After an excellent evening performing at the Caerleon Arts Festival on Monday, we were excited to be returning to south Wales again for a Wednesday evening performance at the Llantrisant Folk Cub in Pont-Y-Clun. The Llantrisant Folk Club is a vibrant club with a great schedule of headliners and we were very pleased to be invited by club organiser Pat ‘Spoons’ Smith to perform there.
To avoid the rather grim experience of the M25 earlier in the week we set off in good time and, as the sun broke through, we were pleased to get ourselves onto the M4 without incident. Our luck lasted until we got to Wales when the additional traffic travelling to see Coldplay in Cardiff was enough to bring the M4 in Wales to a virtual standstill and we crawled for what seemed forever to our turnoff to go and meet with Pat for a bite to eat before travelling down to the club. As we had hurtled past Bristol we were concerned we might be ridiculously early but, in the end, we made it to Pat’s at just about the previously agreed time.
When we arrived at her delightful cottage, Pat and fellow musician Ned Clamp gave us the warmest of welcomes and it was lovely to hear about what they were up to musically and to learn more about the activities of the folk scene in the Cardiff area whilst eating a lovely dish of freshly made lasagne. It was nice to know that there was a lot going on in the area - in no small part down to the efforts of Pat, Ned and others.
Now nicely relaxed after the difficult journey, we jumped in the car with Pat and Ned and headed off to the folk club which was located a short distance away. The club itself is held in a spacious room in the clubhouse of the Pont-Y-Clun (Institute) Athletic Club.
With its sizeable car park, parking up and unloading the gear couldn’t have been easier. Once inside, we set up and were pleased to meet some of the club regulars. We had a nice talk with Mick Tems who had partnered Pat in the duo Calennig for many years and who had given us a very pleasing review for our album Navajos & Pirates. We also chatted with another club regular, Phil, who we had met at the Bromyard Folk Festival the previous year and who had brought a visiting friend with him to see us.
A competing folk event in Cardiff had apparently diminished the size of the audience for the evening. However, such is the strength of the club that by the time the evening began the large room was decently full. As expected, we discovered the club to be blessed with a lot of musical talent and, before going on, we were treated to traditional and modern songs and tunes, poetry and, even some opera! The atmosphere and banter in the club is top drawer and encourages good performances from everyone.
Our own two sets appeared to go down well. It was nice for Pat to join in on the muiñeiras with her trademark spoons playing and accompanied by Mick Tems on tambour. The choruses were picked up and sang with gusto by the audience and our quieter stories were listened to attentively. At both half time and at the end, audience members were keen to talk to us about the background stories to many of the songs. When called for an encore, we concluded the evening on an upbeat note with Compagnons de la Marjorlaine. (At half time, we were also treated to the legendary Llantrisant Folk Club raffle but, if you are interested in finding out more about this hilarious custom, well you’ll just have to get yourself along to the club itself!)
It was a long and a late drive home but thankfully Ned had shown us the quickest route back to the M4. The road works that were there on Monday were there again on Wednesday night and, thankfully, we escaped pretty lightly once more - it would have been a very different story if we had been going the other way.
Very many thanks to Pat for the invitation to perform at the club, and to her and Ned for their warm welcome and hospitality throughout the evening. Thank also to all those that came along and joined in with us. We wish the Llantrisant Folk Club all the very best for the future and will keep our fingers crossed that we can make a return visit to the club sometime in the future.