Sunday, 31 January 2010

Asleep at my post - caught in mid dream - photo courtesy of Sue Richards

Our first full rehearsal of 2010 coming up next weekend and I am trying to get new things together to work on. We had a 'vocals only' rehearsal a week or so ago and tried out a few new things. When I say 'new' I mean new to the current line up - two of the pieces were done at various times in the band's dim and distant past. The songs I am thinking about are the Agincourt Carol and the Swinton May Song. They are both traditional songs so some might argue that 'new' is a totally the wrong word to use - but you know what I mean. We did the Agincourt Carol back in the 70s as an unaccompanied piece. I picked it up from the Young Tradition 'Galleries' album, although they do it with an early music ensemble behind them. It's got tricky harmonies with staggered timings so it's a challenge and we'll see how it develops. The May Song is a simpler song altogether and was sung by carollers going round the village to various houses in the hope of food, drink and/or money. It's from the singing of the Watersons.

I've needed a rest from writing so I've looked afresh at traditional songs for 'new' material for the band. Another song I am looking at introducing to rehearsal is 'The Blacksmith'. There are various recorded versions of this and several tunes, the most common being the one adapted and used for 'He who would valiant be'. The recording I like the best is by Shirley and Dolly Collins on their 'Anthems in Eden' album. The trouble is that the backing -Dolly playing portative organ - is so distinctive and woven across the melody that using the tune Shirly sings I would feel that one would be obliged to repectfully copy the intricate backing. I therefore decided to use my own tune to avoid such difficult decisions. It is based on a harmony I was singing to 'He who would valiant be' whilst walking round the house. It's sad isn't it? I really must get out more......

Regards - John

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Alice on the bowed psaltery at rehearsal - picture courtesy of Sue Richards

A belated happy New Year to everyone. My first blog of 2010. I must start with an apology to all those who have been trying to email us or order things through the website. Apparently our webhosters have screwed things up which resulted in nothing getting through to us at all. Luckily Bob in California alerted me and I am hoping that things are sorted out very shortly.

Moving on to gig news - we can confirm that our annual concert at St. George's will take place on Saturday 16th October 2010. It is my intention that we will have a new CD available by then as well. We are also returning to Hunton in Kent for another concert, hopefully in May, but we have yet to have the date confirmed. As soon as we know I'll post it up on the blog.

We have started rehearsals again after the bad weather and will be working hard on the new material over the coming months and should be starting recording around Easter time.

Bye for now.
Regards - John