Slightly blurry action shot of Steve and Jan demonstrating a ceilidh, Sunday afternoon.
My second city visit was to Witney, in Oxfordshire. Now, to be honest, I don't think Witney is a city at all, but it was too good a title not to use! It has the dubious honour of being the Prime Minister David Cameron's home constituency. And it shows. I have never seen such a heavy Friday-night police presence on the high street, keeping the lid on the pubs and clubs. Really, there were dozens of them!
Anyway, I digress! My reason for being there, getting re-acquainted with the Northampton Ring Road once again on my way there (DEEP joy!) was to attend Melodeons at Witney, two days of melodeon workshops with some of the best international musicians walking this earth. I had chosen workshops with Emmanuel Parisell, an incorrigible Frenchman of great charm and humour, learning about music of Breton dance.
Then I did a workshop on adding really juicy chords and basses with Saul Rose, who often gigs with Eliza Carthy.
My final choice was.......need you ask? Working with Andy Cutting on his tune To the Edges, utilising all the wonderful chord sequences he is famous for. It was perhaps the most difficult workshop, I noticed even people who had been playing much longer than me were struggling, BUT we got through the whole tune (by ear) both hands. Absolutely great experience.
We actually kicked off the weekend with a meet and greet in the assembly hall of the Henry Box School (no pun intended!) where the course is held. This became a session which finished at 9.30 when we all trotted off to the pub to carry on playing music. The pub had laid on a table of hors d'ouevres for us which was rather nice (mind you the drinks weren't cheap it was a bit of a shock especially to those people who had travelled down from Up North and had to pay Southern Prices!)
Here's Andy, joining in the session. We left about 11.30 as we were so tired but I think it carried on a bit longer.
Saturday evening was the tutors' concert. It was amazing. Here's a shot of Andy, Emmanuel and Man Mountain Christian Maes. They lifted the roof off!
There was another tutor, who I hadn't heard before, called Paul Scourfield. Now Paul is an East Anglian box player (from Essex I think) who plays in the main, English traditional tunes. I bought a cd of his which has some really great music on. If I ever get the chance to take a workshop with him I will jump at it. Here you see him playing and calling for the ceilidh demo on Sunday.
And here is a better shot of him at the session, sitting next to Lester, a Melodeons at Witney stalwart and Keeper of the Tune Archive on melodeon.net.
I so enjoyed myself, it was my second year and I felt I was getting to know people a lot better. I could kick myself as we had the usual, by now traditional Italian meal just before the concert, and I forgot to take any photographs. I had my camera in my bag! But lots of lovely memories, and some really great tunes to take away with me. Though it was nice to get home and see the Old Man. Who, lest you think he was mouldering along on his ownsome, was up in the chilly north...so far north he was just over the border in Scotland.
Experiencing his first attempt at fishing for salmon, near Etterick.
Salmon fishing is so far outside the realms of our experience, but the opportunity came up for him to go with a few friends. I might add - ruefully - that no salmon were harmed in the making of these pictures! They were a week or so too late, apparently, but he enjoyed himself and that was the main thing.
So there you have it. As far removed from a textiley post as you could get, I reckon, but I promise the next one will be back on song! (ooops, didn't mean to mention more music!!!!) Catch you soon!