April's club night started off quite slowly with some of the regulars unfortunately not in attendance. Whether or not this was due to the Easter holidays, who knows? Hopefully we'll see them back at the club and on form in May. The earlier start also means that some of those who have to travel a fair distance to the club are often slightly late. This is not a problem (we'd rather you turn up late than not at all) and before long April's meeting was well up to strength.
There were some great performances (as usual) and it was lovely to see some new faces amongst us. As well as the usual songs played on guitar, we had tunes played on the hammered dulcimer, melodeon, harmonica and even kazoo! There was a ballad about disagreements between the Scots and English in the 12th century, a song about an 18th century naval battle, one about the fall of the Berlin Wall and so many Bob Dylan songs that it was almost a Dylan tribute night!!!
As usual, great fun was had by all and the MC did a super job, thanks Rachel.
Forrest Gump Could easily have said, "A Chipping Norton Folk Club evening is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get!" Each month is so varied and surprising music wise, but one thing is for sure.... it is always entertaining! Our June club night was no exception to this and we travelled, musically speaking, from Mediaeval France to Spain, Scotland and Ireland via several other ‘locations’ along the way.
It was wonderful to hear Ann and Brian back in action, as striking as ever both in poem and song. One of the club's many ‘Daves’ sung a beautiful hand crafted song about Tall Ships, and there were a number of skilful guitar players for us to enjoy. A fabulous ‘Trio of Ladies’ entertained us with some gorgeous harmonies and this was followed by a breathtaking version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ from Angharad. Club regular, Bill rounded off the evening as only he can, with a great blues in E major. After a great night we left very much looking forward to next month's meeting.
August's club meeting saw a turnout of some forty five people which is not far short of a record, and an excellent number, for the main summer holiday month! It was also a suitable attendance for a rather special night in which we “saw off” Pen and Peter, the Club's organisers for many years, and whose inspiration has led to us having such a friendly and inclusive set up. They have often been described as a “benign dictatorship”, with the emphasis firmly on “benign”.
The music was the usual eclectic mix with one new singer, Sandy who, whilst expressing extreme nervousness, gave a lovely rendition of a Tom Paxton number. Trevor defied all the dismissive comments about banjo players, with a rather sophisticated piece of accompaniment. One of the highlights of the evening was Dave’s song about the Greenwich Village era (which he is too young to remember….but some of us are not!) and he captured the mood perfectly. Ann was back on form giving us two fabulous poetic treats - a new one about the frustration of sleeveless dresses for ladies of a certain age and another about the delights of owning a new washing machine. For those of you who don't know her, Ann is a genius wordsmith and is Chipping Norton's answer to Pam Ayres; her poems always have us in fits of laughter!
As we are now operating under the guidance of a loosely drawn up committee (aka "The Junta"), it remains to be seen if it can live up to the high standards that Pen and Peter have bequeathed us. We wish you happy sailing on your narrowboat, Pen & Pete!
February Folk Club warms up
A good crowd braved the winter to descend on the Chipping Norton Blue (Boar) early February.
This was the ‘usual’ singaround where each of nearly twenty performers – mostly guitarists, but some solo singers (one in Brazilian) – took turns to entertain us. ‘Folk’ music was interpreted in a variety of styles, from blues to banjo to – Bach (that well known folk musician?).
Plans to augment the monthly (2nd Monday) singarounds with ‘floor spot’ evenings which give the opportunity for local artists to show their stuff have been put off till the summer.
June’s singaround saw 16 performers rattle through their stuff so everybody did two songs by half time, with the now usual variety of styles from different continents. Plaudits must go to Peter n Pen (ex management) who took 3 buses from their canal boat in Shropshire just to be with us (and a few others). It was Dave Wallace’s last time as MC (as he’s moving to Bristol) so first a big thank you to all who wished him well on the card and contributed to the champagne! ( It’s reserved til after the house move we’re told).
A few departing words from Dave, “There are many things that have made my 15+ years at the club special, but the main memory is of the eternally friendly reception, and especially the way that the club is open to all. There are many really talented performers that would grace any stage, whilst those those less experienced – like me – can learn the joy of performing in a supportive atmosphere. So, if you’ve been thinking, well I’d really like to sing or strum guitar but, of course, who would listen to me, then come and give it a go – or just turn up and listen and see if it’s for you.
Au revoir, adios, etc.”
Good luck in Bristol, Dave. Don’t be a stranger, do visit us again sometime in the future.
Patrick’s review of 12 Sept ’16 meeting:
Another great evening at Chipping Norton Folk Club. We met for the second time at our temporary home, The Chequers, and had a great mixture of regulars and newcomers who treated us to a lovely and varied programme.
Rachel Chai kicked things off with a beautiful rendition of Ellan Vannin, the unofficial Manx national anthem. Other highlights included Gemma singing Que Sera, some excellent military songs from Jane and then Kate (with impressive percussion from the audience), Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold” from Tony and Nigel, and California Dreaming performed by Bev and with all present providing Mamas & Papas type harmonies.
Two performances stood out for me. Jules gave us a stunning French version of Jacques Prevert’s “Les Feuilles Mortes” (Autumn Leaves) and Bill wrapped up the evening with a blues in E that had the whole place rocking and joining in.
We were very sad to announce that one of our long standing members, Jane Gridley, passed away in December at Katharine House Hospice, surrounded by her close family.
Jane sang regularly at Chippy Folk Club and always delighted us with her song-writing, her stories, her warmth and her humour. She was a true talent, with a beautiful voice and was a wonderful person who will be sadly missed not only within the club environment but within the local community and by her family.
A wonderful celebration of her life was held at a jam packed St Mary’s Church, Chipping Norton on 15th December 2016.