Practical Stuff

We are an open mic club meeting every Tuesday at the British Oak pub in Old Dover Road, Blackheath. We are more of an acoustic than a pure folk club. Recent sessions have included virtually every musical genre.

We have a 300 watt Yamaha PA system with 2 mics and 4 other inputs. If more inputs are needed a Behringer mixer can be made available with prior notice. The space is relatively limited and a four-piece band is probably the optimum.

We operate a first come-first served system. There are 10 minutes/2 song slots. It is best to arrive by 8pm to avoid disappointment and ask for Lynne. We only have one rule we ask performers to respect: our excellent host, Peter, prefers people not to publicise gigs in other pubs, which seems fair enough to us.

The British Oak, 109 Old Dover Rd, London SE3 8SU

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Tuesday October 14th 2008

At last a new post! Work, the enemy of the musical classes! So, what's new amongst the oakfolk? Since my last post western 'civilisation' has wobbled to the edge of the abyss but the British Oak remains a reminder of the good things in life (Freudian slip; I typed 'thongs' initially!)
Lynne, Theresa and I continue to be amazed by the talent that walks through the doors on Tuesdays. It's been great listening to regulars like Ben, Neil and Matt and Jerry go from strength to strength. And as for Kate, well, what can I say? She's become increasingly confident and really puts her songs over powerfully with feeling. Colin has given us another poignant new song and the two Simons are perennial crowd pleasers.
I must confess to a favourite; Caroline gave us an exquisite interpretation of 'There Were Roses' a fortnight ago, her minimalist autoharp chords creating a haunting backing to a really moving song. It ws great to have yet more diversity when her friend Claire played some lovely keyboards. Welcome also to Dan.
This Tuesday afforded us yet another unexpected treat in the shape of Fiddlesticks, a dynamic guitar/fiddle/vocal duo. The ringing applause said it all and I'm sure that we we see them again in an extended spot. Thanks also to Folkmob regular John for trotting out his band (didn't quite catch the name)
We had unexpected guests recently when the Gremlins put in an appearance. The PA certainly didn't take to them but, fortunately, it seems to have been a one-off appearance. Apologies to those artistes affected by unusually muddy sound.
Who am I

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tuesday September 16th 2008

The, or one of the, great things about the club is the unexpected. This week the music was a little more folk-orientated than in previous weeks-whatever 'folk' means. Who said, 'all music is folk music?' It was Louis Armstrong (I heard it in a quiz and got it wrong; thought it was Bob Dylan!)
Perhaps it was the presence of our guests 'A Murder of Ravens' aka 'Bruise'. Our old friends Isabelle and Jim were joined by Gary on guitar. Gary and Jim's consumate musicianship complemented Isabelle's sumptuous vocals. What is more, the band appeared to go platinum as their very reasonably priced CD sold out. There's always e-bay.........
It was great to welcome one of Folkmob's stalwarts, Linda, who is renowned for her sensitive interpretation of traditional songs and Jim also, as usual, kept us in touch with our roots. This inspired Terry, Kate and moi to do some unaccompanied stuff. We also had great sets from a whole bunch of regulars and it was good to listen to Pete the Hat again (mais sans chapeau) I've personaly really enjoyed Colin's performances recently and last night was no exception. A reminder that he helps run a lively session at the Pelton Arms, SE10, on alternate Thursdays (including this week, Sept. 18th) As for Caroline's autoharp, it was a stroke of genius on Baxter's part to bring a pre-amp along.
I mentioned a workshop run by Martyn Joseph last week. I feel a neo-evangelical urge to spread the word about his work. He's writen three of the most beautiful songs I know ('Cardiff Bay', 'Dolphins Make me Cry' and 'Can't Breath') Check him out on You Tube or his website: You won't regret it. For the guitarists amongst you try a tuning he uses; drop the bottom string to D and the G string to F#and just have a pootle.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Tuesday, September 9th

Apologies for the lack of a new post last week. Your's truly started a new contract on the other side of London and has been struggling to get into a new routine. If anyone knows a magic route to Putney, let me know!
Previous posts have pointed out the rich diversity of musical offerings we're growing accustomed to at The British Oak on Tuesdays. This Tuesday was not only no exception to this but seemed broader still. Added to this was an exciting move towards groups of musicians coming together to jam together; whats is more, musicians from contrasting musical backgrounds. This week saw Caroline, Simon G, Colin and Chris provide a rousing finale.
We again welcomed newcomers. James played two eclectic sets demonstrating powerful vocals and sensitive, subtle guitar work. Katie has been lurking midst the punters for a few weeks and plucked up the courage to give us a powerful rendition of a June Tabor song. It was good to welcome back Jerry and Matt for a second time, this time without their marital chaparones. 'Creep' ensured that Radiohead were honoured with having a song featured at the Royal Oak.
No fewer than 17 musicians played according to Lynne. The majority were Oakfolk stalwarts and I particularly enjoyed Colin's new song, the bitter and poignant lyric complemented by Baxter's stirring mouth harp.
The British Oak is certainly the place to be this forthcoming week for live music. The inimitable Steve Morrison plays on Saturday night whilst we welcome Bruise, old friends of the club, on Tuesday. Jim and Isabelle will be joined by a friend for what promises to be a fantastic night. And all for free! Well, apart from your raffle tickets.........
I'm off to Lancaster this weekend to a songwritibg workshop (Yes, I know I need it!) led by Martyn Joseph, one of Britain's best kept musical secrets. I strongly recommend you to sample him on You Tube.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Tuesday, August 26th

We were treated to two excellent sets by Andy Smythe, backed by Barry Targett. Andy performed a mixture of self-penned material and interpretatons of others' work. He switched from guitar to piano smoothly and was ably backed by Barry, mainly on violin but who also played some mean guitar in the second set.
As always it was desperation stakes at around 8.15 as we lacked that essential prerequisite for a successful open mic - performers! However, prayers were answered and a number of mainly familiar artists emerged to provide yet another rich and balanced programme. It was almost as if we planned it that way! Relative newcomers included John, a stalwart from Folkmob, and Ashleigh, who sang beautifully with Simon Goodwin to provide the customary jazz interlude. Colin shared an entrancing and heartfelt newly written song of his own with us with a sensitive harp accompaniment by Baxter.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Tuesday, August 19th

What links Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, the Beatles, the Eagles, Damien Rice, Andy Williams, Prince, Gordon Lightfoot and British and American roots music? The answer is obviously the talented bunch of musicians who played on Tuesday, August 19th. There were fewer in the audience than usual but this did not dampen the atmosphere and a great night ensued.

Most of the performers were old lags but it was nice to welcome Neil who entertained us with sensitive interpretations of Bert Jansch and Gillian Welch material, further adding to the diversity of the vening. An innovation was an impromptu jam as a finale in which Colin, Simon G and Sion tackled some reggae and rhythm and blues songs. I (Sion) brought along my bass and am happy to atempt to accompany anyone who is up for it.

Speaking of diversity, I've played at some open mic events in Central London recently. They were good but had nothing like the depth and breadth that our regulars provide. We are so fortunate in this area to have access to jazz at Mycenae on Mondays, Folkmob on Wednesdays and Colin's fortnightly bash at the Pelton Arms on Thursday as well as our Tuesday sessions.

On Augut 26th we welcome Andy Smyth, a resident at Orpington Friday Folk. To get your appetites whetted for this his website is

Our ever-obliging host Peter has consulted the committee over concerns expresed by a resident over noise levels. We are therefore asking all those who come along to leave on tippy-toes, sotto voce.

The excellent and hugely entertaining Steve Morrison played at the British Oak on Saturday, August 9th. Steve is always tremendous and attracts quality musicians to accompany him. This gig featured an incredible percussionist called Mark Watson, Rolf Harris's drummer! Next Saturday (23rd) sees Bill Clift perform, another very classy act.

Forthcoming Events
26th August: Andy Smythe Duo
16th Sept: Bruise