What a week!

I am a Part IIB Engineer, which for those of you not familiar with the bizarre and inexplicable Cambridge Tripos system means that I am currently studying for my Masters in Engineering (MEng) at Cambridge, being in my fourth year of four. You can imagine my delight when I realised that I had three different coursework deadlines for the week just gone (I would explain them, but can guarantee that nobody could ever possibly be interested). However, it was mitigated by playing some music and listening to more and they are now all finished and handed in, so I can get back to the important business of hunting down gigs, practising and finalising the next box project (as well as designing my own from scratch – more on that anon. Maybe).

On Monday I played at Tudor Folk Club in Chesham. Getting there was an interesting experience – typical public transport, about an hour and a half away by car, took me 4 hours by train. Although this was partly due to me assuming that the platforms were correctly labelled and London Underground assuming that this was not assumed. However, once there I was made very welcome by the very friendly inhabitants. Tudor is a lovely folk club, with a real sense of community. I’m new to the folk club scene and love it – I always enjoy hearing the floor spots and chatting to people in the interval. On this occasion the audience was fairly small, which makes it nice and intimate. Does make patter a little more tricky, but I think I got through it OK. If you live near Chesham then do pop down and come along, they are a very welcoming bunch and they’ve got some real stars performing there later on this year.

Lester Bailey, long time correspondent but first time meeting in the flesh took a few videos of my playing which I present for you below. Ignore the “Owen Wood” thing at the beginning, he forgot that my second name has an ‘s’ at the end. The first is a set of morris tunes from the Bucknell tradition, the second is Lily’s March and Linden Lea.

If you have now listened to those videos then you will realise that the club joined in with my playing in song when I started playing Linden Lea. This had never happened to me before and I can’t tell you how magical it is, to get a surround sound accompaniment to your playing. I wish that all audiences did this, it made hair on the back of my neck stand up.

So that gig was a success. It’s statistically unlikely, but if by some fluke a folk club organiser has inadvertently wandered onto this blog, I am accepting bookings, anywhere, anywhen for anything. See the “Contact” page for more.

After Monday and partly because of it I had a few wretched days of work. As always, music kept me sane and I can therefore heartily recommend the following albums for post 3am working.

  • “Weave and Spin” – Lady Maisery. A beautiful album, fantastic singing and some really innovative arrangements. Plus the songs themselves are well chosen and it hangs together as an album well.
  • “Full Oppladding” – Askerladden. If you haven’t ever heard this band then please, please, look them up now. Breathtakingly beautiful is the only way I can describe them.
  • “Live in Seattle” – Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. My current favourite fiddler. Poised, nuanced yet unpretentious playing. The 30 minute set is a work of genius.
  • “The North Farm Sessions” – Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell. I supported Jonny and Lucy at St Albans Festival last summer with There and Back Again and was struck by their musicality then. This is a perfect 5am album, haunting, soothing and musically stunning.

You will have noticed that this post is quite long. This is because I was going to update it several times this week but didn’t have time due to the aforementioned massive amounts of work. So I won’t put anything about the gig that I played in tonight at the Cambridge Guildhall with the Cambridge University Ceilidh Band (my 72nd gig with them believe it or not), other than to say that it was fantastic; playing in front of 300 people dancing to your music is always a wonderful experience. I’ll post more about that this weekend, including some thoughts on playing for ceilidhs and dance in general, so keep checking this blog. I’ve got enough posts stored up in my head for a good few weeks, so lots to watch out for.

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