The Barrels Ale House Review

Following my gig at the Barrels Ale House last weekend, I have came across a wonderful review from Janet Datchens who was at the gig.  Thank you so much, Janet, for your kind words!

Time to reawaken this topic with a review of Andrew’s gig at The Barrels Ale House in Berwick-on-Tweed last Sunday evening.

As some of you may know, we spent a week in Northumberland recently (arrived home Tuesday night) “Teenager sitting” for Fiona Elcoat (aka ‘The Flying Pixie’) while she was away in Scotland. When we arrived she told us she’d booked Andrew for St Patrick’s night at The Barrels and we would be going along with her. Well, we didn’t really know what to expect, but it turned out that Andrew was the only act booked for the evening and so he did a full set, with a break half-way through, starting just after 6:30 pm.

The pub was busy with a lot of coming and going and the inevitable noisy chatter but Andrew did really well and was applauded at the end of every song (applause encouraged by the enthusiastic clapping of the trio of Fiona, John and me) and some joined in with the songs they knew. Part-way through the first half, when I was returning to our table after taking some photos, a chap sitting in an old dentist’s chair at the bar (don’t ask!) called me over to ask if we were related and when I said no, we were just friends, he went on to ask me to be sure and tell Andrew how much his singing was appreciated by those in the bar – this he repeated to Andrew himself at half-time when he joined us for a drink!

There was a great mix of songs, from Andrew’s own compositions through some well-known Scottish and Irish songs (well, it was St Patrick’s day!) to Runrig (two songs) and two Stan Rogers songs sung with no guitar accompaniment whatsoever. Apparently it happens all the time when a singer performs like this, but I was completely amazed and surprised by how, in both songs, the chatter faded to a mere background hum. With one such song in each half the audience was, in part at least, different, so it was quite a spontaneous reaction.

The whole set was acoustic with just Andrew and his guitar… apart from some possibly over-enthusiastic “table-drumming” input from us three during the more up-beat songs in the second part! I suspect Andrew will be invited back to play The Barrels again but without the percussion section!

We all really enjoyed the evening and I was very impressed with Andrew’s professionalism and the sheer courage it must take to sit down in a corner of a crowded pub and start to play and sing, to make people listen.

We were very fortunate to be (for a change!) in the right place at the right time and so get to hear Andrew perform properly and he’s bloomin’ good!!

Travels To Berwick

Well, I’m back from a great wee trip down to the lovely Berwick Upon Tweed where I was playing at the Barrels Ale House for St Patrick’s Night.  What a great trip!

I got into Berwick at around 12:30 and after getting myself checked into the hostel where I was staying, I decided to take the time to have a walk around town walls.  It didn’t take too long to walk around the walls, but it was interesting seeing all the old battlements and defences of the town (even if they were made to keep Scots like myself out!).  I love being by the sea and so I took a walk out along the pier to lighthouse.  The tide was starting to come in and it was very windy and freezing cold, but it was still worth it.

As I walked back from the lighthouse I noticed something in the water.  At first I thought that it was bunch of seaweed or something, but as it drifted closer…it was a seal!  Despite the wind and the cold, I had to hand around and watch it for a while.  It really is true what I say in The Selkies’ Song “everywhere I go I hear the selkies singing”.  As I walked back towards the town, it followed me for a while before getting bored with me and getting back to its fishing.

Selkie Berwick

I got back to the hostel and decided to have a wee cup of tea to heat me up.  I then went out to a local pub to have dinner before the night began.  After my meal I walked back to the hostel via the river.  It was raining a bit, but off to the south-west the sun was starting to go down so I took the opportunity to take a few photos.  While I was doing so, I heard a snorting noise out in the water…it was a selkie again!  So that was me transfixed for another wee while, watching it go about its business.2013-03-17 17.51.32

It was time to head to The Barrels Ale House so I went back to my room to get ready.  When I got to the pub they had kept a section clear for me.  The pub was small, busy and full of life and character…my kind of place!  I got myself set up and had a chat with a couple of the locals that were sitting nearby.  Armed with Guinness hats, they were well up for a great night of music, fun and laughter.  I started my set with Great Big Sea’s “Goin’ Up” which I always think is the perfect song to start a party.  People were enjoying it and clapping and even singing along once they caught on to the chorus.  I continued to play through the first hour of my set playing a mixture of traditional songs, folk covers and my own songs and everyone appeared to be having a great time.

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After the first half, I had a drink with friends Fiona, John and Janet who had been enjoying my music.  It was great to catch up and have a blether about music and stuff.  A few of the locals approached me and told me they were really enjoying my music, which is always nice to hear.  As soon as I know people are enjoying themselves, I tend to relax a lot more and get more into it.

I began the second half with The Galway Shawl, which appears on my album Travels. People were singing along and the St Patrick’s party was getting into full swing.  I saved the lively more well-known songs til last and had everyone singing along to The Wild Rover.  I ended with The Rattlin Bog, which seemed a big hit with everyone in the pub.  They asked me for more, so I sang In The Reek Of The Smouldering Peat to end my set.  They asked or yet more but I had to end as my voice was starting to go a bit (and I was running out of songs!)

When I finished I enjoyed a few well-earned drinks while chatting with the locals and my friends.  Fiona Elcoat presents a show “Big Boots And Celtic Roots” on Lionheart Radio and happened to have her portable recorder with her so she interviewed me for her show.  You will be able to hear the interview on this weeks show on Saturday 23rd March from 7-10pm.

All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night in a wonderful little pub full of friendly people.  Can’t really ask for much more than that can you?  Here’s hoping they enjoyed having me as much as I enjoyed being there!

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Live On St Patrick’s Day At The Barrels Alehouse

I love these moments when a gig pops up out of the blue!  I’m delighted to announce that I will be playing at the wonderful Barrels Alehouse in Berwick-upon-Tweed on St Patrick’s night, 17th March!  This pub is well renowned as one of the best in Berwick and a very popular real ale pub (never a bad thing!).

I will be playing a full set of my own songs, Irish songs, English songs, Scottish songs…even some Canadian songs!  So come along to the Barrels Alehouse on Sunday 17th March for an evening of unplugged live music.  The gig starts at 6:30pm and should go on til around 9pm-ish.  Time for a right good kneees up…so raise up your glass…