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Archived News March 2009


Easter is fast approaching, and with it the biennial Fiddles on Fire festival. There’s a superb programme of concerts and workshops this year, not only at The Sage Gateshead - where on Easter weekend I’ll be teaching English tunes - but also in London at the smart new ‘Kings Place’ venue near Kings Cross. The London part of the festival runs from Tuesday 15 to Saturday 18 April, with a series of evening concerts in Hall One. You can book seats online. Workshops and daytime concerts also take place on the Saturday. I’ll be working with Bampton fiddler Mat Green, exploring the mysteries of Morris fiddling, and there are also workshops on Irish, Scottish, Klezmer, Indian and other styles - see Workshops for all the details.

‘If you were given the funds to organise a concert bill,’ fRoots magazine asked  British folk icon Shirley Collins in its December 2008 issue, ‘who would the artists be?’
            ‘I’d stick with those I chose for Close of Play, the concert at The Queen Elizabeth Hall back in March,’ she replied. ‘Rattle on the Stovepipe for the sheer good nature of their music. The minute they start playing, everything in the world feels good again, and the sheer strength and beauty of Pete Cooper’s fiddle playing is sublime...’ 
            And the ‘best live gig?’
            ‘In a concert hall? Jimi Hendrix (but I can’t remember when or where!) In a folk club? Any by John Kirkpatrick or Rattle on the Stovepipe.’
             Dave, Dan and I have definitely never been in the same paragraph as Jimi Hendrix before. Shirley, what can we say? Thank you very much.


Olivia Keith's ink drawing of Rattle on the Stovepipe
Olivia Keith’s ink drawing of
Rattle on the Stovepipe
at Ringwood folk club, November 2008


We’ve been recording a new Rattle on the Stovepipe album. ‘Rattle On’, as it will probably be called unless someone has a better idea, should emerge with the hot weather in late May. I’m grateful to Doug Bailey of WildGoose Records not only for engineering and mixing the CD, but for a valuable tip last Winter on how to clear a badly misted-up car windscreen. When you set out in cold, miserable, wet weather, as we did  in November en route to Ringwood folk club, you just turn up the air conditioning. It works fast, the air-con sucking out all the moisture... Who knew?

I’ve spent much of this winter at home, working on a book/CD collection for Schott - ‘American Old Time Fiddle Tunes’. It’s an exciting project, and a challenging one. I’ve heard enough wonderful Old Time music since my first trip to West Virginia in 1978 to realise just how much of it there is, how inspiringly a lot of other folks play it, and how much better I ought to be playing it myself by now. Still, if the book helps newcomers get started, or introduces some unfamiliar tunes to existing Old Time fans, then my anguish, soul-searching, late nights and the stress of a fast-approaching deadline will not have been in vain! 

Also approaching this Spring is the exceptionally fine ‘Strings at Witney’ weekend, cancelled in February because of the snow, and now rescheduled for 16-17 May. I’ll be teaching Old Time fiddle, trying out some of these American tunes. Even as I write, though, the London Fiddle Conference is in full swing at London University’s School of African and Oriental Studies (where else?), and I must also get ready for the London Fiddle Convention this Sunday - the ‘17th annual’, no less. Doesn’t time fly?

See you later,


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