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  Archived News January 2008

Thanks, all of you who came to Rattle on the Stovepipe’s gigs at the Royal Oak, Lewes and Court Sessions folk club, London - two amazing nights in November. One year since Dan Stewart joined Dave Arthur and me in the band, the three of us are out and about with gigs in Amberley, West Sussex (Tuesday 22), the Green Note café, London (Friday 25) and Dartford, Kent (Tuesday 29). We’ve also been asked to play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 30 March - well, just fancy that... I’ll let you know details when I’ve got them.

Rattle on the Stovepipe
Rattle on the Stovepipe
tuning up, Whitby 2007. Photo, Sue Lee

As fiddle styles go, Old Time is about as far away from classical violin as you can get without actually falling off the edge of the known universe. It’s also what we’re studying at my Wednesday night classes in Camden Town this term in a 10-week course from 9 January to 19 March, so please come and join us - see Workshops for details.

February kicks off with ‘Strings at Witney’ in Oxfordshire. I’ll mostly be wearing my Eastern European hat this time round, especially as my book/ CD of 80 traditional Eastern European Fiddle Tunes (Schott ED12886) just came out in October - amazing value, it goes without saying, at £10.99. (My London fiddle class showcased many of the tunes in December at the candle-lit Fiddle Party, which also featured excellent spots from the Monday Mandolins, six-fiddle group ‘Lost in England’ and others. Thanks to all of you who contributed.)

On Sunday 24 February the London Fiddle Convention takes place at Cecil Sharp House. I’ll be leading a workshop, MC-ing the concert, and playing with cellist / guitar-player Richard Bolton. (Richard and I are also at Islington Folk Club on Thursday 21 February.) This will be the 16th year of the Fiddle Convention, and directly follows the biennial London Fiddle Conference, organised by Ed Emery, on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 February at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG.

Ringwood sketch
Pete and Richard at Ringwood Folk Club
November 2007 - sketch by Olivia Keith

My trip to India in October as a member of ad hoc Northumbrian band ‘Steel Rigg’, with David and Joey Oliver, Sophy Ball and Ian Stephenson, was brilliant. We played in the ‘blue’ city of Jodhpur at the first ever Rajasthan International Folk Festival. Mick Jagger was there (to hang out and listen, not to sing) as a guest of the local maharajah, Gaj Singh, who hosted the event in the amazing 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. As I’ve said on previous occasions, it’s rough work but somebody’s got to do it.

String section - Indian style
String section: Raju Ram ravanhatta,
Sophy Ball fiddle, Samshu Khan sindhi sarangi,
Pete (in ‘Fiddle On’ tee-shirt) fiddle and
Chanan Khan kamaycha.

As well as performing such classics as ‘Blaydon Races’ and the ‘Morpeth Rant’, we spent half the week sitting down (literally, cross-legged on the ground) with Rajasthani village musicians, swapping tunes, for example ‘Mehandi’ (a song about the henna leaf used to stain the hands of a girl before her wedding) and ‘Egan’s Polka’. ‘Maire’s Wedding’ is another tune that, for all I know, may now have taken unlikely root in the desert villages of Rajasthan. A highlight of the trip for me was being carried piggy-back across a tightrope by a small barefoot member of the Nat community, a Gypsy tribe of acrobats and jugglers also appearing at the festival. It was from Rajasthan that the Rom migrated to Europe, east and west, a thousand years ago.

Tightrope Walker
Pete and Nat tightrope walker...


Tightrope Walker
...and he walks downhill!

In late March I’ll be teaching English fiddle music at the Folk South-West Easter School in Chantmarle, Dorset - and, as I said, playing at the QEH on 30 March - before flying to Japan on 1 April for some gigs (with Kenichi Fukae, guitar) and fiddle workshops in Osaka and Tokyo.

See you later,


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