Folk Club celebrates 30 year residence

A LONG-STANDING folk club celebrates 30 years’ residence in a hotel this month as it kicks off its 46th season tonight (Sunday).

In 1980, after sixteen years at The Talisman which stood next to Hitchin Railway Station and three months at The Nightingale, Hitchin Folk Club took up residence at The Sun Hotel.

Organiser Keiron Jones, who has run the club with his wife Maureen since the early days, takes a look back.

“I had been to sixth form dances at the ballroom and although time plays tricks with the memory I remembered it as being vast, far too big for a folk club. Indeed it was vast compared to the two rooms we had run in previously. Things would have to change, but we would give it a go.

“The first thing that was obvious was that we would have to get a PA system, the room was far too big to run acoustically. Next, there would have to be lights. I made two precarious light stands out of tent poles that swayed about, with two coloured bulbs on top of each. We used them for years until one night when Elvis Costello’s wife was there. She told us that we had a great club but that ‘your lights suck!’ I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound very nice so I made some new ones out of floodlights. Now our lights are more eco friendly, a mere 20 watts each, so no more cooked singers at the end of the night!

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“The final big change has been in the running of the evening.

“In the Talisman days we would arrive half an hour before the evening was due to start, turn on the single red light at the back of the room, sit down and open the cash box. At the end of the evening it would take about ten minutes to pack up, giving us plenty of time to get down to the Indian restaurant opposite the Woolpack for a curry.

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“Now we arrive, often at 5pm, to set up ready for the sound check, and are generally still there well past midnight packing up again. It is certainly much harder work now, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, and with our great team of Sunday night helpers, the evenings usually run smoothly and professionally.”

Richard and Maureen welcome back Richard Digance to the club tonight - the first act to play for them at The Sun.

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