We took Lucy before she took off up North out down the backlanes to a little pub for a drink or two and something to eat. The pub held to the side of what some have said was an old Roman byway. It was a great little place. It had a kind of independent air about it; small higgledy-piggedly rooms, doors leading to enclosures in which ancient farming types sat brooding over pints.
Or wanna be farmers.
Two men by the bar were arguing about sheep.
“You know about farming then” said one wryly or even a little sarcastically.
“Well I grew up near one… and I’ve got friends who are” replied the other defensively,
Or men and women well-rounded in the tumbling waters of life wearing black sloganed T-shirts.
Across the back of one of the rooms separated by a low wall from the mainbar, in a space no more than six or seven feet wide, three musicians sat warming up, speakers tottering menacingly above their heads. I peered between shoulders and over heads to try and work out what they instruments they were playing. The acoustic guitar and bass were obvious. The third? An octave mandolin? A Mandola perhaps?
The guy in the middle was wearing a kind of riverboat top hat with a feather in it – he looked a bit like Keith Richard’s slightly careworn nephew. The two guys on either side of them were balding – bald. But some echo of familiarity caused me to mentally ‘re-hair’ them.
And the years rolled away. More than 25 of them. And the memories fell back into place. The mandolin and bass player were two members of a band I used to know way back when… When I was in one hustling hungry band and they were in another, we found ourselves following each other in and out of clubs and pubs and little festivals. I guess looking back there was a kind of prickly compadre-ship between us.
To tell the truth they were that bit better than we were. With drums and bass and girl singer they has created a sound for themselves mixing the tunes and instruments of folk music with the dynamics and power of rock. Not a folk rock pastiche but something completely their own, they had discovered somehow that most compulsive of things – an original voice
And there they were still doing their stuff unfolding the unique percussive and melodic jangle you get from wood and air under vibrating bronze and steel. The past still resonated in the music they played but it was now seasoned in the oak of time. These days play under the flag of ‘Neverland’ and sound really cool. (Lucy told me)
Neverland and the boys who won’t grow up. It mirrored my own defiance. The thing I got about them they were still obsessed with that idiosyncratic ‘voice’ they had stumbled upon. They weren’t being 40-50 year old Dads playing Eagles covers to relive old memories.
Good on them. Straight. Honest.