As you probably know, due to the Covid pandemic all forms of live music have taken a real hit since March 2020. And attending open mic nights in the Woking and Guildford area was one of my favourite activities. I used to try and go a couple of times each month.
Obviously, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all live music venues in the UK are closed at the moment. Even pubs that have reopened cannot resume music events either – whether it’s open-mic nights or other gigs.
Since finishing the Life Line album in 2009, my musical journey took a back seat again for some time. I did write a couple of songs but didn’t pursue them at the time.
But in 2013 I started performing very occasionally at Vic’s Buskers Open Mic night in Guildford. I would play some of the songs from the Life Line album.
It was through Vic Cracknell that I met up with the organisers of the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking in March 2015. The Phoenix Cultural Centre at the time occupied a shop in Woking and put on open mic nights every Monday evening.
The atmosphere at the Phoenix nights was very friendly and supportive, and before too long I was performing there on a regular basis – singing mainly my own songs but with the odd cover.
Spurred on by this, I started to bring more of my songs back from retirement – to have some variety when I played. I also started to perform more regularly at Vic’s Buskers in Guildford.
During the summer of 2015 I was able to go busking in Woking town centre a few times and at the Woking Party in The Park. This was a first for me as I’d never done busking before.
Spurred on by all this playing, I found my songwriting skills came back again, and I have been working on many new songs, including one that was written in the autumn – High Time.
Recently I was in Sheffield with work for a few days. And whilst I was there I made sure to visit the Kelham Island Tavern – a famous real ale pub just on the north side of the city centre.
The Kelham Island Tavern has won many prizes for its beer selection and has twice been the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) National Pub of the Year.
It turns out they have folk music in the back bar of the pub on Sunday nights. The regular guitarist (Ian McDonald I believe) was playing some songs and recounting stories to a small audience.
During a break in his performance I asked if I could play his guitar and sing a couple of songs. He agreed, and I actually did 4 songs altogether. I would never really describe my songs as folk, but they seemed to go down well.
There were many posters up around the pub advertising the upcoming Sheffield Folk Festival. Sadly this was after I was returning south, but maybe next year.