Pulborough is a large village in West Sussex with some 5,000 inhabitants. Near the confluence of the rivers Arun and Rother, the village looks southwards over the broad flood plain of the tidal Arun to a backdrop of the South Downs.
Historically, it was a fording place over the River Arun used by the Romans en route from Chichester to London. The Saxons also bridged the river here and it became an important watering hole and overnight halt for cattle drovers.
Each year, Pulborough hosts the 12 hour Lawn Mower race which runs continuously for 12 hours and on August Bank Holiday, the Pulborough Duck Race Society hosts its annual charity event.
On Wednesday 13th November Sadie and the Hotheads pulled in to town, or rather pulled in to Blackgate Lane, one mile north of Pulborough, in search of Blakewood, home of the Blue Coconut Club.
Founded in 1987 and described as a “little bit off beat and a bit off the beaten track”, the venue features acoustic music from jazz to blues, folk and country.
After a couple of wrong turns we spotted the sign, missing some letters and obscured by foliage, and pulled in to the parking lot. It reminded me of some backwoods barn in Tennessee. Who knew what might await us?
Inside, Jim Lee, singer, musician and genial host, welcomed us to his world. Candle-lit tables, comfy chairs, sofas and a big log fire … introductions and a few tall tales over, we set to work. Ron had arrived first and was already setting up the PA with his usual enthusiasm and diligence. Instruments were tuned, voices warmed up, set list approved and sound checked … then we headed out for the local Indian restaurant, “best in the world” according to Jim.
When we returned, the place was heaving, two of the glam Sadie sisters were there – Shelley and Kirsty (all the way from Cornwall!), the audience friendly and welcoming. After a short set by Jim and an interval, during which bread, chips and cheese were served (!), we hit the stage running.
As warm up gigs go this was pretty special. The audience, unsure what to expect, responded with great enthusiasm and warmth, gave us a standing ovation, bought loads of CDs, chatted with Sadie and, much later, bid us all a cheery country farewell on this dank, dark, memorable November night.