A Thumbnail History of the Club
January 15th 2015 saw the club returning to The Feathers Inn, the venue at which the club was founded on the 31st October 1996, and was initially known as The Feathers Folk Club.
It was the brainchild of Llinos and Campbell Finnie, two local musicians, who ran it for ten or more years. They not only provided the backbone of the organisation, but were (and still are!) also brilliant performers.
Llinos, well-known hereabouts for her beautiful singing, has done some great work with a couple of musicians – John Rowell on bass and the late Bryn Roberts on guitar, collectively known as Mantra – in the area of modern folk music. Campbell has an excellent line in gentle contemplative folk music as well as a contrasting interest in humorous ballads.
Since those early days the club has had a somewhat itinerant existence with numerous homes and changes of name.
During 1997: The club had three homes. On January 2nd it moved to the White Horse in Llanfair DC, and became known as Ruthin Folk Club. Then in the April we moved up to the Glan Llyn in Clawddnewydd before returning to the town to spend the last two months of the year at The Eagles on Clwyd Street.
On the 15th January 1998 the Castle Hotel on St Peter’s Square became its final resting place of the 20th Millenium.
After a little over three years The Venue Night Club on Lon Parcwr became the… erm… venue during 2001 from the April until September, when a change of management at The White Horse in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd heralded a return to this popular pub for almost ten happy years enabling the club to establish an identity and become well known and well loved on the North Wales Folk Club Circuit.
During this time, and to reflect the need to broaden the club’s appeal, its name was changed to The Ruthin Acoustic Club and on the 10th February 2008, John and Cathy Rowell took over the running of the club for the ensuing two years until pressure of work forced them to take more of a back seat.
John remained a very valued musician at the club, regularly appearing with the band Raven, and as bassist for the Tom, Dick and Harry combo, as well as in his own right. And to this day, he also has an unstinting willingness to support other performers, whenever called upon, on his six string bass guitar.
The new name, Ruthin AllStyles Music Club was chosen to reflect the fact the club has always appealed to very diverse tastes in both music and indeed poetry. This means that in each session there is music that will appeal to everyone’s tastes.
At Christmas 2009 it was John and Ros Ryder who took the reins. and at the start of 2010 the club returned once again into the town itself, spending a year back at the Castle Hotel, followed by the move to a new, and what was hoped to be a more permanent, home at the Wynnstay Arms. This was a superb set-up as they gave over the entire restaurant area to us on Thursday evenings as well as the adjoining lounge area. Sadly this was short lived and the sudden closure of the business forced us to go “house hunting” once again!
We sought refuge for three weeks at the graciously accommodating Woodlands Hall Country Club, near Bontuchel, whilst searching for a new venue back in the town itself.
The 21st July 2011 was our first night at Ye Olde Cross Keys Inn. Whilst not as big as we’d been used to at the Wynnstay, it had a lovely welcoming atmosphere with fabulous acoustics. The lovely upstairs room in this quaint 500 year old inn, with its original exposed beams and vaulted ceiling was our home for three and a half very happy years.
During our time at the Cross Keys, John and Ros handed over the running of the club to Joe Lyon assisted by Chris Birchall who runs the club’s new website and Facebook page.
2015 to the present – Back ‘home’ at The Feathers
December 2014 brought the news that the Cross Keys was up for sale and that it might not even continue being a pub. This uncertainty led us to begin the quest for a new meeting place.
The newly refurbished Feathers Inn had indicated that their function room would be available, so we took up the offer and returned once again to this town centre venue. At the same time, Joe decided to step down and hand over the tiller to Chris and Jayne Birchall.
It has to be said, however, that Joe very much remains a key figure in the running of the club, taking an active role in the preparation of the room each week and generally assisting in the smooth running of club nights.
The new owners at The Feathers have been extremely accommodating, building us a lockable chest to store our equipment and giving over storeroom space for us to keep rarely used lighting stands and other sundries. This new venue very quickly gained favour with members and visitors alike and because of its atmosphere, has been referred to as Ruthin’s answer to The Cavern!
It would perhaps be unfair to mention any of our regular or occasional performers here, because there are so many and it would be wrong to leave any out. However, we also encourage new visitors to “have a go” if they should want to. And although the atmosphere has always been relaxed, when performers are doing their bit, the audience gives them full and quiet attention.
Every couple of months a professional singer or instrumentalist visits us, and it can be a great inspiration to the members to see these seasoned performers close up.
Past professional guest artists have included Kieran Halpin, Merry Hell, Nick Harper, Helen Watson, Mike Silver, Ken Nichol, Lindisfarne’s Rod Clements, and Phil Bates of ELO 2 fame.
We’ve also been lucky enough to attract impromptu appearances by professional artists who have just turned up out of the blue and mingled with the regular crowd. So recently we’ve been entertained by Phil Cool, and also the incredibly talented, world renowned jazz guitarist Gary Potter.