Hardanger fiddle


Merry Christmas season!

I am working on a new collaboration on YouTube with Chansherly – watch this space. In the meantime, here is one I did earlier. I hope to write a bit more regularly in 2011 – this year has been a busy one and I’ve neglected the blogs a bit. So look on this as a renewal ahead of the new year:-)

Cheers
Jerry

The Full Circle CD has now arrived! It didn’t quite make it to the National Folk Festival, but it’s well worth the wait.

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

And all the efforts of recording last year, and the mastering and cover design have come together in a beautiful package (thanks to Melody Lane sound engineer Tamlin Tregonning, CD cover designer Sharon Boggon, and MadCD and all our friends and family who have supported us through this venture).

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

The CD is a representative sample of Full Circle’s repertoire and includes songs, tunes and acapella shanties.

Here is some info about the tracks and why we chose them

Belfast Mill
is a timely tale of economic recession and the impact of the closure of a textile mill on the town.

Jim Jones is a song of convict transportation to New South Wales and the hardships faced – even in the journey – a tale of deterrence against crime.

Cliffs of Moher and Banish Misfortune are two of my favourite jigs

Country Life gives an idealised view of bucolic work and play – sung acapella (unaccompanied) and when performed live we make it more accessible to the deaf by singing in braille – with actions!

Star of the County Down is a tale of infatuation (ok lust) a timeless tale from a young man’s point of view.

Blackleg Miner is about the dangers of strike breaking and the dangers of exploitation inherent in not having a representative voice for the workers – especially on working conditions and health and safety (historically sorely lacking in the mining industry).

Da Eye Wifie, Spoot ‘o Skerry and Tongadale are a great set of Scottish reels – the first one was written by Angus Grant of Shooglenifty fame (yes we signed the APRA forms) and they are performed on hardanger fiddle.

Hot Asphalt is a tragi-comedy about pride in road making, and the dangers of hot asphalt for those who venture too close to the hot bitumen.

Blood Red Roses is a halyard shanty which tells of the fate of prostitutes found on board a ship after it leaves port – they were thrown overboard and the red dresses and petticoats were said to resemble rose petals – before the women drowned! It is sung acapella

Man You Don’t Meet Every Day – is a traditional boasting song that may well have been a cock-sure young lad’s view of his carefree lifestyle.

The Lachlan Tigers tells of a sheep shearing team that worked along the Lachlan River in Queensland, and how they worked their way from station to station and boasted about their prowess and speed in the shearing shed, and aspects of their larrakin behaviour when the came to town.

Spancel Hill is a nostalgic recollection of an Irish migrant to California during the potato famine of his homeland in Ireland.

250 to Vigo – Not traditional, but a great tune written by Angus Grant from Shooglenifty with our own arrangement. The tune was written to commemorate a journey Angus took across Europe to Vigo in former Yugoslavia, on a 250cc motorbike. The tune is played on the hardanger fiddle, and has an unusual rhythm.

Here is more of Sharon Boggon’s excellent cover design

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

Full Circle CD

And you can buy it direct from the band at http://lostbiro.com/fullcircle, from the band at gigs, or it will be available soon from your favourite download site, like iTunes.

Cheers
Jerry

Friday afternoon was a bit …um… interesting – we were due to play at Tumut in the evening, so a nice gentle drive in the van had some appeal – until the grinding noises came from the starter motor bearings.

Sharon and I looked at each other and shrugged in unison. If the 20 year old van won’t make it, let’s take the 28 year old motorbike. A quick phone call to our bass player showed he hadn’t left yet, and could take the fiddle in his car. The bike was running brilliantly after its service, and the handling had improved markedly with new suspension and new tyres – in fact it was in the best condition it’s had for years. So we both decided that the ride would be a good idea.

The ride to Tumut was very pleasant – with perfect weather and good road (via Yass and Gundagai), and we arrived safely in late afternoon. After finding our room (the ‘band room’) at the Oriental Hotel, we had an excellent feed and tuned up for the show.

fctumut1

There was a good responsive crowd and we had a great time – the sound system behaved well and it was fortunate we had also brought lights :-)

fctumut2

We played the first hour and had a short break, then by the time we were thinking of another break, it was too near the end so we did the second two hours straight through – time flies when you’re having fun.

We were quite exhausted by the end, so after the last encore we packed away the sound gear and headed off to bed.

Early next morning the sun shone golden over the town, and I took a couple of photos on our way out for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.

tumut1

After a photo under the Tumut town sign, we headed off to Gundagai for coffee.

Sharon wasn’t quite quick enough to avoid the camera this time!

gundagaisharon

We stopped at the famous Niagara Cafe – where Prime ministers from years past used to stop on their way to Canberra. There is a great old art deco counter there.

gundcounter

And, no, we didn’t sing about the dog on the tuckerbox!

We had a smooth run home, with the bike running perfectly. But it was nice to be back in our own bed at the end of the day.

Cheers
Jerry

What a busy week this has been! St Patrick’s Day in Canberra Australia (17 March) saw Full Circle playing at PJ O’Reilly’s Irish pub in Civic.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We set up and played our first set then an Irish dance school came in and performed, and we took it in turns – whenever we took a break, the dancers were on, and the crowd loved it.

St Patrick's Day 2009

When we finished the three brackets we had only a few minutes to pack the sound gear away and head off to Kingston where we played at Filthy McFadden’s Irish pub – if PJ’s was good, Filthy’s rocked.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We introduced a few new tune sets, including Paddy Fahy’s #14 and Dinky Dorrian’s which I’ve wanted to play for ages. And for Dinky’s reel I made full use of the new long lead to head for the dance floor out among the audience – and they loved it. Suddenly I was surrounded by mobile phones! All frantically taking photos!

St Patrick's Day 2009

We met some great people and had two great shows – although the voice was a bit hoarse and the fingers a bit tender after six hours of playing and jumping around. Music sure keeps you fit!

Donegal fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh collects her hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) – with some great examples of fine Norwegian hardanger music.

Cheers
Jerry

Our guitarist, Butch, had been to Tilba-Tilba on a number of occasions, and noted that some good name bands from Sydney had performed at the Dromedary Hotel there. In conversation with the publican, he had mentioned our Irish band and the rest fell into place.

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

Saturday promised a hot drive down – the place is about 300kms from Canberra, about an hour’s drive south of Bateman’s Bay, so I was quite pleased with the offer of a lift in Butch’s car – along with a cut-down version of our sound system.

We arrived mid-afternoon in time to get some excellent food from the cafe over the road and then we set up the venue – an open shed out the back – a former stable perhaps, which contained a functioning jukebox and a small stage. The whole side wall opened out onto the beer garden.

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

The other band members had a joke about my insistence on bringing some stage lights – but we were glad of them when it got dark – we would have been invisible to the audience without them!

As a pub show, we started with some up-tempo Irish and Australian songs and some lively reels and jigs – amazingly right from the first bracket people got up and danced – and continued throughout the show.

We were told that bands never shift the regulars from the front bar – but we did :-)

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

In fact the audience responded really well to the fact that (a) we weren’t the usual covers/blues band, and (b) we weren’t what most people’s concept of an Irish band was.

During the tunes we went out among the dancers and danced as we played – and on feedback afterwards, they loved the fact that we joined them, rather than staying aloof.

So all up it was a great night and well worth the drive down. We had a great welcome there and I’m sure we’ll be back there before long.

On the way back, we stopped briefly for a rest and stretch, and looked up at the most amazing clear night sky, with the Milky Way in a vivid streak right across it – simply breathtaking!

Cheers
Jerry

For some while now, I have been getting an annoying string buzz from one of the sympathetic strings, so I decided that now was the time to make a new bridge.

I used the previous one I made as a rough template, but raised the centre ‘D’ a little and ensured it was completely flat across the bottom so the sympathetic strings would not move to the side. I cut small grooves for them and lined up the top profile and cut matching string notches along the top. The wood is Tasmanian blackwood – I thought I’d see what difference a harder wood would make.

The sound is more crisp and slightly thinner, but still warm. As the bridge plays in better I shall have a better idea of the sound. And yes the annoying string buzz has now gone!

Hardanger fiddle bridge

Cheers
Jerry

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