Cecil Sharp House, voted Time Out magazine's second trendiest London music venue in 2012 - which may explain the new hall-hire rates - will again host the ever-fashionable London Fiddle School in the New Year. Group classes kick off at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9 January with Fiddle Music of Britain & Ireland (basic-level), followed at 7.45pm, for intermediate-level players, by Fiddle Music of Scotland. Both courses run until Easter - see Workshops for details.
The 'basic' class began in the Autumn, small at first but steadily growing as word spread and the dark nights lengthened. Meanwhile an intrepid thirty-strong band of intermediate/ advanced fiddlers were exploring Eastern European tunes, the unquestionable hit of the season being a Polish D minor 5-part tune, Trzsionka, pronounced 'Cha-shonka' (rhyming with 'stonker'), from a 2001 CD by Na Noge. It's one of many that we played to rousing effect at the Winter Fiddle Party on 15 December. Thanks, everyone, for coming along and making it such a great night. As usual, as well as the big session, we had individual and small group performances, including this one from Dominic Dyson playing Old Time and Cajun tunes, with guitarist/ soundman Laurie Harper and me.
The first ever Fiddle Party, 2001,
Pete's 50th birthday in Trefusis Hall.
The replica Abbots Bromley deer antlers,
you'll be pleased to know, are still there
- as are some of the fiddlers.
Anyway, I appreciate that when you're travelling full steam ahead a sudden change of course can be a challenge on the passenger decks, especially after seasonal drinks, but our next destination at the Fiddle School is, as mentioned, Scotland. I hope that, as they say in Amazon-speak, 'People who enjoyed playing Bulgarian kopanitsas also like reels, strathspeys and pipe marches.'
And what else is coming up? Spring 2013, touch wood, will see publication of my latest book/CD 'New Fiddle Tunes' in Schott's excellent World Music series, not traditional tunes this time, but mainly ones I've written myself - over several decades, in fact, the first in 1984. Putting the collection together was an interesting job, but all that rain last summer probably helped. I just stayed indoors a lot and got suitably obsessive and tunnel-visioned. I still always write music by hand, while 'cut' and 'paste', in the pre-digital world of my manuscripts, does involve actual scissors and glue. It's artisanal, which is fine, yes, but very slow. Think of me as our living link to the early 19th century.
Pasting up 'Farewell to Islington'
As for the tunes, I've recorded quite a few of them in recent years with Richard Bolton, but I've been invited to play a selection completely solo at Tabernacle Folk, Notting Hill, London, on 7 April. The theme this year is 'from Minimalism to Carnival'. My concert will be part of the minimalist bit, I presume - see GIGS for details.
Pete, Richard and Sue, 2011
Photo: Julian Dodd
Richard Bolton and I formed a trio with whistle and accordion player Sue Lee for a one-off gig at a new folk club in Oxfordshire, the White Horse, Stonesfield, on 11 December - a night of freezing fog, but a great vibe indoors. Club host Nick Hooper, who writes a mean tune himself (as we know from his Harry Potter film scores), also played a fine set on guitar with his fiddle-playing wife Judith and friends. There's no video for that gig, but various footage has surfaced of a Cooper & Bolton night at the Royal Oak, Lewes in 2011, thanks to Tina and Vic Smith:
Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton Lewes FC, April 2011 Pike's Peak/ E. Tenn. Blues/ Beaumont Rag
Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton Lewes FC, April 2011 Jack of the Green/ John of the Green (English Trad.)
Richard and I plan to release our third CD in 2013, as well as returning to Dartington International Summer School (Week Three, 10-17 August) with more English Roots: Fiddle & Cello Tunes, 1651-2012. We'll also be playing in Hadleigh, Essex on 5 April - see GIGS
Students on the English Roots course
at Dartington 2012,
Isabel, Frauke, Tasha and Karen
Rattle on the Stovepipe will also be back in the studio this Spring, recording another wax cylinder for WildGoose Records. We have loads of new material, which we played on a really enjoyable run of gigs in Kent and Sussex back in the Autumn - as ever, thanks for coming out, folks.
Rattle on the Stovepipe Royal Oak Lewes Sept 2012 Princess Royal
Rattle on the Stovepipe Royal Oak December 2011 Elk River Blues