To the casual eye, modern day Croydon, with its mid-rise office blocks, its fancy shopping centres and its busy commuter station, feels like many towns in south-east England. It is interesting then to note its various links with the Spanish Civil War.
It was both an honour and a delight last night to participate in a moving evening of music and storytelling in the Trinity Fare Cafe in Dartford on the evening of Day 4 of the annual walk organised by the Refugee Tales organisation.
As it has been in years past, it was a great honour for us to be invited to perform at the Annual Commemoration event for the International Brigades, held by the IB Memorial Trust at Jubilee Gardens last Saturday lunchtime.
We both saw an enjoyable end to the month of June last night with our gig at the new home of the former Hove Folk Club. Now called Railway Roots, the club is held in a spacious room at the back of the famous Railway Inn at Portslade, near Hove (picture attached). Located almost adjacent to Portslade station, the pub’s beer garden contains an old railway carriage and much of garden furniture is made from railway sleepers. If we hadn’t been performing, it looked a good place for a pint or two on a summer’s night.
After a couple of hours working up some new materials for the heavy schedule of gigs in the weeks ahead, we set off early to get across the Dartford Bridge before the evening rush hour for our performance at Tonbridge Folk Club, known to many as 'Nellies'.
Arriving in the town early allowed us time to have a walk around the delightful castle and town centre. The castle features in the logo of the Tonbridge Folk Club.
After a quick bite to eat we headed over to the folk club, newly relocated to a room upstairs at Ye Olde Chequers Inn in the centre of the town.
It was fun to be involved in a ‘home-town’ gig over the weekend. With the Town Hall being redeveloped, the traditional venue for this year’s St Albans Folk Festival sessions was unavailable and the organisers had negotiated performance space with half a dozen of the town’s best pubs.
On a high from an excellent day at the Gate to Southwell Festival, Rob and I set off mid-afternoon to play live and be interviewed on Doug Welch’s Sunday evening Kent Folk programme on BBC Radio Kent. We had jointly selected this date with Doug ahead of our gig at nearby Tonbridge Folk Club (Nellie’s) on 20th June.
It was Crowded House who sang that you should 'always take the weather with you'. So, we did our best yesterday to take some sunshine with us from sunny St. Albans. We certainly had 'four seasons in one day' on the drive up the Gate to Southwell Festival on Saturday but, as we arrived, having driven through torrential rain and thickening mist, the rain eased and the sky brightened beyond its Tupperware grey. So, we didn't do too badly.
This particular Friday 13th turned out to be a beautiful day for na-mara to visit the seaside and Seaford Folk Club. Seaford is a pretty little coastal town sitting between Brighton and Eastbourne and, held in an upstairs room above a large and well appointed British Legion Club, the Folk Club must have one of the best views of any folk club in the land. It takes some concentration not to be distracted into watching what is happening out on the water, especially when it lies shimmering in glorious Spring sunshine.
On another beautiful May evening, we travelled to Reading for our third evening performance in four days. Many years ago, Readifolk were the first folk club to engage us for a headliner spot and, through longstanding club organisers Colin and Una Waters and fellow club stalwarts, has been a consistent source of encouragement and support for us ever since.