A Night To Remember
LONGRIDGE FOLK CLUB - OPENING NIGHT BRITISH LEGION CLUB
Tuesday 1st October 2002. Residents - Brian Preston + The Ron Flanagan Band
I first met Brian Preston in the New Brittania, in Preston, one night during
February 1978. I met my wife, Bernadette later the same evening. I often rib them
both by saying; "If Brian had had the decency to stop for another pint, I could
have still been single." Despite that, Brian and I have been friends ever since.
(And I'm glad to report that the marriage has lasted too).
Although I've seen Brian Perform, on numerous occasions, on his own and in various
duos and bands, I always felt that I'd missed out (let's face it - I'm far too
young ;-) on those 'now legendary' nights at Preston and Longridge folk clubs - way
back in the last century - during the late sixties and early seventies.
It was another ten years before I met Brian's former co-organiser and fellow Horden
Raikes member Ron Flanagan. Ron turned up, out of the blue, one night during the
early days of Gregson Lane Folk Club, and sort of took over the whole evening, much
to the delight of the audience at the Castle, with his own inimitable style of song
and 'in your face' banter. I distinctly remember the topic of conversation that
evening, there was a buzz, as everyone in the place seemed to be discussing happy
nostalgic recollections of nights at the Brunswick, in Preston or the Townley Arms
in Longridge and 'How Brian and Ron really knew how to run a folk club'.
Taking all that into account, you can imagine how excited I was when Brian told me
that he and Ron were going to resurrect Longridge Folk Club, after a gap of over
thirty years. This was a gig that I definitely wanted to experience. The date and
venue were arranged and Brian and Ron decided to kick things off with a singer's
night. After much deliberation, as to whether or not a PA should be used, the lads
decided to go for the acoustic option and without doubt it was the right decision.
(Although I believe that they will use PA on the Guest Nights that are planned for
Denis and I set off, intending to arrive in plenty time for the start at 8:30.
However road works come and road works go and some had arrived, suddenly, at
Broughton traffic lights. This delayed us for fifteen minutes or so. Consequently
we arrived at The Longridge British Legion Club at 8:40. The place was almost full,
I counted sixty-seven people in the room, this had risen to one hundred and two
(approx) by 9:30. which, as any club organisers reading will agree, is a phenomenal
number at a singer's night. Testament to the esteem and affection in which Brian
and Ron are held by their many followers. The atmosphere in large but comfortable
concert room was more akin to a festival than a folk club. Brian and Ron were
performing as we found seats and for the last song, of their first spot, they
invited Steve Johnston to join them on banjo. Steve is a member of The Ron Flanagan
Brian took on the 'compere's role' and indicated that he would like Denis and I to
go on next. I don't know what Brian said to the audience, as he addressed them
whilst Denis and I were tuning up, but he certainly had them all in stitches and
had obviously used his; well-practised, professional skills to set the tone for the
rest of the evening. The crowd loved it. I didn't relish the idea doing the first
'floor spot' at a club that was packed to the rafters but I knew that it would give
Brian some valuable time to sort out the running order, for the numerous performers,
who were arriving in droves. After all that's what mates are for. Denis and I were
well-received and it was satisfying to take the applause from such a large, well
mannered crowd, who stayed quiet during our two songs and carried on keeping the
best of order throughout the rest of the night which was memorable not only because
of the hosts but because of the many talented folk who turned up to perform. They
* Bob Hallet an unaccompanied singer from Milnthorpe.
* Alan Middleton and his ukelele, from Fleetwood.
* Vicky Lewis, from Longridge - one of the original singers from Longidge Folk Club.
* Tony Jenkinson.
* Bandersnatch - a six piece band from Bolton.
* Frank Lewis, from Milnethorpe (Frank wound up the crowd and got them to sing along with his shanties).
* Laurie and Charlie, from Morecambe.
* Phil Smith - an unaccompanied singer from Longridge.
* Sheila Lewis - Franks wife.
* Smithereen - A contemporary trio from Preston.
* Ken Lawson - from Chorley.
* Caroline Lovett - A singer/sonwriter from Scotland (via Preston).
The people at the 'Legion' made us 'folkies' very welcome indeed. The drink prices
were extremely reasonable and they even had a 'Real Ale' available.
If the first night was anything to go by then it looks Longridge Folk Club is going
to run and run. I certainly hope it does. Check out their web-page www.brianpreston.
co.uk to see what delights Brian and Ron have planned for the future. If you want
'Arty Farty' go elsewhere; if you want a warm welcome at an old-fashioned folk
evening, where, as well as the music, the emphasis is on entertainment, fun and
taking part then you could do a lot worse than paying a visit to Longridge Folk