Friday – The Larks / Brent Adams
I got the proceedings started with a couple of my own songs. ‘Wrecked on Love’ is an old song from my latest album ‘From The Vaults’ this was followed by the yet to be released (but has been regularly escaping for a couple of years now) ‘Punkfolk’. As neither guest acts had arrived I roped my good pal Percy Paradise in to do a bit of guitar noodling with me. Percy used my guitar as he hadn’t intended on playing and sadly declined to play any of his own fantastic songs. For anyone unfamiliar with the term noodling it means improvised fills and lead solos. We did some covers and this song from my debut album ‘Never has to Shout’ as Percy played slide guitar on the recording.
With still no guest appearance acts arriving or any Open Mic walk in performers, I carried on and picked on the bloody good wife this time for ‘The Ballad Of Ann Boleyn & The Burglar’.
When I forgot the words to ‘Yarmouth Town’, the brilliant performer and Norfolk Folk authority Brian Gaudett stepped up to help; we’d never done anything like this together before, as guitars of any sort are really surplus to requirements for real folk songs but it was great fun and we both enjoyed it.
Like bleedin’ buses both featured guest turn up at the same time. Brent Adams and his banjo playing pal Leon went on first and raised the musical bar somewhat.
Taking it even possibly a step higher were (the very talented and incredibly busy with 3 performances on the day)- The Larks. They treated us to an eclectic set including this Nick Lowe composition and Elvis Costello hit
The story goes.…. this song was written on a very productive evening by the band Brinsley Schwars along with four other songs. At the end of the session rather than try to work out who contributed and therefore owned what % of the rights to each song they just decided to take a song each. Nick Lowe took this one which led to a lot of ruffled feathers and a court case when Elvis Costello had a huge hit with it.
The Larks brought the first open mic session to a close and I’m sure the audience were happy as they continued on into the theatre to see living legend Richard Digance and The Larks were happy heading off to perform a set at the Albion.
Saturday Afternoon – Gerry Bamford / Poacher
Having got the ball rolling with ‘London Irish’ and ‘Johnny McEldoo’ on came Norfolk’s own Bob Dylan, Gerry Banford. Gerry is a genuine Welshman, unlike Dylan who just stole a Welsh man’s surname! Gerry is front man with ‘Back Pages’- a band specialising in Bob Dylan songs and here he performs ‘The Boots Of Spanish Leather’.
Poacher, like Gerry, were all set and ready to go, so I wasted no time in getting these three masters of Trad harmony up and ready. They like many traditional singer, shun amplification and in this case rightly so. I had asked Gerry not to perform this Dylan classic as I was hoping they’d perform their fantastic arrangement of it.
Still having plenty of time left and no visible open mic’ers, I spotted a local favourite of mine who had been outside with The Kemps Men Morris team and had just popped in to use the loo. Chaiman of FOND (Friends Of Norfolk Dialect) who may hate me saying this- is very like a Norfolk version of Pam Ayres! So I was not gonna let a talent like Diana Rackman get out without amusing us all and she most certainly didn’t disappoint with her tale of ‘Senior Moments’
Saturday Evening – Chad Mason / Andrew Taylor / John Mosedale
Jurnets Music House comes to Cromer! Every Friday during term time next to the River Wensum and The Waterfront (mainstream music venue) on King’s Street in Norwich, there is a Tudor built crypt that is one of the best acoustic clubs I’ve ever attended and had the pleasure of performing at; two of it’s very talented hosts were guesting today. Uncertain of time frame of having 3 guests I wasted no time getting Andrew Taylor on. For a man that doesn’t play live very often, he was remarkably relaxed warm and funny chatting about his Yellow Submarine socks that we could take to safety if something happened to the Pier and we all ended up in the Sea. A very unique character in that he’s very into his prog rock and his songs are complex and beautiful, while at the same time having an earthiness that is reflected in his down to earth Mod persona. I chose to introduce him as he did me at Jurnets once as ‘Entertaining and melodically pleasing’…here is Andrew Taylor
I had been asked a little bit before the festival if I could accommodate another guest at this session. A friend and recommendation of Richard Digance, John Mosedale was an unknown quantity but very enjoyable, funny, charming and professional.
I was thoroughly delighted to have the brilliant Chad Mason to play. I’ve known Chad for a good many years through Jurnets but over the past few have got closer as friends through the Folk In A Field Festival in Central Norfolk’s West Acre. We have both attended and performed since it started and I was overjoyed to hear this year Chad will be hosting the festival as MC. I know from the time that I have spent with him that he has Irish roots but his music and songs I feel are quintessentially English; not too far removed from Nick Drake but never consciously. Chad is wonderfully Chad and not trying to be anyone else, and I sooner listen to his ‘Meandering Mind’ album, than Nick Drake anytime.
Sunday Afternoon – Alastair Robinson / Pete Rushmer
Like last year, everyone turned up on the last day wanting to play but we got there, with only one person disappointed by not getting to play. A serious lack of communication on my part didn’t even ruin things for me.
On the Thursday evening before the festival, Pete Rushmer sent me a message asking could I fit him in a slot on the Friday and I replied I couldn’t be certain as I had two guest performers but I’d most certainly try if he was there. After several messages went back and forth, I realised I had booked him as a guest on the Sunday afternoon but had not told him! Luckily we had sorted this issue before he arrived to play on the Friday. Pete was there Sunday armed with guitar but there were also a few open mic’ers, so a nice couple called Brian & Susan started the session.
Alastair Robinson hadn’t arrived so I continued with Pete who played two of my favourite songs of the sea ‘All For My Grog’ and this one ‘The Mermaid’.
Another couple of open mic’ers had turned up and because my other guest Alastair had not arrived, I was able to put them on…
and finish the Session myself.
Every year for the past few it’s at this point in the festival Julie and I have a little break from the plethora of acoustic guitars and songwriting trubadors and head to the Cliftonville Hotel for some Norfolk traditional folk with FOND & The Richard Davies Memorial Session. Sadly we didn’t get there in time for the FOND session but were lucky enough to enjoy a few funny stories and songs and a bit of Fiona Davis’s glorious step dancing among some familiar faces.
Sunday Evening – Chris Moore / Joe & Mary
With more Open Mic’ers gathering can you imaging my surprise when Alistair Robinson arrived to play his promised slot which, like Pete Rushmer, I had mistakenly forgot to tell him about! He had tried to message me, which I did receive on my home computer at 1am on Monday morning, but for some reason best known to the alchemy of www.technology.bastards!
Rather than be daunted by it, I wasted no time at all in getting started with Norwich Folk Club Chairman Martin McDonnell
quickly followed by fine songwriter Sarah Smith
and onto my first guest. Chris Moore who despite my suggestion to just add a “ty” to his first name in order to fill venues with folk fans. is like myself, still playing to less than full venues. Chris in my opinion is one of the best folk performers in the county with his grip on the guitar styles, choice of material and authentic natural singing style I put him next to the likes of Martin Simpson and Stuart Forester only he is possibly more ‘folk’ as he unlike them possesses a fine beard.
Kindly Alastair offered to only do a couple of songs and I’m so glad he retuned to perform what is for me, the definitive version of this much recorded classic American gospel folk song.
I’m not saying that I saved the best till last, because I don’t really believe anyone artist is better than any other, just different but I do believe that this performance of John Lewis’s ‘Joe’ original song stole the show. I have seen Joe & Mary several times but I’ve never seen them perform better. I also have to say a huge thank you to them for not insisting on using a condenser microphone as they usually do and also not having notes on a music stand in front of them, something I always feel is a barrier between a performer and an audience. Joe and Mary can be found in Fakenham most Wednesday along Alastair, myself and a motley crew of musicians of varying abilities but you rarely find a friendlier or more inclusive session. This however is Joe & Mary magic that you can only really catch at one of their more intimate shows.
I closed the open mic session by playing ‘Punkfolk’ again before rushing off to get spruced up for my main stage appearance.
Sunday Evening – Main Stage
A ‘SOLD OUT’ 500 seat theatre should have probably have made me more nervous and it would have, if I had considered for a minute I was getting between the audience and their beloved Oyster Band. A group, two of my closest musical pals absolutely adore! Because the day had gone so well, I was quietly confident I could pull this off without too much of a hitch. So how did it go? judge for yourself…
Just a few thank you’s before I sign off. Firstly to my bloody good wife who filmed all these wonderful performances, drove, sang, roadied and supported me over a very manic weekend. Scott Butler, Jenni Randall for putting this amazing event on, Fiona Davis for getting me involved in the first place and her step dancing. Chris Gill for capturing the great images on his camera every year, All the acts (booked and that walked in to play) and lastly all the Theatre staff and audience. I look forward to doing it all again next year. Here are some links if you wanna see more of some of the acts that played.
Joe & Mary https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008504856094
If there are any others you would like to contact please contact me and I’ll try and sort it for you. Anto xxx