It was for us an average seven days' build up leading up to the May NFC night. Three hospital visits (some planned some not). Builders on site throughout. Skips, portable dunnies and tipper lorries everywhere. One (lost) play-off final, School runs and sleepovers (which at our age can be quite a culture shock). And to add a little bit of extra anxiety my Right Hand Woman was really poorly, on antibiotics and unable to attend. Those who know the club well will understand what a loss to a smooth evening that is. I was absolutely frazzled by the time I got there, delayed by traffic hold ups temporary signals and fencing contractors who simply did not want to leave. I could hardly walk due to various forms of arthritis and when I "popped" into Iceland to get a pint of milk it was closed. Oh! How I Laughed!
We started the evening by raising a glass to pledge allegiance to Nuneaton Folk Club. With a Kingly weekend coming up, it seemed only right to do something apt to commemorate You Know What on Saturday using Church End's specially brewed and aptly named "Cheers Big Ears" as a prop. I even thought of doing a medley of King's greatest hits to start with-Love and Pride followed by Alone With Out You ,The Taste Of Your Tears and ending with Wont You Hold My Hand Now? But frankly they don't transpose well to the unaccompanied Folk genre and I couldn't get the boots on.
Nevertheless we had a right royal evening. ( You can expect that kind of corny analogy and awful punning to run right through this account of the evenings events). Andi Wolf, MC of Temperance in Royal Leamington Spa (see what I did there?) made a positively regal debut. I had already dropped the NFC banner twice, forgotten to put all the table leaflets out and neglected to email Ross the tech specs in advance so a measured, chummy set from Andi helped settle things down somewhat.
I had not intended to sing at all and I kind of wished I hadn't after a half hearted and feeble rendition of "Albert Balls," during which my voice went completely several times. (Am I selling it to you?) Time perhaps to drop the comedy and go back to acapella unaccompanied Folk songs. The band split is a year old now (did you send a card?) so it is time to get over it. Move on or move out. Anyway I had to fill in as I'd run out of waffle so I almost curtsied when Mr. Wolf loped onto stage. Here I am surrounded by two ghostly apparitions.
Our audience were surprisingly well behaved (at this point anyway) so all refrained from calling out "What's the time Mr Wolf?" He was very good. I thought he might be. There were some gentle bants with the assembled courtiers-both audience and staff-whilst he got the measure of the room, ( another thinly spread out audience) and Nuneaton's cryptic humour. An audience that size would ensure "room full" signs at Temperance but distributed about the cavernous interior of the Queens Hall it sometimes looks slightly intimidating from that huge stage. Andi's material and delivery was very polished however and so was his guitar playing. I liked Andi's songs, his voice, and particularly his natty Taylor guitar. Those in the know tell me it is a parlour guitar. It looked the shape and size which even gnarled and crooked fingers like mine could still actually make chord shapes on. Too late for me now, alas.
It was good to welcome back Adam Wilson. A staunch and loyal NFC supporter, a fine songwriter, an excellent singer with a huge vocal range and a handy guitarist. He did a few older songs, one very new one and then finished with Neil Young's "Old Man." As I doddered back to the stage to thank him for an engaging half an hour, never had that title seemed more appropriate.
Si then swaggered up to take the stage for his first set. Actually that's very cruel. He really didn't. A more modest, pleasant unassuming guy like Si you won't see the like of every day. He definitely doesn't do swagger although he would be entitled to though. His guitar playing and his arrangements alone are both extraordinary. Add to that a most distinctive singing style and there we have a stage presence which is both engaging and attractive. I know for a fact that he puts a lot of time effort and research into selecting each song. He has a broad repertoire which is mostly (but not exclusively) traditional. It was good to hear some old personal favourites like "Copper Kettle," "The Blacksmith" and "Lovely On The water" given a new treatment.
We should perhaps have finished the evening by standing and singing The National Anthem but why should we? Chaz and Cams have never been to us. They haven't even joined the NFC Stalkbook page yet.
There were a few minor glitches last night and one slight problem with a noisier than usual audience member, (later remedied). A Court Jester turned up but not quite in the manner anyone had anticipated. The one thing he wasn't was funny.
Rather than me banging on any more about last night here are some independent views from social media.
" Yet another cracking night ..... quality songwriters, singers and beer: what more can you want? Many thanks to all concerned."- (Ray Buckler)
Si followed me back home after we closed up, as he was breaking the long journey back to Devon by staying overnight. Through Nunny's own Beverley Hills Area we wove, in convoy. Out towards Bramcote and getting a crack on before all the streetlights went out and I turned back into a frog. I'm sure I saw a milkman en route but perhaps the tiredness was making me hallucinate.
We had a can or two of Beavertown Neck Oil before turning in. Si said he was planning to get up early and boy did he. The Dawn chorus woke me up but Si was already gone. En route for Devon and the peace of Dartmoor. I don't blame him. It must seem like heaven after a night in Treacle Town.