On a very cold day, with the occasional snow flurry, I made my way to the
warm atmosphere of the FaB club to celebrate the club's fourth birthday. I
can still remember one evening at the Romford Folk Club when Claudine
first mentioned her idea of opening up a folk club in the Grays on a Sunday
afternoon. My first reaction was, "A club on a Sunday afternoon!! That will
never work. Very few people will bother to turn up on a Sunday afternoon?"
But how wrong I was! And here we are four years later with the club going
as strong as ever.
Ken opened up, resplendent in a pair of orange fleece gloves, with a self
penned poem entitled "Daffy Duck's Advice", madly philosophical in a
typical Ken style. He followed this with another of his poems called
"Tommy's Dilemma", a most original way of portraying the irony and
stupidity of war.
Our regular guitar and squeeze box duo Bernard and Maureen were next
on with a couple of jaunty pieces that evoked a whole load of foot tapping
from all around. These were "Woodland Flowers" and "Marmalade Polka"
Their second piece started off in a more slightly refined mood but soon got
everyone picking up shakers, tambourines etc. This medley was "Walter
Gidney's Waltz" and "Three Hand Reel".
Margaret Lady Formby then came on with yellow ukulele and gave us her
rendition of the old Harry Belafonte calypso ballad, "Island in the Sun". A
very summery song that served as a great antidote to the cold wintery
weather that we were experiencing. She then got everyone singing along
with the old karaoke favourite "Hi Ho Silver Lining".
Paul Steel presented us with a couple of John Martyn songs. John Martyn
had died earlier that week, and he had surely left a big mark on the British
folk scene as a great songwriter and fantastic guitarist. Paul's individual
style rendition of these two songs were indeed a great tribute to the great
man and he sang and played them with true feeling.
Ploughman's Lunch were next with the traditional chorus song. "Three
Score and Ten" which, in the good old folk tradition, is an extreme song of
death and disaster and yet evokes everyone to join in the boozy chorus!
Their next song was an American song based on an old poem which also
had a good sing along chorus.
Rocking Bob then came on to give us a couple of good old time songs. First
was "Blue Moon turns to Gold". I always thought that this was an Elvis
Presley original, but Bob informed us that the song was originally written in
1941 and was revived many years later by Elvis. Bob sang and played this
very well and the song really suits his laid back style. He then followed this
with the old Bobby Darren classic "Things", which once again got everyone
singing along in the chorus.
Len rounded off the first half with two songs from the 60'/70's, my favourite
period for music. The first was "Thank You" the Led Zeppelin number. This
was followed with the old Manfred Mann classic "Pretty Flamingo". I love
the lovely full sound that Len gets with is hammer-on flat picking guitar
International Men of Mystery opened up the second half, a most welcomed
return to the club for this dynamic duo. From just two acoustic instruments
these guys get such a full, almost orchestral sound. All their pieces are so
carefully arranged so that the instrumental combination is like one voice.
The instinctively know how to use dynamics; knowing when to hold back
and where to allow the music to really go full rip. I do hope that they return
to the club in the not too distant future.
JoJo was next up, moving the furniture around, as is her want, to give her
plenty of stage room. She did the second verse of a Thomas Hardy poem,
"The Year's Awakening", one her favourite writers. This verse was most
appropriate with today's weather. She followed this up with a song by her
favourite singer Buddy Holly, "The Valley of Tears". A really lovely heartfelt
It was my turn next. "Perfect Afternoon" was my first number followed by a
song specially written for the club "The FaB Club Song"
Liz, our compere for the afternoon gave us one of her own poems, a very
evocative piece called "Another Year", which as we would expect from Liz,
contained such vivid imagery.
It was a most welcome return for Claudine, back from her year's stint in the
States. She opened up with one of her newer songs "Fortune Cookies don't
have the Answers". She followed this with "I'll be Gone Tomorrow". Both
her guitar playing and song writing skills have improved enormously.
These were both extremely well constructed songs, very melodic with
strong lyrics. I shall really look forward to listening to her new CD.
Bill Pardon gave us a new hilarious song that he had recently written about
joining My Space called "Cakehole Presley is my friend". He followed this
with song that has certainly become his most requested anthem, "Fifteen
Times a Night". In fact Bill is now known as 'the 15 times a night geezer'!
Helen rounded off the second half with the John Lennon classic "Working
Class Hero", followed by "Wayfaring Stranger". I don't know the origin of
this song but Helen performed this haunting ballad in the style of the Eva
Cassidy version. A style that really suits Helen.
During the second break the raffle was drawn and the FaB Club's super 4th
birthday cake made by Linda was cut. The afternoon's session was
delightfully rounded off by a final reprise from, Bernard & Maureen,
Margaret, Paul, Ploughman's Lunch, Bob, Len, Claudine and finally the
fabulous International Men of Mystery with a rousing version of the
Shocking Blue song "Venus". A truly great afternoon enjoyed by all.