Thursday, 4 October 2018

Kentish Larks

       Following their appearance at Nuneaton Folk Club last night, after they appear at Atherstone Folk Club in the New Year, Sally Ironmonger and Brian Carter will have appeared at all three North Warwickshire venues. With a deserved reputation for a sense of fun,good songwriting,great musicianship and a willingness to engage with their audience they have won a lot of friends locally. Last night was typical of their entertaining performances. I am indebted to John B. Smith for providing so many photographs. All of those used here are his. 
     Last night marked the culmination of four years since the relaunch of Nuneaton Folk Club.In October 2014, Black Parrot Seaside made their last appearance anywhere by starting proceedings. Four years ago there was little indication of the terminal break-up which would follow,and a sparkling Guest List provided entertainment for a big turnout upstairs at The Crown. Dave Webb,Finger in The Jar,Malc Gurnham & Gill Gilsenan,David Parr,Sue Sanders,Katherine Fear.Bob Brooker,Simon and Sally Anne Veasey,John Kearney,K.C. Jones,Thruppn'y Bits, Terry & Jan Wisdom and Maria Barham all did a turn.
      Of that group, only Katherine Fear,Phil Benson and the Thrup'nnies were there last night,although the actual attendance at The Crew was larger than usual. Indeed,until the audience began sneaking away,late on, the room was nearly full. Those who left early missed the absolutely delightful Finale,Sally's full blooded tribute to Victoria Wood with the unexpurgated version of "The Ballad of Barry and Freda" AKA "Let's Do It" bringing the evening to a fitting and hilarious end. 
      There were a few minor disappointments. Those hoping to see and hear the glories of Nunc or better yet Drunc Monkey, were deprived not only of John Kearney, (touring America),and Flossy Mac,(stricken late on by a sickness bug),but also of Dragonhead's John Harris,who was otherwise engaged. Up until 5pm Jon Harrington,Paul Moore and I had a rough idea of what we were going to do to kick start the evening,but as things transpired, we were still making our minds up as we took to the stage. Sharp-eared audience members might have heard Paul and I running through a few bars warming up minutes beforehand. With no warm-up other than that and no sound check, we just went on (as troupers do),and winged it. 

         I cannot praise highly enough the contribution of those two Blues Monkeys Jon Harrington and Paul Moore. Paul was still not fully fit:he's had a debilitating illness which has left him with a chesty cough. Although it gave his timbre an impressive new register,he was clearly not right physically. Musically he was spot on. A vocalist relies on looks and cues and links, and Paul and I are developing a very useful rapport in that direction. He carried me through vocals I don't usually do. Jon,poor lad,after a day of working and commuting,had decided to walk in from home and arrived breathless and panting within a few seconds of us starting. But they joined me in ploughing through "Sitting On Top Of The World," "Guilty" and "Knocking on Heaven's Door" admirably. The audience sang their part in KOHD wonderfully, so it must have been alright. 
      Max Wright,solo again and away from Kittyhawk, followed us, with three spirited numbers, one of which was the seldom heard "The Night Hank Williams Came To Town." I've only ever heard the Joe Roberts interpretation of this number in Folk Clubs previously but as Joe doesn't come to NFC any more,it was good to hear Max doing this version. 
          More Nuneaton talent followed,firstly in the shape and sounds of Ian Bourne. Having requested his final song myself,I then insulted him by being absent whilst he performed it. I thought I had time to "nip" across the road during his first song to supplement the Raffle Prizes by buying some extra ones in Lidl. I was wrong.I arrived back to find he had finished the floor spot and Paul Moore,bless him,had turned his hand to compering in my absence. Thanks Paul. And apologies,Ian!
        Our 101st Guests (thought they didn't know it at the time) kept the Home Grown theme going by having two members of local band Green Man Rising duetting together. Steve Bentley on vocals and drum and Andrew Wigglesworth.on melodeon. They provided some rousing chorus songs and stirring instrumentation, including "The Bonny Ship The Diamond."  

       Thrup'nny Bits then followed, providing continuity between the very first NFC night at The Crown and this one. Polished and professional as ever,they got the whole room singing. And marvelling at their similarity to ZZ Top. Hitherto the trio will be known as ZZ Bits. 

        The final act, before Sally and Brian did their first set, was Comharsa. Earnest,loud,busy and enthusiastic,they filled both the stage and the room with their sound. Fresh from their triumphal appearance at the Twisted Barrel's Father Ted Day last weekend,they pounded out four numbers.Our resident Sound men Tom and Harvey had been temporarily spooked by their impending presence  but soon had the six of them,well set up and under control as they romped away to "Paddy Works On The Railway." Comharsa's final offering was "The Wild Rover." but before that their extraordinary version of "Rattlin'Bog" set mouths open wide.

               After the interval, that hastily cobbled-together version of Nunc returned briefly to run  through "Vigilante Man " and "Jesus on The Mainline " before handing the stage back to Sally and Brian. They do a mixture of their own songs and some well-loved covers,delivered with panache,enthusiasm and bags of energy. Go see them soon!