Friday, 28 February 2014

morris folk club

On Tuesday I went to the Morris Folk Club. I took my guitar to a folk club for the first time. In fact it's the first time I've played the guitar outside my own house for over twenty years - possibly only once since I came to London, at an early church weekend away. I'd thought about taking it to Sharp's but never reached that point; I'd have needed to feel more confident; I've been playing the guitar more since joining the choir, both with the folk club in mind but also in the knowledge that the choir does use accompaniment so it may come in handy in that regard; it would be nice to play with others, as it would also be to sing with others too, and I think enabling combinations of performers is something Michelle hopes for in the folk club, as well as allowing individual performances and building confidence in general.

Although Sharp's was always very friendly and accepting of all performers, Morris folk club is more so, undoubtedly because it's mostly people from the choir who I've been getting to know, and you feel that many people are at the same place as you in terms of expertise and experience in performing and in 'folk knowledge'; very much among friends.

I did, with a little preamble including some of the above, Lady of the Sea, by Seth Lakeman, which went okay; everyone was as supportive as I'd have hoped for. Lady of the Sea is one I'd been learning myself over the last year or so; later I sang Sally Free and Easy (which I know from the Corries), which I've been playing on the guitar much longer (I had sung it unaccompanied at Sharp's before) but which I gave a bit more structure to when I decided I'd play it, and that went okay too. I muffed changes and strumming a few times but pressed on; also the tuning wasn't as great as I'd have liked it. I did have to re-tune up a bit before both, the first time while standing there, which I'd been afraid of but knew I'd have to do; if I'm going to do it again I'll need to invest in some kind of digital tuning aid which everyone seems to have these days. Indeed, Andy had a free app on his mobile (Andy had emailed a few folk from church about coming along, after I'd mentioned it to him, and Gabriel and James Savin also came along). Afterwards Gabriel looked with wonder at my capo; not that he'd never seen one before, but never one like that, it being, as Andy pointed out, a museum piece compared to elaborate modern capos. They weren't the only non-choir members at the folk club; I think Michelle said there were ten such.

It was our second Morris folk club held at our new venue, the Hysteria Bar on Kingsland Road, where we moved for rehearsals at the start of January. The first one was on Tuesday 28 January; in fact the next week we moved our rehearsals to St Barnabas church hall, not far away. We had been having the rehearsals downstairs at Hysteria, and it was a bit dark, low-ceilinged and musty; so wasn't ideal. The folk club we held on ground level, however, in a slightly wider space at the back beyond the long thin bar area, so it was separate but still part of the bar. (There had been talk of getting a curtain up in between us and the rest of the bar this time, but that didn't come to pass.)

We had made a conscious decision to scale up the folk club this year, and clarify the split between open rehearsal and folk club, and be more strict about not letting it turn into another rehearsal if no one else turned up. In fact the first time I went to Morris (last June, I think) was just such an occasion, when it was meant to be a folk club but they'd made it a rehearsal evening, but that was fine by me. The only actual folk club I made it along to last year was the one at the end of November, which was still mostly a rehearsal but several folk did sing at; I sang Stop The Cavalry by Jona Lewie, which went okay.

Having it in a public space at the back of the bar, rather than wherever our separate rehearsal space was, as at the two previous venues, certainly committed us to sticking to that scaling up. We also did a bit more promoting of it. We did get some new folk along to the one in January. At both the ones in January and February non-choir-members performed. In January I sang Cruel Brother (the Corries version - we're doing a version of Cruel Mother in the choir's childhood theme) and When She Loved Me (related to our childhood theme, but not really a childhood song - it's the Randy-Newman-written song from Toy Story 2 which Cowgirl Jessie sings about the girl whose toy she was, but out of that context it's a song of lost love).