Thursday, 5 October 2017

Happy Third Birthday Nuneaton Folk Club

         It's been slightly longer than three years actually, October 1st 2014 to be precise, since Black Parrot Seaside clambered unsteadily onto that stage upstairs at The Crown and relaunched Nuneaton Folk Club. There had been previous NFC's in The Arts Centre and elsewhere, run by people from the town who are still working hard on the North Warwickshire circuit. But it was evident from that first night that the town was just too big to carry on without one. 
October 2014
     The centrality of the venue was a handy plus, and those big audiences just kept on coming. Some have stayed with us since that first day,others have drifted away and a few alas, are no longer with us. What many of us find fascinating is that new faces constantly turn up,and the age range of our audiences remains refreshingly mixed. Not all are dyed in the wool Folkies:personally, I think we are a lot better for that. 
        No better way to celebrate then,last night  than with a packed room, a heartily singing audience and some quality music on stage.Nine hours put in, and eight (yes eight,) miles  covered yesterday culminated in another excellent night at NFC.
         BPS were to be the original Residents,but that was their only appearance there,and for reasons it would be diplomatic not to dwell upon,they folded a month later,after nearly 40 years together. I was gutted at the time,but grateful that it kick-started me into Nunc-myself,Flossy and JK. Boy, we've had some adventures together,and we've packed more gigs into those three years than I would have got with BPS. 
Black Parrot Seaside launching NFC October 2014
         Last night we wanted a celebratory mix which would reflect the eclectic nature of what we are trying to do at NFC. Yes it is important to have quality Guests as the main Attraction, and I'm sure all would agree that we got that in spades with Belzebub. (Of which more later).   At times the stage resembled a music Shop Window and although a decent sized one, it got a bit congested at times!
        Nunc began,and did "April Morning" to remind everyone we CAN do Folk music,before a classic Nunc mash-up of two CSNY songs-"Ohio" and "Find The Cost of Freedom." We finished with a barely rehearsed tribute to Tom Petty-"I won't Back Down."  
Nunc. They WONT back down. 

     John Kearney stayed on stage to do us some solo stuff including the inimitable " I wanted to be Bob Dylan." There was also an opportunity to do another one of his songs, " The heart has its Reasons." Cracking shirt, too,JK! 
JK. Bob Dylan wanted to be him. 

Sue Sanders was there from the start in 2014 ,too,and it was nice to see and hear her back there last night, bringing a little calm with her fine fiddle playing. A lot of stuff has happened to Sue since,but,very much symptomatic of the immense talent in the Nuneaton area, there she was, even with a poorly finger and newly recovered from Shingles,a proper trouper.
Saucy Susie Sanders. On the Fiddle again. 

     Peter McParland and his gentle singing is a club favourite, and he delivered three songs with his usual charm. 
Pete McParland

              Sam Stephens has had his share of woes since he last appeared at NFC. That was in a duo with the late and very much lamented Gren Morris. I bought their excellent Album "Hymns Ancient & Modern"  at the time,little realising that poor Gren would be taken from us so soon by a ravaging illness. Sam gave us a couple of tunes and managed to shift a few of those remaining CD's-all proceeds now to Macmillan Nurses. 
Sam Stephens

    Simon and Sally Ann Veasey were there that first night in 2014 also. They were back again last night, expecting to do three songs. However,  I asked them to add a fourth to help Kevin Dempsey get his breath back after climbing all those stairs. Some songs with a local touch, others from across the Atlantic. All (I believe?) self-penned. And yes. We are distantly related. SASAV are, as I write,off to warmer climes, for a Disney Cruise, joining their son Tom who many NFC regulars will recall, was one of our finest Sound men. His dad did a good job for us last night too, holding the fort until Dave Smart arrived hot foot from his meeting. 

SASAV. We're related,you know. 
              It was touch and go whether Kevin Dempsey would make it. That he did and with seconds to spare,and then went on and blew the house down, says so much about the man. Such a combination of creative genius,modesty,and above all,humility,is rare,at any level in the music business. There were all kinds of extenuating circumstances which many booked to do a floor spot in (non) sunny Nunny on a wet Wednesday night would have bowed to. Not Kevin. He is a mate so I am biased,but his music is sublime and his understanding of people is unique. Gifted and grounded. 100% quality.

 I always love watching guitarists in any room where Kev is playing, as they inwardly implode watching his technique. And seeing the ladies softening as those golden tones ring out. Some musicians are right Divas,but not Kev. We rushed him up the stairs,he had not time to tune up, he had a wonky lead but he gave us three exemplary songs including "Wicked Polly." . Tuning, lead adjusting,guitar slapping,all in one movement, and not moaning but grinning,all the time. I swear he has more than two hands!Top Bloke!
             Our main guests were Belzebub. They were the first act I had ever booked on reputation and recommendation only ,without actually seeing them. They did not disappoint. They gave us two sets of quality music. It was good to see the cheery smile of Ian Wilson again, pumping the accordion and lashing the Mandola. (Or Bouzouki?) Two of us in Nunc had worked with him professionally, in another context in Coventry,many years ago.  
       Beelzebub put a lot of thought into their arrangements and their delivery. Loved their slowed-down version of "Step it Out Mary," for example. Accomplished musicians and competent vocalists, they got (and deserved) two encores, which on a wet, windy night says a lot. Elsewhere yesterday I read an interesting Forum debate on stayaway audiences, or those who drift away early. It says much for Belzebub that as they finished, there were still plenty left, cheering them on. 
        As I write we have a guest list booked through to October 2018 and next month's floor spots are already fully booked. 
         My thanks to Sue,Flossy,Max,JK and Paul for the photos. Onwards and Upwards.