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 This is the, "what's been happening at FAF" column.
Here you'll find regular updates on FAF activity, trivia and gossip......


A jolly time was had by all as we got into the festive spirit. Andy was MC and there were plenty of songs with Christmas themes. Andy kicked off before Martin demonstrated his new accordion skills (learnt in 2 weeks!) and Tom did a splendid version of American Tune. Gary did a couple of seasonal songs and Sarah gave us a lovely version of the Coventry Carol. Steve S did his own take on Christmas plus a version of If I Had A Hammer, complete with plenty of percussion from anyone who fancied it! We then had Joseph (actually John B with a tea towel on his head) with his own take on the Christmas story and a witty twist on the Jimmy Web song, By The Time I Get To Three Sets. Roger performed Silent Night and Pondlife finished the first half with Winter's Song and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. We then enjoyed a plendid buffet (thanks to everyone who brought food to share). Andy D kicked off part two and Tony & Grace kept the fun going with a song about Grace's giant parsnip! Keith gave us some blues and a wonderful version of While Shepherds Watched. Viv & John lent their flashing accordions to Fairytale Of New York and Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody, and Sarah retuned with Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire with a beautiful accompaniment from Neil.



Tony was our MC on a busy night, with Pondlife providing the extended spotlight. There were plenty of other acts giving us fine entertainment too. The recent passing of Leonard Cohen was marked by Andy & Sonia (Suzanne), And Steve G (Marianne, with backing vocals from Bev & Louise, and Bird On A Wire). Nice to see Gary again (with his typical mix of social comment and humour), Terry (who played accordion for one song) and Lola (who sang unaccompanied). Pondlife closed both halves of the evening, doing four songs in their first set and closing the night with a tribute to Dave Swarbrick (Crazy Man Michael) and the rousing Victoria Wood song, The Ballad Of Barry & Freda, complete with props!



The new website is up and running with our very own web address!


There were distinct themes in the air tonight as Pete acted as MC. With Armistice Day coming up, we had plenty of anti war songs (from Andy, Kev, Sean, Dave and Colin), while Steve and Andy & David gave us self penned songs about their own Grandparent's experiences. The recent Nobel Prize awarded to Bob Dylan was marked, most notably by Tony, Andy and Steve who collaborated for a version of Desolation Row. Finally, Stuart & Pete marked the US presidential election with Stuart's witty reworking of Nellie The Elelphant adapted to comment on a certain Mr Trump!


This was a very special evening as we remembered our good friend and founder member Jonathan Davy. Stuart was MC to a packed crowd of performers and listeners. Many of the songs Jon loved to do were performed and people spoke of their memories of the man and his music. Of the songs not associated with Jon, many were poignant and thought provoking. We kicked off with a couple of tunes from Antje & John followed by Keith doing Lamorna and Cousin Jack. Dave gave us the ever popular Cheap Flights, Steve his own song Turned Out Nice Again which he wrote for Water Aid and Jo did a beautiful version of Edge Of The World. We then had a contingent from Gasworks Choir (Possibly the biggest group seen at FAF!). Dee led them in splendid versions of Forever Young and Something Inside So Strong. Andy followed with one of Jon's favourites, Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor and A New Day, a song written for Jon with words by a family friend set to music by Andy. John gave us a couple of Jake Thackray songs before Cannon Fodder did some tunes and Fiddler's Green, then Steve with some Dylan and Steve Earl. Richard (there with Jon at the beginning of the club) did This Land Is Your Land and spoke about the early days. Martin sang some Richard Thompson and Sting and Sarah, in one of the most emotional moments of the night, performed unaccompanied versions of Go To Sleep Little Baby and Abraham, Martin And John with the last verse adapted. Tony gave us some Gerry Rafferty (Mary Skeffington) and Donovan (Colours) before Pondlife did their Parting Glass. The night was rounded off with everyone joining in for a version of one of Jon's favourites, Country Life and the club song, Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning. It was so good to see so many people remembering their friend. It was decided to donate the usual door entry money to charity and we raised a magnificent £150 on the night.



You can see Pondlife performing the Fishfest song on their Facebook page:

(scroll down to 12 October)


Fishfest said, "Last night's Folk Around Fishponds was fabulous - this is Pondlife with the official FishFest song!! Adapted for the festival by the very talented and very witty Stuart… if we had our own charts, a song referencing scarecrows, tapenade and The Smiths would be the xmas no1...". Praise indeed!


What a great night, the Folk Around Fishponds Fishfest Special (easy for you to say!). Nice to see a few new faces in the audience as Sarah took MC duties and we had a few words from Fishfest organiser Kate Brooks. Richard kicked us off (ably assisted by Stuart) with a couple of his favourites. Pondlife did an updated version of their Fishfest song (look out for the video somewhere soon), followed by Tom. Then it was nice to see Steve, who organises some great gigs at Alveston church. Kev did some nice banjo picking, Roger told some stories and Martin sang a fine version of Show Of Hands’ Roots. Steve G (with some banjo from Andy) did a beautiful rendition of October Song and also on fine form was Gayle with songs by Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell. Sarah wound up the first half with a Beach Boys song about vegetables - with props! Andy kicked us off again with some Kris Kristofferson, before Phil gave us Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams in his own inimitable style. Andy played banjo and guitar, then John & Viv livened things up with the Captain Pugwash theme. Tony kept the rousing mood going with Whisky In The Jar and Digging Up The Fishponds Road before Colin and his song in praise of the lock-in! Things were rounded off with Keep Your Lamp and we even managed a few contributions to the Fishfest food bank collection.

A big thank you to the wonderful Jess Vincent, who entertained us this evening. Jess charmed us with her beautiful voice and classy songs. Definitely a rising star. Our MC Andy also introduced a few of the regulars for floor spots, including Tony who responded to Jess telling the 'how many folk singers does it take to change a light bulb?' joke (trad arr) with his famous light bulb song!

No doubt another fab evening, but your editor was on a narrowboat with his ukulele!



Tony introduced the acts tonight. We saw a plethora of Steves - Steve M did one of his own songs, Steve S gave us a fine version of Good Year For The Roses and Steve G did some Donovan. Nice to see Kev again with some banjo tunes and Lovely to hear Sheila sing some unaccompanied Irish traditional songs. Richard went kazoo crazy and we had duelling ukuleles from Stuart & Pete.


Stuart was our MC on an evening that saw a good turn-out, including Steve, Keith, Gail (a great version of Light Flight) and Tom. Tony sang a version of The 'Welsh' Rover, with some Welsh words in the chorus - the gist of the song being attempting to do some sheep shearing, but being sent away castrated by the farmer who thought his intentions towards the sheep were dodgy! As ever delivered with Tony's usual aplomb!


Pete was MC as we treated (by chance) to songs with a French theme and about the seaside. The Gallic connection may be as a result of Brexit, the World Cup or recent events, but included a version of La Mer from Pondlife. Sean did a couple of his own splendid songs while Richard was joined by Stuart and Phil was joined by Grace - nice to see some collaboration, We also celebrated Tony's birthday with a lovely version of the Wellwishing Song from those members of Red Notes who were present.



Sarah took charge as we welcomed back some faces not seen for a while. Good to see Keith with beautiful classical guitar playing of his own compositions, Gayle, who gave us a fabulous rendition of Woodstock, Alison with some unaccompanied traditional folk and Keith Hodges with his splendid version of the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon. The summer theme was also in evidence with a version of Summertime by Sarah & Pete, a duo formed spontaneously at the beginning of the evening! Nice to see a new face, Dan, who gave us some lovely mellow bluesy songs. Some old favourites too - the Captain Pugwash theme on accordions from Viv & John, The Runaway Train from Phil and Where Do You Go To My Lovely? from Neil.



Andy took MC duties on a quieter night. There was no lack of quality however as we saw John Blake do his usual Jake Thackray songs as well as his own brilliantly witty words set to the music of Delibes. Terry gave us a superb version of She Moves Through The Fair and Phil did an old skiffle number with Grace on washboard. Tony and Grace sang about the 'glorious' mud of Glastonbury as well as a fitting tribute to Chris Roach by doing one of his favourite sea shanties.


Away from the usual Cross Hands venue, FAF regulars made up a large proportion of Folk@St Peter's, an acoustic evening at St Peter's Church in Frampton Cotterell. Malcolm, the vicar, welcomed Sarah Wrann, John Blake Steve Goodfield, Pondlife, Jo Cullum and Andy Danford & David Parker to join others for a performance in the wonderful acoustic of the church.


Tony was our MC as we introduced the new "FAF Featuring...." spot, kicking off with Andy Danford & Dave Parker (aka “12-volt Joe”, although they wouldn't tell us why!). Andy & Dave gave us a splendid selection of Americana and folk, a particularly excellent version of Black Jack Davy was a stand-out track. Stuart & Pete played their ode to the ukulele by Louden Wainwright and Les Barker's take on the use of a banjo (dedicated to Andy!). Nice to see Guy (of Thornbridge) and Gayle (a fine version of Chelsea Morning). Colin did a couple of Leon Rosselson songs and Neil, still on a high from seeing Neil Young, gave a nod to his hero.


We were very sad to hear of the recent passing of Chris Roach. Chris had become a regular at the club over the last few months, bringing his extensive knowledge of traditional song as well as other material that was at different times thought provoking, funny and often with a message. As leader of the Pill Whalers, he graced the stage at the recent Cross Hands Beer Festival.


The highlight of the evening was seeing Jonathan again after a lengthy time away. Good to see him performing again with Bob.


A relaxed evening with some splendid performances hosted by Pete. Terry was in fine form despite having a cold and Guy gave us a couple of his own songs, one of which sounded like a classic traditional song. Alison did some Maytime folk songs (assisted by Louise and bev) and new instruments were shown off by Steve (banjo) and Jo (12 string guitar). To top everything off, Colin let his hair down and gave us some feisty songs!


After the thrills and spills of the Cross Hands Beer Festival, it was back to business as usual. Sarah took the MC role and tributes were paid to Victoria Wood from Pondlife (complete with props!) and Prince from Sarah & Tony. The findings of the Hillsborough disaster enquiry were also recognised by both Chris and Tony.



FAF at the Cross Hands Beer Festival (part 2)

The Saturday afternoon got under way with a storming set of sea shanties from the Pill Whalers. Antje & John then gave us a lovely set of instrumentals on the unusual but wonderfully sounding combination of accordion and sax. Steve Smith was back in solo mode with a set of originals and covers, before Sarah Wrann gave us her usual soulful mix of gospel and folk. The afternoon was finished off in style by a full strength Pondlife who had them dancing in the aisles!


FAF at the Cross Hands Beer Festival (part 1)

The Thursday evening session got under way with a raucus set from The Whiskey Headed Buddies playing their earthy brand of blues. They were follwed by Blueyonder, lead by Steve Smith with his self penned songs, again in a bluesy style. MAGRAT finished off the evening with a fine selection. FAF stalwarts Tony and Grace were joined by Martin (guitar/vocals) and Anna (fiddle) for some stomping tunes.


A fabulous night was had by all with our guest Mike Scott. Mike gave us a great range of songs, with his clever wordplay, great wit and charm. Tony introduced a few floor singers and many fine song writers were represented - the other Mike Scott (Waterboys) from Tony & Grace, Ralph McTell from the Willbees and Ewan McColl from Pondlife.


FAF are delighted to have been asked to provide some musical entertainment for the Cross Hands Beer Festival. A selection of FAF regulars will perform on Thursday 21st April from 9-11pm and Saturday 23rd April from 2-5pm. The festival runs from 21-23 April and up to 12 beers will be available!


Andy rushed back from Leicester to MC the night! We had a welcome return from Terry, and Sean gave us his own songs, one particularly interesting one about Cuba. Dave played some nice slide guitar with Andy, and John was on good form, ably assisted by Pete S.


Stuart took on the MC role as we saw another fine mix. Many of those who are the newer visitors to the club have now become regulars and have added greatly to the variety. Appropriately, there was a strong show from the women, some marking International Women's Day. Alison & Louise gave us some beautiful harmony singing and Sarah marked the day wit a poem. There was also some lovely singing from Christine and FAF newcomer Helen, who not only sang with great skill and wit, but also ran up a few lines of knitting during the evening! Good contributions from the men too - a couple of Show Of Hands songs (Colin and Martin), humour from Phil and some John Tams from Richard.


On an evening hosted by Pete, we were treated to music from around the country and indeed the world. Gary gave us a tongue -in-cheek riposte to recent celebrations of Yorkshire and Tony acknowledges St David's Day with a couple of Welsh songs. There was a European flavour from Viv & John, with the wonderful sound of two accordions. Roger took us to Brazil where there is an awful lot of coffee! Some fab renditions of Jake Thackray from John B too.


Stuart was our MC on a night that saw many of our newer visitors. There was plenty of unaccompanied singing and traditional songs, but surprisingly few love songs despite the upcoming Valentine's Day (although Rev Richard gave us his splendid love song to ale!). We did, however have 2 Max Boyce songs (Richard and Lesley)! It was great to see Vicki & Richard again, playing wonderfully on guitar, fiddle and whistle. Nice too to see Terry as he joined Jo & Steve on the accordion. Tom did a beautiful version of Autumn Leaves. Club regular Malcolm gave his last performance before moving to Cornwall, so we wish him well in his new home.


Another busy night, hosted by Andy saw various nods to the recently departed. There were many Eagles songs to honour Glen Frey, some Bowie from Jack and Stuart & Pete and even a bit of Motorhead from Tony & Grace! Jack, Paul and Sean performed their own songs and Dave marked Burns Night with his Address To A Haggis.


A superb evening with Tony at the helm saw FAF paying tribute to Alan Mitchell. There were numerous mentions of Yorkshire and songs from the county by Tony & Grace, Rev Richard, Martin and Gary (sporting a Brighouse On A Saturday Night t-shirt). Dave and Malcolm (making a welcome visit) performed some of Alan's favourite monologues, and there were some thoughtful and spiritual pieces from Steve, Pondlife and Sarah. People spoke with fondness of their memories of Alan and the club gave a collective and rousing rendition of Brighouse On A Saturday Night, Alan's 'greatest hit'.


There were also nods to the recently departed Lemmy and David Bowie (with a couple of the latter's songs performed), a rare and beautifully sung performance by Lola and some fine classical guitar from Keith.


Looking forward to seeing everybody at FAF in 2016, starting on January 12th when we will paying tribute to our great friend Alan Mitchell.


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