13-Nov-2011 K Is For Kilo

Or Kaput… or Kirkham…

It’s also for kindness and kudos and karma – we’ve recently returned from the latest north-west expedition taking in folk clubs, care homes and a night off to watch Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby…

The UK folk club scene has a togetherness mixed with a disparity in the parts that make up the whole, but it somehow works. Clubs are found in dusty back rooms, in pristine function rooms, with bar, without bar… With dedicated soundman PA, with set it up and leave it, with no PA, singaround, out front performance area, stage, no stage… Traditional, contemporary, acapella, accompanied, purely instrumental, guitar, banjo, bouzouki, flute, whistle, bodhran, ukulele, harp!… Beginners, professionals, wannabes, fluffed notes, lyric sheets, note perfect performances, stagecraft… Attentive listeners, good humoured banter, noisy chatterers, tuner-uppers during other performers, genuine applause, half-stifled yawns, appreciation of performers, MCs, organisers and others that just take it for granted… It’s all there.

But the thing that stands out is the kindness of most individuals, welcoming strangers like old friends, interested in the welfare of club regulars and ensuring new faces feel at home. Kudos to you all… you know who you are, and you vastly outnumber the rude, arrogant and inconsiderates that crop up every now and then. Good or bad karma, you can be sure that the cosmos is watching…

K is for Kaput… or Kirkham… Our jaunt to the north-west got off to an inauspicious start. Just as we pulled in to the car park of the M6 Northbound Lancaster Travelodge the lights went out, literally. A power cut, the whole kit and kaboodle, ┬áthe entire site was blacked out (except for emergency lighting). The receptionist tried to reassure us that it probably wouldn’t last long – the outage earlier in the week had only lasted an hour or so. As we always like to arrive early there was sufficient daylight to get our gear up to the room (no lift) and unpack before greying dusk turned into the total blackness of evening. As we left, in search of a bite to eat, we found the lobby area crowded with angry patrons besieging the poor receptionist. And, of course, there was nowhere on site open – so we had to head north for a few miles on the motorway before turning off to find a restaurant… the food was good, but the 20-minute wait for dessert kinda tainted things somewhat. Ah well, back down the M6 to get changed into jiva performing garb… but, of course, the electricity was still off, so we had to dress in the dark and Jimmy had to forego the shave and so we headed off to Skipton with him sporting designer stubble!

The rest of it was much better than that early, ominous beginning. We played at three folk clubs (Skipton, Maghull and Fleetwood) and two care homes – we enjoyed meeting new people, listening to different singers and musicians, and our performances were well received with some talk of return next year. Super!

On the Wednesday we had an evening off and had booked to see Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby at Kirkham Concerts near Blackpool. There was a 25-minute support slot from a local and then Cathryn and Brian entranced us with their unique and compelling delivery filled with emotion, genuine warmth and professionalism with a touch or two of humour (especially Brian’s risque anecdotes and jokes at the start of their second set). The singing and playing were wonderful and the audience lapped up every last moment – to the point of the evening running beyond the usual finish time.

Cathryn & Brian performing ‘Two Hearts’ – one of our favourites – at Kirkham… magic!

This week we also caught up with Anthony John Clarke and Julia after their return from America and New Zealand. Welcome back! We’ve missed you… Anthony John was guest at the Friday Folk Club in Guisborough (yes, you’ve guessed, on Friday) and, in addition to catching up on US and Kiwi-land tales it was great to see him perform in his own inimitable irresistable style. Julia accompanied him on accordion for a couple of numbers, including the ‘additional’ encore where he also asked us up to join them for our very own ‘One More Song’… it’s a thrill to have him perform one of our songs, and it is indeed an honour to know that it will be on his next album, and it doesn’t get any better than closing a night up there ‘on stage’ at his invitation.

Just remember…

Tuesday Night…

Is Always…

Karaoke!

Keep on keeping on

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