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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Bob's Folk Show and The Lantern Society

Bob Meyer is not a professional DJ and I say this in the knowledge that this will, in all probability, only enhance his standing among the provisional wing of the folk movement.

He's a bloke who drives a van for a living, had a heart attack five years ago, takes 15 pills a day to prevent it happening again and when he gets emotional about stuff - which seems to happen a lot - he says things that he regrets later. At least I assume he regrets them later... I would. But being a blokey bloke he doesn't let on and I suppose that embarrassing his interviewees with claims of undying love, respect and an intimate knowledge of their sexual habits could be his idea of fun. (I'm not sure he would have got away with it before Ricky Gervais threw our sense of irony out of whack.)

Anyhow. He has a radio show, for two hours on a Tuesday starting at 9pm on Radio Wey, which is a hospital station based at St Peter's in Chertsey.

But it's no good zooming off to search for it on the internet in the hope that you'll be able to listen again, or some other technologically complicated thing, because you can't. If you don't listen online at 9pm on Tuesday evening then you've missed your chance. Ner.

However, judging by the number of followers he has on Facebook and the number of comments he gets on that page, after two years the show is nothing less than an underground hit. I say "judging by his Facebook page" because I asked him how many listeners he has and he didn't know. Let's just say that he hasn't got much further to go before Facebook forces him to stop being "friends" with everyone and turns his page into one of those ones you can only *like* and in the democratising way that social media has, this puts him in roughly the same position as Mike Harding.

And my reason for mentioning this - aside from the fact that he's been badgering me to write about him and I have a grudging respect for persistence - is that he's released a CD of some of the original music that he's had on the show.

My favourites on there are Josienne Clarke, Keston Cobblers Club and Jack Day (below). But then I'm not a great one for one-man-and-his-guitar Americana. Unless it's Richard Shindell, obviously. I wonder if you count as Americana if you're actually American?

Bob, however, is a big fan of one man and his guitar. Sometimes he stretches a point and one woman and her guitar get a look in. But mainly it's the fellas.

I think this could be because Bob himself is one man who has a guitar. He's released two albums - called All This is That and Three-fold Return on the Malicious Damage label, both of which are available on Amazon and one of which bears a picture of a bloke wearing a baseball cap very much like the one Bob was sporting the other night (see the top for badly snapped evidence). "They're still waiting for the third album," he said gruffly, before adding that neither of the CDs were successful.

So he's turned his hand to promoting other people's music. In the spirit of this I met him not once but twice at The Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon - the first time for the album launch and the second at an evening called The Lantern Society, which was great, so I'll tell you about that.

The Lantern Society has been going for about four years and has been run for the last two by two young musicians called Jack Day and Benjamin Folke Thomas, who play guitar and sing, separately and sometimes together. It happens twice a month, there are lanterns and it's a magnet for singer-songwriters and other musicians hoping to make a name for themselves, or at least to make a start by getting invited back again. And thus the quality is much higher than at your average open mic night.

The night I was there, there was lots of good and interesting stuff: Pepper & Shepherd and Gabriel Moreno in particular (he's from Barcelona, had very expressive eyebrows and sang "We are little frightened angels who smoke and laugh/ Singing for someone to love" which made the audience smile). But the guys who most impressed me -  I use the term "guys" advisedly, as they were women - were an interestingly witchy a capella trio called Long Stride Lizzy. There is some stuff by a previous incarnation of the band on YouTube and MySpace but the line-up has changed since 2009, when it was posted, and I'm hoping that when they put something new up they'll let me know.

Anyway, the point is that the future belongs to the Bobs of this world, people who get off their arses and do the thing they believe in. And if you tune in on a Tuesday at 9pm it might turn out to be your thing too.

Also, while I don't want to give the impression that it's really all about the pies for me, for the sheer joy of it I wanted to let you know that the Betsey Trotwood has one of those old fashioned pie warming machines...

... though Benjamin Folke Thomas - who is Swedish and looks like a friendly Viking - had brought his own home-made samosas, which he shared, and they had cheese in them. I'm thinking of getting a T-shirt made that says: "Will write for pastried goods."

* Bob's Folk Show is on Radio Wey at 9pm on Tuesdays. You can find it here. And The Lantern Society happens every first and third Thursday of the month at The Betsey Trotwood pub on Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell, which is much bigger on the inside than it looks.

* If you'd like posts from this blog to land directly in your Facebook news queue, you could *like* its Facebook page and make it so.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like Bob might have what it takes to become a podcasting superstar like Gervais.

    Great post, by they way. Now I really must go home and dig out 'Panic' by The Smiths.


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