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Venue: Chapel Gate, East Parley
Town: Bournemouth
Date: 15/3/18

A few years ago Bournemouth Folk Club lost its regular home at entertainment venue Centre Stage due to the redevelopment of the property as a local supermarket. Various hotel venues then followed but none stuck, until it found a new home for concerts at the Shelley Theatre. Whilst the theatre has much charm and character and is a fantastic venue for concerts, it unfortunately doesn’t allow for support slots for local and emerging artists. To address this, folk club organiser Paul Burke has found a new venue for a monthly folk night, Chapel Gate, the bar at Bournemouth Sports Club. Cheeringly, the venue is keen to establish itself as a thriving music venue and it has much to recommend it, including a hot food menu, a fully stocked bar with draft ales, and ample parking.

This launch gig was very much a family affair, with sets from Catherine and Bobby Burke and the whole family as Djambo, with Connor Burke on sound. We also heard from Frank Boyle, Ian W Brown, Scuttle Shake and Wendy Jane. All the elements of a good local folk club were present: high quality performers offering us songs with a political bent, observational social commentary, a liberal smattering of wry humour. Singalongable choruses and a mix of original material and covers of classics, including ‘Beeswing’ from Bob Burke, with a nod to this summer’s Purbeck Valley Folk Festival line up, and a favourite of mine, ‘Primrose Hill’, from Frank Boyle. And an a capella number from Cath Burke, ‘Maids When You’re Young’, wickedly dedicated to Melania Trump. There was singer songwritery material, Americana and traditional British folk song, topped off with some infectious latin grooves from Djambo to close the evening. A fantastic local band we don’t get to hear anywhere near enough of!

The first three gigs this spring are all free admission and there was an excellent turnout for this launch gig. The atmosphere was relaxed and jovial, with a real sense of community and celebration, almost of a reunion, as friends old and new came together to support this new venture. Hopefully this is the start of good things to come as this laid back atmosphere and welcoming, attentive audience is perfect for young and emerging artists to hone their craft before graduating to the more formal environs of the theatre.

The next two dates are Friday 13 April and Friday 11 May, with a possibly evolving format of six acts playing sets of around twenty minutes apiece. After a summer break the gigs will resume in September. Check the website for details.

Words and photos: Jo Elkington

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