May 1st to 7th – Harvey to Hoedown

On Sunday we head across to Hitchin in the evening to have a meal at the Café Rouge and then see Harvey Andrews at the folk club at the Sun Hotel. The food at the the cafe is as good as ever and the staff are friendly and helpful but the service is very slow which means that we get to the folk club late. Perhaps they were understaffed for some reason. We miss the beginning of Harvey’s set and sneak into the back of the room which is pretty full.

Harvey is a veteran of the folk scene and has been writing and performing songs live for 45 years. He has also produced 17 albums, collaborated on at least one musical and a memoir. In 1996 he was voted International Artiste of the Year in the Canadian Porcupine Awards for Folk music. However you’ll never see him at a UK folk festival though he still plays extensively across the what reamains of the folk club scene and at Arts’ Centres. The festival scene seems to be hung up on a relatively small number of ‘young’ acts and folk royalty and the like. When MoonDance were doing festivals last year the festivals we played at tended to have a fairly predictable line-up, usually featuring Seth Lakeman. The English arts establishment don’t value their core talent and tend to be hung up on fads like Bellowhead (who are good) and The Unthanks (who aren’t). There is a huge pool of talent out there who don’t seem to get a chance to play on a festival stage…

Running through the rest of the week; on Tuesday I rehearse with Tom who is playing fiddle for Saturday’s Hoedown gig in Aylesbury and we discuss business bits afterwards. Wednesday Bob Harding-Jones comes over and we discuss the format for our ‘The End of the World is Nigh!’ show at the Barnstable Fringe Theatre fest in June. Thursday is a full Hoedown Band rehearsal (albeit without fiddle) and on Friday Dawn and I do a harmony rehearsal to work out what we do when reduced to two part harmonies – i.e. when Sian is not available for gigs.

On Saturday have the big gig – which is a Bar Mitzvah for a very wealthy family who own a race horse stud near Ayslesbury. The event is being held in a large marquee which has been constructed on the edge of the stud’s showground out of four large teepees with a canopy slung in front of them. No expense is spared – apart from the Hoedown Band, two professional dancers and the disco for entertainment there are Western themed side shows including a rodeo steer, quick draw, a Wells Fargo stagecoach and a display from a stunt team called The Devil’s Horsemen who give an extended display.

We are using the new stage gear for the band and we finished with a special dance for the Bar Mitzvah boy which segued from a Western dance (Turkey in the Straw) into Hava Nagila – which we called “Turkey Nagila”. Our part of the evening ended with the younger members of the family being carried around on chairs.

We make our gettaway and I get home about 11pm

About Brian Heywood

Brian Heywood is a free range musician who specialises in edgy roots / country / celtic fusion music. Previous work has received comments such as "... aggressive, top notch fiddling set off by periodic guitar explosions." - Tom Nelligan, Dirty Linen Magazine (USA), "Just when it seemed as if newer electric British roots bands were getting thinner on the ground - Very welcome and very good." - fROOTS Magazine (UK) and Steve Barnes Fairbridge Festival Artistic Director (Australia) - "... a rocking band - I was delighted with the audience response."
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