Warwick Folk Club - The best in acoustic music: contemporary and traditional folk, country, blues, comedy, jazz and standards
Fortnightly on Mondays 8 - 10.30 pm at The Racehorse, Stratford Road, Warwick CV34 6AS
17th January - Performers’ Night
It was a frosty, murky night but still folk assembled for another Performers’ Night! Laura started with a Warwick FC version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Chelsea Morning’ then Robin sang John Tams’ ‘All Right Jack’, Maggie performed ‘Linden Lea’ acapella and Nick Draycott got us singing along to his first ever shanty.

Steve and Bob as The Hanksters had a song each, swapping over guitar and cajon duties midway through. Great hilarity ensued from the extraction of various percussion implements from said cajon before it could be played! We settled down to hear a bossa nova song Steve had written: ‘Stop on By’, then Bob’s bird’s eye view of all life in the park at Alum Rock. 

The Skeptics had us joining in with ‘Meet Me on the Corner’ and took us up to the break with ‘The Parting Glass’. Then, glasses replenished, the second half got underway with Slade’s ‘Everyday’ from Laura, and 2 songs from Dai Arnold including ‘William’s Angel’ – an antidote to drinking songs.

Luca Falcomer-Dawson made his Performers’ Night debut with super-fast guitar playing and a song (‘I get stitches, you help me from ditches’) inspired by his boyhood skateboarding escapades on the ramps in St Nicholas’ Park. Don followed with ‘My Baby Keeps Stayin’ Out All Night Long’ from Ralph McTell’s ‘Spiral Staircase’.

The Hanksters, Dai and Luca had more songs for us up their sleeves, as did the Skeptics, who closed the evening with the well-joined-in ‘Down to the River to Pray’ before braving the fog back to Banbury and Bicester - definitely ‘above and beyond’!

Thanks to them and everyone else who came along.
20th December Xmas Performers' Night
Seated at starry tables, and with many sporting splendid festive jumpers and hats, we settled into a relaxed and satisfying final Performers' Night of the year. Dave Fry topped the 'groans count' with his cracker jokes and, in the first half, Keith Donnelly was on familiar funny form with "We're splitting up for Christmas" on a classical guitar that did split from end to end, as well as "The police have me dad" (instead of Feliz Navidad) and other cleverisms, too many to mention. Later, his song-per-day "12 Songs/Days of Christmas" elicited the correct sound effect for 'Five Jingle Bells' (there were some!) and was a hilarious memory workout for him as well as the audience, who were replete from the lovely food served during the break.

The Melancholy Brothers, Rik Middleton, Don Arthurson and the Thrup'nny Bits also performed in the first half, giving us Christmas songs and carols a-plenty. The 'Mels' gave their first performance of Dave's song "Christmas is here - time just passes" and Don had a 'first', too, having just been commissioned earlier in the day to sing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" (bells again!). It was good to hear "The turkey shot out of the oven" (Rik) and "The Pudding Hunt" (3d Bits) after being 'rested' for a year.

After the aforementioned food (many thanks to the Racehorse) and Robin's successful quiz (based on the TV show 'Impossible') the evening slowly drew to a close with Laura and Dora, Keith (see above) and Nick Saint and the Elves (aka Robin, Sue and Sally) singing good join-inners: "While Shepherds" to Ilkley Moor/Cranbrook and "Let it Snow" being just two. We were sent on our way with "We wish you a Merry Christmas" which is what we extend to all who are reading this!
6th December - Performers’ Night
Masterfully steered by Don (who was ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’!), we enjoyed songs old and very new from old hands and 2 first-timers at the Club: Abi Rowberry and Samantha Lucy Tongue. They, along with Nick Draycott, had some self-penned songs to share - and great talent! Abi, on guitar, sang of an abandoned cottage opposite Chesterton windmill, that she longs to own. She introduced us to covers of new songs-with-a-story, too, eg,“You’re not Alone” by Lucy May Walker. Samantha sang of ‘Providence’, ‘Black Blood’ and ‘Locks and Keys’ with striking melodeon accompaniment. In total contrast, Nick’s own song (on guitar) was the gentle ‘Skara Brae’ followed by ‘Black is the Colour’.

Meanwhile, at the more wrinkly end of the spectrum (no offence, playmates!), Rik took us from the East End to the Western Isles, Robin sang ‘From Clare to Here’ and Maggie jumped on the ‘Freight Train’, followed by Peter and Noel playing Blue Grass songs and the US version of ‘Pretty Fair Maid’. 

Christmas got a look-in with ‘A Winter’s Tale’ from Robin and ‘2000 Miles’ by the Pretenders from Laura. Dave then rounded off the evening with ‘songs with a chorus’, ending with ‘Last Thing on my Mind’. Great stuff! And so good to have promising, new people coming along!
22nd November – Lauren South and Craig Sunderland
It was one of those evenings where the performers’ excellent musicianship, always interwoven with interesting stories, left us feeling very good indeed!

Craig had the audience joining in straightaway for ‘The Punch and Judy Man’. Dazzling work on his guitars featured in ‘The Lass Down on the Quay’ (James Weams), ‘The Gentleman Soldier’ and ‘Hard Times of Old England’ plus a song about a cheated sailor, ‘Barrack Street’ (first heard performed by Nic Jones). Craig ended the set with ‘The Singer’s Request’ which he dedicated to musicians hard hit by the pandemic. It’s based on ‘The Minstrel’s Request’ by Sir Walter Scott; a search for the words is recommended!

Lauren had heard that morning that Gary, the other half of As the Heron, couldn’t join her as planned. ‘Don’t panic!’ Thanks to a lot of ‘thinking on feet’ and some deft learning of material by Keith Donnelly all was well! Her excellent fiddle playing featured first in ‘As I roved out …’ then she introduced us to her new shruti box for her own song, ‘The Swimming Lad’, based on a Yeats poem. Reg Mueross’s ‘Shoreline by the Sea’ had her playing a new tenor guitar before Keith joined her for ‘John Riley’ and two fiddle tunes: ‘Staffen Island’ by Phil Cunningham and ‘Random’ (Scots trad). Taking us up to the break we had the superb ‘Black is the Colour’.

Craig got the second half going with ‘Come by the Hills’, then the dark ‘Drowned Lovers’ (aka ‘Clyde’s Water’). We heard about his dear, flamboyant Uncle Roddy who had written the next song about his daughter ‘Curly’. He closed with ‘When a Knight Won His Spurs’ in Martin Simpson style. Many of a certain age could join in with that one!Crazy Man Michael’ with Craig and Keith, was Lauren’s first second-set-song! A re-working of ‘Past Caring’ (with shruti box) was done solo, as was ‘Fisher Lasses’ (Ewan MacColl). Her accomplished, self-penned songs included ‘Heavens’, then (with Keith) the moving ‘Judith’s Song’ and, to close, ‘One Star Awake’.

The enthusiastically-requested encore was a reprise of an impromptu duet with Laura at the 15
th Nov Singaround: ‘Ashokan Farewell’. A mellow end to a wonderful evening!
15th November Singaround
With Robin at the helm, as we went round our circle we were treated to a capella songs from Bob, Sheila, Rik and duo Barbara and Gareth. Keith, Don, Robin and Maggie backed themselves on guitar whilst Dora and Laura played their ukuleles; however, Lauren (from As the Heron) had her shruti box, tenor guitar and violin! Ashokan Farewell on violin went down very well (Laura grabbing her guitar to accompany). It fitted in with the handful of items we had for a Remembrance time of year. In total contrast we sang ‘King of the Road’, a Beatles song and a spoof of ‘Smoke in the Water’. A lovely, laid back evening!
8th November – Performers’ Night
In the capable hands of Dave Fry we were able to enjoy 12 performances – with a great range of instruments and styles – and all for £2!

Ragged Round the Edges (Robin, Sue and Sally) got us off to a good start with ‘Jambalaya’, featuring melodeon, octave mandola and bottle-tops pole, aka lagerphone! Then we had some delicious ukulele playing from Eric Kingdon (left middle) including ‘In my Life’ within a clever, subtle medley. A change of gear again, next, as Rik on concertina sang Joni Mitchell’s ‘Urge for Going’ and Billy Joel’s ‘New York State of Mind’. With Maggie (left bottom) giving us two good ‘join-inners’ including ‘Jesse James’ we weren’t going anywhere, especially with Nick Draycott (middle) singing his own song ‘Swan on the Sea’ and, in total contrast, ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’. The first half closed with The Melancholy Brothers (Russell and Dave)(top middle) treating us to their song ‘Skimming Stones’ and Toto’s ‘Africa’.

Starting the second half, Keith Donnelly (right bottom) managed to weave “He who laughs loudest probably didn’t get Dave Fry’s jokes!” into his first song, then changed tack with ‘The Parting Glass’ as a fitting tribute to Barry Coope, who sadly passed away on the 6th. A useful history lesson around the Bevin Boys was next as Colin Squires (top right) sang about his own father, after singing ‘The Ride’ by Steve Knightley. Thrup’nny Bits (sans Des) (middle)also included some history: about Warwick Castle’s horses being commandeered in the Gunpowder Plot shenanigans. That led nicely to a topical ‘Remember, Remember’ song in their inimitable, a capella style. In between, we welcomed a newcomer to the Club – Bear Bozeman, from Holland – singing ‘Venus in Furs’ and ‘England is just an island’, composed from doing open mics in London in 2015. A fine bit of banjo was next (no, really!) with the Bee Gees’ ‘Words’ from Peter Whimpenny (top left). He actually felt the words were poor but it worked well on the banjo, as did Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis’.Alkevan closed the evening (bottom middle). Comprising Al (bodhran), Kev (guitar) and new bass player Steve they gave us songs inspired by Kev’s Cornish roots including ‘Saltwater Rain’ and the big finish was ‘Space Between my Fingers’.So, a jam-packed, wonderful evening with a good number of well-entertained listeners, too! We hope to see Nick and Bear again very soon and appreciated their trek over from Birmingham.
11th October - Keith Donnelly & Friends
Shanties and humour were the orders of the day at the first Guest Night after reopening.The evening featured Keith Donnelly (top left) and Friends: Anna Ryder (top middle), Bill Bates (top right), Allan Richardson (bottom middle),Des Patalong (bottom right) and, new to WFC, Lauren South (bottom left), half of As the Heron.

Keith opened with several of his short ditties which had the audience laughing immediately. Lauren, accompanied by Keith, then gave a captivating rendition of her song “Hold On” where she played a Shruti Box, a first for WFC, followed by 2 fiddle tunes, Phil Cunningham’s “Hut on Staten Island” and Kathryn Tickell’s “Random”. A foretaste to when As the Heron visit WFC on 22nd November .

Bill then expounded his enthusiasm for a certain singer songwriter from the West Country with “I wanna be Steve Knightley”. New super group, The Shanty Sceptics (Keith, Bill, Des), specialise in parodies; “Lever, Johnny” - (“Leave her Johnny”), “Café au Lait” – (“Mingulay Boat Song”) and “Popeye” – (Queen’s “We will Rock You”). Keith then did his very amusing “Deja Vue”, twice! Des sang Noah’s Ark Shanty. Carefully choreographed, Keith followed with “It’s all Falling Apart” when his guitar did exactly that. Allan in his inimitable style sang “Biscuits”, about… biscuits, and “Existence and All That” … a monologue history of the universe… in 3 minutes. Keith and Lauren concluded the first half with Keith’s evocative “Three Birds”.

The Shanty Sceptics opened the second half with “Sally Difficult and Expensive” (“Sally Free and Easy”), Bill’s composition “Sail Away” and a truly jaw dropping “There is Nothing Like a Shanty” which would make Rogers and Hammerstein turn in their graves. Bill then tried to do a medley of Paul Simon songs which, unrehearsed and unexpectedly, involved Keith asking leading questions e.g. “What are you?” …answer… “I am just a poor boy…”Anna joined Keith for the poignant “Salmon Are Back (in the Coaly Tyne again)” but the shanties and humour returned with Allan’s “Air Shanty” and Des’s ”Haul Away Man” Keith and Lauren sang the soulful ballad “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” and then the finale where the ensemble performed “Easy Come Easy Go” to a tune which resembled the chart phenomenon “Wellerman”.

But we couldn’t let Keith go without the traditional encore when he sang his heart rending “Another World”. A fitting end to a great evening of entertainment.
27th September Performers Night
A smaller crowd than re-opening night but a great time nonetheless. Laura (with MC virtual L plates) started the evening with ‘Dancing in the Dark’ then Rik Middleton sang about a barmaid called ‘Brandy’. He and, later, Des Patalong (top left) treated us to some a capella singing, Des ending the first half with ‘Rosabella’, which he said is a Short Sharp Shanty! Meanwhile, Dora Stoddard had sung ‘The Trawlerman’ by Mark Knopfler. Robin Kaye assisted by Don Arthurson got bluesy with ‘Kansas City’ and Poacher’s Pocket (this time with Campbell) went from ‘The Lowlands Low’ to Baltimore via the Tim Hardin song.

In the second half, it was good to have Jonathan Waller back with us (top middle) singing a Clive Gregson song, ‘Fred Astaire’. There was another by Clive later from Dora: ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ and Rik’s extra song (top right) was about ‘The Little Tailor’, reminding us of the darker side of some nursery rhymes.Don played his own ‘Mixed Bag Rag’ followed by Tom Paxton’s ‘Can’t Help but Wonder Where I’m Bound’. Poacher’s Pocket (bottom left) kindly gave us 2 more songs including ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, by which time we’d reached ‘The End of the Line’ so Laura led us in the Traveling Wilburys’ song.

As for MCing, ‘there were no wrecks and nobody drownded’ but there was the odd chuckle along the way from a brilliant audience!
13th September - Opening Performers Night 2021
What a great start! Norman re-opened the Club with a moving version of "Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell. That was followed by a good bit of banter with Dave Fry (MC for the evening) thanking Viv and Norman for all their work over the years..there's a little taste here

What followed showed again the huge variety of songs and styles that illustrated just how much you get for your £2 entrance ticket. In no particular order …..

Laura sang melodic Fernando Ortega and Justin Hayward songs, Lou performed his own optimistic composition and later teamed up with Peter Wimpenny (above right) for a welcome reminder of Tom Paxton
and he included a Dougie Maclean song that wasn’t Caledonia! We had Colin and Carole from Poachers Pocket reminding us of the Roseville Fair as well as giving us a bit of a laugh about wine, Allan Richardson with his really catchy chorus originals, instrumental breaks to enjoy in songs from Don Arthurson (below left), as well as bluegrass and reggae from Peter.

The Melancholy Brothers (below middle) did what they do so well with songs by Earth Wind & Fire and Crowded House and The Thrup’nny Bits (below right) managed to get us all singing in the first half as well as giving us such a rousing finale...and everyone managed to survive Dave’s jokes! What a night!

A few examples of some days before Covid...
2nd March - Performers' Night
A quieter night by the club's standards but an even more varied palette of performances. There were two newbies: Nick Draycott did an unaccompanied traditional song about a Nottingham poacher and a couple of originals. As you can see on the right, he was transported by the song! The other first-timer, Eric Kingdon (below left) gave us a few uke tunes, including the Beatles' song "I Will" and "I'll See You In My Dreams". Pete Grassby sang a touching verison of "Maid Of The County Down" and "What's The Difference", the B-side of Scott McKenzie's big hit "San Francisco". Maggie Coleman sang Richard Thompson's lovely song "Waltzing for Dreamers" and "Farewell Tarawathie" while Don (below right - note the double capo!) did a song learnt from the Transatlantic Sessions, What Can I Do?" A relaxed atmosphere, some good chuckles and really good songs: what else could you want from a Monday night?
16th March - Sunjay plus Paper Circus
As it turned out you couldn't wish for a better night before the enforced closure because of the pandemic. The openers, Jen and Suraj, did a delightfully varied set, ranging from traditional songs to Fleetwood Mac. Sunjay showed how much he'd improved even over the high standard when we last saw him. He's developed an engaging stage manner - and even more proficient (if that was possible) on guitar. His repertoire included blues oldies, pop songs, originals and a very funny song called "I Won't Do Anything By Bob Dylan". Inevitably, we have no idea about when the club may re-open. Staying safe is of course, the highest priority. There's still great music to listen to. We wish everyone, including professional performers who find themselves out of work, good health until this difficult time ends.
3rd February - Performers' Night
Yet another night of variety - of performers old and new as well as a huge range of song styles. Ruth and Ken Powell (right) were visiting from deepest Wales (where they host an annual festival at Lake Vyrnwy). They treated us to recent and old songs, one from 1938 ("Don't Worry 'Bout Me"), the traditional "Cuckoo" and a song by Liz Simcock called "City Girl". Lol Moran (below, left) paid tribute to Percy French with a version of his famous song "The Mountains Of Mourne" but which started "Oh, Mary - this Stratford's a wonderful sight..."! We had another first-time duo, Kate and Dave Gee who did a fine bluesy version of "I'd Rather Go Blind" with Dave on electric bass. The other first-timer was Peter Newman who included a recent song "Inside Out". Add to all that a spot of Beatles, a couple of Dylans, a melodeon tune and the 60s classic written by Phil Ochs,"There But For Fortune" - what a range of music in one night.
20th January - Ric Sanders & Vo Fletcher
If organisers ever wonder why they run folk clubs, it's for nights such as this. There was outstanding music from start to finish. The Melancholy Brothers (Russell & Dave) opened and sang three originals (including "Entropy" and "Skimming Stones") plus two chart songs: "She's Gone" (Hall & Oates) and Toto's No. 1, "Africa". What can you say about the musicianship of Ric and Vo? It's a joy to watch two people so at home with their instruments and so obviously enjoying what they do. They were joined by Anna Ryder on several numbers, on both accordion and pocket trumpet. Apart from some well known songs like "San Francisco Bay" and "Green Green Rocky Road" there were some unexpected Beatles songs: "Doctor Robert" and "Come Together"! The encore was "Goodnight Irene" and they invited Anna and "The Mels" back up to join in. The packed audience enjoyed simply one of the best nights this club has seen.
6th January - Performers' Night
What a very enjoyable start to the year - two sets of new performers and numerous regulars. The first new visitors were in the area from Brighton and went by the name Charlotte and Spong (right and below left). They gave us an original about female workers in WW2, unsung heroes (until now) and Flanders & Swann's "Hippopotamus Song" always a great chorus to sing.  David Fisher (below, 2nd left) had come over from Birmingham and sang accomplished versions of "Willie O' Winsbury" and a Stan Rogers song about the north-west passage. Sue Harris (below 2nd right) included a more serious Les Barker song while Rik Middleton (below right) did the classic Jake Thackray song "Brother Gorilla". Another memorable moment was "reggae on a banjo" from Peter Wimpenny who did Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds". The night ended with a Les Barker parody of "Lowlands" retitled "Nolans"... Great fun!
2nd December - The Lost Notes
Craig Sunderland (below right) started off each half with a wide variety of songs, showcasing his strong guitar style - these included the John Connolly song "Punch And Judy Man", "The Coal & Albert Berry" (from the singing of Gary & Vera) and Rod Felton's touching song "Curly".
The Lost Notes (Ben, right; Lucy below left and Oli) started with "All At Sea", the opening track of their CD which lets the harmonies burst out. "Let It Rain On Me"  was a new song but the audience picked it up straight away. There was the nod to folk song tales of infidelity in "Half Brother"; the cautionary tale of thinking "life on the other side is better" in "Green Grass" and the title track of their album "Run Fast, Run Free". A terrific night showing original songs can still be great for joining in.
21st October - Rick Kemp
The enlightened souls who came to the club on this evening heard Rick Kemp play some terrific guitar, sing his own songs with a strong voice belying his 78 years and tell some very amusing stories (one about dressing up as a Womble). The night began with a varied mixture of material from Steve & Chris Bayes - their songs included "Shake Sugaree" and the old favourite "Calico Printer's Clerk". Rick had abandoned his bass guitar which he wielded in Steeleye Span for so many years to play some of his own songs; the titles included "Low Flying", "Peace On The Border" and "Cromwell's Skull" (which he brought along to show, although he admitted  it might have been a facsimile...) The second half began with a slide show of photos from his past, each one having a quirky story behind it. And of course, he gave us the "composer's" versions of his well-known songs - "Deep In The Darkest Night" and "Somewhere Along The Road". If you didn't take the chance to see this concert, you missed a treat.
7th October - Top 20 Performers' Night
The eleventh running of this event (with a new signboard - right) and it was one of the best. 13 performers with songs from six decades and ten No. 1s. There were three newcomers: Nigel and Tony (below left and centre) reminded us how good Crowded House were with "Weather With You"; Dai Arnold brought us more up to date with a Counting Crows song while regular singer Laura is seen here with "Rockin' All Over The World" by Status Quo - not a song we might expect her to do. The most recent song was "Mathematics" from 2007 done by The Melancholy Brothers while best chorus song went to "Que Sera Sera" (1956) sung by Maggie Coleman. A great night of fun and muscial variety!
23rd September - The Harvesters
It was a really delightful evening with some old friends and a first-time visitor. Bruce Watson (bottom right) was on his first  performing trip to the UK and opened the evening in lively fashion, including a song of he'd written recently called "The Importance Of Being Bruce" about the cliche of English people thinking all Australians are called Bruce!
The Harvesters did a wide range of Americana songs, some old-timey, some more recent and the hit for Joan Baez, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and there was, of course, some Appalachian flat-footing from Sue. Ian was on fine form, with Bob (below, centre) sounding better than ever on the dobro. One of the raffle prizes looked like a giant pot of Vegemite, the Australian spread, but in fact was a Marmite jigsaw! We were treated to excellent music and good humour all night: what more could you want?
13th May - Pilgrim's Way
An exceptional night of music at the club, notable for the absence of nattering and I don't mean from the audience! The Laners, who opened, rattled through seven unaccompanied songs to start the evening off in fine style.
The seoncd half from Pilgrim's Way was a full live rendition of their album "Stand And Deliver", presented - and acted out - in full costume, as you can see. The interplay of the instruments was mesmerising, especially Tom's fiddle and Jude's clarinet. She also played a crumhorn, English bagpipes and also a curtal (a small version of a bassoon.) Heather's bass playing was fluid, syncopated, energetic and drove the beat along. We were assured Ed was a "sensitive" drummer and so he proved. Jon's powerful vocals and fine guitar was the final piece in the Pilgrim's sound. Their encore of "Birdhouse In Your Soul" sung acappella was a tour de force. As one audience member said: "Wow!"