History of the Acoustic Tearoom, a folk venue in Cumbria England

The stoic exterior of the handsome Masonic Hall seems almost opposite to what goes on evenings in the interior. The Acoustic Tearoom in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, England is host to a diverse artistic population. Musicians and comics in close comradeship with their audience can shine in the smaller venue that holds about 60 people. As with many places, friends gathering and sharing their talents sparked the idea of a location to broadened the audience beyond. Though still small enough to be intimate, talent flourishes because of the discriminating audience it draws. Folk and blues shows feel right at home here. It's not a place to hear the poppy, multimillionaires that seem more interested in money than sharing voice and song although some big names play here. Dining is also a featured attraction if one desires it or just a show if that's preferred. Cost is relevant to this choice. Alcoholic beverages are bring your own wine, but carry out what you bring as a courtesy. Even the empties.

Numerous solo artists as well as groups book here. In the musical forte, one group of gentlemen in particular have generated worldwide notoriety and that's Acoustic Strawbs. Sounding as perfect as ever, Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, and Chas Cronk blend their melodies acoustically and spin tales that still dazzle after over 40 years. Kieran Halpin's luscious vocals and guitar, sometimes gentle and sometimes edgy, can be thought provoking and the emotion of his voice is highly apparent in this cozy setting. The dynamic pairing of Steve Knightley and Phil Beer becomes Show of Hands and traditional music keeps one from being sat still. Their beautiful harmony breathes the English countryside and history. Phil Beer is a flying wonder on the fiddle as well as a solo voice with his guitar. There's a depth of passion to share not just love of the song, but the love of the people and the stage.

If a chortle is your desire, the comedic ramblings and songs of From Here to Absurdity will split your sides and have you gasping in surprise at their outrageousness. They hit close to home. Sometimes too close. If physical daftness is in order, The Amazing Mr. Smith will fit the bill. From his Rockette-like dance troupe that's always in perfect sync to one of a kind instruments, he's a one man band like no other.

Other preoccupations are about the building, which also is home to Rattan and Rush, where furniture caning is not only done, but taught periodically. Like stepping back in time with treasures lurking everywhere, the shop has porcelain and pottery in beautiful cabinetry. Vintage artwork, mirrors, and clocks hang on the walls. Photos framed, cluster in groupings. Another area of the hall brings in crafters that flock to the shop to offer their own expertise helping others learn in workshops. There are also craft fairs twice monthly for the selling of handmade wares by local artisans. All prices are quite reasonable. The Masonic is a beehive of activities for creators as well as the creative.

Accidents in the Middle Ages


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