URGENT: Irish tunes class and slow session cancelled on 25th August 2016

Please note that the Irish tunes class/slow session for this week, 25th August, has been CANCELLED due to many regulars being away this week (Whitby Festival has poached you all!) and the general busyness of the teacher, who has three festivals to play at over the next three weeks (AND breathe…).

We will resume classes/sessions on 15th September as usual (see full schedule of dates here). Please spread the word to make sure everyone sees this and no one has a wasted journey!

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Irish Tunes Class and Slow Session – class dates for rest of 2016

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Photo by Barrie Marshall

The weekly Irish tunes class and slow session at the Robert Gillow pub in Lancaster continues to go from strength to strength, with an enthusiastic group of regulars and new participants joining all the time, some of whom travel a considerable distance to take part.

The class meets every Thursday (with some breaks – see below) between 2.00 – 4.00 pm in the Robert Gillow. The first hour consists of myself teaching a new tune to the class in the room upstairs. For the second hour we retire downstairs to the bar, where we partake of the Gillow’s fine ales and play tunes in an informal slow and steady session. It’s a really nice way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

We are about to have a break of three weeks whilst I go travelling with Absolutely Legless in Spain, but we will resume on 4th August. Please see below for a full list of dates the class will meet during the rest of 2016, and if you are a new participant thinking of joining us, we would love to have you, just turn up! There is a nominal charge of £5.00 for each participant in the class, but the session is free to all.

CLASS/SESSION DATES 2016
7th July – Class/session
14th July – NO CLASS
21st July – NO CLASS
28th July – NO CLASS
4th Aug – Class/session
11th Aug – Class/session
18th Aug – Class/session
25th Aug – Class/session
1st Sep – NO CLASS
8th Sep – NO CLASS
15th Sep- Class/session
22nd Sep- Class/session
29th Sep – NO CLASS
6th Oct – NO CLASS
13th Oct – Class/session
20th Oct – Class/session
27th Oct – Class/session – Lancaster Music Festival Special!
3rd Nov – Class/session
10th Nov- Class/session
17th Nov – Class/session
24th Nov – Class/session
1st Dec – Class/session
8th Dec – Class/session
15th Dec – Class/session
22nd Dec Class/session – Christmas party edition!
29th Dec – NO CLASS
Further dates TBC

Totally Acoustic Festival in Moniaive

totally acousticCelia 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.

IMG_0265After 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!

 

 

Bev and Celia at Folk at the Loo

13433171_1299306960098436_7278319262187851835_oOur second festival last weekend was Folk at the Loo, at the Waterloo Hotel in Blackpool. This was jointly organised by the Waterloo Hotel and Carla Farrar Music, and was the first of hopefully many folk weekends at this pub, which is situated just down the road from where I grew up.

Huge thanks to Carla for putting us on, alongside so many amazing bands, and big thanks to the sound guys who worked very hard to make us sound how we wanted. Special thanks also to Maureen Blair from Ravenswood Photography/Rock Chick Images for the fantastic photos of us seen on this page.

Loanhead Music Festival

Loanhead1Celia Briar and I are just home from playing at the Loanhead Music Festival. Loanhead is just south of Edinburgh, and is a former mining town, so somewhat appropriately the main events took place in the Loanhead Miner’s Club, with sessions taking place in pubs around the town.

Celia and I opened the concert on Friday night, and we were extremely lucky to have the use of a superb P.A. along with expert soundman Derek from the Gallus Crows, who was able to facilitate what have become our very particular needs!

Lately we’ve been playing lots of our own original material, as we work on recording our C.D., so we brought a number of our own compositions into our concert in Loanhead. We were delighted to be joined for one set of reels by Fiona, one of the Absolutely Legless group of Irish dancers, who took to the floor to dance a step or two! Mostly, however, we concentrated on doing what we love to play together most – slow, melodic and haunting melodies from a number of traditions. We had a lovely audience who gave us a great reception, and we enjoyed every minute of it!

KAthy stewartAfter we finished Kathy Stewart and Her Frequent Flyers took the stage. We really, really enjoyed Kathy and her band, she is so charismatic and such a good performer, and is backed by some amazing musicians who spent half the night showing what amazing multi-instrumentalists they all are by swapping instruments! Kathy and her band played what I suppose I would describe as ‘Americana’, with lots of great blues harmonica from Kathy’s partner Ken and some really strong vocal harmonies. They are a fantastic band, I would love to see them again.

Local celebrities the Gallus Crows ended the night with a bang, showing off their amazing cumulative songwriting talents and instrumental and vocal skills. I particularly loved the song Gordon Andrew sang – and composed – about the Stone of Mannan, the story of which was drawn from local mythology based in the dark ages.

The Crows were joined for the last few numbers by  festival organisers Bruce Hogg on slide guitar and Gill Hogg on percussion, which was a fitting end to the evening as it looks likely that this was the last ever Loanhead Festival. Bruce is stepping down as festival organiser after sixteen years at the helm, and no one has so far stepped forward to take over the job.

After the concert was over we retired to a bar called Paddy’s, where we had a few beers and songs and tunes and copious amounts of craic. After that it was back to Bruce and Gill’s for a late night chat and a few cheeky drams before finally going to bed. Needless to say, the sun was up by then!

Celia and I were busy separately on Saturday, with me teaching a tin whistle workshop, and Celia judging the Recycled Instrument and Songwriting competitions. The workshop went well, with five whistlers who worked very hard to learn a tune in the space of an hour. We also talked about ornamentation as applied to the Irish tin whistle. They were a great bunch, and I hope they found it useful!

I ended up somehow involved in the Recycled Instrument competition, by virtue of playing Peter’s plumbing pipe tin whistle for him! Peter had attended my workshop, and managed to learn a tune on his homemade whistle, so we cooked up the plot afterwards that I would play it for him in the competition. I was rooting for him to win all the way!

Peter had some stiff competition, however, with a ‘boximer’ (A sort of cross between a dulcimer and a… I don’t know what else! – made out of an old box), and Bruce’s banjo made out of all sorts of bits and bobs. In the end it was a three way tie (with some discussion about whether or not getting me to play Peter’s whistle was actually cheating). No one was entirely sure if everyone came joint first, or joint last!

As for the songwriting competition, I only got to hear the winning song as, in true Eurovision style it was performed again after the results were announced. The song, ‘Emily’s Song’, was very haunting, all about telling a child she will be safe, and using imagery from fairy tales. The singer was Lorna Jane Gracie, and she was an incredibly worthy winner. Very, very poignant and beautifully performed,  and brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. Well done to Lorna Jane, amazing stuff. I hope I get to hear your song again.

On that note we bade farewell to Loanhead and our lovely hosts Gill and Bruce. We had a lovely time, thank you to everyone for making us so welcome!

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Celia and the giant Loanhead ear-trumpet!

Loanhead Festival and Folk at the Loo

Celia and I will be super busy this weekend, playing at two different festivals and travelling to Scotland and back to do so.

First up is the Loanhead Music Festival on Friday. We’ll be playing in the concert in the Miners’ Club on Friday night at 7.30, alongside Kathy Stewart and Her Frequent Flyers and the Gallus Crows. Then on Saturday 2.00 – 3.00 I will be teaching a tin whistle workshop, also in the Miners’ Club.

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We’ll be heading back from Loanhead on Saturday night, then off again on Sunday, this time in a southerly direction, to Blackpool for Folk at the Loo. This is a two-day event run jointly by Carla Farrar Music and the Waterloo Hotel, and showcases some amazing bands, including Troubadour, Cartoon Food, Phantom Voices and The Sail Pattern, all of whom are my particular favourites to see live! An unfamiliar (to me) band are The Blackaways, and a couple of solo artistes, Adam Smith and Emily Kate, but all of these come with rave reviews too.

Celia Briar and I are playing on the Sunday evening of this event, and I am only sorry I can’t be there for the Saturday as well to watch the rest of the acts. The good news is that we will be there to see the amazing Phantom Voices, who are astonishingly good.

This event is definitely well worth going to, especially as the whole weekend is free entry!

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Bush Rush and Melodrome Allstars at Bentham Carnival

The Bush Rush made a splash at Bentham Carnival last weekend, basking in the sun as we flounced around banging on Yorkshire windows and demanding that Heathcliffe let us in.

13321927_10154206229709817_2797752949597015363_nAfter performing the Bush Rush in the Horse and Farrier car park along with a fabulous group of locals who were game for a laugh, Lucy and I got to lead the parade through the village, along with Anne the lovely vicar of Bentham who Bushed up and did all the moves with us. We had a reet good time.

After the parade was over we spent some time enjoying the carnival as oddly-dressed punters, then met up with the rest of the Melodrome Allstars at Hoggs and Heifers for our late afternoon gig. What a lovely pub, a great venue with a really enthusiastic and attentive audience.

A reet good day out was had by all adjacent to the wild and windy moors, oh yes indeed.

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Bev Whelan, Lucy Reynolds and Roger Purves playing in ‘Ear Sounds’ (part of the Melodrome Allstars collective) at Hoggs and Heifers in Bentham