It’s hard to believe, especially for those there from the start, that the Ram Club has been running for 25 years. It seems like only five minutes ago when Brian and Jane Ravenhill decided to start a club of their own, having been to lots of folk clubs over the years and thinking ‘we could do better’. And so they did!
It is never easy starting any sort of live music venue and convincing a sceptical pub to host you, but Brian and Jane were very convincing. With the help from a small cluster of friends the club was born in the Greyhound pub in Weston Green in October on October 21st 1983 with a grand Singers Night. The first guests in the tiny room were a four-piece a capella group called Heritage. Having hit the ground running, the mould was set for the future, namely a mixture of everything that the label ‘Folk’ encompasses from traditional to contemporary, instrumental virtuosity to unaccompanied harmony singing and acts that ran the whole range from local heroes to artists at the peak of their careers.
Often these artists were Folk stalwarts but sometimes they were people who didn’t usually appear in folk clubs. In February 1985 the club moved to a larger room at the Hand and Spear pub in Weybridge, which was able to accommodate higher-profile acts as well as the usual favourites. All was well until our sudden eviction due to the dreaded refurbishment of the pub – yes, we’ve been here before… Then after some searching Brian and Jane found the venue that was to become our home for over 20 years right on their doorstep in Claygate! The rest is history (have a look at the archive for a fuller picture) and now a new move beckons away from the Foley Arms, but it was still something to celebrate and so we did.
A full room, a magnificent cake made by Ian Palmer decorated with a selection of quotes from artists about what they thought of the club, surrounded by mementos, photographs and the Holy Grail that is the BBC Folk Award. Bob Wood kicked off the proceedings with the unofficial club anthem – Dougie MacLean’s classic song ‘Down Too Deep’, or ‘The Friday Night Song’ as it is usually known. Bob has sung this song many times at the club and it never fails to illicit the desired response from the audience. To find out what this is, click here to see a video of it on YouTube!
David and Craig were just right for the night with their melodic and heartfelt songs that drew the audience in, expertly accompanied on guitar and bouzouki and with lots of great banter and yarn-telling about the origins of the songs, particularly David’s experiences in the Canadian building industry before hitting it ‘big’. Click here for a snippet.
Then came an interval, with glasses of fizz and toasts all round, especially to the future. Ian read out the quotes on that masterpiece of a cake (click here to watch) before it was duly cut into a 100 pieces and we partook of it as in communion, washed down with more fizz. A raffle at old prices and then our guests came back on for another hour of wonderful music before one of our regulars, Steve Smith, very kindly said a few words of thanks on behalf of the punters to the Fortunate Souls who oil the wheels of the club. Thanks very much Steve, but the club would be nothing without all of you who come week in, week out and provide the audience (and yes, the money). When we move it’s gonna get even better, so please keep on coming!