FaBclub review
1st February2009
written by
Dennis Homes

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 style.

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 rendition.

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.
Dennis Homes