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  Archived News June 2008

My new video, ‘Holding the Fiddle’, is now up on YouTube. OK, I’m not expecting a rush of Oscar nominations, but it’s a companion piece, if nothing else, for my ‘Holding the Bow’, which has already been up there for some time. Thanks for your patience, those of you who’ve been perfecting your bow-hold since last year, and thanks most of all to multi-tasking cameraman, lighting engineer and film editor Leon Cych. You can watch both videos in the ‘Projects’ section of this website.

My other ‘screen’ news is that I’m a village band fiddler in the BBC’s new production of Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D’Urbevilles’, directed by David Blair. The band lead the village girls in their spring parade to the tune of The Louth Quickstep, then strike up for the Mayday dance, at which Tess (Gemma Arterton) meets Angel (Eddie Redmayne). The filming took place at Dancing Ledge, Langton Matravers, Dorset - an amazing location on a sunny May afternoon. I particularly liked the Victorian period hat they gave me to wear.
          ‘Is there a special name for that kind of hat?’ I asked the costumes guy, reluctantly handing it back at the end of the shoot.
          ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘ - "knackered".’
The four-part drama goes out on BBC 1 in the Autumn.

TV drama - Hardy

Tim Walker (drum), Dave Townsend (concertina), Tim Hill (clarinet),
Phil Humphries (serpent), Pete Cooper (fiddle).

Dave Townsend of the Mellstock Band - another of the ‘Tess’ musicians - has put together a new show based on the writings, music, songs and poems of ‘peasant poet’ and fiddler John Clare (1793 -1864). Gill Redmond (cello) and I - Mellstock reservists both - will join Charles Spicer (oboe, spoken word) and Dave Townsend on Saturday 12 July to present ‘A Midsummer Cushion’ at the John Clare Festival in Helpston, Peterborough - see Gigs for details.

Boris Puroshottama Grebenshikov

The night before driving down to Dorset for that Tess shoot I had the honour of playing mandolin as part of a twenty-one-piece band backing ‘The Song-Bird of St. Petersburg’, Russian star Boris Puroshottama Grebenshikov. The line-up also included Sheema Mukherjee on sitar, Polish sarangi-player Maria Pomianowska, and Irish musicians Brian Finnegan and John-Joe Kelly of Flook. In fact, it was thanks to Brian I was there. Playing to a packed, 5000-strong house, many of them Russians, the show was dedicated to the Indian spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy, who died last year. A joyous time was had by all, and the food was great.

London Fiddle School

Scottish fiddle class at Cecil Sharp House

My Wednesday night classes at the London Fiddle School have been going very well, with ‘Scottish Traditional’ as this term’s flavour. Some of us are shown in the photo, playing (and marching) a Shetland wedding march I learned from Kathryn Tickell at a Folkworks summer school one year. Donald Stewart kindly stepped in to cover a class I couldn’t make, and he is also one of the organisers of Feis Lunnainn - The Second London Feis, 5-7 September (, so after the present course ends on 9 July, that’ll be a great Scottish fiddle event to look forward to. As for my group classes, there’ll be an unusually long break, I’m afraid, before we resume on Wednesday 29 October, for an 8-week course on ‘Irish Traditional Fiddle’ that will take us - gulp, almost up to Christmas. 

Rattle on the Stovepipe have been hard at work on our new CD, as yet without a title. After a run of great gigs, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in March, Combe Martin, Devon in April and Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham at the end of May, Dave Arthur, Dan Stewart and I spent a few days in June down at WildGoose studio in the delightful, roses-round-the-cottage-door village of Wherwell, Hampshire, recording some songs and tunes. We haven’t finished the album yet, or got a release date, but hopefully it will be out before Christmas. We’ll be up at Whitby Folk Week meanwhile (16-22 August) and, further ahead, at ‘A Tribute to Bert’ at Cecil Sharp House, London on 15 November. In this centenary year of the birth of English singer, folklorist, journalist and writer Bert Lloyd (1908-1982), the English Folk Dance and Song Society is hosting a day of concerts with Premier league folk artists, to launch a new biography that Dave Arthur’s written - ‘Bert: The Life and Work of A.L. Lloyd’.
 (See Gigs for details)

Rattle on the Stovepipe 2007

Rattle on the Stovepipe at Whitby 2007

After various trips east, to India and Japan, in the past year, I’m hoping to fly west this summer and catch up with some good Old Time music in North Carolina and West Virginia. It’s eleven years since I was at Mount Airy for the fiddle convention, and thirty years since I first visited West Virginia in 1978 in the company of Old Time musician John Herrmann. I’ll be back in England - promise - for the Folkworks youth summer school (11-16 August), followed by Whitby Folk Week (16-22 August). After that I head off to Wales for a solo gig in Llantrisant (27 August), en route to the Fiddle Festival of Wales, Pembroke (28-31 August), a great gathering of Welsh talent with visitors including Dave Swarbrick, Kevin Dempsey, Liz Doherty, Lori Watson and more.

Have a great summer. I hope to see you somewhere along the way.

                                                          - Pete


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