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Acorn Folk Club Reviews

5th March
Andy Barnes

At the Acorn Folk Club on Saturday 5th March at The Old Ship Aground, singer/songwriter Andy Barnes held his audience with a complete selection of songs from his wide traditional, self-penned and other contemporary repertoire, some of which were shanties appropriate to the Acorn's harbour location. Singing both unaccompanied and with this own expert bazouki playing, his first set included "Johnny Sands" (Trad), "What you do with what you've got" (Si Kahn - New York), "Reading between the Lines" (Barnes), and in his second set "Nut Brown Ale" (a drinking song!) and "Turning Seasons" - both his own compositions - leading the very appreciative audience into rousing chorus singing.
There were twenty-two other floor spots, a highlight of which was Andy's wife Jan's performance of "Hush, Hush", a lullaby beautifully sung.
Andy saved his most sung and recorded song "The Last of the Great Whales" also known as "The Last Leviathan" for a moving close to the evening, followed by the grand finale by guest and all floor singers and audience of "Rolling Home" (John Tams) with comments such as "That was a great way to finish!" and everyone leaving in rather high spirits.


19th February
Brian Peters
Pat Smith & Ned Clamp

It was an uplifting experience for members of the Acorn Folk Club's audience to see and hear Brian Peters, one of the English folk tradition's finest guardians, at the Club's Seventh Special Event on Saturday 19th February.  Brian has carried the traditional songs and music of Britain all over the world in twenty years as a performer.  He gave superb introductions, both interesting and amusing, to his performance, ranging from exquisite Anglo concertina playing, some of the best melodeon playing that can be heard anywhere, and accomplished guitar accompaniment to his expressive voice delivering some great old ballads.  Starting the evening aptly for the Acorn's position at the Old Ship Aground by the harbour with "The Jolly Roving Tar" and "Jack the Jolly Tar", Brian won a rapport with his listeners immediately.  He went on to play brilliant sets of Lancashire and Welsh tunes and his own jigs, interspersed with fine songs such as "Rambling Blade", "Bold Lovell - The Devil's in the Women", and "Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom" (Child Ballad 1 - Riddles).  An extremely popular song with Acorn members "All Around my Hat" (Baring-Gould version) earned a reprise to conclude the evening with earlier floor singers and the supporting act being asked to join in.  Brian has recorded seven CDs and published a book of original music in traditional style - for more information about these visit

It would be impossible to review the evening without including Pat Smith and Ned Clamp from Llantrisant Folk Club who supported with two sets which included "Machynlleth" - Welsh tune, and harmony singing with "The Mountain" (Steve Easle) and "The Mission Hall" (Pete Livingstone).  This duo are really good instrumentalists (concertina, harmonica & guitar) and great entertainers;  Pat also added an extra dimension to some of Brian Peter's tunes with her amazing spoon playing


5th February
White Satin Slappers

The featured artists WHITE SATIN SLAPPERS at the Acorn Folk Club on Saturday 5th February, were a resounding success.  The a cappella duo gave rousing renditions encouraging audience participation in two sets which included "Round Cape Horn" (trad), "Bells of Norwich" (Sidney Carter), "Ripe and Bearded Barley" (trad) and a terrifically funny version of "Hurrah for Toyboys" (Capriole) - a parody of a traditional shanty.  Called back for more they finished with a moving version of "The Parting Song" (Dave Webber).

Charming guest MC Terry Matthews was busy on his feet all evening fitting in some fifteen floor spots which included visitors from Brighton, Chard, Highbridge and Wellington and Neil West of Taunton with delightful hammer dulcimer playing - Neil can be heard in Washford Mill and has CDs available there.  The "grand finale" of "The Padstow Farewell" to include everyone who had performed, completed a really successful evening.


7th January Third Annual Party
Pagan Gypsies

At the Acorn Folk Club's Third Annual Party on Saturday 8th Jan at the Old Ship Aground, there was a wonderful spread donated by members, a great variety of chorus songs and instrumental items from much appreciated regular floor performers and a tremendously friendly atmosphere. Added to all this there were two fantastic sets of foot and finger tapping Irish jigs, slides, reels, hornpipes and polkas (a selection of 25 titles in all) from the very versatile Pagan Gypsies, lead by fiddler/guitarist Steve Owen, with keyboard/flute player Jeannette and fiddler/whistle/mandolin player Jim Sergeant, accompanied by skilful bodhran playing from Carol. All the tunes were played from memory, and included fine renditions of Banish Misfortune/Cook in the Kitchen (jigs), Road to Lisdoonvarna (slide), Mountain Road/Wind that Shakes the Barley/Drowsy Maggie (reels), outstanding Rights of Man/Chief O'Neills Favourite (hornpipes) and "Jim's Mando-Polkas".

4th December
Hotwells Howlers


On Saturday, 4th December, at the Old Ship Aground, the ACORN FOLK CLUB featured nine members of Hotwells Howlers, a Bristol based group, who gave a lively performance with good harmonies of their Christmas set, which included carols widely researched and interestingly and informatively introduced by their leader, John Shaw.  As well as being fine singers of traditional and unusual folk carols, the group had a wide range of accompanying instruments - from Appalachian dulcimers, melodeon, concertina, guitar and recorders, through to percussion including bodhran, tambourine and bells.  They sang eleven really beautiful old carols including "Come Tune Your Cheerful Voice", "Christmas Song" from the singing of the Copper family, the "Boar's Head Carol" and a previously unheard (in this locality) version of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" collected in Carlingcott.

The whole evening was delightful, with 27 floor spots from 17 performers, mince pies in the break, and a "fun" Christmas medley to finish the evening with percussion instruments being shared amongst the audience of over sixty folk enthusiasts.

27th November

The Acorn Folk Club was fortunate to have been approached by Tom Napper and Tom Bliss of Leeds, as part of their West Country tour.  These passionate performers made The Acorn's Sixth Special Event on 27th November really 'special'.  Both are virtuoso instrumentalists, with tenor banjo, mandolin, mandocello, octave mandolin, concertina and guitars, accompanying their fine vocals.  Their vivid introductions and witty banter made their Anglo/Celtic music very accessible to an appreciative audience.  Of particular note was "Silverlode of Sark" (Bliss), their description of "Waulkin" - a term used in the making of Hebridean tweed, and three tunes "Hi' Road, Creel and Castle" on banjo (Napper).  Their interpretation of the childhood book "The Snow Goose" to "God Speed" (Bliss) was nothing short of beautiful, and "Turn and Face the Wind" (Bliss). written for a Chinese orphan, was truly moving.  "The Blue Cockade" was a terrific choice to complete a really great evening. See their web site to read more about them

Ian Hudson, singer and guitarist from Devon's "Hearts of Oak" supported with six thoughtfully chosen songs, and if it had not been for such superb professionals, the audience could have listened to him all evening!  However, also supporting were Eileen Moore and Marian Matthews, appearing as Exmoor Songwriters, presenting a delightful set of six of their self-penned songs, mostly relating to Exmoor.  Outstanding of these were Marian's "The Lynmouth Flood" and Eileen's "The Colours of a Dragonfly" - the title of her recently launched CD.  


6th November
Dick Stephens

At the ACORN FOLK CLUB on Saturday, 6th November, the featured guest Dick Stephens from Wells presented two themed sets on "love", pronounced "lurve" in his gentle West Country brogue. His superb bass voice was beautifully suited to the wedding song "Come write me down" (trad), "Jolly Bold Robber" (trad), the humourous "Butcher's Song" (Dave Paskett), and "Oh Dear Mother" a tune sung by Chalice Morris Men with whom Dick is a dancer, and for which he wrote the verses.
The icing on the cake was that Dick is also tall, dark and handsome, and the audience really enjoyed his choice of songs, his presentation of them and his presence at the Club. There were 22 floor spots, ranging from traditional tunes from George Ody on melodeon to an excellent reading by Melanie Hudson from Rudyard Kipling. A Wedding Anniversary celebrated at the Club, with cake in the interval, matched Dick's romantic theme which was a very pleasant surprise to the couple. Founders John and Eileen Moore were again pleased to welcome folk enthusiasts from Bath, Bridgwater, Taunton, Bishop's Lydeard and as far away as Chard, together with our loyal local members. 

2nd October
Gerry & Sue Mogg Colin & Rene Hawkins

From THE ACORN FOLK CLUB's own membership there is a wealth of talent, hence Gerry & Sue Mogg and Colin & Rene Hawkins, regular performers at the Club, were invited to be the featured artists on the 2nd October; and what an excellent performance they gave, with charm, a tremendous sense of fun and really good singing from all four accompanied by Gerry's fine musicianship on keyboard and guitar. In two sets they shared ten songs, notably "I Wandered by a Brookside" set to music by Barbara Berry (Rene), "Bridgwater Fair"(Sue), "Napoleon and St Helena" from the singing of Strawhead (Gerry) and "Working Horses" by David Steel (Colin).

There were twelve other singers/musicians to offer a variety of floor spots, including melodeon, bodhran, guitar and banjo, and some unaccompanied singing covering traditional and contemporary styles. One member chose to celebrate her 50th birthday at the Club, and there was plenty of delicious birthday cake to go round the sixty people present.

4th September
Martin & Marianne Lucas

The ACORN FOLK CLUB celebrated its Second Anniversary with nearly sixty people thoroughly enjoying the delightful presentation of American Old Time and Blue Grass songs from the featured artists Martin and Marianne Lucas from Bideford. Of the ten songs in two extended spots, it would be impossible to choose a favourite, but Si Kahn's 'Wild Rose of the Mountain', 'The Cuckoo' with its floating verses, and 'I'll Fly Away' from the film Brother Where Art Thou, have to be singled out; as does Bob Dylan's 'Wagon Wheel' with Martin's excellent guitar playing on his Guild guitar once owned by Ralph McTell. Martin also harmonised, played mandolin and harmonica, whilst Marianne led the singing and gave amusing introductions in her own inimitable way. The film has influenced the revival of interest in this fascinating style of music, and they have recently started their own Wildwood Flower Mountain Music Club at the George Hotel in South Molton on the second Wednesday of each month.

10th July - Lunchtime Singaround
West Somerset Folk Festival








Trim Rig & a Doxy

As part of the West Somerset Folk Festival, the Acorn Folk Club hosted a relaxed and friendly lunchtime singaround and session. Nineteen performers took part, with opportunities for singers to join in with each other's choruses and for musicians to play together. MCs John and Eileen were particularly pleased to welcome Trim Rig & a Doxy, shanty singers from Warrington on their first visit to the Club. Also giving us great spots were Pat Smith and Ned Clamp from Llantrisant Folk Club, Fred and Gina East from Weston-super-Mare and Brian and Jackie Ross, all of whom have been featured guests at the Club earlier in the year, but all the performers were great!

The Pagan Gypsies were playing much appreciated session music in the courtyard once the weather fared up, and were joined by other local musicians. The West Somerset Morris Men on the Quay completed the lunchtime entertainment.

Eileen ran a "Name the Clown" competition over Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes, raising 32 for the RNLI and the local MS Group. The name of the clown was "Yorick", and Jackie Ross guessed this correctly and so won him!

For a full festival report from the organisers Mike & Di Dibble, and to see all the photos John took over the weekend, please visit

 We have made a Scrap Book, which you can see at the Acorn and which will be available at the 2005 Festival, along with last year's Scrap Book