What a tremendous night it was at the Waveney Folk Club in Lowestoft yesterday. The welcome we received from club organisers and audience members alike and the support for what we do were as pleasing as they were outstanding.
With it being the last Friday of a half-term holiday, we set off good and early to make sure we were in Lowestoft in plenty of time for the club starting at 8.00pm. We arrived in the town around 6.00pm-ish and, after a bite to eat in a lovely pub overlooking the Oulton Broad (The Wherry), we drove the short distance to the Gunton Village Community Hall where the club is held every alternate Friday.
Club organiser, Peter, was already busy at 7.15pm transforming the hall into a convivial folk club setting. In this he was building on the work of caretaker Ann who had been in that morning and set the tables and chairs out. Peter’s warm greeting made us feel at home immediately and Ann couldn’t have been more helpful in organising things so that we could effect an easy transfer of gear into the venue.
As the room was beginning to fill up, MC for the evening, Mel, arrived with Wendy who was looking after the drinks and snacks for the evening. Again, they gave us the most wonderful of welcomes.
Mel started the evening promptly at 8.00pm performing an excellent introductory song. This presaged nearly an hour of top club talent providing the floorspots. We had everything from Black is the Colour through to Lord Randall. We had a seriously good short set from two-thirds of local folk trio Tin River and, joy of joys, club member Graham performed with his hurdy gurdy. I love the hurdy gurdy, so this was a real treat for me.
We then went on to perform our first set and found the now reasonably full room, laid out in café style with (LED) candles on tables, very content to support us in our choruses. The banter through the evening was great and we quickly developed a lovely rapport with the audience.
Following a ten minute break in proceedings, club member Andy did a ‘hot spot’ feature. This is a nice idea where a club regular gets the opportunity to perform a slightly longer set. We all appreciate it can take a couple of numbers to get into one’s stride when performing and just doing one or two songs or tunes can make it hard for club floorsingers to really show what they can do. This longer time slot allowed Andy to show a good range of his material which stretched from Matty Groves to Billie Holiday’s Electric Chair. A really nice set.
We then assumed the floor for our second set which was, again, enhanced by the acoustics in the room. Albeit a modern building without any noticeable acoustic enhancements, somehow the room provides the most wonderful natural reverb, great for encouraging performers and great for people around the room all of whom, front or back, can hear the acoustic instruments really well.
The second set went as well as the first and we were delighted to respond positively to audience calls for an encore. After the show, we had the most lovely feedback and, if CD sales are a measure of such, it was clear that the audience enjoyed what we had done.
Finally, after chatting with a number of club members, it was time to pack up for the long journey home. Caretaker Ann was there right to the last minute, still smiling and joking, making sure we got away OK. After a gig like that, the two and half hours back to St Albans passed very quickly.
Thanks to Peter Hood for his invitation to perform at the Waveney Folk Club and to Ann, Mel, Wendy, Jim, Graham, Andy, Tin River and all the other performers for making it such a memorable evening. We very much hope to make our return to the club at some time in the future.