My festival/ summer school season kicked off in style in June, a fiddle and guitar week in France, at a place called La Moreau, near Cognac (two thirds of the way down on the left), with guitarist Kevin Dempsey, whose usual colleague Joe Broughton was busy with a new baby. A farmhouse in the middle of wheat, grape and sunflower country, it's the home of Chris Trotter and Creative Vacances ('Creative' pronounced the English way, 'Vacances' French). Hot weather, a swimming pool in the garden, nice teaching studio, amazing cuisine - a tough gig all round. With a great crowd of people, it was a mighty week. It may have expanded my waistline but it definitely lifted my spirits. We opened the Friday night concert with Pig Ankle Rag - violin teachers may be interested to learn that this tune, as per my American Old Time Fiddle Tunes book, has now officially been adopted as an AB (Associated Board) Grade 3 piece!
Kevin and I also played a favourite song of mine, Duncan & Brady
Left to right (standing): Alick, Jerry, Gillian, Steve,
Frankie, Malcolm, Lorraine, Ian, Connie, PC, Michele,
Kevin, Fran and (kneeling) Nick, Graeme and Deione
Creative Vacances is definitely a holiday option I'd recommend. Next year?
Less than a week later, I found myself in north Oxfordshire, at the remarkable Fiddle Festival of Britain, held at Manor Farm, Ardley, just off the M40 at junction 10. If you haven't heard of the village, don't worry - 'ardley anybody has! (ba-boom.) Organised by Sian Phillips, the Fiddle Fest was a full weekend of concerts and workshops in a lovely rural setting, and felt like a continuation of La Moreau. Rattle on the Stovepipe played on Friday night, Dave Swarbrick on Saturday, the Carrivick Sisters on Sunday. I was teaching, as were Chris Haigh, Ilana Cravitz, Kevin Dempsey (our paths crossing again), Tom Leary and cellist Gill Redmond. Some of us also played tunes around a bonfire in the woods at midnight. I definitely want to go back next year. It was great to catch up with people I hadn't seen for a while, including my former student Jenny Newman, a superb Donegal-style fiddler, whose Big Fiddle Band performed on Sunday lunchtime.
Jenny Newman and members of the Big Fiddle Band
My own fiddle band this summer, at least for the ten weeks of the Fiddles in Performance class at London Fiddle School, played brilliantly at Islington Folk Club in June - rather better, it must be said, than the England football squad, who got knocked out of the World Cup the same night. And then, while I was off at the Fiddle Fest in Ardley, they performed without me at Cecil Sharp House, part of a textile-themed concert called 'Spinning Yarns'. By all accounts the group (with Liz doing the counting-in - thanks, Liz) turned in a stunning set and when I heard the tapes, I agreed. 'My work here is done,' I told them. So for the last evening of term, putting our recent folk club gig fee to good use, we joined the Cecil Sharp House Community Choir for a picnic on Primrose Hill and gave a final, impromptu performance as darkness fell. I glanced up at one point from where we were sitting, playing our 'Head Case/ Catharsis/ Tam Lin' set, to see a row of teenage girls holding up their phones, filming us. We're probably all over Facebook. Anyway, good to see that fiddle music retains its youth appeal in north London.
Picnic at Primrose Hill.
Left to right: Dave, Helena, Abigail
Paul and Jimmy
So, what a great Summer it's already been - and looks like continuing to be, well into September. I'm off to Schleswig-Holstein, Germany in a couple of days, to join fellow fiddlers Hanneke Cassel, Kevin Henderson, Antti Järvela and Lykke Glad, as well as Swedish cellist Leo Svensson and singer Karen Mose, at Harald Haugaard's International Fiddleschool, 27 July - 2 August - see WORKSHOPS for details. I'll be with Rattle on the Stovepipe at Whitby Folk Week 16 - 22 August, teaching at Wallingford Bunkfest 30 - 31 August, then in South London (7 September), Jersey Academy, Channel Islands (12 - 14 September), the Hibernia Club, Bristol on 20 September and Dursley on 21 September - again, see WORKSHOPS for details. The London Fiddle School group classes resume on Wednesday 10 September for two 13-week courses, Basic Plus level and Intermediate level, the latter focusing on Scandinavian and Eastern European Fiddle.
Happily, all three music writing and recording projects I was busy with for a long time have come to fruition in the past year. Schott Music published my New Fiddle Tunes (book/ CD) last Autumn and some kind reviews have started coming in:
'I particularly like the fact that Pete has included background notes on all of the tunes and has given some guidance on bowing, rhythm and interpretation. This is an excellent collection and is a notable achievement from one of English fiddle music's leading lights.'
- Paul Anderson, FiddleOn magazine
'There are a few tunes with local Midland connections. Pete's home village of Gnosall gets a mention and interestingly there is the correct use of the word "buzz" when referring to a motorised vehicle! So, a bit of a challenge, but then we all need stretching at times.
- Dave Clarke, Folk Monthly
Then March this year saw the release on WildGoose Records of the new Rattle on the Stovepipe CD, Old Virginia.
Rattle on the
Stovepipe's new CD
'Having seen Rattle On The Stovepipe live on many occasions, it is possible to reveal that they always start their performances with an instrumental. Invariably, it has the audience leaning forward on their chairs in an attitude of pleasurable expectation of musical treats to come. It is the same with this album; the lovely opener, Chinquapin Hunting, sharpens the listeners' ears for more delights – and they are not to be disappointed'
- Vic Smith, fRoots
Check out the free audio samples, more reviews etc. at www.wildgoose.co.uk
Pete, Dave and Dan, Whitby 2013
- photo by Sue Lee
Now, in addition, several large cardboard boxes of Angel's Waltz, the new Cooper & Bolton release on our Big Chain label, are sitting in my hallway, freshly delivered. The album is soon to be available for download on iTunes - just search Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton. Our last two albums, Turning Point and The Savage Hornpipe, are already there! In the mean time, shifting a few hundred CDs would make it easier for me to reach the front door.
Pete's latest album with
'On this, their third duo CD, the roots and the first few tracks are English, but it then heads off into the wide world… this versatile duo traverse Africa on the way to Missouri, back to Hungary, a dash to Jamaica and home to England in time for tea, before finishing with a Ray Charles hit "That Lucky Old Sun". Lots of great tunes, all in stylish and effective arrangements with complete seamlessness between 'cello and fiddle'
- Tom Bell-Richards, FiddleOn magazine.
An Angel's Waltz page is in the SHOP with samples of the tunes and details of how to order. Have a good rest of the summer.
See you later,
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