Rob and I had a great time on our first visit to Overton Folk Club yesterday evening. We were very warmly received and heard some first rate performances by club regulars in a very convivial setting in the Community Centre in the middle of Overton. What more could one want for a nice evening out?
Overton Folk Club organisers Tom and Gill had seen Na-Mara perform at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival last year and were kind enough to extend an invitation to play at the club, something we were delighted to do.
Given the risks of tea-time on the M25 we set off for Hampshire late afternoon and actually made to the delightful village of Overton in north-east Hampshire in good time. Curiously, as we searched out a place to park, we began noticing increasing numbers of human-like figures, in medieval and other garb, hiding in bushes and hanging on walls. I’m pleased to say the mystery was solved once we clocked the sign advertising the village Scarecrow Fair coming up in about ten days time.
Once we had parked up we made our way to the venue where we met the lovely Tom and Gill who proved to be the most accommodating of hosts for the evening. Not wanting to interfere with their preparations for the evening ahead, Rob and I slipped away to have a sandwich and a cuppa, returning in good time to set up our instruments at one end of the beautiful Community Centre Hall. The room was by now set out café style with accommodation for up to 60 people and as we moved towards the start time, the room began to fill up. It was very lovely to have a series of audience members come up and individually welcome us to the club.
Bang on 8.00pm, Tom got everything underway in what was now a nicely filled room and Gill started the evening with two cracking tunes on her melodeon. Gill was then was followed over the next 30 minutes or so by a remarkable set of floorspots from talented club regulars. There were excellent self compositions, traditional songs, music hall songs, some country and western songs; some were sung accompanied and others sung a capella; tremendous fun - and the banter around the room was great.
It was a very warm evening but it did not deter those present from heartily supporting us in the chorus songs in our first set. It was also clear that this was an excellent listening club as well. Just our kind of audience.
At half time we had a nice chat with a number of other club regulars and, after the raffle had been drawn, we were treated to a further 20 minutes of excellent music from an almost entirely different set of club regulars. Gill and Tom started the second half with an excellent rendition of ‘Bridget Donaghue’. This club really is blessed with strength in depth.
We delivered an upbeat second half and were pleased to be joined in some of our songs and tunes by club regular Roly on bones, which added a nice extra bit of percussion. Again, the support from club members for the choruses was excellent throughout and, at the end of the evening, we were naturally delighted to be asked to perform an encore.
After we finished, it was very nice indeed that a succession of club regulars took time out to come and thank us for our music and it was most encourage to note that the things Rob and I hold dear like ‘music from the heart’, ‘musicianship’ and ‘variety’ were all mentioned unsolicited by audience members.
As the room emptied we packed up and, with Tom and Gill’s help, loaded up the car for the return journey home. We certainly left Overton with smiles on our faces. Even the closure of the M25 and the lengthy detour it lead to couldn’t suck the joy from what had been a truly terrific evening. As Overton Folk Club reaches its 10th anniversary, we wish it well for the next decade.
Many thanks to Gill and Tom for the invitation to perform at Overton Folk Club and we sincerely hope to return to the club again at some stage in the future.