I’ve just finished recording the CD for New Fiddle Tunes, my latest book/CD in Schott’s World Music series - fifty tunes in all, one each from Sue Lee, Emma Peters and Richard Bolton, the rest my own compositions. Half the tunes have second parts as well, so you can play them with a friend. What style are they? The book’s out in July, so you can judge for yourself, but there are English, Irish, Scottish, Old Timey, Eastern European, Swedish and Blues influences there in the mix. Here’s a clip from a solo set I played at Tabernacle Folk, Notting Hill in April - a rough and ready performance of three ‘Celtoid-style’ tunes I wrote in the 1990s: Farewell to Islington, One for Louise and The Catch.
Pete at The Tabernacle
Last week I taught at Benslow Music in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. The flower garden was in its summer glory, the weather warm and sunny, meals excellent, home-baked cakes and biscuits during breaks plentiful, verging on excessive (but go on, then, I will - artisan cuisine and all that), ensuite rooms comfortable and the acoustics of Peter Morrison Hall ideal for my nine-strong Folk Fiddling by Ear class. In fact, after learning each tune the participants wandered out onto the lawn to practice in the sunshine. The Benslow bees were swarming in the woods, but nobody got stung… I’m looking forward to my next visit on 18-20 October to teach Fiddle Music of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a fantastic weekend with two other related courses running at the same time, Celtic Folksong and The Clarsach Course. I daresay we shall have a tune and a song or two in the bar. Each course costs £195 (non-resident), or £245 for the full Benslow experience.
London Fiddle School at Islington Folk Club, 6 June
I hurried back from Hitchin to London in time to perform at Islington Folk Club with the London Fiddle School - a dozen and a half bold fiddlers from my intermediate/ advanced class. Our summer course is called Fiddles in Performance. This was our first outing. As well as playing fresh material, we recycled favourites from Autumn and Spring courses - wild Scottish reels and a Polish ‘shaking polka’. For our final set on this continentally warm evening - the Italian-style Architect’s Waltz I wrote for a Peter Greenaway film and Bella Napoli, a traditional tarantella - Jan and Nigel joined us on mandolins, with Sue Lee on piano accordion for the full Italian café effect. You can come and hear us at the British Library on Saturday 13 July, part of the Full English Discovery Day, soon after 11.00am.
Richard and Pete lead a session, Dartington Hall
Richard Bolton and I are heading down to Dartmoor, Devon, for the Wren Fiddle Day in Okehampton on 22 June. Paul Wilson and Marilyn Tucker set up Wren Music in 1983 and we’re honoured to be part of their 30th anniversary programme. After workshops during the day, we’ll be in concert from 7.30pm, along with respected local singer, fiddler and workshop leader Nick Wyke and Wren’s county folk music youth ensemble, Roots Acoustic.
Richard and I will be in Devon again from 10-17 August for Dartington International Summer School, this year celebrating its 60th anniversary. We’ve also been busy in the recording studio of late, by the way, working on a new album, and it is entirely possible that the CD will be out by then. Fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted. At any rate, we’ll run a daily English Roots fiddle and cello workshop, play our Great Hall concert on Sunday 11th and lead an informal session on Thursday 15th in the White Hart bar. Do come and join us.
At the end of July I’m off to north Germany, to the great flatlands south of the Danish border, for Harald Haugaard’s excellent International Fiddle School, which I taught at last year. Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson was there too, veteran of Fiddlers’ Bid, Boys of the Lough and Session A9, and he’ll also be back, as will Antti Järvelä and Harald himself, along with Danish fiddler Kirstine Sand, Swedish cellist Leo Svensson etc.
Rattle on the Stovepipe will be at Whitby Folk Week 17-23 August, with gigs in Arundel on 4 September and at the Sweet Sunny South festival in Hastings, 13-15 September. We enjoyed a fame-at-last moment recently when our picture appeared on a beer mat in Japan. Friend of the band and Kyoto resident Felicity Greenland sent us a few. It’s based on a photo taken at a pub venue called ‘Gnome’ that we played at in 2010, now winner of a Guinness Best Pubs award. I’m the one with a microphone stuck in front of his face. The fiddler on the left is Old Time musician Bosco, jamming with us at the end of the night. Here’s a video clip from earlier that evening: Fred Pidgeon’s Polka No. 1 and Jenny Lind.
Japanese Beer Mat
After the Summer break the London Fiddle School will resume on Wednesday 11 September with American Old Time Fiddle, as well as the popular Basic Level class - see Workshops for details.