Celia and I had a fantastic time playing at the Totally Acoustic Festival in Moniaive last weekend. All of the acts performed without amplification, and ranged from poetry and classical piano, to gypsy jazz and our good selves playing melodic traditional music. Additionally there were jugglers to add a carnival feel, and outdoor-cooked food all day. It was a really lovely event.
It has been said that ‘Moniaive probably has more musical events and festivals (per head of population) than anywhere else in the country‘. For a small village it really is an unparalleled place for music, which was reflected in the welcome and the hospitality we received from Tim at the Craigdarroch Hotel, where we played on Saturday evening. We did an hour-long set for a small but perfectly formed audience, who listened attentively in the absence of a PA system. It helped a lot that the lounge bar of the hotel had such great acoustics, with its wooden floor really accentuating the bass notes on Celia’s harp.
After our spot we were delighted to be joined by local musicians for a session. There has been a long history of great sessions in the area around Moniaive, which Celia and I both regularly travelled to take part in years ago, which meant that many of the lovely people who joined us were old friends: Jackie, Jane, Dave, Wendy and others. We were also joined by Andy Laurenson on fiddle, an old friend of mine who I originally met in Langdale in the early 1980s. Andy is a member of the gypsy jazz band Trio Gitan, and I was pleased to see he had not forgotten how to play traditional tunes after all these years.
We spent a very restful night in a lovely room at the Craigdarroch, then after a big breakfast Celia and I went for a walk over the hill towards Tynron, perusing the wildflowers as we went. Back to the pub at lunchtime, we were joined once again by our friends for a Sunday session to finish off the weekend in style. We were also joined by Pete – one of the organisers of the festival – on accordion, which was an extra bonus as he has such an amazingly sensitive, melodic style.
This was the first Totally Acoustic Festival, and Celia and I were very pleased to be asked to play at it. I am glad to say that Tim and Pete are already talking about doing it again next year!