December 2004

With an electric fiddle and a bodhran (Irish frame drum) as gifts what else must one do other than pass a little time on Christmas Day recording some tunes, with my daughter Eve on mandolin for her Will-o’-the-Wisp fire show that she is taking to Queensland tomorrow for the Woodford folk Festival!

I’d appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on the manufacturer of the electric violin – I believe it was made in Guangzhiao in China but there is no maker’s label. It sure sounds great though! The closest visual seemed to be the Zeta violin, but I’d love to know more about it.

Electric violin

And here is the bodhran

Bodhran - Irish frame drum

It wasn’t all laying down tracks and burning CDs, Eve managed to test her modified stilts to her satisfaction – the modification worked! You see, when I made the stilts, it seems that I had over-estimated her foot size so the straps were too loose. But a little re-routing appears to have solved the problem, so now we have a very serviceable pair of strap-on stilts (see my previous posts on this subject).

Eve on stilts

Sharon was most impressed with her new silks and beads 🙂

Aside from that it was a pretty quiet day – a good chat with the folks, an excellent Christmas dinner last night with a few friends, and a bit of a play with the new toys – a good time had by all 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone!



The tour was awesome! I’ll have some more photos up soon – suffice to say the trip was exhausting and exhilarating. Beijing is a vibrant place with many surprises. We played five shows over a week and had a few days at either end to do some sightseeing and shopping.

Starbucks - Forbidden City

The weather was cool – similar to Canberra winter temperatures. The language was completely alien to us although by the end we had learnt some useful phrases – like the greeting: Ni Haou, yes, no, and No Way! But there were always enough people around who spoke English for us to be able to get around without problems.

The traffic is truly chaotic! Pedestrian crossings exist only to concentrate the targets, red lights are treated as ‘advisory only’ and they somehow manage to fit six lanes of traffic into four lanes of road! but for all the chaos we were soon crossing roads with care, and trusting to the skills of the taxi drivers. On the taxis – look for ones with low numbers on the side – they have been licensed for longer and are more likely to know their way to your destination.

The shows: The John Bull Pub was fun – I think they expected us to sit quietly in a corner and play wallpaper muzak – instead after about half an hour we looked at each other and said ‘nah – time to show our stuff’ so we launched ourselves at individual tables and played requests and did silly antics – and the crowd loved it – soon we had them singing along and a great night was had by all!

Full Circle band in Beijing

The Bookworm is like a Parisienne salon of thirty years ago – the place is lined with books – it doubles as a lending library for expats – the place serves excellent food and drinks and offers a wonderful respite from shopping at the Yashow market.

Full Circle Band in Beijing

The first time we played there it was a jam with some local celtic musicians – including an expert gallic linguist who sang some wonderful songs. We also met the piper who had been flown out from Scotland to participate in the St Andrews Ball – the highlight of our tour. Make sure you get good directions though – I wound up walking around a dilapidated hutong, or dingy residential back alley way for about 30 minutes before I stumbled on the place… scary!

Full Circle Band - St Andrews Ball Beijing

St Andrews Ball at the Great Wall Sheraton – a formal Highland Ball with piper and Full Circle playing scottish music for the dancers – we played until 0530AM – a full 12 hours from sound check to pack-up! Exhausting but fun:-) This is the first year they had brought out a band and I don’t think it will be the last! We were able to tailor the pace and the start-finish of the dances to suit the dancers – something a CD can never provide. We made many friends that night and I hope we get to do it again next year!

Sights included the Great Wall – a truly amazing structure! We also visited the Lama monastery, The Ming Tombs, the Forbidden City (need to spend at least two days there!) and the ancient observatory – one of the overlooked gems of Beijing!

Jerry on the Great Wall in China

We saw an acrobatic show at the Chowyang Theatre – truly amazing performers

Beijing is certainly a place to visit again before the Olympics!