Singing Yo-Heave-Ho for a mug of coffee
Sing some Songs for a thirst
and here's sugar for your coffee

Fix a cup of coffee, cosy up to your television set and start sipping and singing folksongs with the boys and girls of NZBC’s "The Foc’sle" Coffee Bar, setting for the new musical series, There’s a Meeting Here Tonight, screening from AKTV2 next week, other channels later.

"The Foc’sle" Coffee Bar was made in the studios of WNTV1 and provides the background for 12 programmes of informal folk song produced by Peter Cape in which he has attempted to combine the atmosphere of a fast paced swinging meeting of folksingers and their friends, with the intimacy of a small coffee bar.

The authenticity of this nautical coffee bar extends right through to the coffee itself, absolutely genuine. The lobster pots and barrels are all completely seaworthy and the sea chest on which the singers sometimes sit is nearly 100 years old. Under a darkened ceiling festooned with fishing nets and dangling lengths of rope, which cunningly disguise microphones, a casual group of young people dressed in fashionable levis strum guitars and make with the folksong.

But the casual appearance of the show belies a very high standard of singing. Peter Cape, producer, had fresh talent flown in from different parts of the country. Singers arrived in Wellington on Saturday morning, then attended the studio in the afternoon for music rehearsals with specially recruited Victoria University folksong groups. At the last moment the producer and his assistants would often have to re-write a script around the special aptitudes of a young singer. Actual filming then started on Sunday and two shows would be completed by evening.

Peter Cape has an aversion for the compered show, especially in the case of There’s a Meeting Here Tonight, which is relaxed and casual. He has, therefore, made song follow song at a brisk trot, but at no stage does the show pick up the speed and galloping pace of The Black and White Minstrel Show. There is never more than three. seconds between songs, says Peter Cape.

The series includes the widest possible variety of music and does not pretend to present only pure, traditional folk songs. There is instead a happy blending of old and modern folk music. With any luck viewers may even hear Peter Cape’s own composition, 'Down the Hall on Saturday Night', which is a corker bit of Kiwi-folk-song-pop.

Left: Pretty "Ann" of the Cellar Signers, Christchurch (Hey, is that Annie Whittle?).
Right: Judy Batchelor of Invercargill on Guitar.

The singers themselves come from all over and represent many different professions and occupations. Finally, and most important, in view of the somewhat shaky, out of sync musical productions that have been coming from NZBC studios, this folk song series is not dubbed and mimed, but recorded live. A wise decision.

In the depth of winter the viewer should find There’s a Meeting Here Tonight a great show to sip coffee by. For all those viewers who drink the other beverage, NZBC could import some Japanese teahouse blues.

First published in New Zealand TV Weekly July 25, 1966

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