A night with friends at The Maltings in St, Albans, 7th October 2016

You can’t beat spending an evening with friends and that is what we had last night in our home town of St Albans, courtesy of Folk at the Maltings and event organiser, Alison MacFarlane.

As can be seen from the accompanying photos (with many thanks to our pal Ray Smith for taking them and sending them over), the Maltings is an intimate auditorium that invites a listening atmosphere. This is ideal for us and the stories we tell.

Enjoying the luxury of proximity, there was no necessity for us to negotiate motorways to get to the venue – just rush hour town traffic – and, with military precision, Rob and I met up at the backstage door at exactly 7.00pm. We ferried the gear in and got set up and tuned up for an 8.00pm start. A pre-concert trip into the bar (to get some water!) soon showed us that lots of our friends had turned up to see us and it proved possible to have a few snatched conversations before the evening’s proceedings began.

The show begun with a 30 minute set from St Albans Folk Festival New Roots finalist, Sophie Crawford. She was a delight to listen to, performing British and French traditional songs and some of her own compositions on melodeon, ukulele and dulcimer. As well as being a musician, Sophie is an actor and her stage presence was wonderfully strong. We wish her well with everything she does.

Looking through our set list, we strove to put as much of our newer, unrecorded, material into the performance as we could. So, ‘We Met Upon the Barricades’, ‘The Recompense’, ‘Time Wears Awa’ ’, Black Widows’ and ‘The Poor Refugee’ were all given an airing. I’m pleased to say that they were all well received, as was the show in general. Conversations were animated at half time and after the show, and the feedback was upliftingly positive.

It was also lovely to have an audience member come up at half time and tell me that, coming from north Devon, she was intrigued by our song about pirateer Captain John Avery saying that she herself knows four John Averys in her home area near Bideford.

After the audience had drifted away, Rob and I were able to pack up our gear and be home by 11.15pm. This certainly left me time for a couple of beers, catching up with a couple of episodes of BBC Alba’s superb Scots folk programme, Horo Gheallaidh, before going off to bed.

Many thanks to Alison MacFarlane for the invitation to again play Folk at the Maltings and thanks to all those who came to support us. We sincerely hope that we have more evenings together at the Maltings in years to come. Our performance was the start of Folk at the Maltings’ autumn season. With the Devines and Harp and a Monkey next up in November and December, local folk fans clearly have much to look forward to.