Saturday, 30 June 2007

Ramblings and News #1

In Ramblings and News I will try to catch up, in no particular order, the things I've been up to, and general happenings.
  • The website is up to well over 1000 hits! Thanks to all for your interest! Again, keep me informed what is going on. I do not have ESP, or a crystal ball. My info is only as good as what gets passed to me from your good selves. I am getting emails from California, Ireland, and referrals from locals like the Black Sheep Inn.
  • I attended the weekend portion of the Montreal Sessions Festival in Montreal last weekend. I was too late to attend the whistle workshop, so decided to do the bodhran workshop Friday night, and the uillean pipes workshop (sans pipes) Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon was a workshop with Chris Crilly, speaking on sessions as a means to move your playing to different levels, basically. The whistle, bodhran, and pipes workshops were presented by Steafan Hannigan, now living just north of Toronto. I now link to Steafan's webpage from the main website. Please check him out. He's a great teacher, good humour, and has loads of talent. Steafan is eager to put on workshops on just about anything at the OFC, so let the OFC know what you'd like to see, and tell 'em Steafan's the man. On ehighlight for me was to meet the Cree fiddlers from James Bay who drove 18 hours to be at the Festival. They are playing what sounds to me like a Scottish traditional style, brought over by Europeans hundreds of years ago to James Bay as Canada was opening up. Amazing to have that pocket of music up there. They were really great guys to meet, and we enjoyed beer and humour until 3:30am, making following 10am piping workshop a bit of a stretch! Thanks to Elizabeth Johnston for pulling off the inaugural festival in short order, her own inspiration. While attendance was on the low side, I hope this will grow in the years to come. I'll be going back.
  • I received no feedback on how the fiddle competition went in Pakenham, but I trust the tunes were plenty and good!
  • As I write below, I received from the book "The Rough Guide to Irish Music" - a mere 600 page summary of the background, groups, musicians, and lists of lists. It is an inch thick, and about 4 by 6 inches on the cover, small, but chunky! Listed for under $20.
  • Today Parks Canada marked the 175th Anniversary of the Rideau Canal, and it included a Big Irish Kitchen Ceili. We were all invited down to participate in the music making. It was held down by the Celtic cross at the bottom of the Rideau Locks. Parks set up a covered platform and the music ran from 1-4pm. The Governor-General and other dignitaries to made speeches earlier. I dropped by for the festivities and this event was well attended by the public. The Rideau Canal was also recognised as an official World Heritage Site. Supporting the Ceili was further recognition of the sacrifice made by the approximately 1000 Irish workers used to build the canal under dreadful environmental and (lack of) work safety conditions. Main players were members of the "Daniel O'Connell's Pub Session Regulars", who also played the street session at Westfest a few weekends ago (photos below). Taking Trad to the public!
  • The North American Irish Dance Championships is being held this week in Ottawa. This was a "hidden event" - I only found out about it when I got an email from a lady in California, who found the "IMO" site via Google search (top link for her search query!).
  • There is a small movement to find a location for a Tuesday Session in Ottawa. Keep you posted.
  • If you need to find a daytime practice space, no phones, no family, nothing but a quiet soundproof room with a tuned piano, for a whopping $4/hour, try the Nepean Creative Arts Centre (Bell's Corners). I work nearby, and take lunch there at least once a week and it breaks up the work day nicely!!
  • I've updated the House Concert blog below, entry dated 30 June.
  • The O'Connell's session will miss singer/guitarist John Linehan, who has hushed many a crowd with his great voice, as his family heads back to Taiwan for professional reasons. I guess we'll have to have a Taiwanese Wake for John.
  • If you have a cd you'd like to review, etc, send it to me, and I'll get it posted to the blog.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Irish Traditional Music House Concert - July 13, 2007 is sponsoring a a house concert with Dr. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin and local guitarist Ian Clark, in Nepean on July 13, 2007. Simply due to the non-enourmous size of the house I have to make this by invitation only, HOWEVER, please send me an email (or leave a message at 613 727 3192) if you want to attend as there are definitely seats available. Tickets are $15. A door prize of the DVD "Come West Along the Road" will be given out. It is a lengthy, and fantastic collection of Irish traditional music from the RTE TV archives. Bring your instrument as I expect there will a great house session afterwards! Proceeds will go towards covering the traveling musician's costs, and to run the event (some food, chairs). If you have a portable chair that WILL NOT DAMAGE my hardwood floor bring please bring it along and let me know. BYOB and please drink responsibly. 8pm Update: 17 June 'Secrets and Lies About Irish Traditional Music': An Insider's View of the Living Tradition Despite its global popularity, Irish traditional music is often a remote and inaccessible genre for many of its fans and devotees. For musicians, singers and dancers born outside the so-called 'living tradition,' getting a grasp of the basics of the music and understanding its cultural world is often as insurmountable as it is mysterious. Irish music historian and concertina player Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin who grew up in the 'home of the music' in Co. Clare will take a number of key session tunes and use them to explore the traditional process of transmission and learning in Irish music communities. This workshop forum is open to musicians, singers and dancers of all levels and persuasions. Fee: $ 20 (separate from house concert); 5:30-6:45 pm Update: 30 June Two weeks away . . . For the concert we are at 10 paid guests, and another 8 'strong promises' so assuming the promises shop up, we are approaching a full house. Unfortunately, several local musicians cannot make the show due to vacation and other commitments. For the Workshop the response has been disappointing, and it is likely to be canceled unless there is a surge in the interest. Just this week I received, from, a book entitled The Rough Guide to Irish Music. It would nearly fit into your pocket if it weren't an inch thick (literally). Gearoid is one of only ten concertina players profiled in the book, where we are reminded of his 5 All-Ireland Championships on concertina! Finally, I have been actively promoting the evening by visiting local jams, two of which I should start frequenting as a new/learning player. It's been a pleasure to get out and hear all of you play.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Montreal Session Festival - 17-23 June

The Montreal Celtic Music Sessions Festival has smacked me right square in the forehead out of nowhere! It is coming up very soon. This festival promises to be a great week of music learning and music making. I am not sure of the exact details these days, but I know for those on a budget, that you can stay at McGill U. in their summer hostel program. I did it years ago as a student and it was a clean safe room, downtown, and not much budget required. Of course, Montreal is only a 2 hour drive away, it would be a great day trip. If you read the FAQ & Comments section you will see they are looking for both audience and players.