The Herga Folk Club holds a very fond place in our hearts and it was lovely to have the opportunity to perform there again. After a lengthy period of hard work in the recording studio between January and March, our visit to Herga marked the start of a busy schedule of headliner gigs for us over the remainder of 2014. It was great to be out playing our full set again; the chance to do so in such a welcoming environment was doubly appreciated.
After deliberately spending much of January and February close to home, recording and mixing material for our new album, it felt like a nice return to business as usual as we got back in the car and on the road again for our first gig of 2014.
Very kindly, when a slot became vacant to support Keith Donnelly at Ely Folk Club, Club organiser Ruth Bramley extended us the invitation to play. Having last worked with Keith at Bromyard Folk Festival six months earlier, this seemed an excellent way to renew both our acquaintance with him and with Ely Folk Club.
This was na-mara’s last gig of 2013 and it proved a splendid way to finish the year.
Dunton Folk is a relatively new club. It is uncompromising in its focus on high quality acts and has seen a star-studded list of guests perform there already in its short history. This evening was a Christmas celebration with top quality musicians Blast from the Past, and we were playing support.
Through local folk activist Alison Macfarlane na-mara had been honoured with an invitation to finish off a fund-raising evening at The Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans. The event was aimed at raising monies for the casting of a bronze statue in honour of local resident, Tom Watters, who had served bravely as an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War. Born in Glasgow, Tom had left his job as a corporation bus driver in the city to go to Spain in 1936 as a member of the Scottish ambulance unit. When the war finished he came to live in St Albans.
Reading Folk Club has been supportive to us from our earliest beginnings and it is always a pleasure to return there. Now based in RISC, the Reading International Solidarity Centre, performers at the club can be confident of a good, quiet, airy space to play in, with an appreciative, friendly and attentive audience close up. There is good food and beers in the wonderful cafe downstairs, and the whole place has an easy going vibe. Una and Colin, with the help of others, run an excellent club with a nice programme of performers, its own newsletter as well as its own mini book stall.
It is always a pleasure to play at the Barnet Folk Club. Organiser JJ is always good humoured and welcoming and there is a good and friendly crowd of listeners to play to, and an excellent p.a. system to play through.
Such are the fond memories of our visits to the Cambridge Folk Club that I was surprised when Rob told me that, other than to perform briefly at a charity evening organised by club members Les Scrine and Deirdre Murphy, it had been a full 18 months since we had played there.
We arrived in good time for a full sound check, in the very capable hands of Les Scrine. We also had chance to chat with our friends at the club before the evening truly got underway. Downstairs in the bar, it was also good to see some old friends turn up unexpectedly and catch up with their news.
It is always a pleasure to play at the Watford Folk Club. It was doubly wonderful to find out that our appearance coincided with the fifth anniversary of the relaunch of the club. The committee at Watford Folk Club have done a really terrific job in growing membership and, through their popular singarounds and guest nights, have brought a lot of pleasure to people in the surrounding area through their hard work. They are also now beginning their second annual song competition which is a wonderful way to develop and attract new music.
It was lovely to receive a request from Alan Castle, and Bob and Kathy Drage to return again to play at the Tenterden Folk Festival. We had enjoyed our time there last year and were happy to make the long trip again to this very pleasant festival.
We had an early workshop on the Saturday morning and set off well before the motorways got busy, arriving around 9.30am. The workshop itself was intimate and the players talented and fun to be with.
After letting the usual daily madness of the morning M25 calm down, we loaded up ‘the van’ with our instruments and necessaries on an overcast Friday morning and set off for Bromyard. Despite the weather, excitement was running high as great news had reached us earlier in the week.