For the third year running we were pleased to accept an invitation to play at Les Ray and Deirdre Murphy’s sponsored Red Velvet Music Marathon. Les and Deirdre are committed fund raisers for cancer charities and, being musicians and well connected through the local folk communities in Cambridgeshire and beyond, have for the past three years organised a 24-hour music session at The Golden Hind pub on Milton Road in Cambridge.
We first come across the NAF Club when it was featured in the excellent Herts., Beds., Bucks. and Cambs. local area folk magazine, Unicorn Magazine. Located in Silsoe in central Bedfordshire and run by Ned Lawton of the very friendly and very talented music trio, Ragged Staff, the club’s name lays out its intentions clearly, namely, to provide a local venue for acoustic music beyond just the folk genre. The full name for the club is the NAF (Not a Folk) Club.
A Sunday night trip to Twickfolk to support Jez Lowe - what a nice way to start the year’s ‘gigging’! Having spent many hours in quiet rooms finishing the mixing and mastering of our new CD ‘Navajos & Pirates’, it was good to get back to rehearsals and performing. A straightforward trip round the North Circular to a club we have long admired, was an ideal way to begin our 2015 schedule of gigs.
At the end of 2013, Rob and I were asked by local folk activist Alison Macfarlane to play at an evening at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans to raise funds for the casting of a bronze statue in honour of local resident, Thomas Watters. As mentioned in our blog from that event, Thomas left his job as a Glasgow city bus driver in 1936 to serve as an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War and, when the war finished, spent the remainder of his life in St Albans.
We have been regular performers at the Barnet Folk Club in recent years and it is always a pleasure to see organiser JJ Dunne and club members. JJ has always been very supportive of our music and we are very happy to support Barnet Folk Club.
Back in April 2010 we were invited to play a showcase for the Friends Music Society in Welwyn Garden City. That evening proved to be a most enjoyable experience and, having been invited this time by the Society to perform a full two times 40 minute set, we were really looking forward to going back.
Following a performance at the Gate to Southwell Folk Festival back in 2011, Rob and I were very happy to accept an invitation to perform at the Carrington Triangle Folk Club in Nottingham in February 2012. We had a wonderful time there and have kept in touch with club organiser Martin Smalley ever since. It was, therefore, nice to receive an invitation earlier this year to return to the club and perform our more recent material for club members.
Club organiser Steve Ramm had kindly approached us after our performance at the 2013 Tenterden Folk Festival and offered us the chance to headline at the wonderful Hoy-at-Anchor Folk Club in Westcliffe-on-Sea.
We had had the pleasure of playing at the club's previous venue in Leigh-on-Sea back in November 2011 as well as the Leigh-on-Sea Folk Festival on a pleasant summer’s day in 2012, and had long been keen to make a return.
After the long journey to North Yorkshire and back on Saturday, the short step to Chesham felt very straightforward. The Chesham Folk Club has been very supportive of na-mara over the years and it was a real pleasure to be returning there again.
The club meets in an upstairs room in the White Hill Centre in Chesham, a lively establishment with a whole host of community-based activities going on there throughout the week and what looks to be a very welcoming bar.
Rob and I have long been observers on the excellent work done by Folk 21 (http://www.folk21.net/). For those unfamiliar with Folk 21, in its own words it is a volunteer run organisation that brings together folk club organisers, artists, agents and fans to sustain, support and develop a thriving “guest booking” folk club scene in the UK.