To be honest, I was still suffering from the effects of a touch of Flu whilst on this visit to Devon; and although I was up for playing a couple of my songs at an Open Mic Night somewhere, I really wasn’t quite the ticket! However, I wanted to make good use of my time staying with Rob Wheaton, so we decided to drive over to the Acoustic Warehouse at the Passage House Inn, Kingsteighton, for their regular Monday Open Mic Night. The day before, we’d been to the exceptionally good Oxjam Folk Festival at Hope Hall in Exeter (See my previous Blog entry #28), so although I was fired up musically, I was also knackered – you could say that the spirit was strong but the body was weak!
When we arrived at the place, we were warmly welcomed by Master of Ceremonies RICK LAWES, and two ladies called Janet and Mary – from whom we bought a raffle ticket. We also met the founder member of the club, NIGEL DEE; and sound man MARTIN SIDEBOTHAM. The Acoustic Warehouse was founded two years ago by Nigel, who recruited old friends Rick and Martin soon after. The venue is an old pub, now used for functions and small gigs – the new pub is just across the car park where you have to go to get a drink as the venue is ‘dry’. Such venues are frequented by many talented amateur, local musicians; who are, I find, almost invariably welcoming to strangers; and encouraging to passing performers. The Acoustic warehouse is like that – friendly, cosy and informal. I liked it.
Rob and I had arranged to meet fiddle player Sophia Colkin there, as she lives not too far from the venue. As she wasn’t able to stay for long, MoC Rick put her and Rob on stage first. Being well used to each other musically, due to them both being members of the local folk band DEVONBIRD, they played a very impressive couple of reels – or were they jigs? – well, whatever they were, they obviously had been well practiced, and I think everyone present enjoyed their turn.
I joined Rob then; and we did his thought-provoking song ‘Tomorrow’s World 1978’; which went down well with the small audience. Next we did my folk song ‘Golden Boy’. I’ve played this live before (see my blog entry #12B); but I managed to fluff the thing up at several points on this occasion – I seemed to be all fingers and thumbs! I felt much better seated for my next song ‘Mid-Life Crisis Blues’ (which just about sums me up these days – and a lot of other blokes I know too – that’s why I wrote it!) This was performed a lot better (I’ve played this before too – see entry #12A). Rob played excellent lead for me on both of my songs – thanks mate. Then I left the stage while he did his second number alone: his excellent ‘Essex Song’; which is about growing up in Dagenham.
Next on the agenda was mandolin player, MARC WOODWARD who played a couple of excellent pieces. Several varied turns – which were either good or very good – followed: a man called John did a couple of songs which included a Neil Diamond cover. A fellow known as ‘Owly Dave’ (so called because of his work with owls) played a long-scale bouzouki; and another John did two excellent blues covers: Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Glory Of Love’; and Memphis Minnie’s ‘What’s The Matter With The Mill’.
The boys of the Acoustic Warehouse also performed. Martin played a couple of his own numbers – the names of which I unfortunately can’t recall (for which I apologise), but which were very good. Rick played two of his own too: ‘Can’t All Die Down Here’ (about a mining disaster); and ‘Swine Flu Blues’; both of which were also very good. And Nigel played a couple of covers; one of which was an excellent rendition of Reg Meuross’ ‘And Jesus Wept’.
Later on, Rob and I were asked to do another number each. I chose to do my mellow Blues song, ’40 Years, 40 Days, 40 Nights’ (otherwise known as ‘The Face Book Song’) with Rob, of course on lead as he is familiar with it. He then elected to do his celebrated ‘Festival Song’. This went down very well, as I expected; but I was surprised to receive a couple of compliments for my ’40 Years…’ song – a relief after my ‘Golden Boy’ fluff-up! Further success was to come my way too, when I then won a bottle of red wine in the raffle that we’d entered earlier. I think everyone else did a further turn too. Then some blokes from Birmingham turned up, and one of them did a good cover of Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something To Me’ on a borrowed guitar.
The final act was another turn by Marc who recited a funny self-penned poem about a lady who bizarrely kept a pair of man’s hands in a box! All in all, a good little session. When I get back down to Devon (next year sometime), I’ll definitely think about returning to the Acoustic Warehouse. My thanks to all staff and performers; and especially to Nigel for filling me in on some details. PTMQ.