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Sorry for missing the last newsletter 'deadline' in April. There was very little to say really and I didn't fancy filling 2 X A4 pages of mostly 'Funnies'. (I don't have that many clean ones anyway)
On 4th February we had Tony Truscott with us at The George. It was good to see him back on his feet again (literally)and on good form with some of his new songs' as well as others written previously. I requested 'Under swallows wing' which I think is a beautiful song.
On 17th March we gave a concert, on the Kathleen and May to celebrate St Patrick's day, which was a 'Sell out' weeks before the event and, at a guess, I would say that 'The management' had to turn away at least 20 people who wanted to get in ! - It was certainly a very successful evening, enjoyed by everyone, and raised some £600.00 for the 'Kand M' into the bargain. - Brilliant!!!
Although it is nothing to do with this excellent concert, I wonder just why we seem to celebrate St Patrick's day, St Andrew's day, and perhaps to a lesser degree St David's day? - but we don't seem to celebrate St George's day. I know that in some quarters it is considered 'racist' to fly the English flag (That's the Cross of St George not the Union flag) except of course when England are playing international football.
The day after the Kathleen and May, we played at the 'Seagate Hotel' on Appledore seafront. Not our usual type of venue with a migrating audience coming in for a beer and disappearing again, but some stayed to enjoy what we did for them. The 'Boss' must have been pleased because we have been invited back possibly sometime later on this year. I'm sure that Alison will be entering this event into the programme, once a date has been set.
We were supposed to have gone up to Bromsgrove again on 25th March this year, but it had to be postponed. Kevin Pearson, who organises these events, had to drop it because he was working away for a while, so at present we have no idea whether it will eventually go ahead or not.
1st April saw us at The George once again, it was a good night and there were several new visitors which helped to swell the numbers. You have probably noticed that we are trying to introduce a few new numbers into our repertoire and our night on 13th May will be no exception. Many of you request the old, tried and tested numbers and we are always glad to include these, as and when we can (or if we can remember them!)
About the time that you are reading this, it will be the last but one day of the Exmoor Folk Festival. The final information came far too late for us to get really involved, consequently, we are only appearing once, and that is supposed to be at The Sandpiper,at Countesbury on the Sunday afternoon. Last year we had a cracking night with The Yetties in the village hall which was a 'sell-out' - I do hope that all will go well this year. We're already booked to play at The George so we are not able to do much about it this year. they are having Harvey Andrews on the Saturday night. He is a very good entertainer in his own right, but of course we would much prefer to see you all at The George Hotel .
Then folks, our 25th anniversary weekend draws closer with The Marske Fishermen's choir coming down from the north east of England to help us celebrate. They are a superb choir and a great bunch of lads. If you can get your hands on a ticket they are very worth while seeing and hearing. Tickets for The George on 3rd June are virtually all sold, however, there is still room at Lynton Town hall, and if you fancy a trip over to Watchet on the Saturday afternoon there will be a good crowd there, raising funds for the 'Flatner' boat museum. I can promise you a great time at whichever venue you decide to attend. As always we will be around to add to each performance.
Bideford Folk Club
10th June they have Sarah Morgan
Now some very important news for all you good friends.
The 4th November this year will be our last official date as ''Hearts of Oak' although there will, no doubt, be the odd occasion when we might get together for old times sake, or when the spirit decides to move us to doing something to please us all.
Age and priorities change as well as social and family demands. All of us are having to 'move on' and we have to move with the times.
I first joined Hearts of Oak in 1984. Firstly, meeting you, those special friends of H.O.O. and performing with so many talented musicians and singers, and being part of the best entertaining acts at festivals and concerts from Liverpool to Kentisbury village hall, and from the U.S.A. to Medard House Residential home in Barnstaple. Also our very special H.O.O. music nights at The Mariners, Braunton and The George Hotel in South Molton, where we have always entertained each other. The uplifting experience in raising more than £200,000 for charity over those 25 years, all those memories and special songs. I love ' Hearts of Oak' and I shall miss all of it.
Having first seen Hearts of Oak on the 'telly' in the 1980's on Harry Secombes Highway programme it took me almost 15 years to persuade them that I would be suitable to join. Since 2000 when I managed this I have enjoyed the incredible variety of music, venue and company in which we have found ourselves. At the time I thought that my contribution would be largely instrumental, but I am very glad that John pulled me into singing, eventually tempering my 'choir-boy' voice. There are very few folk groups that do 'exactly what it says on the tin' i.e. perform the music folk like to sing and hear. I hope that all who have been involved in the phenomenon which is 'Hearts of Oak' will continue to keep alive the spirit and the legacy of the songs we have shared.
Apart from 'Jumping ship' for 9 months in '95, my life has been fairly well occupied with H.O.O. for the best part of 20 years. I remember many happy times in places near and far. The memories that stand out most in my mind are those in appearances in the USA and the music festivals, also Marske Fishermans 25th anniversary after meeting them at Milford Haven, and of course 'The Yetties' with whom we have enjoyed a great relationship for so long. I shall miss the comradeship that has always been a feature of the group, and I shall also miss all you dear friends who have supported us over such a long period of time.
I have always been inspired by the 20 good men and true that have passed through 'Hearts of Oak' since I first started the group in 1981 known as The North Devon Shantymen. For my part, and at 73, I, nor the others group members, have the desire to re-form the group again for a 4th time. So dear friends, this will be the end of a very enjoyable and worthwhile era for all of us, and we sincerely hope that it has been as equally rewarding for all of you as well . Our thanks to our old and new friends that have given their support over the past quarter of a century. The highlights for me have been: when we toured New England in the U.S.A., and of course our attendances and performances at the Tall ships' races from Plymouth to Newcastle, and from Milford Haven to Liverpool. For me, that the most prestigious event was when Tony Davis (of the Spinners) invited us to play at Spike Island in the Mersey. 'The Spinners' were unavailable at the time! That, however, as they say, "Is another story". The best bit of all for me, is meeting and knowing all of you wonderful supporters who have befriended us. I have to say that H.O.O. have been the major part of my social life for a very long time and I will find it very difficult to ever replace that part of my life.
That's all for now folks, thank you once again for your support and we'll see you all next time. Yours as ever, John P (for and on behalf of 'Hearts of Oak')
Hearts of Oak Albums can now be purchased and downloaded from the Internet! The proceeds from this will go to support the work of the RNLI, and the Kathleen and May Trust