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Archived News March 2010

Live Update! This year’s tour, organised by Tamiko-san of the Tokyo Fiddle Club, has been totally fab. So nice to see Japanese friends again, and play with such great musicians as Omori-san (fiddle, guitar) and Kiba-san (kokyu) at a couple of mighty gigs in Osaka. A great session last week in Kyoto with legendary Japanese Old Time musician Bosco-san and - from Wales, and resident in Japan - fiddler Jo Cooper and her visiting parents Peter Cooper (!) and Mary. And then we were off again on the bullet train to Nagano and utterly delightful mountain district for an amazing outdoor hot tub at traditional ‘onsen’ lodge before concert at Komoro Youth Hostel, set up by Okamoto-san, who’s also recently promoted a Lau gig there. The last few days I’ve been in Tokyo, appearing on Peter Barakan’s radio show and playing a ‘solo’ gig with Tamiko (fiddle), Mihoko-san (concertina) and Sue Lee (whistle) at a beautiful venue, Tokyo Opera City. Yesterday was a fun lunchtime gig of mainly English music (from ‘English Fiddle Tunes’) with the famous Moriyasus (‘Paddy‘ and ‘Bridget’ to their friends in Ireland) and Mihoko (and Tamiko and Sue!) before meeting up with Dave and Dan for a rocking Rattle on the Stovepipe show in Yokohama. This afternoon I’m teaching Irish fiddle tunes for CCE Japan before Dave, Dan, Sue and I head back south tomorrow to Osaka, with two gigs in Kyoto and one in Hiroshima, where we hope to visit the Peace Museum. As I’ve said before, it’s tough work but somebody’s got to do it.

Rattle with stovepipe no use in cryin CD cover
No Use in Cryin CD

‘No Use In Cryin’, the new Rattle on the Stovepipe album on WildGoose Records has been getting grand reviews - gratifyingly for Dave, Dan and me, as it can be genuinely hard to judge your own efforts. Once someone’s bought the album (at a gig, say) you rarely find out if they actually enjoyed it, chucked it in the bin, or just left it to gather dust. Apart from friends, reviews are the most feedback you get. Anyway, there are a bunch of them posted on the WildGoose website: - all of them, so far, positive. Our last two Rattle on the Stovepipe CDs, by the way, are now fully sold out and officially collectors’ items (see Amazon), but a compilation album, ‘So Far So Good’ (the best of ‘Return Journey’ and ‘Eight More Miles’) will be out soon, hopefully in time for our trip to Japan - see below.

So Far So Good CD cover
Alex Szyszkowski’s cover
design for So Far So good

Old Time Music - better than it sounds

Course material at the Wednesday night London Fiddle School group class this Spring term was my new book/ CD, ‘American Old Time Fiddle Tunes’ (Schott ED 13236). There’s something about Old Time fiddling that people really love - or hate, presumably, but the latter didn’t come to the class. We learned tunes from the likes of Henry Reed, Ernie Carpenter and Pope’s Arkansas Mountaineers, and even ventured out of standard GDAE tuning into the realms of ADAE and ‘cross-tuning‘ (AEAE) - with only a couple of strings broken. Incidentally, the choir led by Sally Davies who also meet at Cecil Sharp House on Wednesdays have been exploring Appalachian repertoire too. We hope to join forces for a concert in June, which will celebrate Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles’ song-collecting trips to the mountains in 1916-1918. A fine selection of these songs and ballads, ‘Dear Companion’, is published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

American Old Time Fiddle Tunes book cover
American Old Time
Fiddle Tunes

I’m heading off for a (second) visit to Japan soon, with a workshop (27 March) and concert (28 March) at Osaka Fiddle Club with Tamiko Kimura of the Tokyo Fiddle Club (who’s organising the tour) and Hidenori Omori, then out into the countryside of Nagano Prefecture for a solo concert in Omoro (31 March), before heading for Tokyo. There I’ll play another ‘solo’ gig (with Japanese musician friends) at Oumigakudo Hall (2 April). After that Dave Arthur and Dan Stewart will join me for a Rattle on the Stovepipe show in Okurayama Hall, Yokohama (3 April). I’m also giving an Irish fiddle workshop (4 April) for the Tokyo branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE Japan). By way of preparation, I’ve been trying to learn a few more phrases of Japanese to employ in my workshops, like ‘Mo ichi do’ (‘one more time’) and ‘Yoku dekimashita’ (‘well done’). I’m very much looking forward to seeing again the friendly and talented musicians and students I worked with two years ago. I’ll let you know how it all goes.


Pete Cooper and Tamiko, Osaka 2008
PC and Tamiko, Osaka 2008

Hidenori Omori
Hidenori Omori, Osaka 2000


Tokyo Fiddle Club
PC with Tamiko and members
of Tokyo Fiddle Club

Regular readers of FiddleOn magazine may have noticed the absence of ‘Cooper’s Fiddle Corner’ from their Winter/Spring 2010 issue. After a run of thirty articles, I’m catching my breath and handing over the baton to Chris Haigh, author of an excellent new book, The Fiddle Handbook, and a fellow founding member of the London Fiddle Convention. FiddleOn magazine celebrates its tenth anniversary this year with a music weekend (and, if you fancy it, country walking) from Friday 23 to Monday 26 April. The venue is Wilderhope Manor, an Elizabethan manor house, now a Youth Hostel, near Wenlock Edge, Shropshire - and by coincidence the first hostel I stayed in as a 9-year-old cyclist from over the border in Staffordshire, along with my older brother and my Dad. Jed Mugford, the magazine’s editor, has invited me to lead morning fiddle workshops at the weekend - the whole deal a bargain, it goes without saying, at £106.00. For more details get the current issue of FiddleOn from Jed, 4 Lee Close, Kidlington, Oxford OX52XZ; phone (01865) 374624, email:

Starting 28 April, my 12-week Wednesday night course at the London Fiddle School will be Scottish Traditional Fiddle - see Workshops for details. Apart from a break on 2 June we’ll be playing strathspeys, pipe-marches, reels and airs on summer evenings until 21 July. By the way, my sincere apologies if you’re on my mailing list but haven’t received anything for ages. I’m still having a technical problem sending group emails, but I’ll try and fix it when I get back from Japan.


See you later,


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