Bella Hardy at The Fleece Hotel Boxford

As we live in Colchester, and the Suffolk border is only a half dozen miles north of Colchester, we do stray over the border into Suffolk, often as not for the Edwardstone White Horse, for their excellent food, excellent beer from their onsite Mill Green Brewery, their beer festivals, and the annual Eddyfest music and beer festival. There’s just the onsite camping for us to check out!

Not long ago the Norton family behind all of this loveliness took on The Fleece in Boxford and gave it some TLC, and we remarked just what a great job they had done.

Last night we went to The Fleece, and enjoyed a great night of folk music in their amazing Guild Room. Up the narrow stairs at the back of the pub, you are taken back a few hundred years into a gorgeous room with an shallowly arched ceiling, lovely paintings – and a little bar in the corner. Perfect for a cosy, even intimate evening of folk.

Musically, last night we had Bella Hardy, supported by Flaming June (and Red Barn beer).

Flaming June, based in Cambridge, were tonight in two-piece mode with singer/songwriter/guitarist Louise Hamilton supported simply by a single violinist (will try to find out her name!). Here’s a somewhat grainy pic :

Flaming June

You can find more about them in various places, including their MySpace presence. These crazy youngsters with their MySpace, FaceBook, mp3 downloads – tell me, will they still have them in 35 years time like I still have my green dayglo vinyl single of X-Ray Spex ‘The Day the World Turned Dayglo’?? I think not!

They got the evening off to a lively start, with some excellent vocals and playing. I’ll have to take a notebook next time we report on an evening like this – my memory isn’t as good as it used to be! Rumplestiltskin, a look at domestic violence through the lens of fairy tales, stood out, and it’s the lead song on their latest EP of that same name, which you can purchase at Amazon.

After a short set from them (get them back for a full set please!), there was time for some further refreshment. The Mill Green Brewery’s Red Barn was on hand to refresh and give just that bit of something special (whilst not a porter, stout or mild (my drinks of preference) it was a warmer, richer beer than most bitters and slipped down nicely). Oscar Wilde had been on the bar, but had disappeared – heaven knows what he was up to!

Bella Hardy with her band The Midnight Watch kept us entertained through a long set that included another drink break in the middle. Promoting their new CD ‘battleplan’, notable songs from their set from that album included ‘Whisky You’re the Devil’, ‘Three Pieces of My Heart’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Drifting Away’, and particularly ‘Yellow Handkerchief’.

With Bella on violin and vocals, she was supported handsomely by Anna Massie on guitar, James Lindsay on (folding) double bass (necessary if you are touring in a Ford Galaxy), and Angus Lyon on keyboard. The keyboard gave an added dimension to the music, although I’m guessing some folk purists might object. Most memorable keyboard wise was the song ‘Herring Girls’ (I did make a note of that!)

And here’s a video of Bella in action :

With some entertaining chat throughout, the personality of the band came over well, and Bella’s singing was at times achingly beautiful. Check them out on their various online web presences (Google is your friend). The mid-set break enabled a topping up on Red Barn, buying a copy of the ‘battleplan’ CD and getting it signed for Josie by Bella.

So, a great night out – keep an eye on the events page on The Fleece Hotel Boxford’s website : we will be!