Outta London

We came briefly out of hibernation last month for a small string of gigs. Spread across Southern England, the trio ventured to Kent, Sussex, Oxfordshire and back into the grimy clutches of London; testing out new material and gig-smalltalk along the way.

The days, weeks and months spent writing, arranging, agonising and discovering new music are almost immaterial until we get to share our sounds. The live setting solidifies the notes, forces the creative hand to finally commit. Someone is listening.

Sutton Courtenay at Dusk

Breaking February’s icicles from our fingers we made our way to Camden’s wonderful independent standard bearer for folk music, the Green Note. To a small but perfectly formed room, packed with Londoners and East Anglians, we had the pleasure of a double bill alongside songsters Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith. Their brand of ‘agrarian gospel’ (Sid’s words not mine) contained some magnificent rearrangements of old song, packaged up with two fine voices. Catch them on the road this spring and summer. A hearty thanks to Graham and FolkOnMonday for bringing everyone together.

Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith at the Green Note

Next port of call was the market town of Tonbridge, who sits in the shadow of its wealthier, more flamboyant, ‘Royal’ cousin. The crowd we dragged out on an impressively damp Monday evening to  the Folk Club was full of beautiful verse, humour and tales of Kentish pride. We had songs of RAF heroism and even a certain local riot in 1890 concerning a few policemen and lots of stones. A special thanks to the youngest members of the folky crowd for their chair-arrangement skills and interpretive dance. Dominic’s rip-roaring tunes inspired some impressive body shapes.

The following day we found ourselves M4 westbound, driving headlong into a blazing winter sun. South of Oxford lies a Thames-side village by the name of Sutton Courtenay, once home of the Courtenays (whoever they were). We were destined for The Abbey at the centre of this village. There nestled amongst large oaks and an ancient wisteria can be found a medieval courthouse with a 14th century Great Hall to boot. Our hosts, dear friends in fact, are more accustomed to welcoming classical chamber musicians, but had agreed to make an exception for a few North London folksters.

Warming up under the King’s Truss

The hall is spectacular. We played beneath the cavernous rafters with its king’s truss, across from a roaring hearth,  and surrounded by ornate carved wood panels. The audience seemed to share in our hushed reverence for the space, collectively basking in the delicious reverberations of notes and song-lines which bounced off to who-knows-where above our heads. Winding down afterwards with Dylan and Charlotte was an equal joy. Georgian food and fun-red-juice in our bellies we made our reluctant goodbyes and turned back to the city.

Some trademark blur from TEYR

Concluding our mini-tour we visited Seaford Folk Club on the Channel coast near Brighton. Within sight of the sea, there was maritime fable, smutty verse and the mayhem of three people named John in the same room. By this point in the week, our fingers and vocal chords were fully limbered-up and the rambling from the highly-arranged to off-the-cuff improvisations was particularly ridiculous.

Many thanks to Roger and John (one of them) at Tonbridge and Seaford, and to Dylan and Charlotte at The Abbey for a magical mini-tour. We’ve a few more friends in the land, tricks up our sleeves and tunes under the fingers. Now back to writing that album!

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