All’s been going well at the London Fiddle School. Members took part in a June concert at Cecil Sharp House, ‘Rough Mountain Tracks’, a celebration of folklorist Cecil Sharp’s collecting trips in the Appalachian Mountains. We played American Old Time tunes, backed the choir led by Sally Davies and joined forces with Dan Stewart’s 5-string banjo class at the end. An atmospheric and handheld video of our final bit appears on YouTube, courtesy of Simon Caslaw:
And here’s a mobile phone snap (what an exciting time to be alive) of fiddlers Shalini, Helen and Hannah at the summer’s end-of-term Scottish session in the bar.
At the Fiddle School on Wednesday evenings this Autumn I’ll be teaching ‘Eastern European Fiddle Tunes’. Do they sound scary? Forget any idea that they are all played in seventh position in weird time signatures. Some are, to be fair, a bit weird, but all are approachable and exciting to play. Mixed ability group, not for total beginners on the instrument. The course starts on 15 September - see Workshops.
Richard Bolton and I had a fine weekend in June as guests of Wren Music on the edge of Dartmoor, giving workshops and sharing an evening concert in Okehampton with Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll, two fine West Country fiddlers. In the 1990s I used to teach at a place down there called Barton Pines and it was great to see some of my Devon ‘students’ still in fine fettle. Although our next CD release is still some way off, Richard and I also recorded some fiddle and cello/ guitar tunes over the summer - in my native village of Gnosall, near Stafford, the only UK place-name beginning with a silent ‘G’ and winner this year (who knew?) of the county’s Best Kept Village award.
(In case you hadn’t noticed, by the way, you can click the pics to enlarge.)
My recent (second) visit to Japan - solo, then joined by Rattle on the Stovepipe - isn’t ‘news’ exactly, but what an amazing Easter trip! Tamiko Kimura of the Tokyo Fiddle Club organised concerts and workshops in Osaka, then high in the mountains of Komoro and in Tokyo itself. It was a great pleasure to work again with fiddler/ guitarist Omori-san in Osaka and perform for the first time with ‘Paddy’ and ‘Bridget’ Moriyasu in Tokyo, along with Mihoko-san and Tamiko-san and Sue Lee on whistle.
Hidenori Omori, Tamiko Kimura and PC, Osaka
Dave and Dan from Rattle on the Stovepipe flew into Tokyo for a fantastic concert that Tamiko set up for us in nearby Yokohama.
Later, joined for several rousing numbers by Sue-san and Felicity Greenwood, we also played in Osaka and Kyoto, and in Hiroshima, where we visited the Peace Museum.
The tour prompted us - and WildGoose Records - to release ‘So Far So Good’, a compilation CD of the best of our previous two albums (‘Return Journey’ and ‘Eight More Miles’). Our latest actual recording, with the current line-up, ‘no use in cryin’ ’, is still getting nice reviews.
As I write, the band have just been at Whitby Folk Week, and it was probably our best one yet - lovely gigs and, for us far-flung band members, an invaluable opportunity to share a house, learn tunes, try out new songs and jam. And the weather was great. From here I’m off to the far west of Wales for the Fiddle Festival, 1 - 5 September, at the National Trust’s Stackpole Centre near Pembroke.
The Mellstock Band have been recording a new CD ‘Leaves of Life’ this Summer, and I played fiddle on several tracks. As something of a Mellstock reservist, I’ll be called up for active service again when the band take part in a ‘Christmas Revels’ theatre show at the Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC, 4-5 and 10-12 December.