Friday, 2 May 2014

Dirty Linen

No I haven't just ignored the laundry for a while.  Actually yes I have but I'm not about to post pictures of it in a blog post.
Do you remember me talking about the Ballroom all those many moons ago?  You don't?  Well just pretend that you did ok?  That was the first Dirty Linen night, and it is now an official annual event!
Organised by Green Diesel, Dirty Linen is a roaming folk night where a plethora of folk bands from all over the genre spectrum come together for a night of fabulous, foot twitching musical energy.  It was the Bank Holiday weekend.  It was a Thursday night.  There was no work (for most of us) until the following Tuesday.  It was time to let our hair down!
The Ballroom had designed a cocktail specifically for this night, called the Apple Pie Moonshine, served in a mason jar wrapped in a brown paper bag, it was a mix of toffee apple cider, cinammon, rum and cloudy apple juice.  I dove straight into a Prickly Pear, a delectable mixture of vodka, elderflower cordial, pressed pear juice, lemon, sugar and soda.  Divine.  I then spent five minutes gazing enviously at the group who had managed to snaggle the bathtub for the night.
We started off listening to The Chimney Boys, the 'finest satanic maritime cabaret band in East Kent'.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure how many satanic maritime cabaret bands there are in Kent, or in the UK generally speaking, but that is neither here nor there.   They are a dark folk band, eerie and mysterious and listening to them framed by the bleeding portraits behind them was an absolute pleasure.   There is a gothic undertone to their folk music, it's the heart of a dark, Victorian funfair. 
Sinead was explaining to me that the band don't actually get to play together as much as they would like to as the members are now scattered all over the UK, but if you follow them on facebook, you may get lucky and get to see them live, which is highly recommended!  Fun fact -one of the members, Michael, was the 2nd choice to play Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films apparently.  Personally I feel he would have been wasted there.
The Ballroom really is a brilliant venue for live music - acoustically it's not bad and the general layout means that it is an ideal space for dancing.  I was outside at one point getting some air (it's really quite warm!) and there was what looked like a pub golf crawl of rather inebriated individuals who clearly wanted to come in but hadn't realised it was a folk night.  They came up, ordered their round for this hole (Bloody Mary's, clearly slightly more adventurous than your average pub golf crawl) and the next time I looked at them they were all dancing their knee high argyle patterned socks off.  Folk music seems to have that effect on people - even if you have never listened to it before or have a pre-conception that it is not for you, chances are you will love it.  There is also such a huge variety of folk out there now, it is an incredibly broad genre so if you don't like one style, keep looking.  There will be another one!
After The Chimney Boys, Green Diesel themselves headlined, showcasing a mix of the old crowd pleasing favourites as well as some of their new material from their brand new album.  I will always have a soft spot for this band.  Ignoring the fact that I am friends with some of the members, have shared a stage with them and had some of the best nights of my life at events where they have been playing, their music is just fantastic.  I have two of their albums in the CD player of my car and despite the fact they have been there for months now, the music hasn't grown old in the slightest!
Green Diesel are a lot more rocky than some of the other folk bands and yet still maintain a traditional air.  They blend ancient, almost forgotten melodies with modern original songs to create a sound that is hauntingly familiar to the ear and yet still fresh.  They even starred on the BBC 4 drama Southcliffe and wrote a jig specifically for the show.
Folk music is also becoming more and more popular with the rise of local music festivals.  In Kent alone there are a large number of them,  Broadstairs has an entire festival devoted to folk music in the summer, it is a huge feature of the Rochester Sweeps festival in May and a lot of pubs will hold mini festivals with folk bands throughout the year.  Have a look around your local area - you may be surprised what you find!

If you like (or hate!) what you have read, please do let me know in the comments below or slap me with a cheeky follow, or say Hi to me on my facebook group or twitter!


  1. Hi, Michael from The Chimney Boys here, do you mind if we use your photos for the purposes of promotion/vanity? Thanks for the Harry Potter comment by the way...

    1. Hah, you're welcome! Thanks for a fab night! You are more than welcome to use any of the photos, I'd be grateful if you could link them back to the blog though!