinforcements arrived and one young man uniquely brought silence to the whole bar by very loudly announcing  “  That **** is going to get a ****** slap, (the ****), if he *******comes through that door now!”  It was all a little Wild West for a few seconds. Like those scenes when the Honky Tonk piano background music stops.As John Wayne blusters through the Saloon's bat-wing doors. But it was not unusually rowdy for watering holes in remote Warwickshire locations on a warm night. Conversation soon started up again,although a few were glancing towards the door, hoping that **** would not turn up before they got a tray of J20 up the stairs
     Topping the bill last night (and quite rightly so), were the constantly improving Daisybell. “Constantly Improving” sounds a bit patronising-but far from it. The band have always had a good sound and a good line-up, but the hard work quite evidently being put in on arrangements and harmonies means that they just sound (and look!) better every time I see them. It takes real commitment (and talent) to maintain such high standards,so well done to them. Their repertoire included some favourites from albums old and new, some classically-arranged covers and just generally, a most enjoyable set with no weaknesses. Encores well merited. Well done, Ladies.
Daisybell. (Great name!) 
    Away With The Fairies opened the evening with a nice balance between good musicianship and friendly banter. Some good singalong stuff to warm the audience up and get them singing. Followed swiftly by either two thirds of Nunc, two fifths of Mac Awe on Tour or more accurately, John Kearney and I. 
     We played as a duo, a selection of the current Nunc set list. Flossy and I are still pinching ourselves over our good fortune in finding that John has joined us permanently. And...he really seems to be enjoying himself! April Morning: Drunkards Roll: Folking Liberty: Dont Worry/Wild Rover/: Jolly Boys and Everyday/Rave On were all aired. The audience joined in gamely with every chorus and laughed in all the right places on the comedy numbers.. We had a blast-they seemed to quite enjoy it too.
       We then had, with an interval chucked in somewhere, John Hill, Alkevan, Rik Middleton and Keith Donnelly. John Hill I hadn't seen before. He enlightened us on some of the finer points of Kineton, and delivered two Leonard Cohen songs with fine guitar work and strong,assured singing. Rik reminisced about Dagenham (someone has to) and gave us a song about Rio and another about Barking Creek. 
     Alkevan I had seen on the circuit previously. They were accomplished musically and passionate vocally with some thoughtful arrangements and varied instrumentation. I think it was during their set that someone emptied the bottle bank outside downstairs.  It was either that or **** was finally getting the pasting he apparently deserved in the restricted confines of the smoking shelter. It came during a particularly poignant lyric-but it fazed Alkevan not at all. Keith was enigmatically Keith. Having arrived without a guitar, he borrowed John Kearney's. What a showman. I especially enjoyed his unique reworking of Men at Work's “Down Under.”
       Stockton is a really nice,friendly venue,with a good singing audience, and in good hands with AWTF in charge. A nice mix of contemporary, traditional and comedy music,skillfully compered. I recommend it.