After the exertions of Thursday to Saturday, it was time to ease back a little on Sunday. We had no formal playing commitments that day so we took the opportunity to go for a walk with friends alongside The Water of Leith, down to the bustling area of Stockbridge in Edinburgh, where we had lunch. Then, in the afternoon, Dave and another friend, Ross, were on hand to help us with a little photo and video shoot during an impromptu house concert. Watch this space in the coming weeks for evidence of their hard work over the course of that afternoon.
Rob and I both love Scotland. As such, when the chance arose for us to play a series of gigs north of the border, we were absolutely delighted to accept. That the tour would also entail two gigs with our great friends in Scottish-Spanish folk collective Gallo Rojo made the prospect doubly delicious.
Audience sizes at music venues are unpredictable and, not for the first time, we arrived at a club on a quiet night. Who knows the reason why the Amberley Acoustic Music Club was so quiet that particular night? Given it was our first visit to the club, it can’t have been a conscious decision to stay away. It was the first evening after the club’s summer break, it was a bit parky, Bake Off was on telly, the second round of the Carabao Cup, who knows? It is just one of those things and, as far as I can make out, it is something many fellow travelling musicians have experienced.
It is always a thrill to visit a new folk venue and we were delighted to have been invited by club organiser, Mark Pidgeon, to perform at the Wychwood Folk Club in west Oxfordshire last weekend.
The club is fortunate to operate out of two attractive venues, Tiddy Hall and The Swan Inn, in the lovely village of Ascott-under-Wychwood and we had the honour of being the first guests to perform at the recently refurbished club room at The Swan Inn - and very pleasant and comfortable it proved to be.
Rob and I have had the pleasure of playing for the Friends Music Society in Welwyn Garden City a number of times before, most recently in April 2010 and again in October 2014. So, it was a real pleasure and honour to be invited back to perform for the Society once again.
After a somewhat fitful night’s sleep for me at least, Rob and I were treated to a lovely breakfast by Peter and Geoff before setting off back to the Shrewsbury Folk Festival site on Saturday morning. Once there, we checked on CD sales (which were very decent) and had a coffee before getting our gear together and walking the ten minutes off site to the Bird in Hand pub where we were to begin the lunchtime programme at midday.
Rehearsals were over, the packing was done and it was time to set off for our first experience of the wonderful Shrewsbury Folk Festival. The weather was fine, the roads were kind and we made it easily to a service station near Telford for lunch.
Suitably refreshed, after lunch we drove the last few miles to the festival site which was already busy by the time we arrived.
What a great time we had last night as guests of the Cambridge Folk Club, performing as one of a number of representative bands at the Club Tent on the Cambridge Folk Festival site at Cherry Hinton Lane.
Despite the best efforts of the predictable Friday-night-in-the-school-holidays road chaos, we managed to make it to the artists' car park and then onto the festival site in plenty of time for our performance.
Once on site we immediately ran into friends, seeing, first, Patti and then Roger Pitt, organisers of the great St Neot’s Folk Club.
After an excellent evening performing at the Caerleon Arts Festival on Monday, we were excited to be returning to south Wales again for a Wednesday evening performance at the Llantrisant Folk Cub in Pont-Y-Clun. The Llantrisant Folk Club is a vibrant club with a great schedule of headliners and we were very pleased to be invited by club organiser Pat ‘Spoons’ Smith to perform there.
This year is the 80th anniversary of the evacuation of 4,000 Basque children from Bilbao to Southampton. It is also the 80th anniversary of many of the battles that the British Battalion of the International Brigades fought in during the Spanish Civil War. Quite rightly, therefore, there are many commemorative events occurring this year and Na-Mara has been honoured to be invited to participate and perform in a number of them.