It’s been a busy summer, so here’s a quick summary of some of the things I’ve been doing…
But first, apologies to all the Rainbow Music people who tried to download the audio tracks and found that they wouldn’t work. I’m not sure what went wrong there, but I couldn’t sort it out until I got home! The good news: mp3 files for all the tunes we’ve played so far are now available again – hover your cursor over the Teaching tab and wait for the page title Rainbow Music Folk Band to appear.
I spent the last week of July at the English Acoustic Collective Summer School, at Ruskin Mill in Gloucestershire. It’s a very unusual summer school in that the main aim isn’t to learn tunes or techniques – it’s about developing your own style, listening closely to work out how your playing can enhance the sound of an ensemble, composing, and creatively interpreting tunes (from a manuscript or otherwise). All this in the beautiful surroundings of a Cotswold valley, with 15 other participants and three tutors (Miranda Rutter, John Dipper and Rob Harbron).
Ruskin Mill, July 2011
After a brief detour to call and play fiddle for a wedding ceilidh on the Isle of Wight, I continued onto Sidmouth in Devon for the Sidmouth Folk Week. Here I was a tutor for the Shooting Roots Funky World Band – a series of music workshops for teenagers that culminate in a showcase at the end of the week, along with the Theatre, Craft, Song and Morris strands of Shooting Roots. I also had plenty of time to enjoy the rest of this busy festival, and I’m sure the glorious late night renditions of I’m Blue (also featuring The Young’Uns and Kirsty Bromley) and Bohemian Rhapsody (also featuring the Spooky Men’s Chorale and others) will make their way onto the internet at some point….!
After another ceilidh (this time in Hampshire) I headed towards Broadstairs in Kent, for a slightly more chilled Broadstairs Folk Week. Again, I was a tutor for Shooting Roots, but this time we were preparing for a showcase of a different nature – namely, Paul Sartin’s Changing Landscapes production, which also featured a septet of prominent names on the folk music scene, a local choir called Folk In Harmony, a local morris team called Wantsum Morris and the Sounds Fresh youth folk group for which I am music leader. Paul had given us a lot of material for the youth participants to perform, which led to a slightly manic but very productive week! One highlight for me was teaching everyone the chorus of Rio Grande and having them blast it out brilliantly in the soundcheck and concert. I also ended up singing with Folk In Harmony for their numerous choir numbers, which was a lot of fun and meant I had the songs stuck in my head for days afterwards!
I then spent a few hours at home (just enough time to do a very lazy repack of my bag) before heading back to Hampshire to go on a real holiday – on my family’s yacht, Koto. We had an action-packed week though – Yarmouth, Alderney, Guernsey, Dartmouth, Weymouth and back to the home berth in Gosport, all in less than 8 days. It was a refreshing change from normal music-filled life, but now that I’m home I’m already eagerly reading through the programme for Towersey Village Festival – four days to go!!