Saturday, 20 March 2010

Blackbeard's Tea Party

I had the rare opportunity of an evening out last night and headed down to Fibbers (one of York’s most palatial and salubrious night spots) to see Blackbeard’s Tea Party. Anyone who lives in York will probably have seen them busking in town; but this was one of the first chances to see them headlining– also to see them wired up rather than entirely acoustic. After a couple of support act (some drumming gubbins and a bloke and a guitar) they hit the ground running with British Man of War. One of the great things was that this was a proper gig with a proper atmosphere. Much as I like folk music, occasionally the atmosphere can be a bit ‘Sunday school teaparty’ – I remember once being told off for talking during a Dhol Foundation gig at the Beverley Folk Festival- apparently I should have been sitting down quietly. Anyhoo, it was their usual mix of songs and tunes (often with a nautical theme) with electric guitar and bass adding a bit of oomph (as did the sousaphone). Highlights for me were Rolling Down the River and I Can Hew. All in all, a good night out – looking at their MySpace page they appear to be putting in an appearance at the Beverley Folk Festival this year and they’ve already been played on the BBC2 Folk programme with Mike Harding. Now if Fibbers can only do something about the price of their beer….
(In the interests of full disclosure I should say that Laura from BBTP is my fiddle teacher )

Saturday, 6 March 2010

London 2012 Opening Ceremony

I watched the Winter Olympics opening ceremony a few weeks ago. A typically brash and overblown celebration of the culture of the host nation. Obviously my thoughts now turn to what delights the London Olympics opening ceremony will deliver, and what aspects of British culture will be involved (cardigans? pot noodles? mild disappointment? out-of-town shopping centres?). Personally, I am fully supporting the campaign to see Morris Dancing included. I kind of like the idea of 14,000 choreographed morris dancers performing in perfect unison, in some kind of bastard mix of the Archers and totalitarian mass callisthenics.

I’d also like to suggest a new Olympic event. As most people know, the marathon is traditionally believed to have been based on the run made by Pheidippides from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to report the Greek victory over the Persian in 490BC. If we can base sporting events on Greek historical events, then I think we should be able to use British history as a source for unique races for the London Olympics. In 1600, Will Kemp, an actor and jester known for taking comic roles in some of Shakespeare’s plays, took 23 days to morris dance from London to Norwich. He later published a description of this event called the Nine Days Wonder. Thus, I’d like to suggest the 186km prance as a new event for London 2012 - the winner to be awarded a gilded pigs bladder.