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  Archived News October 2008

I’m teaching ‘Irish Traditional Fiddle’ on Wednesday evenings, 7.30-9.30pm, this Autumn in an 8-week course, starting 29 October at Cecil Sharp House. A phone call or email reserves your place but there’s no pre-enrolment - just turn up on the night. If you’re new to all this, you can check out the class for free, then sign up the following week (or not). Bring your fiddle, obviously; it’s a practical class, and we’ll aim to get a few sets of jigs, reels, polkas etc together for the Winter Fiddle Party on Sunday 7 December. That’s always a grand night - everyone welcome, friends, family, musicians, the idle curious... The fiddle class continues until 17 December - see Workshops for details - and will resume in the New Year on 14 January.

Fiddle Party 2006
Sue Lee, Verity Sharp,
Lina Adinolfi and Chris Dyer,
Fiddle Party 2006

I’m just back from sunny (honest!) Tyneside and the SAMA South Asian Festival, performing in a collaboration of British and Indian musicians at The Sage Gateshead - mindblowing. Some of us (including fiddler Sophy Ball and bass player Ian Stephenson) went to Rajasthan a year ago for the ‘Crucible’ project at the RIFF festival in Jodphur, and this was kind of a return match.

Raghu Dixit
Raghu Dixit

Raghu Dixit, a wonderful singer/ guitarist from Bangalore, took part; so did Adi Bhasin of the Rajasthan Roots collective, along with five traditional Rajasthani players, Munshi, Ghamshey, Kusumakar, Gule and Shakoor, flute player Calum Stewart, and queen of the Rajasthan Gipsy dancers Gula Sapera and her daughter Rakhi. After a spectacular show at The Sage we went busking at the foot of Newcastle’s famous Earl Grey monument - and did quite well actually...

With Hallowe’en pumpkins on sale in the markets, Summer seems a long time ago, but Richard Bolton and I enjoyed our July gig at The Royal Oak, Lewes, joined for several numbers by my fellow Rattle on the Stovepipe members Dave Arthur and Dan Stewart - thanks, Vic and Tina Smith, and all of you who came out, for making it such a great night.

Next I was off to the United States with my girlfriend Sue, visiting friends around Asheville, N. Carolina. We arrived during Old Time week at Warren Wilson College - the Swannanoa Gathering - and I joined a rocking session led by Old Time fiddler Rayna Gellert, with my old friend John Herrmann on banjo, Meredith Macintosh, double bass, Thomas Bailey, guitar and John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin - a recent convert to Old Time music) on mandolin.

We headed north into the mountains of West Virginia and camped under the stars at Clifftop, the most hardcore of Appalachian String Band festivals. Sessions went on day and night across the camp, and we heard wonderful music, not least from Canadian fiddler Erryn Marshall who won the fiddle contest, Rayna who came second, and fiddlers Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini who, together with Beverley Smith, performed as Big Hoedown. It was good to meet various fellow Brits there, including banjo-player Ray Banks, chair of the ‘Friends of Old Time Music & Dance’. Sue got into flatfoot clogging, partly tutored by the excellent Ira Bernstein, and we went squaredancing together - oh, and also survived the loudest, most terrifying, thunderstorm of my life. I’m looking forward to teaching Old Time fiddle at the ‘Sore Fingers’ weekend at the end of October - see Workshops.

Sue Lee clogging
Sue Lee clogging

Folkworks, in the north-east of England, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary, and at the Durham Youth summer school in August I worked with a group of ‘seriously advanced’ young singers and musicians. Our band, the Acid Kazoo Experiment - with a stirring line-up of sax, flute, drums, bass, guitar, accordion, fiddles, vocals and (you guessed) kazoos - played a stunning twenty-five minute set at the Gala Theatre. Thanks, guys - a real pleasure to work with you.

From Durham I went straight to Whitby Folk Week, performing with Rattle on the Stovepipe, and from there to the Fiddle Festival of Wales near Pembroke. Personal highlights, besides drinking champagne with my fellow tutors in the jacuzzi, included meeting (at long last) the legendary fiddler Dave Swarbrick. It’s probably Swarb’s fault I got into folk fiddle in the first place, so impressed was I by the Fairport album ‘Liege and Lief’ when I was a student. I’ll be seeing him again on 15 November at the ‘Tribute to Bert’ concert at Cecil Sharp House, London, celebrating the centenary of singer, folklorist, journalist and writer Bert Lloyd (1908-1982).

Swarb and Cooper
Swarb and PC

See you later,


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