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Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy at The Tabernacle
(Photo Hugo Glendinning)

A fabulous concert is coming up on Saturday 31 March at The Tabernacle, Notting Hill - actually, two concerts - featuring various combinations of: Eliza Carthy, Tunde Jegede, Tim Eriksen, the African Classical Music Ensemble, Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton, Wali Cham and, no stranger to this website, young Billy Hill. One show is at 5.00pm, the other (in which Richard and I play our set) at 8.00pm. A £20 ticket gets you into both, though you can also book them separately:

It will be great to see you.

Pete Cooper and Eliza Carthy

Pete and Eliza
(Photo Hugo Glendinning)

Strings at Witney weekends are invariably cool and awesome, it goes without saying, but this February's was especially good. A certain esprit de corps among the tutor team, several of them (Karen Ryan, Ilana Cravitz, Chris Haigh and me) from London, produced amazing musical collaborations in the Saturday night concert. A heavy Cotswolds snowfall just before the show also contributed an element of drama. But the enthusiasm and dedication of the participating fiddlers and cellists from far and wide made the whole weekend of workshops and showcases, kicking off with the Friday night session, an outstanding one. Thanks for coming, everybody, and special thanks to Dave Townsend, who's been running these Strings weekends since 1997.


Arriving in the snow for the

Saturday night concert, Witney 2012


Chris Haigh and Karen Ryan

Chris Haigh and Karen Ryan

I was looking forward to seeing Chris, Ilana and Karen again a couple of weeks later at the great annual get-together of the London fiddle playing community, the London Fiddle Convention (the 20th annual, no less) but, as bad luck would have it, the 'flu struck first and I was laid low by a virus, and missed the whole thing. (I was also sorry to miss the Traditional Music Making day workshop in Dursley a week later, though fortunately we've been able to reschedule it for 30 September - thanks for your patience, folks.)

I found myself reflecting on what a great place for learning fiddle London has become in the twenty five years or so since I started Fiddling from Scratch. Want to learn Country or Swing fiddle, for example? Search out Chris Haigh, whose recent spate of publishing activity continues unabated. 'Discovering Rock Violin'(Schott) has just appeared, a swift follow-up to last year's 'Exploring Jazz Violin', which in turn came out hard on the heels of his informative and stylish 'The Fiddle Handbook'. Chris the writer knows whereof he speaks, with years of experience as a hard-gigging, professional fiddler - well, I say 'hard-gigging'. Actually, his excuse for missing a party of mine last year was that he was living the life of Riley on a cruise ship in the Canaries, with just some light country-band duties on the side. Or how about learning Irish fiddle? Karen Ryan's your one. She has been a lynch pin of the London Irish music scene since the late 90s, what with teaching at the London Irish Centre, performing in The London Lasses and directing the famous Return to Camden Town festival. Now she's also released a mighty CD, 'The Coast Road', the first in her own name. I love it and confidently predict worldwide acclaim. Or did you say Klezmer? Ilana Cravitz, currently touring Australia with The London Klezmer Quartet, is a specialist in authentic klezmer (and baroque) performance, and another great teacher. Her book/ CD, 'Klezmer fiddle: a how-to guide', published by the Oxford University Press, is brilliant, detailed and practical. She will be running a course at SOAS on 2-6 July for the 'new to klezmer' and 'early-stage klezmorim'. And there are more excellent tutors, too… However, I don't want to put myself entirely out of business, so we'll leave it at that for now.

This summer at the London Fiddle School is particularly exciting, with a new course, Fiddles in Performance, starting on 18 April and running until 18 July, with a gig at Islington Folk Club thrown in as part of the experience and a concert ('Still Growing') at Cecil Sharp House - see Workshops for details.

Rattle on the Stovepipe in Paris a couple of years ago

Rattle on the Stovepipe

in Paris a couple of years ago

Rattle on the Stovepipe have some nice concerts coming up, including the Poetry Café, London (27 April), Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate (26 May), The Cellar Upstairs Folk Club, London (9 June), Leigh-on-Sea Free Festival (24 June) and Islington Folk Club (20 September)- see Gigs. Band member Dave Arthur's long-awaited book about A. L. Lloyd, one of the principal architects of the British folk revival in the 1950s and 60s, has now been published. 'Bert, a Biography' will be launched on 31 May at Cecil Sharp House.

See you later,


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