Fourteen years of the Tump Folk Club.
14 years at the Tump
There are not too many folk clubs that can boast fourteen years of continuous existence having met every week since inception. However the Tump Folk Club which meets at the Humber pub in Coventry can claim just that. The club origins include a couple of years as the White Lion Folk Club meeting in the pub of that name in Brinklow Warwickshire. It was run at that time by Jayne Lloyd. However fourteen years ago, when a change of venue was required, they decided not to name the club after a venue but acquire a moniker which they could carry with them so to speak. So the club became the "Tump" after the remains of the Motte & Bailey fort which stands in the village. At this point, Karen Orgill took over the running of the club and remains in charge today. They meet every week alternating between a "concert night" and a "singaround." Karen does all the booking and takes care of every aspect of the club almost singlehandedly.
So it was that a talented bunch of artists collected at the Humber pub in Humber Road Coventry to celebrate fourteen years of the Tump Folk Club on Thursday 13th July 2017. Just for once Karen had a night off, letting 31 year old Kristy Gallacher a talented singer/songwriter and music teacher run the evening. Kristy, (who doesn't look a day over twenty and yet has released several albums on her own label, Broken Player Records.) opened proceedings herself with Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" in which she exhibited a dextrous left hand on the guitar which was a delight to observe. She followed that with an original "Bandwagon" and ending her short set with Elton Kohn's "Levon" which I think it is fair to say is not one of his biggest hits. This is a pity because Coventry girl Kristy's treatment of it gives it an appeal not seen before. one reviewer said of our host this evening, "... an amazingly tender singing voice, Kristy Gallacher's songs of bitter-sweet heartbreak stand her out as one of the best singer songwriters in London." I can do no more than wholeheartedly agree. We were disappointed not to hear more from her later in the evening.
Rob Oakley runs his own music nights elsewhere Coventry, yet is a stalwart and regular performer at the Tump. He entertained us next with "The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde" which he followed with James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind." John B Smith is best known around the circuit as a superb concert photographer. This night, in view of the celebrations he was persuaded to take to the stage himself. He read a hilarious but at the same time, sad poem lamenting the nature of news as depicted in the tabloid press, where an obsession with Kim Kardashian's derriere overrides more important news items.
A young lady new to me, Amelia Gascoigne-Roberts sang two of her own songs, "Growing" and second which depicted a relationship which wasn't going to end well. Her soft melodic voice defying the nature of the songs. Another regular contributor to the singarounds at the Tump is local poet Ray. He read two of his own works, the first is one with which many of us could indentify. "Head Like A Sieve" tells of someone who (for example) goes into a room and forgets why they have done so. The second entitled "Time" a piece bemoaning the fact that time rushes away from us and having done so, we can never catch it. On other occasions when we wish it were not so, it drags it's feet and hangs heavy. Ray is a intellectual who delves not only into the meaning of words themselves, but in the pictures they paint.
Terry and Jan are a couple who sing and play their guitars in a slightly jazzy style. They surprised me by presenting "Dark Eyes" which in it's original form is a Ukranian romantic folk song. It has been covered by the likes of Chet Atkins and Max Jaffa as instrumentals and by popular singers of the 1930's like Al Bowlley. Terry described the scene of a gypsy encampment at night where as the fire embers begin to fade, this song is performed to the accompaniment of Spanish guitars. Their own guitars and voices reflected this picture completely and for a while we were transported to a more romantic setting than the back room of an urban pub. A trip to the Appalachian mountains then for "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" a folk song from the Americas gave them the opportunity to demonstrate their delicate guitar skills admirably.
Wilson Wright are a couple who each have a history in country/indie folk music. They opened their set with a Steeldrivers song "If It Hadn't Been For Love" which got things off to a cracking start. Hilary has recently undergone some surgery and on the day, whilst waiting for the hour to arrive, wishing she was somewhere else, she wrote "Clover Fields" a wishful, slightly dreamy and thoughtful characterisation of being out and finding a four leaf clover. Apparently the odds of finding one are around 10,000:1 but then you might find a cluster of them. The James Taylor's excellent songbook is (rightly) never far away when Wilson Wright perform and "You Can Close your Eyes" gave them ample opportunity to display how their voices combine to produce beautiful harmonies. This was followed by another Hilary composition, "Sweet And Tough Life." Closing their set was Christy Moore's "Ride On" in which the audience were invited to participate. John and Hilary are always entertaining and it was a pleasure to see them again.
Before the concert started, John Wright told me that Cliff Hands was "very good". This turned out to be an definite understatement. For a Dylanesque commentary of working class life which is very well observed, Cliff's songs are hard to beat. However we almost didn't get to hear any of them for, as he sat down to play, a string broke on his guitar. Kristy Gallacher lent him hers on the strict proviso that he took care of it. I am so glad she did. It is impossible to record here just how accurately Cliff's songs reflect work and life around the local factories. If you do not pay careful attention to the lyrics of his work, you miss so much. There is so much in them that it requires a listening audience. The knowledgeable crowd gathered in the Humber rapidly became such an audience and it paid dividends. The songs are so complex and far reaching that more than one hearing is a must. As a consequence I came away with two of his CD's.
The show closers, were that irrepressible trio, Nunc. Three vocalists and one guitar doesn't begin to describe the energy that they exhibit. As it says on their website, they were formed in November 2014, they are Flossy McDougall, Geoff Veasey and John Kearney. Flossy sang and recorded previously in Pennyroyal along with Linda Dickson and Sue Dixon. Geoff sang and recorded previously with Black Parrot Seaside. John is a respected singer/songwriter originally from Cork, with a previous background in pretty well everything from Punk to Country. They are the hosts at Nuneaton Folk Club and having now seen them on two occasions, a visit is overdue. If their act is anything like the nights at the club, then it would seem that a good time is on the cards. Community singing is high on their agenda and this was demonstrated by the country and western song, "We're All Gonna Die Some Day." They are not averse to as they put it "messing around with songs." Thus a Crosby Stills & Nash "Mash up" was soon on the cards. The Nunc forte is to sing familiar songs and get the audience singing along. Thus Crowded House's "Weather With You" and Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door" soon get an airing. I particularly liked "Angel From Montgomery" probably best known as a hit from Bonnie Rait. To close the show John tells the story of how Bob Marley, after a show in Birmingham (UK) got involved in a lock in at an Irish music pub in Chelmsley Wood and performed a song which was a mixture of "Wild Rover" and "Don't Worry" ('bout a thing). Is the story true? Who knows? Who cares? it was a lot of fun and good finish to celebrate the birthday of a long established and well respected folk club. Long live "The Tump" which meets EVERY Thursday at 8.00pm at The Humber in Humber Road Coventry.