I probably need to define my set of rules. Every day I must experience a musical performance of any sort by at least one artist/performer I have not previously seen during the year. So if I see an artist one week and a month later they're on the bill of another show, that's okay as long as I see, and concentrate on, somebody else. Basically, a new performer every day. Anywhere. Any capability. Buskers. Someone at a party. School choirs. Every kind of concert, recital or festival. I can't keep going to the same place, but I've yet to decide what restriction to put on the amount of times I visit one venue. Once a month perhaps.
So this evening I broke that rule and then bent it. I was back at The Old Nun's Head, but in the room above the pub and so a completely different venue. The occasion was the weekly Easycome Acoustic night which has been running (according to Easycome Myspace) for 17 years, first at the Ivy House on the other side of Nunhead Cemetery, and for the last two or three years, here. I've been a few times before and have always been impressed with the quality on offer. The term "acoustic" may imply "folk" to some, but frankly any style goes, as long as it's good.
When I arrived, the cosy wood pannelled room was lit, as always, by tealight candles in lanterns. Two blokes were watching a five piece group called Rum Shebeen sound checking, although this wasn't completely apparent until they'd finished a nifty latino-indie number and asked whether the vocals were okay and could we hear the keyboards. We said yes.
And so I thought, well, I've had my musical experience. I could just go. But I liked what I saw so would like to save Rum Shebeen for another time. And as I dithered the MC, Andy Hankdog (sometimes Hank Dog) - that's he with the hat - came in and asked if I was staying, then he recognised me and we briefly discussed personal affairs, before I found myself handing him four pounds. I watched football downstairs for a bit and came back. The smell of insence now wafted down the staircase.
In the room the audience had swelled ten-fold. On stage, just about to be announced, were two women. One with a banjo and a sore throat (Ruth) and one with a guitar (Emily). The Lorcas. The Lorcas were rather fab. They played and sang sweet, dark folk. I expect most the songs were about people dying in pits or children falling down wells, but I didn't follow the narratives that closely and instead just drifted along with the kind of excellent music that makes one feel melancholy and cheery at the same time. I know one or two high-minded musical friends of mine who would have scoffed something ponsy about an occasional lack of polish in the performance and I would have told them to go and stick a tin of Mr Sheen up their arse. All five or six of these great songs appeared to be original compositions. When they finished I asked Ruth if they were (and managed to sound quite patronising with it). She said yes, and her voice was fucked.
2011 update. The Easycome night is still going strong. I'm not sure the same can be said of The Lorcas - can't yet find any news beyond 2009...
2014 - 5 years on - Easycome, after returning briefly to its spiritual home The Ivy House, upon the latter's temporary closure in 2012, moved to The White Horse in Peckham, where it still is. The Lorcas remain unaccounted for.