It was a cold and rainy February night; I left the maps at home by accident (the resident artist pulled out at the last minute and I wanted to paper the walls with maps) and the felt pens (for drawing on the paper tablecloths); the home made raspberry muffins got distracted by an animals-on-holiday fancy dress party in Brighton, but there we were in the end: Martin Stephenson, Viv Albertine, Acton Bell, Katy Carr, Gina Birch and me, with a select audience and a row of stools on the stage.
We played three sets consisting of a song each, sitting in a row and mixing our songs; we all made the occasional mistake, because these were new songs, but that was OK because this was Club Artyfartle, for people to feel comfortable playing and showing new stuff.
Martin started off, playing his positive and happy songs, and Acton Bell followed on, with a Beatles song she'd heard on the radio in her dream and then realised when she woke that she had made it up herself; then Viv sang a trio of spiky and sharp songs, playing some mean guitar licks and adding a rock slant into the proceedings. I was next, singing Britishly pickin' stuff, and Katy followed, sounding European and mysterious, her strong voice reaching to the corners of the room. She left early, as she had to rise at 4 a.m. to go to Poland.
It wonderful to sit there surrounded by different styles of music, feeling the different emotions of each different performer. Hats off to the song writers for going along with the unusual format and being brave enough to mix it up and go for it: and to the audience for enjoying it all and being so warm!
Moment of the night was Gina's presentation on Birchbags, her boiled wool bag project. She was concise and funny (especially the bag with the red cross on it 'for emergencies'), unpacking bag from within bag, giving Mary Poppins a run for her money and keeping the audience mesmerised.
Diana heckled goodnaturedly from the door, Sandie (aka Foolish Girl) and Val Phoenix took photos, and my Champagne Friend turned up; it was a success, I think.
I have much to learn: a mailing list consisting almost entirely of song writers is not good for populating a club. Of course, a proportion of them are unlikely to come either because they have other gigs on, or they are grumpy about not being asked to perform. I also shouldn't be so secretive about who's playing; I could have at least listed some of the performers. And another time, I will make damn sure I have a poet and an artist.
But generally, I was delighted, so much so that I didn't sleep a wink last night thinking about it. It was a massive privilege being in such company and great fun to mix such styles; the person-pod was on shuffle.
Where and when else do you get to hear such varied and interesting songwriters playing together?
If you didn't make it, check out:
I have Viv Albertine's new CD and I will review it later this weekend.