Well you can't beat a good old AGM to dampen the ardour, and the one at Norwich Folk Club on (Friday) 21st Feb was no exception. Fortunately enough people showed up to form a quorum, and amazingly there were the required number to fill the committee. Even better the lumpen mass didn't ask too many questions and the whole thing was bundled up in 40 minutes flat. “That's the way to do it!!” said Mr. Punch.
A harmony trio called the Notts Alliance happened to be passing and brightened up the the subsequent song session considerably.
On 22nd the Flying Folk was at Salhouse Lodge Inn and although Earache could not afford to send a representative we are told the 60 or so people present had a whale of a time. As impresarios go Geoff Roberts is up there with the best.
Sunday and we were at Blakeney Harbour Rooms. As it was the end of half term all of the grockles had gone home which meant Blakeney resembled a ghost town. At first we were on our own, then Monica and Barry came followed by a couple of visitors. Gary Mears sloped in and the final person in the form of Max Webber completed the company. We settled down for a mardle to while away the time but a catalyst in the shape of a pair of holiday makers persuaded Max to open the account. Gary chipped in with a couple as did M & B. We managed to have a round or three, with the male visitor giving a spirited rendering of “Rawtenstall Annual Fair” and his wife finishing with a poem. Not a complete write off. There is every chance people will have turned up the next week thinking it was the last Sunday, not taking into account that the month was February.
Monday 24th and our destination was the Rose in Trinity St Norwich. Jill Lambert together with a second melodeon player, Kevin and Alan with their guitars, at least five unaccompanied singers and Peter Wilkes (banjo, fiddle and guitar) and Jaki (cello, whistle and flute) produced a very satisfying evening. Peter Coleman opened up with the “Flying Cloud” and later a couple of monologues. The musicians combined several times with some jolly tunes
Before we were so rudely interrupted...
On Monday 2nd of March it was a privilege to hear Molly Barrett perform “Because of You my Love” at the Rose in Norwich. The 40 years and ravages of time have left that wonderful voice undimmed. In the future we hope to hear that voice again.
On the following Weds at The Angel Swanton Morley Pete Sanpher gave a well weighted rendering of “The Old West Side”. In that evening we were also able to savour Vivian Singh at 90 years plus favouring the company with a couple of his cheeky music hall numbers.
At Norwich Folk Club on the Friday up popped a recent permanent resident Chris Orme (transitory before) delivering “Gilliver” (a new one on us). The pleasure in listening to that magnificent voice was tempered by a feeling of jealousy that ours isn't in that league.
On to a folk concert at the Lion at Thurne on Saturday 7th March where June Thaine had organised a one-off evening for the sole benefit of the performers (and maybe the publican who is a mate of her and Arthur Thaine). At £5 the chance for the full house to witness performances from Kevin Green, Kelly Wood, Tony Hall and Emma Barber's Doddie Bees was something we're glad we attended.
Among a variety of places we went the following week was the Sheringham folk club where Myke on his guitar accompanied Kate Rowbotham (hope we got that right) and a cosy evening at the Rumburgh Buck on the 3rd Sunday. Claudia Myatt (autoharps) was there together with Mike (harmonica) the boatbuilder from Woodbridge. Ken on melodeon together with his wife on various pipes and autoharp. Of course there was Bernard with the hammer dulcimer and autoharp together with a couple from Bramfield - he vocals and she autoharp and vocals. (We were awash with autoharps.) To our shame and possibly feeling like interlopers crossing the Waveney we have never recorded their names. Something we will rectify in future.
Meanwhile for your delectation I offer you this selected hand washing *video from Doc Cox in Westleton, Suffolk, part of his soon to be released CD of the works of Ivor Biggun. This much acclaimed retrospective ought to be on your shopping list. (Nine o'clock watershed alert: if easily offended stick to soap and water. * Contact Steve for this - see foot of article for details)
Before things went pear shaped we had the opportunity to visit Paul and Jude Fitzgerald at the All Saints recording studios in St. Margaret's South Elmham just south of Bungay. (Paul was the sound engineer for Doc’s recent “Strictly for the Birds” CD.) A lovely “Larkrise to Candleford” setting. Paul gave us a comprehensive guide to his setup. All you could need to have a proper recording made. They have done it all - films, TV, radio, spent some time in America. Paul still plays in a band locally. The rates for “golden oldies”, which let's face it is most of us, are extremely reasonable indeed and you know how tight fisted we are, there is no doubt we will be beating a path to their door as soon as the current situation allows. The chance to pass your renderings on to your descendants is one not to be missed. When we meet again feel free to ask us of our experience.
Through adversity comes opportunity they say, so it was no surprise that sixteen or so hardy souls braved the elements to join the Norwich Folk Club Zoom Session hosted by Skyler Thrace on Friday 26 (date?)
At 7.30 or so Skyler started by guiding the pioneers through some of the technicalities. Of particular interest is the need to update the audio system to enable instruments to be played as well as vocals. The system was originally designed for voice so without these adjustments the background noise adjuster tries to suppress the instrument sounds but once we got over that we were away.
There were problems but camaraderie came to the fore. Sometimes in regular meetings not everyone can hear what is going on but that disappears since everyone is close in so to speak. Vince Matthews autoharp, an instrument which can fade into the background in a large room, came across clear as a bell. It's probably a good idea to use the record feature so you can play it back later and find out how you come across.
As befits a group of people who know each other well sharp asides, guffaws and sniggers were easily shared in the spaces between each performance. We would like to point out we were NOT asleep at times.
Everyone else is muted while the performer has the floor so in the privacy of your own home you can bawl out the choruses or join in as loud as you like. There was also the added joy to be had watching people turning it into a midnight feast. It would be wrong to highlight particular people but Sarah and Martin know who they are. One lady announced she was going to make a jam sandwich. JAM!! After this we want to hear no more middle class renditions of Stephen Foster's “Hard Times”. Not content with this, her husband, HE wanted no ordinary sandwich but TOAST would you believe. It arrived with butter spread as thick as cement between two house bricks and slathered with a similar layer of jam. Those of us born in a cardboard box could only look on in disbelief.
Anyway if you want to emulate this for your own folk club, unavoidably on hold at the moment, down load Zoom and hold an evening on your regular night.
When June was doing her ticket sales tour for Thurne she graciously allowed us to record her and Dave Robertson singing “Limehouse Reach” at the Rose. A rare chance.
At one of my favourite venues the Crab and Winkle featuring Andrew Stannard, Eric, David Clarke, the jig doll, Tony Watts, the whistle of Philippa Dent. Lily Stannard has a walk-on part with the star of the show, Rags the dog.
A relatively new harmony group called “Trifle” at Wolferton https://youtu.be/_XlwlVtHlss
A song from the continent - Philippa Dent sent me this clip of her brother Jim and his son Matthijs singing “Corona Blues”. A catchy little number if you see what I mean. Jim lives in Holland which explains his son's name.
Since it will be while before we all meet again I intend to send out some recent recordings every few days just to keep you in the loop. Obvs if this isn't to your taste just tell me to stop.
If however you have any recordings you would like to share with the Earache address book do please send them in. It will distract us in these days of bread