I was staying with friends in Havant, UK and they took me to a local Celtic music session at a tavern in King Street, Portsmouth.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled out my pochette (travel violin) is that in fact none of the other fiddles were standard violins either!

A group of unusual fiddles

A group of unusual fiddles

in addition to the viol-like fiddle, the top-corner violin and the guitar-shaped violin, there was my pochette and a baroque-style violin (not pictured).

After introductions I quickly found that I had about 60-70 percent tunes in common and quickly settled in for a very enjoyable session.

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Here is another view of the musicians

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

I was invited to join them at a session in Winchester a few days hence, but sadly, my plans led me in another direction. I had a great night and our friends enjoyed the music too :-)

Fourteen year old Griffin Soller is one to watch – Here he is playing the celtic tune ‘Catharsis’

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!

The cold and rainy weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 70 or so who came to a birthday party organised at Bungendore Showgrounds. For Full Circle Band, it was initially meant to be an outdoor show, however there was a contingency plan – two large sheds that opened onto each other – one for the banquet, and one for dancing.

But with no sign of people moving to the dance shed, we grabbed our instruments and moved into the banquet shed and played acoustically to the great delight of the audience. We got them singing sea shanties and played tunes and sang about rural life in Australia – we included several numbers from our forthcoming CD.

Full Circle Band

The atmosphere was great – a shearing-shed ambience with some coloured spotlights, great food, and big hearted people. The birthday lad is one of Bungendore’s top woodworkers/designers – and for those who know the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery – that’s saying something! The show demonstrated the country community spirit and family bonds, and everyone had a wonderful time – including ourselves!

It promised to be a warm ride as I strapped the fiddle to the back of the motorbike for the run down to Majors Creek near Braidwood in New South Wales, about 114 km from Canberra. I dressed lightly beneath the outer armour, but hadn’t reckoned with the cloud into which I ascended on the final approach into my destination. Majors is one of the best folk festivals in Australia – smaller and more intimate than the National, but large enough to attract the major acts.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

I entered to the delightful harmonies of MusicOz 2008 winners Mothers of Intention. Tony Pryzakowski’s fiddle playing was unmistakable from the first notes, as were Rosie McDonald’s harmonies. This is a band that just keeps getting better.

Mothers of Intention

Out on the oval, a Maypole dance was being woven with a morris dance team and a crowd of willing participants.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Bizerka’s energy and amazing rhtyms delighted the crowd, and the concentration of the fiddler was palpable as she played 7/8 and 5/8 rhythms. They ran a workshop on using phrases to make complex rhythms more comprehensible.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

The Fiddler’s Forum showcased great playing across a range of styles, from celtic to bluegrass and Eastern European.

But for me the sessions as always were the highlight. The pochette attracted attention – as did the hardanger fiddle (hardingfele). I met old friends and played music with new ones.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Tony and I had our by now traditional ‘dueling fiddlers’ playoff – someone thought we were from the same band! Let alone different cities. We are well matched.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

See you there next year :-)

The latest issue of Trad and Now magazine has arrived and with it, the announcement that they have revamped their website. And it’s great – catalogue, reviews and all sorts is there with an online shop too! So you don’t have to wait for the next folk festival to find those CDs of artists that you don’t find in the ‘world music’ or Folk sections of the stores – Trad and now has a huge list of CDs – including very soon the new Full Circle album…

Trad and Now Trad & Now aims to promote, preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all traditional and contemporary folk music and related performance arts such as poetry, dance, storytelling and folklore and to encourage this as part of our everyday lives. And the subscription is amazing value!

I love the news about festivals in Australia and elsewhere, the developments in folk, blues, roots and world music and the tunes being highlighted in each issue.

And I thought I was the only guy who dances while playing fiddle! Check out his clog dancing – no wonder his bow is usually just a mass of loose hair – and he’s not bad for a left hander either :-)

Actually he’s long been my favourite fiddler

Chers
Jerry

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