Ever since na-mara formed, we have been travelling up the A1 to play at the Baldock and Letchworth Folk Club and, as a result, have become close friends with club organisers Alan and Sue Hewson. We have also made a lot of good mates amongst club regulars there. So, there was a party atmosphere when we visited this time around and it was lovely to see so many of our friends coming out to hear us.
Back in June 2013, we had the pleasure of supporting Bob Fox at the Great kNight Folk Club in Northampton and were delighted shortly afterwards to receive an invitation from club organiser Andrew Wintersgill to return to the club as the featured artist.
Loughton Folk Club is a well run, highly active, and welcoming place to play. It has a fine room upstairs at the Loughton Club which manages to accommodate a good number of people without losing any of the intimacy needed for folk music. Run by John Hart and others, it has always been supportive of our music and has an excellent track record of embracing artists from nearby areas as well as more established, national, artists. It also has a proud record of fund raising through its ‘nights of protest’ and other events.
We made sure we were on the road bright and early to travel across Hertfordshire to play once more at the excellent Stortfolk. Organisers Jon and Hilary McNamara (no relation) and Stortfolk club members have always been most welcoming and appreciative of our work and it was great to be seeing them all again.
An early arrival allowed us a brief time to have a wander around the centre of this very pretty town before the folk club got underway. After about 30 minutes exploring we returned to the car, picked up our instruments and made it over to the club.
There is nothing more pleasing for a band than when a club gets in contact directly to invite you to play. Terry Parsons from the Newport Folk Club had reviewed the video material on our website, thought we might fit the bill for club members and had contacted us through our web-site. Naturally, we were very pleased to accept his invitation and make the trip to south Wales. We had played in Maesteg in May 2012 and been keen to return to the area ever since.
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.