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A- Ceilidh a new genre?

Les in Chorlton 11 Jul 10 - 07:58 AM
SteveMansfield 11 Jul 10 - 11:04 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Jul 10 - 01:08 PM
SteveMansfield 11 Jul 10 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,jennyr 11 Jul 10 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 10 - 04:10 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Jul 10 - 02:30 AM
Will Fly 12 Jul 10 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 12 Jul 10 - 05:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 12 Jul 10 - 05:47 AM
SteveMansfield 12 Jul 10 - 05:47 AM
greg stephens 12 Jul 10 - 06:40 AM
greg stephens 12 Jul 10 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Ed 12 Jul 10 - 07:45 AM
Leadfingers 12 Jul 10 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 12 Jul 10 - 07:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 12 Jul 10 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jul 10 - 08:18 AM
greg stephens 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Ed 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Ed 12 Jul 10 - 08:23 AM
SteveMansfield 12 Jul 10 - 08:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 12 Jul 10 - 08:41 AM
greg stephens 12 Jul 10 - 09:32 AM
Arthur_itus 12 Jul 10 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 12 Jul 10 - 10:01 AM
SteveMansfield 12 Jul 10 - 10:25 AM
Bloke from Poole 13 Jul 10 - 07:47 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jul 10 - 09:49 AM
alex s 13 Jul 10 - 11:10 AM
Old Vermin 13 Jul 10 - 11:27 AM
Old Vermin 13 Jul 10 - 12:53 PM
Bloke from Poole 13 Jul 10 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 13 Jul 10 - 01:51 PM
SteveMansfield 14 Jul 10 - 03:03 AM
Howard Jones 14 Jul 10 - 04:49 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 10 - 05:03 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Jul 10 - 10:45 AM
greg stephens 14 Jul 10 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 14 Jul 10 - 11:38 AM
Les in Chorlton 14 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM
greg stephens 14 Jul 10 - 12:42 PM
Wolfhound person 14 Jul 10 - 05:21 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 10 - 06:55 PM
Bloke from Poole 15 Jul 10 - 07:32 AM
Mo the caller 15 Jul 10 - 09:12 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Jul 10 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Geoff Skeet 15 Jul 10 - 12:05 PM
greg stephens 15 Jul 10 - 12:15 PM
greg stephens 15 Jul 10 - 12:17 PM
Les in Chorlton 15 Jul 10 - 12:28 PM
SteveMansfield 15 Jul 10 - 12:56 PM
Les in Chorlton 15 Jul 10 - 01:35 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Jul 10 - 06:18 PM
Mo the caller 15 Jul 10 - 06:20 PM
Effsee 15 Jul 10 - 10:42 PM
Les in Chorlton 16 Jul 10 - 05:00 AM
Phil Edwards 16 Jul 10 - 06:37 AM
Les in Chorlton 16 Jul 10 - 10:51 AM
treewind 16 Jul 10 - 01:05 PM
Les in Chorlton 16 Jul 10 - 02:08 PM
Mr Red 17 Jul 10 - 05:23 AM
Mr Red 17 Jul 10 - 05:26 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Jul 10 - 05:42 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 Jul 10 - 05:36 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 Jul 10 - 07:44 AM
Phil Edwards 22 Jul 10 - 09:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 Jul 10 - 02:34 PM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jul 10 - 03:55 AM
Will Fly 23 Jul 10 - 04:15 AM
Banjo-Flower 23 Jul 10 - 04:46 AM
SteveMansfield 23 Jul 10 - 06:00 AM
Will Fly 23 Jul 10 - 06:10 AM
Will Fly 23 Jul 10 - 06:13 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jul 10 - 09:46 AM
Will Fly 23 Jul 10 - 10:44 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jul 10 - 11:11 AM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 11:21 AM
Les in Chorlton 23 Jul 10 - 11:41 AM
SteveMansfield 23 Jul 10 - 01:09 PM
Banjo-Flower 23 Jul 10 - 01:23 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 01:40 PM
Wolfhound person 23 Jul 10 - 01:43 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 01:47 PM
GUEST 23 Jul 10 - 01:51 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 01:52 PM
Phil Edwards 23 Jul 10 - 02:46 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 02:57 PM
Banjo-Flower 23 Jul 10 - 03:04 PM
greg stephens 23 Jul 10 - 03:19 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Jul 10 - 03:33 AM
Mo the caller 24 Jul 10 - 04:16 AM
Mo the caller 24 Jul 10 - 04:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 24 Jul 10 - 02:28 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Jul 10 - 02:37 PM
Will Fly 25 Jul 10 - 06:09 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM
Will Fly 25 Jul 10 - 06:38 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Jul 10 - 06:49 AM
Old Vermin 25 Jul 10 - 07:12 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Jul 10 - 07:25 AM
Les in Chorlton 25 Jul 10 - 10:02 AM
greg stephens 25 Jul 10 - 10:08 AM
Mo the caller 26 Jul 10 - 01:07 AM
Les in Chorlton 26 Jul 10 - 03:36 AM
GUEST,Ted Crum 26 Jul 10 - 01:47 PM
SteveMansfield 27 Jul 10 - 05:27 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Jul 10 - 05:30 AM
Old Vermin 27 Jul 10 - 06:21 AM
greg stephens 27 Jul 10 - 07:00 AM
Old Vermin 27 Jul 10 - 09:21 AM
greg stephens 27 Jul 10 - 09:25 AM
Phil Edwards 27 Jul 10 - 09:56 AM
Les in Chorlton 27 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM
Old Vermin 27 Jul 10 - 03:06 PM
Old Vermin 27 Jul 10 - 03:09 PM
Les in Chorlton 28 Jul 10 - 03:00 AM
Banjo-Flower 28 Jul 10 - 05:38 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Jul 10 - 07:28 AM
Jack Campin 28 Jul 10 - 07:50 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Jul 10 - 08:16 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Jul 10 - 08:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Jul 10 - 10:18 AM
Old Vermin 28 Jul 10 - 10:21 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Jul 10 - 12:41 PM
greg stephens 28 Jul 10 - 03:14 PM
Les in Chorlton 29 Jul 10 - 03:42 AM
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Les in Chorlton 02 Feb 11 - 03:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Feb 11 - 03:33 AM
Desert Dancer 03 Feb 11 - 11:35 AM
Les in Chorlton 04 Feb 11 - 02:30 AM
Will Fly 04 Feb 11 - 03:54 AM
Les in Chorlton 04 Feb 11 - 05:34 AM
greg stephens 04 Feb 11 - 05:42 AM
SteveMansfield 04 Feb 11 - 05:53 AM
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Subject: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 07:58 AM

I understand that E-Ceilidh is a genre, for want of a better word, of Ceilidh. Loud, electric fast and stuff like that. Is this about right? A bit diffferent to Irish Ceilidhs, EFDSS Ceilidhs, Scottish Country Dancing and that New Wave of English Country Dance Bands.

I am pondering the idea of A-Ceilidhs. That is Acoustic Ceilidhs in which:
1.more or less all instruments are played with out amplification
2. lots and lots of people are in the band
3. we play in small halls.

Clearly this is hardly a new idea. Any advice or experience to be shared.

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 11:04 AM

We try to do this as much as possible as it makes for a more intimate social evening - absolutely nothing against the big all-electric bands, just aiming at something different.

Advice or experience? Well ...

Always amplify the caller(s). Their job is quite hard and tiring enough without having to shout over even the smallest of bands in the smallest of rooms. If you don't want to amplify any of the rest of the band, get a practice amp or a small combo and put the caller's microphone through that.

And if your audience or venue get a little larger, or you've got a range of instrument volumes, amplify the quieter instruments to the volume of the louder instruments. For example we've two saxophonists, and even playing quietly they can completely drown out the concertina and the guitar - so give the quieter instruments a hand with a subtle bit of reinforcement. Not only does it give a better balance, it means that the quieter instruments don't always have to play at the top of their volume range, which makes for better listening and dancing over the course of an evening.

I love playing amplified on a big PA with monitors and a real amplified ooomph to the sound .. but I also love driving home after a great semi-acoustic gig without my eardrums embedded in the middle of my head. Audiences tend to respond to the quieter volume by being quieter themselves - no less enthusiastic in their dancing, but somehow less wired and frantic. We regularly get people thanking us for allowing them to enjoy the evening in their own way!

The only other advice I've give is to talk to the booker beforehand. And if it's likely to be a rowdy aled-up crowd, take the full PA rig and maybe you won't need it when it comes down to it.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 01:08 PM

Thanks sfmans that's most helpful. I could n't get the link to work but I will share your commenst with the rest of The Beech Band

Les in Chorlton


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 01:37 PM

I could n't get the link to work

Gah, typung erorrrr. Try this instead.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,jennyr
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 03:29 PM

Speaking as a caller - yes, definitely amplify the caller!

Also, make sure that it's very clear which musicians are leading the band. This might sound obvious, but one of the disadvantages of larger bands is that it's much harder to adapt to the speed of the dancers, or to anything else unforseen - it's a nightmare if, for example, the fiddles can all see that the caller wants them to speed up a bit but the guitars know that their job is to keep things steady...

I'm not sure about your definition of e-ceilidh - my understanding/experience is that it doesn't necessarily have to be loud (although I agree that it often is), and it certainly doesn't have to be fast. The music is often played more slowly than, for example, Irish or American contra dance, to allow time for more bouncy stepping.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 10 - 04:10 PM

So not Acid Ceilidh then, Les?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 02:30 AM

Mmmmmmmmmm Acid Ceilidh? Perhaps someone out there has an experience to share?

Perhaps I have missed the point with E-Ceilidh?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 04:35 AM

I don't understand the term E-Ceilidh. I play in a 6-piece which has a PA system and we DI in electric instruments and mic up others. Other than that, it's a ceilidh band. If this is the term to use, then I used to play E-Jazz, E-Rock'n Roll and E-Funk.

Now, if only I could hear the E-Street Band playing the A-Train...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 05:17 AM

e-ceilidh is not, as I understand it, the way Les has defined it. It's a combination, and therefore confusion?, between e-ceilidh as in electronic (e-mail etc) - hence the discussion list e-ceilidh - and e-ceilidh as in English ceilidh. so there is no particular emphasis on the music being loud (I'd prefer it to be quieter in some cases - this is music for social situations) or fast (as stated above, the emphasis in English music is that it's slower than Irish or Scottish.
Les - I think your band would fit into the e-ceilidh category fine.

In the latest issue of English Dance & Song, I included the following at the end of an article on Stroud ceilidhs:

E-Ceilidh
What is e-ceilidh? It's short for English Ceilidh, which the e-ceilidh discussion list on the internet describes as 'a dance type derived from traditional English dance, with emphasis on stepping and style rather than complexity. It is always danced rather than walked.' The music is considered to be very important – 'a more pounding, rhythmic, lumpier style of music than that usually associated with the smoother, Scottish style or the faster Irish or hoe-down American music,' according to the Webfeet website.

Derek Schofield
Editor of EDS


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 05:47 AM

Thanks Derek that's very clear.

But now for A-Ceilidh with the A for acoustic. 27 of us played together last time out and I thought - this is loud enough to dance to. We probably wont get 27 at our first Ceilidh but I am hoping for at least double figues, so to speak.

Chorlton Irish Club
Wednesday 21 July
Here

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 05:47 AM

Ah, beat me to it Derek.

I will also, however, respectfully direct your attention to this somewhat tongue-in-cheek article, which I originally wrote in a 'What is E-Ceilidh?' thread on uk.music.folk, and Anahata was moved to preserve for posterity ...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 06:40 AM

Derek Schofield's remarks above about English trad music should be taken with a pinch of salt. They may well apply to the kind of revival music played by the Oak/Old Swan/Flowers and Frolics/ axis that gave rise to the English Country Music Weekend and the term e-ceilidh, but they don't necessarily apply to the traditions of dance music in England as a whole. They may well apply to actual traditional music south and east of the Cotswold/Wash line, but that is only a part of England.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 06:49 AM

Les in Chorlton: you don't actually need as many as twenty-seven unamplified instruments to dance to. These tunes were made by fiddlers mostly, and they mostly worked on their own. Obviously a big hall or marquee full of people might need a bit more oomph, but I would suggest an accordion,2 fiddlers, cello/bass and a bit of percussion(or some similar lineup) is quite adequate for a standard village hall with 10-20 couples on the the floor.
This is not a theory by the way, this is actual practise. I have often played acoustically for dancing, as I am sure most musicians have.
I would put in a plea for the banjo here. Can't be beat for cutting through asnd giving a clear beat in an unamplified environment. The bodhran, however, is better used as a drinks tray for the musicians.The flubadubadub nose it makes when played doesn't always help in an unamplified lineup trying to hold a tight rhythm against background noise.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 07:45 AM

They may well apply to actual traditional music south and east of the Cotswold/Wash line, but that is only a part of England.

Really?!? Well blow me down. Here was me think that was the whole of England....

For what it's worth Derek lives (or has lived for many years) in Crewe aka the North West. I don't think that your comment is fair Greg, particularly given that the Boat Band mostly play Cajun stuff.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 07:53 AM

I MUST agree with Greg's comment above - The last time I saw The Boat Band (Melodeon Fiddle and Guitar with vocals) they played a Cajun Dance evening without Amplification , and only really lost the impact of the excellent vocals .
Incidentally , they were Un Amplified as it was MY PA , and I had a silly problem which rendered it useless on the night !
The Band did a Damn Good Job though !


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 07:53 AM

Guest Ed:
Having had the pleasure to work with the Boat band a few times recently, they definitely don't "mostly play Cajun stuff". OK you might not like Greg's opinion, but uninforme criticism doesn't help.

Check out Trip to the Lakes...or Beggar Boy of the North some 30 years earlier.

Cajun...je crois que non...

Baz


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:03 AM

We have been running our Beginners Session for around 18 months and have gathered 30 to 40 musicians. I am working on the idea that anybody who wants to play should do so hence 27 in May in a concert format with songs also.

We don't know if 10, 15 or 27 will work for dancing that's why we are having a try.

Thanks to all and still taking advice

Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:18 AM

Sounds like Anarcho-Ceilidh to me, Les - which is the way things ought to be in the earthly human scheme of what remains my all-inclusive folk-idyll-diddle day-dream despite the accumulated hierarchical hoo-hah...

Keep up the good work!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM

Dear GUEST Ed, I may be talking bollocks, but it is reasonably informed bollocks. I have been playing English dance tunes since the 60's, seriously researching northern Engliash dance music since 1970ish, have recorded the stuff, broadcast talks about it, played a million barn dances, written articles on the topic etc etc.I am fairly confident that the majority of people seriously into English dance music, anmd especially the music of the northwest, will have attended one of my workshops one time or another, or heard me talk on the subject, or heard the "Trip to the Lakes" or the "Beggar Boy of the North" or "Nantwich Fair" albums, or something similar. I also know Derek Schofield perfectly well as a Crewe bloke, having lived near Crewe for 25 years myself.
I do freely admit to knowing a few cajun tunes, and a few tunes from other parts as well. That is what I study, dance tunes.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:21 AM

The Boat Band definitely don't "mostly play Cajun stuff".

I'll take your word for that, Baz. I only have what I've seen on youtube to judge by.

I know from Jamie Knowles' books that Greg knows a lot about Cumbrian tunes, and would be interested to buy 'A Trip to the Lakes' but it's not easy to find.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:23 AM

Sorry, Greg. Cross posted. Have to go out now but am really interested in learning about these tunes.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:32 AM

Baz is too modest to say so himself but of course he's been the caller for one of the archetypal and linch-pin E-Ceilidh bands, All Blacked Up, for more years than he probably cares to remember: and last time I looked Shropshire was definately North and West of greg's Cotswolds to Wash demarcation line. Resolutely North-Western bands like Plain Brown Wrapper and Albireo are also definately e-ceilidh in any but the most One-Hour's-Drive-From-London of definitions.

Les, good luck with the do at the Irish Centre, and this may be too late to organise for this Wednesday, but I'd suggest that you try splitting the numbers down into smaller bands if you really do get anything like 27 musicians.

It sounds like a statment from the Department of the Bleedin Obvious, but one of the most important things about playing any dance is that you're playing for the dancing; and you're going to need a very very strong, sensitive, and universally understood and accepted lead musician to keep that number playing anything like what will really work for dancing to.

Individuals may get less actual playing time in terms of sheer minutes and seconds, but they'll get a much better experience of what playing for dancing actually is all about - and if they're on the floor dancing in between their playing slots they'll get an even better idea of what does and doesn't work for playing for dancing!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 08:41 AM

Thanks Folks all most useful. I am atracted to the big band idea partly because we should never be challenged by a few not turning up. And Sean's comment about 'Anarcho-Ceilidh' is spot on

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 09:32 AM

sfmans: the point I was making is that the sounds associated with e-ceilidh come from a folk revival mash-up of various musical traditions largely from south and east of the Cotswold/Wash line (obviously, in the main, East Anglia, Sussex (Scan Tester) and the Cotswold morris tradition). This new style was developed/adopted by many people outside of that area, eg All Blacked Up who do of course come from Shropshire. The Plain Brown Wrapper Band are resolutely north-west, and do have stylistic elements from that region which separate them from the mainstream "English Country Music" sound.
The Boat Band plays in a style highly influenced by northern traditional musaicians, and also by southern revivalists! Baz Parkes, who calls for All Blacked Up and the Boat Band, could doubtless pinpoint these differences.
I will be very interested to hear Les's Chorlton Big Band, and spot the influences there!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 09:47 AM

Go for a silent Ceilidh.

Sidmouth - Bulverton Marquee
On Sunday evening, last year's highly popular Silent Disco is being extended with the addition of a Silent Ceilidh. The audience dances to the music on headphones, and there's a Christmas theme to the whole event!

Ruth Archer knows all about these


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 10:01 AM

Sfmans...why thank you...can we quote you on that?

returning to subject, a few years ago several of the musicians from Chinewerde morris (who went on to become, amongst others, Steamchicken) put together a project called Malemarokers (sp?) which was a big acoustic band. I never heard them, but I'm pretty certain there's evidence out there...

Baz


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 10:25 AM

Baz, Only if you correct the typo, to 'lynchpin' :)

Greg, I think you've put your finger on it with the reference to the old 'English Country Music' movement. The way I (and I think many other people see it) all ECM dance bands are e-ceilidh, but only a proportion of e-ceilidh bands are ECM, whereas (if I may put words in your mouth) you see the two as far more overlapping.

I think we are dangerously close to needing Venn diagrams, which sounds like a very good point to stop!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 07:47 AM

I've danced to bands with three musicians and to bands with twenty, as long as the rhythm and phrasing are clear, it isn't any louder than it needs to be, and the music sounds good, then it will be a good evening. The possible risk with a bigger, informal band is a "muddy" sound with people doing their own thing.

I know of one band who predominantly play Irish ("Celtic rock") and have found them very hard to dance to when they do a barn dance, because the rhythm wasn't clear for stepping. Too much emphasis on being fast and clever.

A good punchy rhythm will not only keep the dancers "in step", it helps novices, gives a lift to tired legs and encourages people on to the floor.

The Watch (and more recent derivatives) can achieve this with three musicians and no percussion or bass; the larger bands I've danced to tend to be morris musicians, a lot of boxes and often again no percussion, but used to keeping feet moving.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 09:49 AM

A group has to be *really* together to play acoustically for dancing without percussion or bass. Usually the bass and percussion are what the dancers are actually using to cue in on, the tune is purely decorative.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: alex s
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 11:10 AM

One of the best ceilidhs we've done was a wedding near manchester. It was a very warm evening and when we suggested playing outside all agreed it would be a good idea - then the amp packed in! so we did it acoustically on the lawn (3 musicians and a (loud-voiced) caller). there were fairy lights on in the trees and it went like clockwork - very olde tyme. brilliant.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 11:27 AM

Disconcerting to read Bloke from Poole quoting
The Watch (and more recent derivatives). I haven't quite got over The Bismarcks disbanding yet. Yes, the three-piece band built around Gareth Kiddier's left hand is the ultimate ceilidh band.

Reverting to all-acoustic as an idea, the musicians' view I've heard seems to be that for fiddles to carry over a decent-sized space full of people, they - never mind the caller - need amplification.

I'd remembered a scratch band at a southern song festival ceilidh as probably being acoustic - looked the pictures up, and, sure enough, there was amplification. Some 'scratch' band !


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 12:53 PM

We had an unscheduled mini-ceilidh after a choir gig - just a fiddler or two and a single set on the grass outside the pub. Most pleasant.

Rather louder was the un-amplified dance by Shropshire Bedlams/Martha Roden's Tuppenny Dish in the small hours of a Sidmouth morning. Pipe and tabour, more or less, and a set stretching away in the gloom between the tents. The caller and player's immortal line 'I shall make this dance very simple; because you are all very drunk.'


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 01:13 PM

Drat, I meant the "Bismarcks and more recent derivatives" - which includes the Watch, of course. It can be done.

But I've been to several ceilidhs with bands that are often described as e-ceilidh bands and they've just lost the bottom line. I don't want to have to _listen_ to the music for stepping, it needs to just _be_ there.
If I'm with a good dancer it takes a lot of the fun out of it if I have to dig the stepping out of the sound, and if I'm trying to steer a beginner around a set it makes it very difficult.

But what would be the preferred instrument line up for "A-ceilidh"? Would pipe and tabour count, or maybe a few melodeons, or are we thinking something more gentle?

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 13 Jul 10 - 01:51 PM

Just to clarify, that the "definitions" of e-ceilidh that I used in my recent post, and published in EDS, were from Webfeet and the eceilidh website. they weren't my definitions. I don't think they imply that the music has to come from the south of England! Bands such as New Victory showed early on in the so-called English country music movement that traditional music in England is not a single style.
Anyway, Les, let us all know how you get on!
Derek


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 03:03 AM

But what would be the preferred instrument line up for "A-ceilidh"? Would pipe and tabour count, or maybe a few melodeons, or are we thinking something more gentle?

I think the A-ceilidh movement is a bit young to already be beset by earnest discussions about the preferred instrumentation :)

To me A-ceilidh is a broad movement; whether it's the aforementioned solo pipe-and-tabourer, or the annual general meeting of the Worshipful Company of Rauschpfeifers letting their hair down with a few step-hops, if it's acoustic, and there's a ceilidh going on, it's a-ceilidh ....

Good luck and happy dancing tonight Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 04:49 AM

The point about e-ceilidh is that it's about an attitude and an approach to dancing and music, which originated as a reaction to the EFDSS-style dances, rather than specific styles. It includes bands who stick pretty rigorously to traditional styles (from various regions) on traditional instruments, and bands which take the music in entirely new directions. It may well include electric instruments but this is by no means an essential element.

Most e-ceilidh bands use amplification for the same reason that most other bands do - for volume. However it's more to balance the volume coming from different acoustic instruments and to improve the quality of the sound, rather than raw volume (with some exceptions!). However it's entirely possible to play e-ceilidh without PA, and it happens fairly frequently.

Size of band is also no indication, as e-ceilidh bands can be of any size. However larger bands, unless they are used to playing together and have well worked-out arrangements, can all too easily degenerate into a mushy sound with everyone playing something slightly different.

For me the problem with the OP's "A-ceilidh" label is that it tells me nothing about the style of music or dancing to expect, only that it will be unamplified. I don't find that's very helpful information when deciding whether or not to go to an event.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 05:03 AM

I will be very interested to hear Les's Chorlton Big Band, and spot the influences there!

We play in a style heavily influenced by the two or three of us who can really play (I'm still at the stage where I can relax into a tune or play it at dancing speed, but not both). Some nights you'll also spot the influence of the Portsmouth Sinfonia.

Seriously, the question of style is an interesting one, and I'd like to hear what informed observers think we sound like. (Diplomatic informed observers, anyway.)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 10:45 AM

Before the cult of personality sets in its The Beech Band - or whoever turns up to The Beech on the last Tuesday of the month. We have been using the Horse & Jockey whilst the Beech was closed but will be in The Beech tonight and The Irish Club for dancing next Wednesday.

Thanks again for all advice. The caller will be amped and at present I really have no idea who will turn up or what instruments will be played. I am rather hoping (hopping?) that if we can get a big enough band we will never have to worry about who can and who cannot make the gig. That's an important point

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:03 AM

Not sure quite how relevant this is, but it certainly concerns an unamplified instrument being used for dancing. I was once going through some BBC archive tapes to find some actuality to use in a programme about folk music andd harvest customs: I found a marvellous tape of an old guy reminiscing(possibly in Essex) of how they didn't always have a musician available, so they would start up the thrashing machine, and dance to its rhythm. Maybe the Beech Band could included a good big thrashing machine(and steam traction engine to drive it)...this should help keep time in the Portsmouth Sinfonia moments.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 11:38 AM

And (but you probably know this...) they do say the old boatmen would dance to the rhythm of the engine (post horse, obviously) in the absence of a musician...

baz


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 12:16 PM

We have tried singing to the sound of the fruit machime but it rarely works

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 12:42 PM

Bolinder boat engines have a particularly grrovy rhythm


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 05:21 PM

I am reminded of a memorable moment in a Spa ceilidh at Whitby (early 90s) when those on the dance floor (3-400 dancers? - it was full) took off their shoes, and danced the Morpeth Rant in total silence to an unamplified Joe Hutton (northumbrian smallpipes) Will Atkinson (moothie) and Will Taylor (fiddle).
The applause at the end brought the house down. The contrast between that and the usual far too amplified bands confirmed my preference for A-ceilidh wherever possible, permanently.

Someone mentioned Portsmouth Sinfonia. Aaaaargh......I'm off. Players of that standard shouldn't be on a public stage. Just my opinion, I know others differ.

Paws


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 10 - 06:55 PM

Someone mentioned Portsmouth Sinfonia. Aaaaargh......I'm off. Players of that standard shouldn't be on a public stage

Come back! We're nowhere near that bad. I apologise for deploying my admittedly idiosyncratic sense of humour without adequate warning.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Bloke from Poole
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 07:32 AM

I suppose this could be a way to stop people talking over the walk-through...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 09:12 AM

I have a friend who goes to the Camping club and leads the band of 'whoever turns up'. I think they amplify themselves and a few others, then let others sit in.
Maybe you should amplify
"the two or three of us who can really play"


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 11:19 AM

I knew I was going to regret that post! Fortunately several of the band members who play even better than the rest of us play melodeons, so volume isn't a problem.

The massed ranks of the band played out informally last night - after I'd made my curmudgeonly comments - and I've got to say we sounded pretty good. (Even I wasn't that bad.) Looking forward to next Weds!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Geoff Skeet
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:05 PM

I play round Inverness and it seems that a "ceilidh" is an entertainment, largely for the elderly (people nearly my age but acting older) consisting of some country dances and songs like "the northern lights of old Aberdeen". Evenings more resolutely gaeliform could be called a "feis".
    Incidentally, the best rhythm driver is the washboard, what's happened to it these days?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:15 PM

Washboards are great rhythm instruments indeed. Here is the Boat Band, playing Magic Island totally acoustically to an audience of c 300 in the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme last year.And I think I can safely say the audience could hear us quite clearly. Mark Burke on washboard(Louisiana style) and whistle.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:17 PM

PS banjoes(or banjos) are quite useful rhythm instruments in an acoustic band too.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:28 PM

We often have 3 banjos - 2 play the tune and one rhythm

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:56 PM

Well, Les, how did it go? We're all A-gog :)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 01:35 PM

Chorlton Irish Club
Wednesday 21 July
Here

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 06:18 PM

Here's the link again.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 06:20 PM

From: Les in Chorlton - PM
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 12:28 PM

We often have 3 banjos - 2 play the tune and one rhythm


Now why did I read that "2 play in tune"?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Effsee
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 10:42 PM

How can it be a new genre?...that's how they started out!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 05:00 AM

Spot on Effsee!!!!!!!!!!

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 06:37 AM

Now why did I read that "2 play in tune"?

The trouble is, we don't yet know which two...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 10:51 AM

Not quite being in tune - the utter joy of the banjo

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: treewind
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 01:05 PM

Let's not forget that one of the prototype bands of what became the E-ceilidh movement was Flowers and Frolics, and they used to play unamplified, even at the Sidmouth Late Night Extra. (I know this, I was there) They gave up on playing acoustically, because they just kept breaking melodeons. They were my one of my favourite bands, and I loved the sound they made and the way that could be so loud purely acoustically.

I agree that a huge band wouldn't be best to dance to because they would make a mush of sound without the required crispness of rhythm. Actually 20 players wouldn't be all that much louder than four or five, and certainly nowhere near the levels that you'd get with even moderate use of PA.

I like small bands though. I've done perfectly good village hall gigs with
melodeon and piano
and with melodeon, concertina and Sousaphone

No percussion, but amplified enough to be heard comfortably at the back of the hall.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 16 Jul 10 - 02:08 PM

Mmmmmmmmmmmm Actually 20 players wouldn't be all that much louder than four or five

Is this something to do with decibels being non-linear?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 05:23 AM

E-Ceilidh is English Ceilidh.

Loud? Depends on the band but I am never without ear-plugs, just in case. I very rarely refuse a band but there is one, who knows - they may have quietened down, but their "enthusiasm" for noise and pyrotechnics gets in the way of the essential idea of dancing - the rhythms that human physiology require. Even the original drummer gave up on them because of the noise. THE DRUMMER!

Most dances are English - much to the surprise of non-dancers. Either English Trad, or composed in the last 40 or so years. Though we are not averse to "the Bridges of Athlone" - Scottish since you ask, Chapeloise - French by adoption, Swedish by origin. Almost invariably we start & finish wish an uncalled polka ('cos that's wot we likes) though with enough space I might venture an Italian Polka or a Mazurka (now I have got my head round the confusing patterns).

We might even do a Playford dance though not the way the Playford community would approve - "Sir Roger de Coverly" with 8 couples - yes 8 - as John Kirkpatrick (the notsominor deity) says - as written in 1648!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 05:26 AM

A-Ceilidh? Give it a go.

Though I would counsel that you choose musicians who dance regularly as an option of choice. They know what the feet need, more than the ear.

And the caller is a key member - it is not a skill anyone can do without learning the trade.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Jul 10 - 05:42 AM

What's your band called Mr Red?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 05:36 AM

So, A-Ceilidh as in Acoustic Ceilidh.

25 in the band and still counting. The Returning Officer will make an official declaration later. General concensus, a great night out. Band played well, caller, miked up to give him a chance, was brilliant, dancers priceless.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 07:44 AM

Thanks for last night's fun go to the Beech Band:
EllieGarryGedGlynneGordonHelenJennJennJJJulesJulieKarenKateKenMarie-ClaireMark
MickeyMikePhilPhilRobRosieUrsulaWes.

To all the dancers and Kieran and his staff at Chorlton Irish Club for putting up with us

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:46 AM

It was a great night, and I think the Beech Big Band sounded pretty good - I'm sure there was the odd bum note, but we were all playing the same tune at the same time, which isn't bad when you've got 25 people on the stand and a lot of other people distracting them by dancing all over the place. (Or, at one point, 25 people huddled in the middle of quite a small dancefloor, hemmed in by a circle dance. I forget what the tune was called - something about Rakes of the Alamo, I think.) Another time I might defect to the dancers - they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

The Band has got a secret weapon, it has to be said - several of the newer recruits, in particular, appear to have the ability to look at dots on lines and play music straight off, even when the music is quite quick. While the older members of the band are of the firm opinion that this be witchcraft and agin nature, we've got to admit that it comes in very handy.

Here's to the next time!

PS Can it be somewhere that serves beer?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:34 PM

For anybody interested in the idea of A-Ceilidh I think I think this:

1. A big band is lots of fun - nobody feels under pressure to be note perfect - the down side is we may always be a but uncrisp.
2. Ours grew out of our Beginners Tune Session, we have been playing together for about 18 months - Thanks to Shrewsbury for showing us the way - we are not note perfect but I think we are quite good.
3. Playing in a small hall means dancers get to know each other very quickly and are at ease with each other and laugh a lot
4. A small PA and microphone is essential for the caller, I think.
5. Musicians can leave the band and make up numbers to keep the sets full

As far as I can tell evrybody really enjoyed it - but then who doesn't enjoy a Ceilidh?

Cheers
L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 03:55 AM

Oh, and a big band seems to bring along quite a few friends so the evening gets going early on

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 04:15 AM

The Beech Big Band sounds great, Les, and more power to your elbow (the one connected to the tenor banjo) for getting it into action.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I was playing with a fellow "Unreel" member at a mini ceilidh - just the two of us playing and his wife calling - last night. In between dances, he mentioned that he'd seen a band in Birmingham some years ago who played in a traditional style for ceilidhs - but the actual tunes were rock classics!

I can just imagine the Beech Big Band swinging "In The Mood", "String Of Pearls" or "Take The A-Train"... in ceilidh style, naturally! :-)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 04:46 AM

Bad Moon Rising fits in well in a polka set

Gerry


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 06:00 AM

Bad Moon Rising fits in well in a polka set

My internal tune player has just tried segueing from several polkas (Ballydesmond, Primrose, and Poolside to name but three) and I can't get out of any of them without a pretty crunching change of rhythm.

I can see how it might work in a session, but certainly not for dancing the way my mind's ear hears it - is there a link somewhere that demonstrates this splendid cross-cultural achievement in action?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 06:10 AM

Oh, I dunno - I've just picked up the mandolin and shifted from Dennis Murphy's to Bad Moon Rising with the flick of a pick (in D). Sounded fun - might even try it at the session on Sunday!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 06:13 AM

As for dancing, I was playing at a ceilidh last night (as a duo), and - given the composition of the sets at certain times of the evening - we played the odd A part 3 times instead of two, and added an extra B part, or shifted down to one B part - just to fit all the moves in for the dancers. So, not impossible.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 09:46 AM

Thanks Will,
I have spent about a thousand years going through The Beatles Complete trying turn them into country dance tunes with no real success at all.

I think another of our limitations is that we do all more or less play the tune - nobody playing hamonies or whatever. It seems to work ok and as all I ever do is put the dots in front of people and shout go - I am a happy person

Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 10:44 AM

Les, it was very easy last night for Julian (melodeon player) to just turn to me and say "Another A" - and we did it. Any more than half a dozen players, say, and that sort of off-the-top change becomes very difficult.

The actual progression through the tunes set is calculated, at our gigs, by the caller/drummer (James) and Julian who, between them, calculate to a nicety the exact number of choruses to play so that all the dancers complete all the dance moves so many times - and at least once! So there are often shifts from the written tune - not so much in melody but in part quantities. When we play the "Bedbreaker", for example, we usually just play the A once through, rather than twice, to fit the dance we call with it. It's now just known as "1A", as in: "What are we doing next?" "1A!". However - last night, we did the whole lot, so it became "2A"... :-)

It's all Greek to me - I just plays what I'm told.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 11:11 AM

I guess turning oil tankers around comes to mind. We played one tune per dance. This suited us because almost none of us have played for dance before. The practice was good and obviously avoided tricky tune changes. I guess we will move to 2 or 3 as and when.

Cheers

Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 11:21 AM

Nothing wrong with one dance/one tune. Perfectly good policy that has stood the test of time.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 11:41 AM

Thanks Greg, very reassuring. Rob's contact details by PM

Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:09 PM

Nothing wrong with one dance/one tune. Perfectly good policy that has stood the test of time.

Hear hear; although I like a good medley, both to play and to dance to, and would also argue that a change of tune (especially if co-ordinated with the first couple arriving back at the head of the set and everyone getting a 2nd tuen through the dance) can make for a change in the feel or subtle emphases of the dance the second time around.

John Kirkpatrick, however, takes a much more hard-line approach on the subject ...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:23 PM

real cross-cultural achievement try Little Diamond,Waiting for the Federals then into Bad moon Rising,worth it just to see the dancers faces when the penny drops and they realise what tune it is

Gerry


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:40 PM

John Kirkpatrick's article is interesting, and I generally agree with it. God spare us from people trying to make things"interesting". I regularly find dance callers sneering at popular old dances (eg Cumberland Square Eight). They no longer find the dance interesting, so they see no reason why common or garden people should be allowed to dance the old way. They continually make up new ones that Jo and Joan Bloggs can't grasp because they are not folk dance specialists.The same happens with people ultra keen on new interesting tunes.
The repetiton of tunes is the way to find out how to play them. That does not come with playing a tune twice and then changing to one with an interestingly contrasting key.
I have a few well loved sets of tunes that I do play for dancing, sure, but by and large a think one tune is fine. As John K says, that's when you can try out and improve, little variations, different decorations, diferent octaves, different emphasis.
Let's face it, making up tunes is fun. Especially if you are student, and put "jazzy" bits in. Sticking interesting medleys together is fun.
But there is also a lot to bew said for learning to play as well as you can, and suiting the dancers as well as you can. The two approaches don't always fit together. Believe me, there's nothing wrong with playing Soldiers Joy twelve times.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Wolfhound person
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:43 PM

I note that the quoted John Kirkpatrick article is nearly 30 years old. I wonder if that is still his opinion?

Paws


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:47 PM

I caused a few raised eyebrows when I ran a tune workshop at Sidmouth last year and spent the whole time on one tune. However, there were more compliments than complaints!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:51 PM

I've just purchased John Kirkpatrick's new tunebook - "Jump At The Sun". In the preface, he hymns the virtues of simplicity - and then fills his book with quirky tune after quirky tune - culminating in "Bobby Shafto Goes Bonkers", where he notates the variations in every conceivable time signature and adds, in the description of how it was put together, "How we laughed!". Great fun!

There's a great thing about good rules: Stick to them - and break 'em when you feel like it. As my Irish grannie used to say: "Have what you will - but pay for it..."


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 01:52 PM

And here I am sitting in a pub playing the same really really well known tune over and over and over and over again. Suits me fine. I wouldn't issue a record like that, I do tend to use medleys for recordings, but playing for dancing or relaxation, I love repetition.
Jenny Lind Polka


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:46 PM

I caused a few raised eyebrows when I ran a tune workshop at Sidmouth last year and spent the whole time on one tune.

What was the tune, out of interest? I'd be glad to spend an hour on a finger-baffler like Elsie Marley or The Ale is Dear, but I'm not sure I'd want to devote more than a couple of minutes to Buttered Peas. (But who knows, it might be a meditational experience!)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:57 PM

It was George King's Hornpipe, a 3/2 tune from Thomas Marsden's Collection Of Lancashire Hornpipes. We looked at the main theme and two variations, as far as I remember, or maybe three variations. So, at most 16 bars in all. It was very meditational. It presented technical problems to some (playing in A Myxolydian is kind of backwards to a D/G melodeon player). And we explored in some depth how and when to play the variations(including playing all three or four parts simultaneously which was the best bit!)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 03:04 PM

One tune versus a medley

Surely there is room for us all......

or to quote the Everley Brothers
You go your way and I'll go mine
now and forever till the end of time

Gerry


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 03:19 PM

There is room for us all...
Yes indeed. But there is also a time and place for everything.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 03:33 AM

A-Ceilidh - biggish bands in smallish rooms?

I enjoy Ceilidhs whatever even that very large one at Shrewsbury - is that the biggest or do people know bigger ones?

Small ones? Most of us use church halls and social clubs which are small or school halls which are probably too big fo A-Ceilidh

'a time and place for everything. Indeed
L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 04:16 AM

Smallest.
I did a birthday party ceilidh with Marilyn last year in the customers front room. Two standard 12' rooms with folding door in between, some furniture cleared but some left in, so that the 'cowgirls' could rest on the sofa. Marilyn and her melodeon in the corner. Room for 1 long set (across both rooms) or 2 small circles. There were up to about 8 couples dancing so it fitted fine.

Biggest I've been to.
The Spa, Whitby (they call it the Pavillion now and no-one knows what I'm talking about).


As far as changing tunes go, just watch the dancers go wrong when they have happily been getting it right without needing the call any more in Blaydon Races. Then the band changes and 'swing / promenade' reflex kicks in.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 04:22 AM

Another small one was the one we had in our lounge. Some of my friends wanted to try calling, so the invitation was come along, dance, play or call, or do some of each. We could possibly have fitted two squares but mostly we had 1 set. More musicians than dancers, we dropped in and out of the band. Didn't enjoy dancing on carpet much though, and I'm not sure we've got all the furniture shifted back yet.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 02:28 PM

The last time we went to the Spa at Whitby other dancers critisized us for not taking the dancing seriously enough. Seems to me to miss the point of social dance really.

in some of those big dances safety seems more of an issue than ability - baskets can lead to serious damage.

All good fun?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Jul 10 - 02:37 PM

Here are some photos and a video clip from The Beech Band's first Ceilidh:

Live at Chorlton Irish Club

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 06:09 AM

Just watched the video, Les - what a hoot! And recognised some Beech faces from my visit earlier this year. You looked very authoritative, stage front, centre...

It looked like a session with dancers attached - what an orchestra, eh? I would have taken the "Soldier's Joy" a tad faster meself but it seemed the right pace for the dance and with all those musicians present.

Great stuff - I look forward to seeing and hearing some more. :-)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM

Thanks Will,

it was great fun. Tempo is a good point, some tunes we can't play too fast at present and I am not sure we have a strategy for deciding the tempo. Ged leads us in with a short phrase and that has worked really well but clearly speeding up is a bit tricky with so many. Still it was the first time for dancing so lets see where it goes

Les
Avoiding all suggestions of authority


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 06:38 AM

You can't escape it, Les - the calm demeanour, the tenor banjo, the avuncular grey hair and moustache, the position centre stage front - all point to you as the Godfather. :-)

All joking aside, it's a great way for people of mixed abilities and different instruments to play together with some element of discipline, and in a "live" situation for dancers. What a great way to learn melody, tempo, pace and the art of communal music making.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 06:49 AM

It makes a fairly obvious point that you alude to - music is essentially a cooperative activity. I haven't always felt that at some sessions which is a shame.

I guess when people get really good - well ahead most, but not all of the Beech Band, they like to play a bit quick and change the tunes often.

I wonder how many sessions happen around the UK and how many could get together of r abit of social dance?

Les
Still denighing all suggestions of anything much - but great fun


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 07:12 AM

Numbers of boxes?

I think it was Phil Gorton of the Hogs Back Band who recently observed that there's no point in having more than one melodeon playing at a time. Context may have been sessions rather than dance, and I seem to remember HBB play amplified.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 07:25 AM

Interesting point Mr Vermin, what would he do, ask the second melodeon player to leave?

"The point?" - to play with others - that's our point. The only limit is the size of the room. We can get about 30 at an absolute squeeze. The problem then is not enough elbow room to play melodeons, etc.

I think about 100 people played in one of the Beginners / Improvers Session at Shrewsbury last year and I assume they all enjoyed taking part. It remains my inspiration.

Quite a few Irish sessions happen around Manchester. They play quick and in strings of 3, 4 or 5 reels and so on. Most if not all of them play extremly well and the music is very exciting. But most of us don't expect to get to that standard and we have the feeling that most of our English tunes sound OK at a steady pace

As Greg said above "There is room for us all...
Yes indeed. But there is also a time and place for everything. "

Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 10:02 AM

Have a look at this - amazing

The Jolly Boys

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Jul 10 - 10:08 AM

Certain amount of journalistic hype about how totally unknown and ignored they have been till someone is now recording them etc etc. They toured England acouple of years back, maybe more than once, and I(and no doubt many others) have a CD of theirs. Good stuff it is too.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 01:07 AM

English tunes are DANCE tunes. And if you want to dance (with stepping) you've got to take them steady. You need someone to skip round while you are playing to tell you how it feels. Too slow and you're up in the air for ever and can't come down. Too fast and you have to walk - fine for American contra's and squares, slow and bouncy feels wrong for that.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 03:36 AM

Thanks Mo, a very reassuring piece of advice

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: GUEST,Ted Crum
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 01:47 PM

I remember in about 2002 when the old 3 piece Steamchicken were at the Anchor with Martyn Harvey, and the heavens opened. The PA bloke switched everything off and walked away, so we wedged ourselves under a pub brolly in the middle of the car park and got on with it. Seemed to work too, although it did bear a strong resemblance to the ceilidh in the ford which has definitely never taken place!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 05:27 AM

I remember in about 2002 when the old 3 piece Steamchicken were at the Anchor with Martyn Harvey, and the heavens opened. The PA bloke switched everything off and walked away, so we wedged ourselves under a pub brolly in the middle of the car park and got on with it. Seemed to work too, although it did bear a strong resemblance to the ceilidh in the ford which has definitely never taken place!

I was there and it was excellent (if a trifle soggy), although I must confess I'd forgotten it was Steamchicken who did such a sterling job.

When I'm in Sidmouth I always try to play for the CitF (not that it happens of course), so it was my first and only experience of what the CitF must be like to dance in (were something like that ever to happen, which, of course, it doesn't) ...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 05:30 AM

Any more general advice or views on Acoustic Ceilidh?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 06:21 AM

Les_in_Chorlton - about Phil Gorton's dictum that one melodeon is sufficient, you might just perhaps be seen as seeking to add discord where there was harmony.The context was the small ceilidh band or pub session. Phil is a very gentle and polite character. I cannot imagine him asking a surplus melodeonista to desist. Context is all. That may lead back to the point about the Bismarcks - fiddle, melodeon and keyboard - being the essence of a ceilidh band.

As far as big sessions go, I have a very pleasant recollection of the Towersey slow session in the Dance House last year, and the necessity for melodeon players to space ourselves far enough apart so that we could hear the lead instrument - probably a fiddle - at the front. That was, for me, both useful and enjoyable. Useful because I discovered that playing by ear was possible for me - not perfect, but possible. Enjoyable because it was just lots of English music to listen to and try to play.

There's probably a plethora of threads about the transition to playing by ear, so I'll leave that alone here.

The thing that does terrify me is the thought of trying the Sailing Club vast sessions at Sidmouth. Very big, very tight indeed in many senses of the word.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 07:00 AM

I've done ceilidhs playing one melodeon as the only melody instrument. The other 5/6 people were all playing percussion of various kinds. Vey interesting, seemed to work fine.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 09:21 AM

Could you get away with just percussion?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 09:25 AM

Yes, I've tried that, it works fine. It's good to get one player of something loud(eg cymbal or snare drummer) to have the sole responsibility of marking the end of the 8-bar phrases.. Earlier in the thread(or maybe in some similar thread) I also drew attention to a BBC archive of an old guy reminiscing about dancing to a thrashing machine. And I think someone else raised stories of dancing to the diesel engine of a canal boat.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 09:56 AM

Any chance of posting the video somewhere Facebook refuseniks can see?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 10:47 AM

"you might just perhaps be seen as seeking to add discord where there was harmony"

Not me Mr Vermin. I am very aware that these threads have a habit of tuning nasty after about 20 posts and I am keen that we bat along sensitively.

I hope we are exploring the idea of acoustic ceilidhs. The current wisdom seems to be quite a few instruments, smallish venue, miked caller.

We can all decide who we want to invite to our homes to play with but if you have a public event it's hard to see, with out being rude, how the number or type of instrument can be limited.

I have no problem with this - anybody who turns up is made welcome and we all play.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 03:06 PM

Pleased to hear it, LiC. It's so difficult to do subtle inflexion in type. Writing paragraphs at legal length might clarify if anyone read them.

Limited as to requirement. I think original point may have been that an extra melodeon might not add a lot. I was recalling a fleeting conversation. I'd brought another instrument, and the view was that had I brought another melodeon this would have been redundant. Anyway, this could digress into a discussion about whether even one melodeon is an absolute essential. However....

Miked caller, yes. Unless late at night on campsite or a very intimate venue.

I've been told that amplification really is needed for musicians, but that was typically for a venue with perhaps half-a-dozen or eigth or so sets more sets -
sort of thing or in a hotel ballroom.

Going on from there, smaller venue means fewer dancers, perhaps less cash to pay musicians. One then gets into the economics of ceilidhs discussion. All for love?

My personal preference is for something small and not too crowded, without amplification. Doesn't happen too often.

Hey-ho.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 27 Jul 10 - 03:09 PM

But if lots of musicians really *want* to come and play for a small dance...


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 03:00 AM

All good points Mr Vermin.

As for paying musicians, I am all for musicians getting paid the going rate. If a Ceilidh band travels some distance, puts of a PA, plays from 8 until 11, takes the PA down and travels home they deserve more than the minimum wage not least because they, in my experience, do a great job entertaining loads of people.

But most of the people playing and singing do it for nothing because they like it and that is part of the nature of folk or traditional music.

But another scenario is loads of musicians from a tune session, playing informally and locally in a smallish room for friends or for a charity fund raiser. Walk to the venue, play 8,30 - 10.30. Go home with no PA rining in our ears. So little money can be made on this scale that it hardly seems worth bothering - unless it is fronted by a charity and they bring dancers along and run a raffle and so on.

All good fun hey?

Les


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 05:38 AM

These type of Ceilidhs have been going on for years in North Lincolnshire for example

Reely Grim near Caistor

Also

AVID ceilidhs in the Isle of Axholme

And Iwould 'nt be surprised to hear of more elsewhere in the U K

Gerry


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 07:28 AM

Any more reports of A-Ceilidh?

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 07:50 AM

Old Vermin's picture is of a ceilidh in a marquee. That can be very unfriendly for acoustic instruments - canvas just seems to eat sound. But feet on flattened grass or wood chippings are at least quiet.

I have played for a wedding in a marquee with just me (recorders, whistles, flute) and a harp. It worked, just. We stuck to very familiar dances that didn't need calling. It felt like we had to throw every note like a pebble at the furthest-away dancer.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 08:16 AM

Good point Jack - outside and in tents is really difficult. We have been asked to play outside and I think we might turn in down

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 08:53 AM

But the life of a ceilidh man is always in tents!


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 10:18 AM

Always? Ours seem pretty laidback!

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 10:21 AM

Mr Campin "we had to throw every note like a pebble at the furthest-away dancer. "

Hadn't realised Mudcat was also for poetic image. Nice.

And yes, marquees aren't ideal. Did a choir gig in a big marquee the weekend before last. Audience appeared to be enjoying it and themselves. Could we hear ourselves? To an extent.

Did have a very nice very-mini-ceilidh earlier this year. Local players in the museum garden one afternoon. Hard surfaces - walls and paving. Just one couple dancing - I essayed something mildly jivey to Michael Turner's with Sue and Steve took over for Mazurka d'Auvergne. Idyllic.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 12:41 PM

Me too
L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Jul 10 - 03:14 PM

Great way to while away the tedium when the caller is setting up the dance, throwing pebbles at the dancers. I use a half brick sometimes, or empty bottles.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 03:42 AM

I guess that's the influence of boats and The Potteries?

L in C
searching for coat


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Jul 10 - 03:42 AM

OK Folks it's official. We will, if The Beech Band turn up, play for The Friends of Ghyll Head, at Chorlton Irish Club, Saturday 25th September, with Mr Rob Philips as our caller.

Comments on last times fun will be most welcome. If you didn't make it last time put it in your diary now and we will agree tunes shortly.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 09:24 AM

It went well and much fun was had

Any more advice?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 03:43 AM

We played for our second Acoustic Ceilidh (A-Ceilidh) last Saturday. Around 200 in the room, 40 turned away.

We have a local environmental festival each April. It's called The Big Green Festival - stands, workshops, displays, live music, loads of things for kids - all things sustainable.

The Ceilidh was a launch and awareness raiser. Our brilliant Caller, Rob Phillips used a radio mike and 27 of us, 3 banjos, 3 guitars, 6 percussion, 4 squeezers, 8 assorted whistles, 'cello, fiddle and guitaron, played acoustically.

Seemed to work well for the dancers. Lots of video here:

The Beech Band at The Big Green Ceilidh

Well done Rob & The Beech Band
L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 03:33 AM

Still listening

L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 11:35 AM

Looks and sounds like a great time, Les.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 02:30 AM

Thanks Becky,

much fun was had. We are interested in sharing experience with other bands who are playing for dancing in small venues with out a PA

L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 03:54 AM

Three banjos... And you lived to tell the tale? :-)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 05:34 AM

How about the percussion: 4 Bods, 1 Bongo (?) 1 tambo!

One of the things that we haven't sorted is who sits with who. Clearly some people are not allowed to sit together because the get up to badness.

But otherwise? Percusion at the back? Whistles at the front?

Any guidance

L in C#


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 05:42 AM

Percussion, and backing instruments in general, were kept at the back in the acoustic days of jazz, and that would be ideal for your kind of lineup I would think. This helps to keep the percussion noise levels down, as the front line turn round and snarl if they are being deafened. In addition the bodhrans should be behind a thick stone or brick wall, out in the street.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 05:53 AM

One of the things that we haven't sorted is who sits with who. Clearly some people are not allowed to sit together because the get up to badness.

But otherwise? Percusion at the back? Whistles at the front?

Any guidance


Definitely keep percussion at the back (not sure Greg's put the bodhrans far enough away but you get the general idea). Get the guitars, bouzoukis, etc (also any basses) together and close to the percussion, as together they're the rhythm section and need to work together or else the whole thing will go TU.

Make sure the band leader is within communication/poking distance of the lead percussionist.

After that just try to keep groups of instruments together, maybe arranging things so that the quieter instruments aren't immediately next to the massed ranks of piano accordions so that the quieter instruments can hear themselves think/play. How about squeezeboxes in the middle, fiddles stage right, whistles stage left?

And if you really can't put certain people together because they might get up to too much mischief, I'm afraid my only suggestion would be that that they need to grow up a bit and concentrate for 5 minutes for the greater good of the success of the overall project :)


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 06:06 AM

Fiddles stage right is certainly traditional in ensembles. Possibly something to do with the way right hand people hold their instruments, and where the sound is directed? I can't quite figure out if there is any logic in that theory.


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 07:24 AM

Is it something to do with who is poking who in the eye with a bow, flute or guitar neck?


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Subject: RE: A- Ceilidh a new genre?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 12:31 PM

Fiddles stage right is certainly traditional in ensembles. Possibly something to do with the way right hand people hold their instruments, and where the sound is directed? I can't quite figure out if there is any logic in that theory.

It is traditional, but thinking about it now it would make more sense for fiddles to be stage left; my thinking being that they naturally turn to their right in the standard playing position, so would be facing more into the centre of the stage/auditorium if they were stage left.

Similarly it would make sense for the talented and creative geniuses in the flute section (no bias or personal interest there!) to be stage right because the barrels of the flute are therefore pointing out the edge of the stage and the musicians facing slightly inwards in their natural playing position. Unless Michael McGoldrick has joined in of course.

Maybe the traditional arrangement is so that both the fiddlers on stage right and the flautists on stage left are kept more comfortable by all facing slightly away from the accordionists in the centre :)


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