You’re Never too Old……..

Don’t ever think it’s too late do something new or be too shy to ask someone you admire to work with you. … I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last couple of days. I met my old school music teacher yesterday and she finished her History of Art Degree recently at the age of 79. What an inspiration. I’m glad I changed life paths a few years ago. I’m just listening to a recording of me singing and the music I’ve written recently. All things I’ve come to fairly late in life. I’m so glad I’ve got on and done it. This week and next week I have some very lovely and talented people working with me. Heroes all. A bit overwhelmed by it at times but grateful . I dare you to take the leap or ask. It might turn out o.k.

Photo by Simon Buckley

 

 

 

 

 

A Busy Summer of Festivals and Fiestas.

Liz Hanks & Michael Walsh

It’s been a hectic summer for me. It started off with the very cool Not Quite Light Festival in Salford. Curated by photographer, musician and creative genius Simon Buckley it covered multiple art genres and new works. I performed with the wonderful cellist and my neighbour Liz Hank and we premiered our multimedia collaboration with Simon Buckley. Sian Astley from https://moregeous.com enthused: “Michael Walsh and Liz Hanks silenced the room”.

Simon Buckley commented:

“ Michael and Liz performed at my Not Quite Light festival in the machine room of a working mill. Whilst they performed we projected images onto them and the wall behind. The atmosphere that they managed to create in this unusual space was, cliche though it might be, simply magical. There was a poetic brilliance of the music, and the performance was absolutely one of the highlights of the weekend “.

Michael Walsh Tin Whistle Workshop @Underneath the Stars. Photo by Gunnar Mallon

Next up were my adventures with my Asturian pals, the breath taking L-R (Leticia González and Rubén Bada ). I am on a mission to bring great Asturian music to the masses. The ‘Asturians in Yorkshire’ weekend started with my Tin Whistle workshop at Underneath the Stars. The tent was packed with 50 whistlers of all levels. At the end of the hour we had all the participants on stage and the Underneath the Stars Tin Whistle Orchestra was born. We whizzed over to Leeds for an Irish Arts Foundation sponsored event where I gave my guided tour to Asturian music (based on my PhD research) before welcoming L-R to the stage of The Inkwell in Leeds. L-R wowed Underneath The Stars, with guerilla Asturian dance classes and a performance that stopped people in their tracks and got the whole tent dancing. I waved good bye to my family and headed to Asturias with L-R. Two intense weeks of PhD fieldwork followed. Learning to dance and catching up with fieldwork contacts who had now become friends. I finally got to see Llan de Cubel. Llan de Cubel fiddler Simon Bradley has already recorded some tracks on my new album. The highlight of the fieldwork was dancing Jota in a tiny village of Baselgas.

I came to England for Whitby Folk Week. We did a secret house concert in Sheffield to warm up and raised some money for Dementia Care. I played 4 concerts with the Liz Hanks, led two flute workshops and a wonderful session and finally made my debut as a singer. We received great feedback from our concerts Colin Irwin from Mojo Magazine…
“Flute and cello? That’s not going to work is it? Is it? Well, it bloody does in the hands of Michael Walsh and Liz Hanks! Beautiful. Art music for the soul.” Colin Irwin (Mojo Magazine).
I’m really excited about what the Autumn brings. I’m catching up with my old pals from Leeds Ceili Band next week. They’ve invited me to lead a session at Leeds Irish Centre on 15th September. I’m tutoring at the Yorkshire Youth Folk Weekend next month Bryony Griffiths, Will Hampson and Jamie Roberts. I’m back in the studio to finish my album and record the final guests. Sometime the best is worth waiting for. I have a couple of Festival announcements for 2019 to make shortly. Watch this space.

Whitby Folk Week 2018

We’re having a wonderful time here at Whitby Folk Week 2018. The concerts with Liz Hanks and special guest Jonathan Vidler went better than we could ever have imagined and we’ve had some wonderful feedback. It was my first outing as a solo singer and some of the material that we’ve recorded for my album. We’re ready to hit the festivals of 2019 with a very sharp set, a completed album with lots of fab guests.

Liz Hanks & Michael Walsh

I also had a busy time teaching flute. The first workshop was full and we had a great variety of participants from different backgrounds learning a new tune. I chose one of my compositions, ‘Celeste’s Jig’ to focus on. We practised learning by ear or listening rather than reading music. The A part was learnt by all. Here’s the music for the jig. For the next workshop on Thursday (11.30 a.m. Middle Earth Whitby) we’ll be concentrating on ornamentation and technique. Here’s the written version of the tune. I wrote this tune for my daughter Celeste.

Copyright Michael Walsh 2016. All Rights Reserved.

I’ll be finishing off Whitby Folk Week with a session in The First In Last Out Pub at 5pm on Thursday 23rd August 2018. All welcome. Thanks to everyone who came to our concerts, the volunteers who kept things running smoothly. The wonderful musicians we shared the stage with and the Festival organisers for booking us. Please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought of our music or the workshops.

Cheers,

Mike.

Viva La Danza: My Adventures in Dance.

My much needed sabbatical from the PhD In Asturian Flute Playing gave a me a little time to think. Reflecting on my past visits to Asturias and time with various fluters, it was clear that there was an increasing trend to refocus the music on its link with dance. I wanted to understand the rhythms of the music connected to the dance. One criticism of the revival groups of the 1980’s and groups outside of Asturias playing Asturian tunes was that they played the music too fast, the music was smoothed out. The anacrucis (the upbeat or beats before the first down beat in the bar) at the start of a tune part was lost. The phrasing was too much like the reels and jigs of Ireland and Scotland. I’ve learnt some Asturian repertoire and recorded it for my album. I noticed that I was dropping the anacrucis. I am used to playing Irish music and the beginning of an A or B part of a tune is often the place I take a breath. Inspired by Asturian revival musicians learning to dance, after years of playing dancing music to a non-dance audience, I committed to learning to dance.

I have a funny old relationship with dance. I took to Irish dancing at the grand old age of 12. For a brief period I was a bit of a whizz at the Lally School of Irish Dance in Manchester. A tad lazy at this point in my life I decided dreaming was much easier than doing. At some point later ‘I married a morris dancer’. Now there’s a title for a book.  I aspired to wear the green trousers of Sheffield City Morris. I made slow progress but dreamed of high end hanky waving, stick cracking and hazy summer days, the faint whiff of morris sweat and real ale after a good dance out. Fate and family life got in the way and I had to leave my remedial morris classes behind.

This year saw the resurgence of my dance exploits. In attempt to see each other a bit more beyond tired conversations at the end of the day, my wife and I signed up for Flamenco classes in Sheffield. Once a week we meet in town. I slip on my clicky Cuban heels and attempt some dances of southern Spain. My wife is a great dancer. One of the reasons I fell in love with her. High speed Rapper dance with swords, North West Morris with clinking bells and a whiz at Clog Dancing. She has great focus, coordination and poise and memory for dance moves. All of which I struggle with. The lessons go like this…

Photo Courtesy of Flamenco In Sheffield

Our teacher Barbara calls us to the dance. “Ok everybody vamos, let’s go”. I struggle through my Fandango steps….1, 2, 3, 1,2,3. I channel my inner duende. I call out to the flamenco gods for inspiration. My left foot is willing, it’s like Michael Flatley after ten cups of coffee. In my head I’m Jaoquín Cortéz. My hair is long and drenched in flamenco sweat. I am topless, my body is lean, wearing only tight black dance pants (save us from this!) and my specially commissioned clicky sparkle boots catch glints of the single spot light shining down on me. The stadium erupts with shouts of ‘Olé!’ and ‘Vaya!’… and then I notice my right foot. My right foot. My poor old dragging behind when I’m tired right foot. It does its own thing. It dances its own dance. My left foot screams.. “Focus yes!”… clicky de click… my right foot says “Fuckit, I’m staying put”, or “No way will I make it over that ever so slight incline in the floor surface”. Its disobedience spreads to my head. I hear music I’m working on. Die ya didle die dee dom da didlle. Oh a bit of fiddle there… some more cello please. “Michael, what are you doing?”. I hear the cry of the dance teacher. I look down to my feet over my protruding belly. I’m not doing the same as the others save for a bit of effeminate hip waggling which, for men, is a no no. Hasn’t she heard of queer Tonada? If ate a few less biscuits I could be the flamenco Rodrigo Cuevas. (Rodrigo Cuevas is a sensation in Asturias fusing Queer aesthetic and dance music with Tonada, traditional song of Asturias.. more of which in a forthcoming post)

This is usually accompanied by “Well done Sarah”…. And a ripple of applause for another performance nailed by my wonderful wife. I have three choices. Get back in the zone and focus, do a comedy side click of the heels leprechaun style or run and hide in the loos. Most of the time I get back on it.  It’s great exercise and it’s interesting to look at dance from the Iberian peninsula from different to that in Asturias.

There’s enough in my dancing ability to make me believe I could dance a Jota. The Asturians are coming to Yorkshire, so I prepare myself…..

If you want to know more about Flamenco in Sheffield and the saintly Barbara Thornes check: https://www.flamencoinsheffield.com/

Concerts & Workshops Coming Up…

I have a few gigs and workshops coming up over the next few weeks.

Underneath the Stars Festival, Yorkshire:

Friday 20th July 2018: Tin Whistle workshop. 3.30 p.m.  https://underthestarsfest.co.uk/

Irish Arts Foundation Leeds:

Saturday 21st July 2018: Introduction Talk: ‘Contemporary Links between Asturian, Galician and Irish Music’ with L-R @ The Inkwell, Leeds. 7 p.m. http://www.inkwellarts.org.uk/

Liz Hanks & Michael Walsh

Liz Hanks & Michael Walsh

Whitby Folk Week with Liz Hanks (Cello):

Sunday 19th August 2018:

Rifle Club  3.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.

Spa theatre  8.00 p.m. – 11.30 p.m.

Monday 20th August 2018:

Metropole 3.00 p.m. – 6.00 pm.

Coliseum  8.00 p.m. – 11.30 p.m.

I’ll also be running a flute workshop and some sessions during the folk week. I’ll let you know when they let me know.  http://whitbyfolk.co.uk

Making An Album Sloooowly.

I think it is fair to say I’m not up to this regular blogging mullarkey. This is the first post in almost a year. I’ve spent a lot of time doing and reflecting but not necessarily feeling the urge to share all my private family happenings. I continued to grieve for my late dad but poured it into the creative process and being constructive. Conscious that my time at home with my children was coming to an end as full time education hurtled towards us, I left traddad alone, beavered away at the music in the mornings and concentrated on savouring our afternoons messing about and getting geared up for school standard self sufficiency. I’ve decided to return to the site for a while. Writing about my musical adventures but leaving my children to their own private world. Less dad more trad.

Photo by Simon Buckley

Photo by Simon Buckley

During the last year I’ve made slow but good progress on recording. I think when I look back on my first foray into recording a solo album it will be better for taking my time. During the long nights of grieving I made lists of what I wanted to express through music and who I thought would be my dream companions for making the music I wanted to make.

I continued to develop ideas with my neighbour and wonderful cellist Liz Hanks. We managed our debut gig as part of the Front Room series at Spinning Discs Sheffield and a further performance at the Not Quite Light Festival in Salford organised by the brilliant photographer and musician Simon Buckley. We received a wonderful reception and it confirmed to me that the music we were making would move people.

We finally got back in to the studio late last year at Powered Flight In Sheffield with the wonderful Tom Wright. The first sessions were with Liz Hanks Cello and Helen Gubbins on lovely Red Paolo Soprani box and tin whistles. Liz and I returned to the Powered Flight studio in 2018 with the arrival in Sheffield of Llan de Cubel legendary fiddler Simon Bradley. It’s lovely recording in Tom’s studio. He has a great way with him, making us feel relaxed and sound the best we can.

I wanted to find a Manchester voice for how I felt about the loss of my dad and could hear the voice of Manchester poet Mike Garry in my head. I’ve known Mike for years and watched his work with admiration. ‘Gorton Girls Know All the Words to Chaka Kahn’ is my favourite Mike Garry Poem and he’s perhaps best known for his Ode to Saint Anthony, his tribute to Anthony H. Wilson. I asked him to write something on the theme of fathers and sons and he came back with the most beautiful, heartfelt prose. We got him into the studio on the day of his last concert in Manchester. He popped round to Michael McGoldrick’s and recorded it in one take. Some cello from Liz Hanks and samples and wizardry from Michael McGoldrick. It’s a thing of beauty and I can’t wait to share it.

Fluting at sunrise for my album shoot with Simon Buckley

Fluting at sunrise for my album shoot with Simon Buckley

I’m off to Asturias next week to record a duet with one of my favourite singers. My first time singing at the front of stage. I’ve been lucky so far with the generosity of the musicians involved. I’m waiting for some very special guests to add their contribution in the next eight weeks. Fingers crossed.

When it came to images for the album, there was only one person for the job, Simon Buckley. We hooked up online last year. He liked my Tunesday videos and I was blown away by his work on Not Quite Light. Simon has morris dancing pedigree. I’ll leave him to tell you about that. Last Sunday morning we arose at 3.30 a.m. and shot the photos in the centre of Stockport, my home town. The results are wonderful. Chasing the light to get the right shot until it was fully day time.

Before sunrise in Stockport. Photo shoot with Simon Buckley

Before sunrise in Stockport. Photo shoot with Simon Buckley

Looking to the Light in Stockport

Looking to the Light in Stockport. Photo by Simon Buckley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find:

The wonderful Simon Buckley @http://notquitelight.com

Liz Hanks @ http://www.lizhankscello.com

Mike Garry @ https://www.mikegarry.co.uk/
Tom Wright @ Powered Flight @ https://www.poweredflightmusic.com/

Music Making in 2017

In the last few months I’ve had to deal with the highs and lows of what life can throw at you; a shoulder operation and my father passing away. My wonderful friends and family provided great support and we got through the necessities of saying good bye to a loved one. Now it’s time to slow down and play some lovely music. I’ve put my PhD studies on hold for a few months. The solitary process of writing is not what I need at the moment. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and letting the creative juices flow.

I’m back rehearsing with my lovely neighbour and brilliant Cellist, Liz Hanks. We recorded a rehearsal and put it out into the world to see what feed back we’d get. We were delighted to be chosen as Tune of the Day by the lovely folks at Folk Radio UK. We’re planning to get back into the studio in Autumn. Fingers crossed.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been involved in the #Tunesday#Toesday#Troubaday at Whitby Folk Week. It has grown from a small idea to post tunes on the Whitby Folk Week Facebook site to a fully fledged concert.  This year’s concert will feature contributors Festival Patron Richard Arrowsmith (Melrose Quartet, Hekety), Alex Cumming (Teacups) & Nicola Beazley (Rosie Hood Band), Mandolinista Michael Burns, Clog Dancing from Melanie Barber and some cheek banter from Sally Smith and I. ( Coliseum Centre, Whitby. 22nd August @ 17.30. Tickets from www.whitbyfolk.co.uk).

As well as showing off a bit at the concert I’ll be running two flute workshops and a couple of sessions playing Irish, Asturian and any other music that tickles my fancy. Check www.whitbyfolk.co.uk for details or down load the Folk Week App.

Here is some of the music and musicians that have recorded for me and kept going over the last few months. Thank you all and to my non musician friends and family. You are wondrous and generous.

Liz Hanks (super neighbour) and I rehearsing.

 

The wonderful Conaill Durcan & Paul Daly. Captured in the wee hours at Cambridge Festival for Whitby Folk Week #Tunesday August 2017

 

Richard Arrowsmith: Whitby Folk Week #Tunesday July 2017

 

In June my lovely wife, the brilliant Dr. Sarah Dalrymple, came down from the mountains and played this lovely tune for June #Tunesday for Whitby Folk Week. I wished she played more!

In May the Wonderful Frank Lee stepped into provide some Mayday English dance music. Check the Whitby Folk Week Facebook page for that recording.

In May I was honoured to be part the University of Sheffield Hispanic Department Concert at the Octagon. Despite the banter about my Spanish accent I really enjoyed playing:

 

Back at Whitby Folk Week, the lovely Michael Burns posted fine music throughout the year, this was one of my favourites…

https://soundcloud.com/michael-burns-1/passengers-from-watchet

In April I managed to grab Alex Cumming, over from America promoting his new album with Nicola Beazley:

 

Mr March #Tunesday 2017 was Dr. Simon Keegan-Phipps, my PhD Supervisor at The University of Sheffield:

 

While Simon was squeezing away in his office, fellow Doctoral Student Helen Gubbins and my bodhrán crush, Ciarán Boyle, played our debut gig as a trio at the Gosforth Arts Centre, Newcastle on St Patrick’s Day.

In February, with the help of Gaorsach Rapper, I pinned down Matt Crum (Demon Barbers, Steamchicken) for a quick tune in Newcastle.

See you at Whitby Folk Week 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

A Eulogy For My Dad, Pat Walsh R.I.P.

Pat Walsh RIP

I walked very carefully on to this altar. It has been a long time since I’ve been up here. One of the last times I was here was as an altar-boy. I wasn’t the greatest mass server. I was prone to accident. Dropping offertory baskets, opening and closing altar gates at the wrong time, bells ringing where they hadn’t before and one memorable moment when I was sent by Canon Clarke to turn off a light on the altar during mass. This resulted in the first disco transubstantiation. Part of the problem too was my lack of training. When it came time for altar-boy training, there was a clash with Irish music lessons. We had a wonderful accordion playing curate, Father Eddie Lohan, who told my parents that I could catch up with the altar-boy duties but music was too important to miss. Thus, my music career began and I was let loose on the altar of the Church of St Joseph in Reddish. My poor parents must have cringed every time I donned the cassock and cotter. Whatever occurred and despite many a fumble I was welcomed with a “well done son” from mum and dad.
Dad was born in 1935. He had three birthdays, one more birthday than the Queen, but when he finally got his birth certificate it indicated it was probably his birthday on April 28th. Happy birthday for last week dad.
He came from Roughan, just outside the small village of Carnacon in County Mayo, Ireland. He was one of two brothers born to Ann and Michael Walsh.
He first came to England seeking adventure in 1956. He left his job with the Forestry Commission and with a mate he cycled to Claremorris, took the train to Dublin and then the boat train to Dagenham. They arrived early in the morning, with the name of the road on which the sister of his friend lived, but had no number. The lads were surprised to find a road with hundreds of houses on. After much knocking on doors they found their destination and dad set to work in a car factory in Dagenham.
You will all know how much dad loved the outdoors and factory life was really not for him. He headed back to Carnacon and the following year decided to go to Manchester, where many of his peers had gone in search of work.
With just the suit on his back, no bag, and a roll of money in his pocket he set off for the address: Aunties Bar in the centre of Manchester. Aunties was the unofficial Irish Embassy in Manchester and within minutes of arriving he had met friends, Kerrigans and Lally’s, from home, had a bed to sleep in and ‘the start’, a job working on building roads. He spent the rest of his working life laying cables. Every time I pass the motorway that cuts through Stockport, I think of dad in his Vanni van and the hard work he did to make our life so comfortable.
Shortly after arriving in Manchester he met mum at the Sharrock’s Dance Hall and on December 1st, 1962 they were married at St. Kentigern’s Church in Fallowfield. His beloved Mary arrived in 1964 and I came into the world in 1967. Mum was the love of his life. Like others, they had their ups and downs, but dad was hugely loyal to her and cared for her like no other when she was ill. Mum has always been the live-wire of the two and you could see the love and pride in dad’s face when my mum was creating havoc and having the ‘craic’ at an Irish do. They balanced each other. Mum loved dad’s gentleness, that he was a very good looking man and always dressed with great style. He was ‘respectable’ as mum might say. Just before she got married, her brother, my Uncle Jack, said to her: “You’ll be alright with Welsh”, and he was right.

Dad loved Manchester. He had no real longing to go back to Ireland. Dad was a man of few words and demonstrated his affection by doing, rather than saying. When my Uncle Mick died it made me more conscious of dad’s mortality and I wanted to know how he felt about life. He said more in one conversation, in that moment, than he ever did for the rest of our time together. He told me that he was proud of where he was from and who he was. As you know his Mayo accent never changed and he always encouraged us to get involved in Irish cultural activities. He told me that Manchester gave him everything he needed, a wife and a good living and two children he loved. He wanted for nothing here and didn’t see the use in looking back.
He was a wonderful father and husband. He would do anything for us and take us where we wanted and as we started going out late at night he would happily come and get us if we were stuck. Nothing we did seemed to faze him and he was always there to support us through the challenges of life. My future brother in law David arrived at our house in his brown Cortina, furry dice swaying to the sound of Shakatak blasting out of his stereo and a magnificent blonde curly perm. Dad smiled and welcomed him, drank him under the table and started to show him a trick or two about life.

At the same time, I was working out my future path. Dad I want to be an actor (shows no surprise). I want to be a priest (puzzled look). No dad an engineer it is to be (laughing to himself). Dad, there’s something I should tell you… I’m going to be a hairdresser (a deep sigh). Every idea was backed up with solid parental unconditional love and support.

A few years ago, my good friend Emmanuel decided not to get married two weeks before his wedding. Emmanuel, the wedding champagne and fois gras moved into my folks and he was given shelter till he was ready to move on. I’d ring home from Donegal and mum, dad and my Parisian pal would be enjoying the spoils of the wedding that never was. The song we sang earlier in the service included the words, “..and the creed and the colour and the name won’t matter”. It was very appropriate for my parent’s house. No matter what your creed, colour or indeed sexuality was, you would be welcomed. They really walked the walk of their faith.

Family life was everything to him. He welcomed my brother in law David and my wife Sarah into the family and he was a quiet and reassuring presence as his grandchildren, Amy and Laura, grew up and later for his great grandson Lucas, his little helper. Amy and Laura told me he was always there for them willing to give advice and was always honest. He was their fashion police when it came to style and would always compliment them on their various looks. David appreciated dad’s advice on how on to handle marital relationships ‘Shh Say nothing!’ and his humour. At Christmas David broke a glass and dad whispered to Laura, ‘he’s having a smashing time’. My children, Celeste and Osgur, arrived in the latter end of his life. They loved Woof too. If you ask them later they might do their Woof impression for you.

You might wonder where the name ‘Woof’ came from. Although dad was a gentle soul he didn’t hold back from putting us right if he felt we needed it. When he told us off we would say ‘woo woo woof woof’, so Amy called him Woof and it stuck. He was Pat or Paddy to his neighbours and work mates and Pa in his home village.

He was Uncle Pat to our cousins. He loved his nieces and nephews and their children as his own and was hugely proud of all their achievements. One of my cousins said to me that they always felt safe when Uncle Pat was around. I thank them for travelling from Ireland and the U.S.A. to be here today.

Some might have seen dad’s gentleness as a weakness. But for me it was a strength and he showed us that there were different ways to be a man. He was honest, a great judge of character, he was a good man manager and always treated the lads who worked for him with respect. His neighbours loved him and the response from the local community has been not only heart- warming but I think testament to how much he was loved. As a family we have always been able to hold our heads up high and be proud to say we are Paddy Walsh’s family.

Dad was selfless but there were certain other things he did love. My sister Mary reminded me the other day of how dad would be filled with joy in the early morning, waiting for daylight to break so he could be out in the garden. Mary said to me: “As long as he could feel the fresh air on his face and the smell of freshly cut grass, his day was complete”. He would spend hours in the front garden especially, more often talking to passers-by.

One of the legacies he leaves for us is to take time to speak to people even if you don’t know them. Some of the last people who spoke to him on the morning he died had never met him before but his warm friendly personality had made such an impression on them that they took time to get in touch with us to let us know. We thank them for that as it gives us great reassurance that he was happy in his last conversations.

He also loved walking and the last thing we know he did was to go for a brisk walk down in Reddish Vale Country Park. Dad was very health conscious and liked to look good. He used to say to me: “I don’t want to be like those old fellas with their bellies hanging out”. His idea of a good blow out was a glass of wine and an Aldi curry with mum in the house. They used to pretend that they were at a restaurant.
We are sad that he has gone but he lived a full life and died in a place that he loved, amongst the nature of Reddish Vale Country Park.

We would like to thank everyone who has provided us so much support in these difficult few weeks; Aunty Julia, family, friends, parishioners of St Josephs, Fr. Phillip and Fr. Moss, neighbours and the police, fire and ambulance services who brought his remains back to us, the musicians who provided such beautiful balm for our grief, Ange Durcan, Ríoghnach Connolly, Ellis Davies, Fi Brown and Paul Daly.

As they would say in his mother tongue:
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
May he rest in peace.

Michael Walsh. 4th May 2017.

©Michael Walsh

Upcoming Concerts: Boyle, Gubbins & Walsh. Gosforth & Sheffield

So I decided to take it a little easier this year. The shoulder is healing well, I’m concentrating on transcribing my PhD fieldwork and I’m enjoying playing again. I hadn’t planned to do any gigs this year but a couple of opportunities arose and I couldn’t resist.

Boyle, Gubbins & Walsh

On 17th March 2017 Boyle, Gubbins and Walsh will have their first outing at Gosforth Civic Theatre, on the outskirts of Newcastle. The night will be a mixture of old school Traditional Irish Tunes and Songs and a hint of Asturias . There’ll be a sing-a-round and session afterwards. Entrance is £5. We are delighted to support Liberdade, the community development organisation developing the theatre, in putting the venue on the map. The charity provide opportunities for adults with learning disabilities. The Theatre is fast developing a reputation for great food, craft beers and fine coffee, all essentials in my life.

I’ve managed to pull together my dream team for Gosforth:

Ciarán Boyle: Ciarán is recognised as a true master of the bodhrán and singer in the Irish tradition. Ciarán was brought brought up in Rotherham in a house full of music and travelling musicians. He learned a great deal from his dad, the late Tommy Boyle, who had a great knowledge and passion for Irish music and song.By the time he was thirteen Ciarán had already won the All Britain and All Ireland bodhrán titles. He is best known for his time in bands – Napper, Le Faux and Boyle and Last Night’s Fun. Ciarán is a stunning musician and singer, a sensitive interpreter of Ireland’s traditional music , and an engaging performer with a ready wit.
Helen Gubbins hails from County Limerick. Steeped in tradition she brings to the evening old school Irish trad tunes on the Paolo Soprani and tinwhistles as well sean-nós songs that will break your heart. Has toured and recorded in in Europe and the US. Helen is a Doctoral candidate at the University of Sheffield Department of Music.
Michael Walsh: Born and raised in Manchester, I am an exponent of Sligo style flute music. In 2016 I was a finalist in the prestigious Seán Ó Riada Gold Medal Competition and have performed across Europe and in The United States with Trad Irish Groups, Céilí Bands and Theatre Productions as well as being featured on the Soundtrack to ‘The Irish Empire’ TV Series. I am slowly recording a solo album under the careful eye of Michael McGoldrick and completing a PhD in Asturian Folk Music at the University of Sheffield.
The three musicians share a passion for old school Irish traditional music. Ciarán and I had been attempting to perform together for a number of years and when Helen joined me in The Music Department at the University of Sheffield, I seized the opportunity to pull my ideal trad trio together.
To book tickets: http://boylegubbinswalsh.brownpapertickets.com/
University of Sheffield Lunch Time Concerts: Helen Gubbins and I will be playing at The Firth Hall, University of Sheffield PhD Concert on May 8th 2017. We’ll be bringing a flavour of Ireland and Asturias a programme featuring the cream of PhD Music students at the University of Sheffield. I think we may be the only one’s on the bill without a record deal! It’s free. Come say hello and let a few ‘hups’ out.
http://concerts.sheffield.ac.uk/whats-on/
I look forward to seeing you all.
Mike.

 

Getting Back to Playing: Unfreezing my Shoulder.

In May 2016 I was preparing for a PhD fieldwork visit to Asturias. 2016 had been a hectic year. Taking part in the Ó Riada Gold Medal in Cork, starting my flute album, getting my Spanish up to speed and keeping two children healthy and happy. I was rushing up and down the stairs one morning and I slipped and jarred my shoulder. With family in tow, I rushed off to Avilés, then on to Lorient Interceltic Festival, Whitby Folk Week and back to Sheffield for the start of the school year.

October arrived and the excruciating pain I’d felt all summer began to dim. By this point I had very little movement in my left shoulder, to the extent that couldn’t put my hand in my pocket (no jokes about me being tight with money please). My doctor sent to me a physio and he immediately diagnosed it as frozen shoulder. My choices were either let it heal by itself, which could take a couple of years, or operate. I chose to have an operation. Playing music and looking after my children had become impossible. I had also underestimated the mental strain of the condition.

I was lucky to get a quick referral to a surgeon and an operation within weeks. In November I had my operation.

Frozen Shoulder Face

Frozen Shoulder Face

If you’re squeamish scroll to the music at the end, if not…..

The surgeon carries out Arthroscopic Capsule Release. It’s a lot like a very small kebab shaver you might see when you’re getting your post-beer nutrition. Using a keyhole procedure, Mr Shehani shaved away the layer of scar tissue that was was locking my shoulder joint. I found out later that he’d removed some bone too. Thankfully this was done under a general anaesthetic. I woke an hour or so later in a codeine induced haze with my father-in-law looking at me with an admiring gaze (See photo below). Thank you Bob Dalrymple. The poor man said he saw more of me than he ever would have liked to and needed a stiff drink to recover.

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After some ferocious surgical sock waving I grabbed Bob’s attention and we headed home. Pre-op, I was told that depending on what they found during the operation I would have a sling on for a day or six weeks. Thankfully there wasn’t too much long term damage and I had the sling off after one day. The scarring was minimal. I have a large floral tattoo on my left shoulder I had done when I left my ‘proper’ job eight years ago to always remind me to do work that inspires me. The little surgical nicks look like little thorns.  Six weeks of physio followed and I was given the all clear to get on with the slow process of getting back to normal.

It’s the end of January 2017 now and my daily physio is paying dividends. I’ve got much of my movement back and I’m just starting to play for longer periods of time.

There are a number of possible causes for Frozen Shoulder. It can be genetic, that applies to me. It can be related to bad posture, my posture in general is good. A big factor can be stress. The last advice my surgeon gave me was to slow down and relax. He noted that I was always rushing to get somewhere.

So the challenge this year is to slow down. Maybe I was trying too hard in 2016. The time away from playing music and research has given me chance to put things into perspective. I’m going to go slowly with my projects and put some off till 2018. I’m really rethinking how I play, concentrating on relaxation. I’m really looking forward to teaching on the BMus degree for a couple hours per week and starting to think more than do for my PhD. The time out has also reminded me of how precious my time with my son and daughter is. My son will be at school in a year or so. So for now more time with the children and maybe a little less time on the music.

I managed to play a tune for the Whitby Folk Week #Tunesday last month. Not my greatest performance and I was still in a considerable amount of discomfort. I’m putting it here and keeping it on Youtube as marker of my progress.