Along with the two new blues songs that I’d recently written, were a couple of folk tunes that I’d penned too. Again, I asked Rob’s advice; and again he said they were fine, and with a little adjustment, would be good enough to play live. We practiced them, and even did a basic recording of them on ‘Garage Band’ software. Rob’s suggestion was to play them at the Exmouth Folk Club’s fortnightly ‘Open Floor Night’ held at The Manor Hotel that very evening. This is, of course, essentially the same as an Open Mic Night – but without the mic, as this would be a purely acoustic event.
I didn’t quite know what to expect from this night and I must admit to being a little apprehensive. As we entered the music room I noticed it was already quite full of people and there were many varied instruments scattered about. It was obvious that there were many experienced musicians among the crowd already there; and some were tuning up and discussing the tools of their trade with each other. Rob introduced me to several people who were all very friendly and welcoming. Rob had said there would be no amplification (which I was dubious about), but it became obvious to me walking into the room that acoustic instruments would indeed be adequate, and no amplification would be required due to the acoustics of the room and an attentive, quiet audience. The thought of 50 or 60 other musicians and music buffs appraising your skills is a little daunting of course, so I was very glad when Big Mac and his missus turned up again to support us.
Proceedings began with hosts Chris and Tony doing a guitar/banjo duet which was very good indeed. They were followed by a succession of competent musicians playing in various musical genres with a variety of wonderous instruments: excellent guitarist Dave Ward; Frenchman Noel (who sung in his native tongue); the entertaining Canadian David Hoad; Mike Selley, who played mandolin and flirted with the ladies (including Mac’s wife!); and then it was time for Rob and myself to have a go (to go on stage, I mean, not flirt with Mac’s wife!). Quite a few tough acts to follow!
We’d been asked to do two songs in the first half, and two in the second, so we started off with my cynical song about favouritism: ‘Golden Boy’ (which Rob refers to as ‘Golden Balls!’). And this got a chuckle and seemed to go down quite well (in spite of a couple of mistakes). Rob then continued alone with his hilarious alternative lyrics to the Steppenwolf classic, which he renamed ‘Born To Be Mild!’ This got great laughter and applause.
Many more good acts followed. A guitarist called Nigel Challis was up next, and turned out to be Big Mac’s daughter’s guitar teacher. He played a very good cover of James Taylor’s ‘Carolina In My Mind’. Two bald blokes (whose names I didn’t catch – sorry lads!) played a couple of excellent country songs on guitar and banjo. These two were followed by a duo called Guy and Dave who started off with an excellent blues on 12-string and a home-made ‘Cigar-box’ guitar. I’ve never seen or heard a ‘cigar-box’ in the flesh before, so that was quite a treat for me. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about it afterwards. They played really well; right up my street! For me they were the pick of the night.
One lady called Judy played a couple of sweet folky songs; and another lady (whose name I didn’t catch) sang an unaccompanied amusing song about a rooster. A fellow called Simon played a funny couple of songs next; followed by the veteran Dave green who did The Eagles’ ‘Lyin’ Eyes’. The ubiquitous Martin Weller was next before Rob and I were called for the final slot. At last!
My final offering was my unfinished ballad ‘The Bhoys Of The Old 83rd’. Which I based on the life of an ancestor of mine – an Essex boy who joined an Irish regiment (the 83rd Foot) almost 200 years ago. Rob said it would go down well because it has a rousing chorus. In spite of a couple of serious hick-ups, it did go down well too; I’m glad to say! Rob finished the night with his brilliant ‘You weren’t There To Tell Me Not To Do It’, which is a very funny song that rounded off the night superbly.
Afterwards I got a chance to chat with some of the other musos. Everyone I spoke to was very complementary, supportive, and knowledgeable. Another first for me was when I got the opportunity to try out a ukulele. And a couple of people asked when I’d be back again, which is quite a compliment. All things considered it was a memorable night and a great eye-opener – such a great variety of styles and skills. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, I’d like to go back again. I found it far more rewarding than at The Old Barrel the night before.
My God, I’m turning into a folky! Phil The Music Quill