THE FOLK FOREST!

It’s really great writing these blogs, especially when it comes to blogs like this. We work all week which often means we have to come to doing blogs a little later on, or the weekend after. We have had a great time looking back over pictures and reliving The Folk Forest. It’s given us a happy, warm, cwtch feeling, and here is why:

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Okay so, as per, the blog does have to start with complaints about public transport. Dean knows how travel anxious Beth gets. So, days before travel, Dean writes a very detailed plan of action to ensure there is ample time between bus changes and Beth knows that nothing could possibly go wrong.

So, to cut what could be a very long story short, imagine Beth’s surprise after waiting for half an hour for a connection, that they were not only waiting for the wrong bus, but also at the wrong bus stop.

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So, it was a quick run from the bus station to the police station (after Beth freaked out and caused Dean grievous bodily harm). To be completely fair to Dean, this is the first time this had ever happened in two years of catching buses, trains, donkeys, roller-skates, saddled old women...

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After catching the right bus from the right stop, we were on our way. In true public transport style, we were snarled at for our instruments taking up one seat on what was otherwise an empty bus. Of course, we awkwardly moved everything so the lady could sit in the seat she so desperately wanted to sit in. We sat for most of the journey feeling like Buckaroo from that game… What was it called? Where the Donkey carries so much it bucks? ‘Don’t Be An Ass’, maybe?

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Anyway, we did make it, and that’s the point! Music lifted from the park, bearded men wandered the streets, socks and sandals everywhere, and that was just Dean. We would like to say that we loved to be playing at a festival that had actual toilets rather than port-a-loos (although, they had them too, just in case that is one of the features of a festival you would miss…). Beth often finds at festivals that her irrational fear of port-a-loos turns into a very real and rational fear of wetting herself on stage.

Everyone was in great spirits (and I don’t just mean Gin and tonic, although that probably helped). The Bird Table Stage was well set and sounded great. People sat all over on little picnic blankets, camping chairs, sausage dogs. There were probably as many children and dogs as there were leather waistcoats and hats. There was so much to do. Wanted food? Food stall. Kids bored? Craft stalls. Want clean air? STAG, tree justice for Sheffield, stall.

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It was great to see some familiar faces as we started to play. Sign of a Teaspoon playing the role of Paparazzi (big thanks to Ian Tillbrook for the photos of us playing). Cecilie, Simon, Katy, Ian (Almond and Tillbrook) as backing singers (that’s right we saw you). Last but not least a massive thank you to to our backing dancers - Batman and the Princesses. That right, you saw right, we have Batman on our side, and let me tell you, you might not know this but, great dancer. Really great. Bigly.

A young gentleman made the time to come over and tell us how much he enjoyed our set and enjoyed dancing. We’re sorry we didn’t get your name, but you need to know you made our day, weekend, week, month.

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The Folk Forest was absolutely what it is all about for us. We don’t just mean the AMAZING Farrerro Rocher milkshakes from the cafe. We mean everything. A festival that is still FREE. Somewhere that parents can take their children for the day (and their Batman, obviously). Somewhere that like-minded people can get together, eat food, make crafts, and rage against the Amey machines. Dogs tails were wagging, kids were dancing, Beth was urinating in comfort.

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If you want an easy, fun weekend, where everyone is welcome (and did we mention you can wee in comfort?), The Folk Forest is the place for you. 

If you want to listen to 'This Old Guitar' as we played it live at TFF, then click below!
https://soundcloud.com/user-52112461/kooch-this-old-guitar
Big thanks to Forge Radio for all your time and effort over the weekend. 

Jo Cox Memorial Event / Gardeners Rest

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Doing blog pieces about every event is getting hard but we couldn’t leave these two out!
With our strong working class roots, how could we not play at a memorial event for Jo Cox?
Of course, we have played at the Labour Club before - and the vibes there never fail to impress. On arrival, picnic tables were set out, a picnic laid on a table to our left, and many people enjoying the sun while attentively listening to the acts that were performing.

The afternoon for Jo had started at 2. We were sad to not have made it to the club any earlier than we did, Matt proving that, as always, he knows where the talent is!

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Our competitive side has known to leave people injured, so you can understand our pure, evil, delight at the sight of a giant Jenga set out on the lawn. However, using our better judgement, we just watched others play, silently judging every move they made, knowing that if we had have pulled that block out, the tower would not have fallen down.

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In true, Labour Club fashion, free food seemed to keep coming from nowhere. Whether that be chocolate doughnuts (we had to eat the last in the pack as we were told there is a special place in heaven for those that do so. We presume that place is probably above the trap door to hell…) It felt amazing to sit in the sun and remember the life and achievements of such a wonderful lady. We sat amongst like-minded people, enjoyed the sun and the food and watched some extremely talented people sing/play/recite poetry.

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Some people have many talents. We sat and gawped as Simon the sound man got up and began to play beautiful violin. Matt, as always, delivered poignant and funny poetry and quips. As the sun went down, Ichabod got up to perform. Not to be defeated by The Darkness (We believe in a thing called love! Just listen to the rhythm of our hearts! There’s a chance we can make it now… er… Something something something… Sun goes down?) they pulled a Fiat 500 round the corner and shone their full beams at the stage. The lighting manager really deserved a pay rise for that stroke of genius.

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A great time was had by all. As taxis were called and the picnic tables packed away, suddenly streams of Chinese take away were getting handed out. Never being ones to pass up on a free prawn cracker, we practically inhaled the food of the gods before we got in our taxi and jabbered all the way home about what a lovely evening we had.

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Gardeners Rest
Well, we were setting out on an adventure here, having never been to The Gardeners Rest before. Getting in to Sheffield was easy peasy, a trip made many times.

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We managed to find the stop for the bus to The Gardeners Rest with plenty of time and we waited. This is where we would like to publicly say that we have never met people so despondent, angry at life and generally grumpy as (most, not all) Stagecoach drivers. Here is a sample of the delights:
Dean: Hi, two singles to The Gardeners Rest please
Driver: *Looks at Dean like he has just passed a kidney stone* Don’t know where that is.
Dean: Err.. Well, it’s eight stops away?
Driver: Nope
Dean: Outside The Gardeners Rest pub?
Driver: I think I know where that is. *looks Dean up and down. Lethargically pushes buttons. Waits. Looks back at Dean. Sighs.* Two quid.
Dean: For both?
Driver: *narrows eyes* What? No. *angrily pushes button again* Four quid. *smirks*
Dean: Can you give us a shout when we are getting near, just we’ve never been before so don’t really know where we are going.
Driver: *rolls eyes* You’ll see some abandoned buildings on your right. It’s there.
Dean: … Thanks.
Old Lady: Don’t worry, I know where it is, I’ll tell you where you need to get off.
Turns out, the bus stop is literally outside the pub and the name of the stop… is the Gardeners Rest… Also turns out, the driver’s name being Richard Sole wasn’t the only reason people called him R.Sole.

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Anyway… The Gardeners Rest is kooky as hell (let’s face it, if the devil is in charge of the decor it’s gunna be kooky). We ordered a drink and went and sat outside. We sat right by the river and drank our soda, stimulated in conversation by an American Indian lady. After speaking to her, on our way back into the bar we met with a newly wed and her partner. Conversation was stilted with these two but we gathered they were both models once. We wish Manny Quinn and his wife all the happiness in the world.

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Again, a fantastic performance by all involved. Ichabod worked relentlessly with a difficult crowd at the bar. Taking one for the team, by the time his set finished the bar had quietened down and everyone was in a listening mood.

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We sat and quietly discussed our disgust at the sheer lack of pockets in female clothing. Also, our extreme abhorrence at ‘fake pockets’. Trump’s ‘fake news’ hasn’t got anything on the real life struggle of women who thought they had pockets, and don’t.

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After just watching Boo Hewerdine, we even caught up with 2/3 of Sign of a Teaspoon! Had a good natter about life, the universe and everything while Ichabod packed up and kindly offered us a lift home.

Again, more discussions of life, fire pit parties and music as we wended our way down narrow country lanes.

We could never come close to describing how much we enjoy the company of those that seem to be surrounding us at the minute. There are friends we haven’t seen in a while - we know you are with us, and we love you too.

There are always going to be people that don’t accept us, don’t see our happiness as a good enough reason to be together (although, what better reason is there?!).

Cwtch is not just a word for us anymore, it’s our whole way of life. Some people get it, some people don’t. For those that don’t we ask you come and spend ten minutes with us. Rejoice in our deep, belly laughter and feel the warmth we feel everyday we are together.

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Nobody can be everyone’s cup of tea - we aren’t mugs (get it?). For those that still struggle I will say this:
After the death of my father back in October, if it wasn’t for Dean I may never have picked up music again. My passion for music would have died with my father, but here I am, bold as brass and ready to stand up for what I love - Music… And Dean.

Love, harmonies, cwtch.

GETTING TO THE ROOT

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It’s a pun! The title is a pun! Yay! So, we played Doncaster Roots and Acoustic Club last Friday. We were supporting a gentleman that we are now a little ashamed we didn’t really know much of - Luke Daniels. Luke is absolutely phenomenal. He has played with lots of bands, orchestras, but if you get a chance to see him on his own, do it. Drop everything and do it. Drop the meeting, drop the catch up with friends you haven’t seen in ages, drop the baby, go.see.him.

So, the train was booked, the hotel was booked and the library was… booked. We were starting a new rock and roll chapter of our lives where (even for just one night) we felt like we were ‘on the road’.

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When we first hit Doncaster it felt like we had travelled forward in time. As we pressed the button and waited to be able to cross the road, the little green man flashed up and we walked. Then, as we hit the middle of the road, a countdown from 15 began.. It was actually telling us how long we had left until the lights changed. We had seen the future, and it began in Doncaster… Of all places.

We headed to the hotel to check in and then we headed straight to the nearest bistro… Spoons. Beth resisted the urge to have two chilli con carne’s for £7.49 to herself, but her will is only so strong and she inhaled a large portion of onion rings, all to herself (and now everyone knows why Dean is so thin).

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Then we had a nice small mooch to the venue (Beth more or less rolled). Inside, the stage was already set and Luke was already tuning up. Having being blown away by his sound check, Beth and Dean exchanged a glance and ordered two pints of the finest soda water.

After our sound check (and a big shout out here to Stuart, a truly great sound man for the club, got us sounding just how we wanted) Luke gave us a tour of the Polyphon. What is a polyphon, we hear you ask? Well, we’re still not really sure. It’s from the 80’s. This is folk music, after all, so yes, we’re talking about the 1880’s, obviously. All we can really tell you is that it is old. That Luke is some kind of magician that uses sorcery and complicated spells to make the thing not only work, but so it can loop (as you can only store 100 seconds of music on one disk). Using a complicated mix of herbs and spices he transposes the music he wants onto these big disks. Much like the pianos that used to play themselves, the holes in the disks would give complicated light signals to little elves that would then run around plucking the notes in the sequence that you wanted them to. (This is definitely 100% how Luke described it to us, by the way).

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Tonight was a special night. It was the weekend of Pete’s birthday, and he would have been 65 on the Sunday (10th). So, the night had a bit of talk about Pete. We aired ‘This Old Guitar’ for the first time and it felt really good to hear people laugh in the right places.

Luke then took the stage and blew our heads off. The button box, the polyphon, the guitar, the piano and a really mellow and crisp voice. There really is nothing more we could have wanted from a night out. When he finished we picked our bits of brain and skull off the floor and rolled our tongues and eyes back into what was left of our heads. We shook hands and exchanged CD’s (lovely man, but there really is no accounting for taste) and a very lovely couple from the venue gave us a lift back to our hotel.

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We are used to the idle, quiet, country life and having a room in a town centre was an eye-opener. Literally. We couldn’t sleep. So Kootch’s night ended with some Family Guy, followed by American Dad, followed by room service of two MASSIVE plates of nacho’s. We then fell asleep to the dulcet tones of Gerald, the chartered accountant, vomming up all his weeks woes in the room next door. Cheers Gez.

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And, unlike Gerald and much like the guy that didn’t get the part of ‘water’ in the kettle advertisement… Luke is not to be mist.

Then, after all the excitement, we had all our hair cut off. Because who gets haircuts pre gig these days?!

Love, harmonies, cwtch

X

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Also, THANK YOU for a couple of great black and white gig shots from Stephen Connor. 

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This Old Guitar

With the upcoming event of Pete's birthday next Sunday (10th June) we have decided to release Pete's birthday present - a song.

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Pete never really understood writing songs when there was a plethora of much much better ones out there to just steal. He did admit a modicum of jealousy for those that could write, however.  
Beth had so much to say about her dad, the hardest part was editing the song down.

We wanted the song to reflect Pete: warm, mindful with a tint of humour. 
We hope we have created a beautiful song for the beautiful man. 
Happy 65th, Pete. You are in every song we sing.... Especially this one.

Love and harmonies,
Kootch
x

Littleborough Unplugged

It’s hard to know where to start with this blog piece, but here goes.

Once upon a time, in a land far far away…

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When we first set our website as live, back in November last year, about an hour later we received an email from Roz asking us to headline at Littleborough. Everything we did up to this point was now leading towards this hour and a half set. Like a 16 year old frat boy - we were excited to do it.

Eighty percent of the proceeds go towards the conservation of the beautiful St.Nicholas church. This tiny church in the middle of NOWHERE is used as a church once a year for the harvest festival. Then six times a year for the Littleborough Unplugged gigs.

Some time around midday our tour bus arrived. Dean claimed the back seat and promptly fell asleep amongst the guitars. Jude and Beth… I mean… Tour bus manager and Beth went in search for pizza.

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Foreign beers to the left of me, unbranded trainers to the right, there I was, stuck in the Lidl with Jude. (If you didn’t sing that in your head, we demand you go back and read it again).
As we turned down the mile long cul-de-sac we knew we were headed in the right direction.

The usual manager spiel of ‘no pooing in the tour bus toilet or you empty it!’ commenced and we popped our pizza in the oven.

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Being parked at a somewhat precarious angle, tea was both delicious and exciting. The game was to see how long you could leave your plate of food before it simply slipped off the table and smashed on the floor. 

We headed over to the church for a sound check. St Nicholas is easily the most beautiful place we have played. We had the quickest sound check we have ever had and we were ready to go.

The church was filling up fast and both Kootch and Sign of a Teaspoon were regretting not bringing some fingerless gloves. 

Everyone brought their own cushions for the pews, their own snacks and their own booze… What a venue!

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The gig was now, officially, sold out. The church was full to capacity, and we were glad for the heat of all those people’s baited breath. 

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Sign of a Teaspoon were fantastic. 80’s synth pop on ukulele’s. We danced in the isles and sang along heartily to the songs of our youth. So good were they, in fact, we felt that just one set of hands was not enough to applaud them with. 

There was a small wee/smoke/vape (even sometimes at the same time) break. Two lucky (or unlucky, depends how you view it) winners of the raffle got to take home a Kootch CD. The rest had to pay (sorry about that, we must keep Dean in bananas, he’s a growing lad).

Then we were up. We were like Laurel and Hardy up there (or maybe more like Dick and Dom). Making the night run seamlessly, with quick wit and classy humour… Okay okay, we said the word ‘vagina’ a lot in a church and the groans from Beth’s puns could be heard by civilisation (over seven miles away from our current position).

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We had a great laugh and thoroughly enjoyed playing for everyone. However, the night wasn’t over yet! I over heard someone say ‘Squeezy John has already gone back to the house’. Intrigued, we just had to be wherever this mysterious creature known only as Squeezy John was.

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The party really began in the kitchen of the boat house. People flocked back from the gig to play their own instruments. It may come as a surprise to you, but Squeezy John did not play the violin!

Andy Gibson (co creator of the event) will be playing a support spot there on 26th May and he is well worth going to see. He sat in the corner of the kitchen unassumingly, playing some beautiful songs. Sign of a Teaspoon played another 80’s classic. Then Beth and Katy took to Morris dancing for the rest of the night. Katy then danced back to her seat while Beth crawled across the floor, gasping for breath and kneading her cramping calfs. Dean, of course, was paparazzi for the evening.

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The videos below should give a little idea of the atmosphere that night but you really do have to go there to understand. It is a stunning venue, populated by stunning people. We can’t wait to see you again, Littleborough!

The Big Reveal

So, for the more vigilant of you, you may remember we posted a picture of some Sharpies across social media about a week ago. For the less vigilant of you, we posted a picture of some Sharpies across social media about a week ago. For the more cat orientated of you, you may have noticed there was a cat in the corner with a shocked face. This has nothing to do with our announcement, but hey, if we can't post pictures of cats on the internet, then where can we? Certainly not through our neighbours door. Or, at least, not any more... Not after the restraining order...

SO HERE IS THE NEWS:
We have released our debut album, and best of all, we did it all for ourselves. Like the only instrument that was left at Primary school, we recorder(d) the CD's. Like Beth's Sunday roasts, we burnt the tracks down. And like the cheater at the world Origami championships, we folded the CD cases and glued them together.

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Days, weeks, months, MILLENNIA, has gone into these CD's, so that we could create something that we are really proud of and happy to call cwtch. Each CD label is hand written and therefore each CD is completely unique. 

All CD's will be ready to post by 20th April, but you can pre order them now. Or, we will be bringing a handful to each gig we play, so come along and see us and then listen to us in the car on the way home (I know my mum will...). At £5 they are an absolute bargain because they are versatile. Here are it's top eight uses:
1. To listen to (primary and preferred use)
2. Frisbees
3. Coasters
4. Punishment for naughty children. (And they should think themselves lucky, we had Chris De Burgh)
5. Boomerang (one way)
6. Hoops for your flea circus
7. Pizza cutter (or as we like to call it, knife and folk)
8. A very small plate, for dieters (no pizza for you!)

Find your one way boomerang here

What We Did on Our Holidays

Kootch did a holiday! And when we do a holiday, we do it right… By still working.

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We joke, of course, music isn’t work! Taking our instruments on the train on the other hand… Amazing really, how many people can see you with guitar in one hand, suitcase in another and a rucksack over each shoulder and think ‘you know what, these guys have it way too easy, I should really push in front of them and then immediately stop without warning.’ Makes you wish you were Ganesh. Then you’d have one hand for guitar, one for suitcase, two for rucksacks and a final one to wave and distract people as you trip them up. Funnily enough, when we tell jokes, we like them to be accurate. So I Googled how many arms Ganesh has (the answer is between four and sixteen by the way!) only to find out ‘Ganesh is the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles of both material and spiritual kinds.’ Because we all know, the funniest part of a joke is it’s accuracy… (Which is why Boris Johnson is both a joke and simultaneously not funny).

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So, it’s a bank holiday. The trains are pretty packed. Clever clogs and disco boots booked seats, however. The luggage rack we booked seats next to was busting. Again, amazing how many times we were told there was plenty of room in the luggage rack in the other carriage for us to put our stuff. We are generally trusting people, but after the acquisition of Pete’s guitar, we understood what they were saying and kindly ignored the suggestion to put an item of unfathomable sentimental value out of sight for a few hours while we napped. Call us crazy!

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We had a change at Birmingham New Street Station. DID YOU KNOW: The station was first designed in 1907 to mimic exactly one of the seven circles of Hell. It was massive and confusing. So much so that I saw a man in his late eighties, wandering around the station with his unused ticket and his student railcard. Bearing in mind, with our sixteen arms each, and each one holding something, we had not one, not two, but three ticket barriers to get through (and that was just inside the station itself!) Ganesh help us, thank God we had 20 minutes pass over, we only just made the connection on time.

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We stood, sixteen arms all folded in triumph, this was the train! Three hours and we would be walking the golden sands of Aberystwyth. Of course, right train doesn’t necessitate right carriage. Us, our sixteen arms, two rucksacks, two guitars, antique faberge egg collection and kitchen sink needed to get to the front coach from the back. This is one of them trains that splits direction at certain points, so it was either make our way to the front (with our kitchen sink, spoon collection, entire works of the encyclopaedia Britannica and a signed copy of The Bible) or end up in a different Welsh town with even less vowels in it than Aberystwyth.

We managed, though, and were on our way. We apologised to all those we accidentally booped on the head with our large bag of assorted buckles, and to everyone that rolled their eyes and tutted we left an assortment of freshly baked bum biscuits.

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Again, the offer to leave our Christmas lights, rare collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, rarer collection of Vincent Van Stay paintings, and peace of mind, in a different carriage left us saying thank you, but it’s a no from us.

Despite usual delays, due to the conductor having to pronounce the names of Welsh towns. We made it on time.

All funniness aside (yes, we too have laughed at our own jokes till we cried) here’s why the holiday was Kootch.

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Dean and I took our first trip away together as friends to Carmarthen - Wales. We then took our first trip away together as partners to Laugharne - Wales. We then discovered a new place together in Aberystwyth - Wales. As a country, Wales means a lot to us, ‘cwtch’ means a lot to us.

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Our host at Seabrin was an absolute delight. Marise showed us to our top floor flat where we could watch the sun dance on the waves from our front room window. We could watch the boats bob up and down from the back, watching the fishermen go about their daily lives. Marise gave us a map of the area, places to dine, take away menus. We looked at them all and decided to go for a walk. Having reached the arcade we saw The Olive Branch, cafe and restaurant on the corner. Dean proclaimed ‘I’ve never had Greek before’, so it was decided. We sat and listened to what we were pretty sure was a Greek murder ballad (we love ‘em!) we watched the sun set over the sea and Dean, having never had Greek before, ordered the only Spanish thing on the menu. The people and the food were so good, we ate there every night.

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On the second day, we took to the beach and sat and played Great King’s Daughter. I watched the sun dance on the water, I ran my fingertips over the cracks and bumps on my dad’s guitar as the waves lapped gently at my feet… I hadn’t felt as close to my Dad as that for almost six months. I felt his warmth in the sun and I felt his hug in the waves to the shore.

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As Dean sat by my side, we could feel each other slowly relax into the cool sand. We were ready to make things with some real, authentic, Welsh cwtch. Having done a video on the beach, we loved the Seabrin flat so much, we thought we better showcase it. Now, Blue Peter may have had empty Pringles packets, glitter, and a tube of glue… But we had a microphone, a clothes horse and a hair bobble to make the perfect project. Having tied the mic to the clothes horse with the bobble, we set up shot to get the sea in the background and we were ready to sing a beautiful, lilting song… About murder.

And so, to summarise what is essentially a blog about my hatred of public transport with vague hints at me being in some kind of band:

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We both felt the benefit of great food and great company. We drew at a game of Ace to King (anyone who has played this game knows this is no easy task!) Dean won a game of air hockey (making us even over all in our relationship-long air hockey tournament). We then drew our next game so we were equals again.

Then I kicked his ass at Mario Kart. (Oh and he won a game of hockey so he is winning the tournament now, but in my defence, he has six arms (all hail Ganesh)) This is us. This is Kootch. Absolute equals in all we do.

Love, harmonies, cwtch x

P.S watch our videos yer bum biscuits!

The Fundamentals of Folk

Because if:
1. You aint goin' to sea
2. Your love aint goin' to sea
3. Your kid aint died in t' pit
4. You aint died in t' pit
then it's
5. Your love deffo aint loving you back.
Folk. What can we say?

Indie Electric Presents - Chesterfield Labour Club 

We like it when we get a chance to do something a little different. This is where Dean’s dark spoken word past comes in handy. So, a few months ago Matt McAteer got in touch with Dean to ask if he would do some spoken word, Dean said cool. Dean got back in touch and said ‘is it okay if there is some music in the set?’ Matt said cool. Dean got back back in touch and said ‘is it okay if it is mostly music?’ Matt said cool. Dean got back back back in touch and said ‘Is it okay if it is all music?’ Matt said cool. Dean got back back back back in touch and said ‘ - 273°C’
… 
Matt said cool.

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The posters for the evening were looking great and we were very very excited to be sharing the night with two very good friends of ours - Keith Ford and Miggy Angel. We were also excited to share the night with friends we were yet to make, Matt McAteer and Ichabod.

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We arrived and the red walls and the red carpet told us we were at the right place, not just for our set, but in life, obviously.

Matt met us at the top of the stairs, welcomed us to the club and apologised profusely as he was having to quickly shoot off to get some things he had forgotten - like his wife, Melanie.

Next up we met Hayley, Ichabod’s other half. Everyone was so warm, welcoming and genuine, and we aren’t just saying that because she complimented my Crash Bandicoot T-Shirt.

During our sound check, Kieran (Ichabod) said things like ‘yeah, I’m really sorry.’ ‘If that’s okay with you guys.’ ‘I’m sorry, I don’t really know what I am doing.’ To which we say horse manure, sir! With only one mic, he managed to create one of the best sounds we have played with. The one mic worked for all of us too: Him as a solo artist, the poets as readers and us, as a duo.

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Matt (as every good MC does) started off the night. The first poem included language of DaDa poets. A made up language (but then again aren’t they all?). Matt introduced the night with good humour and set the tone for the evening perfectly.

Next up was Ichabod. Dean and I like surprises. We try our best to not watch trailers for films, read the blurb of books, and always read political manifestos (then you’re even more surprised when they get into government!). We like going into things blind. Most of the time this leads to good things. Tonight was one of them nights. We knew that Ichabod would be playing but, having not heard his material before we were pleasantly surprised. The best description I heard from the night was ‘The voice of a young Elvis, the body of Elvis in Vegas’. Although, I think that would actually be doing him a slight disservice to compare him to anyone, certainly an act of his own with an incredible voice, varying guitar style and lyrics to make your heart wince.

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A small break, again, everyone very chatty, warm and welcoming. Next up was Keith. Keith spins words and poetry like a spider spins thread. Weaving his words around the room with a deft precision that can only come with poems about spit, or poems that have been written out on a spindle of bog roll. The same poem could make you laugh out loud but often had a poignant end to make your heart stop and your head spin.

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The force of nature, only known to us as ‘Chris’ sat through the next break telling us all about ABBA and Bowie. A great mix to be fair, we like our tastes eclectic. He sat looking genuinely distressed that no one would accept his offerings of pork scratchings as we set up to play.

Our set went down a treat and it was lovely to have an attentive audience. Lots of whooping, and with Miggy in the audience, deafening whistles, too. We told the story of our band name, and how to some people it means a warm, safe place… And to others it means vagina… And to some, that’s the same thing anyway.

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It was getting late but the night was still young. Last up was Miggy. Notoriously hard to photograph (because he is so animated). Miggy is a fantastic poet. His poetry comes from the real. Real experiences, real people and real feelings. There is nothing quite like the poetry that comes from someone who has been saved by the very thing itself. It is true, heartwarming and lacking in pretentiousness. Poetry that is accessible to all, not just academics, and that’s how it should be.

The night drew to a close and there were a lot of hand shakes, kind words and jeers of TAKEAWAY!

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Keith very kindly gave us a lift home with the added bonus of stopping for a cheesy garlic bread on the way. We then sat in the making room at home, Miggy and Keith with napkins in their shirts and kebabs on their laps, talking about the excellent night. We ate and stayed up to the wee hours talking about life, poetry and music. All while eating cheesy garlic bread and at 3 in the morning I had the epiphany. Just like the start of the night. We are right where we are meant to be. 

The (Lesser Known) 11th Commandment

We aren't just here so you can listen to good music and stumble across the odd cat picture (though, fear not, that is largely why we are here). 

We also, admittedly on rarer occasions, are here to educate. 

We all know God. If not personally we know of him. Generally a nice guy, depending on what stories you read. Might ask his son to heal you, might ask you to kill your son, for the lols. Currently suffering a slight existential crisis after meeting Steven Hawkins.

You've probably heard of his ten commandments. Based largely around common sense, to paraphrase:

1. Look it's just me up here, I'll be really sad if you give someone else the credit for all this

2. Pretty much the same as 1. It's just me, don't idolise anyone else, okay?

3. Don't use my name as a cuss. How would you like it if every time someone did something wrong they proclaimed 'Oh, Susan!' or 'Margaret damn it!'

4. Even I had to rest on Sunday, take some time for yourself, 'kay?

5. I made your Mum and Dad and in turn they made you. I suppose I can't really take the credit for all of it anymore, so be nice to them, try to do them proud.

6. Please don't kill anyone. I have a system up here and I don't like being surprised. Also, I then have to tell Santa to take you off the 'nice' list and nobody wants that job, don't make me do it.

7. When you're with someone, don't sleep with someone else. This might sound like a tame one but I've been hurt in the past... Also, the Santa thing again. I don't want to tell him, but I will.

8. Don't nick things. Srsly. Satan stole my pitchfork and now the gardens up here are a MESS. Also, then, you will be a knicker, so, joke's on you really. Also, hate to keep mentioning him, but, it really upsets Santa when he has to rearrange his lists.

9. Don't pretend like your neighbour has done something when they haven't. I am GOD. I know if they have been filling up your dustbins or have been having parties you're not invited to on a work night. Y U LIE 4?!

10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbour’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, his spoon collection, or anything that is your neighbour’s.

11. Thou shalt NOT EVER (and this is a big one) waste a hair cut.

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And that's all she wrote (thank God) so, what with it snowing outside and us having no where to go, we didn't waste our new haircuts and we put together this video. 

Awfully long and blasphemous post for a terrible punch line, sorry.

Morley Folk Memorial Night for Pete

Well, here’s to another night of unashamed folking. At the Morley United Services Club, there was beer (and beards) in abundance (it is a folk night after all).

It was a difficult one for all the Aveyard girls. Since Dad’s passing, it has been very difficult for us all, and it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. This was the third memorial night now and we still aren’t quite sure what to expect when we walk in. A picture of Dad with a couple of candles next to it, and we knew we were in the right place.

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In the end, this night felt a little different to the rest. This was mostly because of the songs that most of the acts chose to sing, and even the way they chose to introduce them.

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The night kicked off with Alan and Keith, as it always does. This being the first time I had returned to Morley Folk since the passing of Dad, this felt the perfect way to start the night.

Next was Paul Mason. Dad and I had been seeing Paul at Ossett folk club almost every week for a year, at which he played beautiful instrumental pieces. Then, after over a year, to our surprise, we saw him play AND SING at a session in Pudsey. Dad and I both tried to encourage him to sing more, to much backlash of ‘I’m not a singer’ and ‘leave me alone, ya bastids’ (okay maybe not the last one, but you get the picture).

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So, when Paul introduced a song as ‘the first one he ever heard Pete sing, with his capo somewhere in the stratosphere, as was often the case when singing with Beth’ it seemed to set a precedence for the rest of the night. With the imagery of Pete, sat in the corner at Ossett folk club, Paul slipped into ‘I Once Loved a Lass’. The song was a staple for Badly Strung gigs, and a song Dad played well before we even formed ‘the band’.

Many seemed concerned how hearing a song Dad was well known for playing might affect us, all of us. The fact is, it had every probability of reducing us to shaking, crying messes. Okay, yes, we did cry, a lot. The consensus after was that it was so, so comforting. To hear those songs that we had heard over and over in our childhood. To know that Dad was such a big influence and made such a lasting impression on people, that these songs were no longer just links to our wonderful childhood memories, but now very strong links to other’s memories of Dad, felt an incredibly moving and beautiful thing. The man that meant so much to everyone else, and was so loved, we were blessed enough to be loved by him.

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This theme continued with Will Nicholson taking the stage and singing ‘The Plainsman’. Again a song that featured in every one of the Badly Strung’s sets, and will always ring through the halls of our childhood.

For Kootch, the song ‘Jock Stewart’ suited the theme. Not a song that Pete sang, but a last verse and a chorus that for us, sums Pete up perfectly. The many many nights he had led people astray by buying them drinks ‘so, fill up your cup with brandy or wine, and whatever the price I will pay’. Pete was a very lovely, funny and soft guy, and this only seemed to be amplified when he drank ‘so, be easy and free, when you’re drinking with me, I’m a man you’ll not meet everyday’.

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Then the break. Money for raffle tickets was added to the money on the door, to be given to Pete’s Just Giving page. Even the prizes were suitable - wine, scotch and folk CD’s.

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Soapstone Dragon kicked off the second half. Amazing harmonies coupled with amazing voices. ‘Shelling Peas’ certainly felt the song for Pete. Reducing me to a puddle of hot tears, it is a song that was written by Cein after the passing of her partner, Nigel. The refrain of ‘all this time, and I couldn’t make you stay’ is still stuck in our heads now, and still brings a tear to the eye. The song makes references to Cein’s house ‘watching sheep from the back yard’ and reminds us so much of many a party we (and Pete) enjoyed at the ‘farm’ in the middle of nowhere.

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Nigel Parsons next and the song of choice was ‘Cloud Factory’. Although, ‘New Years Resolutions’ was also a favourite of Dad's, as the fantastic intro to each verse is enough to make your fingers bleed just hearing it. It seemed more poignant that the first time Pete sang ‘Cloud Factory’ was at Ossett, just after his mother had died. For the first time ever (and he won’t like us telling you this) he was so nervous that he wouldn’t make it through the song, he sat with the words in front of him. His hands shook as he played the first verse and by the end, he had to lift his glasses and quickly wipe away tears. ‘My father taught me how to sing, taught me dreams are everything, can’t be bought and can’t be sold, more than silver more than gold’ and my god, there couldn’t be a more accurate chorus for Pete and his girls.

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Finally, Blackwater took to the stage. With harmonies (and guitars) that Pete aways envied. ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ a particular favourite of ours. After listening to the words ’You can take me where you will, up the creek and through the mill’ seemed to work well. Pete always seemed laid back and would shrug in the face of difficulty… So long as he had his guitar to play!

Then, we all got back on stage to sing ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ together. A song Pete always finished his sets with (also, a song played at his funeral, to commemorate that his gig was over).

Everybody had a story of Pete, or a song to sing for him. Everyone raised a massive £789.25 in his name. He would never have believed that anyone would go to so much effort to remember him, or that five months down the line, people would still have stories to share and songs to sing for him. Kootch are extremely blessed to have had his support and guidance, and even more so to have felt the warmth of his love, his laughter and his music.

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Thank you Pete, without you, neither of us would be here now. We owe you everything.

Live as Pete would have wanted you to, with a song in your heart and a guitar in your hand. And if it has to be a banjo, play it quietly, or better yet, somewhere else.

WARNING ⚠️ : When looking through our pictures, be not afraid! There is a group family picture and the man at the back is not Dad, letting us all know it was a joke, but in fact, Uncle Jim, Dad’s older brother!

 A picture from before we knew Pete was sick. He often came round to practice, show off a new guitar, and give us general advice and guidance, not just in music, but in life. 

A picture from before we knew Pete was sick. He often came round to practice, show off a new guitar, and give us general advice and guidance, not just in music, but in life.

Artistic frustrations

Because, putting the word 'artistic' in front of 'frustration' makes it all okay.

Sometimes things just aren't on your side: When your team passes the ball to another teammate in front of all the other players on the other team (off side?), the covers when you are in bed with Dean (on his side), and recording equipment when you think you have smashed it (leaving you really wanting to smash it). 

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So, Saturday night, we thought we nailed it (coffin puns welcome). We took down all the recording equipment, unplugged the mic from the computer and we sat down to edit. We matched up the starting peaks of the audio to the starting peaks the camera had picked up. Super, everything was smashing, super, great. Only, by the first verse, everything was was out of synch and while the audio was playing 'The Tree's They Do Grow High' our lips might as well be singing instrumental jazz. 

Somehow - The camera had recorded things slower than they actually happened. Call in the photographer fwiends... They had no idea either, it was just one of those freak things, like flash floods or bearded ladies. 

So, we saved up Dean's tears, in case we needed them for future rituals, and we set up and started again. This is what happened.

Note: our elation at the end. 

(now you have to watch it till the end... Ha!)

CAT BURGERS

"Thanks for helping there, Derek."
"Meow."
"Mmm yeh... you were very off-putting... not gonna lie."
"See when he came in and started scratching?"
"Yeh... starts and I'm thinking ffffffffck it'll come up on the bloody thing and i'll be well annoyed... CAT BURGERS FOR TEA..."
"Shhh..."
"Little git."

A CONCERT FOR PETE

To say that this night was a Cropper’s folk night is actually a little misleading. It was the same venue (The Star, Roberttown) and a lot of the same friendly faces from the usual Friday night club, but this night was special.

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Every now and then, the MC from The Cropper’s (Eric Johnson, with the support of (better?) half, Carol) would set up YPaC concerts. These concerts were set up to raise money for a number of charities, the last one Pete played at was for Alzheimers, but there are several throughout the year.

This night was even more special than that. This one was for the man, the myth, the legend himself, Pete. What a night it was! 

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Many were told to arrive early, as a full house was expected. Boy, are we glad we did! We tuned our instruments (there is a first time for everything they say!) and took our place in a ‘quiet’ corner. By the time the night started, there was no such thing as a quiet corner. Even the term ‘standing room only’ wouldn’t be accurate, as there wasn’t even that.

So there was a lot of moving to begin with to try and fit as many people in as possible without it becoming a fire hazard (I say this for legal reasons, but it clearly became a fire hazard). When trying to move a stool, we thought it was nailed go the floor, turns out, it was just made of cast iron. You know you were brought up on the wrong side of the tracks when you presume a pub needs to nail its stools down.

Pictures of Pete lined the room. In many of them he was holding a guitar, in the ones that he wasn’t, he was with family. This summed Pete up perfectly.

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We couldn’t think of a better way for the night to start than with Eric kicking things off. Pete and us would talk about how we could listen to Eric sing all night. His soft and warm demeanour radiates through his playing, easy listening at its finest. Pete’s presence was definitely sensed that night, as Eric mused that he had never felt so calm playing in front of so many people.

The night continued with many of Pete’s friends singing and playing. As artists, we always love it when the audience are in good voice. Not only is it beautiful to have an instant response that people are liking what you are doing by singing along, but it is also hard to sing five different harmonies with just the two of us, and that’s where the audience come in.

As the night made its way towards the break, we realised we were cornered. The room was so full we couldn’t get out. We needed the toilet and the break was an hour away. Luckily, Katie’s handbag was at hand, and half empty.

A bottle of Scotch was auctioned during the break (again, very fitting for Pete!) and the frivolities were continued.

Before we were to play, Eric mentioned that my musical journey started with my dad, Pete. This is true, I couldn’t have had a better start in musical shenanigans. It seemed only right to do a little speech. It was emotional, but we made it through the set without any tears (okay, members of the audience cried a bit, but we’re learning to tune up now, promise).

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All-in-all, this warm, loving, caring night raised £625 for a warm, loving, caring man. There are no words to describe how much we miss Pete, or how big the hole in our lives is without him. There are also no words to describe the generosity of those who knew him. There will never be enough words to thank those that have given their money and time to make events like this happen. Events that help his family know that he was, and will always be, well loved. The words ‘thank you’ don’t cover the depth of appreciation we have for these events being set up, or the even higher honour of being asked to play, but thank you, because the music keeps Pete alive.

When we are unapolo getically apathetic

(Say that ten times, fast, stood on ‘yer head!)

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Sometimes we get a bit flat. Like a pancake. Like a tortilla. Like a cat on the motorway. Life is knocking at the door and hey! We don’t wanna adult right now, thankyouverymuch. It’s then that we have to kick down the reinforced pillows of our blanket fort and say NO apathy, not today! It’s time to pick up that mandolin that you still aren’t sure you really deserve, tune that 12 string that, for reasons only known to itself, would rather be tuned to an instrumental jazz kinda vibe and make a video, do something creative.

So what if you can’t get dressed? You’ve burnt your pillow fort and you are ready to face the world the only way you know how… In your pyjamas!

So, rise up our fellow meat bags of emotion, put on your best dancing slippers, and do what yo’ papi told ya, sing!

BURNS NIGHT AT OSSETT

I will always remember my first Burns night at Ossett Singers Club. Me being uncultured, I had no knowledge of the event until the room was full with kilts, knobbly knees, and a slightly unsettled feeling that one gust of ill timed breeze might scar my little mind for life.

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Okay, so there was something called Burns Night going on. Great. Everyone is dressed up and it’s just a normal session. I thought that lots of men in skirts would be the strangest part of the night, as we all got on and sang. Soon the smell of food, gravy, mash fills the air. I wasn’t aware that the pub served food. Again, this was not the oddest part, as the sound of bagpipes suddenly accompanied the smells of food. What on earth is going on? Then, out of the blue, Anita arrives with what can only be described as a ‘thing’ on a plate, as a gentleman on the bagpipes follows her into the room.

‘Dad, what’s that?’ I whispered.
‘What?’ he replied.
You can’t really whisper with bagpipes playing.
‘WHAT’S THAT?’ I shouted.
‘Haggis.’
‘What’s haggis?’
‘It’s sheep’s pluck, oats, onion, maybe a bit of beef, all wrapped in a sheep’s intestine.’
‘Sounds gross.’
‘It’s offal.’
‘Good one.’
‘Thanks.’
As I sat, open mouthed, Tom recited Address to a Haggis.
‘What was that?’
‘Address to a Haggis.’
‘How did he remember it all? What language is that even in? Gaelic?’

‘English, Beth.’
‘Wow. What did it mean?’
‘I have no idea.’

And with this, the haggis was then paraded around the room with the bagpipes again, and neeps and tatties were handed out in abundance (the best kind of dance) for all to enjoy.

Ever since that night I have always wanted to get back to Ossett for another Burns Night special. Thursday was that night:

It feels odd to write a post on Kootch about a night that was not about us at all. It was all about singing in memory of a wonderful man, and raising some money to try and stop other families and friends going through what we did.

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We arrived at 8.00pm, bang on, nice one Charley (friend, lift-giver and general pillar of the community). The club is usually hosted in a back room of the Osset Cricket Club, but today, due to logistics of cooking a haggis, we were upstairs. We unloaded our instruments and tuned up while it was quiet. Kootch have recently upped their string game, with Dean now boasting a 12 string guitar. So we stood and tuned, and tuned, and tuned… (x16) and headed to get a drink.

Met at the bar by lots of knobbly knees and hugs, we at least knew that we were in the right place (and on the right night). Despite my new, more mature age, that ill timed gust of wind still threatened to cost me an awful lot in therapy. While at the bar, Kootch got an eerie feeling they had chosen the wrong band name:

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We let Charley back in (Charley had gone for a crafty cig, not realising that there was no handle on the outside of the door and quickly became locked out) and headed back up to take out seats.

Tom (MC) generally runs on a very fair ‘work our way around the circle’ system. We like these systems as it gives everyone a chance, even those that wouldn’t usually have the confidence to shout up and play. With Tom having a poorly voice, Elaine kicked off the night. The song was beautiful and the Aveyards (and Wilson and Ramsden) were already in tears.

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We were feeling confident as it swung round to our turn. We knew what song we were going to sing, and we had tuned up, nothing could go wrong. Unless…

Okay, so turns out, it’s pretty cold here in January. Taking instruments from a cold car to warm room is never a good thing and strings tend to have a mind of their own, especially if you have 12 of them. Usually, they don’t detune so bad… However, if the difference in temperature is monumental… Say, for example, I don’t know, you lean your 12 string up against the heating pipes? Yeah, you’re gunna have a baaaaad time.

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So Dean counted us in, and half way through the first verse we realised this was sounding a little more like Jazz than folk… Really, really, bad jazz. If you have 6 strings, you can sometimes get away with knowing which string is out and retuning mid song, with 12, you would have to have four times as many ears to even stand a chance.

It turned out okay though. Plumping for Dublin in the Rare Old Times, everyone knew the words, verse and all, and everyone got on pretending that nothing was awry. This wasn’t the only boo-boo, though. Dublin was a song that dad used to sing. Seeing his face on the collection tin and thinking that he should be here, at his club that he attended every week somehow I just couldn’t make ‘Farewell Anna Liffey, I can no longer stay’ and suddenly my voice broke and my tears were dribbling down my guitar neck.

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But as the violinist once said ‘don’t fret’. The room took up the rest of the verse and chorus as I carried on playing. The song was finished by Dean and the rest of the club, and they sounded great. In fact, I think the club should sing our songs more often - a lot less work for us!

Just before the break, Tom did his fantastic ‘Address to a Haggis’ after Anita had danced round the room. Rob made the same joke my father did five years prior and raffle tickets were handed out. Classic bottle of wine or meat selection from the butchers was on offer.

After the break, raffle tickets were drawn and it was back to trying to get all the way around the room. Tom was harassed into singing ‘Cholesterol’ for the Aveyards (and Wilson and Ramsden).

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Despite her protests, our taxi had to be up for work the next morning. Home was well over an hour away and it was nearing half eleven so I had a quiet word with Tom to say thank you and that we would have to go. So, he drew the night to a close a little early and asked Kootch to lead Wild Mountain Thyme. Dean tuned his guitar and I managed not to cry, so that was better. The room, again, took it away, with additions of beautiful harmonies.

The thing we like about Ossett is that no one seems to sing or play alone. If you know the tune, if you know the words, you pick up your guitar/squeeze box/mandolin and you play/sing along. It’s like having your own orchestra. And it is beautiful.

The last thing to say is a massive thank you to Ossett. You cultivated some of dad’s greatest and closest friendships. You gave him the confidence and the courage to get out there and play at other clubs. If not for Ossett and it’s warmth, maybe he never would have fully returned to music, and maybe I wouldn’t have been writing this blog right now, because maybe I wouldn’t have been encouraged either. Together we raised £253.75 for lung cancer research, but you did so much more for him than donate, and that is worth more than all the money in the world. Thank you.

OUR WEEKEND AT HOME

Today, Kootch has had a session at home. A full day ahead to jam (on toast), practise (napping) and get some stuff recorded (actual work). 

So with that in mind, we gobbled our toast (or crumpets… Neither of which had jam on, sorry for lying), and got on with it.

The main thing to remember was to try and forget. This might sound daft (punk) but when the camera and the recording equipment is rolling, the pressure really feels on (like Donkey Kong).

After a few attempts and, with Derek’s help, we managed to get a recording and some footage of Dublin in the Rare Old Times. Having finished this, we had been up for nearly three hours (!) and Derek suggested we take a catnap. Who are we to question Derek and his motives?

So we recharged and decided that the next step would be to finally record our own song. My mandolin had just come back from repair from Hobgoblin (Leeds) and it was singing away softly in the background ‘plaaaaaaay meeeeeee’. So we did and here we are.

A nap, some crumpets, and more than a few miniature chocolates later, here we are. The finished products. We hope you enjoy.

Love, harmonies, cwtch.

Sign of a Teaspoon - Banner Cross Folk Club

Mine and Dean’s night started with a knock at the door. Jamie Burney, kindly offering a lift to the venue. #winning.
A swig of coffee (for me), a vape (for dean), and some more cat food in the bowl (for Jamie) and we were ready to folk our socks off (for folkies always wear socks… Even with sandals. Do not ask, for we do not know).

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The session is hosted in the top room at the Banner Cross pub. Where they got the name for the folk club is anyone’s guess. Anyway. The room is beautiful, plenty of places to sit and stand (which ended up being a good thing). Beautiful wooden floors and beautiful wooden tables that me and Dean would have loved to have taken home, were we able to sneak them downstairs, past the bar full of people and the landlord… I know this isn’t a blog on interior design, but it makes for great acoustics, even when the room is full.

We gave Charley (MC) a squeeze as she wrote our name on ‘the list’. We waited eagerly for Sign of a Teaspoon to arrive.

Having spent half an hour before we set off, taping my stickers down on my mandolin case (not very good stickers really…) I stood and admired Ian’s Uke case, adorned with many stickers (well, as many as one can fit on such a small case). The one that caught my attention the most was ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’ and I mused over how small said fascists might have to be.

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The night kicked off promptly at 8:30pm with floor singers. Kootch took their place with the others as floor singers. Some chose to sing Christmas music, others chose to sing about children dying in mines (Yes, okay, that was us). The room slowly started to get more and more full as Charley’s page nearly set on fire with the furious speed she was having to write names. At one point, there were approx. 50 people in there. Standing, sitting, singing. This is an absolute testament to how good Richard, Katy and Ian are.

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Half time was called and raffle tickets were bought. All money from the raffle is given to the artists at the end of the night. So, not only do you get to see an amazing gig, you also get a chance to win some prizes! Floor spots again, and some lucky devils got to perform twice! Then the band was invited back to play us out.

Now, you might think that the most bizarre part of seeing an 80’s synth pop band… On ukuleles, is that you are, in fact, watching an 80’s synth pop band… On ukuleles. Alas this is not the case. As the picture clearly shows, for the last song, we were, actually, given a child’s octopus to play as percussion for their final song. We especially enjoyed this and wished that more people would give us children’s Octopi to play as percussion. The urban legend, known only as ‘Pat the Hat’ then grabbed several people and dragged them up to dance, causing both laughter and joyous dad-dancing.

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To conclude. Sign of a Teaspoon are fantastic. Not just a tight knit band, but genuinely warm and caring people to boot. We didn’t stop smiling and dancing all the way through their set. We like that they can’t be put in a box and we like that they wouldn’t want to be. My sign of a Teaspoon sticker now sits proudly beneath the magical unicorn of music, on my mandolin case. There it shall stay as a reminder - when we need a sign that we shouldn’t conform, our sign, will be of a Teaspoon.

Just in case any of you missed us, and you're partial to a fluff up or two, here we are:

Blackbird Video - The Making Of

So I thought I would give you all an idea of what it’s like to be a musician by giving you the blow-by-blow breakdown of the making of the ‘amazing’ (NME) Blackbird video.

*For legal reasons I thought I better tell you, NME never actually looked at our folk music video and said it was amazing. I presume this is because they haven’t looked at our video because I am fairly confident that if they did, they would think it was amazing.* 

I could lie and say that this video took us no time at all… But realistically, it technically took us months. This is because it was shot in two parts. The first is in November, with my freshly dyed, autumnal-orange hair. The second was on the last day of April, with Dean’s freshly trimmed goats (November was a time of great sideburns for Dean). After that, it was picking the best bits of both shoots and editing it all together (which is monotonous and difficult, especially when trying to lip sync, so I left that to Dean, honestly, I did nothing. Just stood there and looked pretty… Well… I stood there… Anyway...).

Our whole motto is DIY, and that’s what we intended to do. Armed with an mp3 of the song, off we danced into the woods. It was as cold as Thatcher’s icy, dead, heart. However, we danced, we sung, and we felt up trees - what more could a girl want? We shot for about three hours or more. By the time we got back in I couldn’t feel my legs. I wish that could be chalked up to the freezing conditions but it was more to do with my fashion choices - despite wearing shorts, Dean seemed to find every patch of nettles he could lead me through. Despite looking like the elephant man from the knees down, we had a very satisfying day, with all the shots we needed, or so we thought.

This original video idea had been shot with the idea in mind that it would be good enough to put with the mp3 and get it out there, so people could see what we had been getting up to over the last couple of months.

However, life got in the way - which is not such a terrible thing as it sounds. Christmas, moving house and moving jobs seemed to put the whole thing on hold. This actually turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Me and Dean started to learn more songs together and we realised we wanted to make something better. Still DIY but kooky and cool. We went back to the drawing board and came up with the skeleton of the idea you see today.

Part 2: Sheets and Candles - The Indoor Shoot.

This part took significantly longer. Armed with sheets, nails, and 110 tealights, we began to set up the bedroom for the video.

8:35pm

Everything modern must be covered up! Grabbing some spare bed sheets and armed with a hammer and some nails, me and Dean set out to cover up the lights, the windows, and we even squared off the room - hiding the alcoves and plug sockets. I was very concerned the sheet would set the house on fire, but Dean being cool and rock and roll, he didn’t share my concerns and we soldiered on, starting to place the tea lights strategically around the room. I was also worried that the candles would burn the natural wood floors, again, Dean had no such concerns so we waited for dark.

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9:33pm

It’s summer, so ‘dark’ is taking its time. We have put on a large pot of coffee, expecting to be awake for a fair few hours yet. We set up my little Bluetooth speaker in one corner behind one of the sheets, in preparation to lip sync with the song.

9:38pm

Time to light the 110 candles. Working with someone as hap-hazard as Dean, I was almost certain our house insurance wouldn’t pay out for this. Wooden floor boards, sheets, FIRE... what could go wrong?

To be honest it looked amazing. And this is what it looked like by 9:48...

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10:05pm

It was time. It was dark outside, the candles were lit and the camera was set up. We brought in the guitars and started getting ready. Dean almost immediately took off his waistcoat. Apparently, the heat of 110 tea lights is about the same as that of a billion suns. We hadn’t even started playing along yet and we were melting into little puddles. We brought the guitars up from downstairs, took a deep breath, and readied ourselves for the night ahead.
Mopping the sweat off our brows, we started up the song, started up the camera, and started singing. We managed to come across our first stumbling block pretty early on - in that my speaker wasn’t quite loud enough for us to be able to accurately play along. That’s where this bad boy came in:
 

10:09pm

Dean brought his big amp up from downstairs. Now we (and half the population of Unstone) could hear what we were playing along to, and the real work started.

10:28pm

Having now sweated so much that our bodies were practically 80% dust, we decided to have our first break. The camera was full so Dean went down to put all footage onto the PC... Problem number 2. The first lot of footage that we shot way back in November was wide format. This wouldn’t have been a problem had we have been shooting in wide format for this new video. We sat in the bedroom opposite the hall and opened the window as wide as it would go. Dean sat with his leg hanging down and I wasn’t sure if he was honestly contemplating suicide. However, we would not be defeated!

So, we mopped all our sweat into the cracks in the floorboards, set the camera to wide angle, and started again.

11:14pm

Another break. Due to the size of files, the camera was running out of space after every take. This was actually a godsend, as it meant that we could step out of the furnace for five minutes while we transferred all the media over to the PC. By this time I had drunk my own bodyweight in squash. I wasn’t wearing any shoes for this shoot (because I am too cool, that’s why) and I think I got a splinter in my toe. This is by-the-by really, I’m just shamelessly looking for sympathy.

11:40pm

Tea break 266373. The heat of a thousand suns is starting to permeate through the house, so we take our break in the kitchen. This break calls for more coffee and a Tesco finest salted caramel and chocolate cookie. We know how to live.

Dean has a fag and tells me how he likes the way the light from the kitchen window illuminates the stone wall outside. I come to the realisation that with his revelation, there is no way he is going to be satiated until we take some footage outside too. My eyes are starting to feel a little sticky but I am nothing if not determined to get this video finished.

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12:02am

Starting to feel tired now. We've been sweating our balls off for two solid hours, with the occasional five minute tea break. I lay down and contemplate what I have got myself into. I start feeling much better when I see Dean doing this:

12:21am

Time to start getting some of them really kooky shots down. We have sung and re-sung the Blackbird song about 40 times, including playing along on guitar and I can feel a blister coming on my index finger. Again, this is neither here-nor-there but, aside from crumpets, sympathy is my main source of power. I walk into the room to see Dean fixing a screw to the ceiling. He then ties the camera onto this with a piece of string. We pick up our guitars again, start the song again, twist the string and let the camera record what it sees as it spins round the room. This is how we get that spinning shot from near the beginning of the song. Editing this part was interesting and fiddly - trying to get the tempo right. Dean did it though, cos he a king.

We had all the shots we needed of us singing the full song (thank god, the neighbours shout). So then we took the guitars out of the room and shot the last little bits with the candles before they all went out: the scene where I am laid on the floor (an idea stolen from Shallow Grave) and the opening scenes of Dean talking into a candle, and middle scene of me blowing out a candle... Hurrah we are done!

01:31am

A shot of me and Dean on our final break before taking the camera outside and shooting the toad scene.

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Having set up the camera - Dean seemed to have developed hysteria and couldn’t stop laughing. I, of course, was ever the professional. Dean had to take himself inside to calm down. I stayed, calm, propped up against the wall outside. Well, that is until I heard a rustle to the side of me. I presumed it would be a rat or a field mouse, considering the vast fields that back onto our house. Nope. Looking to my left, I was greeted by a monstrous, brown, toad. The sound that exited my mouth was somewhat akin to a pig having a stroke as I ran in the kitchen and heebie-jeebied all over the place.

Of course, Dean had to go pick it up and play with it. He then forced me to tentatively step outside and return to my position next to him and carry on singing. I was singing fine but I think my disgusted face had Dean in more hysterics and we couldn’t get a full take. I blame Dean completely for this. We were finished, despite protests from Dean of ‘Beth, Beeeeeeeth, come back. Come, Beth, come back, this, no, this is gold, we have a toad, Beth, BETH, we have a toad AND a cat, Beth this is, this is gold, Beth, Beeethhhhh!’.

02:34am

It was time for bed. We had shot everything that we could. We had blown the candles out and I had seen Derek (our cat) take a big right hook swipe to the toad that Dean had lovingly placed back where it was found. Dean told Derek off as I laughed maniacally at the poor misfortunes of the slimy little bastard.


There are very few people in this world that will have the (mis)fortune of having things handed to them. We live in a time where it is very important that we do things of ourselves, by ourselves, for ourselves. Making this video was hard work. Minus all the planning, the recording, the editing, the learning of the actual song itself, we spent about five hours setting this second part of the video up. I had lost about two litres of bodily fluid and by the end my eyes were just empty sockets full of dust. Many people out there will say, well, was it really worth it?

Absolutely.

The end product is something I am insanely proud of. We did it all ourselves, no outside help. This means we have created something of ourselves, it mirrors us perfectly, it’s kooky, it has dabs of humour and I got to create it all alongside my best friend. At half two in the morning, when my eyelids felt weighted with 2 tonne weights, I was giggling my head off. My partner was freaking me out by stroking a toad, but my cat was ready to fight my corner at the first opportunity he got (go Derek!). I got to spend the entire night making something completely unique with the man I love (pass the sick bucket please) it was hard, but it was also fun. Then I got to lay in bed and chatter excitedly for another half an hour about what we want to do with the footage and what potential our future holds.

The moral of this story is DIY. Do it all yourself and you will produce something you love, and work feels like play. Stop waiting around to be handed something on a plate. The likelihood is, that won’t happen anyway. I doubt that there would be the same sense of achievement and elation I feel now if I hadn’t have put the work into this. It looks and sounds exactly how we want it to look and sound. If Pride is a sin, then sin away my friends.