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.
What a cracking night! Back in April, indefatigable folk singer, journalist and Radio Dacorum presenter Daria Kulesh kindly invited us to participate in an evening concert to end the first Dacorum Folk Fest on August 10th. Naturally, we were only too pleased to oblige.
Despite it being a long way to go, after days of blisteringly hot weather in London and St Albans both of us were looking forward to travelling to the beautiful coastal village of Cley-next-the –Sea in Norfolk to play a concert as part of the local Contemporary Arts Festival there. We have found that our music goes down well with the audiences for such events and had a good feeling about the evening ahead.
With a keen eye on weather conditions, we were pretty sure (it being close to midsummer’s day and all that! that we could'nt be prevented from reaching the wonderful Song Loft at Stony Stratford this time by a heavy downfall of snow - but with a summer like this one, anything could happen! Six months earlier, the snow had indeed closed in and both club organisers and ourselves agreed at that time it would not be a good idea for either us and club members to be out on snowy, icy, roads on a night like that. So, with confidence we set off in good heart; nothing could go wrong this time!
Rob and I have played many interesting venues in our time but this is the first time we have played in a courtroom. As part of a weekend of music in the town, courtesy of the St. Albans Festival, local folk organisers, Alison Raymond, Alison MacFarlane and others had arranged a solid eight hours(!) showcasing the best in local folk music in the former courtroom of the old town hall in the centre of town. While a truly grand session of musicians was being taking place in a large airy room upstairs, an impressive string of local folk musicians were performing in the courtroom downstairs.
Wanting to be sure of reaching the Great kNight Folk Club in good time, I picked Rob up from the station and we set out for our first visit to this excellent Northampton-based folk club. The capricious nature of motorways was such that, of course, we arrived with oodles of time to spare with ample chance to relax in the car park at the Old White Hart before the club organisers arrived.
It was with great pleasure that we had accepted Patti and Roger Pitt’s invitation to conclude the afternoon club concert at the St Neots Folk Festival, held in The Priory Centre in St. Neots. The St Neots Folk Club has been very kind to na-mara over the years and always provide the warmest of welcomes – so we were very keen to see everyone again.
We are grateful to the club organiser of Uxbridge Folk Club, Archie McAulay, for his continuing support for na-mara. Half way through our recent performance at the club he informed the audience that we are the only performers to have visited three times since the club was revived by Archie a few years ago. We were unaware of that honour and were humbled to hear of it.
It was with huge pleasure that we received an invitation to play once more at Redbourn Folk Club. This was partly because it is a lovely and welcoming club to play at but also it meant that the club was evidently in good health under the new management of Jenny McNaught and Malcolm Hobbs. Jenny and Malcolm have recently taken the reins following years of great service to the club from Jan Strapp and friends. If our experience of the club is anything to go by, they look to be making a really great fist of it.
Albeit tired from the journey back from Spain, the brilliant sunshine perked us both up no end as we set off for the south coast for our first ever visit to the Hove Folk Club, organised by none other than the irrepressible Robb Johnson himself.