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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.