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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
A few months ago I was asked by my good friend Sally Smith to help promote The Whitby Folk Week by ‘curating’ a series of videos,posted monthly on their Facebook page, of musicians playing tunes that you might hear at Whitby Folk Week. The ‘not for profit’ Folk Week happens towards the end of August every year when the small Yorkshire seaside town is filled with folk enthusiasts playing tunes, dancing folk dances, telling stories, singing songs, attending concerts and catching up with fellow folkies.
I’m fairly new to Folk Week. It has always been a time of year where I was in Ireland for the All Ireland Fleadh or walking in the mountains of Asturias. My wife’s family have been attending and performing for much of the 50 years it has been running and so when we had family it became part of my tradition, largely carrying dance kitbags for my wife and pushing the children around in the buggy. I love the relaxed atmosphere of the town, Silver Street Fish and Chips, ice-cream at the sea front and sitting watching the North Sea from a beach hut.
A couple of years ago I was asked to run a Trad Irish Flute workshop, which I really enjoyed and last year I got time to get out in the evening to a few of the Irish pub sessions. The highlight of the sessions for me was a tune at The Granby Hotel organised by Whitby bon vivant and bodhrán player extrordinaire, Mr Tommy Randall. It was first time Irish music had been played in there in 35 years. A change of regime and the energy of Tommy, created something special. I hope to keep some of the spirit of that going the videos as well as highlight other styles of music on offer such as English Dance Music and Eurosession.
Production standards are sometimes less than Hollywood standards, as I juggle work, playing, looking after my children and studying. But I’m slowly getting better at it and learning. By the time summer comes they could by looking swish. I hope to catch you for a tune along the way and if you want to add a video of you playing a tune please feel free.
Here’s some of the previous videos and look out for other monthly offerings such as: ‘Toesday’ – Dance videos, Pic-Tures-Day – Archive pictures, Troubaday – Songs and when there’s an extra Tuesday in the month there’s a surprise.
Tunesday is first Tuesday of the month: href=”https://www.facebook.com/groups/129958666651/?fref=ts”>
Further details of the Folkweek:
Mike Walsh playing The Beautiful Goldfinch Waltz (written by Marcus Hernon):
Mike Walsh playing The Killavil Jig:
Ciarán Boyle & Mike Walsh playing a festive Willie Coleman’s Jig at Flynn’s Pub, Sheffield. December 2015.
John Garner plays two French tunes:
Brogan McAuliffe & Mike Walsh playing ‘Trip to Birmingham’ by Josie McDermott, recording at The University of Sheffield Sound House. January 2016.
I’ll post further videos when I get permission and/or receive links.
I'm Michael Walsh. Musician, Singer, PhD Ethnomusicology student @ University of Sheffield Music Department, Teacher and Composer Specialising in Traditional Music from Ireland, Asturias and beyond. Dad of two and a husband.