Old News (2008)
Some of the links on this page no longer work because the pages to which they refer have been deleted or moved.  In most cases the material will be out of date in any case.

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BFG News  January 2008

New Year review of 2007.


At the start of the new year it is traditional to look back at the old year and to dwell upon the successes and high points, to note and comment on the lows and to speculate about the year ahead.  BFG is of course a stickler for tradition and  we wouldn't like the moment to pass without a bit of looking back and a bit of looking forward.  So here goes with a few things that happened in 2007? 

Gigs
We played at least 45 gigs during the year, just a few short of last year's record.  Of these 19 were private parties, ceilidhs and the like.  This compares to 13 in 2006.  In contrast we did fewer community events, residential homes and fund-raisers.  Since we rarely go out to ask for gigs this reflects what we have been asked to do but we need to be careful not to move away from our original purposes, which include the provision of music in the community and gigs at which all members can play.    But no matter how you look at it 45 gigs is an impressive record for any group and if you are good at sums you will have worked out that 26 of these gigs (one each fortnight) have been  community, fundraiser and similar local events.  So well done to all who contributed to them.  While ceilidhs are often great fun, the best gigs are often the "everyone" gigs, at old folks homes or wherever.  

It is worth recording here that we have had many very encouraging comments about the ceilidh band. Many people simply don't expect such a high standard from young players or from a local fiddle group. We have been given tips (of money), offered events in south of England, USA and Europe (mainly impractical it has to be said) and have always, without fail given people a good time.   If there are any complaints we have not heard them.  The band really is pretty good - and any BFG member can be in it.  Judging by the recent turnouts at other gigs many of you will be in that band sometime.

Workshops and CD
We also received our only ever lottery grant on 2007.  The target is to spend £5000 of lottery money and some of our own on the Ceilidh Book, workshops and CDs by April.  We are half way there already and the Big Ceilidh Book is certainly proving to be both popular and successful.  Over the next few months the book will be used to get half a dozen of our non-ceilidh band members up to ceilidh standard.  In time the book will provide a standard repertoire for BFG ceilidhs.  The CD has proved to be a bit more of a problem.  Perhaps we should have got some professionals in to record us, but half the point is the DIY approach.  It will be finished though and for sale soon.  The workshops were a laugh and we may yet get some new callers, dancers and tune writers from them.  Some follow ups are needed in early 2008.   All in all these things have worked out well enough.

Friday sessions
We have worried about Friday sessions.  We are almost always busy and by and large most people are coming along fine. We suspect that some of you need a bit more help than we have been able to give, or a bit more of a push to learn new things.  We have tried a few ways of doing these things but without getting more formal and what might work is to have tune lists for people to play and learn and to change these lists every few weeks.  Anyway, before we do that we are going to ask you what you want.  (A questionnaire is being circulated on Fridays.  You can also download it here.)

Running BFG
Since Pete had his stroke BFG has been run by Andrew and Jan and it has become a bit of a full time task.  We hope that it has run smoothly enough.  The funds are in a very healthy position and mainly BFG just keeps going.  However it has been necessary to co-opt a bit of help. Cindy Anderson has volunteered to help out on the Executive Committee while Kay, Isobel and Mike have all helped with events and workshops.  So thanks to them all.  What we need you to think about is what you might be able to do and who you might want on the Executive Committee from April onwards.  While the current members might be happy to carry on they might need a bit of a rest!

Where to in 2008?
The answer to that must be, who knows?  With BFG it is very difficult to know what to expect. There will be more of the same, sessions, new tunes, new members, people getting better, people giving up (boo hiss!), ceilidhs and gigs. And there will be new stuff. Wouldn't it be great to do another couple of away-weekends too? The CD will be finished. A new ceilidh band will begin to emerge.  But what do you want?  Please let us know.  Use the questionnaires.

And finally............

All last year's news, and earlier news is still available in the web. Just follow this link. 
OLD NEWS.

Fiddles.   We never want to take back fiddles from people who might pick them up and play, but we do want people to return them when they stop playing. We can always give them one when they decide to start again.  So if you have or know of any fiddles that are not in use please return them. It costs BFG £60 or more for each fiddle and we really cannot afford to replace them all.







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BFG News  February 2008


Fridays at the hall.
There has been a real buzz at the hall in January, and I don't remember when it was so busy.  Every week it has been packed, which is excellent.  Not only that, there has been a lot of progress with learning tunes.  The little polka set from the ceilidh book is almost ready for dances and most people are trying to play it so it can go on the "everyone" list for gigs too. In case you've missed the set it is (from memory) Jer the Rigger, Bill Sullivan's and Meg Ryan's on page 95.  Keep practicing at home.

One week we talked about learning by ear.  The point was made that you can only learn by ear if you know the tune, and that you have to listen to it and learn it in your head before you can play the notes.  One of the best ways to do this is to listen several times, until you can sing the tune.  It is amazing how much more quickly you can learn to play a tune if you can sing it first. Try it at home and let us know how you get on.

Fiddles and stuff
Once again we have run out of fiddles and we have a few people wanting full sized fiddles.  If you know any member who has lapsed but who still has a BFG fiddle, please ask them if we can have it back.  Fiddles are given out on loan, not to keep.  Anyway we have used some of our hard-earned cash to buy a couple just for now.

Many of you have had BFG fiddles for a long time and we suspect that you have not changed the strings.  This will not help the tone or tuning of your fiddle, to say nothing of the fact that some of you have fiddles with strings that are starting to fall apart.  BFG can supply new strings for free, but only cheep ones which, if we are honest, are not really that good.  However, we are happy to restring fiddles if you buy your own strings.  If you want to learn how to put strings on your fiddle we can show you how to do that too. We may try and get a stock of good strings that you can buy from BFG at a discount.


Questionnaire survey
As you know we did a survey of members in January as we want to find out what you like or don't like about BFG, about practice sessions at the hall and so on.  We want to know if we should change things or not.  Thank you to the 45 of you that filled in the forms.  The information  has been filled in on the computer and a disc sent by TNT to a government research establishment from where it will mysteriously disappear.  Shortly after this your bank account will be cleared of all money and someone using your identity and a BFG Big Ceilidh Book will be spotted busking on a Caribbean island. 

Despite these setbacks we will be undertaking a full analysis of the information and it will be discussed with those of you who volunteered to look at it. We may then make changes, or not as the case may or may not be.  Decisive eh!

Other things
Gigs for example.  January was very quiet for us. If it wasn't for that man Burns we might have been redundant.  February is a bit busier but mainly for ceilidhs.  We are hoping to get some more "everyone" gigs organised soon.


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BFG News  March 2008

DISCUSSION ABOUT THE BFG SURVEY WILL BE AT THE BLACKFORD HOTEL. SEE MEMBERS' PAGE FOR DETAILS. 

Gigs and sessions.
February has been a good month for BFG.  The hall has been busy, which is as it should be and we have a few new members.  Several new tunes have been established in the repertoire and we have begun to teach some older ones to new fiddlers.  The highlight though was the last day, the 29th February.  Twenty or so players, not accompanied by the safety net of the experienced team, set off to Braco to play for the Greenloaning school Scots night. It was a great success and proves the point that BFG players at almost any stage can put on a bit of a performance. Meanwhile back at the hall, the other players learned to play all seven parts to the Fairy Dance - quite an achievement in the last 40 minutes of the evening.  Let's hope we don't have to wait until the next 29th February for such a good evening.

There were three gigs in February.  The Scots Night already mentioned, a fund-raising ceilidh (with old and new ceilidh band members) and a private birthday party at a grand country house.  So three gigs, three completely different sets of players and three successes.  Looking ahead though, we are going to lose some of the ceilidh band members soon (I might mention Aly at this stage, but we never liked him anyway) and we do rely on a small number of people for accompaniment in particular. So we might have to think about getting a few others up to speed.  Looking back a few years we worried that we might struggle to continue with all the gigs, especially ceilidhs, when the Horrid People left. (If you don't know who the Horrid People were you can find some information on the glossary page - see Links). In fact we have done fine without them and there seems to be no reason why BFG cannot continue to supply decent music for a wide variety of events in the future.  Recent successful sessions at the hall show that many of you are making really good progress.

Fiddles and stuff
Thanks to those who brought back fiddles.  We have given a few out recently as well so any more redundant fiddles should be returned still.

We are still offering to change strings - some of your are playing with rather old ones.


Questionnaire survey
 There were 45 responses to the survey.  A summary of the results will be available in a few days and the details will go on the Members' page. I am pleased to say that all of you like playing with BFG - which is what we expect from a discerning and intelligent group like yourselves.  Also, the ones who didn't like it have pushed off. Their loss of course.  All joking aside, the drop out rate is very low. The survey does reveal s a few interesting things about learning, playing together in mixed ability groups and other things.  Some of us are getting together on Sunday 16th  March to look at the results and to discuss what we might change and what should stay the same. We'll then make some recommendations to everyone.  If you volunteered to come to the discussion on 16th look on the Members' page for more details (should be there by 7th March).

Other things

Can't think of anything else just now but if we do we'll stick it here during March.

Carnegie Hall gig on 7th March.  Thanks to all who who came - we had a fantastic turnout.  Everyone did very well.  We had a slight problem with playing at different speeds at one point, mainly because the stage was so big.  It shows that you have to watch others and listen carefully - something that Ceilidh Band members have already discovered.  But all in all it was fine. Thanks again.

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BFG News April 2008

Papers and agenda for the Annual General Meeting are available on the Members' Page

Gigs and sessions.
March is the end of the Fiddle Group year, the time when we complete the accounts, work out how much money we spent and on what.  And then on the 1st April we begin again.   A seamless transition.  If only the same could be said for some of our gigs.  March began with the Carnegie Hall, out annual encounter with the good folk of Dunfermline.  It was a brilliant turnout by BFG  -  thanks to all of those who came.  A massive stage but we were two deep all the way across.  And that was our downfall.  Those on the left and those on the right were so far apart that they couldn't hear each other, and in time honoured tradition they weren't looking either. So we managed to get out of time - of all things when playing twinkle twinkle.  I am tempted to blame the guitar players, not so much because they were causing the problem, but because they didn't sort it out.  What we really needed was a single strong beat to follow, or a conductor and that is something we really don't want.  After that we got on fine though and all in all the playing was good.

Three more gigs followed, including two ceilidhs and one in Blackford.  We were sorry to say goodbye to Trude, heading back to Norway.  But thank you Trude for having a ceilidh and inviting us to play.  And well done to the 6 new ceilidh band fiddlers, you did a great job.  Move over old guys, the new band are coming through.

Not much to report about Friday evenings - they just keep going much as ever and remain busy.  A few changes and a bit more structure is possible but we'll have to wait and see the results of the questionnaire survey and what you all think at the AGM.

Annual General Meeting.
On 25th April we are going to hold our Annual General Meeting. There are a few important things to discuss and then we have a ceilidh.  The AGM will be at the Blackford Hotel.

Go to Members' Page for papers and other details.

The AGM agenda will have some or all of the following.

Welcome
Report on the past year
The accounts
Election of new Executive Committee (Convenor, Secretary and Treasurer)
Motions submitted by members. voting if necessary
The results of the questionnaire and ideas for change
General discussion
Any other business
Ceilidh, session and having a good time



Lottery
The lottery work should all have been completed by the end of March, but we failed.  We have now redone Music Book One and it is being printed now.  Anyone who has the original won't need this book but if you want one it will be available at a small charge. 

The main thing that we have not completed is a new CD.  We still hope to do that if the lottery let us hold on the money for a little while longer.  We should know soon.

Free gift
First 5 members to email me the word elephant will receive a free gift


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BFG News  May 2008

STOP PRESS.

A group of fiddlers from Cape Breton, Canada, are visiting the UK in July.  They have a tour from London to Inverness and will be playing with local musicians along the way. On Sunday 6th July they will be in Glasgow for an informal session in the evening.  It is possible that BFG could link up with them if we want.  Any takers?  It should be a really good eveing.  Let me know now if you might be interested.  We'll look for definite numbers later, but obviously if no one says yes now we can hardly try and arrange it.



Gigs and sessions
Thanks to everyone who turned out for the two "everyone" gigs in April.  The gig at Letham has become an annual event which falls in the middle of the school holidays and in the afternoon of a weekday.  We tell them that getting people out then is pretty hard, but we did it anyway.  They have already booked us again for next year. 

The daffodil tea at Gask was a great success. Not only did we have a huge turnout of players and had to fill the whole evening as the other performer cried off (couldn't take the competition I expect) but everyone played well and the feedback has been great. We had a lovely letter of thanks.

The month ended with two ceilidhs - a wedding at Aberfolye and a conference dinner at Stirling Management Centre.  These are the last two ceilidhs for a while when we had to go only with long-term ceilidh band players.  Both went well.  The next ceilidh is in June and we hope that a much wider range of players will come for them. We need a few more fiddlers and guitarists to become regular ceilidh players. 

Changes to Friday evenings

At the annual general meeting we agreed a few changes to the running of Friday evening sessions.   In future the evening will look like this;

6.55 pm Hall opens.  Use big hall to dump cases and get tuned up.
7.10 to 7.30
Everyone plays "everyone" tunes.
7.30 to 8.00
Split into groups to learn new sets. 
Beginners
Book One Plus a few
Book Two Ceilidh stuff
Anyone - new slower tunes
8.00 to 8.10
No playing. Any notices that have to be given out etc.
8.10 to 8.45
Playing some faster sets or in "self-help" groups to practice together or new slow tunes.  Everyone welcome to stay.

We are going to produce monthly tune lists so that everyone knows what we will be learning.  Details will go up on the web - probably on the members' page and will also be given out at the hall.  We will start this in May.


Annual General Meeting
Thanks to the Blackford Hotel for giving us free use of their function room.  The evening went very well and ended with a good session of tune playing.  Many could hardly bear to leave.  Lots of things were discussed and agreed.  Details will go on the Members' Page soon.  The old Executive Committee stood down, having done a fantastic job (I would say that wouldn't I) and the new one was elected as follows.

Convenor.  Job share position - Isobel and Karen (Wilton and Yearsley)
Treasurer.  Andrew  - (Bachell)
Secretary.  Jan  - (Vickers)
Co-opted member.  Cindy  - (Anderson) who will lead on issues to do with protection of children and vulnerable adults

Thanks to Peter Cope.   We cannot let this moment pass though without recording that the whole meeting gave a huge ovation to Peter Cope who after 12 years has stood down from the Committee. As founder of BFG, mentor to many players over the years, and as task-master who got us gigs and gave us the confidence to play at them Peter has inspired us all.  Whatever the group does it only manages it because he got it going, made it open to everyone and put the fun back into learning music. We have asked Peter in what way we might acknowledge this and when we have agreed something we'll let you know.  We could do him the usual BFG honour and make a large card that says, "We never liked you anyway".  It would seem fitting to return the compliment he has paid to many over the years!

And finally....  We would like to thank Aly, whose fault everything has been for the last three years, and to acknowledge that it is now Jazzy's fault.  Of course the reason for this is that it was Grant's fault first but he left, so in fact it is really still his fault that it was Aly's fault and is now Jazzy's. Doesn't that make it Grant's fault?  Anyway Freya is now deputy scape-goat and in time it will be her fault. That's what is known as succession planning.

And lastly (as if finally wasn't enough) Catriona is to be the butt of all jokes, so feel free.


Tuners
We have another supply of tuners for sale at £10 each.  This is well below shop prices and can only be offered because of our huge buying power.  (Someone heard us playing and offered the discount!)  One per person and only for BFG players.

Lottery
We have until 1st July to finish the CD and recordings of tunes from the Big Ceilidh Book.  We urgently need volunteers to record tunes from the Big Ceilidh Book so please help with this. We want as many people as possible to record the tunes.  Talk to Andrew at the hall or give him a call if you can help. If you think you can't, get ready with your excuses because you may well be asked.

Free gifts
Last month three people spotted the free gift offer.  Somewhere on the web this month is a link to a picture. If you email the name of what is in that picture (and you are a member) you may also get a free gift.  (First 3 people only).  The only clue is that the link is the name of an animal. 


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BFG News June 2008


Changes to Friday evenings
The format for Friday evenings has now changed and as a result we are doing more playing and learning more tunes. This seems to suit everyone very well.  The prompt start and first half hour of just playing things we all know leaves the rest of the evening for polishing up technique and working on new things.  At this rate we'll have everyone queuing up to be in the ceilidh band by the end of the year.  Here's a reminded of how we are doing things.

6.55 pm Hall opens.  Use big hall to dump cases and get tuned up.
7.10 to 7.30
Everyone plays "everyone" tunes.
7.30 to 8.00
Split into groups to learn new sets. 
Beginners
Book One Plus a few
Book Two Ceilidh stuff
Anyone - new slower tunes
8.00 to 8.10
No playing. Any notices that have to be given out etc.
8.10 to 8.45
Playing some faster sets or in "self-help" groups to practice together or new slow tunes.  Everyone welcome to stay.

The monthly tune lists have not really got going yet but we'll put those in place soon.  We may come with ideas on the first Friday of the month (June 6th).

For those who have missed a week or two you should be learning Twisting the Hayrope and Garster's Dream.

Gigs
Kincarrathie House was a good gig as usual.  It went down very well with the residents. Thanks to all those who came.  Straight afterwards four of us went to play for a BBQ at a local hotel, for which a modest fee was charged. For that sort of gig you don't need to know that many more tunes but need to be secure on the notes and tuning.  So keep practicing and you too can tap into the riches of the entertainment world, and also help to bolster BFG coffers (that is make BFG a bit of money.)

Workshop
The highlight of the month was probably the workshop at the Tolbooth in Stirling, followed by the evening concert.  We were really lucky to have three fantastic fiddlers for the workshop.  Gerry O'Connor, Bruce Molsky and Mike Vas illustrated the differences and similarities between their three styles, Irish, American and Scottish.  It isn't everyday that you get the chance to play with such good players, let alone three of such variety.  Our thanks go to all three of them and to Kay for organising the event.

The tunes we learned were recorded so we won't forget them.  We also bought a selection of CDs at the evening concert - the guys refused to be paid direct so it was the least we could do.  We will lend the CDs to fiddle group members on the strict condition that if they like them they buy a copy themselves.

Tuners
We have another supply of tuners for sale at £10 each.  This is well below shop prices and can only be offered because of our huge buying power.  (Someone heard us playing and offered the discount!)  One per person and only for BFG players.

Lottery
Time  is running out and we need to get some more tunes recorded.  Will we make it?   Of course we will.

Free gifts
Last month two people spotted the free gift offer.  The link to the animal picture was from the word "bear" on the news page.  The picture was of a swan.  I may put another free gift link up later in the month but as very few of you seem to be playing I might not.


Poland
Not strictly a BFG affair, but Aly, Freya, Calum and Andrew Bachell headed off to play three gigs in the city of Bydgoszcz in Poland on 29th to 31st May.   It was all part of celebrating 10 years as a twin city of Perth and of new links between a school in Bydgoszcz and St Columba's.  The three events included one at a University, one at a High School and one for local dignitaries.  The last one turned into an impromptu ceilidh with some dancing.  We were invited across to represent St Columba's as a result of having done the ceilidhs there as BFG.  Tiring but fun.  If anyone else gets an offer like this ask us for tips - but don't say no. 

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BFG News July 2008

Friday sessions are finished until 1st August

Sessions with Cape Breton Fiddlers
We had a great session on July 6th with the Cape Breton Fiddlers in Glasgow.  If you missed it there is another one on Saturday 12th July from 7.30 pm in the Glasgow University Men's Union, 32 University Avenue


Summer - the silly season
Summer is here and a well earned rest is due to us all, but we probably won't get one.  For those who are not away there will be Friday sessions on twice in July and then back to normal in August. 

From early September we are planning some workshop sessions with visiting guest players, including (we hope) Mike Vass, who we meet at the Tolbooth in Stirling earlier in the year.  The idea is to have some tune and technique learning and a chance to hear some fiddlers who are just a wee bit more talented than us.  For the non-fiddlers at BFG we will also get in a flute player, a bodhran player and maybe guitar or mandolin player at some stage. Something for everyone, except box players and pipers.  (Did anyone mention banjos?)

Members' News

There is a short July edition of the members' newsletter on the members' page.  If you have forgotten your username and password just email for a reminder. 

Gigs
Once again we seem to have run out of everyone gigs.  The open air gig in Dunning was rained off and we only have a ceilidh band gig for July. We must do better.  But I must just say something about the Langtoon in June ceilidh, which was a genuine Everyone gig and we had loads of you there.  Fantastic. It was great that so many new players stayed on stage and played for the dances.  You see -  its not that hard and even when we played the wrong tune, in a key we had never played it in before, we just kept going and no one other than us was any wiser.  That's what we call a result.


Tuners
Our cheap tuners are still available and it would be a very good idea if you don't have one to buy one.  It is amazing how badly out of tune some fiddles are on Fridays and it does waste quite a lot of time tuning them when you could just do it at home before you come. 

Lottery
The final Lottery report goes in on 10th July.  We have completed a fairly impressive list of things over the year.  Details are now on the lottery page of the Members' section. 

Free gifts
No one has claimed a free gift for over a month which suggests to me that no is looking at the news page.  Your loss guys.  We are not talking cheap pens here, but real prizes.

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BFG News August 2008

Lottery
Over the last year and a half the Fiddle Group has been spending the grant money given to us by Awards for All, part of the National Lottery.  The grant of £5000 was to go towards our music books, the web site music pages, the ceilidh workshop, tune writing workshop (plus tune book) and a new CD.  In July we completed this work and sent copies of everything through to the lottery.  In no time at all they replied with the good news that we completed everything as required.  Most members already have the tune books and the whole world has access to the new music pages on the Internet.  The demo CD will be expanded to become a full blown CD of 10 tracks and will be on sale in the Autumn. Many members have asked to repeat the tune writing workshop and others are keen to do more on the ceilidh front. We will do these things later in the year.

The last thing to do is to finish recording all the tunes in the music books so that others can learn them. We will sort out who can record what and just add to the bank of tunes as time permits.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the work.  It has been a huge amount of effort and it has all been worthwhile as we now have a superb resource for the future. Personally I seem to have spent days if not weeks at the various tasks.    Andrew


Gigs and sessions
July was not exactly busy - just two gigs and both on the same day.  And what a contrast. The first was a last minute booking (although there is a long story behind that which we won't repeat here) for a BBQ in the afternoon, with a quite audience enjoying the afternoon sun.  The second was a full blown wedding ceilidh with wild enthusiastic dancing until quite late. Our congratulations go to Cindy (of the flute) and Enda.  It was one of those really good events that come along every so often.  The sound was great (thanks Glen) the playing was very good and the dancing was wonderful We also had one new member of the band, who showed that many members could be playing for ceilidhs in the near future..

Friday sessions were quiet - as they usually are in the summer.  We decided only to meet twice and on both evenings had some good tunes. 

New Look Friday evenings

The new format for Friday evenings has been working pretty well. There has been more playing and more learning - which is what it was all about.  Two things we have not managed yet are the monthly tune lists for learning and proper beginners' sessions.  Both are being planned and once the Friday sessions really get going again we will have these in place.  The tune lists may be available from 1st August, but if not they will be for the 8th.

Annual Ceilidh / Concert
We are hoping to hold the annual ceilidh in Auchterarder on 8th of  November.  This year we will be playing a ceilidh but also doing half a dozen pieces for show -  involving as many members as we can.  We will start organising that soon.  We also need a few people to organise tickets, food, drink, advertising and so on.  Your Executive Committee don't feel inclined to do it all so please volunteer if you can.  The idea is to sell tickets in the group in September and to outside the group in October.


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Members' News September 2008


Gigs and sessions
The ceilidh bands have have three outings this month.  The first was for a birthday party and we had a mix of young and old players (and dancers) in Crieff.  The next gig was also a birthday party with the regular and other players. And then to complete the month we had a wedding up in Killin.  You would think by now that these events would be getting pretty routine, and to some extent they are.  But then for the first of these we didn't have Glen on sound - so Andrew had to setting up the sound as well as calling and playing, and Calum had to regulate the various noises through the mixer as well as playing bass.  It all worked out fine.  Back to normal for the next gig but it was one of those occasions about which we have written in the Big Ceilidh Book, a gig where people forgot the tunes, forgot repeats and generally seemed to forgot what they were supposed to be doing. The fact that we still managed to carry it off isn't the point, it wasn't as good as it should have been.  Of course it was Jazzy's fault, even though she wasn't there.  Well after this it was with a little fear that we went into the final gig for the wedding.  What happened?  Everything went well, the guests and happy couple had a great time and (we say this modestly) our playing was fantastic.  We even managed to satisfy a request to play a tune none of us knew - thanks to the hotel's Internet connection and a five minute learning session at the break.

Looking back I think that the only reason we get away with this and don't get stressed out is that we have been playing together as a band in one way or another for many years.  It doesn't matter if the gigs were in care homes, for SWRI teas or even in our own homes. We have become accustomed to just getting on with it, keeping going when things go wrong and enjoying it when they don't. It reinforces the benefit of playing "everyone" gigs and getting everyone involved by being on the stage and playing for audiences.  Even playing a few pub sessions is good practice for the day you have to do it all on stage.  I bet none of us would have expected to be doing these things until it happened. All thanks to BFG.

Friday evenings

August saw the introduction of the tune learning lists and there is no doubt that we have learned more tunes and have spent more time playing.  Everyone seems to be getting into the process well but if you feel that you are being left behind then speak out - Kay, Andrew or Jan will help to sort things out.  The August and September tune lists can be found using the link below.  We did not manage to complete the full list in August but we will try to cover all the tunes as soon as we can.  The full list for August - December in on the members' page.

Mike Vass - workshop
At our last Friday session in August we had a brilliant evening with Mike Vass, one of Scotland's best up and coming fiddlers and a great tutor.  Mike spent the whole evening teaching some new tunes and helping to improve technique.  He made it good fun too. He is coming again on the first Friday in September and we encourage all members to try and be there.  Since the first workshop was so popular we will probably try and do some more later in the year.  Of course they come at a price and while we don't want to charge members directly we will have to think about some fund-raising perhaps. 

Annual Ceilidh / Concert
We have booked the Aytoun Hall in Auchterarder for our annual ceilidh on 8th November.  Put it in your diary now and prepare to sell tickets to friends and family.  Kay is going to organise people to play in small groups for dances or simply for others to listen to.  Please think what you might like to play and who you would want to play with.  We have some volunteers to help organise the event but any offers of help should go to Karen, Isobel or Cindy (come on guys - lets improve the gender balance here.)  Tickets will be on sale by 5th September (see Cindy) and we expect members to buy any they need by 17the October. Any remaining tickets will then be available to others.  We always sell out so we advise you to get in there quickly.

Executive Committee
In an unprecedented move the Executive Committee held a meeting on 14th August to talk about a whole range of things including more workshops, annual ceilidh, away days and weekends, tutors and gigs.  They also co-opted Cindy (Anderson) to the Committee.  We will report on the meeting on Friday and minutes will be placed here on the web (members' page) shortly.



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Members' News October 2008

Gigs and sessions
Just one gig in September  -  a wedding in Crieff.  The Ceilidh Band did a good job and we didn't have to stay up too late either. We handed over to a duo from London who completed the dancing session for the night.

Sessions at the Tappit Hen have been pretty good and we would encourage members to come and play.  You don't need to know many tunes to have a good time.  Details are on the sessions link above (same as the Friday's page.)

On Sunday 21st September eight BFG members went to the Riverside Group in Stirling for a joint session.  The Riverside are a bit like BFG, with a wide range of learners of all ages, mainly playing fiddles but also whistle, box, guitar, percussion and harmonica.  They play many of the same tunes as BFG and others which we don't.  While they have a resident leader who is also the fiddle "teacher" (a bit like BFG in the early days with Pete) the intention is to be more like BFG, with others chipping in with learning and tunes.  It was a good evening and we hope to go again in October.  There is also talk of having a proper joint session with Riverside, Get Reel (based in Balfron) and BFG - should be good.

Friday evenings

We had another Friday session with Mike Vass which went really well. A couple of new tunes, a bit of body percussion and a few tips on bowing.  Some of you even found out that you could play a familiar tune in a difffent key - it is all a matter of confidence and knowing the tune in your head.  This is why we continue to encourage you not to use the music books all the time.  Learning and playing by ear is the future.  Thanks to Kay for organising Mike, and thanks to Mike for coming along.

We have a few new members and we welcome them all to BFG.  As ever it is difficult for us to provide help / support to everyone who needs it but we are doing our best.  Thanks to the the young players who help out with this, and thinks to the the brave adults who are alos giving the teaching thing a go. 

The tunes for learning each month are listed on the members' page.  (Tune list)  
If you have forgotten your members login send me an email.

Annual Ceilidh / Concert
We have booked the Aytoun Hall in Auchterarder for our annual ceilidh on 8th November.  Ticket sales are well under way - buy now to avoid disappointment. All spare tickets are going on ebay on 17th October.   Kay is organising people to play in small groups and there are a number of new tunes and second parts for people to play.   (See music pages) 

Executive Committee
Key points from the recent meeting will be on the web soon.  We think we may need a social evening / discussion sometime soon.



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Updated 9th November 2008

BLACKFORD FIDDLE GROUP HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD IN THE 2008 SCOTS TRAD MUSIC AWARDS. WE ARE NOMINATED IN THE STRATHSPEY AND REEL SOCIETY CATEGORY. GO TO THE LINK BELOW.  VOTES HAVE TO BE CAST BY 21st  NOVEMBER.  GET ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO VOTE FOR BFG
http://www.handsupfortrad.co.uk/tradmusicawards/index.htm

Members' News November 2008



12th Anniversary Ceilidh on 8th was a huge success. Everyone played really well  -  and the cheer for Inisheer was as good as it gets.  Thanks to everyone who played and helped get it organised.  Full report and photos next month.


Ceilidhs and what to do when your fiddle lets you down, or the fiddler lets you down
Over the course of October there has been some remarkable tune learning going on, including a few second parts and other harmonies.  The object of course is to impress the loyal public who turn out year after year for the BFG Annual Ceilidh.  This year is the twelfth anniversary and the seventh time we have done a anniversary event.  The format is now tried and tested, with a few performance pieces, dancing and food.  It looks like another sell out is on the cards. 

Now a word of advice, or warning depending on how you see it.  In October the ceilidh band played for a 21st birthday party at the University Union in Glasgow.  Because there was a family connection involved Aly came all the way down from Aberdeen to play.  Those of us with long memories can remember other players doing that sort of thing in the past and on one famous and award-winning occasion a fiddler arrived from a distance, but without their fiddle.  On your way to a gig there are only a few things that you shouldn't forget, one of them being your instrument.  By now you can guess part of what happened next.   Aly arrived fiddle-less, but he passed this off (almost) as intentional, being as how the Megabus is a bit crowded.  Yeah right!  Aly forgot his fiddle but we had time to organise another one. In fact he had 24 hours to  check the alternative fiddle, but as is the way of these things he didn't.  At the gig he decides one of the strings is no good. As luck would have it we had spares.  But as fate would have it the peg on the fiddle was stuck and on trying to move it simply by applying more pressure the peg snapped.  By now the sound system was set up and the sound check was about to begin.  All that stood between us and 150 crazy dancers was 30mins of a DJ.  For this delay alone we thank the DJ.

What followed was a mad dash to the corner shop to buy superglue, a failed attempt to glue the peg and a successful attempt to glue the fingers.  The stump of the peg was then drilled with a Swiss Army knife to make a new hole and somehow a new e-string was fixed and tuned.  Would it hold. No, not  until the fourth try, by which time it looked as if the new string might so bent that it would break.  But it held and Aly was saved.  So what does this tell us.  Obviously that it was Jazzy's fault (goes without saying), that students are unreliable (perhaps a generalisation) that going to a gig without an instrument is not clever for a band member, that you shouldn't leave it to the last minute to check your fiddle, that you should always have spare strings (and pegs?) and that in the end all you need to fix things is a Swiss Army knife (also useful for "fixing" accordions and banjos we believe).  And of course, always take three or more fiddlers with you just in case one doesn't work properly.

We will do a string and fiddle check on Friday 7th before the ceilidh.

Tune learning
The tunes for learning each month are listed on the members' page.  (Tune list)  We  have not stuck to this. mainly because of the ceilidh preparation, but really doesn't matter as all the tunes we are doing are good ones. 

Other stuff
We are trying to line up a few gigs that anyone can come to.  Watch out for these.  For those who want to get more ceilidh experience we think it would be good to organise a few local community ceilidhs next year.  We are also planning tune writing and away weekend events  -  so much to look forward to.

And finally, for those of you who thought that it was a good idea not coming to fiddle group so that you could go guising - just click here (over 18s only)






Updated 1st December 2008

Members' News December 2008

BFG NEW YEAR HONOURS NOMINATIONS
DOWNLOAD FORM HERE OR ON MEMBERS' PAGE

See below for more detail
(Bring completed forms to the hall session on on any Friday up to 19th December)

Annual Ceilidh
The 12th Anniversary Ceilidh, at the Aytoun Hall, was another great success.  Not only did we have much improved lighting courtesy of Isobel's low-tech red candles and the new high-tech flashing lights, but the standard of playing throughout the evening was really amazing.  Special thanks to the three groups who did the Rolling Waves, Holm Band and Inisheer sets.  The applause at the end of Inisheer said it all.  Just one step short of a standing ovation.  And then there was the dancing and the ever changing ceilidh band.  No one counted how many people came up and played in the band at one stage or another and it doesn't really matter. What was good was that people didn't have to be invited, they just joined in and that is what a BFG ceilidh should be about.

What next?   Well some of us don't think we should wait until next November to do it again, but we should organise a few  ceilidhs next year for community events in Auchterarder or even in Dunblane or Perth.  We could organise events and offer them to local groups as fundraisers if they sell tickets. That way we don't have to do all the selling. Which reminds me.  The one thing that didn't work well at our ceilidh this year was ticket sales.  Not that Cindy didn't do a good job, but all of us should have got more people along. We were not sold out - first time ever.  So this year a special mention to Heleen, who sold (bought!) nearly a quarter of the tickets.  A big thanks to her.  (Do I see a New Year Honours award here? See below for nominations and other information on the wonderful BFG Honours.)

Scot Trad Music Awards
The biggest surprise of the month was finding that BFG has been nominated for an award in the annual Scottish Traditional Music event, Hands Up for Trad.  When I say surprised, it isn't because I don't think we deserve it - of course we do - but the Strathspey and Reel Society category does seem a bit odd for us.  It seems that this category also covers a multitude of community groups so I suppose it isn't that odd, but there is something about us that isn't as formal as the S&R approach.  Well who cares. On 6th December we will know if we won.  Not that winning is what it is all about - simply being nominated is itself a very fine thing.  But winning would be better.

Update.  BFG did not win.  The winer was the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.  It goes to show that size matters.  But well done BFG for getting a nomination.

New tune learning list
The monthly tunes list has been updated and takes account of the fact that in October and early November we moved off the list to prepare for the ceilidh.   The list is on the members' page.  (Tune list)  Copies will be available at the hall on Fridays as well.  

Gigs
Just a couple of local events in November.  Three events in December (so far) and everyone is welcome to come to the Blair Drummond (Camphill) event on 6th.  Click here for a map.  CAMPHILL MAP

We are still trying to line up more gigs that anyone can come to. 

Winter Social
The Hall sessions will be down to three in December - 5th, 12th and 19th.  On 19th we will have a BFG social.  We have not organised a venue as yet but it might be the local hotel or the Allanbank. Watch out on the Fridays page.

New Year Honours
We are reinstating the real New Year Honours this year.  Several categories are open for nominations.  Forms will be available at the hall and on the members' pages.  The idea is for anyone in the fiddle group to nominate others (or themselves) for special mention. This is not only a way of acknowledging people's abilities and effort but also to take the micky, to have a bit of fun and to be a little silly.  Why not nominate people now.

And finally
The tune we know as Ruby With the Eyes That Sparkle was given that name by the makers of the film, Cold Mountain.  In fact the proper name for the tune is Shove That Pig's Foot A Little Farther In the Fire.  Question - what does that title mean? (There is a correct answer and a prize for the first member that emails it to BFG.)

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