Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Goose is Out and other South London Folk

I went along to the Goose is Out Singaround last Sunday at the Ivy House in Nunhead and sang a couple of songs. The format is very egalitarian, you put your name down on the door and everyone gets to sing one song each in turn, then a second song in the same order. There was a lovely mix of old and new songs, and styles of singing. There's no stage - most people just stand up at the table where they've been sitting - and no amplification. Most sing unaccompanied though it's OK to bring along an acoustic instrument and a couple of people did. Brendan Behan's centenary was marked with a singing of the Auld Triangle, other songs included Sweet Thames Flow Softly, Arthur MacBride and Fleetwood Mac's Songbird.

The Goose is Out has established itself as one of the top clubs on the London folk circuit. I went to some great nights of theirs at the Ivy House last year including Eliza Carthy and Fay Hield, and they have some amazing performers lined up this year including Martin Carthy, Stick in the Wheel and Andy Irvine. All of these will no doubt sell out fast so get your tickets early.

People are always talking about folk revivals even if it's never gone away. There are still veterans of the 1950s/60s scene out and about in clubs today - and a new oral history project 'Sweet Thames' has been capturing people's experience of the London folk scene from the 1950s onwards. But there is undeniably some new energy about with younger musicians bringing a new take on traditional material. We've mentioned Broadside Hacks here before, who have done sessions at Skehans SE14 as well as making a video at the Rivoli. Shovel Dance Collective are celebrating the launch of their new album 'The Water is the Shovel of the Shore' this Saturday at the Ivy House. Its already sold out so will miss this, but I saw their banjo player Jacken Elswyth do a great set at The Goose is Out last year. The nine piece band take an experimental approach to the 'queer histories, proto-feminist narratives and the voices of working people' to be found in the folk archive.

There's just so much going on in terms of  folk sessions and clubs in South London (and beyond of course).  As well as the Goose is Out in Nunhead there's Dulwich Folk at the Castle SE22, a Scottish session at The Clock House SE22, the Thursday night Irish session at Blythe Hill Tavern and a newish monthly folk session at the Hill Station SE14. Check out Folk London to try and keep up!

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