Tuesday 1 September 2015


Final weekend in Skipton (launderette visit today) meant a final visit to the folk club last night. One of my favourite musicians there is Julian, who mostly plays his accordion, either on its own or using it to accompany his lovely, rich voice.

Last night he played a beautiful air by Johnny Cunningham, and a couple of tunes by his brother Phil, breaking into something really fast to finish. It was the Johnny Cunningham piece that got me thinking about trying it on my own accordion. I've found it on Spotify, so I'll need to get some manuscript paper from Smith's – I find transcribing is a good first step when learning a tune like this.

There were just over half a dozen singers last night, so we got to do four songs each, two in each half. For my second two I decided to play two completely contrasting songs. The first was a blues by James Taylor, "A tree grows in my backyard" – about as blue as he got, and pretty depressing, unless you like fancy fingerwork. I followed it, as complete contrast and antidote, with Stuart Townend's version of the 23rd Psalm – "The Lord's my Shepherd". After all, the psalms in the Bible are among some of the oldest songs known to us, and I reckon the majority would pass any test for what constitutes a folk song.

The audience probably hadn't heard a psalm in the club before! They were generally very appreciative, and Julian commented particularly on it afterwards. But pity the guy who had to follow! He has a great voice and sings unaccompanied, often something a bit bawdy, which might have been difficult! So he chose to start with "Martin said to his man" or "Who's the fool now?" which is a ditty mainly about the foolish things you imagine when you're drunk. It's well known, and everyone joined in – a good choice.

So that's the end of our happy association with the Skipton Folk. It's been one of the highlights of our time here.


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