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.
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.
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.
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.