'What's The Croft like as a venue, then?' I asked my daughter.
She wrinkled her nose. 'OK, I s'pose. You do stick to the floor a bit, though'
Armed with this information, my 89 year old father and 83 year old mother decided not to attend the Blackbeard's Tea Party gig, even though they love watching their grandson, djembe-playing Dave Boston, and granddaughter-in-waiting, Laura Barber, play. I had no such qualms. I've been sticking to various floors, at gigs and domestically, since the late 70s. So accompanied by most of my offspring, I swanked in courtesy of the guest list just in time for the opening song.
Blackbeard's Tea Party has undergone a fairly major personnel change of late, with the departure of singer and melodeon player, Paul Young. I was a bit apprehensive when I heard the news, as I thought Paul's voice very distinctive and really well suited to the band's material, though his stage persona was pretty dour. His replacement, the singer and melodeon player Stuart Giddens, couldn't be more different, scoring about 8.2 on the campometer. I particularly enjoyed the subtle change to the lyrics in 'I can hew', and once he's memorised the order of the verses in 'The Landlord', he'll be fine.
Elsewhere, Blackbeard, that local Bristol boy made good, was well served by his band's excellent musicianship. I have a bit of a penchant for fiddle-playing, and Laura is superbly talented. For energy and passion, I can only really compare her to that maestro, Seth Lakeman.
Support was provided by local rappers, Silver Flame - that's rappers not rappers - who also performed with the band in Sidmouth, back in the summer. By the end of the evening the entire audience in the packed back room was dancing, and the band received a well-deserved ovation.
Another perk of being Auntie to the band is that you get to put most of them up afterwards. They're far too nice to demand a rider, but the beer went down well (£17.99 for one box in Sainsbury's; £20 for two. What's that all about, then?) Following a slap-up breakfast next morning, my parents popped around for a quick visit and stuck to my kitchen floor, so they didn't miss out either.
I think I'm right in saying that with the exception of their two appearances at Sidmouth in August, this was the first time Blackbeard's Tea Party had performed in the West Country, and that seems a shame as surely it's here they would be best appreciated. Hopefully they'll get booked for more festivals and carnivals in these parts over the coming months. In the meantime they have an excellent new CD out, called Tomorrow We'll Be Sober, which will be just the job for all those approaching Christmas and New Year parties.