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The last session of the year proved to be as good (and as different) as any other for 2005. There were just a few of us at the hall after 7.30, and one of them was Peter, a young tin whistler. Peter was inspired by what he heard at the previous session and so went home a learnt a piece (Red River Valley) ready for performance. So in he came, and with just a few nerves, player his first public performance. Well done Peter.
Then Jackie, soloing on the ukulele, played her version of the now well known I’ll Fly Away and then Jolene with such emotion that we all felt sad and hoped that Jolene wouldn’t take her man ‘ just because you can.’
Alan then got the blood going with an Australian union song -The Ballad of '91 – which tells the story of the great Shearer’s Strike of the 1890’s. He then had everyone singing a quodlibet (3 quite different songs that all blend in when sung together).
Jill and the Jillettes then played a mixture of Australian and Canadian Folk tunes for Jill’s last session before heading back to Canada in December. They played Sweet Marie (an Australian dance version of an old Irish song)and the Black Cat Piddled on the White Cat’s Eye (a tune from the great playing of the Les Brown, the fiddler from Cape Barren Island) before launching into Jill’s signature piece Waiting for Emilie and the Canadian bluegrass anthem Maple Sugar.
While we were playing the numbers built up and Peter reprised his piece on the Tin Whistle backed by the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club Orchestra. It sounded pretty good and I am sure it will give Peter the motivation to go and learn another piece or two for next year.
Dharma followed that tune with an Irish Lament followed up with some good old community singing with Molly Malone. Then Hilary and Elizabeth Howes got up with their mother as the group "Full Howes" (or was it "Howes – At?"). They performed a Welsh song in 3 part harmony and then performed The Big Rock Candy Mountains which they had sung when they first came to the folk club last year.
Dave changed the pace with some poetry – his lively rendition of The Man from Ironbark is now a popular and familiar piece to the Newport regulars. Rob Reiken then performed one of his self-penned songs, a very personal piece based on a dialogue with his son.
Frank, who has only recently returned from a trip to Ireland, England and parts of Europe, sang to us the title song from his CD The Sun is Yellow and then followed up with another from the CD Give it all you’ve got. As usual he was in good form, and had copies of the CD ready for anyone interested and willing to part with the $20.
We then got everyone up to do a bit of dancing. There were about 15 couples on the floor as we headed in to the Heel and Toe Polka (all pretty familiar with that one) and then we had a go at the Blaydon Races. This dance is similar in style to the Circassian Circle and uses the tune, the Blaydon Races, which was penned in 1862 describing the excitement building up to the big day. As it turns out the Race Meeting was cancelled in about 1912 following a doping scandal, but has recently been revived as a foot race (where there is possibly less chance of drugs affecting the outcome). Anyway that is to get off the point – which was that the dance went so well that it has been included in the list for the Newport Lakes Bush Dance (Feb 26, 2006).
The dancing got everyone hot and ready for a cup of tea and piece of cake – this time a Marvelous Mousse Cake. Before all the tea and cake had been consumed some started up some more dancing (Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey) and we played and sang No Place like Home with Greg playing the Les Brown (noted above) variations on the tune – this is always a treat to listen to.
After all this activity another group of people came in so the musical community grew rather than diminished after 9.30. This was a good time to get out the songbooks and have a singalong. Elizabeth lead us with her favourite The Song of the Clyde and then we did a couple of Newport Convention standards – the Stephen Foster tune Hard Times and the Scottish Will ye go Lassie Go. A couple more songs (including Danny Boy)and then Dave did another poem, Been There Before by Banjo Paterson, Frank sang a new one (from the next, as yet unrecorded CD) Leave your shoes at the Door, we did a couple of carols (beautiful string section with 5 violins, a cello and a bowed bass) before finishing off with The Parting Glass. Then someone suggested that we finish off with a tune from Jill who kindly obliged with My Cape Breton Home which was a lovely tune to finish off the night, and to remember Jill by until she returns to Australia in ..?
The Folk Club has had a good year and been successful in its aims of:
Next year? We kick off 2005 with a session at the Colbinabbin Hotel (2.30pm, Sunday 29 Jan), then the Rotunda in Williamstown (Sunday 5 Feb, 4:30pm).
The first monthly session is on Friday 24 Feb at the Community Hall, and then 2 days later we are at Newport Lakes for the big Newport Lakes Bush Dance from 4.30 – 7.30 pm. It sounds like a busy start to the year, and hopefully will provide a great kick-off to a musical 2006 and a boost to the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club.
Last month was a quiet night at the folk club - quite a few regulars were at the Maldon Folk Festival and so it looked like it would be an early night.
We started off with the Nukes (Jackie and Alison on their Ukeles playing a couple of country style tunes - they started off less than 12 months ago and are now confident and entertaining performers who can play most of the 3 chords repertoire.
Then Dave gave us his rendition of the Man from Ironbark - he fairly took us back to the Barber's Shop with the 'gilded youths whose eyes were dull, their heads were flat and they had no brains at all'. His yell of 'Murder Bloody Murder!' was heard throughout Newport and might test the theory that any publicity is good publicity.
Dhama changed the tone of things with a couple of Irish tunes (Too Ra Loo Ra by request) and two lullabies that she sings to her children each night. Robert then played a couple of self penned numbers and seeing it was too early for a cuppa we launched into the Circassian Circle. We all got and had a go, and by the time we had played the tune about 10 times everyone got hang of it and had a great time. Then it was time for a cuppa and a biscuit (actually it was a very generous piece of Mars Bar cake that the folk club bought to celebrate the birth of Steve's new bass.
Most of the 25 of so people headed off a bit before 10 (with a piece of cake for have with breakfast the next day) and so it seemed that we would be finished for the night. Just as I was about to turn off the lights in walks Greg with his fiddle made of Australian timbers - it has a very distinctive sound, and as there was only 6 of us left, it resonated beautifully in the empty hall. Once we got started again we played some jigs and reels, then moved into the Newport Swing repertoire (Sweet Loraine, Nightingale Sang in Berkerly Square) and then back to a couple of Irish tunes to finish the night at about 11.15.
In the same way that you can never put your foot into the same river twice, each month at the folk club is very different. The last session, on Grand Final Eve, was different in content and mood. For a start we had not one, not two, but three recitationalists – Ted, Jim and Dave (Alan Davies' father). Dave had heard about the sessions from Alan and finally decided to come along and have a look.
We started off with a few old songs (Irish Eyes) and then Greg played a couple of tunes on the guitar to get the performance side of things going. Dharma sang a lullaby and a lovely Irish melody. What else went before and after I can’t really remember for the main impression of the night was of the poetry – a good honest Australian take on life.
I called on Dave to see if he was ready to do his thing (at the time, I didn’t know what it was). He began by telling us of his love for the work of C.J.Dennis, and that he would perform a piece from the The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. The scene was the Bloke’s interpretation of his night with Doreen at Romeo and Juliet and began with ….
Wot's in a name?-- she sez . . . An' then she sighs,
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes.
This poem - titled The Play - was written in 1914, and the poem, and performer, took us all the way back to this time, when there Australian character was clearly hewn through Dennis’s writings. I loved the performance and the story, and it brought back memories of when Australian poetry was taught at schools.
Then I asked Jim if he had anything for us. “As a matter of fact ……..”, he says, and off he went (in character, always in character). He pulled a huge magnifying glass from his bag, put on the detective's coat, and presented the story of murder and mayhem where he, the detective, ended up implicating himself. It was a great laugh and a sample of the (apparently) well known Australian writer and poet of the 1930’s Lennie Lower (like many my knowledge of Aus. poets is restricted to Lawson and Patterson, and the aforementioned Dennis). Ted then played a tune for us to sing along to and then it was time for a break.
As usual we broke for tea and coffee at 9.15 (just after the unofficial launch of Frank's CD – minus Frank who was on a plane to Ireland) and then began the social part of the evening. Some wandered off, and I thought that maybe we would be in for an early night. After a while I noticed that there was a group of ladies (The Choir) sitting at the back with the look of people for whom something else was expected to happen. So a musician or two went over to them and, in keeping with the mood of the poetry, got in to a good old fashioned singalong – songs from the song books, songs from the war, and songs from childhoods (?) that were lived long ago. It was great fun.
Before closing I asked the recitationalists if they had another poem in them. This was of course an invitation than a question and so off they went – with a trilogy of horse racing poems (would have been most apt on Cup Eve, rather than Grand Final eve, but there you are). Each poem took us off to race tracks across time and the county, and by the end had felt we had done a good couple of furlongs under the whip. The choir then started to move (the junior chorister having already gone to sleep) and it was almost the end of the night …… except there were just a couple of fiddle tunes that had to be played, a good-night to be recited and we all finished up with The Parting Glass (two versions, so it was the Parting Glasses) and then the night was over. Good clean fun.
We shall see what next month brings.
We had a good and varied night of entertainment. We began with everyone joining in with the Fields of Athenry and Too Ra Loo La. Underneath the strumming guitars there were a number of lovely voices which brought these old tunes to life. The next items was the SNukers - the 4 members of the newly formed Spotswood and Newport Ukelele group. Their set included the Dolly Parton song Joeline, and then, from left field, their own version of Here Comes the Sun - sounded great. Then Greg got his guitar out and played a traditional tune 'Black Water Slide' in the style of Bert Jansch, followed by his own, untitled piece. Then we were treated to a couple of old and (to me) unfamiliar Irish songs by Dana - she sings unaccompanied with a beautiful lilt and the sounds and the silences were beautiful.
Then we were taken back into the world of Henry Lawson by Jim who told the story of The Loaded Dog, Ryan sang a couple of self-penned songs in the style of Luka Bloom, we heard a couple of mandolin tunes from Richard, a set by the Jill's Canadian Quartet (who went on the next week to perform at the Williamstown Town Hall in front of 800 people) and then Ted completed the first part of the night with his rendition of 'Big Rock Candy Mountain'. We then brought out the big Mars Bar cake to celebrate the first year of the club, and so everyone enjoyed their cuppa with a piece of cake.
After the break the was a set from the fiddlers, Frank sang a couple of Tom Springfield songs (Silver Threads ...) Jerry played a few tunes, Alan got us all singing in harmony, Jim and Ted both recited poems, we had a few more songs and then finished with The Parting Glass (version from Waking Ned Devine) to finish the night at close to 11.30. It was good fun and showed that there still seems to be a healthy appetite for live and local performance.
We are currently planning an event in February (Sunday 26th) with the Friends of Newport Lakes (Newport Folk: Fiddlin' in the Park) which builds on the idea of the concert that was held at Newport Lakes in March this year. More about that later.
I have been speaking to the council and they are keen for us to be involved in making use of the Rotunda in Williamstown. Once we get organised this will be another great avenue for performance and building the profile of the NFFC.
We have developed a statement of who we are and what we are on about to clarify our identity and give some focus to the group. It is not yet written in stone so any comments are welcome:
The Newport Fiddle and Folk Club began in August 2004 as a response to the need for a community music venue. The Club was started by the local folk group Newport Convention, and has met on the first Friday of each month and provided local people with a night of locally produced music. The Club has already spawned the Nukes (a Ukelele Group) and plans to promote a range of musical events that involve local musicians and local music lovers.
The Newport Fiddle and Folk Club aims to:
Beyond the monthly gatherings of the NFFC, the Club has a role to play in the development of young and older musicians through workshops and other planned musical fora. The NFFC aims to develop links with sponsors of the Arts to source funding for professional musicians who will be able to provide musical both leadership and inspiration for developing musicians.
There's a couple of other things in the wind but this is probably enough for this note which is already a bit on the long side.
So in closing, hope to see you at the next session - Friday Sep 23 - for some more good clean fun.
The night started off with Alan getting everyone singing the African hunting song Wimoweh. It was a brave move, with so many unfamiliar faces, but with Alan's enthusiasm, and everyone in the room there to participate as well as listen, it sounded great and got the evening off to a good start. Then Gerry performed a couple of swing tunes - Georgia and Blue Moon. Anton (featured in the brochure) played a lovely solo with Gerry on Georgia, and the Newport Choir couldn't resist the opportunity to join in and sang along with Blue Moon. It is a lovely vibe when so many people sing together.
Then Rick sang a couple of songs including the Dougie McLean evocation of Australia - My Singing Land. In time I am sure we will learn the chorus of this song and it will become a regular request. After Rick had played his tunes, Frank then came out and performed another couple of his own songs. The one that stayed with me for a few days was his whimsical ode to the Sun (The Sun Is Yellow) and I am told that this will feature on his soon to be released, and as yet untitled CD.
From singing, we moved to an instrumental group lead by Anton. Anton taught me violin years ago when I was teaching in Sale, so it was great to join him and his students and Wilva on bass doing a Greek Dance Tune (in 7/8 time ),and then a couple of other tunes. Then all the violins had a go at the Newport F& F standard tunes in A major (Speed the Plough, Devil's Dream and Drowsy Maggie). Somewhere in amongst all this Greg played a lovely medley on the guitar, Jackie told us a native American story about the animals listening but not hearing, Clare sang some swing tunes (Dream a Little Dream of Me was a singalong for the over 45's) and Ted performed a few self-penned poems, including one about a girl who goes fishing on the Murray. Then Anton's group of violinists took us to a well earned break.
Cups of tea and biscuits gave us all a chance to meet some of the familiar and new faces - lots of players who were checking out the session, and many who were there to enjoy and sing. Some went home, the violinists got things going again and played some of the old Irish favourites (including D.Boy) and a few others. Frank and Rick played some more of their songs, Jill led a few Canadian sets and then Kim played us out (at about 11) with a couple of really old tunes that the serious singers knew from days gone by (Shanendoah sounded beautiful).
So what's up for this month? I've had a few calls from people who are keen to come but haven't been able so far, so there will be some new faces. Chris Langshaw will lead the session as I am teaching for a few days over in Dhaka (hope to see lots of photos when I get back). As usual, it will be different, and maybe even a little bit bigger than in June. We'll see.
If you have any songs that you reckon ought to go into the next song and tune book, just email me and I will collate them (ideally ones that are out of copyright). Also if you have any websites that might be of general interest or value, send them to me and I will pass then on to Alan - I am sure he can put them on the NOTICES section of the website.
So - hope you can join the next session, and participate in and help build Newport Fiddle and Folk Club as a place to go and have some good clean fun!
ps If you are a player, make sure you get a copy of our first collection (Newport Convention Returns to Colbo - prepared for our last gig at the Colbinabbin pub) and you can have a go at the tunes many of us know well. You can download the book from the "Songs" page of this website, or there will be copies at the door, and the books are free (only price is to learn some of the tunes or songs!).
It started off as a bit of a quiet night, and Jackie and Andi on their ukes got things going with a couple of tunes before Jackie introduced her new tune for May - A Convict Maid - which told the sorry tale of what life would have been like for the first (reluctant) female emigrants to Aus.
Then we heard from Greg H. who played a lovely tune on the guitar , and Alan (the web meister) got us all singing Step By Step a stirring round that is the theme of the United Mineworkers of America. About that time a heap of musos from Ringwood turned up with violins and mandolins and it was clear that there was to be plenty of music to be played.
Meanwhile Frank played another couple of self-penned tunes - one about his grandmother, and another which was an intriuging and evocative recollection of his desire to head for Mexico.
The Ringwood gang then tuned up and played a few sets from the now almost well known Australian Settlers Dance and Session Tunes book. They laid down the gauntlet to us locals by playing without a single piece of music and got the feet tapping (- last year we did a couple of dances each night - maybe we will have to revive that 'tradition' when groups are playing dance music).
In amongst all this Bob and Flora played a couple of sets on what were probably the finiest mandolin and guitar that had graced the Club to date, and Wendy accompanied herself on guitar and sang some lovely country/folk styled songs. By this time (9.15) it was time for a cuppa and a Tim Tam. As usual Alan S had the kettle under control, and people began socialising and playing tunes with people they had just met.
Danny Boy got another good going over, and as we had enough song books handy we found a couple of lovely singing voices in amoungst the non-players.
Harry sang (and played) the story of a young boy who feared getting baptized (thought it was like being branded), Jill lead a few violinists in Ashokoan Farewell (theme from 'The Civil War') and we sang and played a wide range of old time songs . I think it was about 11.15 when we were looking for a song to close the evening, so Kim lead us all in a hearty rendition of Irene Goodnight.
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