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building confidence
closed doors
no doubt
mutual respect
Jamboree – A Night To Remember
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Jamboree – A Night to Remember

The idea for the Jamboree was spawned one Sunday evening back in May 2000 in a pub called “The Jacob’s Ladder” in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK. The Jacob’s Ladder is so named because it’s at the top of one hundred and eleven stone steps (of the same name) from the town centre to the top and by the time you’ve climbed them you’re in need of a beer…or two.

This pub had a reputation for its live music which, to the chagrin of local residents, was 7 nights a week. Sunday nights were a bit special in that the stage was available to anyone, the only stipulation being that you had to perform a song of your own composition, no cover versions. It meant that normally shy musicians were given the chance to be in the spotlight for a while, therefore building confidence, and it worked.

The reward for each performance, apart from obligatory applause, was a free pint or whatever your tipple might be.

It’s amazing how much talent there was that might otherwise have remained behind closed doors had it not been for Matt Exelby an accomplished singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who conceived the idea for this, “The Songwriters’ Sundae” as it was called.

On this particular evening, Matt, Paul Anthony, who is also a well-respected and talented local musician and I were having an after-hours jam session, “experimenting” with old Beatles songs and similar and although having never played together before, we just gelled, if that’s the right word. No doubt beer enhanced, we found we had a mutual respect for one another and we decided there and then to form a band for a one-off gig.

At this time I had a flat in the nearby ancient town of Penryn, bang opposite an attractive, riverside watering-hole. This ancient inn goes by the name of “The Famous Old Barrel”, so called, I presume, because its front door is literally half of a gigantic beer barrel! This pub has a very charming garden and it was this garden that I decided would be our first venue, having discussed it first with Angie, the landlady who was, in my humble opinion, every bit as attractive as her pub, possibly more so. Happily she was much in favour of the idea.

The night of this gig was to be the last Saturday of July, come wind, rain or shine, well, perhaps not wind and certainly not rain! It didn’t give us much time to assemble other musicians, rehearse and get a set-list together but I was confident that we could pull it off. Besides we had an army of willing and able musicians from the Sunday night sessions at The Jacob’s Ladder to fall back on.

I enlisted another musical friend in the form of Rob McGeorge, a flamboyant, fiddler/guitarist from Kent who would make frequent, impromptu appearances at the “Ladder” to perform his rather characteristic self-penned songs, to add more dynamics to the band.

Another recruit was Sophie who has a beautiful voice and was is accomplished guitarist with a unique, percussive strumming technique; and she could harmonize, a basic requirement for our chosen style of music.

Without even devoting much thought to a name for the band, I decided on The Infamous Barrel Bunch and Company* which seemed appropriate for what was to be, after all, a one-night-stand.

*(TiBBaCo for short, as it transpired)

We managed to get together for “rehearsals” in various configurations at least twice a week but these sessions were really easy-going due to the fact that every one of us knew what to do as if by instinct. A very enjoyable experience, mostly trying out a song once or twice and that was it; next one up, please! Although, of course we covered other songs apart from our own, we aimed at lesser known songs or perhaps once popular but forgotten material which had the “Oh, I remember that one!” sort of reaction or even slightly obscure tracks from best selling albums.

Then after these “gruelling” sessions we’d wonder over to the “Famous Old Barrel” to discuss the up and coming gig or have a pint of Guinness bet on who was right or wrong on a particular disputed chord; modesty forbids me from divulging who enjoyed the most free pints.

As the pub was situated by the Penryn river,I had the idea of using the theme of Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi”* as its basis and borrowed illustrations from the book for the publicity and for authenticity. I decided I would wear dungarees and a straw hat for the evening just to push the point home. For the band’s logo, I carried on this theme to an extent, hastily drawn up on my kitchen table and scanned into my PC to be embellished with the help of Carl Mason, a friend, neighbour and a wiz kid with Photoshop.

*It was this book, incidentally, that was the first to be written on the then, newly invented typewriter.

As the time drew nearer, I had to think about and organise various ancillary stuff like publicity, crowd-control (hopefully), catering, tickets, possible revenue, seating and things that, quite frankly, I’d had no previous experience with, at all. I wasn’t giving much heed to the possibility of adverse weather conditions; it was looking absolutely convivial, typical July sunshine and with just a fortnight to go.

In this respect, the days leading up to the Jamboree were very, very, very wet and showing no signs of relenting…

Street Talk

Thanks for your comments, the story continues! Hey Shawn, were you a resident of Penryn or on holiday there?

  about 1 decade ago

Enjoyed the story Kim, sounds like a place to visit.

  about 1 decade ago

Wonderful story, and I know the place. Thanks!

  about 1 decade ago
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