Sunday, 27 September 2009

Shona Kipling & Emily Portman

...will be doing a double-bill concert at The Sage Gateshead on October 10th. If you happen to be around then try and get to see them.
Shona is a great young accordionist and Emily is a singer who also has been doing some very interesting work writing new songs which feel like old folksong/fairy tales - they're really worth hearing.
They are both graduates of Newcastle University's Folk & Traditional Music degree course and I'm sure you'll be hearing more about them.
They will also be getting a few of their friends to come along and perform with them - it'll be a great night of music and song and well worth supporting.
Got to dash now - Sunday dinner then Folkestra rehearsal await....!

Sting stuff

Well, Peter, Julian and I just spent a rather surreal fortnight in Durham cathedral rehearsing then peforming with Sting. It was material from his forthcoming album 'if on a Winters night' and we had an amazing time.
The music was incredibly quiet and intense, with lots of space - incredible for a band of 40 players! Sting said it was the quietest music he'd ever done, with the biggest band! The players were inspirational though - all very generous musicians who were happy to underplay and to sit back and leave the spaces for the music to shine through (rather than just showing off and trying to play as many notes as possible - there was none of that)
I could go on and on about the fantastic friends we made, but I'd be here for hours and hours, so best not (I have a Folkestra rehearsal to do this afternoon and need to leave soon)
Suffice it to say that we had a fab time, we enjoyed the music, I'm more a fan of Sting than I was before we started (and I was already a fan then!) and the sessions in the hotel bar afterwards were amongst the best/most enjoyable/most surprising/most diverse/most friendly I have ever been involved in.
And I was very delighted to see that Mary Macmaster managed to get a Gaelic song into the concerts and on the album (it's one of my favourite tracks, along with The Snows they melt the Soonest) Well done her!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Bellingham Show

...was last Saturday. The weather was better than last year (when it was cancelled altogether) but was very windy. I was judging the piping competitions and we had to get extra tent pegs to anchor the tent down. One of the other tents did actually blow away and we all watched in horror as it blew off down the field towards the pony classes (luckily there were a posse of local men hot on its heels who managed to catch it and bring it down before any harm was done!)
There weren't as many entries as I would have liked in the competitions, but with a bit of gentle persuasion we managed to get a few more pipers to play. Thank you to all the competitors - there were quite a few people who had come to listen, so it was good to give them something to listen to!
And I managed to complete the judging and have a decent wander round the show field without being assasinated by angry pipers, so my judging can't have been too controversial...!?
Off down to London tomorrow for a duo gig with Peter. We're not on until 9.45pm and Peter has got his heart set on us going for a night out down in the Big City...Ronnie Scott's has been mentioned more than once (he went there when he was in London with the Peatbog Faeries and had a fantastic time - I keep telling him that I'm not quite as wild and unruly as a bunch of kilted Scotsmen, but he reckons that there's not much in it....!) but we'll see how we feel after the gig (well - we'll see how I feel...there's absolutely no doubt that Peter will be full of life and raring to go, but I'm not so sure about me - I'm getting on a bit you know!)
Then back home Saturday, then off to Durham on Monday to do some more rehearsing with Sting in Durham Cathedral - should be interesting. St Cuthbert would probably turn in his grave (or his coffin). Actually St Cuthbert is said to have been a bit of a misogynist, so Sting would probably be okay, but my presence so close to his shrine might not be particularly appreciated (although I played there in Jon Lord's Durham Concerto and didn't feel anything untoward, so I'm sure it'll be okay!)
Anyway - enough about St Cuthbert!
I've got a bit of a cold so it's time for a hot toddy.
All for now,