We have been learning English and Welsh tunes at my Wednesday night fiddle class at Cecil Sharp House, and at the end of June the fiddle group gave a splendid performance at a dog show in Chelsea, in support of the Macmillan cancer charity. A big hit of the course was Morfar Frenhines (‘Queen of the Marsh’), a gloomy but impassioned Welsh tune in 3/4 time. Next term’s course - Irish Traditional Fiddle - starts on 16 September.
Appreciative audience member
at Royal Hospital Chelsea
I’ve spent the first six months of this year working on my new book/CD of ninety-eight American Old Time Fiddle Tunes. As I write in the Introduction, ‘Fiddle is played in many parts of the USA, to say nothing of Canada, but the heartlands of Old Time music lie across the South, particularly in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The tunes here are from Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, N. Carolina and Georgia, with others from Mississippi, Texas, the Ozarks and elsewhere. It’s a back-porch music, grown to maturity in isolated mountain valleys. With roots in Europe, especially Britain and Ireland, fiddle music evolved in the Appalachians from the 1730s into a distinctive style - or family of related, regional styles - as well as moving westward with the frontier. The fiddle’s wedding to the banjo, created by African-Americans under conditions of slavery before the Civil War (1861-65) and adopted by white players, in ‘minstrel’ shows in the 1820s and more widely, brought African rhythms and bluesy inflections to the mountain tunes of the early settlers, and also generated a new, uniquely American repertoire.’ The book is due to be released in the Autumn, probably October.
Rattle on the Stovepipe, after a birthday party gig in France on 1 August, will be appearing at Whitby Folk Week 22-28 August. We’ll also be playing in London on 5 September at the Cellar Upstairs folk club near Euston.
See you later,
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