Croydon Folk Club, Ruskin House, Croydon, 27th June 2022

I'll confess to a level of trepidation ahead of this gig at Croydon Folk Club. This had nothing at all to do with the club or the music and everything to do with rush-hour M25, navigating the fiendishly busy roads of Croydon and finding a decent parking spot to unload the gear for the gig. We managed my motorway worries by setting off very early for the gig with the aim of getting there first and then being able to relax. So, we set off from St. Albans at 2:30pm and it was a good job we did as, with incidents and other issues, it took us over three hours to get to central Croydon. However, with time now on our side after arrival, we were able to find a parking space, scout out the streets around the venue and then move the car to an optimal parking spot just by Croydon Folk Club’s Ruskin House (look for nearby Heathfield Road if you’re heading that way). Once parked up, we had plenty of time to eat our sarnies and at 7:00pm, when the venue opened, we made our way to Ruskin house.

Ruskin House is an imposing building set in its own grounds and is the headquarters of the Communist Party of Britain and Croydon's Labour Trade Union and Cooperative movements. The folk club is held in a more modern facility in the grounds of the house.

We arrived at the venue around the same time as club organisers Brian and Jenny. On a day of sunshine and showers, Brian was resplendent in his black and white MC top with black shorts. It has been a long time since we played Croydon Folk Club so it was great to catch up on all the club news.

As we set up for the evening, club members began to appear. Their numbers increased markedly as the clock ticked round towards the start time of 8:00pm such that, by the time Brian introduced the first floor spots of the evening, a goodly sized audience had assembled.

The floor singers all performed well and we were grateful to them for getting the first choruses of the evening going.

After four previous gigs in quick succession, our sets were by now well-rehearsed and Croydon Folk Club members were soon joining in on choruses with great gusto. It was a really excellent gig. We enjoyed ourselves enormously and, from the feedback we received, it seems clear that many in the audience did too. Again, themes of musicality, player interplay and the interesting stories we tell formed the bulk of the feedback to us.

There were also some lovely stories from the audience itself. Over and above having friends of Rob attending, one couple had come along after seeing us perform when they were on holiday in Bideford only 11 days earlier! What a huge compliment and we thanks them for it. Another couple were visiting the UK from the United States, were keen to see some new folk acts and had travelled out to Croydon from their hotel in the Kings Cross area to see us perform. We'd like to thank them for making the effort to do that and for their kind words to us on the evening.

Very many thanks to Brian and Jenny for the invitation to return to Croydon Folk Club and for looking after us so well while we were there. Thanks also to all the club members who engaged so enthusiastically with us and our set throughout the evening. They very much made it a memorable evening for us.  Their support was both uplifting and greatly appreciated.

Sadly, the Highways Department subsequently did its best to suck the joy out of the evening with a M25 motorway closure on the way home. However, after participating in a noisy caravanserai that was diverted through the sleepy villages around nether Leatherhead, much to the pleasure of local residents I’m sure, it was reasonably plain sailing. In bed for 1:00am.