Updated: 21 Jun 2007
FOLK IN DE WÂLDREN, OENTSJERK, NETHERLANDS, 19 JUNE 2007
Saturday 16th of June there was an international folk festival, called Folk in de Walden, in a beautiful park just outside the town of Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.
From Belgium there were Vera Coomans and Ambrozijn, from the USA came The Bowmans and Rod Picott, RemoliNo and Doede Veeman, Fungus, Torf, No Blues, Sidaro and Ygdrassil were from Holland. Last but surely not least were The Strawbs from England.
A great variety of styles was presented, from arabian influenced music to traditional dutch folk, americana and dance music. It was all good music but the highlight was the show of the Strawbs.
I had not seen them perform since 1973 in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Being an acoustic show I did not miss the drums at all. The music sounded very powerfull, strong rhythm guitars and heavy bass and orchestral sounds. The voices were clear, the harmonies well balanced and the songs still were beautiful. The repertoire was a mix of old songs and fairly new ones. Songs like "New World", "We'll Meet Again" and "Benedictus" still were strong and new ones like "Cold Steel" could easily stand up to them. A highlight for me was "Witchwood" with the delicate banjo. Many people were impressed by the music of the Strawbs and one promotor present was very enthusiastic and will try to put together a tour in Holland in the nearby future. /p>
For me it was also very nice to meet David Cousins again. I visited him twice in Devon in the seventies, even played with him in the pub of the Angel Hotel in Honiton. Only during the last five or six years we had contact again through e-mail.
I was in the Netherlands to visit "Folk In De Walden". The Strawbs were (of course) the last band to play and it was fantastic, marvellous ...
... there is more than 6,000,000,000 people on our planet but only one of them has THE VOICE - Dave Cousins!!! Whenever I hear his voice, it warms my heart and makes me happy. Looking forward to the next gig I remain, Peter, the greatest Strawbs fan in Germany.
Tears And Pavan
The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Oh How She Changed
Two Weeks Last Summer
A Glimpse Of Heaven
We'll Meet Again Sometime
Hero And Heroine
JBFEST, UFFINGTON, 9 JUNE 2007 (PRIVATE SHOW)
Saturday, travelled with Lindsay to a private Acoustic Strawbs booking in Uffington, near Stamford. John Baillie, sadly struck down with motor neurone disease, had contacted me to see whether the Strawbs could be booked and I put him through to the booking agents. As it turned out a gig on 9 June could be fitted in between the various commitments, so the deed was done; John very kindly invited me to come along.
Popping in to the sound check in the village hall, next to John and Les's lovely "Yew Cottage", caught the boys limbering up with Paul on the mixing desk. Next door drinks and a rather nice curry buffet and a chance to relax after the drive, and chat to various folks. A number of smart "tour" t-shirts had been printed up, listing a selection of dates on the back: Spain, Holland, US and Canada – and in between Spain and Holland: "JB Fest, Uffington".
It was almost tempting to stay outside in the evening sunshine, but there were musical delights to be had also. The hall, according to a newspaper clipping, had previously been two cottages knocked together and given to the village by a local benefactor to be its village hall. A pretty good acoustic space as it turned out, though lighting was rather basic – open curtains and some fluorescent tubes above the stage. But a great atmosphere of anticipation as we made our way and took up our places in the hall.
The lads opened in fine voice with "Benedictus" paired with "Simple Visions". DC was in very good storytelling form indeed, with a few anecdotes about the recording of Two Weeks Last Summer I hadn't heard before. "Jesus" was pretty dynamic, and I love the adaptation of "Two Weeks Last Summer", which was also exceptionally good (John's wife Les was obviously pleased as Punch to get to hear not one but two tracks from Two Weeks Last Summer). "Ghosts" ended up the set with its usual high energy display.
A short break, to recharge glasses back over at the house, then on with the second half. Opening song, unusually, "A Glimpse Of Heaven", an appropriate reflection of the idyllic little village in which we found ourselves. Highlights of the second half, for me, a splendid "Witchwood" and "Autumn". The banjo tuning went a wee bit strange on "Cold Steel", allowing Dave to trot out a few "banjo-player" jokes. Of particular note however were the last two numbers: "We'll Meet Again Sometime" - intended I think as the very last number, not necessarily expecting an encore from a "house" concert – was simply a tour de force. But when an extremely appreciative audience persuaded them back to the stage, an even more upbeat "Hero And Heroine" raised the rafters of this wonderful little hall.
All in all a cracking show, in a beautiful setting. The venue was perfect for a truly initimate show, with performers very close to the audience, and it showed. Well done to the band for really giving it their all. And thanks to John and Les for inviting Lindsay and I to their private concert. I think from the ear to ear grins I saw during and after the show that they enjoyed the show as much as I did and probably more.
Photos by Adam Goldman - more pix from Adam.
I didn't really have much of a clue what to expect before Dick and I set off for Uffington, I knew we were heading towards a little village near Stamford for a private party, but not much else. I'd been to Stamford many years before and had been impressed by the lovely stone buildings, not to mention the Daniel Lambert museum (he was England's fattest ever man I think, weighing in at over fifty stone – quite a sad tale I recall). Anyway, Uffington certainly didn't disappoint, it was a beautiful little village, and Dick and I arrived shortly after six on a glorious summer evening. Navigation from London was no real problem; I became well acquainted with the A1/M1 on the way to a Strawbs concert a long time ago. We still managed a little detour into the grounds of some sort of manor house though, avoiding pheasants and what I thought were strange-looking quail but turned out to be rabbits ('course I don't need glasses!). Then we arrived at the party and what a friendly bunch of people we met there – the atmosphere was wonderfully warm and our hostess Lesley (Happy Birthday Lesley!) buzzed around making sure everyone was well-looked after.
As Dick mentioned, Lesley's husband John has motor neurone disease and is unfortunately wheelchair bound, but how wonderful it was to see the amount of pleasure Strawbs brought him and everyone else there - the magic of Strawbs. I believe both he and Lesley had seen the band a few times in the past – I think Lesley mentioned seeing them at Lanchester Polytechnic in the 1970s. Though she'd not had many opportunities to see Strawbs live before, Lesley was extremely au fait with several albums and was hardly able to contain her delight at having such a special performance. Conversation revealed that another very friendly guy I spoke with (sorry, can't remember names!) and I had both been at a Nottingham University gig in the late 1970s too – amazing how memories can come flooding back so unexpectedly sometimes.
Following the delicious buffet in John and Lesley's idyllic back garden we made our way back into the village hall, which was literally next door, for the main attraction. Ought to mention that Dave Cousins had been under-the-weather for the previous few days, and Geraldine told me she'd been concerned as to whether the band may even have had to cancel (a rarity indeed) – again, Dick's been here before me, but I shall reiterate what fine story-telling form Dave was in and how he captivated the audience. I can only assume the delightful company made him feel a whole lot better. The audience was quite amazing actually – rows of "non"-Strawbs fans (to start with, but not to finish!) of all different age groups, and from our vantage point standing at the back of the hall it was clear how engrossed everyone was in watching the band. There was none of the fidgeting or chatting which sometimes occurs when people haven't actually chosen for themselves what they've gone out to see. The sound was superb (yes I know Dick's already said that too!) – it really was rich though and during the soundcheck it didn't seem as though Paul needed to twiddle with anything, it all just sounded perfect. Dave Cousins joked that now they'd found out how good the sound was they'd tell everyone what a lovely little hall it is to play, and the village will have non-stop entertainment forever more - whether it was to do with the wooden cladding on the lower half of the walls, or the building being made of stone, or the high ceiling I haven't a clue but it really was beautiful. Dick's remembered the setlist (with just a little help - not to mention the bribery and corruption) – I'm always useless at remembering exactly what was played, or when, or whatever, but I do recall my delight at hearing both "Simple Visions" and "Midnight Sun" played in such acoustically sympathetic surroundings, and I also remember thinking how "Autumn" sounded out of this world.
After the gig it was lovely to see the band signing the specially made t-shirts (brilliant idea, those Uffington JBFest ones!) and chatting with guests - they made a lot of people very, very happy that evening, for sure. Hopefully we'll have a chance to meet some of the kind Uffington folk again. Grateful thanks to John and Lesley for the invitation, to all their guests for being so welcoming, to the band for a wonderful performance, to Paul for any twiddling with the sound that was necessary, and to Dick, for the drive and everything else including sharing his latest musical offerings with me – most enjoyable.
Photos by Dick Greener - more pix from Dick.
Tears And Pavan
The Man Who Called Himself Jesus
Oh How She Changed
Two Weeks Last Summer
Hero And Heroine
We'll Meet Again Sometime
THE BROOK, CHATHAM, 19 APRIL 2007
Having travelled to the Brook in Southampton many times with the delights of the roadworks on the M3 on the way home, we felt it would make a pleasant change to visit a different Brook, this time in Chatham.
The AA estimated an hour and twenty minute drive, and as this was on a Friday, after work, and the concert was due to start at 8:00, it was hit and miss as to whether we'd get there on time. Particularly as the e-mail ticket receipt said that tickets were to be picked up at the box office forty minutes before the start. Imagine turning up thirty nine minutes early to find that they'd sold your tickets on already!
Arrived at the Brook about five to eight. Parked the car and ran. Inside, the Brook looks like a school, with long corridors leading off in all directions, with rooms that look like Headmaster's Offices where, as a kid, you would be forced to stand awaiting some punishment. Eventually found the theatre up a flight of stairs. Managed to negotiate the box office and the bar with only seconds to spare.
The theatre is a large auditorium, set up with rectangular tables at which the audience sit. When we arrived we could see that the room was already very full, but we managed to squeeze in on one table.
And then, there they were! Our heros! Although it is only a couple of months since we'd seen the Acoustics, and even less since we'd seen the Electrics, the wait had seemed interminable. Can't tell you how much we'd missed them. It is like an addiction.
No real surprises with the set list (see setlist box). DC had some new stories to tell, particularly with his introduction to Tears, as he recounted their recent show in Spain. He promised that he would put some photographs up on the web-site. Not of them performing, but of, ... well that would spoil the surprise, wouldn't it? Guess we'll probably have to wait till he's finalised the solo album before he's got time.
In his introduction to "Oh How She Changed", he told us that he had been reading Tony Visconti's autobiography. I had been waiting for it to come out in paperback (not till January 08), but I just had to go and order it from Amazon when we got home.
The music, of course, was beautiful as ever. I think that there were a couple of minor changes to some of the songs, mainly in the addition of a bit more of Chas's pedals. Guess it could have been that the pedals were a bit louder than usual so maybe the songs are always like that, but it definately seemed that there was a bit more footwork at the start of "Jesus" and at the end of "Hero".
During the interval it was announced that the bar would shut at ten o'clock, so every one topped up ready for the after show chat.
Of course, as you'd expect with the British motorways, on the way home, they'd dug up the M26, and completely closed it. The detour took us all the way back up to Dartford, where we'd been just a couple of nights back to see Brian and Cathryn.
Masses of good wishes to the guys for Holland, the US and Canada.
Photos by Pete Bradley - more from Pete on the galleries page.