Did we have a good day? We most certainly did!
Now read on …
The sun shone, the geraniums opened their petals in glorious pink profusion, Covid restrictions were a thing of the past, and Folk at the Boat gloriously resumed its rightful place in the calendar, on the second Saturday in June.
We had waited three years to enjoy this day as it should be enjoyed. Last year’s Covid 19-safe event had some first-rate acts, but still felt restricted and somewhat stressful, despite our being thankful, in the circumstances, to have an event at all.
This day was a treat. It opened at 12.30 with over an hour of joyous dancing from four energetic morris sides. In complete contrast, the Hara Belly Dance troupe brought a very different energy, all sinuous grace and elegance in their billowing long skirts. Even when they were brandishing scimitars, these dancers moved with queenly femininity.
The afternoon and early evening brimmed with musical talent. Sea shanties were well represented in the completely contrasting styles of Salt Water and Beer, a more traditional shanty crew, and Essex-based duo Freddie’s Barnet, who gave the traditional songs a humorous modern twist and added topical compositions of their own. After the cut-glass harmonies of The VIPs – even more popular than last year on their return – Carys performed a blinding set, solo (except when she wasn’t).
To put the audience into full-on listening mode, professional storyteller Justine de Mierre compelled with her crackling, atmospheric, performing style. Every table was hanging onto her every word. Nobody wanted so much as to scratch an itch while she was speaking, and all eyes were on her throughout.
The apex of the day was Gerry Colvin, a great Steamboat favourite, with two members of his current band. It was as well that we had had practice listening, because Gerry’s songs have words set into them like jewels in a necklace. Not one should be missed. He, too, is a teller of tales. From the deeply personal references in “When the Light Switch can’t be Found” to the (completely invented) legend of the ghosts of the Black Lion Hotel in “The Tragical Conceit of Captains Millbank and Cat” – better known to fans as “Cutlass Cat” – the audience was with him. Accompanied by the guitar work of Lyndon Webb and the accordion of Trish Power, these songs really live.
The day was over far too soon. A rosy June sunset and a busy merch desk both attested to the contentment of the crowd who had stayed all day to be thoroughly entertained.
… so now you know. Thanks to Mim for the write-up.