Well, here’s a surprise. I’m off to India in a couple of weeks to take part in the Rajasthan International Folk Festival in the city of Jodhpur - yes, where the britches come from. I’m flying over with three young traditional players from Northumberland - Sophy, Joey and Ian from the band ‘4-2-2’... and David Oliver from Folkworks. We’ll perform British and probably Irish music, and run workshops to create a cross-cultural collaboration with a group of young Rajasthani musicians. This will be my first visit to India... all very exciting and slightly scary. I’ve had my jabs, got my visa, bought the Rough Guide... I’ll let you know how it all turns out.
Venue and scenery from Jodhpur
Meanwhile a new book/CD, hot off the press, has arrived in the post this week, my collection of eighty traditional Eastern European Fiddle Tunes (Schott ED12886). You can’t judge a book (/CD) by its cover, of course, but Schott do a very professional job and it looks great. It is available, or can be ordered, from all good music shops - amazing value at £10.99. We’ve already been learning some of the Ukrainian and Bulgarian tunes at the London Fiddle School evening class down at Cecil Sharp House this term, and putting harmonies and rhythm parts to them as well. The course continues to 12 December, with a showcase at the end-of-year Fiddle Party (everybody welcome) on Saturday 15 December. If you’d like to join the class, you still can. Just turn up at 7.30pm any Wednesday evening (except half-term, 24 October), enjoy a free workshop session, and then sign up if you wish.
Richard Bolton and I got together for a practice a few days ago and tried out some of the Eastern European tunes as a duo - challenging stuff to play, but very exciting. However, we’ll be sticking mostly to tried-and-tested English roots music for our gig at Ringwood folk club on 27 November, especially songs. I’ve been enjoying singing so much more - and better in tune, I suspect - since I stopped smoking cigarettes in February, six months ahead of the public smoking ban in England. Richard recently took part in a sponsored run to raise money for Cancer Research UK, so he’s pretty fit at the moment as well. (Fans, you will hardly recognise us.)
‘Rattle on the Stovepipe’ had a great Whitby Folk Week in August, despite heavy rain and fog drifting in off the North Sea at the start of the week. It was our first appearance there with new guitarist and banjo-player Dan Stewart. Dave Arthur, Dan and I played a bunch of highly enjoyable spots at concert venues round the town, heard a lot of others and led some great pub sessions - thanks, all of you who came and joined in, including Dave Mallinson, accordionist and fellow tune-book enthusiast, pictured below. I gave impromptu performances at Whitby with Peta Webb and Ken Hall, and Brian Peters, in an ‘American’ concert - see Sue Lee’s photos - and also played in Dan Quinn’s dance band with fellow fiddlers Paul Burgess, Jon Boden and Matt Quinn.
Pub Session with Dave Mallinson...
Performing with Peta Webb...
...and with Brian Peters
Doug Bailey of our record company WildGoose turned up one wet Whitby night with the mixes of songs that Rattle recorded earlier in the summer. They sound good, and hopefully will appear in due course on an album. Festivals are always the same, incredibly busy, then suddenly it’s all over. We played a mid-week show at the Magpie’s Nest club, London, the following week - great venue - before Dave disappeared into deepest Kent to write a book about A. L. Lloyd. Rattle on the Stovepipe will be at Cecil Sharp House, London (10 November), Royal Oak, Lewes (22 November) and Court Sessions folk club, London (23 November).
For me the Fiddle Festival of Wales, which takes place near Pembroke at the start of September, is always a heartening affair. Thanks to Sîan Phillips and David Hughes for another great success. Year by year you watch the number of young Welsh players rediscovering Welsh fiddle tunes growing, and this year’s was certainly the best yet. There is of course the lure of serious prize money in the Fiddle Contest. Jamie Nemeth deservedly won the Open category this year, with Patrick Rimes from Bathesda, North Wales, coming a brilliant second. Workshops were led by Majella Bartley from Ireland, Arne Anderdal from Norway, Lauren MacColl from Scotland, Iolo Jones - just about the godfather of Welsh fiddling - me, and several others. The nightly kitchen music was too good to miss, and fiddler Jeff Hughes, a real artist of the session, was a great discovery.
The Spring, I know, is a long way off. But as well as the ever-excellent ‘Strings at Witney’ weekend on 1 - 3 February 2008, I’ll be teaching at the Folk South West ‘Residential Easter School’, 27-30 March at Chantmarle, Dorset. Then on 1 April - what is it about that date again? - I head off on another long-haul flight, this time to Japan. Tamiko Kimura (whom some of you may remember as a student at the London Fiddle School around 2003) has set up some workshops for me, and I’ll also be giving concerts (accompanied by Kenichi Fukai on guitar) in Osaka (2 April) and Tokyo (4 April). I’ll get the details of these up on the site, and all the others listed in Gigs, as soon as I can.
See you later,
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