This last week, I’ve been thinking about new tunes that I’ve heard and wanted to learn. Compared to 30 or more years ago when I was eating Irish traditional tunes every waking moment, I’m pretty lazy these days, probably more selective (which also translates as lazy) and get cross with myself for allowing things like administration to get in the way! That’s a myth of course; it’s all a choice but I’m veering more and more towards starting the day (as my friend Norman does and I did when trying to get my head around recording a solo cd) with playing music on my accordion. . . just not sure my latest neighbours would appreciate it. . .

It all started with listening to a CD from Denmark called “Trading Nordic’ by a lovely young band called ‘Tranotra’. It takes me a while to listen, really listen to new cds because I like to play them over and over again over several days (unless I find it difficult to get past the first few tracks, which, thankfully rarely happens). It’s a very inspiring CD with great arrangements and track 4 (‘Hoppet’) has a wonderful waltz on it . . . which put me in mind of Roger Tallroth’s amazing wedding tune on ‘Mindset’ (by Vasen). . .which then put me in mind of an early Kornog set of Gavottes and ofcourse Trio Mio’s ‘Love and Cigars’ CD (Track 2 ‘Fillingpolska’) and hoorah! before I realise it, the accordion is on and I’m learning the tunes. I’m stubborn in that I don’t use any software to slow down the tunes (they are hardly fast in the first place) as I don’t want to lose my ability to pick up tunes at pace.

I learned, like thousands of others, to pick up tunes by ear at speed or by lifting the arm of the record player time and time again to repeat whatever Kevin Burke and Jacky Daly track Siobhan O’Donnell and I were trying to figure out at the time. It was maybe stubborn but those skills are part of who I am and, being so dependant on glasses since the age of 4, I realise how easily we relax if we don’t keep those muscles / skills working. Talking of which, I only learned recently that Leonardo da Vinci invented the first contact lens . . in glass!

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing recently












– posters for the IOW ceilidhs and cover CD artwork for Kevin Madden’s new Irish fiddle CD (which will be out soon). Kevin and I used to compete as a duo in competitions as teenagers and he has finally decided to make a CD which celebrates his long life of music. It’s been lovely to reconnect with old friends I grew up playing with and I heard some tracks of Caroline Fegan (nee Judge) on Irish radio one night which publicized her concert coming up on April 25th in Newry.

A few weeks ago I was playing at a session in Cavan town with Martin Donohue – he runs a lovely session, a radio show and one of the busiest and most musically supportive men I am honoured to know.







In the session, the youngest was a fabulous accordionist who was 11 and played his heart out; the eldest was Seamus Fay who delighted us all with the most gorgeous renditions of tunes that he lilted and in the pub you could hear a pin drop. I was sitting next to Martin and a great flute layer, Noel Sweeney whose CD I have really been enjoying listening to since that night.





There were tunes to join in with and a few that were started off by a few of the shyer players and the odd solo. If you are ever in Cavan town on a Wednesday evening . . .and do tune in to Martin Donohue on Irish Radio. . .
“The Wind That Blows” every Sat 6 to 8 with the Cavanman
on Shannonside Northern Sound Radio<>

Philip Clarke was also there and playing one of his marches (I so love marches!) – he’s working on the latest ‘Bunch of Tunes’ CD and a grand Accordion Concert is planned in August. I’m busily transcribing the tunes from the first CD for a tunes book which we hope will be launched at the concert – now that’s keeping me on my toes and also taken me a step nearer to getting the first of my own tunes books out too.

There are so many events coming along. . . beware, these chats will be getting steadily eventfull!!! After East I will be resuming teaching . . . see and I am delighted to announce an Accordion Extravanganza evening on May 17th with myself, Alan Young and Karen Street.
Alan and Karen are both extraordinary musicians who I have wanted to get on the same stage with for aeons. Alan, who lives in Ryde, is also a brilliant accordion tuner and Karen, while being one of my favourite accordionists, also has numerous publications for saxophone , both solo, with piano. . . some of which are used on many of the grades for trinity exams and Associated Board. She has also written many saxophone quartets and choirs. Her publishers are Boosey and Hawkes, Saxtet Publications, June Emerson and A&C Black. Crikey!

We will be as soloists, in duos and causing accordion mayhem en trio in all sorts of folky, jazzy, classical ways. It is to raise the awareness and funds for UKAAT which is the UK Association of Accordion Teachers and I believe 2 other events are being held on the northisland the same weekend! And if you have a look at what else is on that whole weekend, you will see why I am wondering about calling it a Trees and Squeeze Weekend. . .

. . .moving swiftly on, have a look at this. There seems to be a huge interest in the melodica movement which is what I started out on before the accordion at age 8. Amazing . . .

from Troy Banarzi

Finally, I could rant on about government cuts and mismanagement. . .we all are aware of the short term vision of today about giving more work to less workers for no extra money which results in stress, anger, no morale and exhaustion or worse.

. . . the loss of community, the individual and the devaluation of everyone. I believe we can rebuild everything, slowly and surely and little things make so much difference.

This was sent to me by the incredible Tim Dalling. It is about teachers and teaching but says it all, really, for me and well worth watching and showing.

Tim wrote, “A great blast at Michael Gove from poet Jess Green. Moving and inspiring…”

Have a lovely Easter weekend, wherever you are and on this beautiful island there is a ceilidh in Brading and the Ventnor Exchange Unofficial Record Day on Saturday. . . see below for details.

Yesterday, I was going to see my doctor for a check on my heath issues. Two things happened that brought a smile to my face. Health wise, my doctor said that I am an enigma. Hmmm, not something to put on my website perhaps. . . and later, someone was asking me about my days in the early nineties with the Kathryn Tickell Band and I managed to locate my only cd of “Signs” which I think is no longer available. That brought back great memories and laughs of some splendid music. . . and one night at Frome when Kathyrn was trying to set the scene verbally about her composition “Otterburn”. The theatre audience listened silently, whilst behind her, each standing at opposite ends of the stage, the bassist, Geoff Lincoln unwrapped a boiled sweet and threw it up in the air towards guitarist Ian Carr.
They must have stood a good 15 feet apart, with us gals in the middle. Ian stepped slightly backwards, looked up, opened wide and the sweet fell from a good height perfectly into his mouth.

The audience fell about with laughter.

Kathryn Tickell or K Tel as my Dad always fondly calls her, took it all in great humour. Quite a gal, even back then.