The Broadside Folk Club in Portsmouth - Wednesday evening singarounds

Broadside History

Eddie singing at the Broadside Folk Music Club in PortsmouthThe Broadside Folk Club in Portsmouth goes back over 30 years

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Thoughts on Broadside Past

The danger with reminiscing is that you realise how bloody old you are. Anyway, here goes ...

When I used to visit the Broadside, about 30 years ago, it was mostly all big shanty and chorus songs. It was usually packed; the singing was loud and the harmonies impressive, despite the smoke! There were a few instrumentalists but it was essentially a singer's club. For those who wanted to play tunes, there were plenty of other clubs and sessions around. In those days I only played tin whistle and although I was often invited to do a tune, it didn't seem right to play those jigs and reels when others had obviously come for the singing.

My early musical adventures were very much rooted in Irish sessions. I found the Broadside a bit strange. It always seemed peculiar, even unnatural, for people to sit and politely wait for their turn to sing or play, and even hold back from a trip to the loo or to the bar until the performer had finished. It also felt odd to applaud after each turn; I was more used to a tradition where clapping wasn't the norm except for the spontaneous sort after someone had done something fantastic.

Now it's quite different but in some ways it manages to stay remarkably the same. There is a wider variety of music and song. Attendance seems lower on the whole; people don't drink as much as in the old days and, of course, the smoky atmosphere is a thing of the past. The turn-taking and decorum still make me a little uneasy. That though is the essence of the thing - the Broadside is English eccentricity at its most charming, quite bonkers sometimes. I have had some hugely enjoyable evenings at the Broadside, then and now, and I remain a big fan.

Pete Evans

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