Alrewas' musical and literary legend: Martin Ryan.
Our March Doghouse folk night in Alrewas was an emotional switchback.
There was huge sorrow at Martin Ryan and Stef Dziuba retiring as club hosts.
And there were ecstatic responses to a superb series of brilliant acts.
Stage and screen
None were better than star soprano, Sarah Ryan, of the international touring trio, 'Access All Arias'.
More accustomed to the limelight in Milan, Rome and London, she came to sing a loving tribute to her father, Martin.
His wife Pam looked on as their second daughter, Theresa, then rose to recite a home-penned poem in her husband's honour.
The Welsh clan put in a star performance too, carrying on a tradition begun by the late John Welsh, who sang with Martin long ago in their band, ‘The Moonshiners’.
The Welsh family - packed with talent: (left) Jayne, Dave, Tom, Louise and John.
Tom Welsh was a revelation, giving his exquisite take on Ed Sheeran’s, ‘So In Love’ - how long before Sheeran’s doing Welsh covers?
Indispensable: multi-talented Sharon is a key element in the trio including Jayne and Louse Welsh.
John Welsh (son of the original) put in a brilliant performance on six-string bass. It was the thread running through a series of numbers.
A fine guitarist, Pete, gave us, ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ (Crowded House). A poignant choice given the occasion.
Down to earth
But it was not over, not quite anyway. Matchless Lancastrian, Dave Naylor, belted out another perfectly selected number about, “a dear owt’ friend”. Nor will his, 'Pizouf", be quickly forgotten.
Dave's deft banjo picking also took the Doghouse back to its traditional folk roots. And very deep roots they are.
Martin founded the club, in Walsall, around 50 years ago. It has had many venues since.
Huge hug: (right) Sarah Ryan and her sister, Theresa.
Its latest move was from Alrewas’ Crown pub to its current home in the village’s outstanding Royal British Legion Club.
Bigger & better
More room has meant many more people have been able to come along to enjoy the music. And the club’s superb staff have helped make every visit a joy.
This month there was an overspill since there was simply not enough space in the performance area to contain everyone who had come to wish Martin and Stef farewell.
So it was wonderful to hear them both promise to return and play floor spots whenever they can.
New Doghouse era
Sorting out the sound: (left) Stef Dziuba hooks up Dave Naylor.
A group of their friends has come together to keep the folk club going under the only banner it could ever have, ‘The Doghouse’.
Martin’s third daughter, Katie Measham, sent a personal message to everyone in the Doghouse family:
Thanks to all dad and Stef’s loyal fans for helping him end on a high.
What an amazing and emotional evening it was. I’m sure he will be back to entertain again as a floor singer in the new-look Doghouse.
We need to keep those fingers moving! Gook luck to all the new organisers who will be stepping up to keep this fantastic club going.
The next Alrewas’ next folk night is due to be held on Tuesday, April 4, starting at 8pm.
Performers are already lining up to put on a show that would make Martin and Stef proud.
More details will follow.
Doghouse news, back issues and features