Pulling Strings concert pulls in charity cash

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Over the past decade, folk musician Martin Sumpton has run an annual charity concert in memory of his first wife who died from breast cancer.

His Pulling Strings concerts have pulled in thousands of pounds for Ashgate Hospice and the Cavendish Centre for Cancer Care in Sheffield.

Backed by Chesterfield Folk Club, performers and punters, the tenth concert took place at Club Chesterfield in Ashgate.

Ticket sales and raffle proceeds from those who were there combined with donations from well-wishers unable to attend raised £560 to be split between the two causes.

On a cold evening in mid-October, the performers had come dressed for the climate.

Headliner Keith Donnelly wore a tartan hat, which gave rise to a story of how how an Australian red-backed spider had spun a web in it, support act Phil Hare wore a Tennessee riding hat - even though he’d never been there or ridden a horse - and Martin Sumpton in his flat cap sparked several references to ferrets.

The climax of the concert resembled a Mad Hatters’ Glee Party as Keith - minus his hat - used his didgeridoo to knock off Phil and Martin’s headgear while they carried on playing.

Ever the wag, Keith can always be relied on to raise the spirits - and he did so in style.Personal anecdotes about Jools Holland and Bruce Springsteen, Gazza’s breakfast in New Zealand and police checks en route to Whitby Folk Festival were lapped up by the audience.

Entertaining though Keith’s stories were, their length meant he only had time to perform a handful of songs. They included children’s favourite, Everyone Wants To Be A Bear, a song about Jesus at the Airport and a singalong honouring the Australian legend that is Rolf Harris.

Acoustic guitarist and prolific songwriter Phil Hare shared his views of how life used to be in a song called Lady London which cleverly segued into his take on Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.

His capital performance continued with impersonations of EastEnders which paved the way for a big singalong entitled Everyone’s A Hard Man Now, the title track from his latest CD.

Phil’s most impressive offering was his interpretation of Music For A Found Harmonium on solo guitar which was spectacularly played, technically brilliant and totally mesmerising.

Concert organiser Martin Sumpton launched the concert with a more traditional approach to folk music than his fellow performers. Accompanying himself on guitar, his opening shot was the Napoleonic lament, The Bonny Light Horseman.

Martin’s 17-year-old daughter Holly joined him on stage to sing a beautiful rendition of The Banks of the Roses, in which her dad accompanied her on guitar.

Closing his second set, Martin teamed up with Phil Hare for tunes which showed their versatility as musicians, Marin playing seven-string bandola and Phil on mandolin.

Next up on Chesterfield Folk Club’s programme is a concert featuring Hannah James and Sam Sweeney playing at Chesterfield Library on November 2 as part of the town’s Arts and Market Festival.

Julie Felix will headline the club’s monthly concert in Club Chesterfield on November 9.

l Photos by Paul Britland

GAY BOLTON