Archive for Trad & Folk Stuff

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turnpike Gate Reel for Whitby Folk Week #Tunesday

After a summer of fun researching and playing music in Asturias, Lorient and across England my tumble down the stairs in May finally caught up with me. I have a frozen shoulder which I will hopefully have fixed shortly but makes flute playing difficult. So I picked up the Tinwhistle at the last minute to make sure there was a #Tunesday tune for Whitby Folk Week. Here you go, The Turnpike Gate taken from the playing of the great Roger Sherlock on the album ‘Memories of Sligo’.

Speaking of albums, my recording is on hold until I get my shoulder fixed and working again. A good opportunity to get my head down for some serious PhD work, making sense of my work so far. Let me know what you think of the recording below.

Whitby Folk Week 2016…. Folkin’ brilliant.

I’ve had a great time at Whitby Folk Week so far. The inaugural #Tunesday #Toesday #Troubaday concert was a great success. A big thanks in particular to my #Tunesday contributors, Bryony Griffiths & Will Hampson, John Garner, Clare Trevitt & Brian Gilmer and my trusty Bodhrán partner Ciarán Boyle. We’ve also had fantastic sessions in the Granby Hotel with Irish and English tunes melding beautifully.

My daughter has been carving out her own Whitby experience, attending the daily craft activities, she calls it ‘Folk School’, hanging out with her folky mates. As she told us earlier this summer during our Asturian adventure she is more fiesta than siesta.

My wife has been working hard teaching Rapper & Highland Dance and dancing with Gaorsach Rapper and Step. Congrats to Suzanne Fivey, Gaorsach box wizard for winning The Speed The Plough Competition. Lightening fast and precise.

It was great to be back leading the first of two workshops on Traditional Irish Music on the Flute at Whitby Folk Week. On Tuesday we had a good mixture of levels of experience. We worked on posture, relaxation, tone, learning by ear and began to learn the Jig ‘Paddy’s Return’. We had a go at lilting the tune to help with learning, some serious lilters were discovered on Tuesday!

Here’s two versions of ‘Paddy’s Return’. Thank you to all who came and I’ll be posting some short videos on some of the topics we covered for those unable to come to the second workshop on Friday 24th August 2016, 11.30 a.m. at the Rifle Club, Whitby. If you have any further questions, would like a Skype session or another workshop please get in touch. Details are on my ‘Traddad For Hire’ page.

I’m also leading a session at the Middle Earth Pub on Thursday 25th August at 5 pm. It would be great to see some lovely people there. It’ll be largely Irish but I’m hoping that some of the brilliant English tunesmiths I’ve played will come along too. I might throw in a couple of Asturian tunes as well.

Paddy’s Return, basic version.

Paddy’s Return, fancy version.

 

Asturian FieldWork Podcast

Today i’m just back from 6 weeks in Asturias, recording and interviewing musicians, concert organisers, journalists and cultural activists for my PhD in Ethnomusicology. I have a mountain of material to work with and have been overwhelmed by the generosity I was met with. When I catch my breath I’ll write about some of my experiences but here’s an interview I did with musician and blogger Alberto Ablanedo. Alberto is best known for his work with the Asturian Group Tejedor.

This is the first English language podcast for ‘2 Degrees of Separation’. The Castilian versions have included a wonderful variety of talented professional musicians from the world of Asturian music. I hope you enjoy it.

Irish Flute Workshops with Michael Walsh Whitby Folk Week.

I’m delighted to be asked to run two Irish Flute workshops at Whitby Folk Week this year, 20th to 26th August 2016. You can also join me in a session and I have an another special surprise to announce shortly. More details to follow shortly.

www.whitbyfolk.co.uk/workshop-leaders/michael-walsh

Album News: Working with the Lathe Revival.

I’ve been playing Traditional Irish Music for 41 years now and in the back of my mind I thought I’d like to make a flute album. A few years ago I decided to make music a central part of my everyday life and see what  might happen.

Last year the great flute player Aoife Granville posted a link to the Ó Riada Gold Medal competition in Cork and suggested I entered (There’s details about the competition on another post on here). Although I didn’t win, the weekend in Cork, playing with other finalists and musicians and attended workshops on working professionally as Traditional Musician, gave me great inspiration. It’s leap year this year so on that extra day of this year I took a leap and told people that I was going to make my first solo album.

By coincidence I had a message from Michael McGoldrick about teaching the child of a friend of his. The conversation turned to my project and Michael offered to record the album at his studio in Manchester. So far guide tracks have been recorded and I am working with a number of musicians on arrangements.

I’m juggling this with being a stay at home dad (I am very lucky to be doing this), teaching privately and at the University of Sheffield Music Department as well working on my PhD on Asturian Flute playing.

The first track is complete, recorded up in Newcastle with the wonderful Lathe Revival. The video below is a taster of the track and explains how it came about. I hope you enjoy it. The full video will be released shortly. Let me know what you think and what it evokes for you.

Cheers,

Mike.

 

Whitby Folk Week Tunesday April 2016

I was delighted to persuade my very talented wife, Sarah Dalrymple and my old pal Bridie Cox to make some music. I also added a video of me playing a a jig I wrote for my Daughter.

Dr Sarah Dalrymple playing a Breton tune. She’ll be performing with Gaorsach Rapper & Step during Whitby Folk Week 2016.

Bridie Cox, my neighbour growing up in Stockport and now resident in County Clare, lilts the Chicago Reel:

I play Celeste’s Jig on my Ormiston Flute:

More special guests to follow next month. Don’t forget to check www.whitbyfolk.co.uk for all the latest on who’s been confirmed for Whitby Folk Week 2016.

 

Whitby Folk Week Tunesday Videos March 2016

We’ve continued building up a lovely archive of recordings in 2016 here’s some of the latest videos:

March 2016:

More to follow….