Old Time is the new 'New'.
If anyone was even starting to suspect that the world of bluegrass, high-lonesome lovers and those who hold Old Time so dear to their hearts is mainly populated by folks of a 'certain' age, then I am delighted, inspired and full of the joys of spring to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
Having just spent two wonderful days at the IVFDF - the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival, Britain's longest continually running folk festival - mainly aimed at the student community but attended by folkies from all over the world I can assure you that this wonderful, celebratory event confirms for me that American Old Time Country, along with so many other beloved traditional forms of music and dance, is alive and kicking up its youthful, old heels.
IVFDF is a cornucopia of music and dance .... Highland Morris Rapper Sword, Irish, Playford and of course our own wonderful Buffalo Gals Stampede. 'The Stampede' is a ten-piece act of which I have the privilege of being band-leader, along with five of the country's hottest Appalachian dancers. If Buffalo Gals Stampede is new to you then take a look at a short documentary we made recently - click here.
The IVFDF was packed with inspiring musicians and dancers performing and running workshops and it is with real burst-at-the-seams joy I return home knowing that the love of traditional music and dance continues through and onward into each generation. There's an over-riding sense that our movement is growing and being carried forward by younger and newer talents, bringing their own interpretation to our shared histories. A mutual appreciation of art forms that might have been in danger of being neglected is, of course, at the heart what we all love, but to know that in some small way I might have been a part of passing that forward brings a new energy to my year ahead. Thank you, fellow students of a fun weekend!
As most of you probably know, as well as the solo work that I love so much, I am lucky enough to also perform on a regular basis with Buffalo Gals www.buffalogals.co.uk so I hope to see some of you out on the road again this year. Buffalo Gals band and Buffalo Gals Stampede have a series of mini-tours coming up in Wiltshire and Derbyshire followed by the summer festivals and I am excited to tell you that John Whelan, banjo-man extraordinaire, will be at Stonehaven festival in Scotland (19-21 July), as, indeed, will I - both performing and running workshops - and then with Buffalo Gals at Golowan festival 24th June (Cornwall), and the Gals and Stampede are all at this year's Cornish Bluegrass festival and then off to Priston festival.
However, one of the projects that I have not had the time to share with many of you so far this year is a new venture entitled 'Sonic Silents'.
I 'discovered' Hollywood silent-movie director Frank Borzage a couple of years ago and was moved and fascinated by intensity of his films. I should pause at this juncture to say that when I claim to have 'discovered' the work of Frank Borzage it is worth noting that Borzage directed around 100 films and won 2 Oscars (almost a century ago) so I can't personally take full credit for bringing his work to the attention of the public!
Along with John Whelan and Jason Titley, I have taken three of Frank Borzage's silent black and white movies and composed a new live, original score for each film. Jason and Johnny and I perform on fiddle, banjo, guitar, percussion and vocals where we bring the audience into the absorbing and poignant world of the old Westerns. Thanks to Artsreach Dorset we have started to tour this show around village halls. Our kind friends at Artsreach, having bravely taken on this experiment to tour the Sonic Silents show with us, now share my delight at the audiences' most generous and flattering feedback. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your reactions to Sonic Silents (and a quick sigh of relief that those reactions have all been so kind).
I hope it will appeal to other Rural Arts Touring organisations and we do look forward to the chance to present Sonic Silents at other venues - so it you'd like to know more here's a review of the show from The Fine Times Recorder, or, just drop me a line by email with your questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you have been in touch recently asking about the residential Old Time Music Week and the residential workshop Dance Weeks.
These started as an informal short trip to Spain where a handful of like-minded people wanted to share a few skills and just shoot the breeze, maybe make some music whilst hanging out and eating too much good food in the sunshine. I've had such a darned good time doing just that in the last couple of years - and had the pleasure of being joined by world-experts such as Dave Bing, Beverley Gerrard, Ben Townsend, Joff Lowson, John Whelan, Sibs Reisen and Rose Ardon - that the whole experience has grown (rather unexpectedly!) from an informal trip to the holiday of a lifetime. We took the leap earlier this year to announce that we will be running La Fuente music and dance weeks a minimum of twice each year and have opened a website dedicated to telling you more about what you can expect www.lafuenteholidays.com
As you can imagine, fitting Old Time Music weeks and Dance Weeks around touring can be a challenge, so roughly-speaking we aim for the spring and autumn (May and September/October) when the sun is not too high in the sky but the evenings still offer the chance to sit and share your experiences of the day. Our workshops weeks are all about keeping the spirit and intimacy of the original group so numbers are limited... totally supportive of all, we invite everyone of any level to join us; if you have young people or children then make them a part of it too as we pass our passion for music to those who will carry it forward; if you're scared at making the first move then just say so, and we'll hold your hand; if you're a rusty professional who thought you'd hung up that instrument years ago... go get it back out of the cupboard and pack your bag now!.
The idea is to share and to learn; we have a wonderful showcase at the end of each week - but no pressure - we think you'll want to join in and show what you've learned, but easy-come, easy-go, just let us know. And, of course, as with all good holidays there is plenty of time for swimming in our private solar-heated pool, disappearing alone up a mountain for a few hours and eating some amazing food. Rooms are shared but real solo folk can camp in the grounds; we'll even provide the tent. Just get in touch with me or go via the La Fuente Holidays website with all your questions.
As always I genuinely offer my thanks to each and every one of you who have taken the time to come along to a gig or to buy a CD or to send me an email. It means a lot to me and makes the whole thing worthwhile.
If you'd like to be kept up to date with all-things-Kate-Lissauer then please feel free to sign up to my (roughly) quarterly e-newsletter by inserting your email address etc. here I promise not to pester you with hundreds of emails and I will not be giving your address to anyone else and, of course, if you change your mind and don't want the newsletters then just let us know.
Have a great spring, stay in touch, stay well and always, always come on up and say 'Hi' when you're in town.