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Whatta Weekend Its Been

Posted by harwilli55 on Sunday, October 10, 2010

What an incredible weekend it has been....and it is just Sunday morning !!!

I went to the Richmond Folk Festival yesterday with my brother and his wife. What a fantastic event to have in my own backyard.  We got to listen to some wonderful music on a cloudless sunny 80+ degree Oct autumn day. The crowds were huge for this used to be small festival.....but that just added to the fun. 

The first group we experienced were the "Northern Neck Chantey Singers" who had been watermen working the menhadin boats that plied the Cheasapeake Bay into the 20th century.  Their work chants which were based on call & response songs helped to pass the time while they were hand hauling in the huge heavy nets full of these important fish.

Then we moved over to a young brass band based in Richmond whose energy, verve, and enthusiam made the crowd go wild with their incredible high-energy tunes.  This is a band on the move....the " No BS BrassBand"....totally unrestrained and impeccably entertaining.

Then we sat in for Benedicte Maurseth from Norway. Her Hardanger fiddle playing was incredible...her voice sublime....her stage presence mesmerizing.  The Norwegian dance tunes she played could have crossed over and been easily woven into the OT world here in the US.

The next venue was " Fiddle Journeys - 400 Years of Tune Migrations" with Brian Mulvihill playing Irish fiddle, Lester McCumber playing West Va dance fiddle, Charlie Walden playing Missiouri style fiddle tunes, and Jim Chancellor playing  Texas style fiddle tunes.  It was an interesting discussion and display of the variations in playing styles that have developed geographically.  Ton of fun !!

Then it was off to see " Lunasa" the priemere Irish Traditional band playing incredible versions of ITM.  Totally awesome sound, incredibly smooth and rich.

Then it was a quick goodbye to brother and sis-in-law....jump on the shuttle bus back to the parking lot....jump in the home to grab instruments....then off to play two seisuins....a 45 minute drive......arrived just in time to start with the first seisuin....we had 14 come was incredible......we were tight......the music driving......and the transitions !!! We played for two hours....then walked a block and half to our new seisuin to start over in a crowded little pub in the Old Towne .......we crowded in....all 14 us sitting shoulder to shoulder......the Pub was full of patrons eating and drinking ........and yegads were they appreciative of our playing.....we had completed a couple of sets of tunes to great applause...shouts....and woohoo's.....and in the pub door....this young Brit comes in carrying a bouzouki case ....he says he heard their was a seisun and asked if he could sit in.....the group chorused "YES".....and Whoa....was this guy GOOD......raised our energy even more......we played till lights out and were so exhausted  that you could see us beginning to


I have to say that the two seisuins we played were the best ever.  You could tell we have been playing together for a long time by the intensity, energy, and tightness.  What is amazing is that we have developed this big sound.....I am not sure how to best describe it.....but when all 14 of us are playing at speed.....the sound is full, encompassing, and fills every corner .....and all of this without any is a truly awesome amazing thing to be a part of a group experience that transcends the whole of the group to become much bigger and better.

While you cannot hear the biggness of the sound from a recording.....I am uploading a set we played the week before which was outdoors....that came close to that big sound.  It will be interesting to see if anyone hears what I am hearing, or if your thoughts are otherwise.   The set is St Anne's Reel-Galway Reel-Cooley's Reel ( scroll to bottom)


It is Sunday night.....I have returned from another day at the Folk Festival.....and am so full of energy from all the incredible music I hear these past two days.....

For the second day in a row, I went to the Fiddler's Journey show.  Same fiddlers as yesterday, but just as incredible today.  Those gentlemen were so humble, humorous, and knowledgeble that it made the hour pass way too quickly.  I am now an official fan of Brendan Mulvihill, Texas Shorty, and Charlie Walden.  Lester McCumber gave an hour long concert afterwards.....which was a real treat to hear his versions and bowing.  Ironworker ( aka Mike) leaned back to tell me....." Forget about figuring out his isn't going to make any sense" and that was so true....yet.....Lester at 89 can still get that dance fiddle was old time....and it was good to see Lester have a big deal being made by a lot of enthusiastic people.  He did say that this was his first trip to Virginia which is pretty darn amazing in and of itself.


2 comments on “Whatta Weekend Its Been”

bj Says:
Monday, October 11, 2010 @5:11:37 AM

Sounds like a great time! I've yet to hear Lester in person. He's amazing.

harwilli55 Says:
Monday, October 11, 2010 @5:53:25 PM

BJ, it was both amazing, awesome, and sad all in one. That he is still playing at 89 is truly incredible. It also made me wonder what he must of been capable of when he was younger and playing for dances. However, what was striking in this setting....where he was in contrast to much younger masters....was the difference of ....hmmmmm.....time. Time in the sense that Lester came from a time where fiddling was just one part of his life.......and not a central part, until much later in life. The other fiddlers.....were incredibly techincally gifted which showed they lived in a society that had enough wealth to allow them to specialize other words....devote much more of their time to learning their craft....and perhaps even bringing in enough money to support a family. While I was in awe of the skill of the younger fiddlers.....spending time listening to Lester brought back the feel of yesteryear in a very humble special way and for that I am thankful I was present to experience it.

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