Saturday, August 27, 2011

Important information

The City Folk Club will NOT be meeting on Friday 9th September because the Guide Hall will be otherwise occupied.

Otherwise, it will be business as usual for all other Fridays in September, and throughout October.

Being The 26th of August, 2011 ...

Berry appeared thus:

As host for the evening, he welcomed twenty participants and made a prompt and enthusiastic start at 20.22 hours precisely.

Here's what we heard:

Walk Right Back: Berry & Ken
Clare Morris: Howard
Take me back one more time: Marion & Mick
Lavender's Blue: Yvonne
The Harvester: Mike
John Barleycorn: Roland
Will the Circle be Unbroken: Angela
Unchained Melody: Tony
The Bergen, v.1/The Road will be calling us on: Eddie
Rolling with the Flow: Les
When this bloody war is over: Nigel
12-string shuffle: Mick
She's like the Swallow: Lynda
Rout of the Blues: Colin
Burglin' on the side: Ken
Forty Shades of Green: Howard & Berry
Carolina Pines: Marion & Mick
Everybody's Talking: Marion & Mick
Mortningtown Ride: Yvonne
Fotheringay: Mike
Butter and Cheese and All: Roland
West Virginia Miner: Angela
Home Lads Home: Eddie
You can't Read my Mind: Les
Maggie: Howard
Dark-Eyed Molly: Nigel
O'Carolan's Draft: Mick
Molly Bawn: Lynda
John Ball: Colin
Lara's Theme: Berry
A Layabout's Lament: Ken
Scarlet Town is Burning down: Marion & Mick
Halcyon Days: Mike & Yvonne
Miss me when I'm Gone: Angela
Thousands or More: Eddie
Jambalaya: Berry, Ken and full cast

Thirty-six items of music, a preview of Tony's bathroom suite, engaging banter, a creole menu: what more could you desire on a Friday evening?
No tears were shed and there was no poetry ...
... and it cost you nothing!

Be warned: next week it will cost you £2.00.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Being The 19th August, 2011 ...

Dogsbody has been away for a few weeks.
Last week he was here:

Nevertheless, on his return from remote regions, he was grateful to receive reports of the club's activities.
He is delighted and encouraged that his absence passed unnoticed.

Lynda diligently chronicled the song list.
Here it is:

Steal Away: Paul
College Boy: Lynda
Lazy Bones: Allis & John Gradwell
When somebody thinks you're wonderful: John G. & Allis.
Bouffard's Waltz, Hebridean Waters, South Wind & The Red Lark: Lorna
A Merry Little Minuet: Roger
Seashore: Mick
A Sound Proposition: Tony
Ballad of Accounting: Ken
Bright Fine Gold: Mave
Crantock Games: Nigel
It's a Wonderful Life: Paul
Andrew Lammie: Lynda
Ain't Misbehavin': Allis & John
Up the Lazy River: John
Blaze Away: Lorna
Roll on John: Roger
Ride a Mile (slip jig): Mick
Bidin' my Time: Ken
I live in Trafalgar Square: Mave
You were always on my mind: Nigel
Girl from the North Country: Paul
Most of us are Sad: Lynda
Momma's little baby loves shortnin' bread: Brenda
My Heart belongs to Daddy: Allis & John (plus Paul)
Who's sorry now?: John
Nelly Bligh: Lorna
Waltzing's for Dreamers: Roger
Blues in E: Mick
The Mary-Ellen Carter: Ken & Mave
Thousands or More: Nigel

No mortal injuries seem to have been inflicted, no complaints have been received
... and no money changed hands, did it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Early one morning between Snaresbrook and South Woodford …

I started the best gainful employment I ever had at the age of thirteen.

My day began at 6.00am, and the morning paper-round occupied an hour or so that most people wouldn’t normally use. Mr. Unwin, the newsagent on Hermon Hill, was a very kind employer who paid me 7 shillings and 6 pence a week.

About the same time I learned to whistle, and I would gaily walk the streets whistling my favourite melodies in the cool hush of each morning as I pushed ever-increasing thicknesses of newsprint through inadequate letter-boxes.
Dvorak was my favourite: I could handle all four movements of his 9th Symphony, and my rendition of the adagio was the forerunner of a well-known advertisement for bread.

At the end of Falcon Way, (part of my round,) there was a footbridge traversing the overground section of LT’s Central Line.
One day I stopped whistling to quietly observe an early commuter making his way to the tube station at Snaresbrook.
He wore a pin-striped-suit, a bowler-hat, and bore an immaculately rolled umbrella. With great agility he ascended the steps at the top of which he launched forth with a clarity and purity of voice that was astounding:

“Early one morning …,” he sang … and the Sun rose!

“Wow!” I thought.
A young soul was captivated.

Thereafter my whistling graduated to Rach 2 and those Paganini variations. I even attempted Beethoven’s glorious 5th piano concerto. I was rather good at Sibelius’ Karelia Suite, and for moments of adolescent gloom I took on RVW’s Tallis variations. Schoenberg, of course, was beyond me.

But … every weekday morning I would cease my cacophony at 3 Falcon Way.
If I was early, I would wait.
If it rained, I sheltered under a nearby laburnum tree.
Regularly this man appeared and, to my delight, he would repeat the same ritual.
I wondered about him ...

What was his day-job?
Whence cometh his confidence to greet and celebrate the day in such a public fashion?
I wanted to say, “Hello,” but I was very shy in those days.

Thus was born an interest in folk song.
That city-based financier, or whatever, will never know the gift he gave me, but I thank him.

Here are some lyrics:

Early one morning, just as the sun was rising,
I heard a maid sing in the valley below:
"Oh, don't deceive me, oh, never leave me!
How could you use a poor maiden so?"

"Oh gay is the garland, fresh are the roses,
I've culled from the garden to bind on thy brow.
Oh, don't deceive me, Oh, never leave me!
How could you use a poor maiden so?"

"Remember the vows that you made to your Mary,
Remember the bower where you vowed to be true.
Oh, don't deceive me, oh, never leave me.
How could you use a poor maiden so?"

Thus sung the poor maiden, her sorrow bewailing,
Thus sung the poor maid in the valley below:
"Oh don't deceive me! Oh, never leave me!
How could you use a poor maiden so?

Of course, people my age will remember this from schooldays, and realise that its inclusion in music lessons totally missed the point.

Watch out for the second chapter in this serialised autobiography in due course.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Being The 12th of August, 2011 ...

I know that Angela set up the room.
Here she is, admirably demonstrating how to sing to the club's music stand:

That's great, Angela, and thank you.

It is rumoured that Paul was MC.
(I have yet to obtain a suitable image of Paul, but you all know what he looks like.)

Dogsbody was unavoidably absent giving this excuse: 'ear wax', so what actually went on remains a mystery.
This post will therefore be edited when such intelligence is shared.

Addendum, 24/09/2011:
Paul has finally shared intelligence about the 'doings', as follows:

All The Good Times: Paul & Roger
On my Way to Canaan's Land: Angela
The Turkish Lady: Roland
Love is Life: Mave
Rufford Park: Ken
Geordie: Sheena
Out of the Blue: Mick
Little Bitty Tear: Berry & Howard
The Chivalrous Man-Eating Shark
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow: Phine
L'Assassin: Tony
Banks of the Nile: Roger
A Very Good Year: Paul
The Shepherd's Daughter: Angela
The Ship in Distress: Roland
Rue (? Herb in my Father's Garden): Mave
The Indian Lass: Ken
Volunteer Fire Department: Sheena
The Rambling Pitchfork: Mick
We'll Meet Again: Berry
A Fire in Mauritania: Howard
It's Too Late, Baby: Phine & Sheena
Things are 'bout Coming my Way: Roger

Friday, August 12, 2011

Being The 5th August, 2011 ...

We have to thank Laura for setting up the venue and for occupying the hot seat:

Here are the items that were performed:

Come Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl: Laura
What a Friend we have in Jesus: Roland & Roger
Don't Forget the Singer: Angela
What have they done to the Rain?: Margaret
Bind us Together, Lord: Yvonne
My Favourite Colour Scheme: Mike
Buddy, Can you spare me a Dime: Roger
Leaving on a Jet Plane: Lucy
Home, Lads, Home: Eddie
D'you want your old lobby washed down?: Ron
Enrico/Alexandra Park: Alan
School Days Over: Nigel
Little Vagabond: Ken
You are my Honeysuckle: Mave
Bridge over Troubled Water: Sheena
Pilot of the Airwaves: Paul
Wild Mountain Thyme: Laura
Spanish Ladies: Roland
I'll Fly Away: Angela
The Four Marys: Margaret
My Grandfather's Clock: Yvonne
We'll Meet Again: Mike
The Dimming of the Day: Roger
Dream River: Lucy
See that Rainbow Shine: Eddie
Eavesdropper: Ron
Blessed Margaret Pole/O'Carolan's Welcome: Alan
The banks of the Tees: Nigel
Going for a Soldier: Ken
Do you Remember: Mave
One more Cup of Coffee: Sheena
O, Very Young One: Paul

Even during the holiday season a respectable attendance of at least 17 bodies was achieved
... and all this would have cost the casual observer nothing at all!
I wish I'd been there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And now for the next obscure instrument ...

I came across this ensemble in Switzerland last week:

Hans Kennel mit Alphorn Werkstatt Zug

I asked Hans, "What tobacco do you use?"

These instruments made a very pleasing sound, and there were no polluting emissions.
You can find an example at alphorn.

So, Lorna, how about trading in those smaller woodwind instruments for something like this?
(I have a web-link for a retail outlet.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Different Kind of Folk Club

Some of our number found themselves in Yorkshire last week, and decided to see what the Scarborough Folk Club was like. It runs from 9pm on a Monday evening in an ethnic pub in the middle of Scarborough. The dark, wooden ethnicity of the pub was only undermined by the absence of sawdust. The two real ales were... off, leaving Guinness, John Smith's on keg and something else. The 'club' was in a smaller area, through a wide archway, down a few steps, so sound spill could be a problem. Wheelchair access, even if you got through the street-level but angled entrance, is therefore very difficult, and impossible unaided.

Our experience of this 'Folk Club' might not be typical, but we speak as we find. We've been to some 'clique-y' clubs, but this one took the cake. THIS IS NOT A FOLK CLUB - it is an irish ceilidh band in public rehearsal. The 5 or 6 musicians sat round a table at the narrower end of the small room, and studiously ignored the ten or so 'audience'. To give them their due, they didn't actually stare and say "You're not one of us, so **** off", but their attitude seemed to be simply that. They might have had ten of the best singers in the world in the pub, but they wouldn't have known, nor, we suspect, cared. Although we entered and left between items, others just wandered in and out whenever they wanted to. One of the 'in-crowd' would start a tune, and the others crept in, on mandolin, fiddle, concertina and guitar. All played quite competently, but the finishes were, at best, ragged. After each tune, a discussion ensued about technicalities of playing for ceilidhs, such as the right tempo for a reel. No attempt was made to acknowledge, let alone involve anyone outside the 'inner circle'.

After five or six tunes, the lady guitarist started very promisingly to sing a slow song to her guitar accompaniment, but, as she had her back to us, and all the other clique members joined in playing the melody line and comprehensively drowned her out, we couldn't tell what she was singing. Then somebody started another tune. We concluded that that would be the pattern for the evening, and at the end of the tune, we left.

On a scale of 1-10:
Welcome: zero
Friendliness: -273 (i.e. absolute zero)
Inclusivity: same
Musicianship: would say 7, but for the crassness over the lady singer, so 4.5

Compare this with your experience at the City Folk Club, and rejoice in your good fortune.