Diary Notes 2020:
A reader has suggested that I reverse the order of posting so that the most recent post appears at the top of the page: I'll give it a go. Let me know if it works better for you
25th /27th May 2020: Computer off all day 25th. Holly popped round, Bill popped in on Ashley during cycle ride. All well. Bill recorded a new version of 'Honeybabe Blues', (about half the speed of 2007 version and different), and 'When the Roses Bloom' which has gone to Mick R to embellish. Still working on some guitar tunes, and that is the operative word. Polishing songs and tunes in the rough is very different from learning 'pieces' which require precision and develop technique. Almost back to childhood piano lessons, and it would be easier with a teacher. The Bill/Sheila tunes are coming along. 26th May: Bill posted a version of Claudy Banks, (Guitar/Concertina/vcl). Took a while to sort out but works ok. Holly has also produced a video for her song 'Alabaster', the video is very complex with lots of layers and content. (An option as career development looking at the quality of the output, only limited by the tools available). Sheila back to work (online). It seems that the U3A Ukelele group, (Strumpets), have been having online get togethers. Given that the main group is predominantly shielding, (rather than distancing), that may be the only option even when 'normality' returns. Bill about half way through the latest John Connelly book.
23rd/24th May 2020 George Sansom replied and friended Bill on FB, (Bill is never proactive on that front). Paul McC has also joined FB under a nom de plume. Bill working on some tunes on guitar. Quite a lot of w.i.p at the moment! May take a week or so in some cases. There seems to be a Bill/Sheila tune repertoire developing Bill has started to read' Book of Bones' by John Connelly, a very long book, but there is no sense in saving it for a rainy day, it might pour! Also reading Lionel Blue's book of quotes from Judaic writers on all aspects of life. Timely. We watched Jackie Oates on the 'Downend Folk Club' feed, which was interesting and well presented.
22nd May 2020. George’s CD is excellent. Guitar and vocal with dbl bass on one song. All trad, well chosen and presented by a singer comfortable in his voice and fluently accompanied. Sheila took a long walk and gardened. We had a tune up together. Bill put ‘Old Pal of Yesterday’ up, duetting with a recording of Ollie Winton from 1970 when she was in her mid seventies. Came out quite well. Bill bumped into Ray C at the greengrocer, great to see him after about five years in retirement, (Bill's), and looking really well. (He has had some health issues).
20th /21stMay 2020: Bill received an odd message about a 'U3A music session' from an unknown address, so presumed junk. If not let me know, but it had overtones of 'Linked In'. Mick added bass and guitar to 'Afterhours' and sent a 275mb file across! Recorded in high quality on tools which are state of the art and up to date. It's a philosphical divide between having the newest and best tec' now and trawling the bottom feed for something which is practical and useful though old and lo-fi. This column lost its inner voice for a while . now possibly spurred by Lucy Winkett on 'Thought of the Day' this morning referencing those unable to access and who are 'not part of the online jamboree of creativity that has emerged' (from the coronavirus crisis). An apt description as we are free to use time to 'play'. Rob Neal meanwhile wonders what happened to the 'risk managers', and (correctly) looks forward to a normality in which we live with the risk Then the post arrived and a lovely CD surprise. Granny's Attic stayed with us last year when playing at Everyman FC, and George Sansome , (guitar with GA), has recorded a song which he found in one of Bill's books, and name checked us in the sleeve notes.
19th May 2020: Sheila working, has added a day to her 'easing off' schedule!.Mick added guitar and bass to ‘Death Don’t Have no Mercy’, posted as a comment post. Bill processed a multi instrument video of O Carolan’s ‘Kean OHara’. Sheila and Bill had a fiddle/guitar practice. Mick did the business with ‘Trouble in Mind’ (bass and guitar). May become a post. Bill received an invitation to John W's 4th 'cyber busk', not sure whether intended or mechanical but FB live events may not be the most secure environment, (fine as a recording after the event).
18th May 2020: 'Afterhours' joined the Sepia series on Bill's YT channel, and the guitar folder expanded by three tunes which will take a while to reach playable speed. Mick had a knoodle behind 'The Fox' giving his mandolin an airing. Steve KNightly is moving on from lockdown 'busking' to a virtual tour which will be formally monetised by the sale of tickets. He is also holding songwriting w.i.p. sessions, reminiscent of the village hall workshop tours which sealed audience loyalty and tested new material a couple of decades ago.
17th May 2020: Bill posted 'The Fox' , a children's song from his recent knoodles. Working on tunes and new arrangements of some longstanding songs. Watched Richard Thompson's online show in aid of the RAH. Fantastic guitarist, but since his move to the USA his songs have become generic.
16th May 2020: Bill skimmed the Downend Folk Club's interview with Alden/Patterson , skipped the songs as the sound was awful, which was surprising given that they are usually perfectionist and have access to good kit. The chat was very interesting. We initially enjoyed APD but after a while it became 'muzak', and while excellent seemed to lack expression, (repeated performance pieces played perfectly). It was good to hear some of the history, (aside from being conscious that Alex grew up with Show of Hands as house guests twice a year). Bill knoodled and recorded a few songs which may see light of day, there is a backlog anyway. It seems unlikely that without a vaccine or eradication of the virus my management of behaviour, (Folk Clubs and live venues e.g sessions will be safe spaces for a while. This particularly given the age and health profiles of most club members, for most of whom close proximity in groups is a risk too far. Effective hand over to the next generation to create their own form of shared folk experience is inevitable, and oldies must not crow at the shape which it takes!
15th May 2020:take as read that Bill did some work on tunes and songs, found a nice jig courtesy Barry Parkes, (The Quarryman). Sheila feeling under par, but not unwell.
14th May 2020: Both Bill and Sheila were 'visited' by grandchild (with parent), and Bill had a good catch up with Laurel on WhatsApp. The lighter strings arrived today but may be redundant to purpose, (the strings on the Fylde are heavier as they were a freebie from Pete C at last years Ely FF). Sttill a matter for thought. Val Haines shared a link to the Norwich Slow Tunes 'Virtual Session on the Mardles FB, which is tonight. The tunebook is excellent, a good mix if a little eclectic. Probably 'keepers' in Norfolk, but largely 'composed', so performance pieces for the writers and hard to absorb from scratch as social tunes. A good mix of standards as well.Bill has printed three as a start. Bill watched Steve Knightley's online tips about performing and floor spots. Well worth the time spent. FolkEast have raised £18K as a crowdfunder target and now increased the target to £25K.
13th May 2020: Sheila's van suffered damage overnight, not sure how, and had a flat tyre, we sorted the tyre, Sheila unconcerned but Bill suspects malice at work. Bill's nylon guitar strings arrived, fitted. The set up seems very high. Bill managed to reduce to about half of what is optimal, will leave to settle then take down further. Webcam arrived from China, a standard product sold as branded for £50, (from China unbranded £6.50). Crashed the computer a couple of times but installed and worked fine.
12th May 2020: Sheila gardened, Bill knoodled. Posted 'Guitar Knoodles 5' to YT, another trio of sketches from the FB timeline. Not doing much recording lately so fills a space. Played concertinas and guitar, picking up on ragtime w.i.p. Recorded and posted 'Death Don't Have No Mercy in this Town', well received.
11th May 2020: chilly today. Bill sorely tempted by a 'Crane duet' concertina on FB but it will go, and does he need to learn another system. Also by a Bafetti Oakwood III on sale by Theo Gibb. Just had car insurance renewal so will prioritise that! Holly has had a great review for her EP, refers to her immense talent at the conclusion. She phoned and we had a good chat, her latest project is coming along nicely. Sheila's scrubs have been collected, her Zoom yoga session coincided with East Suffolk Morris Zoom session: Good to touch base, but had an earlier tail off than previous sessions.
10th May 2020. Didn’t switch computer on yesterday. Past couple of days unearthed Bill’s nylon strung guitar and ordered new strings for that, and lighter strings for the Fylde or the Lakeman. Playing ‘tunes’ (cf performing songs) requires a more sensitive touch, and an almost classical style of playing. Also working on new tunes on Anglo, testing out the C/G Although G/D wil always be a preferred configuration for sessions and Celtic music. Preferred low note response. Will probably carry on with Sh3 Ed and U3A and support Everyman FC. Not sure how much else will be practicable in the new normal!
8th May 2020: VE Day. The alternative bank holiday which the uk government decided would be too expensive for the economy to add to existing days off! Costa del Folk is cancelled in October as the travel company which organised it is in administration. ABTA will pick up the bill and doubtless a ‘new’ company will pick up the assets for a pittance and start again when circumstances allow. That may be a story repeated nationwide. The capitalist economy is predicated on spending by borrowing now against future earnings. This is fuelled by consumer desire, so that no one needs to live within their means. Those of us who do need spare little sympathy for the consequential suffering of those who don't?
7th May 2020: Bill spent the best part of two days unlocking, rooting and installing ROM on his old android and it 'bricked' at the last fencfe. won't try that again! Hence only bits and bobs of music. Working on some Country slide tracks. Sheila in the garden a lot, had a couple of work sessions each of the last two days.
5th May 2020:Happy Birthday John G, 74 years young. Catch up soon. Another quiet day, Bill working on RotS audio. Not up for publication but a great exercise in using Mixpad. Sheila is settling for one set of scrubs, (just like the Nightingale hospital, they are apparently now surplus to requirement).
4th May 2020: Thoughts with Mick and Sue. Sue’s mum has died. Sheila’s scrubs are coming along, but most of her day was spent making a card for Isaac who is 16 tomorrow. Bill worked on an audio track of ‘Riders on the Storm’. A learning curve , imperfect but good fun. Also posted an archive Sh3 d video, hoping to keep interest alive!
3rd May 2020: Bill posted a Theme otM video, ‘Mary Young & Fair’. Ash dropped by with Jasmine for a distanced visit.
2nd MAy 2020: Bill thinking about tunes for Melnet Theme of the Month which is tunes in a minor key. Sheila continuing with scrubs. We went for a cycle ride during a sunny break in the afternoon.
1st May 2020: Rabbits: Bill didn't have to feel guilty laying in beyond 4.30am as May Day dawn did not take place for ESMM this year. CliveW re-opened the TotM poll and the Francophiles nipped in to secure a win for 'Gannivelle'. Bill posted both that and 'Guinness Waltz, (the runner up) anyway. Neither are particularly interesting tunes, Guinness works well on guitar. Mixed and posted a Mick'nBill video of 'If there were no women in the world' to FB which came out well, also JAqueline's Waltz to soundcloud.. Sheila making scrubs and gardening between the squalls.
30th April 2020: Sheila had a couple of work sessions, and continued making scrubs and gardening. Melnet TotM poll resulted in a dead heat with the Francophiles catching up at the last moment. Bill has a video for each tune, (as the site admin then picks one, although we suspect he may propose both given that we all have time on our hands). Richard W enjoyed vids of ESMM in Madrid and has said that if we make it to Almeira there are music and dance groups and a theatre, he would get us gigs. We are probably going to Ireland next year but worth bearing in mind. We forgot the NHS massed applause this week. Slapped wrist.
29th April 2020: rain again. Lynne W's FB discloses a scepticism about the main news channels to equal Bill's. (She recommends Ch4 news). Bill still finds that Private Eye is a reasonable source of hard news and comment, (together with an astute critique on the shenanigans of the great, good and corporate). Sheila indoors making scrubs. Her 'paper' bridge, (a family challenge) survived 4kg of strain, (Will, her son, an engineer who set the challenge produced a bridge that held 28kg!) Richard W, a classmate of Bill's got in touch, now living in Spain having taught there for a number of years, (had we known we could have met up in Madrid when the morris visited in 2014). Now in Nijar and enjoying a retirement in Gecko country. Bill posted 'knoodles 4' to YT, three sketched tunes previously posted to FB Sheila listening to John Ward's live show on FB.. spoilt for choice with wivenhoe's virtual FC and Steve Knightley in competition!
28th April 2020:the rain has arrived. MickR asked Bill to send a tune to work on, (he still has the 'Lounge Bar' which Bill may complete without him). Bill recorded a couple of guide tracks. Thinking today that some part of the rush to post music/poetry etc is borne of a sense of mortality and feeling of a need to create legacy. Perhaps that is always the case but distancing has inspired pace in the process. The odds may be slight but there may be no personal tomorrow for any one of us. The trick is to create a material which is of a quality and/or relevance that merits the exercise. Bill's understanding of the software which he is using is developing with repeated application. Posted a muti tracked version of 'The Cape' by Guy Clarke. We started on series 2 of 'Inspector Borowski 'on Walter Presents.
27th April 2020: Happy Birthday Rowan: Bill spent some time developing the 'Uncle John's Band' video which he then posted to FB. Imperfect but enjoyable and good enough for FB, doubtful whether many people will stay the course for over five minutes. East Suffolk Morris had a 'Zoom' meet up, while Sheila had a yoga session through the same medium, (bandwidth holding up so far!)
26th April 2020: not much happened yesterday, some reflection on the morass of online concerts and musicians videos seeking patronage, some excellent. some less so. This could move into a discussion about 'professional' folk musicians or 'professional musicians' promoting their business in the folk idiom (for as long as that may be fashionable), and the way that traditional music has been absorbed into the 'muzak' industry. An old sore not worth regurgitating.There seems to be a front runner for May's Melnet TotM already. Fairly unexciting but good for dance,( Bill's vid is ready to go). If the next favourite overtakes, that is not a problem. Equally unexciting, (but French so the Francophiles may stage a palace coup). We managed a cycle ride together this morning until Bill's energy expired and Sheila continued alone on the long way round! Possibly the last gardening day for a while.
24th April 2020: Bill tested out 'Scioty' on the FOATMAD FB page and it was swiftly removed by admin as 'not' old time, which is ironic given that Robin G has posted all manner of radical departures from the ethos over the last few days without complaint! He's an' insider', (and nice chap). No worries, it received approval from members in its short life online. Also shared Inchiquin with the 'Celtic Guitar Group', so far so good! Leah and Jorja dropped into the garden at distance for a chat with Sheila. Bill working on 'Morven's March'. The notes are straightforward but the phrasing with a 3/2 shell less so.
23rd April 2020: Happy Birthday Derek G. Bill framed up some tunes, Sheila bike ride , gardening and Pretty Grim musicians zoom session. East SuffolkMM would have been at THe Dove tonight but....... Bill tidied up 'Big Sciota', possibly up to YT standard!. MickR has published a very tidy version of 'The Death of Nelson', (Peter Bellamy via Granny's Attic.)
22nd April 2020: Not sure why Hadleigh FAC, U3A, Wayward and Fordham
are not running as Zoom groups. Wivenhoe are having a virtual club this
week.Bill working on tunes new and old to him. Some promising candidates.Sheila spending a lot of time gardening.Some lovely feedback from Spain on 'Inchiquin', (a friend of Derek's). A lot of O'Carolan in progress at the moment, along with 17C tunes from elsewhere. Bob T nominated Bill to post his ten influential albums, he might make the list but doesn't use FB in that way so won't post it.
21st April 2020: Walks and cycle rides and we managed a tune/song together in the evening. Bill tidied up an old recording of a 'Sometime Blue' practice and posted it. Rough and ready but as good as a lot of posts and essentially what YT started out to be. Printed out some jazz to stretch the fingers, gave up but the music sits there taunting. Posted Rowan's birthday card.
20th April 2020: Ash, Nat and Jasmine popped along the road on their way to walk on the heath and we had a catch up at distance. Bill posted Inchiquin, (Gtr & 2 x mando ) to FB. If a Mick'n Bill version turns up that can be added alongside. Also did some work on Vie en Rose, and a YT of a 2010 practice session of 'Sometime Blue'. There is a virtual East Suffolk Morris meeting on Zoom this evening.
19th April 2020: Another short walk across the heath. A little music and more Borowski.
18th April 2020: Not a great deal to distinguish one lockdown day from the next. We had a (short) walk across the heath. Hayfever and the loss off a regular opportunity to swim are compromising Bill's fitness more than any other element at present. The pile of bedside books is shrinking rapidly. Bil recorded and posted a couple of tunes on C/G concertina and mandolin, one from each of the Wayward and Fordham session lists. Tidied up a guitar and twin mandolin recording of an oboe/flute/harp arrangement of Inchiquin which may see the light of day if MickR has given up on the tune, (or even if not). We are working our way through the 'Walter Presents' Inspector Borowski series 1 on Channel 4, which are great fun.
17th April 2020: Bill recorded a couple of tunes as a base for
future posts.The latest Mick'nBill may not be a post. needs a rework
from scratch maybe. Clinton Mann contacted Bill on FB, a
classmate from Northgate school who has spent thirty years teaching, and also
runs a soundcloud page with some excellent songs. We shared music back
in the day and it is great that someone else has stayed with the
journey. Sheila yoga group online, and working on a family challenge to build a paper bridge which will bear load.
16th April 2020: we collected our bulk bread flour from Stowmarket, Bill cycle ride.
15th April 2020: Sheila gardening and playing her violin, Bill found bread flour at the shop, (irony). We now have hot water again having had the 'diverter valve' replaced. Bill sent a couple of tunes to MickR to have a look at, also working on a song. Enjoying developing (slowly) on the CG anglo, cross keys so far G Am Dm and F, (D remains a mountain). Hannah D is enjoying learning anglo from scratch and Max D the loan of one of Bill's guitars. Bill managed a cycle ride today.
14th April 2020: Bill finished recording 'See the Conquering Hero Come' by Handel which was a hymn tune for 'Thine be the Glory' in Sunday's Easter service on R4. Another multi tracked extravaganza! Sheila gardening and we collected some compost which was misdescribed as peat free! Rob has sent an email to the U3A group recommending Bill's YT and the U3A Fb page as recreation in isolation. Kind words. We have ordered some bread flour in bulk.
13th April 2020: Bill knoodling and recording, Sheila gardening then we dipped in and out of the Folk on Foot online Festival, something of a curate's egg but overall worked well, (one has to say rather better than lockdown HIGNFY). Posted 'Willjaford' to FB, well received. Kit Hawes has died from a heart attack, a recent member of the 'Anglo' group, he also played in the (invitation) Irish session which was mobile in the Stowmarket area. andrew is sending a card from the group.
12th April 2020: Happy Easter: Usual, Sheila gardening, Bill music, knoodling on new tunes most of the day. Sheila welcomed the rain. We did manage a brief joint tune up ..
11th April 2020: Happy 1st Birthday Jasmine: Bill recorded and posted his bits onto Mick R's latest suggestion, 'Sunny Side of Life'. Appropriate to today's weather. Hay fever tablets arrived in the post, ditto. Sheila ordering compost as nearly run out.
9th April 2020:No hot water! Walk to shops, cycle ride. Catch up with Rowan.Popped card to Ashley's for Jasmine's Birthday tomorrow.Simon H has found and followed the U3A Folk Music Group FB.
8th April 2020: Bill finished a video of 'One April Morning' multitracked and popped it up. Had a chat with Holly who is painting her boat, not playing much music. Cycle ride etc. Sheila gardening.
7th April 2020: U3A confirm activities supended until September or beyond, (although the folk music group could meet via Zoom or Jamkazam if there was a will so to do). Sheila managed to obtain a bag of (expensive) bread flour from the Co-op on her cycle ride. She is maintaining a regular fiddle practice at a set time daily and spends a lot of the remainder in the garden.
6th April 2020: Bill completed a video of 'Lonesome Moonlight Waltz' (multitracked), and posted to YT. Sheila had a 'Jamkazam' session with Pretty Grim musicians followed by a 'Zoom' Yoga session. Bill joined a 'Zoom' meeting of East Suffolk Morris. Basically the season will start when circumstances allow us to resume. Thanks to Dave Penny for facilitating that online meeting.
5th April 2020: missed a day! Bill posted 'The Marvellous Toy' to FB, a song with a family history and which has already had singalongs in three households.We went for a cycle ride yesterday as our 'exercise'. Running low on bread flour but none available retail it would seem, in person or on line. Kier Starmer is now in post, he wrote the standard textbook on the 'Human Rights Act' which was used in legal training nationwide at the time, and which will soon be made redundant by the present regime. Already legislated into abeyance pro tem, how many of the rights will be re-instated? The elephant in the room presently is that the actions of cognate humanity have been a virus responsible for the, (not our), planet's present near death state. We are now fighting to defend our capacity to finish the job. Irony.... it looks like being one of those days!
3rd April 2020: Mick added his parts to 'Da Slockit Light', passed to Bill edited and posted. (Mick has also posted Annie's Waltz which is a good'un.)
2nd April 2020: Opened the current 'Private Eye', about the sole source of reliable information between the lines and a reminder that the roundabout of corrupt power is a source of unlimited energy! Bill sent Mick a tune to try. Posted 'New Sidewalk Waltz' to the melnet Theme of the Month (&YT). Usually play on concertina or guitar as it has accidentals but managed to translate to melodeon.
1st April 2020: Rabbits: Sheila had a work appoinment (phone), Bill went for a walk to shop, then posted Melnet TotM, 'The Railway', (ironically one of the first tunes learnt from Mick Reeve around 1978 when Bill started to play for dance. Bill's prompt posts when the forum page opens elicited a wry comment this month! Spent the rest of the morning/day overworking 'Långt Jåsspod på Bergom'. (Sheila has expressed that Bill may be spending more time on music than desirable domestic tasks). Anyway, ‘The Railway’ with countermelody has been silently received, LJPB posted this evening, multitracked, very fiddly to get the tracks lined up correctly. In between we went for a cycle ride,Sheila barely broke sweat, Bill shattered!
31st March 2020: Sheila gardening. Bill got to grips with 'Soggy's', posted as today's Mick'nBill FB post. Mike Garland has challenged us with 'Långt Jåsspod på Bergom' from a video by Ollie King. Another continental rhythm buster across 3/4. Will take a day or two.
30th March 2020: Mick added his magic to 'Morgan Megan', which is the FB post for today. He is moving onto 'Captain O’Kane', and has posted his own video of some session tunes. Bill spent some time on Soggy’s then moved on to 'Son at Chistr', found in the Mel net poll for April. Not a winner but fun to spend a couple of hours on. A YT video is the happy result (two guitars, mandolin and 8veMandola). The internet continues to be bombarded with posts by musicians in isolation which are barely watched. It is fun to extend the repertoire and collaborate, but I'm not sure when the watching will catch up with the posting!
29th March 2020: lost the hour. Bill working on Mick R's suggestion to play 'Soggy's' together (apart), a slip jig so rather different to our harmonic adventures to date. Posted Darling Clemmie with Mick's added midi string arrangement before his offer of bagpipes is realised. Holly shopped and popped round for a 'distanced' chat from the roadside. Cabin fever setting in.It is snowing!
28th March 2020: a busy day. We had our first cycle ride in a year (or two). Mick suggested a couple more tunes for potential collaboration. The rest of the day (almost) was spent on those and scouting out the Melnet options for next month. Lots of back and forth on the tunes with drafts and attempts. Bill managed to construct a version of 'Darling Clemmie' from the pieces.
27th March 2020: Sheila went shopping (at 6am) with some success. She arrived home safely, (cf in chains). Bill sent Mick R a version of 'Little Bird', (played out of F shapes) and Mick returned the file with accordion and bass added, very clever. Worth working on. Steve Knightley's latest video on how to play the Mandocello is very useful. Perhaps a retuned Octave Mandola will suffice. FB post of the day is a 'genuine' knoodle around 'Crazy', (Willie Nelson/Patsy Cline). An almost horizontal approach! Missing Everyman FC tonight, and we were to be hosting Cohen B-C so a double loss for us. We'll get to see him next year. Bill has started to read 'Sapiens' by Yuval Noah Harari. He read the sequel a while ago. As ever approaching life in reverse.
26th March 2020:Bill finished reading 'Deliverance of Evil' by Roberto Constantini, a brick of a thriller set in Rom, and the first part of a trilogy. Let's say we'll wait for the other volumes to turn up in the charity shop. We went for a walk around the block. Posted 'Margaret Randolph's Waltz' to the FB page. A bit hardcore judging by a lack of response. Mick R sent 'Little Bird' by Tim Edey as a collaborative suggestion. A beautiful tune played on dropped D on capo 3 and Tim's YT solo redition is definitive, so how to approach this?
25th March 2020: Sheila spending a lot of tiume in the garden. New guitar picks which Bill had ordered have arrived. It is surprising how much difference a small piece of plastic can make to the sound of the instrument. Posted Mrs Saggs on guitar as knoodle of the day. Holly has started a 'craft' FB and web page called 'Cricket Wings' which will be interesting to follow. Mick R is exploring various aspects of musical theory, yesterday 'negative harmony' and 'modal exchange', today 'voice leading' and 'The Tonnetz'. Some of it is useful, all of it is a challenge, the Tonnetz completely beyond reach of this bear with small brain. Great fun to share the journey as far as the garden gate!
24th March 2020: RIP Julie Felix who died on Sunday and Albert Uderzo who illustrated the Asterix stories. The day started late, (why not?). A couple of friends in real life from different sessions have decided to connect with me in the FB world, as we are no longer able to meet to play music. Thanks John & John! Some very impressive viral distancing videos turning up online, a couple of which prompted consideration of the distinction/difference between a melodeon and a diatonic accordion. A thread in itself on various fora, here simply a question thrown into the wind. The machine or the way it is played? (Fiddle or violin?) Bill posted the 'March of St Timothy' on 20 button Anglo as today's knoodle and 'for' Alan Whitbread who he first heard playing it, (although it is a session standard). Not sure how long the daily posts will continue, but they are fun to do, (decision and execution). Perhaps the local folk clubs should open FB pages open to contributions from people who usually support them The U3A Folk Music FB Page seems popular within the group. The other option is 'Zoom' sessions, restricted to the marginaly e-literate but not rocket science, and our elders seem more computer savvy than us anyway! Steve Knightley has started an online guitar class today. As much anecdote as tuition but interesting. There may be a lot of musicians with improved skills by the end of this period of confinement.
23rd March 2020: Bill went shopping. Interesting how a functioning (though anxious) person is now fearful of what would otherwise be a 'normal life' activity. Three shops later managed most of the task and determined a different order of visit for next time. Sheila made his'nhers hand towels, to reframe another 'normal life' activity! Bill spent the afternoon playing mandolin, melodeon, anglo and guitar. First time out for the melodeon in a couple of weeks, (no sessions, and even then it usually remains cased), working through dance set-lists and rediscovering/re-working interesting tunes. Most have found their way onto YT as melnet contributions over the years but fun to do. Missing the U3A meet ups and a couple of the local sessions, also the folk clubs. Rather manic online posts are no substitute , but two hours of Tim Edey and two and a half of Duo Absinthe are an exception! Easily found.
22nd March 2020: Sheila's grand-daughter Hannah has borrowed an anglo to see how she gets on. Bill thinks she might prefer an English Concertina, but he does not have one to lend. By afternoon she is rapidly coming to grips with the anglo. CoVir music groups and virtual Folk Clubs are cropping up on FB to connect musicians and encourage sharing. Bill briefly joined one but then found that his newsfeed was overwhelmed with contributions, so he will probably continue in isolation and post short musical videos to a limited audience of FB friends and occasionally to YT followers. They are all public and should be accessible. Friends 'to be' are welcome to dip in, (https://www.facebook.com/folkbluesnbeyond ), all music with roots and tendrils. Chippenham FF deferred to the end of May, (perhaps over optimistic). South Essex Bluegrass Festival is cancelled. We had a Bill/Sheila tune session this evening.
21st March 2020: Walked across the heath. R.I.P Kenny Rogers, and also Fred Cosstick who danced morris with Harwich and East Suffolk Morris Men and who died on 10th March in Spain, (his adopted homeland). He had a delicatessen in Ipswich when he was local. Bill posted 'Blackberry Blossom' to FB (Concertina),.Bill changed the saddle on the (Ayers) Stanford. Fortunately a good fit without adjustment. We have downloaded 'Zoom' as Sheila has a meetingonline on Monday so we tested it. Can be a medium for sessions to meet remotely also if latency can be addressed.
20th March 2020: 'Flowers of Edinburgh' has positive feedback. Bill worked on some ango tunes and new knoodles. Good to hear that Derek's family in Madrid are ok so far.Sheila to fiddle lesson, (in person still). Max popped round and borrowed a guitar to keep him going while home from college. Carole Chant has died. A sad loss to the world of Old Time music in GB.
19th March 2020: Sheila working, Bill to Woodbridge for a wander and shop then swimming. Posted a FB tune, (Flowers of Edinburgh on guitar). Holly popped round in the evening, she has just discovered Judee Sill whose heyday was ten years before Holly was born. Holly has set up internet on the boat, has (re)borrowed a mandolin and aims to use her time constructively while 'confined'.
18th March 2020: Sheila working, (only one session today). Rochester Sweeps and Green Man Festivals cancelled. Wenhaston Session, Colchester Folk Club also. A number of musicians are making their wares and turorials available via Patreon, which secures a cash flow for those with a following prepared to sign up. Feeling stir crazy even without isolation. Opportunities- to work on CG Anglo in Irish style, to add to the tune list on each instrument, to post regular recreational sketches on FB and if good enough on YT. Just found David Delarre's YT channel which seems to be a fairly recent work in progress but excellent including guitar arrangements and notation/tab. he is an excellent classically trained musician with a large footprint in the 'folk' camp. Bill meeting pm, Sheila looking at remote options for her work to continue, (Zoom?)
17th March 2020 Halesworth Day of Dance postponed, Blaxhall Ship 'playing' sessions cancelled. Ipswich Jazz Festival intending to run but subject to review. Holly’s day jobs and music bookings have evaporated. Self employed, no support. Sheila to swim! Bluegrass & Felixstowe Folk'nRoots sessions cancelled until further notice. Thaxted Morris Meeting & Ely Eel Day cancelled.
16th March: Bill had a tramp around Felixstowe prior to swimming, picked up a couple of books for the bedside. Swam, no John G, presumably following government advice for his age profile. Pool was quiet, Bill enjoyed the physical stretch after a few days 'in'. Happy Birthday Lesley D. East Suffolk Morris practice and programme suspended until further notice. Sheila thinking about her work arrangements and schedule. (Works from home anyway, but people come to her). Decision by local council tonight about Halesworth Day of Dance, should be a 'no brainer' in light of central advice. RIP Roy Hudd.
15th March 2020:a quiet day. Rob confirmed the U3A cancellations although expressing a preference for a more pragmatic approach. His hands are tied, (we supect by insurers). Simon & Val confirmed that the Hadleigh French Weekend is postponed/cancelled. Paul Thomas posted that the Woolpack Session was his third of the weekend, (hopefully he washed his hands in between). We gave it a miss, the previous session was a 'mish mash' so we were thinking of abstaining without the additional risk factor.
14th March 2020: Holly popped round for a cuppa. Has a sore throat but likely seasonal and wear and tear, not Covid 19. Bill found videos of Dave Cooper singing at Steamboat in 2011, instant recognition. Mary D has closed Everyman Folk Club for the remainder of this season, starts again in September, full programme online including re-booking of those whose gigs have been cancelled, (they will also be compensated for the cancellation). Bill posted a Sh3♂ed video as missing Slackfolk, and updated the U3A Folk Music Group FB. Confirmation directly from East Suffolk U3A that all talks and interest groups cancelled until further notice, (radio silence from Rob). Bill trying out some of the new Wayward Tunes.
13th March 2020: Sh3♂ ed will not be playing at Slackfolk tomorrow, our decision. Essex Folk Association reporting lots of event cancellations but seemingly Richard is confident to continue. Sheila to Yoga. Bill enjoyable telephone conversation with Mary D. Late evening, Mc2 have also dropped out of Slackfolk, which is said to be going ahead. A friend has messaged that Dave Cooper, "a stalwart supporter of the Norfolk and Suffolk folk scene" has died, (he was admitted to hospital last night) having been unwell for some time.
12th March 2020: Sheila has a particularly busy working day. Bill to chiropracter then swimming. (Self) designated driver for Wayward session tonight with Andy and PhilW. Phil wants to try a couple of new sets which involves learning a new version of 'Young Collins' and refreshing another couple of tunes. Sh3♂ed probably deciding to forgo Slackfolk on Saturday. Richard B offered that option, and Des's evening gig, (organised by a doctor), is cancelled. Won't mean we don't catch the virus, may influence when. Wayward Session: Angel Woodbridge Bill took Andy and Phil W along. An interesting evening, Bill kept his head down and knoodled along on mandolin, (melodeon and concertina remained cased). Tense at times and occasionally frustrating. Some strong musical personalities in the mix. Chatting with Joan it seems that East Suffolk U3A has cancelled meetings for a month, RobN hasn't been in touch about the Folk Music Group due to meet on Tuesday.
11th March 2020: The Chameleonic Morrris trip to Bosnia etc is cancelled (as expected). Minimal refund on the tickets after a cancellation fee is applied, hey ho! Opens up a week of possibility, which is immediately closed down by Covid 19! A provisional programme for East Suffolk Morris 2020 is circulating. Points of note, we are dancing at
Ely Eel Day, as one of a dozen sides who are new to the festival. Three is a spot at Hadleigh with Boudicca (again), which Bill will forgo as a matter of (misguided) principle, (again).The side will join in Peterborough Morris meeting in September. The remainder is a mix of the usual and occasional, incorporating some of Hageneth's spots, and a couple of fairly long distance venues, (which for Bill means beyond a 15 mile radius of Ipswich, beyond 'huff' range). Sh3♂ed practice for Slackfolk on Saturday which Richard confirms is going ahead, ran through the set then explored a couple of new songs. Seeking gigs. The local music scene is a hard sell in a closed community.
10th March 2020: Bill to Dentist, first post NHS appointment since mandatory Denplan/private customer at the practice. Read the Winter edition of 'Suffolk' magazine while waiting during a delay. Articles of interest, Lindsay Want writing about the 'Blaxhall Sessions', (without declaring a personal interest as parent of stepdancers and prominent local folkie). She favours the venture and dismisses any effect on local folk clubs, which she praises, but does not see as alike, (they do not attract the high class of artist that are said to be queuing to play at Blaxhall Village Hall). There was also a separate, descriptive article about Old Glory Molly and the Middleton Cutty Wren. Hullabaloo in Ipswich won Coffee Shop of the Year, (of interest here because it is where Holly works, and that it is a Vegan cafe run as a Community Interest Company which hosts local events, including Holly's 'Songwriting circle'). The conclusion from the delayed dental appointment is that even with basic 'denplan' Bill will have to save to pay for the next (treatment) appointment, and possibly sell something for the one following! Big Music Night is cancelled for 13th March. Chameleonic Morris members are being canvassed re cancellation of Bosnia etc trip as the festival around which it was based is cancelled, (all large gatherings in Bosnia). General consensus seems to be to abandon. If we cough we might become resident! Fordham session: Roger described this as a 'monthly sophisticated soirée'in his invitation and that is about right compared with some other local sessions. A commonality between players is that we are all travellers on a musical road sharing snapshots of our journey and contributing to the itinerary of fellow travellers. (pseud). An enjoyable evening. a mix of conversation, music and mutual respect. Flowers and Frolics are playing at Towersey Festival this year as a one off spot.
9th March 2020: Bill, Sheila each swam. R.I.P Steve Weber, (Holy Modal Rounders etc). John G has a new mobile telephone, he will pass on the number when he knows it! A smartphone learning curve, (we know the feeling). PhilW kindly offered Bill a lift to East Suffolk Morris practice which was productive, six musicians and about ten dancers. The Bagman is struggling with a plethora of 'possible' attenders at booked events and very few definite takers, as a consequence of which the programme may be fairly basic this year. We gave Roger and his bike a lift back to Kirton given high winds and rain. Phil's parcel shelf was accidentally left behind!
8th March 2020: Sheila to Gym, Bill popped to the International Women's Day event to which Holly was contributing. A part of the interest was that the venue was the repurposed courthouse where Bill had started his adult career in 1977/78 before moving to the 'Elm Street Magistrate's Court'. The building is now owned by Ipswich Borough Council and let to 'Volunteering Matters'. Bill and Steve Mann were among less than half a dozen men present, we were fine, but the organisers seemed anxious for our welfare as a minority! The building has hardly changed, although the high benches and court furniture has been removed to leave a large room with a stage, and a smaller open space. The larger (Crown) Courtroom seems to be a working office, and the very small (juvenile and family) Courtroom was closed. The building will eventually be sacrificed to a long planned shopping centre (which may never be built!) SimonH got in touch to confirm that the second half at Friday's at Hadleigh FAC was one of the best yet. Supper with friends, thanks Jacqui and Martyn. A good catch up and filled some gaps in local folk history.
7th March 2020: Sheila to Saffron Walden for a conference, Bill piggy backed a lift and enjoyed a tramp around a town which has not lost its heart, and which seems to be thriving and attracting a large footfall. Sheila being fed so Bill popped into an obvously popular hostelry only to discover that it is a 'Wetherspoons'. Tim Martin, (CEO) has views with which Bill strongly disagrees, but knows how to run customer facing business, cheap beer, good food at reasonable prices, a clean friendly environment. On this day packed with family groups of all ages. Good choice however accidental. Bought some penny dreadfuls but also 'Zen Guitar' by Philip Toshio Sudo, which looks to be a keeper. Val H in contact about post re Hadleigh FAC. A private exchange, Bill happy to 'own the behaviour'. Val reports that the evening received positive feedback from those who stayed and enjoyed the music.
6th March 2020: Sheila sorting Leah's flat tyre then Yoga, Bill posted Melnet Theme of the Month, worked on a new concertina tune set. A fabulous positive comment from Anahata, thank you. Sheila to Folkus Dance with Pretty Grim. Bill to Hadleigh FAC, left after the floor spots, decided not to risk the rest of the evening. A pity but ....
5th March 2020: Sheila working, Bill swimming. Split the concertina folder into GD and CG thereby making room for new tunes.
4th March 2020: Sheila work and swimming. Bill to town, sorting video and knoodling. Sorry to hear that Alan Whitbread died yesterday, singer and morris man, a Chameleonic friend in every way. Popped to 'the Duke' for mid week blues with Ben Hemming. Good fun, (stayed first set only as usual). Good to hear that Richard U is finally taking his retirement from IBC. (Rock and hard place, if he stays the pension reduces! Bill had the same experience.) He will enjoy retirement although is not sure of that at the moment.
3rd March 2020: Sheila repotting shrubs. U3A Spring Concert: Tony Hall and regulars. A great afternoon with Tony on good form, idiosyncratic as ever. Good support from the floor some of which will appear on the U3A Folk Group FB page. Rob gave us a fantastic introduction referring people to Bill's YT & Folkbluesnbeyond page. Very kind.Bill posted the 'overture' video to the U3A FB page.
2nd March 2020: Happy Birthday Jo. Bill & Sheila each swam. we practised our song for tomorrow's U3A concert. Bill to East Suffolk Morris practice
1st March 2020: Rabbits: Bill posted Melnet Tune of the Month then to Mike P's for Chameleonic Morris practice for our trip to BiH this month. A group of men including from Belchamp MM and Chanctonbury Morris joined in the fray. A solid session, (Bill as exhausted as the dancers). Len Killick travelled from Germany to join in, (he travelled from Frankfurt by bus and will travel in similar fashion to BiH.) Itinerary tweaked, baldrics distributed. Woolpack Session: Roy and Linda are not attending for a few weeks. On this evening the room was filled with contributors. Rather a lot of 'shouty' singing and jostling for attention. We like to support these evenings but....not particularly enjoyable or social, so uncertain for the future.
29th February 2020: Bill spent most of the afternoon playing guitar, aside from which a slow day.
28th February 2020: Sheila to meeting in Colchester and Yoga, Bill recorded video for Melnet TotM best prospect. A tune he has known a while but adjusted harmony and fingering as originally learned years ago in simplest arrangement. Everyman Folk Club Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts standing in for Tim Edey who has illness in his family. Professional singer songwriters working in the folk idiom, fantastic musicians and a good evening with strong support from the floor. They brought and used PA for vocals and stomp box, a slippery slope but no complaints in the circumstances. From Bill's point of view it was unecessary and created a divide between artist and audience, and the 'mainstage' show was out of place at the Everyman, however good.
27th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill swimming, played guitar most of afternoon re-arranging and exploring, mainly O'Carolan, standard tuning. Sheila very tired, (not sleeping well), but has to go to Pretty Grim practice to prep for the side's appearance at Folkus next week, (so she will miss Hadleigh FAC.) Bill has offset his flight carbon for the BiH/Croatia trip, £1.06 for the proportion not already covered by BA! OPtions, Steamboat, Lattice Barn, Duke Songwriters swap, and various open mic's. Bill opted for The Duke, fairly full and very noisy. The music is now located at the short part of the L shaped bar, the sound gets lost and the crowd shouted their conversations across the music, and then applauded the songs which they had ignored. Holly was a pearl......Her material stood out positively in company with happy and sad love songs and loud riffs. We had thought of 'The Duke' as a venue for Sh3♂ed but looks a less positive option.
26th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill had a tramp around Ipswich, picked up a couple of books and a 'Yetties' songbook, played some old songs this afternoon ahead of Tattingstone Bluegrass session tonight (White Horse). Rob has reduced the Bill'Sheila set at next week's concert to a single song, (not a problem). Tim Edey has cancelled Everyman FC for Friday so now Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts are headlining instead. There is a 'Songwriter's Circle' at The Duke tomorrow, (Holly is playing). Possibly a better bet than struggling to park at the Steamboat. See how we feel but if it becomes a regular clash ..... Tattingstone white Horse Bluegrass: fairly dispiriting. we haven't been for a while and the turnout was five people including us. Two fiddle, two guitar, two mandolin. TrevorS had expressed an interest in Bill's Fylde and seemed to like what he saw, although it would be a luxoury purchase for its own sake. He could meet his needs more economically by setting up what he has and certainly for half the price of the Fylde. We discussed that, he will let me know. Trevor is the local BBMA rep and is setting up a picking day on 2nd May with a round table to discuss Bluegrass in Suffolk after Orwell Bluegrass Festival which closed down last year. Could be an enjoyable day but will need publicity and some organisation. At present is is simply an invitation to a field with instruments.
25th February 2020: A quiet day, we practised songs this evening. Noted a FB trail in which significant local folkies argue about singing with words and playing with music.
24th February 2020: Sheila unhappy to have missed the English Fiddle Weekend about which we knew nothing, but given that 130 people made it , it may not have been open to public subscription, (this was the second event). Turned out that social media was misleading and the event was in Evesham and not local as we had understood Each swam, brief catchup with JG. A couple of BotH Cd's have been sent to Canada! A new market for us. Bill fitted a strap pin to his 'Fulton' guitar so that he can now stand and play. Sheila out for tea with a colleague from work, (and muso). Bill ESMM practice: only Bill & Martin on music, a near miss. Transport arrangements for Writtle to Gatwick to BiHg a step closer.
23rd February 2020: Sheila to gym, Ashley/Nat & Jasmine came over for a cuppa and chat. Bill playing tunes pm. Reflecting that when he bought his first large accordion, an English Concertina had also been on offer, how history might have been different! Just as he had ignored encouragement to take up the banjo in preference to the guitar. Holly: Album Launch: Arbor House. An excellent early evening concert in a packed room at the Arbor House. Good to catch up with friends and family. Duke of York Session:confirmed that ALFs and tablets should be banned so that people learn their songs and don't simply stumble through pp121! Sheila was for walking out at times but there was enough to keep us present. Good to see Mike G out and playing well. The tune players gave up in the face of the usual round of shanties, (nothing new).
22nd February 2020: Sheila entertaining family pm, Bill popped to Halesworth to see the UNit19 exhibition. Sadly Rowan wasn't about. Good to meet his fellow artists and Lawrence Edwards.
21st February 2020: Bill managed an early swim, exhausting after a break and a head cold but felt good to do. Sheila to a fiddle lesson and yoga. Normal routine reumes next week. We ran through a few songs in early evening. TrevorS has asked about the Fylde, cautioning that he hopes he doesn't like it, (impecunious).
20th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill posted the Fylde (Orsino) on Gumtree. Immediate response seemed to be a 'phishing' reply so remains for sale (£1400), but no longer on Gumtree. Showing its age but a great guitar, simply not played much compared with others in the fleet. Not sure if the new Mardles has a 'for sale' section. Bill had a tune up this afternoon. Lots of options on 'new' guitar knoodles. Challenging rhythms abound. Sheila to Pretty Grim practice. We are looking at the diary to see which festivals to attend in the warmer months. Already lots of clashes in the diary, and options as FolkEast seems not to want PG this year and doubtless will kick back the BArds Soapbox bid, (if only because we don't have a photo of the correct dimensions)! Trying to find festivals that are not simply on the 'roundabout' of usual suspects.
19th February 2020:Sheila working. Bill posted Lochanside as Melnet Theme of the month, also Dark Island as a guitar knoodle. Popped to the 'midweek blues' at The Duke. Well supported but.... Broken Levee: Loud retro rock (70's). Well played but loud and generic.Gave it four songs.
18th February 2020: Sheila swim. Song and tune up.
17th February 2020 half term interrupts routine. Sheila swimming. East Suffolk Morris practice: Bill spent the afternoon sorting Bucknell tunes as requested and they are deferred for a week.Updates, Peterborough Day of Dance 26th September is a clash with Bards at Faerie Fayre in Maldon but will take priority, (The 'Maldon' Fayres tend to be a disappointment, and that is the second of two this year). David Evans is organising a Morris Musicians Squeezebox and Fiddle Day on 24th October with John Kirkpatrick and Briony Leech. JK is all things to all people, Briony seems to be Cotswold oriented but will presumably cater to the 'happy clappy' brigade as required should they come. Morris musicians note in diaries and start saving, about £30 each for the day. (There is also the Harwich Melodeon weekend on the horizon with Simon Care and Katie Howson). Something of a saturated market for musicians flogging their skills, (Mel Biggs was a frontrunner for the £ model). Bill regularly attends affordable workshops, and comes away with 'learning' on less than 5% of those occasions, (usually where no instrument has been played throughout the workshop but an experienced player has shared a few words which have influenced his approach).
16th February 2020: Good feedback from Anglo Day.(No cancellation fee). Bill on the mend. Sheila to Gym/swim. we had a sing/tune up this afternoon. Holly is back from the 'Songwriting Workshop' with Reg Meuross. Bill popped to the Woolpack but the car park and streets around were parked solid, came home.
15th February 2020: Bill didn't make 'Anglo day', not sure if there will be a cancellation fee. Feeling generally better. Feedback from Wayward that Andy enjoyed it, Phil was pleased to catch up with Geoff R. So the attendees swap round fairly regularly but hopefully the music is as good each time. Listened to the first couple of Seth Lakeman's 'Folk Map of the British Isles'. Somewhat reliant upon a second generation definition of 'folk music' and some rather doubtful talking heads. Folk might be a community enterprise for Eliza Carthy, but she is not in the 'cock pit' of daily competition experienced by young newcomers from a less regal background. Mark Radcliffe's views carry little credibility at chez J, and Sam Lee reinvents himself as a variously opinionated performing artist at whim. If this is the future, folk music has long expired. Back in the box Bill!. We managed a song/tune up.
14th February 2020: Happy Valentine's Day. Sheila to yoga.
13th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill still under the cosh. Pleased that Andy and Phil managed to orgnise a shared car to Wayward session. Probably an interesting evening with Graham and Nicky there for the first time, and Pat W.
12th February 2020: Bill no better, cancelled Wayward arrangements for tomorrow. Sheila working. Bill also provisionally cancelled for the John Kirkpatrick Anglo workshop day on Saturday. Seems there isn't a waiting list, so will see how he feels on the day.
11th February 2020: Sheila to swim. Bill has come down with a head cold. As a consequence missing U3A Folk Group and Fordham session. Hoping for swift recovery. Rob has invited us to play a couple of songs at the concert on March 3rd.
10th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill to swim after a tramp around Felixstowe. Bill has subscribed to Private Eye over the last couple of months, and finds it far more informative and direct about the shenanigans of those in power than the mainstream press. Articulate and fiery in pursuit of the fiddles and dodges whereby the 'establishment' succeeds in retaining power and wealth and sidestepping accountability. We will renew! East Suffolk Morris practice: Lift with Phil W dropping Lucy at Grundisburgh dance club on the way. Fieldtown.
9th February 2020: Storm Ciara. A windy day.Sheila still in spring clean mode. Bill working on tunes with the Fylde. A beautiful guitar but has a difficult neck profile. Options, change guitar or explore a neck change. The Duke session: nine of us turned out and enjoyed an evening of songs and tunes. The bar staff and customers were joining in, dancing and very supportive. That in itself feels good although the 'ALFs' were in evidence!
8th January 2020: Bill had headlight bulb replaced, popped in on Ash, Nat and Jasmine, tidied up video from last evening and posted to FB, also posted a song from the Sh3♂ed practice. Sheila to town. Decided Strawbs acoustic at JP Centre not worth £20 a ticket, (had a look on YT, milking it). Noticed that the 'Duke' has put the Sunday Folk Session as an 'event'. A step in the right direction, makes us feel appreciated, (as opposed to....).
7th February 2020: Domestic chores, (mainly Sheila). Sheila Yoga. Bill played some music in the afternoon. The new music books are interesting as a couple are for clarinet for which the repertoire is largely C20. We had a practice and set off for Hadleigh FAC, Bill without guitar picks or coat, (distracted). Borrowed picks and a capo from Phil Lyons and played the first floor spot. As one player had not turned the two remaining spots had four songs each, (Revival form Chelmsford were the other spot). We played 'Willow Tree', 'What did the Deep Sea Say' (concertina), 'Every Time You Say Goodbye' (Alison Krauss version), and 'Southern Girls Farewell', (US Civil War song). enjoyable to play out which we rarely manage nowadays as Bill'nSheila. Thank you to Simon and Val for asking us. The 'fulton' guitar played well. Bof substituted as support. We hadn't seen the much of band in its newish form including Gwendal Moele. Very enjoyable and good to encounter the internal rhythms/beats of French music as a refreshing change from the 'in line' of most English/American songs. Rob Barret was headlining, a performance poet with some very clever material which he presented with a fairly direct style. Probably struggles with obvious comparisons wherever he plays. For Bill this harked back to the late 60's/early 70's poetry movement, and locally John Row.The audience enjoyed the presentation. Bill enjoyed the skill both in writing and stagecraft, but.... Sheila was hooting throughout. Headlamp out on way home.
6th February 2020: Sheila working, Bill to Woodbridge and swim, Sheila swim. Bill processing recordings from last evening's Sh3♂ed practice.Sheila missed PG practice, (unexpected visitors). We have agreed to host Cohen BC when he appears at EverymanFC in a couple of months. The day before Halesworth Day of Dance so we'll manage around a commitment to that also.
5th February 2020: Sheila working. Bill wandered into town, picked up some second hand classical music books,dropped off at Hullabaloo, (Vegan Cafe) for a coffee and catch up with Holly. She has prepared her workshops for the Halsway weekend with Reg Meuross. Hullabaloo is a lovely space. Holly runs her songwriting circle there. Very comfortable and welcoming, great menu.Drafted Sh3♂ed setlist for Slackfolk. Ran through this afternoon. Sh3♂ed practice:went well. Consensus around the set list. Cut one item leaving about 35 minutes, could trim another. Great to get back to playing together. discussion over how to break into the closed world of local gigs and how hard to press. We would still get together to play music for the fun of it! Des and Ruth have a gig on the evening of Slackfolk so need a mid afternoon slot really, (RichardB, if you are a reader).
4th February 2020: Sheila to U3A Ladies Panto debrief and 'watch' party. Bill:found some old audio files which he has posted to FB, can't remember playing that well! Style has mellowed with age. Includes a multi track, five 'Bill's' playing together. Lots more where that came from. Submitted an application for the BotH to play Soapbox at FolkEast this year. No great hope for success but given that PG aren't going and JG says he is willing, worth a punt. Original material only, so probably not for Sh3♂ed, although there have been other cover bands featured in the past. We are probably more of a support or 'Folk Club' act, but .......ouch, tongue bitten. Committed to having the house roof repaired in May or June....ouch again, £ plus VAT!
3rd February 2020: Sheila swim and chiropracter, Bill swim and had a try at Emperor of the Moon, which Phil W sent across. East Suffolk Morris practice: Headington, a good evening, Bill Martin and Pete D on music with a side and a half dancers. Mike P with update on intended Chameleonic Morris practice session. The 'FolkEast' spoof newspaper is out, (Mike had a copy).
2nd February 2020: Bill spent the afternoon exploring tunes and polishing Sh3♂ed material, (practice on Wednesday). Woolpack session:well supported. Speedy entry needed to find a slot. A good mix of tunes and songs.
1st February 2020: Rabbits: Bill spent an hour awake in the wee hours finishing reading Mick Herron's 'London Rules', reflecting on loss of identity, considering whether to drop out of Anglo Day in favour of Gainsborough FOATMAD festival, and noting that 'private' sessions and house groups seem to be burgeoning locally, or we have just become aware of a few recently. (Note the Oxford Comma). The concept and merits have been aired earlier (see below), but the development of separatist (elite) factions, even in a Folk Music context seems to be an extension of the new age into which we have now stepped as a community. Self selection of 'people like us' is creeping into what had previously been 'free' cultural and social exchange in public spaces. Bill posted Melnet TotM, seems well received. We started knoodling around next week's Hadleigh set.
31st January 2020: The last day to enjoy rights and benefits of membership of the EU. We will spend the evening evening at Everyman Folk Club where we will enter, as members and leave poorer individually and as a nation in many ways. Sheila to fiddle lesson. Everyman Folk Club: Geoff Lakeman and Rob Murch a full house with extra seats being sourced and Geoff and Rob delivered a fantastic evening of varied material brilliantly presented, and seemed to have a great time to boot, as did we. Strong support from the floor, our songs seemed to go well. Now to work on a different set for Hadleigh FAC next week.
30th January 2020: Bill decided swimming might still be a step too far but generally feeling better. Sheila working then swimming. We had a practice for tomorroe evening having received the running order from Mary D. Probably a re-run of the U3A songs from Tuesday. Sheila to Pretty Grim practice. Not invited to FolkEast this year so on previous showings we won't go as the event is not worth the 'punter' ticket price, perhaps we'll get an offer in a different context. Bill posted a guitar version of 'Farewell to Muirheads' on FB.
29th January 2020:Bill has picked up a bug which will hopefully be temporary. Sheila working. Bill recorded Faewell to Muirhead, guitar and melodeon versions. It may be an academic exercise but a great tune. Sheila to Kelly Art's exhibition prevue which she enjoyed very much. Roy relephoned to say that the Sunday session on the last Sunday monthly is returning to 'The Duke' on Woodbridge Road.
28th January 2020: U3A East Suffolk Folk Music Group at The Brook Washbrook: an enjoyable afternoon playing and singing in a social setting, the point made that 'folk music' has become commodotised and costed to facilitate its place as a branch of the music industry with degrees and professional qualifications as the main entry route. Bill and Richard had a good old moan about the changing times and the tarnished jewel that is now a bizness! The room was full but we all had a fair crack, Sheila sang 'Caledonia', Bill 'Mama Tried, and together we sang 'Meet Me Where they Play the Blues'. Tunes 'Weaver's March' and 'Quaker'. Bill has noticed previously that his concertina, (checked as in tune), is slightly out with Rob's Crane Duet. Both probably show as 'in tune' but an uncomfortable tremolo when played together. Rob is looking at the Bramfod Cock as a possible venue on the way home. Bill has transcribed his preferred Melnet TotM, (a pipe tune 'Return to Muirheads' which is a joy to explore although unlikely to win against a fingerbusting French jobby-figuratively and literally intended). Posted a cover photo for U3A folk musician's FB page. Seems to be well received.
27th January 2020: Bill's cold is breaking, lots of sneezes and snuffles. He finished reading 'The Runner' by Peter May, (China series). Each swam, JG keen to relate that four/five 'Bards' played at a 'Burns Supper' with Brenda, (and got paid). Pictures available. East Suffolk Morris Practice: a productive evening practicing dances rarely seen in public to tunes barely remembered and idiosyncratic!
26th January 2020: Sheila to gym. Bill spent pm exploring tunes on amplified guitar. Could offer background finger style. Played the Lakewood through the Ashworth amp, sounding excellent. Lord Nelson session:very enjoyable.melodeon,flute,two guitars,three fiddles,mandolin. A mix
of songs and tunes. Phil came along for the first time. Simon
contributed blues and piedmont finger style. Thank you to Nigel for
coming along in support, the regulars seemed to enjoy the
25th January 2019: we walked into town and signed up for the Ripple Wholefood co-op. Had a song/tune up in the evening.
24th January 2019:Bill feeling better. Sheila to Yoga. Mary D rang for a catch up, and to offer us a Bill'nSheila floorspot at Everyman Folk Club on Friday. Should be good, (Skip Mim and Maria, Tin River, also have a spot. A local favourite of Bill's). The Hadleigh FAC French Weekend is cose to fully booked. SimonH has confirmed we are ok for Friday night (open concert). Bill thinking that a current career option for folk performers is to charge for workshops on a commercial basis, (Mel Biggs, JK, French Weekend), whether alongside a concert or not. Where workshops have been included or nominally charged, they now comprise an income flow. Phil W made it to the Steamboat session last evening. Interesting to receive his impressions as he used to attend when John & Ginny ran it ( as long time ago). The emphasis has changed since then, but Phil enjoyed catching up with John T and managed a few tunes. He is keen to sample Wayward. (Fordham and Wayward are two days apart usually so a glut followed by a fallow period for tunesters.) We aborted a Bill'Sheila practice which included senior moments from each!
23rd January 2020:Happy Birthday Laurel. Each swam. Sheila working. Bill under the weather so not out further. Phil W keen to visit more sessions, and hoping to put a gallic band together. Sheila to Pretty Grim practice,lots of events have just hit her PG inbox
22nd January 2020: Day in, Bill has finished novels byThomas Enger and Tony Kent and will look out for more from each. Played some Mandolin/Guitar/Anglo.
21st January 2020: Bill walked into town via a visit to Nat and Jasmine.
20th January 2020: Bill/Sheila swim, Bill catch up with John G and strating early managed a mile!. Bill had a tramp around Felixstowe, bumped into Steve and Sari P from whom learnt that friend, former colleague and neighbour Melvin Pratt died late last year. A man whose cynicism and dark humour was easily a match for Bill's. Holly for tea. A good catch up session, she returned some books and a mandolin I had forgotten owning! Perhaps time for a clear out, five is more than enough! East Suffolk Morris practice: an enjoyable evening. There will not be a 'spring trip' this year so just as well Bill signed up for the Chameleonic outing! (Pete K concurs on shared travel)
19th January 2020:Lazy Sunday. Sheila for a walk with family, Bill brushing up some Sh3♂ed tunes and Anglo/Melodeon. Woolpack Session: enjoyable. eight of us in the end with a couple of ALFs (Arch Lever Files). Tunesmiths Peter, Sheila Bill and Noel which was fun without a need to cater to 'standard' repertoire for purposes of inclusion. Bill had thought to go to the Hadleigh French Weekend workshops this year, his enthusiasm doesn't run to £12 a pop (yet). Paying a lot more for a day with JK in a couple of weeks but that is another story. The weekend will be a great sucess regardless as it has a ready market of Francophile musicians across East Anglia and beyond. Usual anxiety having committed to the Chameleonic trip to Bosnia. Had promised for years to make the promised 'final' trip, but........, a familiar pattern for Bill of commitment then doubt usually (hopefully), followed by resolution!
18th January2020: Sh3♂ed and partners meal at Des and Ruth's. Very enjoyable. We now have to practice a set list for Slackfolk in March, planning a couple of practices. Bill did some Anglo practice, working out some new/old tunes.
17th January 2020: Bill finished reading 'The Blood Road' by Stuart McBride, a bawdy police procedural set in Glasgow. Confirmed Morris trip to Bosnia Herzegovina and committed by buying flight tickets. Flies from Gatwick which is a pain! Anglo/guitar practice. Sheila Yoga. Potential for Henley folk night but........ and Bungay a step too far for gipsy balkan music.
16th January 2020:Sheila working, Bill to swim. Sheila pacemaker check, all well, Bill anglo workout. Missing Roger D's New Year party, starts and finishes early and Sheila working until 7pm, not practicable. Sheila to Pretty Grim practice.
15th January 2020: Sheila work and swim, Bill appointment and knoodle, we practised some songs in the evening when we could have been at Blaxhall session, ( a come down after Fordham), or Mark Harrison at mid week blues, (a one trick guitarist, seen before). About time for an evening 'in'. Holly has advertised her EP launch at the Arbor House on 23rd February. Bill rang Laurel for a catch up.
14th January 2020: Sheila to swim and then to a meeting in Colchester. Bill spent most of the morning editing the YT video of last evening's Plough Monday dance out. He attended the U3A afternoon session at the Douglas Bader, but proceedings had been shoe-horned into a back room which was inadequate to accomodate the number of people present, (the pub had apparently prioritised a party from BT and re-located the prebooked U3A diners). Bill gave it a miss.Fordham session:a select group of seven and an extremely enjoyable evening. Bill had taken a quiet mandolin, but not a problem when people play music 'with' each other. Lots of variety and tunes that fell out of Bill's head years ago if they ever were there, but finding them is not too hard. Worth a windy journey and sets Bill up up for a month of Suffolk 'fare' before a re-boost.
13th January 2020:Sheila had the oven in pieces when Bill woke up this morning! We eventually repaired the door when Bill returned from swimming, a return to routine. East Suffolk Morris. Plough Monday in Bramford. Bill doesn't usually 'do' Plough Monday which has hitherto meant traipsing around a cold publess village in the dark. This year we re-located to Bramford where we were made very welcome at 'The Cock' to start the evening and for a singsong to conclude proceedings. Bill brought the box brownie along and there is a YT video, (mini feature) to celebrate. Storm Brendan joined in the fun.
12th January 2020: a very enjoyable afternoon tea for Bards and friends at Sarah's including a chance to marvel at the house extension which is a work in progress.THank you Sarah and Pete. Discover that Pete is developing significant skills as a fiddle fettler. After tea we played some tunes. The Duke session: the first folk session since the pub was dark.Mike G and Mick R came along and the group gradually enlarged during the evening which was a success with a good mix of Tunes and Songs sung well. During the evening it transpired that the Wayward Session at The Angel in Woodbridge may be regarded as an invitation only session Hopefully this is a misunderstanding which can be readily remedied, but is certainly not the view of others at that session. All have been welcome and session etiquette loosely prevails. If the evening is exclusive it loses its rationale. Mike S, (who arranges the session), and Bill, have had a chat, which has been helpful, certainly from Bill's point of view.
11th January 2020: another lazy day. Knoodling on tunes and realising that a lot of songs on the list have drifted from memory. Veggie roast and Creme Caramel for tea. Find of the day Ale Möller. Lesson oif the day, how to enter a letter with an umlaut! Played some songs and tunes, (where remembered). Night in. Bill finished reading ' A Step Away From Paradise' by Thomas K Shor. (Tibetan Buddhism)
10th January 2020: we played some tunes, Sheila to Yoga, Bill to doctor.We popped to The Duke to see the heavily publicised Soapbox presentation of Margo Cilker and Friends. The friends included 'Soapbox favourite' Jack Pout, we looked on YT and gave him a miss arriving in time for 'An American Forrest' , from Oregon who were support and also Margo's accompanists on this evening. The pub was packed with the failiar faces of Ipswich 'musos' who obviously enjoyed the music more than we did. Amrican Forrest were fairly raggamuffin Americans in the 'Honky Tonk' style, and Margo Cilker's set was effectively a pub band version of Rawlings and Welch. All reasonably played but not worth standing in a packed and noisy pub for longer than it takes to decide to leave. The music was outshouted throughout by people who were present top be seen rather than to listen to the music. Not sure what this bodes for the first 'Duke' session evening tomorrow. I suspect that the contributions of the 'arch lever' groaners may lead to it being a short lived session venue. The landlord is used to the 'tune' session at his other pub, 'The Angel' in Woodbridge, which is attracting more custom every time. A perponderance of long ballads badly sung may not have the same appeal!
9th January 2020: Sheila has a full working day. She went for a walk between session, fell and scraped her hand and knee, hmm. Bill went for a swim in Woodbridge, the 'senior's' session was crammed with NY Resolutioners, but after about half an hour the pool was almost clear of people! Wayward Session: Angel: Woodbridge. Well supported both by musicians and friends who had been previously unaware we were playing at the Angel. Reservations expressed yesterday only realised in part. The lesson from yesterday's session was the principle that he who starts a tune sets the speed, style and key. A few 'starters' were left behind, and other tunes played in unfamiliar styles or keys were shoehorned into 'house' style/key. Inappropriate. A friendly and successful evening playing music. Sheila came along after Pretty Grim practice and enjoyed the last hour or so. The main issue with this session is that parking in Woodbridge is at a premium in the evening, (for those unable to walk to the Angel).
8th January 2020: a day 'in' with newspaper, books and instruments. Roofer came around and will send a quote. The afternoon was devoted to Early Music. The 'Wayward Session' was discussed at Danegeld practice last evening and has apparently elicited additional interest from musicians there. Given that at least four of the previous 'regulars' have not yet appeared at the session, which is already beyond (Bill's view of) optimal size,it may be becoming a victim of its own success. Bill already has to bring the 'loud' mandolin along so that he can hear himself amongst the competitive jostling (he deliberately eschews loud melodeons), and sits out when he can't decide which speed/rhythm section to join.... never satisfied you may say. Beginning to understand the attraction of 'invitation only' session groups, (Tony Hall's evenings in Norwich and the Irish sessions in Mid Suffolk). Bill is invited to neither,and would probably not 'fit in' were that to change, not a problem. We'll see how tonight goes.
7th January 2020: Bill finished reading 'How the Dead Speak' by Val McDermid. A procedural crime novel which re-positions familiar characters so that the series, (Jordan/Hill), has a point from which to progress. Sheila back to work with her patients. Routine is re-established.Deferred swim achieved. Bill working on ragtime mandolin and anglo.
6th January 2020. Roofer rang so progress on the chimney in prospect. Sheila swim, Bill tried, but despite having checked before travelling, the pool was full of noisy families, and as the contemplative element of swimming is a part of the package , he deferred the experience! We had a Bill Sheila singsong thinking about Hadleigh FAC next month, and tried a couple of tunes.East Suffolk Morris Men: practice. A select band post Christmas, and an enjoyable evening exploring dances from the 'sometimes' list. Looking at the header here it is hard to credit that there are fifteen years of diary condensed above! Maybe a book in it!
5th January 2020: Lunch at the Woolpack and a walk around Christchurch Park. Working on tunes this afternoon, particularly phrasing in Morven's March which is a 3/2 tune. Woolpack Session: first of the year. Very well attended with the usual mix of material. Fortunately there were enough musicians to keep the Arch Lever brigade to a proportionate contribution. Bill's folk guitarist dentist, Alex K came along for a look. It transpires that he has bought the house where Bill lived in his teens and early twenties, between 1964 and 1978. The room where Bill cut his teeth on guitar and mandolin is intended as the music room! Strict cut off at 10.30, (we suspect the staff were feeling slightly overwhelmed, and they had been on duty all day.
4th January 2020: Front offside tyre replaced, drove off, handling poor, rear nearside flat! Returned and relaced that. Suspect Co-Op Parking spaces the culprit but no obvious damage so perhaps malice involved. Start the year on a paranoid note! Ashley/Natalie and Jasmine visited. Bill had a knoodle in DADGAD emulating some of Zoe Wren's playing, (rather poorly, not good in open tuning).Bill finished reading 'The Black eyed Blonde' a Philip MArlowe novel by Benjamin Black, a reasonable pastiche but insufficiently hard bitten!
3rd January 2020: A quiet day. Sheila to Yoga, Bill rummaging in the Chris Partington's Village Music Project tunebooks, picked out a couple to try. A fantastic resorce.Most of the remainder of the afternoon was spent playing Anglo concertinas. A style seems to be emerging which is a hybrid of Irish and English technique with some dusty remnants of a clumsy transfer of melodeon fingering (which has at times to be addressed). Roger D is highly respected and very capable, but not necessarily an ideal template for improving technique.While Sheila's back is much improved she is frustrated that her lack of mobility in the frozen shoulder restricts violin practice. Hadleigh Folk & Acoustic Club: Megan Wisdom and Zoe Wren in a double header. As we drove off we realised Bill had a flat tyre. Deposited vehicle at Autofit and came in Sheila's. Floor spots were Glass Thistle first outing for a band based at a Woodbridge school, who brought along a significant tribe in support. All decamped very obviously in the interval, and while the main act was onstage setting up. This left a large bare space in the audience. Rude in the extreme, (Bill's views on this behaviour previously noted). Alice Martin played four songs, loquacious as ever. She also decamped in the interval. Megan Wisdom opened the double header. Nervous but clear spoken and sang well. Zoe Wren played a very enjoyable set, comfortable in stagespace. She made reference to being a member of a 'folk' family. Sophisticated guitar style in various tunings, and an interesting approach to songwriting. (We have a Bill & Sheila floorspot next month). Bill's posts about local sessions seem to be giving the impression that he is running these, he is not. Roy Nicholls runs the Sunday sessions and Mike Sherwen the Angel, Woodbridge Wayward tune session. Neither use social media. Mike sends group reminders on e-mail, but still with some attenders missing so Bill posts reminders/notices. The Sunday sessions are a (very) mixed bag round the room, Wayward is a tune session.
2nd January 2020: The day began with a sparrowhawk visiting our (suburban) garden. Bill has posted video from yesterday's dance out at Snape on FB and shared with the sides. Bill recorded and posted a Melnet Theme of the Month video: 'Stone Mountain Wobble'. Pretty Grim have belatedly put Whittlesea Straw Bear on their events list, we have a clash, pity.
1st January 2020: Sheila welcomed the New Year in Poole . Bill cursed the fireworks which kept him awake. His first email of the year was prefaced:
"Happy new year, or not. 'New Year' messages are patronising, and corporately funded ultra
nationalism is ascendant. If there was a lifeboat to man I'd be on it,
but then I realise......... Media is Soma for the masses and the global
extinction of humanity may be the only way to
save the planet. A difficult call for a selfish survival species.
That set the mood! (Including the inherent contradiction).
Back to the music........ Snape New Years Dancing: Barley Brigg, Danegeld and Pretty Grim a good turnout and fine weather. Bill stayed for about an hour and a half when there was a hiatus. NW Morris always seems strangely out of context relocated and sans processional, Bill described it as a static ramble in clogs, he also described the 'made up' border morris as a samba band with screaming, given the preponderance of drums. Sheila arrived home in the evening, trains and buses on a bank holiday!