After a splendid evening at Chesham Folk Club, we were pleased to be moving on immediately to another gig the following evening at another of our favourite clubs, the Hoy-at-Anchor Folk Club, held in The Royal British Legion club in Westcliff-on-Sea, near Southend.
Given the vagaries of rush hour motorway traffic, I have increasing taken to travelling early to gigs, to get ahead of the evening rush hour. When I do so, I park up somewhere near the venue and have a kind of picnic; after all, there is always plenty to do and read. Since a part of my wife’s family comes from Southend, I had inside knowledge of a good place to head for and, despite quite a slow journey over, I managed to park up in the town’s Priory Park around 6.00pm. There I watched some local lads playing a scratch game of football while listening to the excellent latest album by our pals, Red Velvet, while nibbling my sarnies.
Rob was travelling to the gig from central London and we met up outside the venue just before 7.00pm. Rob’s splendid efforts to save me a parking space near the venue failed when I sailed past without seeing him. Fortunately, I found another space close by.
Together, we unpacked the car and took the gear in. As with Chesham the evening before, the room had already been set out by volunteers by the time we arrived and, soon after, the distinctive club banner was hoisted behind the performance area.
We thought audience numbers might be down a little against the club average because the Leigh Folk Festival had been held the weekend before and the England Women’s Football team were playing that evening in a much-anticipated World Cup semi-final against favourites USA. Even so, by the time the evening got underway, we had a decent sized audience to perform to and they more than made up for missing colleagues with some excellent chorus singing. The banter is always excellent at Hoy-at-Anchor and we had a lot of laughs throughout the evening.
The Hoy-at-Anchor Folk Club is renowned for its shanty singing and leading club figure Tony Prior, with the help of some of the club’s shanty crew, kicked the evening off in fine style with three songs. This was followed by some excellent singing and tunes from a penny whistle player and a fine guitar and mandolin duo.
Our own two sets seemed to go down well and we had excellent feedback at both the break and at the end, as well as a nice message on Facebook afterwards. We were pleased to play Time Wears Awa’ as our encore.
Then it was time to say our ‘thank yous’ and goodbyes, pack up and return home. We’ve had some pretty easy and speedy journeys home from gigs in recent times; tonight would be a little different. With the M25 closed at its junction with the A road from Southend, we mneeded to make a substantial diversion down to the North Circular to get home. Blimey, there’s some aggressive drivers on that road at that time of night. Good job we were armed with Mars bars (other chocolate bars are available, etc….) to keep ourselves fully alert!
Many thanks to Steve Ramm and his committee for the invitation to perform again at the lovely Hoy-at-Anchor Folk Club and we look forward to making a return to Westcliffe-on-Sea again at some stage in the future.