25-Dec-2011 Q Is For Quebec

Or Quintessential… or Quick…

It’s also for quaff and quiet (are they mutually exclusive?) – Christmas can be a time for quiet reflection, thinking of friends and family who are not sharing the festivities… maybe they are working (essential and emergency services can’t stop), it may be that they are in the armed forces posted overseas, possibly they are unwell (in hospital even), or they may have lost a loved one. So, while we celebrate, let’s spare a thought for others less fortunate.

We’ve done our fair share of quaffing over the past few days – we’ve dined out with friends and also with family (both times at the Maharaj’s Lounge – a recently opened Indian restaurant in Blyth), exquisite food accompanied by champagne, or red wine, or sparkling water and the ubiquitous lager! We’ve also discovered a rather sumptuous red South African Shiraz (via Naked Wines) and have been enjoying (to quote a wonderful new 2011 Christmas song) “a glass of good wine after dinner“… and there’s there’s always that bottle of Southern Comfort that’s been half empty (or is that half full?) for a very long time – we may manage to drain it by the end of the year. And, of course, there’s always the lovely champagne (courtesy of a very good friend) to enjoy with Val’s scrumptious cooking as we sit down to Christmas dinner… and then we may even settle down to (yet another quote from that song) “watching repeats on TV“. How quaint… quite, quite…

Q is for Quintessential… or Quick… it has become part of the jiva tradition (isn’t it lovely to have been together long enough to have established traditions!) to include with Christmas cards a quick round up of the year – not a full description of everything (that would take quadrillions of pages and would have recipients quaking in fear of receiving the pallet-load of printout – “P” was last week’s blog theme!), but just the quintessential stuff that sums up jiva-ness… sort of jivanassence or jivanesscent happenings. And so we thought it might be a way to share the highlights to those quirky folks who don’t read every jivacoustic blog. We can tell you’re quivering with excitement at the prospect  – so quit quarrelling and quickly move on to the next few paragraphs…


Here we are again and Christmas will soon be upon us. We’ve been busy over the past few weeks with our new Christmas song ‘Old Fashioned Christmas’. We’ve had great fun filming and playing with various bits of software and different effects and have uploaded a video to YouTube which you can see at:

Hope you like it – it’ didn’t make it to number one for Christmas, but (like our ‘Best Friends’ album) we’ve made it available from CD Baby and iTunes to buy as a digital download.

This year has run along pretty much the same lines as last year – great fun with the music and other projects, and never enough time to complete everything or get bored! Life is just wonderful.

We completed ‘Jim4Kids’ for our friend Jim Wigfield and he was chuffed to bits with the finished CD. The recording project with John Jeffrey has been delayed due to a few health problems he has had but we’re now back on track (pun fully intended) with it and hope to complete this soon. We recorded and produced a 3-track EP/CD for another friend, Dennis Jorgensen – we expect him to be back to do more next year.

And we’ve also been asked by Anthony John Clarke to design the artwork for his forthcoming new CD – that should keep us busy for the next few weeks! And we’re thrilled that he is doing our song ‘One More Song’ on this album.

And what of  jiva, the gentle blend of acoustic guitars and vocal harmony?

We’ve travelled throughout the country playing – constantly out and about performing at folk clubs, care homes, garden centres, village halls, festivals… you name it, we’ve been there. Highlights for the year included;

January saw us down in Liverpool at the opening night of the Club Cellar Bar Folk Club. We were honoured to be asked by Allan Taylor to play at a memorial concert in February that he arranged on behalf of his close friend singer/songwriter Ewen Carruthers who had died a few months before. We had always been meaning to try out some of Ewen’s songs and, sadly, this was the push we needed to do it. We worked out our own delicate arrangement of his lovely song ‘Mr Anderson’ and this is now a firm favourite in our repertoire. That month we had our first guest night at Aycliffe Village Folk Club and will be doing another guest spot there in 2012. March found us again at the Ingleton Folk Weekend fundraiser – always a well supported event. We also had our second appearance at Woodhorn Colliery Museum ‘Thank Folk Its Friday’ series. We’ve two more TFIF gigs booked for 2012 already.

In April we attended a Taylor Guitars roadshow event in Newcastle where we not only learned more about woods and body shapes but also got the chance to play some lovely instruments too! Before we knew it May was upon us and it was time again for Clennell Hall Folk Festival. This year we ran events in the Reception Area with our own one hour performance set in the afternoon and a half hour set in the evening on the Saturday. On the final Sunday morning session we also had another 30-minute spot and wow! what a great time we had. We had them raising the roof to ‘No Nay Never’ (our parody of the ‘Wild Rover’) and our own ‘One More Song’. Time for a bit of a break… so in June we travelled to Gloucestershire for a week visiting a number of folk clubs for the first time including Banbury where we had been given a 30-minute support slot. It was lovely to meet up with Paul & Carolyn (ex brother-and-sister-in-law of Val who she’d not seen for over 25 years). We also fitted in a couple of care home gigs in the area too. Very much a busman’s holiday really.

July was a busy month taking in performances at a Christian Aid concert, a garden centre coffee morning and a local music festival. In August our friends Andy & Cath (ItsAcoustica) invited us to play at their ‘house concert event’ at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle, an evening of music with friends. Steve and Kristi Nebel were back over from America for an Autumn tour and in September they stayed with us again for a few days. We had helped them with artwork and CD replication for their new acoustic album. We managed a few trips out with them, including Holy Island which was lovely.

In October we were asked by Fools Gold to join them at the Stanley Arts Centre to play at their CD launch concert. And later that month we had a double header guest night at Netherton Folk Club with ItsAcoustica. It’s always lovely at this club and that night was no exception. November found us playing at a Music and Tapas Night at a trendy café in Bedlington (the Root Bean Café – lovely cosy venue). This is a new venture by them trying to promote live music nights, and we wish them every success. A few days later we made another visit to St Oswald’s where we played a 45-minute set at their Christmas Fair, then we dashed home for a quick bite to eat before rounding off the day with a support slot at Richmond Swaledale Folk Club for Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby. December rounded off the year with more Christmas Fair playing, a pub/hotel/restaurant gig (we’d been recommended to the new landlord by locals/residents – wow! thanks!) and a golf club restaurant performance where we sang for our supper… we’ve got another performance commissioned for between Christmas and New Year, then we can rest (comparatively speaking) for a few days!!!

There has also been our usual round of regular visits to local and not so local folk clubs singers nights and, of course, our care home gigs. These have expanded even more this year to the extent that we play on average 5 or 6 of these a month. We love them.

2012 promises more of the same with folk clubs, festivals, U3A and care home gigs already confirmed.

Val has done less temping in 2011 (couldn’t fit them in for all the music we’ve been doing) for a firm of solicitors in Morpeth but, again, was asked to their Christmas dinner!

Our matching pair of Kala ukuleles (‘Duke’ and ‘Luke’) are now a firm favourite part of the jiva act. You can see them in action in a video of us singing another recent self-penned song, ‘In Hawaii (In My Dreams)’, at:

www.jivacoustic.co.uk/ has full details of all jiva happenings, so why not stop by here occasionally and drop us a line or give us a call?

Best wishes for Christmas and the coming new year. Hopefully our paths will cross soon.

Off to quench the thirst… blogging is quite demanding – now, where’s that corkscrew?

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