Since I made by exit from London and moved to the village of Braunston on the Northamptonshire / Warwickshire borders in 2008, I have been busy. I'd spent 15 years putting on festivals and gigs and urgently needed an unwind. So what did I do? Continued putting on concerts, barn dances and festivals, although on a somewhat smaller scale, it has to be said.
My first production in the village was a concert by iconic favourites of mine, The Swingle Singers at Braunston Church in 2008.
Along with one of the first friends I made in the village, Abigail Campbell, I was involved in founding the Braunston Village Weekend, which did two successful weekend events in Jetty Fields, 2011 featuring the legendary Blockheads as headliners, 2010 Eliza Carthy and Sheelanagig. The second year attracted over two thousand to the village.
I started a Folk Club in 2010, initially at The Admiral Nelson before going on to host some private house concerts, Artists invited have included Martin Carthy, John Jones and the Reluctant Ramblers, Andrew Cronshaw and Sans, John Kirkpatrick, Adrian Legg, The Memory Band, Nancy Wallace, Chris Wood, Sam Lee and friends, Ashley Hutchings and Blair Dunlop, The Albion Christmas Band, Les Triaboliques, Simon Care and Will Pound, Haddo and both Ray Cooper and Alan Prosser of Oysterband fame, Furrow Collective, Melrose Quartet, Chris Wood and Sally Barker.
In 2011, I rather mischievaously decided to stage a mini festival outside the local pub, The Admiral Nelson in Branston called The Chig Bill, a gently mocking tribute to the memory of the similarly named once-great larger festival which attracted suspicion from the MD of The Big Chill's festival company who allegedly threatened to sue me! The story also made it into the hallowed pages of The Oldie
2010 Chig Bill Festival, Braunston video
The old house that became my home was an iconic pub in Braunston village until the early 70s, named The Dog & Gun. Gertrude Brinkman, the last publican here, passed away peacefully on Sunday 14th July 2013 at the age of 98. The pub closed its doors to customers in April 1971 after many years as a public house. I was lucky enough to meet up with Gertie just before she passed away aged 98, along with her daughter Lesley Masters and granddaughter Amelia, and the chat revealed a fascinating and amusing snapshot of the house, which is steeped in history (amongst other things it was also the village fire station during WW2). It is amazing to think that this old village fixture for centuries behind its warm façade of deep and lustrous Northamptonshire stone, was once considered ripe for demolition when the previous owner bought it as a pub from the brewery. Luckily, he decided instead to convert it and this now listed 18th-century house, with its later Victorian additions, has survived to tell the tale.
As a tribute to Gertrude, I decided to open the house as a pop-up pub on a temporary licence over the August bank holiday weekend 2013. when the house once again opened its doors as a pub to serve real ales, ciders, classic pub fayre including ploughman's lunches and pasties. There was a non-stop musical soundtrack in the garden and barn at the rear including pop, soul, folk, jazz and swing. The event was a big success and it was decided to continue providing arts and music a few times a year for the people of Braunston and visitors.
Pop Up Pub weekend, August Bank Holiday 2013 : Video by Ed Richardson
My YouTube playlist 'Braunston Live' featuring many highlights 2008-2016