Rattle On The Stovepipe had a good time at Broadstairs Folk Festival and Whitby Folk Week in the summer. Lots of seagulls, sunshine and fish’ n ’chips at both. Positive reviews of ‘Eight More Miles’ have been pouring in: ‘completely at home with the music they love...’, ‘an exhilarating roller-coaster of an album for the discerning listener...’, ‘it’s immensely refreshing to hear real old time music played with such verve and melodic nous by musicians at the very top of their game...’. What can we say? Thank you very much.
‘Nous’ is a good word, isn’t it? So is ‘sprechtstimme,’ a technical term used by one critic to describe a particular aspect of Dave Arthur’s vocal style - ‘a sort of pitched/unpitched speaking of some of the lyrics.’ In the band we didn’t even realise, until we read this, that Dave had a vocal style. Somebody else writes that my singing is ‘a bit like Mike Harding’s on steroids’. I’m not entirely sure how to take that, but anyway, see Projects for these latest reviews. ‘Rattle On The Stovepipe’ are on tour again this November, with dates in Lewes, Tooting, Stockport and Southport. Come and hear us live, complete no doubt with steroids and sprechtstimme. (See Gigs for dates.)
My friend and webmaster - another Dave - discovered recently that if you type ‘Brothels around Bolton’ into your search engine this website comes out top of the list. How he chanced upon this discovery I didn’t choose to ask. Anyway, sincere apologies if you’re up there in Lancashire looking for a good time. I’m based in London, and we’re more about... fiddle music.
Not just fiddles, mind you. Accordion, melodeon, flute, harp, fiddle, guitar and trombone-players - well, one trombone-player, but he was good - joined my ‘adult’ concert band at the Folkworks Summer School up in Durham this year. Some people used to say about Folkworks, where the two summer schools run concurrently, that the Youth bands were brilliant - which they are - and the Adult bands, well, sometimes not so great. If that ever was the case, it’s certainly not true now. OK, there’s always that hurdle of self-disbelief to get over with adult learners - ‘furtive glances around the room,’ (as I was later informed), ‘together with a collective lifting of eyebrows,’ for example, when I played a couple of tunes early in the week for the band to try out. We put together a great set, though, worked hard, and played really well at the Gala Theatre. Thanks everybody. Shona Kipling, my fellow band-tutor, and I were most chuffed. I’ll be in Hexham for the Folkworks Workout Weekend on 27 - 29 October, and look forward to seeing some of you again there. My brief is to lead ‘Eastern European’-style band workshops.
At the start of October I went to see a screening in Soho of Mark Norfolk’s low-budget but very stylish new film, ‘Crossing Bridges’. The main character is a middle-aged Afro-Caribbean man, suicidal, and fascinated by London bridges. In one scene he dances with a blonde woman called Angel to the music of a fiddler who happens to be playing beside the Thames - and who is played by, well yes... shucks, you guessed. I made up ‘Angel’s Waltz’ on the morning of Mark’s guerilla-style South Bank shoot in 2004. The film gets a bit surreal towards the end. More ‘cult’ than mainstream? Probably, but it’s worth seeing if you get the chance.
Winter Fiddle Party 2005
I should mention the London Fiddle School’s annual Winter Fiddle Party on Sunday 10 December, at Cecil Sharp House. Everybody sits around candle-lit tables, and the evening works as a loosely organised session, with stage performance spots available for small groups or individual players. It’s always a particular pleasure when former students, as well as full-time musicians, show up and join in, but you can also just come along and listen. See Workshops for details.
Course - Summer 2007
Looking ahead to summer half-term 2007, I’m going to be teaching fiddle in beautiful Extremadura, Spain, with support tutor Emma Peters. She lives in this relatively ‘undiscovered’ western province, near the border with Portugal, with her partner Brian, and runs Extremadura Fiddle Holidays. If you love warm sunshine, flowers, fiddle music and great local food and wine, make a note of the dates. I’ll be teaching two consecutive courses there, 19 - 26 May, and 26 May - 2 June, 2007. As well as Irish, Scottish and English fiddle tunes and playing styles, we’ll be looking at the creative process of making up new tunes. (Emma’s written some great ones herself, like ‘Roadrage’, which Richard and I recorded on ‘The Savage Hornpipe’.) The luxurious accommodation - it really is, we checked it out earlier this year - is at El Jiniebro, a cluster of Casas Rurales (traditional-style Spanish cottages), with a swimming pool and magnificent views of the Sierra Fria.
Swimming pool and rural views
The whole deal, apart from the flight to Lisbon, costs only £500.00 for fiddlers, and £300.00 for non-fiddling partners or friends. Places will be limited, so if want to sign up, or would like further details, do please get in touch.
News Aug 2006