THE NEWslETTER OF TIGERFOLK
June 2017 Edition
Well, you have to do it don’t you? Realising that it would be 52 years almost to the day that I first saw Bob Dylan live (at Newcastle City Hall May 1965) I had to get tickets to see him at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on 5th May. As the time drew near, and despite a nightmare return journey from Aberdeen the night before finally arriving home at 2am, I was so looking forward to the concert. While the Arena is not my favourite venue to see or hear him the reviews of his previous appearances around the county in the national press had been so encouraging that hopefully Nottingham would live up to all of this. On the night we had a good if rather high view of the stage and generally the sound was ok with his band being exceptional; Bob was quite energetic over the almost two hours with possibly a few too many of the “American Classics” he champions these days as opposed to his own stuff – the majority of which he performed was great to hear. Naturally in social media and the press the public were totally divided; the usual tiresome observations that he didn’t communicate with the audience, he didn’t play guitar, they couldn’t understand his songs now he has amended them and he didn’t perform his greatest hits. Others were enthralled by his performances but had plenty objections to the quality of the sound at various venues. However what did unite everyone was the behaviour of some of the audiences at various arena concerts.
The previous time I saw him in Nottingham I was amazed at the continual stream of people walking alongside our row to get drinks, food or use the facilities for the entirety of the gig so thinking that I would escape this being high up on the side, that’s where we sat. Only a handful needed to leave their seat during the event where we were but down below you were conscious of continual movement to the bar or bog. Then two blokes in front of us mid way through the performance began a long and loud conversation which, while I could hear the music, it was still distracting. When the woman next to them asked them to shut up they were quite amazed but did so to a degree. Afterwards my Mrs said that she was on the verge of doing so herself so they could count themselves lucky for escaping that!
What totally floors me is the fact that tickets, once all add-ons had been applied, were in the price range of £85 -£65 so why in Hell pay that sort of money to wander around the hall, play with your mobile phone or talk to your neighbour?
Quite coincidentally this sort of behaviour was being questioned on Mudcat Café in relation to smaller gatherings, either folk clubs or music and song sessions where some participants are totally oblivious to what is happening around them and barge into a room where someone is performing and greet their pals in a loud manner and continue in such a selfish manner throughout the night. While I haven’t seen this happen at TATT I did experience similar activity a year or so back in another folk club when while a performer was singing from the floor a couple opened the club room door. Seeing that a performance was in progress did they quickly shut it and wait until the end before re-entering? No – they used one of their music stands to prop the door open while they hauled all their gear into the room and then proceeded to carry their kit across the room to a vacant table completely oblivious to any disruption that they might have caused.
Unfortunately we are being told that we have come to expect this sort of thing as it is indicative of the “me generation” the “me society” in which we now live. Do we now have to become accustomed to being barged into in the street by those too interested in reading their I phones to look where they are going or who decide to replay some musical interlude on the said object at umpteen decibels much to the annoyance of the others around them on public transport, café or pub? Much like to motorists that I encounter most mornings who will steam up the least congested lane before cutting into the one that they require at the last minute, assuming that because their indicator is flashing that is ok; or those who these days park on street corners or pretty well take up most of the pavement because it is “outside of their house”?
Of course there are many more examples but the frightening thing is that should the results go the way everyone is predicting on June 8th then it is going to become an awful lot worse!
Is any of this familiar or do you think that folk club rules are too rigid? Do let us know your feelings or experiences on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 4th June 2017
Many years ago, on holiday by the shores of Lough Ness, I took my daughter to see a community adaptation of Macbeth played out in the ruins of the chief castle of the original historical character and we found, to our pleasure, that the project was managed and directed by Bob Pegg. My daughter already knew him as the man who ran the Children's Drama Workshops at Whitby Folk Week rather than as the musician I remember from previous years. For years, we all though Bob Pegg had renounced singing for theatre and storytelling. We were right - he had - but now, to our great relief, he's decided to embark upon a short singing tour - very short, and this will be one of your very view chances to get to hear him ; not an opportunity to be missed
Just to repeat what Corinne has said I had it confirmed to me in the last couple of days that this appearance is exactly that – part of a one off singing tour and at present there are no plans to repeat or expand this idea. I last heard Bob sing in the mid-nineties, at a storytelling gig during a festival to which I arrived late due to an accident on the M1, and before that it must have been back in 1976 when we had the opportunity to book him at our club and he totally floored everyone by concluding his first half with the towering “The Gypsy”.
Any chance of that being repeated?
It was Easter Tuesday when we saw the first blackbird fledgling out the back. Dad was busy feeding it currants and dried meal worms for a few minutes before they flew into the safety of the trees. Soon there were four youngsters being fed on a regular basis and the old fella was certainly kept busy. He has always been friendly, flying in to take the dried fruit we put out every morning but with the arrival of the family, well, I’m not saying he’s knocking on the door, but as soon as food is laid out, he and the young are there. A quiet word to them while they feed on the dividing wall and a slow walk to the shed for meal worms and as soon as that food is thrown on the ground, down they come for their second course. The breeding season is well under way. Over at Rutland Water it has been an interesting start to the season as the pair of Ospreys we help monitor are ahead of schedule and unusually four eggs have been laid. Because there is a camera on the nest everything can be monitored and recorded and the accepted norm is three eggs. But how many times are more than three eggs laid but not all are fertile and hatch, nature doesn’t always play by our rules or as we expect.
This train of thought was triggered when Sam Lee appeared on the national news on the BBC in a Kent wood on a wet night listening to and accompanying Nightingales a couple of weeks or so ago. Great publicity for folk music and nature. The plight of Nightingales is, sadly, not the exception but the rule for many resident and migrant species and not only birds. I know we are almost as far north as Nightingales come but their numbers do vary and sadly seem to be in decline. Only three or four have been heard at Rutland Water so far this year as recorded by one of the wardens but we live in hope. A little further south near St. Neots in Cambridgeshire, you will find Paxton Pits and it was there we had our first real experience of Nightingales. It was a lovely May day with the sun shining and up to 30 of these magnificent songster singing their heads off. As we turned a corner on a path between some shrubs, one bird started singing within a yard or so of us and he literally had us veering away from him due to the strength and power of his singing. A truly unforgettable experience. Heading further south and Sussex has brought many encounters with Nightingales and to wander through unspoilt countryside with the South Downs as a backdrop and being surrounded by birdsong gladdens the soul.
Many have been inspired by birds and Barry Temple, a songwriter of great repute, is no exception. His song “Sing Your Song Sweet Nightingale” was written after an encounter with this mellifluous bird whilst on a crepuscular walk in the Arun Valley in West Sussex. Beautifully written and it is complimented with a tune worthy of his words. By the time TATTERS reaches you the song of the Nightingale could be a distant memory for this year. Fortunately for us, Ingrid and Barry Temple have recorded this, one of my favourite songs, on their CD “All Dressed Up” and it is also sung around the country by folk that we know who seem to share the joint passions of birdwatching and singing.
Our guest this month, Bob Pegg, native of the parish of Long Eaton, has also recorded his terrific song about Skylarks or rather the training of a young skylark for singing competitions and, with a bit of luck, we shall hear on June 4th.
Since starting this article things at Rutland Water have changed quite dramatically for although all four eggs hatched only two now survive. As mentioned earlier, nature doesn’t always play by our rules, for it is red in tooth and claw.
Sunday 7th May 2017
Val Marsden & Graham Pirt
You do wonder about heavy metal fans. Downstairs, I struck up a chat with one of the ‘metalliski’, as I like to call them, by commenting on the appearance of a Bellowhead beer at the bar. Afterwards, reflecting on both the excellent evening upstairs and the talk downstairs, it was the theme of participation that piqued my musings. Now, the metallisksi do have head-banging and air guitar, but I feel that their experience of participation is mainly about being part of a sometimes-derided community. Does that last part sound vaguely familiar to us folkies?
Anyway, we’ve got singing. There was a lot of singing, of the joining-in variety, at our last meeting. It was an evening that got off to a quiet start – you tardy little devils – but fortunately the room, complete with not entirely suitable table arrangements, did fill up eventually.
Hopefully our guests felt that the room’s vocal facilities were already warming up nicely as Dave Sutherland began the evening with Blow The Man Down, Corinne Male offered the timely May Morning Dew, and John Bentham further set the tone with Sing Your Song, Sweet Nightingale – sing your song indeed, the theme of the night, I think. The other half of Team Bentham, Sheila, was MC for the night and gave us a Tudor-set tale influenced by a report in Norfolk court records.
Then it was on to Val and Graham’s taster spot. If it was not already obvious that it was going to be an evening of much communal singing, any misapprehensions on that score were firmly blown away by the opening Souling Song, even if the following Thames Lighterman number was more downbeat. Not all timely songs in May are about May itself, sometimes we have elections to look forward to (?), and hence Alex Glasgow’s Turning The Clock Back seemed right on the money. And what’s the surname of the Tory leader again?
Sam Stephens then made a welcome reappearance; his rendition of A Close Shave strikes me as a “very Sam” performance and one of his best. We then had a more May-specific pair of songs, Phil Hind with Bring In The May (presumably not Theresa) and Lynne Cooper with As I Roved Out. For some reason that I cannot recall, I then prefaced Ratcliffe Highway with a brief history of Thames Ironworks FC (later West Ham United), doubtlessly raising the academic-historical level of the evening (cough). Fortunately, normal May service resumed as Steve Plowright gave us Pleasant Month of May, and this section of the evening ended with Bill Wilkes singing Charming Molly.
Val and Graham’s first long set started (much as it continued) with some really strong songs, and the mixture of the very familiar and the less well-known was a noticeable feature. A couple of classics to begin with, then: The White Cockade and Jamie Foyers (the latter providing the evening’s second pairing of shipbuilding and football, even if neither is the main point of the song). Tarporley Hunt and Home Lads Home extended the variety of Val and Graham’s set, which developed further
with The Raiders (poem by Will Ogilvy, melody by Maddy Prior), Phil Colclough’s Light Across The Bay and Graham’s own Jarrow Song. This was a very well thought-out selection and the same can be said of the final set of the evening.
Whack! Straight into ‘peak participation’ songs at the beginning of this section: Oak And Ash and Thorn followed by Mally-O. I imagine the choruses were pretty audible downstairs and perhaps beyond! Things then took something of a literary turn with songs based on Rudyard Kipling and G.K.Chesterton texts respectively. I suppose the next song, Bob Dylan’s Restless Farewell (a kind of elaboration of The Parting Glass), counts as literary now too, thanks to the Nobel committee.
Sheila had made a point earlier about not bringing Cockersdale into the evening’s introductions; I think I’ve left it late enough now, but I do get Sheila’s point – it’s a very different example of course, but Richard Thompson must love being referred to as “the ex-Fairport Convention guitarist” (note to journalists: he left the band 46 years ago). So, the point about the evening is that at this stage we got a couple of very welcome Keith Marsden songs – new repertoire for me – The Drover, with its touch of Vivaldi in the melody and Normandy Orchards (about D-Day and its aftermath), the latter a real emotional show-stopper in my estimation.
“You’re singing so well, we thought we’d put in an A-Level” was the introduction to Terry Conway’s Farewell Regality. Well, thanks, you’re singing very well yourselves, we’ll have a go at it – and we did. A sharp and smart repertoire turn saw an unexpected appearance for the Incredible String Band’s Log Cabin In The Sky to finish the main set, before Alex Glasgow’s All In A Day was the very well-merited encore. I know I am almost invariably enthusiastic about Tigerfolk evenings, but for me this was one in the ‘kick yourself if you missed it’ category. Thank you, Val and Graham. A last word to all our folkie readers – keep joining in with the singing. If you don’t, I’m afraid it’s air concertina.
SEE YOU AT THE STUMBLE INN!