Reviews 2020

Woodman Folk Club - Reviews

Mad Jocks and Englishmen

Mad Jocks and Englishmen

Woody* 07 February 2020

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Hi Woody, here again with the latest review.

“Yes - three grown men, who really should know better, are still at it!”

So states the title beneath their website photograph and never was a truer word uttered. This was the third visit to the club by Mad Jocks (sorry Nick but it’s just how the band is known colloquially. No offence meant) and it was well worth waiting the eighteen months for. Their performance varies from traditional folk – mainly Scottish; Bluegrass banjo; contemporary folk – British and American and pop. Their humour from quick quips, (which it is hard to discern as completely off the cuff or as religiously practiced), to short/long jokes and shaggy dog stories, which should perhaps be referred to the RSPCA. Whichever it is they are consummate professionals who used their 40+ years of experience to deliver a thoroughly entertaining evening, leaving their audience longing for more. Singing their way out of the door, clutching their sides from laughing.

They are one of a rare breed of act who always fill the club not only with regulars but with fans from across the years who will take any chance they get to see the band and revisit their youth.

Their first set was billed as a Robert Burns set – mainly; comprising songs from the man himself and traditional Scottish songs. “We sing traditional folk songs so that you can be reminded just how terrible they really are” – Nick Weston. “No comment” – Me. In no particular order, we heard; Killicrankie – having checked I sang the right words to the chorus, but I still don’t know what they mean. Lazy (Leezie) Lindsay; Rattling Roaring Willie; Alan Mude and Bill Evans’ bluegrass banjo tune – a welcome break, before Address to the Haggis a Robert Burns poem, usually only quoted on Burns’ night. And at some point another anonymous poem less serious and authored by Mr Andrew Brownlie I feel. Ae Fond kiss; Ye Jacobites by Name; Glencoe and Man’s a Man For O’er That, completed a wonderful first set. But, there was more to follow.

There had been audience participation in the first set but there was even more in the second set as the songs became more well-known (or intelligible I’ll never be sure). Bob Dylan has never sung any of Mad Jocks’ songs, nonetheless they still insist on singing his. This time it was Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright and I didn’t. I have heard Caledonia many times since I resumed my interest in folk, this version was the first I heard on Mad Jocks’ Hard Times KD (sic). Nick again played us by request the ubiquitous, almost compulsory, Duelling Banjos. No matter how many times I hear it I am always stunned. For the full history of Nick and this tune see the Woodman review for 18 November 2016. George gave us the Michael Peter Smith song The Dutchman. Around about now we had jokes about Trump, tales of Mad Jocks beginnings and Pinball Wizard before we all joined in a song that sounded like Baa Baa Black Sheep but I’m sure it wasn’t. The Water Is Wide and Step It Out Mary finished the set – except they didn’t because they were cheered and applauded so much they came back to give us a completely ad lib encore (and if you believe that…) from the pen of Albert E. Brumley (No honest), I’ll Fly Away. And after much more applause and cheering they did.
Mr Brownlie quoted on Facebook that The Woodman was one of his favourite clubs. Well Mad Jacks and Englishmen we feel the same about you. Please return soon.

But wait that was not all we did during the evening. Velvet Green got things underway with Paul’s song What A Day and then Fear A Bhata, with its Gaelic chorus. Sue confessed to me in the green room that she was nervous of getting the pronunciation wrong in such Celtic company. I assured her that anyone who hadn’t yet mastered English pronunciation would be able to criticise her Gaelic. From Dick Woodhouse we had Jez Lowe’s London Danny and the Tom Lewis song Marching Inland. After the break and before the raffle Bryn sang his very sad song about the poor life of chimney sweep’s apprentice Valentine Gray – to whom there is a monument in Newport Isle of Wight, followed by Rollin' by Randy Newman.

It’s about time I called it a night. A wonderful night it was.

So, once again, this is me, Woody, signing off for this time. And as usual.

A wonderful night was had by all, here’s to the next one.



* Notes taken by Les Jones, who also typed up the review, but the views expressed are 
  those of Woody, the club mascot.