Our first visit to the Wychwood Folk Club, 16th September 2017

It is always a thrill to visit a new folk venue and we were delighted to have been invited by club organiser, Mark Pidgeon, to perform at the Wychwood Folk Club in west Oxfordshire last weekend.

The club is fortunate to operate out of two attractive venues, Tiddy Hall and The Swan Inn, in the lovely village of Ascott-under-Wychwood and we had the honour of being the first guests to perform at the recently refurbished club room at The Swan Inn - and very pleasant and comfortable it proved to be.

We set off late afternoon to travel to Ascott and, because of various shenanigans on the M25, travelled by the country route through Aylesbury and Bicester. Arriving about 6.00pm, we could hear music coming from an annexe to the pub and we entered to find club organiser Mark Pidgeon hard at work getting the room set up for the evening show.

The annexe at The Swan is a pleasantly refurbished room and by the time we arrived Mark and fellow club organiser, Elaine, had already laid out ten or so rows of chairs. The room is longer than it is wide and, to ensure the sound is as good at the back as the front of the room, Mark uses a P.A. to just lift the sound of the performers a little. So, as soon as Mark was ready, we quickly ran through a sound check with Mark who successfully captured an appropriately acoustic feel for our final sound.

As we finished the sound check, our fellow performer for the evening, singer-songwriter Edward Naysmith, arrived and went through his sound check with Mark.

The doors opened at 7.00pm and, as the audience for the evening began to assemble, it was very nice to chat quietly with Edward and hear what he had been up to and in what had obviously been a busy schedule, who he had been performing with.

At 7.30pm, the evening kicked off with Edward performing a number of his own compositions. A very talented guitarist with a distinct vocal delivery, Edward showed great presence when performing and was warmly received by the audience. I have no doubt we will all hear a great deal more of Edward Naysmith in the years ahead and sincerely hope that this proves to be the case. It was a pleasure to meet him and to hear him perform.

We then took to the stage for our first set. The Wychwood Folk Club audience proved to be our ideal kind of audience; it likes to listen but is also very content to join in on choruses. Audience members quickly seemed to engage with our music and it was nice to chat with various club members at half time. This included someone who had seen a Facebook post of mine where I was messing around with my new toy, a Paul Hathway tenor guitar. He was looking at investing in a(nother) tenor guitar and wanted to hear my views about mine – which I am pleased to say remain very favourable.
Then, after the raffle and parish notices, Rob and I returned to finish off the evening and were ultimately delighted to be invited to return for an encore. We received some wonderful feedback from audience members at the end of the evening and sales of our CDs were as good as I can remember them being at any of our folk club evenings.

Eventually, as with all such evenings, after a number of further conversations with audience members and with Mark and Elaine, it was time to pack the gear up again, stick it in the back of the car and say our goodbyes.

Our SatNav plotted us the quickest route home but showed an uncharacteristic sense of humour in taking us there through some of the narrowest lanes in Oxfordshire in the growing mist to get to the A40. Anyway, all was well, we didn’t meet any oncoming cars and we managed to get home in time for me to treat myself to a (birthday) drink in the early hours.

Very many thanks to Mark Pidgeon for the invitation to perform and for the warmest of welcomes at the lovely Wychwood Folk Club. We would love to return to the club again at some time in the future and say hello to everyone again. We wish the club well for its autumn season.