I met Kelly Oliver before her Friday night gig at the Lynn Arms Syderstone. “Are you ready?” I ask. “I’m always ready!” she enthuses.
Who can blame her? Accolades in the national broadsheets; endorsements from ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris; a single with young folk musician of the year Will Pound; performances with veteran folkster Dave Swarbrick.
I ask her how Syderstone compares with her two Cambridge Folk Festival appearances and big-venue support of her folk legend idol Cara Dillon.
“I love live music nights in new areas of the country with new audiences best of all,” she replied. “The best gigs are often the most unpredictable.”
She is cutting edge folk fusion, citing Alanis Morrissette as the model for the Indie pop edge she gives her self-penned folk songs, the voice, guitar and harmonica all hard-hitting.
She admires young Bob Dylan for the way he broke the three minute song structure and told stories over 10 verses when the subject required.
“My songs are for me at first; then comes the interpretation of them in performance for the audience.” She is clearly more excited than nervous, buzzing to get on stage.
New owners of the Lynn Arms, Flo and Martin Bowles are equally full of the energy and ambition of youth, prepared to pay to get a national talent in for its village community (Syderstone, Blenheim, Wicken Green and Tattershall).
“We want to establish a reputation for music,” says Flo. “Just because we’re rural doesn’t mean we can’t be exciting.
“We’ve never run a pub before so we went on a real ale course and now provide beers from Norfolk’s microbreweries.”
The pub is anchored in the village and was at the heart of last May’s fete, raising funds for an air ambulance and a defibrillator now placed outside the village hall. There are pub quizzes and music every Saturday.
Was she daunted, I ask about starting a pub when many are failing. “No. We wanted a pub where women could feel as much as home as men. The difference between us and other pubs is that food is an accompaniment to traditional beer and wine, not a Gastro pub.”
And music the icing on the cake.
Kelly’s gig was a delight. A born songwriter, inventive guitarist and vibrant singer able to warm the cockles with a cover of ‘Molly Malone’.
In Will Pound’s words: “A star of the future” shining in Syderstone’s present.