Bideford Folk Club, The Joiners Arms, Bideford, 16th June 2022

We knew we were in for some glorious weather when we set off mid-morning for our long trip from St Albans down to north Devon to perform for our first ever time at the Bideford Folk Club.

Sharing the driving and punctuating the journey with stops at various motorway services (some better than others) meant that the heavy traffic and long distance didn’t prove overly taxing.

We arrived in Bideford around 4:00 pm in good time to join MC for the evening, John, and his wife for a cup of tea in their lovely garden, before slipping down to The Joiners Arms in central Bideford to set up for a 75- minute workshop for club members in which Rob introduced musicians at the club to some of the tunes and songs we perform.

The workshop was well attended by around ten club members, who brought along a wide variety of instruments and who proceeded to work hard on five pieces with great humour and commitment. Then, wonderfully well organised by John, it was time for everyone to have a pizza supper from the nearby Italian restaurant ahead of the evening's performance.

The upstairs room at The Joiners Arms is a nice, cosy, venue for the folk club and I'm pleased to report it filled to capacity before the evening's concert began.

This was our first ever gig in Devon and it was great to hear the club floor singers singing material that was new to us. Over the course of the evening, the four floor singers, who all sang and played very well, each performed two songs and, I confess, all eight of their songs were new to me.

In terms of our own performance, through the lockdown we have introduced quite a bit of new material including a lot with choruses. This seemed to prove ideal for Bideford Folk Club members who joined in everything with great gusto and skill. New self-penned songs like ‘Pirates Dressed in Pinstripes’ (about those who aid and abet money laundering in London) and new traditional songs such as ‘Nancy from London’ all seemed to go down very well.

We were given lots of excellent and supportive feedback after the performance which, given the work we’d put into rehearsals for this first series of gigs in a while, meant a lot to us.

Clearly, with a gig so far from home, we stayed in the local area that night.  Indeed, we were generously hosted by another senior club organiser, Alison. Amongst a great array of musical and community commitments, Alison does a wide range of business activities including running a B&B near Braunton. I can comfortably say without fear of contradiction that Rob and I had as comfortable a night ‘on the road’ as we have ever had in Alison's lovely B&B. Her hospitality was overwhelming and her company delightful.  We also had high drama as, by flinging himself like a professional goalkeeper, Rob was able to just prevent Alison's daredevil young cat, Laurie, making its escape through an upstairs window that had only a 3 metre drop to a concrete drive beneath.

We would very much like to thank John and Alison for all the kindness they showed to us and for looking after us so well in the beautiful town of Bideford. Likewise, we’d like to thank all those that worked so hard in the workshop and came out on a warm evening to see us perform. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the club and the town.