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Music on tap at the Cliff

When you walk up to the Cliff Inn on a Sunday evening you might feel a little unnerved by the way the ground shakes. Once you enter the bar, however, all is rendered clear. Feet are stamping, fingers drumming, bodhrans beating and pulses throbbing. There may even be some Irish tap dancing. But there will certainly be an exciting harmony of guitars and banjos, mandolins and fl utes, penny whistles and harmonicas, accordions and violins all weaving in and out of each other�s melodies. Stranger still, there may be Sardinian pipes, Degger and Scottish small pipes, a bouzouki, a saw, an Appalachian dulcimer. There may be a medley of Celtic music, reels and slides and jigs, or it may be tributes to John Denver or Dylan or Simon and Garfunkel or some blues or modern folk. There may be solo voices unaccompanied or everyone joining in with some favourite chorus. There may be something really ancient and traditional, or fond reminiscences about Lonnie Donegan.

The area around is rich with musicians from beginners to professionals, some confident, some shy, but all are given space and encouragement at the Cliff. There is nothing more inspiring than banging out your old three chord chestnut and after a bar or so a fiddle blends in, a mandolin starts trilling, a flute softly merges over the top, a base line picks at the bottom and a whistle twists around your vocals. Suddenly your raw old bit of Tom Paxton has been metamorphosed into something beautiful and complex � pure alchemy.

There must be at least thirty musicians who at times may show up at the Cliff on a Sunday evening in various permutations. Joan presides behind the bar; traditional ales lubricate the vocal chords; some just listen, and passing tourists can�t believe their luck. For those of you brought up on karaoke or synthetic music this is the real thing, as real as the ale. Real people singing and playing real instruments, spontaneous and improvised. Authentic folk music, when people get together and perform together as happened in pubs and inns generations ago, and the hope that this tradition will continue into whatever the future holds for the Cliff Inn and other village pubs like it.

Here are some of the instruments that are played there. See if you can sort out which is which: mandolin, zither, dulcimer, accordion, harmonicas, Degger pipes, Scottish small pipes, guitar and a pint of Rev. James.

Martyn Offord

Instrument played at the Cliff Instrument played at the Cliff Instrument played at the Cliff

Instrument played at the Cliff Instrument played at the Cliff Instrument played at the Cliff

Instrument played at the Cliff