Albeit tired from the journey back from Spain, the brilliant sunshine perked us both up no end as we set off for the south coast for our first ever visit to the Hove Folk Club, organised by none other than the irrepressible Robb Johnson himself.
It was an early start on Monday 29th April for na-mara’s long awaited trip to play a concert in Logroño in the Rioja region of Spain in memory of the men and women of the International Brigades who so bravely set off to fight fascism in Spain in the late 1930s.
Followers of na-mara will have read in this blog or in recent na-mara newsletters that, in June last year, Rob narrated a BBC Radio 4 documentary about the story of the Basque children evacuated from Bilbao in May 1937 and their and their own children’s experiences of growing up in the UK in the decades that followed. Rob’s father and uncle were amongst the 4,000 children who landed at Southampton.
The night before holidays for both of us, Rob and I had the pleasure of supporting Les Ray and Deirdre Murphy in their wonderful 24 hour music marathon charity event, held at the home of the Cambridge Folk Club at the Golden Hind on Milton Road in aid of the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.
Because we both had to be up and moving with our respective partners early the next morning, Les and Deirdre kindly let us perform on the evening of the 14th February at an hour sufficiently early to let us both get home and have a decent night’s sleep.
We have had the pleasure of knowing Jonny Dyer and Vicky Swan for a number of years now and have always admired their stunning musicianship. However, we had never before seen them in action with Nick Hennessey, as the three piece seriouskitchen. As such, when we were invited by The Milkmaid Folk Club in Bury St Edmonds to support seriouskitchen, we were delighted to accept.
Rob and I were fortunate enough to have been invited to play at the Tenterden Folk Festival back in October 2012 (reported earlier in this blog). While there, we had the immense good fortune to meet up with Brian Hazelden of the Isle of Sheppey Folk and Blues Club. Over and above being an extremely friendly person, Brian is also an extremely good cinematographer (or is it videographer – sorry Brian!) and, in the marquee at Tenterden, under difficult live venue conditions, took the best film of na-mara in action to date and very kindly sent it through to us to view.
Miles apart, worried looks and creased brows grew in evidence as the snow closed in on the day of our trip (18th January) to The Song Loft in Stony Stratford. The club was naturally concerned for both the safety of its members and the difficulties they might have in getting to and home from the club and we were busy looking at motorway webcams to see what the driving conditions on the M1 might be like. Thankfully, a quick phone call between the club and ourselves put everyone’s mind at ease and we agreed mutually to postpone the event.
It was certainly a cold night for heading out from St Albans into central Essex for our last gig of 2012. Our friends Jonny Dyer and Vicky Swan had mentioned us to the Great Bardfield Folk Club with respect to doing a showcase and, club organiser, Anna Bass had kindly taken up their advice and invited us along.
Friday 7th December saw another trip to the Barnet Folk Club at The Arts Depot in Barnet. Club organiser J J Dunne always provides a great welcome and, through clever positioning of furniture, manages to create an intimate atmosphere for performances despite them essentially taking place in the atrium of this modern building.
With Rob away from home, I was out flying solo again two days after doing the same at the Watford Folk Club – this time it was for an evening of protest songs and poetry at the excellent Loughton Folk Club, in support of Amnesty International.
Loughton Folk Club is a very well organised and friendly club with a significant charitable streak. We had contributed a track from our CD ‘The Bite’ to the club’s double charity CD in aid of Crisis - a value purchase I would recommend, as there are some great tracks on it – and this was another charity oriented initiative.