It had to happen. As I edge ever closer to my fifties then it was only a matter of time before I attended a folk gig.
However, not just any old folk gig but the Derby Folk Festival (I can sense the excitement building…) and I can now say I feel totally invigorated.
Not necessarily by the music as I am more of a Punk/Ska man myself but at the fact I feel young! Folk is folkin’ brilliant for your street cred if you are under 50 as you actually look quite hip and down with the kids, so I suspect I might make another appearance whilst youth is on my side.
So why put folk and punk in the title of this blog? Well before the joys of Nancy Kerr and Show Of Hands my folk music loving friend and I had a couple of hours to kill in downtown Derby and I needed a fix of punk.
You know the sort of stuff I mean Anti-Pasti, Derbyshire’s finest (and possibly only) punk band from the early 80’s who toured with the likes of The Dead Kennedys (a personal favourite of mine, who can forget the classic “Too Drunk To Folk”), The Exploited, Anti-Nowhere League and Discharge.
They also had top 40 hits and were a no nonsense, snarling, in yer face kind of beat combo as opposed to the much more gentrified middle class atmosphere that permeates a folk gig (more of that later).
(folk festival picture below – definitely not Anti-Pasti!)
Anyway, lead singer of Anti-Pasti – Martin Roper, now runs/owns two top notch bars in Derby when he’s not belting out classics such as Don’t Let Them Grind You Down and Another Dead Soldier on tour with the band (he finally hung up his microphone in 2016).
I liked Anti-Pasti but I am arguably an even bigger fan of his pubs on the evidence of Saturday night!
Take 62 – Silk Mill Ale & Cider House DE1 3AF for example, which was full to the brim when we went in on Saturday night.
Well the pub area was, there were a couple of tables free in the dining section but this is a great pub for food and drink. They’ve got the mix right, as it was packed, but the bar staff were helpful, friendly and, even though under pressure, maintained a sense of humour and retained that amazing skill of remembering who was next to be served.
The food here is top notch and not too pricey but it is still very much a pub as well. It felt like a buzzing, thriving Saturday night with a great atmosphere. A fantastic selection of beers including a very decent pint of Bass and it was standing room only, which is nice to see.
About five minutes’ walk away is another Roper classic in the form of 63 – The Exeter Arms DE1 2EU.
This is also the Dancing Duck tap and, as such, there is a classic selection of beers on and Hop Monster (Amber Ales) was a great pint and set me up for the gig!
The Exeter Arms is probably slightly more ‘pubby’ but also does the same top notch food and was also choc a block at the bar and beer garden/smokers area.
We found a haven with a couple of settees tucked away in a middle room, which also had a poster that Alan might have liked ahead of next week!
Again, friendly bar staff, crackling atmosphere and a good pint with a mate; I can’t recommend both of these bars highly enough as they’ve got the mix just about right.
My inaugural experience of a folk gig was about as far removed from a punk gig as you could imagine. Even the doorman was nice – a bit like being welcomed by the Michael Palin Roman Centurion character in Life Of Brian as they head off for the Crucifixion party!
The whole crowd was very civilised and sitting patiently and woe betide you if you talked whilst the artist was on a roll between songs!
I didn’t realise Derby had such a big bourgeoisie but they were out in force and arguably the best description of the crowd would be… if Jeremy Corbyn had walked in then I think one gigantic collective orgasm would have occurred!
To be fair to Show Of Hands, they have a fair bit in common with punk. It is very much protest music and a lot of the messages make sense…it is just much more civilised protesting! I even spotted a Labrador in the crowd!
There was a Thornbridge festival bar, which is always a bonus and even though the festival beer had run out by Saturday night, Chiron is always a good substitute!
An earnest audience politely applauded as opposed to rocked out but, you can’t beat a bit of live music and a couple of very good bars on a Saturday night. 50 is the new 20….!