March 2007


Well, I promised some audio from St Patrick’s Day – and some audio of the newly repaired violin, so it seems a good idea to combine the two :-)

Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

The first tune is Ashokan Farewell, written in 1986 by Jay Ungger, about the town of Ashoka – and farewell to the town as it disappeared beneath the artificial lake created by a dam – in much the same way that part of old Canberra was submerged to make way for the artificial lake. So I guess that makes Canberra and Ashoka sister cities. It’s a lovely tune. [NB: It was recorded at a high level - so you may wish to turn down the volume on your computer first] ;-)

The second tune is a kind of ‘wall-of-death’ version of a reel called Tongadale (not to be confused with a small Pacific Islands nation). As St Patrick’s Day gathered momentum, so did our music, culminating in a somewhat blistering pace that just seemed to get faster as the night went on :-)

I hope you all had a great St Patrick’s day!

Cheers
Jerry

And what a glorious St Pat’s it was too! Both shows were packed out and the energy was high :-)

At PJ O’Reilly’s in Civic (Canberra, Australia) we started at 1.pm sharp with a set of reels – Paddy Fahey’s Number 1 and Gravel Walk (well… sprint actually!) and that set the tone for the session.

At one point a troupe of Irish dancers invaded and called for a couple or reels – the dance schools usually use CDs so they welcome the opportunity to dance to live musicians – and we were quick to oblige.

We did a bunch of old favourites, like Black Velvet Band and New York Girls, threw in a few slip jigs and double jigs and generally had a great time. Then it was time for a quick pack up (ie hurl everything into Jerry’s van) and drive to Kingston to set up at Filthy McFadden’s where we played from 5.00pm-8.30pm.
Full Circle live at PJ O’Reilly’s

Full Circle at PJ OReilly's

Full Circle at PJ OReilly's
…not bad bowing technique!

Full Circle at PJ OReilly's
Hmm – those mic stand drink holders are handy!

Full Circle live at Filthy McFadden’s

There was little time for a sound check, but the sound was quickly sorted – and it got better by the end of the first bracket. The audience were great calling out requests, getting up and dancing and having a great time. At the end of the evening we were called back for several encores and throughout the show there were queues outside waiting to get in – the place was at capacity crowd. Our energy was high and the pace quite blistering :-)

Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

Some said Jerry played fiddle like the Devil himself! This photo was taken mid-leap!
Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

The Ashokan Farewell went over in classic style – an Army bloke came up after and said he had tears in his eyes…

At the end we were exhausted but bouyed up by the energy – and relaxed with our first pint of Guinness at the end of the night – with two shows we have to be disciplined and stick to low-alcohol beer otherwise our fingers fall off and that gets messy ;-)

Happy St Patrick’s Day to you all – may the road rise up to meet you and the wind be ever at your back!

Cheers
Jerry

It’s St Patrick’s Eve and the first of three shows was at the Hyatt hotel in Canberra. The audience was excellent and clearly had a great time – I know we did :-)

We were using new speakers for the first time, and my newly repaired fiddle was awesome. We hope to get some video footage at tomorrow’s shows at PJ Oreilly’s (Civic) from 1.00pm-4.00pm and then Filthy McFadden’s in Kingston from 5.30-8.30. Watch this space for some YouTube footage in a couple of weeks!

Here’s some pix from tonight’s show

Full Circle at the Hyatt

Full Circle at the Hyatt

Full Circle at the Hyatt

Full Circle at the Hyatt

See you tomorrow!

Cheers
Jerry

Here’s a great short vid on making an electric violin :-)

electric violin

Neat eh?

Happy St Pat’s Eve – I’ll be playing down at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra tonight :-)

Cheers
Jerry

One of the best bits of news I received on my birthday was that my concert violin is fixed. Four cracks repaired, new bass bar, new end block – so it was fairly major. But worth it :-)

German Magini copy violin

Let me tell you the story of this violin. In the early 1980s I was touring in the northwest of Western Australia, with the Mucky Duck Bush Band and we played a show at a mining town called Mount Newman. After the show a woman came up and said how she enjoyed my playing – and how it reminded her of her uncle who used to play. She then said that she had had her uncle’s violin for the past 20 years since he had passed away. And she said she’d like to give it to me so that it can be played again the way he played it. On one condition. I would need to have it rebuilt as the dry hot summers in Mt Newman had taken its toll and the plates had separated – it was in pieces!

I pointed out that I would be leaving for the next town early next day, but if she could bring it round I’d love to see it. And I thought nothing more about it.

The banging on my motel room door at 06:30AM woke me with a start and I quickly threw on jeans and tee-shirt and opened the door. And there was (as I recall her name) Mrs Richardson? Simpson? bearing a box. A quick glance at the double purfling and the inlay in the back convinced me that this could be something special. We shook hands warmly as I duly promised to have the violin rebuilt. I knew just the person – Scott Wise a then up and coming luthier – and very fine musician in his own right.

It was several weeks later that Scott phoned me and told me I’d better get down to his workshop. He wouldn’t say anything more. When I arrived he handed me a bow and the newly restored violin. I must’ve played it for an hour in his workshop before I could bring myself to put it down. The tone was amazing and very loud – as perhaps only a German violin could be.

It instantly became my concert violin – at least until the hardangerfiddle was built – but that’s another story – and from then on the concerts were shared between the two instruments.

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

German Maggini copy violin

The side decoration is consistent with 1870s-1890s (Arts and Crafts Movement), the single turn on the scroll is not characteristic of Maggini and there is a label on the inside of the top plate in German which doesn’t give a makers name, just a quote that translates loosely as: “joy comes to he who brings joy to others“. A delightful sentiment :-) The back is flamed maple, the front is spruce, and the belly swell is unusually deep, yielding a rich mellow tone. I’ll post an audio link soon so you can hear it too :-)

If anyone can shed any further light on the maker of this fine instrument, or if you have a similar one, I’d love to hear from you.

One possible clue is an uncertain dating by a US violin shop that lists a similar violin one as ca1930s from a ‘sears’ catalogue! Again if anyone has info on the maker I ‘d love to hear from you :-)

Maggini copy violin

Cheers
Jerry

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