Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Folk Weekend Oxford 2013 - The Pub Sessions

I caught part of several of these and they provided some of the highlights of my weekend. The first was that in James Street Tavern on Friday evening and, before I go further, this is exactly the kind of pub that we must all treasure and support: see here. I had never been there before - and first impressions count more than most - so I shall start somewhat after midnight or, in other words, very early Saturday morning...

A little time and some more ale later but still going strong.
This next is from the session in the café-bar in the Old Fire Station on Saturday afternoon, which was a monster in terms of both duration and participation.  This is just a snapshot of the centre of the musical melée at this time.
I did some counting ... this included nine fiddles, four melodions, three flutes, two clarinets (and a fair few other instruments too) all playing together. It worked beautifully.  The next picture is another view of the same, focussing on reed instruments including two piano accordions, and taken just seconds later.

Next to mention is the 'Scandinavian Sessions' in the 'Far From The Madding Crowd' pub on Saturday. It was fascinating not just for the music played but also for the instruments used to play it. Here are two of them...
In the foreground is a fiddle with nine strings, only four of which you can bow while the remaining five are sympathetic. The other even more complicated instrument, which is being played, is a nyckelharpa and it has sixteen strings, of which twelve are sympathetic, and both instruments are now largely confined to Scandinavian music - the nyckelharpa to Sweden in particular. The long, dark, winter nights must make the development of such complicated creations appealing but, I have to say, the effort was well worth it; they both sound absolutely wonderful.

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