Monday, 24 December 2012

Paul Vile in Twickfolk's stocking

'Twas the night before Christmas Eve, when all through the Inn,
Not a guitar was a stirring, not even a mandolin.
The chicken wings were placed by the side with care,
In hopes that Gerry and his ukelele would be there.......'

From Top left - Chris, Pete London, Paul Vile, Rowena Gee, Florianne, Mary,
Dave Mills, Gerry Evans, Bernadette, Bob, Ed, Glenn and Doug Brown.
It was with some sadness that I fought my way through the rainy night to be at Twickfolk's 2012 curtain call. I have to send my final choice of paintings to the printers this week in preparation for the exhibition. So this would be my last chance to feature some excellent musicians and hang out with a great bunch of people. I knew it would be hard work too because it was Singers Night. Everyone who attends get the opportunity to sing/play at least 2 songs.

There were several performers who stood out for their skill and panache, too many to name them all here.
I've tried to write as many down below. Special mention must go to Paul Vile, who I know as the unflappable sound technician at Twickfolk but displayed such tenderness in his singing and delicate touch on the mandolin. Dave Mills was irrepressable with his percussion led tunes.

I have been very lucky to have been welcomed into the heart of Twickfolk over this past 6 months and I'll miss them. Gerry's vision and hard work, Sue's musicality and charisma, Sara's quiet confidence and warmth, Paul V's wit and sound knowhow, Paul M's straight talking, design and bonhomie, Jutta's intelligent conversation and good company AND Robert's encouragement and publicity skills. Thank you.

Please come along to the exhibition on the 27th January 2013 at 6pm and help celebrate 30 years of this fantastic Folk club with me and Twickfolk!

Twickfolk Seasonal Singers Night menu -

Dave Mills - Daydream Believer & Singing the Blues (Melvin Endsley)
Bernadette - Down by the Salley Gardens
Gerry Evans - Christmas in Prison (John Prine) & White Christmas
Sue Graves - River (Joni Mitchell) & Last Night (Lynn Miles)
Rowena Gee - Sweet Bells (Kate Rusby) & Spencer the Rover
Chris - 'Red Nose'
Sue & Doug Brown - Lets fall in Love (Cole Porter)
Pete London - Merry Xmas Everybody
Bob and Margaret - Do they know its Christmas (Bob Geldof & Midge Ure)
Glenn - A 15 year old took my woman blues
Mary - Dear John (John Denver)
Paul Vile - Winter Song
Florianne - Les Champs Elysees
Dave - House Boat poem
Ed Fordyce -  The Pains of Love and You're No Good (by Clint Ballard Jr)

Have a Great Christmas and a brilliant 2013,

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Outbound to Wonderland, Ireland and Provence

'Impressive' - Garry Smith

 Last Sunday (16/12/2012) at Twickfolk wasn't a 'Runaway Train' of a night, more of a mystery tour that took us to places all over the Northern Hemisphere.
Our departure was courtesy of the ever impressive Garry Smith. As you know this is the 3rd time in 6 months that I've drawn Garry (left) and he still remains one of my favourites during the art residency. His tune 'Outbound to Wonderland' was named after a sign you'll see travelling through the Boston Metro. Wonderland was a Greyhound Track (1935-2010) and both Garry's song and performance capture the imagination (like the sign itself).
Next we had the spoken words of Racker Donnelly, who's Yuletide Suite animated both the audience and Racker himself to a near state of flight.
The main draw of the evening took a while to get up to full speed. Despite Duck Baker's tentative start I immediately warmed to him and hugely enjoyed his western swing tunes and especially 'The Blackbird'. We we're then joined by Helen Roche, who style doesn't immediately engender itself to the audience. Her thin delicate face and slight physique leans away from public as though she'd just got an umpleasant whiff of the Twickfolk crowd. This impression doesnt last long. As she sings she pulls you further in towards her. We started our journey in Scotland and Ireland, took various detours through Provence and end up at our final detination with Satan via Germany.

Next week is Twickfolk's Christmas celebrations with a seasonal singers night. Percussion aficionado Dave Mill's has promised me a cracker (of a song).


Duck Baker

Helen Roche


Racker Donnelly

Monday, 10 December 2012

Twickfolk Quality Street - Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston

Apologies now for this sweet laden blog post, it must be the first wiff of Christmas that has addled my brain.

Twickfolk was awash with colour and flavour last night (9/12/2012) as an assortment of performers took to the stage. As you know I've found myself at Twickfolk via years sketching on the jazz circuit, so I felt very much at home upon seeing the double-bass propped up in the corner as I arrived, but before the main act of Miranda Sykes (left) and Rex Preston we we're treated to 3 floor spots.

Firstly Sue Graves was like an Orange Creme with her silky voice and sunny disposition. Second up was the Toffee Deluxe of Doug Brown who gave us plenty to chew on with his accordion playing and weighty lyrics. The third and final floor spot belonged to the red haired Daria Kulesh who like a Strawberry Delight presented us with a refreshing and vibrant explosion. Unfortunately we heard just one of her own tunes, 'I Want Attention!' and like most sweet things I was left wanting more!

Then we we're treated to the Quality (Street) of the evening. Miranda Sykes (Bass/Guitar) and Rex Preston (Madolin/Bouzouki) had such a varied repertoire I didn't know what to expect next. The songs were all well crafted and the skill and depth was appreciated by the packed house. Just like a Milk Chocolate Hazelnut, Miranda Sykes gave us a smooth flow with her bowing followed by chunky substance with pulse driven bass lines. Rex on the other hand was a Caramel Swirl of excitement playing with such speed and verve. The two tunes that made an impression upon me were 'Only One Way' and 'Turn to me'.

It was a great night.


Rex Preston (below), Daria Kulesh (right)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Dick Gaughan in the Twickfolk spotlight

It was a big night at Twickfolk this weekend with both Dick Gaughan and Stuart Forester in the Twickfolk spotlight. With a big crowd, we found ourselves in the folk amphitheatre upstairs and under a fierce red spotlight it felt like we were in a boiling cauldron. The music lived up to it roasting atmosphere and it was a memorable night.
Stuart started off proceeding with excellent and unpretentious set of earthy narratives. Themes included piracy, hellraising and drinking, with 'The Star of the West' being my favourite. The room was packed out and as usual I perched on the stairs. I was soon accompanied by Twickfolk's Paul Micklethwaite who shot several mean Rotherham stares to those chatting on the back rows.
Once Dick commanded the stage, I was joined on my step by Stuart Forester himself. We we're both entranced by Dick and his eyes which we're the smallest smouldering coals held ours for the briefest second. Although he was up on the stage he was at one with us in the audience. His playing and delivery of narratives appeared ferocious but we never felt threatened because he made us kindred spirits to his cause. I was so taken by the red firey atmosphere I left early and opened up the studio doors so that night I could start getting my ideas down on paper straight away.
Dont forget to put the 27th January 2013 (6pm) in your diaries for the Private View of the 'Art Of Folk' exhibition with music from Alan Franks (7-7.30pm). FREE ENTRY.


Monday, 19 November 2012

Fil Campbell, Rowena Gee & Sue Graves - Twickfolk Songbirds

As you know my path to Twickfolk has come through the wilds of jazz and I'm slowly learning my folk knowledge 'on the job'. None have taught me more than Twickfolk's headliner last night Fil Campbell who took me on a tour of Ireland's folk heritage.
Her husband Tom Mcfarland drove my drawings forward, giving them rythmn and exuberance through his percussion. He charmed us with Twickfolk favourite David Francey's "Come rain or come shine".
Fils own tune 'Dreaming' was a highlight for me. Sung with passion, encompassing complex imagery and an intoxicating swig of surrealism.
Delia Murphy, Margaret Barry, Mary O'Hara and Ruby Murray inspired many of last nights narratives. Fil Campbell included all these singers in her TV series 'Songbirds.

Two more songbirds got the the evening started for us. Sue Graves (left) once again put us under her spell and Rowena Gee (right) demonstrated her versatility with two songs "Show me the river" and "Sailor girl".

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Sun always shines of Twickfolk

Apologies for being off the blog for a few days. I've had a rush of work including an excellent CD launch at Pizza Express of Burton Bradstock's latest folk-jazz project. I was in the illuminating presence of Rich Rainlore and he'll be writing about the gig on Rainlore's World Of Music in the next few days.

During these damp autumn nights what we need are those bright moments and none could be more cheering than Suntrap. They we're great to draw with 4 distinct characters (the mesmeric Sara Byers unbelievably described herself as unphotogenic) and featuring my favourite instruments to draw, the fiddle, from John Sandall and Mary Wilson. Paul Hoad's dry humour and the modern themes wrapped in well crafted tunes made it a great night.

After several weekends filling walls and my time on various building projects I didnt last the course with the Twickfolk performers last Sunday. I was there long enough though to experience Jacquelyn Hynes' beautiful flute, entwined by J Eoin's narratives.

I'd like to note some of the floor spots or support musicians for these two gigs. Twickfolk favourites Sue Graves and Paul Micklethwaite. With a leftfield appearance from fiddler Matt Grabham who Gerry had discovered busking the previous day and invited along.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A tale of two halves - Luke Jackson & Josh Harty

It was a double header at Twickfolk this week with two very different personalities and performances taking to the stage.
First was Luke Jackson's fresh rapid fire approach. His powerful voice and energetic presence roused us all from our Sunday night ennui. His tune 'Big Hill' brought us all to the peak of alertness and his set was over way too soon.
Next we had a very different and understandably more mature voyage with Josh Harty. Like the Montana landscape he is inspired by, he left plenty of space for us to think and dream. There were long instrumental journeys and his lyrics were measured and poignant. I had to work harder to achieve my drawings and struggled to represent him singing. Like an Ansel Adam's photograph, I marvel at the starkness and steely beauty of Josh's work.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Brooks Williams - more than quite good

When an American-born musician starts using 'Quite' quite frequently you know he'll be close to your heart by the end of a gig. Brooks lives in the heart of England now, a place that epitomises Englishness, Cambridge.
The day before his performance at Twickfolk I was in Cambridge myself, placing 31 magnetic artworks on the streets as part of the Text and Context exhibition.

He endeared himself to many of us last night as Twickfolk's volunteers tirelessly wrestled with technical hiatus. The power cut out at one point which hardly broke Brooks stride and he seamlessly sidestepped to an acoustic set without any fuss.

It had been a long day for the volunteers at Twickfolk. They had started by making cigar-box guitars after lunch and by teatime were busy playing with 'bottle neck' gusto. A few of these recruits were still brandishing them by nightfall. In fact, one cigarbox wielding gentleman was asked to calm down by other audience members because he was so emboldened by his workshop with Brooks, and started chipping-in with a few riffs.

Brooks was a pleasure to draw. His thin face and strong cheekbones make him quick to capture. The only danger being a flirtation with caricature if I wasn't careful. His set was fast moving and sincere, and very gentle when he was directing his attention to his wife who was sat next to me.
We'll all get a chance to see Brooks again on the Andrew Marr show this December, where if I had a choice I'd like to hear 'Statesboro Blues' and 'Belfast Blues' once more.

Twickfolk regular Geoff Heap sums it up beautifully
"I quite (very much) liked it too!"

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bouncing with Tom Kitching & Pilgrims Way

Last Sunday we all took a step down the Pilgrim's Way with Lucy Wright, Tom Kitching and Edwin Beasant. Along the road were fine performances and bouyant songs. It was an interesting night for drawing with a range of new and old instruments, the newest for me being the Jews Harp. I'm not a convert yet and was more taken by the traditional fiddle of Tom Kitching (image left) and the dancing of all 3 members of Pilgrim's Way.

This was the first footwork I've seen since starting the Art residency at Twickfolk, and yes Tom does rank as Number 1 in the Biggest Bounciest Fiddle Player ever seen.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Singer's Night jury - Alan Franks & Garry Smith

This was my first 'Singer's Night' at Twickfolk and it was not what I had expected. I thought I'd be in for an easy ride but I had to knuckle down and try to draw all the 16 musicians that we're performing. Unfortunately I fell short (sorry to Kate Moorhouse, Chris and Johnny Black) because I had just two songs to capture the essence of their performance, features and style.

Garry Smith (top left) is fast becoming one of my favourites to draw and listen to at Twickfolk. It is not just his demeanour that speaks of strength and power but his songwriting too. He was constantly in demand to help create bodycolour for other performers' vignettes, but it was his tune 'Edge of my world' that fueled the intensity in my drawing.

Alan Franks (below) made a strong impression upon myself and I think the others attending last night. His second tune of the evening, The Ballad of Daisy Waters, released a flood of appreciation. It must be a tremendous boon to be the recipient of other songwriters praise, for only they must know the hard work and elusive spirit that must be harnessed to write such a captivating narrative. 
Alan explained, 
'It's a new one and it's only the second time I've played it in public.
 I tried it once - in Lowestoft - but I was doing it in the wrong key - wrong for the guitar arrangement as well as for the singing - and it didn't really work so I put
it to one side.'


Monday, 24 September 2012

The warmth of Liz Simcock

Last night Liz Simcock gave us all a warm welcome on a miserable night in TW1. She was a pleasure to draw with her beautiful long neck and charming conversational style. The audience sang along with vigor during at least a third of her tunes including a reluctant Tim, the 'Face in the crowd' who I drew this week.

Although we missed Gerry, Sue Graves MC'ed and played a spritely support with Steve Poole.

Throughout my residency I'm trying to draw all the volunteers and this week I put 'Sound Paul' into my sketching pad.

Check out the slideshow right to see what I've done so far.


Monday, 17 September 2012

'I met Eric Brace'

Its a steep learning curve for me, since I've come from the depths of the jazz world but the art residency has got off to a great start at Twickfolk. Sometimes I'm at a loss about the background of the musicians I draw but I've been luckily enough meet some cool people who have helped me along the way. One such person was Ana Veraart, who kindly agreed to write something about Eric Brace for the me and blog....

I met Eric Brace in 1983. We worked together in a posh restaurant. I was making my way through college; Eric was supporting his passion, music. I was lucky enough to be present for the birth of Numbers Up, his first band of considerable note.

Eric has an easy manner in front of a crowd or wirh an audience of one. I suspect this confidence comes from a lack of pretense and a real sense of joy he feels in doing what he loves.

His clear, warm voice draws you in and his music brings you back for more. At the risk of sounding cliche, Eric is music. His love and respect for the art is in the very fabric of his being.

He gets giddy meeting his musical heroes and elated and honored when met with the opportunity to play with them. I remember attending a Marshall Crenshaw concert with Eric. Even though, Crenshaw was at a high point in his career, the college auditorium was fairly empty. Eric indulged me and we sat near the back, but Eric could not contain himself. Before the first break, he was at the edge of the stage letting the music wash over him. Or, at least I thought that was what he was doing. At the break, he introduced himself to Marshall and a few band members. He asked them intelligent, thoughtful questions about their music. It was not just admiration or entertainment as I had thought. The band recognized a kindred spirit and took a longer break to share and talk with him.

That was Eric then and, although I have not seen Eric in sometime, I suspect that is still Eric today --always room for more friends, more joy, and more music.

Congratulations, old friend on a well-deserved Grammy nomination this year.

Cheers, Ana Veraart

A big thank you to Ana, a print/poster of the Eric is on its way to her.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Animated Willy Porter at Twickfolk

I hope it's represented in my drawing how much I enjoyed this week's performance by Willy Porter, and just how lively he was. He was bouyant and inventive with his lyrics, delivery and guitar. Often askewing the microphone to respond more directly with the audience.

As an artist he was good to draw with fine long fingers and a face, like a cartoon thermometer, that turned a scarlet red when his voice was in full force.

As ever all the paintings are in the file/slideshow to the right.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Jack Harris at Twickfolk

We kicked off the art residency last night at Twickfolk with Jack Harris and Willy Porter.
Jack is an exciting writer and performer. I particularly enjoyed his narratives and songs 'Rider', 'Big umbrella' and 'Drowned house', but it was 'The first time I thought about it' that stood out.
Here's a link to the tune on You tube

His website is -

I'll update the site in the next few days with a few words about the lively Willy Porter and the colour portraits.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Twickfolk Art Residency launched

This Sunday, 2nd September 2012, we're starting our collaboration between Art and Folk. The long established (1983) folk venue Twickfolk have been brave enough to open their doors to me and my sketchbook. Over the next 4 months I'll be drawing the performers, volunteers and audience at the club, which is based at The Cabbage Patch in Twickenham.
We'll be exhibiting many of these paintings and sketches in an exhibition in early 2013, a great way to celebrate Twickfolk's 30 year anniversary.

Before the summer break I did 3 weeks 'warm-up' and you can see the results on the slideshow to the right. I was really pleased with this painting of Eric Brace who was performing alongside Peter Cooper. This has already been sent to the printers, where it will turned into a 30x44 poster ready for exhibition.

Most Sundays I'll be sketching away at Twickfolk, so come and say hello, or visit this blog the following week to see what I've drawn.

All thanks to Gerry at Twickfolk who's brave enough to let me loose with my pens and pencils.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Chris Sarjeant's 'Heirlooms' at Twickfolk

Welcome to Art of Folk. A website exploring the links between Art and the Folk narrative.
We're starting with a painting that was sketched live at Twickfolk on 1st July 2012.
Chris Sarjeant was playing songs from his recent release 'Heirlooms' at the popular Folk venue.
Artist Alban Low has recently taken up (Art) residency at Twickfolk and we'll be bringing you the work he's doing with the musicians who play there, aswell as what's going on in the Art Folk scene.

Please get in touch with any questions at

Where working towards an exhibition in 2013. More details to follow.