Reviews 2010 2011

Acorn Folk Club Reviews from October 2010 - August 2011



Eileen Ann Moore thanked all who came to the Complimentary Guest Night for her birthday party at the Acorn Folk Club held in the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground on Saturday 13th August, and for all the kind cards, gifts and good wishes. The invited guest was the entirely original PETE MORTON - singer/songwriter extraordinaire; Pete was amazing and attracted a huge audience, and so many came to join in with over twenty floor spots, singers and musicians. The evening was also arranged to thank everybody for their support over the years, and to welcome newcomers. Pete was one of our first professional guests in June 2003, although the Club was founded in September 2002.

Folk singer Pete Morton is a songwriter and performer originally from Leicester, who currently lives in London. With a wealth of great songs and stage presence, his performance was dynamic and intense as well as approachable and fun loving. The evening consisted of entirely his own compositions, and he performed all his well known songs such as 'Another Train', ‘The Shepherds Song’, and 'Six Billion Eccentrics' as well as songs from his album 'Economy', which features the well loved rant: 'The Sock on the Line' and the anthemic 'When we Sing Together'.

Starting out as a busker on the streets of Europe, he has entertained all over the globe with his unique and involving style of song-writing and traditional singing. Two American fans on holiday in Devon tracked him down to the Acorn Folk Club and surprised and delighted him with their presence. Pete sang from the heart, delivering songs that tell compelling stories and spoke of the human condition from a very unique perspective. With a passionate, strong voice Pete sang from the heart, delivering songs that tell compelling stories and spoke of the human condition from a very unique perspective. With a passionate, strong voice and strident guitar style, his songs are an unruly mix of humour, politics, love and social comment, wrapping their way around the folk tradition.

In particular too, thanks are due to Mike Dibble for the super MCing which was quite challenging due to the numbers - and for that thanks are also due to Brenda Freshwater the landlady for allowing an extension for the party - plus of course, Di Dibble who made the delicious cake and ran the raffle. EAM


THE ACORN FOLK CLUB presented the 47th Guest Night on Saturday 2nd July to an audience overflowing the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground in Quay Street, because the guests Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman are so well respected on the current folk scene, and drew listeners from all over the South of England,even as far away as East Grinstead! Club organisers Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham said "We were blown away by these two at Cheltenham Folk Festival where they played to an audience of 800 in Cheltenham's delightful town hall: the singing is simply superb and the quality of the guitar playing is rarely heard with such artistic and downright virtuosity complimenting yet never overwhelming the song."

Kathryn, mother of 4-yearold twins is returning to her roots as a folk singer of the highest calibre. Not since her renowned award winning partnership with Kate Rusby has Kathryn focused on the folk clubs that nurtured her musical career. As the lead singer for the well-known Folk-Rock Crossover band 'Equation', Kathryn has toured the world with the group playing to packed houses from Los Angeles to Lisbon, yet playing the clubs is something close to her heart. In the 90s Kathryn was awarded the prestigious BBC Radio 2 'Young Tradition Award'. These accolades brought opportunities for her to take her talents as far as Malaysia, Poland, Shetland and countless other crazy places. The creation of the band 'Equation' (initially the combination of Kathryn, Kate Rusby and the three acclaimed Lakeman Brothers), in late '95 brought a window of opportunity that has grown ever wider for Kathryn.

Her husband Sean Lakeman, (and proud father of the twins) from the edge of Dartmoor in Devon has played guitar since the age of six. He was recognised from an early age as one of the most talented and promising young guitar players on the folk scene. He was asked to be a member of the BBC Folk on Two 'Young Tradition Band', alongside previous winners of this award. The group was assembled to showcase the best young traditional musicians in the UK. The Early 90's witnessed the emergence of the precocious 'LakemanBrothers', with Seth (violin) and Sam (piano). This trio wrote and produced their applauded album 'Three Piece Suite' (1995), upon which Kathryn was guest singer on two tracks. It was the success of this session that produced the idea of what was to become 'Equation'.

Sean shares Kathryn's affection of folk clubs as his early career was also launched upon the folk club circuit, and the duo was absolutely charming and delightful in the acoustic, warm and friendly environment that is at the heart of the Acorn Folk Club.

It was a privelege to host such exceptionally talented artists and they were so utterly charming - comments from the audience such as "these two are world class" - "a superb evening" - "even more fantastic now they've matured a little" came rolling in.

Their repertoire included “Joe Peel” with Kathryn on keyboard, “Lusty Smith” – learned when they toured America, the Child Ballad “Lord Gregory”, Kathryn’s own compositions “Cassie Love” and “Never Stray Far From Home”, a favourite from Little Feet “Twenty Million Things”, and “Lovely Willy” learned by osmosis from Bob Fox’s recording when travelling to festivals. Sean’s father is also a folk musician and they played “Jackie’s Song” which they had learned from him. Inevitably an encore was called for – this being“Lloyd George”. This is only to mention some of the excellent material they performed with Kathryn occasionally picking up the flute, performing as an exquisite solo singer throughout with the intimate accompaniment from Sean arranged in perfect harmony.

The evening was MC’d by Jim Parham, and he managed to fit in the many talented amateur floor spots who like perform at the Acorn along with Tom & Barbara Brown professional singers on the circuit who came to hear these wonderful guests and who are booked to perform "The Three Sea Captains" for us on 1st October (see Future Guests). There was traditional chocolate birthday cake shared amongst all for Mike Dibble, who with his wife Diane, give the Acorn invaluable voluntary help, the Club being organised by Eileen Ann Moore and Jim on a not for profit basis, but to bring the wealth of the folk genre to Minehead. Thanks are due to Brenda Freshwater of the Old Ship Aground for allowing the Club to use this ideal venue.

As I said to Sean, I saw the Lakeman Brothers about 20 years ago at the Hoy at Anchor in Leigh on Sea, where I used sing every week, and on moving to Minehead founded the Acorn Folk Club - we will be going into our 10th Year in September. I also assured them that within 18 months we'll book them again!! EAM

Hi Eileen Ann + Jim,
Many thanks again for having us play on Saturday + thanks for the great review.

Hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration and we'll see you again.

Love from West Devon

Kathryn + Sean xx


Looking around the room at the Acorn Folk Club on Saturday 4th June, one saw a rapt and entirely engrossed audience, taking in every exquisite harmony and nuance of instrumental playing in the Threlfall Trio's presentation of quintessential English Folk Music. Last weekend they were headlining at Chippenham Folk Festival alongside Steel Eye Span, and were able to amalgamate a performance at Bodmin Folk Club alongside the evening at The Acorn Folk Club. Organisers Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham are absolutely thrilled to be able to stage guests of this outstanding quality.

Opening with "The Gipsy Girl" and "Yellow Handkerchief", they interspersed their songs with careful tuning (it being a really hot night with several instruments - guitars, concertinas, mandola and fiddle) and amusing introductions. Being from Lancashire they have quite a dry sense of humour, but they also complimented the Acorn as being "the prettiest Folk Club they had ever visited - where else could you be looking out on the harbour whilst performing?"

Going on to "No my Love not I" they talked of how far women have come and yet how many traditional songs tell stories that would still be relevant today. "The Bold Grenadier" was a lovely rendition of the nightingale song with versions countrywide. They were invited by the Lancashire Dialect Society to sing, and they gave us a taste of this too!

In their second 45 minute set the trio opened with "The Night Visiting Song" from the South West. The Threlfalls have a very pleasing technique of building from Jane's solo voice to incorporating perfect harmonies from Amanda, to gradually including sensitive instrumental accompaniment from Roger's concertinas, with Jane playing mandola and then Amanda picking up her fiddle for gentle enhancement. At other times the instrumental combinations will be two guitars - or guitar and mandola - Roger having time for intricate accompaniment as he leaves the beautiful voices of the sisters to do the singing!

Throughout the evening they encouraged the audience to join in and "'Twas on One April Morning" was particularly beautiful in this respect. Roger Edwards - a virtuoso on concertina - gave an exciting rendition from "Hardcore English Tunes" - "The Toy Shop" making the small anglo concertina sound like a fairground organ!

Of course, there was more - too much to describe in a review, but their penultimate song "A Blacksmith Courted Me" could have been listened to over and over again, and, called up for an encore, The Threlfall Trio gave a sparkling finale with "Horncastle Fair".

Supported by 12 songs from 6 very good floor spots and all ably MC'd by Terry Matthews - dressed for the part in dazzling waistcoat - one could say - what better evening could anyone have, but unfortunately maybe due to half term holidays numbers were a bit depleted.

The evening was preceded by the Acorn Folk Club's Annual Dinner in the bar at the Old Ship Aground - the food and the service being excellent, and those present were able to "Meet the Artists" as the Threlfall Trio joined the dinner party.



At the ACORN FOLK CLUB on Saturday 7th May the atmosphere of the 1970s Folk Revival was rekindled with a full house participating in traditional and contemporary songs, ranging from pleas for peace, story songs of past hardships and present day issues, sea and work songs, to bluegrass and an instrumental set of Irish jigs and reels.
Two of the featured artists Rupert Kirby and Tony Piper are superb lead and harmony singers, having built some of their repertoire whilst performing with Hearts of Oak, a much loved but retired Devon group who, in their time, also filled the Acorn Folk Club. They were joined by guitarist, whistle player and fine singer Geoff Hocking, who had a long association with the Hearts, producing their many recordings, and who also led some items.
Rupert, Head of Performing Arts at the Quantock Federation of Schools, who does sterling work in music and song with the next generation, is a multi-instrumentalist - playing guitar for the opening numbers "Smuggler" and "Blue Peter", moving through to harp for "Bellringing", to muted viola for "Athenrye", to banjo for "Tell Me Ma" and to utterly true-tone fiddle playing in an instrumental set and for the final item "Leaving of Liverpool". He also fitted in flute and mandolin! The final item was not this at all - as two encores were called for.
The whole evening was inspiring, and reached the goal for which club organiser Eileen Ann Moore has strived since founding the Acorn in 2002 with her late husband, John - that is to offer a high standard of musicianship from professionals and amateurs alike in a convivial atmosphere, the raising up of all voices in chorus and fellowship, and the silence of being able to hear a pin drop for such songs as Scottish songwriter Eric Bogle's "Leaving of Nancy" (Nancy being his mother whom he left on emigrating to work in Australia) and "No Man's Land", (a moving story of a soldier's death), and "Steal Away" written by Phil Coulter of Irish emigration in times of starvation. "The Watchet Sailor" from our local heritage shanty-man Jack Short was outstanding, but perhaps the most moving song of the whole evening was Rupert's own "Wild Wood" describing the plight of today's children "surfing the net in your room" instead of "climbing the trees in the wild wood" or "fishing for minnows in the stream".
Tony plays great percussion in the lively numbers, which were interspersed into a really well planned programme.
Add to the above our fine regular and visiting floor spots, who supported the guests with Ralph McTell's, work. peace and May songs, as well as humourous poems, plus "The Singing TwinGers" (sic) - a Townswomen's Guild Singing for Fun Group directed by Eileen Ann - who performed four well known songs, one with clarinet accompaniment, including "Blowing in the Wind", Bob Dylan's still meaningful protest for today, then it can be said that the formula was PERFECT, and Rupert, Tony and Geoff will definitely be invited again.
Many new listeners attended, as well as people who could have swelled the floor spot numbers if time had permitted, and Eileen Ann would like to extend a welcome to them and hope they will return; she also thanks all performers from the floor, regular audience and the landlady and staff of the Old Ship Aground - the Acorn's home - for their continued support. And from Jane Pretty, a member of the Singing TwinGers on her first visit to the Acorn
Dear Eileen Ann
Thought you may like to know how much Mike and I enjoyed the evening last night. The group from Lynton were amazing and so relaxed in their manner.


THE ACORN FOLK CLUB, held in the private Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground on Saturday 2nd April, hosted THE ASKEW SISTERS, who gave a splendid performance. "It is so good to hear live music" - "There's such a lovely atmosphere here" - "These girls are very talented" - were just some of the comments from the audience. Emily and Hazel Askew who hail from London have made considerable waves on the folk scene and, as well as playing as a duo, where their sibling relationship makes their timing so impeccable, they are also branching out by working with other artists. Emily, who studied at the Guildhall School of Music, teaches instrumental music and is booked to play mediaeval music, whilst Hazel, currently writing her dissertation at Newcastle, has formed a new trio and is booked at Sidmouth Festival. Emily is a fine fiddle player and harmony singer, whilst Hazel is a very accomplished melodeon player and the lead singer of the duo with a crystal clear voice, which comes with her youth.
Their specialty is traditional English folk music, which they absorbed from being taken by their parents for many years to Sidmouth Festival. They can move from fast tunes such as "Dusty Miller/Presbyterian Hornpipe", "Little Polly Polka/Dick Iris's Hornpipe", to lengthy ballads such as "Henry Martin" and "Two Sisters". They finished the first of their two 45 minute sets with "Beautiful Nancy" - beautifully sung - and the fun item "There Were Three Drunken Maidens". Opening their second set with "An Old Man Came Courting Me", they went on to more fine tune playing and singing. Outstanding here was "Lemany" during which both sisters played a pizzicato accompaniment on violins. This led on to the title track of their new CD "Through Lonesome Woods", and another fun number to finish "If I was a Blackbird" - the audience being encouraged to participate in singing and/or waltzing, which challenge was taken up by Club organizers Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham. Of course, this was not the end, because the incredibly enthusiastic applause and calls for an encore were answered by the Askew Sisters with their inspirational playing of the jig "Paddy Carey".
Seven floor spots offered two items each to support the guests, and more amateur performers and audience are always welcome. From the floor, Hannah Wilder who travelled up from Monkton Heathfield, performed an American and English version of the same song which was interesting, Geoff Williams treated us to some Ralph McTell, from George Ody, Northumbrian tunes on melodeon, songs about mothers (for Mother's Day) from Di Dibble, and an hilarious reading of Les Barker's "Deja Vue" from Vera Dibble. MC Mike Dibble, a good singer who has the knack of the right song for the right occasion, gave a melodic version of "Twas on One April Morning" with guitar accompaniment, and he specifically thanked Club organizers Eileen Ann & Jim for bringing such high calibre guests to the Acorn Folk Club in Minehead, which after all is a relatively small community and yet is hosting festival head liners. EAM And from the Askew Sisters:
Thanks very much for having us at the club and looking after us, we had a really lovely time. Thanks for the review too, it's great. Emily & Hazel

The Acorn Folk Club's guests Bob & Gill Berry presented an evening of folk songs and music on 5th March in the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground, with a programme entailing in depth research, scholarship and musical ability, in the most light-hearted and amiable manner. With no memory props, and occasional lapses of either tune or words to start, Bob nevertheless pulled out such a wealth of interesting introductions and details of Wiltshire/Oxfordshire song collectors/writers, and played bouzouki, guitar, mandolin and concertina so well to accompany himself, his wife as a soloist and their duo singing in delightful harmony, that the audience could not fail to warm to them.
Bob, of a musical family, met Gill in 1983; they first sang with Bob's parents, Len and Barbara Berry as the Portway Pedlars, and Barbara is famous on the folk scene for having composed the tune for the Oxfordshire poem "I Wandered by a Brookside" which has been recorded by Fairport Convention and Eva Cassidy (to mention a couple) and of course, by Bob and Gill on their charming CD "Bitter Sweet".
Their repertoire included the traditional "I am a Besom Maker", "The Shearer's Song" collected from David Sawyer of Wiltshire, "Gentlemen of High Renown" in 5/4 rhythm from Oxfordshire. Influenced by Graham and Eileen Pratt they sang "Merlin's Song".
At the National Song Festival Frank Hart collected "The Hiring Song" from Bob and Gill, in contrast to their having spent many years collecting. They are the organisers of the fabulous Chippenham Folk Festival now in its 40th year, and of Devizes Folk Club and key members of Wiltshire Arts. Other outstanding items were Chris Leslie's (of Fairport Convention) "Winterman" and Ted Edwards' (great songwriter concerning social issues) "Ladybird".
The evening with Bob and Gill's maturity and experience was greatly enhanced by the arrival of James Findlay, keen to hear them and prepared to be a floor singer. James won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for best young artist in 2010 and has previously played the Acorn as a soloist. What a treat to hear his fiddle playing to "Young Hunting", "Short Jacket and White Trousers" from Bert Lloyd a capella, and "Rounding the Horn" with impeccable guitar playing.
Other superb instrumentalists guitar/flute Jonathan and Rebecca had travelled from Somerton, and the Acorn's own regular floor spots, Mike & Di Dibble, Geoff Williams, Benn Banks and the Acorn Crew with "Sing John Ball" (1400s socialist) by Sydney Carter and "The Drovers" telling of railways being laid and changing lives, all gave worthwhile performances. Eileen Ann Moore opened with "The Blacksmith" collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Monksgate in 1905, the tune of which he subsequently used for the hymn "To be a Pilgrim". Along with the learned feel of the evening, Jim Parham told the yarn of how the Padstow sailors were becalmed in Minehead harbour on a May Day, and took the Minehead Hobby Horse tradition back to Cornwall, as well as singing a fine rendition of Robbie Burns' "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" on request.
Best of all, Bob and Gill said "This is a lovely club - thank you for having us" - but thanks are undoubtedly due to them, the floor spots and followers, and landlady Brendwater Freshwater and staff for such a good evening. EAM

Saturday 5th February 2011 - GUEST NIGHT NO 44 - QUICKSILVER Hg

The Acorn Folk Club hosted Quicksilver Hg on Saturday 5th February in the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground, (always remarked upon as a lovely venue). The name is so apt for H = Hilary Spencer known for "That Voice" and g = Grant Baynham, ex-BBC That's Life presenter and extraordinarily dexterous guitarist. Hilary, trained at the Royal Northern College of Music, can sing in any genre at all - be it blues, jazz, music hall, folk song or scintillating French chanson - with such verve and prodigious memory that the words just flow off her tongue like quicksilver. Likewise with Grant's prolific talent in composing his own material and performing work from great contemporary writers - the notes just flew from his guitar like quicksilver.
Their two 45 minute sets included "The Kiss" and "The Hair of the Widow of Bridlington": Thackeray, "La Mer": Stilgoe/Thenet, "Madeira M'Dear": Flanders/Swann, "La Vie en Rose": Piaf, "Let's Do It": Victoria Wood, all interspersed with Grant's own work such as "Sing in the Day" - their rousing opener, "The Wine Song", "England Green" and "Promise Tonight" through to their double encore of "The Elements": Lehrer and "A Primrose": Baynham. I think it would be true to say that never have an Acorn audience laughed so loudly, or in contrast been so hushed and engrossed for Grant's own "Michael on the Moor" and Pentangle's "Night Flight" from the much loved TV programme "Three Girls".
An added benefit of presenting such good guests is that folk enthusiasts travelled in to Minehead from Plymouth, Cossington, Taunton, Bath, Highbridge and Southend, expanding the number of high quality floor spots alongside our loyal regulars who supported Quicksilver Hg. A visitor remarked that ALL the floor singers were good, but I feel on this occasion I must mention Benn Banks' rendition of Dylan's "Hey Mr Tambourine Man" which suited the contemporary feel of the evening, yet also Rob Williams' traditional "Macintyre" was equally well received for its humour. Regular singer Geoff Williams wrote: What an entertaining night - and what guitar playing!! I enjoyed it very much - this phrase was used by virtually each member of the 50 strong audience as they left.
The Acorn's philosophy of "offering a platform to professionals and amateurs alike and giving the audience an opportunity to meet and talk with leading artists in a warm and friendly acoustic environment" was certainly fulfilled. A duo of pure genius and a magical evening.
EAM And from Quicksilver: Thank you so much for sending through your lovely review Eileen Ann. I'm also going to post it on the QuickSilver website. Once again we had a terrific night and hope to see you all again before too long x Hilary

Sun 16th January 2011 - ACORN OPEN NIGHT - This was great in an informal and friendly acoustic setting. Ten of us round one table; a listener from Lichfield who thanked us for such a nice evening and said it had been lovely meeting us all, great singers Rob and Jenny Williams from Cossington, Geoff Williams who came prepared with new songs to try out, Mike Dibble who came in spite of Di being in hospital - pleased to say she is home now - it was just such a heartening sort of an evening and we will carry on with these evenings.

8th January 2011 - Ninth Annual Party Guest Night No 43 with VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER

The Acorn Folk Club held its ninth Annual Party in the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground on Sat 8th January, presenting guests of the highest quality - Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer - who are presently making waves on the international folk scene, with an Australian tour coming up. Vicki, of Swedish descent, not only plays beautifully but looks beautiful too, married to handsome Jonny for 5 years they are at one in their musical rapport and repartee. Jonny's father, a church organist, has taken some time to adapt to the importance of folk as a musical genre. Both were offered a place at Colchester Institute to study music, but Jonny chose instead to get a Masters in Historic Building Engineering, whereas Vicki got her degree there, her PGCE at Middlesex University, and her Post Graduate Performance qualification at the Royal College of Music. She has become an authority on the Swedish Nyckelharpa, which she introduced to the Acorn Folk Club with great enthusiasm.
She is also an excellent small pipes player and flautist, and with Jonny accompanying with dexterous and subtle guitar playing, or accordion, they gave the audience a stimulating performance instrumentally, and then there was the added bonus of their fantastic harmony singing.
Vicki cleverly composes for the Swedish Nyckelharpa, and for the small pipes, has the language skills to sing in Swedish, first translating and giving a good introduction and background. Their repertoire included "Three Roses", a Swedish riddle song, "Lord Randal my Son" (played for the first time on the Nyckelharpa), "Oxford and 'ampton", a train song from the Broadside Collection 'ampton being Wolverhampton, the Child Ballad "Little William", and an old Swedish song from the 1800s which is also found in the Norwegian language, with jokes about its 52 verses and their paring it down to an enchanting ten minute ballad. Vicki played a set of Irish reels on the flute - again with Jonny on guitar. Their planned finale was his own song "Follow Me Home", involving everyone in the audience, and their was considerable applause calling for the "Broken Token Song" encore, with an irresistable chorus "You are handsome sir".
In fact the audience came in party mood and decorated hats, and joined in right from Eileen Ann's opening song "Welcome to the Acorn Folk Club", through a very high level of floor spots giving fourteen songs from the floor in all, which included Rob Williams, melodeon, concertina and singer who has moved from Aberdeen to Cossington - a very welcome addition to the loyal regulars. The hat competition was won by John and Linda Konrad, being judged by the guests who of course, did not know that the winners were husband and wife.
Thanks are due to Brenda Freshwater, landlady at the Old Ship Aground for her continued hospitality, to the "brilliant" (to quote from the audience) guests, the floor spots, and supporters and all who participated in the hat competition, brought raffle prizes and to MC Terry Matthews, dressed himself for the part in satin waistcoat and Sheriff's hat.

10th December 2010 - Extra Special Guest Night No 42 with PHIL BEER

The Acorn Folk Club presented an Extra Special Guest Night, hosting PHIL BEER, ambassador of Folk Roots Music, on Saturday 10th December in the Pier Room at The Old Ship Aground. Phil, as part of the duo Show of Hands, won best duo and best song in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2010, and they have filled the Albert Hall three times. However, Phil is such a genuine musician and charming person that he is truly delighted to fill the Acorn's regular venue with some 70 people, and to sing and play accousticly using two guitars, tenor guitar, ukelele and fiddle, this last being the instrument for which he is perhaps best known.
He opened his two marvellous sets with "Jack Frost Away" (Steve Ashley) - very appropriate as we were blessed with a mild evening, going on to "In Young's Town" (Bruce Springstein) with tenor guitar, and then fiddle for "The Devil's Right Hand" - immediately taking the audience with him to sing the choruses. He then introduced the ukelele as being an important branch of musical history, using it in a unique way to play O'Neill's Irish tunes, Beatles numbers and O'Carolan harp tunes! His programme included the blues "Cocaine" influenced by David Graham, and the amusing "I Hold Your Hand in Mine" (Tom Lehrer).
Phil told us of sailing on the "Pegasus" with the late much-loved folk musician, Tony Rose's son Didgery, and of how they had sung into the early hours, then giving us "Pleasant and Delightful" (trad) and filling the Acorn with song - a very moving experience. Throughout Phil spoke so naturally. describing his musical research and connected journeys, and mentioning Charles Causley (Devon) and Johnny Coppin (Songwriter).
There were 10 much appreciated floor spots to support this fabulous evening, Tony Woollard, Benn Banks, Geoff Williams, John Middleton, Marian Matthews, Steve Pledger, Mike and Di Dibble, including rousing carol singing from the Acorn Crew. Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham, Club organisers, who sing as a duo, enjoyed the greatest privelege when Phil picked up his fiddle and accompanied their singing of the Dorset traditional "Blue Cockade".
Phil finished the evening with a medley, which featured the work of the Gloucestershire poet Frank Mansell "This War is Over" which brought tears to the eyes, and like his opening, was so appropriate to what is happening in the world today, when we all wish for "Peace and Tranquility" from Eileen Ann's Song "Peace in Minehead" with which she opened the whole evening. Thanks to Steve Pledger who played soft guitar tunes for some twenty minutes as people were arriving, which created a very nice atmosphere.
Called back for an encore, Phil Beer, famous himself, enthused about playing "Alice" (Neville Brothers) with Little Feet at Trowbridge Festival, and said that he had loved being here at the Acorn Folk Club and would be pleased to come again. YES is the answer to that! Thanks to all who performed and attended and to Brenda Freshwater, landlady, her daughter Melanie and staff for the use of the great venue, so festively decorated for the season.

4th December 2010 - Club Night featuring James Findlay - Winner BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Young Musician 2009. James told us he had won this award a year ago to the day. He gave us a good and varied programme of traditional songs, accompanying himself on guitar and fiddle. He joined in with a "fun" Christmas set, and gave a grand finale including a self-penned tune, Mason's Apron and the song made famous by Pete Coe "The Fireman" .. (the driver thinks he runs the show, but if I'm not there the train won't go) .... Other memorable items in his repertoire were the Dorset traditional song The White Cockade, Adieu Sweet Lovey Nancy and Little Musgrave, influenced by the singing of Pete Morton. Both Petes mentioned have been guests at the Acorn Folk Club. A quiet night which was probably the result of a week of bad weather and Dunster by Candlelight, nevertheless it was most enjoyable with good supporting songs from a small group of floor singers - it can be great for regulars to have the opportunity to sing more than one song as sometimes happens on crowded evenings. And the Dunster Carolers with their lively renditions of The Dunster Carol and While Shepherds Watched to the Lingham tune, otherwise known as The Roller, made a good opening to the second half of the evening. Chocolates were passed round in the interval, and as ever, there was a nice friendly atmosphere. MC Eileen Ann complimented James saying he is a unique young man, and wished him well in his career.

21st November 2010 - Acorn Open Night - This was the third happy and friendly evening when a group of us sang, played, chatted in an informal acoustic environment. Next Open Night is 16th January - come along .....

6th November 2010 - Guest Night No 41 with Sarah Deere-Jones & Phil Williams

At THE ACORN FOLK CLUB on Saturday 6th November in the Pier Room at the Old Ship Aground in Minehead, the charming guests Sarah Deere-Jones and her husband Phil Williams presented two cleverly planned sets of beautifully played traditional and contemporary songs and music, some of which was composed by Sarah. Sarah studied harp at the Royal Academy of Music and now owns the Cornwall Harp Centre where she lectures and runs courses, and, respected world-wide, she was one of the first harpists to break from the mould of classical music.
Each set comprised a traditional and contemporary song from Sarah, of which "The Squire and the Farmer" (trad) and "Grey Funnel Line" (Tawney) were delightful. Each half contained a set of tunes played by Phil on small pipes accompanied by Sarah on the harp.
At other times, Sarah led from the harp with Phil accompanying on cittern, guitar or concertina. Outstanding amongst these were Sarah's own "Casmufearna/Edal's Jig", which she composed in memory of Gavin Maxwell, his home on the Isle of Skye and his otters. These drew a standing acknowledgement and bow from a front seat member of the audience.
Due to the unseasonably mild and humid evening there was need for retuning during the first set, but this was concealed by Phil's anecdotes and rendition of amusing songs. Fortunately, by the second half of the evening Sarah's harp was "behaving" (as she called it), and their flourishing finale "Take Five" (with a hint of Greensleeves) was thrilling, and of course, they were requested to play an encore.
There was a good number in the audience, and the Acorn Folk Club welcomed some new listeners. Firework night, however, did affect attendance with fewer floor spots than usual, but the seven present averaged two songs each and supported the guests well.
MC Mike Dibble, who has the knack of the right song for the occasion, gave us "There'll be rest for horse and man" (Marsden) which commemorates the working horses of the first world war. Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham were on form with solos and duets, as was Geoff Williams with his excellent guitar playing; Di Dibble and Mike's mother Vera ever loyal, and Marian Matthews sang her own romantic song for husband Terry as they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary this week.
Superb guests, relaxed and happy atmosphere, and all went away smiling, which is what the Acorn is all about ... "Down by the harbour, in Minehead's fair town, there's song and there's music and joy to be found ...." (Moore). AD

2nd October 2010 - Opening of the Acorn Folk Club's Ninth Season with Pat (Spoons) Smith & Ned Clamp

To open the Ninth Season at The Acorn Folk Club, Pat (Spoons) Smith and Ned Clamp of Llantrisant gave a sparkling performance to an audience of nearly 50 people, some of whom had travelled to Minehead from Frome, Cheddar, Taunton, Bishop’s Lydeard, Combe Martin, Roadwater and outlying villages with a good nucleus of Minehead regulars. Pat, with her bubbling sunny personality and sense of humour , is an exceptionally talented concertina and spoons player and also has a charming singing voice, whilst Ned, who is an excellent guitarist and harmonica player, is a good singer in his own right and gives informative introductions and backgrounds regarding the interesting songs they sing. Harmonising together too, it would be easy for anyone to see why they are the only duo to have been booked at the Acorn Folk Club four times in the eight years since the Club was founded by Eileen Ann and the late John Moore.

Ned and Pat played wonderful sets of tunes such as “Hela’r Sgwarnog/Waun Llwyd War March”, Pat sang a beautiful Welsh love song “Ar Lan y Mor” giving a translation first, as she did for the Welsh “Cuckoo” (with actions and much laughter and audience participation). Together they gave us “When April Came to Rhymney” by Idris Davies with tune by Mick Tems, “Lifeboat Horses” by Andy McKay, a beautiful song “Lost Little Children” by Tim O’Brien speaking of when parents had to emigrate without their children and the children would be sent for later to travel as far away as America when there were sufficient funds. There were also mining songs such as “Take us Down” by David Llewellyn, and the evening finished with “Rolling Home (… to dear old Swansea)”. The audience then demanded an encore which was the delightful “Sandy Banks”.

The evening was MC’d by Gerry Mogg who himself is a fine guitarist and singer, and his wife Sue, being an a cappella singer, sang a lovely rendition of the topical “Bridgwater Fair”. There were seventeen floor spots in all which gives listeners a tremendous variety of styles and material, and in particular Tom and Barbara Brown, organisers of Shammick Acoustic in Combe Martin performed two good rousing chorus songs, and they will be presenting an evening for the Acorn Folk Club in the future entitled “The Three Sea Captains”, the content of which will be the songs Cecil Sharp collected in Minehead and district in the early 1900s. There will also be information about Cecil Sharp and his song collecting with recordings by Eileen Ann Moore and Jim Parham of some songs collected in Quay Street at the Conservation Society’s Exhibition in Townsend House “Quay Town and the Harbour” from 7th – 9th October.

3rd July 2010 - Guest Night No 40 with Jim Causley (Devon Incarnate)

JIM CAUSLEY, the Guest on 3rd July at THE ACORN FOLK CLUB, is one of nature’s blest. He has such an intelligence, charm, wit and insatiable curiosity about the songs he sings, their origin, anecdotes about writers, current and past singers, people and places, alongside his rich and sonorous voice, that his two forty minute sets were entirely engrossing.

It is easy to see why he has been twice nominated for the best Young Artist by BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He is carving out a successful career, having toured for six consecutive seasons with Waterson-Carthy and worked and recorded with prestigious artists such as Phil Beer.

Too numerous to detail all within the review, the list can be seen below this article. He introduced his programme well, presenting songs with pathos and lively or amusing items, so that the audience were suspended between real tears and tears of laughter.

His first set included “Polly Vaughan” collected in the Appalachians by Cecil Sharp, the Devon version of the chorus song “Parson (sucking pig)” collected by Sabine Baring-Gould, “Royal Comrade” from the 90 year old Romany Amy Birch, descriptions of the Wassailing tradition of Whimple (his home village) Cider with “Old Uncle Whiteway”, finishing with Cyril Tawney’s “In the Sidings Now”.

His second set was equally enchanting – with the outstanding “Story of Snow White” displaying his prodigious memory and indeed, theatre skills, as well as his subtle accordion accompaniment and his a capella singing.

The Acorn was delighted to have fifteen floor spots, and Eileen Ann Moore, founder and compere for the evening, (in the absence of Mike Dibble the invited MC) was glad she had incorporated the words “There’ll be music and song, and friendship and rhyme” in her new song “Welcome to the Acorn Folk Club”, as the poet Katy Konrad (now living in Chester), was in Minehead visiting her parents, and rendered two of her own excellent poems, which attracted great interest. We were also pleased to welcome visitors from Weston Super Mare and South Somerset, as well as our regulars from Taunton, Bishop’s Lydeard, Monkton Heathfield, Tiverton and Minehead and outlying villages.

The evening opened at 6 pm with the Annual Acorn Folk Club Dinner to close this our 8th Season, with excellent food and service from the landlady and staff of The Old Ship Aground.

The end of the evening was moving with the spontaneous harmony singing of 14 singers (including the guest) for “Padstow Farewell” (It’s time to go now..), with Jim Causley giving a fine encore of “Down by the Old Riverside” collected from the Cornish traveller Sophie Legg.

Jim Causley - Set 1: Ralph McTell "Summer Girls" about life of Dylan Thomas; Appalchian folk song collected by Cecil Sharp - version of "Polly Vaughan"; Devon version Sabine Baring-Gould collected - chorus song - Parson "sucking pig"; Amy Birch, now in her 90s. traveller/Romany - "Royal Comrade"; Whimple Song - talked about Wassailing - "Old Uncle Whiteway"; Cyril Tawney - "In the Sidings Now".

Set 2: "Southern Girls Reply" - American Civil War (Tim Eriksen); Welsh Song - learnt from Julie Murphy; "Green Grows the Laurel"; Song of Transportation "Jim Jones"; Story "Snow White"; "When first I came to Caledonia" learnt from Norma Waterson; Encore: Sophie Legg "Down by the Old Riverside".

That is a lovely review Eileen, thank you. Jim Causley

5th June 2010 - Guest Night No 39 with Dan McKinnon supported by Eileen Ann Moore

At the ACORN FOLK CLUB on Saturday 6th June at The Old Ship Aground, Canadian singer/songwriter, Dan McKinnon, on tour from Nova Scotia, charmed the audience with his rich warm voice in two half-hour sets, giving us a backdrop of Halifax in Canada, where he was brought up, of his grandmother, his parents and family, and of the vastness of Canada. He opened with his own "Wandering Days" and "Kith and Kin", and closed the first half with "The Man of her Dreams" - written with his grandmother's stories in mind.
Dan is an extremely interesting man as well as a fine singer; his second set included "Aesop's Fables" - again a story of his youth, and also the traditional "Farewell to Nova Scotia" and "Ballad of the Simple Sailor" (J Stewart).
Ten regular floor spots also performed: Hannah S Wiseheart with the American writer Dave Carter's songs,
fine fiddle playing from her husband Andy Wilson, singalong tunes from Bertie Owen on trombone, lovely songs with guitar accompaniment from Geoff Williams, Tony Woollard and John Middleton, rousing choruses from the Acorn Crew with Mike & Di Dibble, an exciting guitar solo from Paul and the inimitable reading of hilarious poems by honorary club member Vera Dibble.
The evening was MC'd by Eileen Ann Moore, who also supported the guest with two of her own compositions, one being "Pony and Trap". which like Dan's songs, was inspired by her own childhood, and two traditional songs in the second set, with Jim Parham wearing "the yellow handkerchief" during "Flash Company" and bringing uproarious laughter to all.
The penultimate number drew together all of the performers and the guest to sing "Padstow Farewell", thus giving Dan a taste of the English tradition of singing and harmonizing together. Dan then closed the evening with "The Mary Ellen Carter" by Stan Rogers, such a well respected songwriter who was lost to the international folk scene at the age of 33 in a plane crash.
This was an especially magical night for a privileged audience, yet next morning Dan McKinnon wrote "Thanks for a wonderful evening at the Acorn". AD
1st May 2010 - Guest Night No 38 hosting MICK RYAN & PETE HARRIS

THE ACORN FOLK CLUB held its GUEST NIGHT NO 38 on Saturday 1st May in the Pier Room at The Old Ship Aground, hosting utterly superb singer/songwriter MICK RYAN dynamically accompanied on a Louden Guitar and a rare Cook Bouzouki by PETE HARRIS, who also sings excellent harmonies. Mick Ryan is hailed as one of the finest songwriters in the folk scene today, and by Mike Harding of Radio 2 Folk as a really acclaimed singer.
I have been aware of them as a duo for 20 years, but also of Mick's writing, as he wrote the folk operas, "The Tolpuddle Man" with Graham Moore, "A Day's Work" a story of the first world war, and "The Voyage" the story many Irish people having to emigrate to America due to famine. His most recent work "The Navvy's Wife", tells of how the Irish came to Britain to dig and build our canal/road/rail network and how hard it is for the women. This latter show is currently being booked at all the major folk festivals, and has already been shown at Sidmouth.
People left the Acorn on Saturday saying "what wonderful entertainers" and "it's the best evening yet", which indicates the magic of their performance, although the latter statement is not really correct as the Acorn has a fine reputation for presenting the very best artists, often award winners, on the folk circuit today.
Mick and Pete have a whacky sense of humour, and fill their introductions with spontaneous repartee, and the audience warmed to them and they built a tremendous rapport. Yet many of the songs are extremely emotional, such as "Poppies" (from The Navvy's Wife), which tells how poppy seeds can lie dormant for years but then when the earth is disturbed they spring to life, thus marking soldiers deaths in France and Flanders, but also the navvies who lost their lives working here. Another stirring song "Lying Down" from "The Voyage" simply has to be mentioned and "The Song Goes On", written by Mick to commemorate the life the the renowned folk singer Cyril Tawney. During their two 40 minutes sets, only one song was truly traditional, "Just as the Tide was Flowing", this beautifully sung, and one by Graham Moore "Tom Paine's Bones", Tom Paine being a respected working man's hero, and one from his sister. Otherwise the entire programme was Mick's own work, much enhanced by the superb musicianship of Pete. There were also hilarious items such as "Fresh Fish" and "Desperate Dan".
Too many songs to mention in a review, but I have listed them below for folk enthusiasts such as you who are reading this!
All charmingly MC'd by Terry Matthews, who had to be a "time management" expert, as there were eleven talented floor spots, and two who were prepared to stand down. It is wonderful that many of these travel real distances to be with us ... from Weston super Mare, Tiverton, Taunton, Coleford, even a couple from Yorkshire who come when on holiday here, also many from outlying villages, and a firm nucleus of Minehead supporters, of whom we would love to have welcomed more. Holidays, illness, sprained ankles ... hope to see you all back on 5th June for Dan McKinnon on tour from Nova Scotia!
Tom Paine's Bones - Graham Moore
The Man I Killed - Mick Ryan
The Song Goes on - Mick Ryan
Just as the Tide was Flowing - Trad
Here comes Mick - Mick Ryan from The Navvy's Wife
The Ballad Seller - Mick Ryan
Sons of the Land - Mick Ryan from A Day's Work)
Song for John (Prince) - Mick Ryan
Fresh Fish - Joanna Ryan (Mick's sister ... adapted by Mick ...)
Poppies - Mick Ryan from The Navvy's Wife
Desperate Dan - Mick Ryan (hilarious)
Lying Down - Mick Ryan from The Voyage
Holmes and Watson - Mick Ryan (silly song)