(Photo : Lucia Para)

Well!

I was very saddened by the Conservatives’ victory in the UK recently but absolutely thrilled about the Same Sex Marriage Referendum in Ireland result last weekend!!! Having said that, it would appear that the counties of Longford and Roscommon voted ‘No’ but not by a great lead. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – the vote was ‘YES’. We’re living in amazing times.

And talking of which – I was amazed to see Lorraine Bowen featured on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ – singing her ‘Crumble’ song. I love that woman – and all her songs.
www.lorrainebowen.co.uk

I may not have mentioned that I’ve relocated to Ireland?

Maybe I have – I’m at that age where my brain is a bit full of data and I wish I could find the delete switch to get rid of the zillions of folders that contain things like logarhythms.

Talking of which, I’m really looking forward to going to ‘The Event of the Year – A Reunion For Weavers Pupils born between 1960 and 1963’ (as it proclaims on my ticket – which was five pounds which goes to cancer charities). It’s on Saturday 13th June, 7.30pm till late at Whitworths FC Clubhouse, off London Road, Wellingborough. Anyone out there who would like to come/ needs more info – please contact me at info@karentweed.com and I’ll put you in touch with the relevant people.

I think it’s on Facebook but I don’t ‘do’ facebook.

I love those reunions. The last one I was able to attend was when I was 30 (I’m now 52). I expect all the same questions will come up :

‘So. Karen, what do you do now?’

‘I play the accordion.’

‘Yes, we know that, but what’s your proper job?’

To which I may say (as my Dad would):

‘Flying to the moon. . .’
          (My Dad with , Monique Tweed)

Apparently, old friends had me down as a mad university professor (!) while others told me that I was so very quiet at school. . . . I do hope to see my old music teacher (he has a lot to answer for) : Jon Rees.
When we were about to enter the 6th Form, Jon caught me in the corridor and asked,

‘What ‘A’ levels are you doing, Karen?’

‘Art, Art History, French and History.’

He replied, quick as a flash, ‘Oh you don’t want to do that,’

‘Why?’ said I.

‘Well – think about it. You’re already doing History of Art and I can see why you’d do French and Art, but History?????? Think of all those heavy books you’d have to lug around AND the student-teacher ratio is 6 -1 at least. If you did music, that ratio is 1-1, We’d get through the syllabus by Christmas and then you could design my concert posters and we could spend the summer term watching the cricket on the tv I have at the back of the Music Room.’

‘But you told me that I had the weirdest sense of harmony you’d ever come across and I really don’t understand fugues or the two-part inventions of Bach,’

‘Yes, you have a point, but your history of Music is brilliant – I’ll get you through!’

And he did.

Now then, what happens when two foot specialists meet over a cup of tea? and by that, I don’t mean 2 foot in height (well you have to be careful with all those hobbit films and Imps in Games of Thrones, you know) – I mean a podiatrist and a clog dancer?

I don’t know either but I’m waiting with bated breath as I’ve just introduced Footsie Steve of Brading to Hannah James of Derbyshire! Podiatrist meets clog dancer. As you may know, I’m very interested in creative the process, craftsmanship, as much as I am interested in the end result, probably more so. And talking of craft, in Ireland there aren’t ‘Quality Butchers’ but ‘Craft Butchers’. I like that.

Talking of which I went to the butchers the other day and requested a rack of lamb. In front of my very eyes, he performed what I can only call the most beautiful use of a knife on meat I have ever seen and hey presto, I immediately wanted to find those little chef’s hats to pop on the immaculately carved ribs!
There’s music for that, I reckon, a bit like Brian Eno’s ‘Music for Airports’ but a little more animated. . . . . oh I do hope Mr Eno isn’t vegan or I’m in trouble!

But I digress.

How the devil are you? It’s a fine day here in County Roscommon, Ireland, which is saying something. I’ve been here a while now and I can officially say it’s the soggiest place in Europe. Years ago, I was on a wee Irish music tour of the USA and we had the most fabulous tour manager, Mick Cantwell who assured me that plenty of rain and mist was why Ireland is sooooooooooooooo green. It’s true and the spring greens on every tree, blade of grass is a beautiful sight to behold. When I was a nipper, I used dislike the colour green and when I started being interested in drawing and painting I suddenly realised that there are possibly more shades of green in nature than any other colour and the double of that number again when it’s tipping it out of the heavens and once more when the sun smiles after the storm. I hope it stops soon – I’d like to get the number of layers of clothes right when I leave the house for once. Blazing sunshine with ice cold wind. . .

OK, this is getting out of hand.

I’m doing quite a bit of artwork again, which is lovely. This is the CD cover I did for Kevin Madden’s fiddle CD – the layout of which was designed by Joe Pieczenko http://www.pieczenko.com/
Kevin plays a Guaneri copy fiddle and Isle of Wight Luthier, guitarist and songsmith Mark Hickman showed me Guaneri plans and illustrations when I was researching for the cover and has written a wonderful song about a bespoke olden fiddle maker and the process, both physically and emotionally. Beautiful song – it’s called ‘Dragon’s Blood’.
Kevin’s CD  has Tim Edey and Mike McGoldrick on it and worth buying for the second set of jigs on it. Great tunes.

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks – have you? The Edgeworthstown (yes, this place is not fiction) County Fleadh (pronounced ‘flah’ ) was on, (the first round) with heats for traditional music, song, dance and recitations etc. Usually, this happens on one day, so I was surprised that it was on for two days. I sat and listened to lots of under 11-year olds singing, playing and was shocked when, at one point, a duet hopped up and consisted of a tin whistle player and a guitarist (I thought guitars in a  Irish traditional music competitions weren’t allowed?). . . .and again when the drumming competition started and every child played the snare drum and wood block, not to accompany a live musician (of which there were several in the room at the time) but to accompany music from an iPod!!!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t suddenly changed into a spy for the Folk Police but I was very taken aback. Plus they were awarding all the kids and sometimes had 3 tied for 1st and 2nd and 3rd places. In England, to qualify from that round, you needed to be awarded 1st or 2nd place. I was starting to feel that this was a wee bit unfair, even though the age group was under 12.

Later, that evening, I was quizzing Concertina Donna about this. She laughed and said that none of the children qualified that day – it was just an exercise to encourage the kids. One of the young girls competing goes to the school where Concertina Donna teaches locally. The girl told Donna about the duet involving her sister on guitar.

Donna said to her,

‘I’m not sure that will be allowed according to the competition rules,’

the girl replied,

‘Oh it’s alright. It’s not allowed on Sunday’s competitions but on Saturday’s one, we were told you can do what you like!’

Brilliant.

It’s all getting busy here, I must say. There’s duck racing in Cavan shortly and locally, there’s been a raffle to fundraise and the 1st (and only) prize was 70 euros-worth of firewood. Life can’t get much better than that. . . although next weekend, it’s a difficult decision between the Cavan County Fleadh and the County Longford Show and Country Fair 2015.
There’s all sorts of competitions at the Fair, including :

– Class 62 Aberdeen Angus Heifer born between 1/1/13 – 31/8/14

– Class 131 Best Laying Hen

– Class 132 Best six sods of turf (black)

– Class 133 Best six sods of turf (brown)

– Class 134 Best six potatoes

– Class 139 Best Two Heads of Broccoli

– Class 156 Best Half Dozen Eggs (tinted)

At this point, I’d like to mention ducks. I really like ducks and adopted one (which I called ‘Albert’ as a teenager). Andrew Rothery, a fine accordionist who hails from Worcestershire has 2 ducks that nestle together under his bird table every afternoon like two old, happy friends – it’s beautiful to watch as they wiggle together, side by side until comfortable. It reminded me of a time when I was driving through quite a busy English town in Northamptonshire (Banbury) and, on approaching the large roundabout, I had to brake suddenly because 3 ducks were crossing in front of me in a line. I was in the right hand lane and a large lorry was in the left and he stopped too. We waited while they happily crossed the road in front of us, taking their time. I looked up at the lorry driver, who, like me, was smiling broadly. It made my day.
It was Andrew’s birthday recently and his daughter-in-law made him this cake :

Now then, the spiffing Kerry Fletcher is doing some wonderful collaborations with different dancers – see :
https://www.facebook.com/FolkDanceRemixed
for more details.

Gordon Bennett! I think that’s quite enough information for one blog.

(I’ll just ignore that last sentence. . .) I’m teaching once a month in the Droitwich / Worcester area (see www.learningaccordion.com for details).

And, as it’s a May Monday today, I’m offering skype lessons which are booked and paid for on or before 31st May 2015 (although the lesson itself can be after that deadline) for £12.50 for an hour.

Usually, I offer skype lessons at £25 per hour and while the whole idea of skype can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before, it’s wonderful in that you can sit in your house, switch on the computer, have a lesson with me, sitting in my house and then go and have a cup of tea without travelling anywhere.
Downloading Skype onto your computer is free.
Me? Lazy? Absolutely! I’m starting to develop a ‘homebird’ instinct. Tee hee.

Here’s the link :
http://www.karentweed.com/product/skype-lesson-1-hour/

for more details and booking, see www.learningaccordion.com

I meant to say last time that I’ve quite a lot of new material for my forthcoming solo concert at Bishop’s Castle Town Hall on Friday 12th June. I’ve new compositions and quite a bit of Irish traditional music to play for you. It’s an acoustic gig and details are below. The following day I’m hosting a workshop and places are limited. Participants will get free entry to the Friday evening concert.

I’m also teaching at the Acadia Trad School at the end of June – it’s in Bar Harbor, Maine USA and is a week-long Celtic Music event with classes, workshops, sessions and concerts.
Here’s some info on the dance program http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e961f5d91465bd200016cc916&id=ef1a9b5fd6

Emmanuelle LeBlanc will be teaching the Piano course, along with Kimberley Fraser:

Advanced/Intermediate piano The piano has become one the most common instrument for accompanying fiddlers. Students in this class will learn rhythms and techniques used in accompanying fiddlers in Celtic music as well as traditional Celtic reels on the right hand, and how to accompany them with the left hand. Discussion and demonstration of how piano and step dance rhythms are interlinked. Chording approaches, bass lines and syncopated rhythms for jigs and reels will be explored.

I’m teaching the Piano Accordion and only Irish Music. Crikey!
Some of the afternoons I’ll be teaching ensemble courses and there’s concerts and sessions and natters and all sorts of shenannigans. . .

It runs from 29th June until 3rd July.

See http://www.acadiatradschool.com/    for more information.

And lastly, any of you living in the Northamptonshire area and wanting to get fit, have great fun on a Thursday night, there’s Irish Set Dancing from 8.30pm – no experience necessary as there is a caller. It’s at Corby Irish Centre, Patrick Road, Corby NN18 9NT.
My Dad took me dancing there last week. . . .

I hope you have a good week,

xKt

KT dates :

Friday 12th June : Karen Tweed Solo at Bishop’s Castle Town Hall, SY9 5BG
7.30 p.m. (for an 8pm start)
Tickets : £8 advance / £10 on the door.
Information and Tickets from : keith@woodmail.co.uk   Tel: 01588 638242 or from Bishop’s Castle Town Hall.

Saturday 13th June : Piano Accordion Irish Music workshop with Karen Tweed at Bishop’s Castle Methodist Church Hall, SY9 5AQ
9.30 a.m. (for a 10 am start) – approx. 4.30pm
Tickets : £45 (includes free entry to the Friday evening concert).
Information and Tickets from : keith@woodmail.co.uk   Tel: 01588 638242

Thursday 13th August : Karen Tweed Solo at Gandara Festival, Portugal.

And around and about. . . .

1. From: Sophie Crawford <s.u.crawford@googlemail.com>
Sent: 25 May 2015 00:17
Subject: The Dead Moon

Hi!

I’ve been working on a new folk musical called ‘The Dead Moon’ and I would so love it if you were able to come!

It is based on three Lincolnshire folk stories collested in the late 19th Century by Mary Balfour that I’ve been researching for a few years.

I’ve worked with the theatre company Troupe to adapt them for stage and now we’re touring them around the country. The London leg is from 30th May – 4th June in two different venues:

Saturday 30th May (8pm) and Sunday 31st May (3pm and 8pm)
Ugly Duck
49 Tanner Street
SE1 3PL

Tuesday 2nd – Thursday 4th June(8pm)
Old St. Mary’s Church,
Stoke Newington,
N16 9ES

You can get tickets here:
http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/troupe-8149112255?s=37908354

I’ve attached some more info and here’s a trailer to give you a sense of the show!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOTjRwNKEGQ

I’ve written the music with my pal Hatty Carman and devised the show with the company. It would be so lovely to see you. Really lovely!

Sophie Crawford

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