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Members' News     January 2010


Every year I say to myself, this year I am going to take it a bit easier.  Fewer gigs and sessions, read a few more books, take some gentle exercise, less time learning tunes and more time relaxing.  And then every year I don't do that. And who do I blame?  Blackford Fiddle Group of course.  Just think if we all put down our fiddles, whistles, guitars, shaky eggs and all the other silly things we play (that includes boxes, banjos and bassoons - especially bassoons as no one in BFG is actually is that daft) we could use our time and collective mental energies to solve the world's problems instead.  Why don't we do that?  Is it obsession, selfishness, selfish obsession or lack of imagination?  No it is because BFG brings joy to us all and to all those captive audiences who we plague throughout the year.  And lets not forget it.  There are plenty of other people to sort out the world, people who spend their time in less worthy pursuits - shopping, gardening, writing to newspapers, writing for newspapers, playing in brass bands, going to school and so on - let them do that and we will make the world a better place by providing the sound track.  Deal or no deal?  Phone a friend?  No, ask the audience(s).  They like us.


BFG -  what we did last year.
So what did we do in 2009.  We played 40 gigs.  We got a new version of the ceilidh band up and running.  We learned about 40 new tunes.  We ran workshops and had two weekends away.  Some of our members went off to Feis Fhoirt.  We wrote some new tunes.  We held sessions in Blackford on about 45 Fridays.  That's not a bad start, but of course it isn't those things that really matter.  What we did that is much harder to measure is to provide you (and me), BFG members, with  the right opportunities to play and to learn. It must have worked because most weeks we have over 20 and sometimes double that coming to the Friday session and many of you have brought friends along as well.  While that continues to happen BFG will continue to thrive and we will continue to encourage fiddlers and other players of traditional music to learn and play for entertainment.  We also have a bit of a laugh.  It will not have escaped the attention of the newer members of BFG that we try not to take everything too seriously.  If it wasn't fun I for one would find it hard to carry on.  There is no doubt that taking up an instrument, especially as an adult, requires a certain level of endurance, effort and determination.  There has to be some compensation for all that - and that is where the fun comes in.  If ever BFG stops being fun or if you don't think it is much fun then do something about it. We can't afford to get too serious. 

A selection of photos from 2009 will be available soon on the members' page. (Try after 9th January.)

And what we will be up to in 2010?
There is never any way to really predict what we are going to do from year to year.  Over time we have moved from being a group of learners, to having a hot ceilidh band, to running some workshops and then back again.  2010 is going to be more of the same - but how much of each rather depends on what we want from BFG.

So here are a few things we might well look forward to.

There will be some workshops (group lessons) for most players, starting in January.  Not only will these cover playing techniques but also they will give us a chance to look at how we put sets together and make our performances more interesting. There will also be development of the ceilidh band through the year.  We did a bit in 2009 and later in 2010 we'll move that on to help get the newer players in the band more used to playing for dances. 

Away days and weekends have always proved to be popular - so we'll do all that again in 2010.  There will probably be over 18s and under 18s weekends before the summer.

Friday sessions will continue. 

We might try going as a group to join in an one or more of the many music festivals that take place in Scotland and Northern England each year.  Anyone want to help plan that out?

That should keep us busy.  If it isn't what you want then you must let us know.  We will have a good discussion about the direction of the group at the Annual General Meeting, which is likely to be in April.  But don't wait until then if you have an idea then speak out.  (And on the subject of the AGM think about any changes you want made, any praise you want recorded and who you think would run the group best.)


TUNES FOR LEARNING IN 2010.  Do you have any suggestions?  Things from the music books, favourites from CDs or session tunes you have heard?  Last year the monthly tune lists were very helpful in planning what we did and helped us learn more tunes than ever.  The lists were as suggested by me (Andrew) though and in the spirit of democracy and of BFG being what you want it to be I would like your suggestions.  A draft list of tunes has been done and you will find it on the members' page. 

Workshops
What is a workshop?  A workshop is a sort of lesson, where a tutor helps a group of players to play better or to learn tunes.  The group is likely to be a number of players from 2-12.

What we intend to do is to have groups of around 10 or 12 people for a day or half day.  There will be a session of playing tunes together to let the tutor see how well (or not) we all play and then short sessions in pairs or threes with the tutor.  We will then come back together and play again, perhaps with the pairs or threes starting tunes off. 

Dates and times.  A series of workshops are booked already for January - March 2010.  More details on the members page.

Review of the decade
Yes, we have just finished the first decade of the 21st century.  That seems like a good time to have a quick look back.  In the next few weeks I will put together a list of events and what-have-you.  If you have anything that you think should be mentioned, send an email to BFG.  Better still, write something I can include and send photos if you have them. It would be good to include your favourite or most memorable things in the review. Thanks.

Members' News     February 2010


Gigs

One ceilidh - in Polmont -  a fundraiser for our friend and colleague David Leask.  When I say for David I mean for a good cause he runs (a local history group) as clearly we wouldn't raise money for him personally.   We also did a Burns supper down the road at Kinbuck, at which the very same Mr Leask joined us to sing Burns songs.  The audience didn't seem that interested at first but when it was about time to pack up and go home they decided to turn the event into a dance and sing-a-long session, which ended about 1 o'clock in the morning.  Still it was all good fun.

Friday Sessions
For those of you that missed the first session of the year on 8th January we would like to express our regret that you were not there to witness at first hand the pain that some of us are prepared to endure for our art.  You may recall that in these parts in early January the night time temperatures were falling to minus 10, -12 and even -14, while in the day it peaked as high as minus 6.  Brass monkeys would have stood no chance whatsoever.  The hall had been empty and unused for many days, the Blackford Pipers cancelled their evening because they were being unusually wussy (our friends the pipers are not normally associated with sensitivity) but 26 members of BFG turned up and played.  Many kept on their coats and hats, one even played in gloves.  Funnily enough none of this impaired the quality or quantity of the music.  I wonder why.

It has warmed up a bit since then, but not much. Nevertheless the beginners group has thrived and well done to all of them for coming back despite the cold.  Indeed we have been busy every week, not least because of the excellent workshops, more of which below.


Workshops
We turned three Friday evening sessions into workshops with "lessons" for all groups from Mike Vass, Marie Fielding and Claire Mann, three of Scotland's finest fiddlers and teachers.  Not only has this been fantastically helpful in showing us all how to play better but it has allowed us to spend more time with beginners and others.  We have three more workshop evenings in February and details are on the members' pages.  (If you don't have a username and password, just ask at the hall.)

We also had a Saturday workshop on 30th January with Claire Mann and Ruaridh Campbell.  Over 20 people attended and we had lessons in groups and pairs all day, together with a couple of sessions playing the tunes we had learned.  We are running another Saturday workshop on 27th February.

Visit the Members' Page for more details of workshops. You will also fine sound files of the tunes that were taught. The music score, photos and other stuff will appear on there soon(ish).

 What 2010 may bring
Its never too early to plan - but that doesn't also mean that its fine to do things at the past minute. So here are some things we plan to organise at the last minute, if you see what I mean. Fancy giving us a hand organising?  Please.

More workshops
Away weekends - adults and under 18s
Friday sessions will continue. Any ideas on making them better
Gigs.  We'll do a local Blackford concert and lots of others.
Visits to festivals.  Some of us will be going - we'll try to organise to take others
Trips to concerts in Stirling, Perth and elsewhere to see real players doing what we try to do
Recording some more tunes for our virtual CD - which is going on-line a s a download

Please make things happen - don't wait for someone else to fix things.  We'll help you if you have an idea about something you want to organise.


Review of the decade
We still need your photos, stories or thoughts.  Absolutely nothing has arrived so far, which would be fine if you hadn't been there, but some of you were.

Members' News     March 2010

Friday Session and workshops
How was it for you?  We have had three Friday evening workshops with tutors in February and this should have meant that everyone has had some special attention.  The beginners have three sessions with Marie and one with Freya and there is real progress. Keep practicing.  For the rest of us there have been new tunes, bowing exercises and even a few scales.  It has been a change from learning new tunes and playing the old ones and there has been a fantastic buzz around the place.  So did you enjoy it?  Let us know as we are now planning more workshops.

We also had a good session at the Blackford Hotel - thanks again to them for use of their function room.  Thanks also to Ochil Developments Blackford Community Fund who contributed £600 to the costs of the workshops.  We hope to put on a local concert soon to show off what everyone has done.


Gigs
Just the one gig last month - a ceilidh in Dunning. Another great night was had by all and the band were on good form.  Thanks to Freya and Matthew for leading the music and to Iona, Rebecca and Linda for joining the regulars (Alasdair, Jan, Glen, Andy, Andrew and Calum)


Annual General Meeting and the Executive Committee
Each year we try to turn the AGM into a social event and not just a boring meeting.  We also do not press-gang people into jobs.  Please keep the date free in your diary - Friday 23rd April.

Your current committee is:
Convenor (Job-share):  Isobel and Karen
Secretary:  Andy
Treasurer:  Andrew
Co-opted Member:  Cindy

If you want to offer to help with any of these jobs you should make an offer. 
In addition we have help from David (fiddle maintenance), Andrew does the web site and all the music stuff and Freya does a fair bit of teaching. (Lots of others help with that as well.)  There is always more to do if you want to help,even on an occasional basis.



What 2010 may bring
Thanks to Isobel for volunteering to try and sort out away weekend venues.  What can you offer to do?

  • More workshops - Away weekends - adults and under 18s - Friday sessions will continue. Any ideas on making them better
  • Gigs.  We'll do a local Blackford concert and lots of others.  - Visits to festivals.  Some of us will be going - we'll try to organise to take others
  • Trips to concerts in Stirling, Perth and elsewhere to see real players doing what we try to do
  • Recording some more tunes for our virtual CD - which is going on-line as a download

Please make things happen - don't wait for someone else to fix things.  We'll help you if you have an idea about something you want to organise.


Review of the decade
We still need your photos, stories or thoughts.  Absolutely nothing has arrived so far, which would be fine if you hadn't been there, but some of you were.

Members' News     April 2010 

 
Web site Update
The development of the web site has slowed down since the relaunch in March, but never fear, the missing links will be fixed and new material will appear in April.  So  far you all seem to like the new look.

Annual General Meeting (AGM) Friday 23rd April
The AGM and social event is to be held at the Blackford Hotel on Friday 23rd April.  Normal session starts as ever, at 7.00pm and the AGM will begin about 7.45.  All members should come along. It is usually good fun and not just a boring meeting.  

Agenda and papers will be available on the Members' Pages by April 8th.
Your current Executive Committee is:
Convenor (Job-share):  Isobel and Karen
Secretary:  Andy
Treasurer:  Andrew
Co-opted Member:  Cindy

All positions will be vacated at the meeting and nominations will be sought for the positions.

Official Scapegoat  is Freya. Deputy is Matthew.  New "goats" are needed for the next year.

If you want to help with any of these jobs you should make an offer. 
In addition we have help from David (fiddle maintenance), Andrew does the web site and all the music stuff and Freya does a fair bit of teaching. (Lots of others help with that as well.)  There is always more to do if you want to help,even on an occasional basis.

Friday Sessions

Of course the highlight of March was the evening that the Hall didn't burn down (some would say mores the pity as any replacement would have better acoustics).  When the fire alarms went off on the last Friday of the month we witnessed the efficient evacuation of the hall - the most well co-ordinated thing ever performed by BFG some would say. Those who stayed around would have witnessed the arrival of the fire engines and crews who then bravely inspected the non-burning building and informed us that it was our job to sort out how to reset the fire alarm.  Congratulations to Andy, who is now our fire warden, for reading and following the instructions so well. 

So what else?  New tunes abound. The beginners are up to four tunes with the addition of Oh I am A Poor Man.  In Gaelic this is Ochis duine truagh mi and the translates better as pitiful or forlorn rather than penniless, or at least so we are told.  Everyone else has been practising the normal repertoire and learning Michael's Mazurka (which will be added to the Music Pages soon.)

A new monthly Tune list will be posted around 10th April.  Remember, if there is something you want to learn just tell us.


Gigs
One ceilidh in March and no other gigs.

Players needed - two everyone gigs for you to play at.
Up and coming in April we have the Letham gig on 7th for everyone and another everyone gig in Blackford on 28th.  There is also a ceilidh on 16th for the extended ceilidh band of regular and newer CB players.  That's more like it - its good to get out and play for folk.


Events
Isobel has sorted out dates for the away weekends.  Adults will be on 21-22 May at Blackwater near Blairgowrie.  The under 18s weekend will be in early September.

Workshops.  More Friday evening workshops are planned and we also hope to have a weekend of tune arrangement at Blackford (the event that snow prevented in February).

Don't forget to go and see Fiddlers Bid at the Tollbooth Stirling on April 8th or Perth on April 9th (but that's a Friday which would mean missing BFG session!)

Details of BFG events will go  the Workshops and Events Page.

Review of the decade
A deafening silence and lack of submissions has been the result of asking nicely. So no more Mr Nice Guy. Now will you please get off your lazy a-----s and find photos, offer anecdotes or just comment on what BFG did for you in the noughties.  Thank you.
 
Photos.  A selection of 2009 photos is available to members on the Members' Page.  If anyone has photos, please email them to me at info@blackfordfiddlers.org.uk

Members' News     May 2010


Web site Update
The development of the web site continues. Please be patient.

 

Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2010

The AGM was held on 23rd April.  Minutes and other useful stuff are on the AGM page (link on Members' Page).  The new Executive Committee is as follows.

Convenors (Joint)       Karen Yearsley and Steve Mosley
Treasurer                    Andrew Bachell
Secretary                    Andy Sloan
Co-opted                    Cindy Anderson

In addition to these official positions we have three additional special positions to do other work.
Away day organiser   Isobel Wilton
Youth of Today representative Freya Bachell
Music Coordinator      Andrew Bachell

Friday Sessions

Nothing much to say about Fridays as things go on much as ever.  A new monthly Tune List is available on the Members' Page.  We have a few new people and one or two seem to have forgotten how to get to the hall on a Friday.  Where are you?  Just follow the scratching and scraping sounds as you go down Moray Street - that'll be BFG.  (If you don't know what day of the week it is, beware. The loud wailing and squawking sound will be the Blackford Pipers on a Monday - a bad lot to fall in amongst in our opinion. They seem to have a new secret weapon in the hall - large, black and round in a huge hat box. It could be sound proofing of course, or cotton wool, either for the ears of Blackford residents or for filtering the melodious tones of the chanters. Who knows, but you have been warned.

Gigs
Three excellent gigs in April.  The first was at Letham St Marks.  We're not sure but this was possibly our 8th or 9th anniversary of playing for the Wednesday Afternoon Club.  We will be back next year.  It being the holiday we were a bit down on numbers  - but the Letham Five put on a good show .  Then we had a ceilidh in Perth for a bunch of French students over on an exchange with Perth Youth Theatre.  Brilliant ceilidh - well done the band.  We had the return of Aly as a player (needs the cash) and a bi-lingual caller's assistant too (cheers Kathleen).  And then to cap it all we played at the launch of the new booklet on the History of Blackford. (No jokes about shortest books in the world - we've heard them all.)  Copies of this excellent publication can be obtained from Blackford Historical Society at www.blackfordhistoricalsociety.org.uk . Two members of BFG made their own bit of history that evening - it was their first BFG gig. Congratulations to them both.


Away Weekends
Adults weekend will be 22-23 May.  Tutor will be Marie Fielding for fiddlers.  Help on whistles, bodhran and guitar will be largely of the self-help variety, but please come along.  The event is for all adult members no matter what their current level of ability.  Please speak to Isobel.

Review of the Decade.
  Silence continues to be the reply, so its off the agenda.

The under 18s weekend is on 2-3 September.  Tutors will include Ruaridh Campbell.
Workshops are being planned.  Keep you eye on the Events Page, which one day will be turned into something useful.

Members' News     June 2010                         Updated 21st June


BFG Members' BBQ,  Beech Lea, Stirling St Blackford
Saturday 26th June from 5 p.m.  All members and families welcome - bring some drinks and your fiddle (or other instrument)
.
If weather isn't good we'll be indoors but still having the BBQ

 

Friday Sessions

Towards the end of the month we introduced a new way of learning together - concentrating on dynamics (loud and quiet), bowing and timing.  What we are trying to do is to bring a new sparkle to some  of the tunes we know well and to correct some of our bad habits.  The loud / quiet stuff is easy enough but it makes a huge difference to the sound and makes things much more interesting to the listener.  Bowing - well it makes sense to spend as much time on the bowing as on the notes, its just that it seems a bit dull. Never mind - bowing rules.  Timing though is a tricky thing.  We tried on three occasions to play in time with a metronome and it is not as easy as you think.  It only takes one person not to be paying attention and to go out of time and everyone else follows. This usually means speeding up -  and speed is not good.  Another cause of speeding up is not giving long notes their full length. By shortening the long notes the rhythm is lost and then corrected by speeding up to match the new note length. As if that is bad enough, there are the tricky bits of the tunes where (as we all know) it makes sense to rush past them so no one can hear the wrong notes. Of course this just draws attention to these bits and has the effect of speeding up the tune.  So we will be spending more time over the coming weeks on dynamics, speed and bowing.

There are some longer sections on timing, speed and rhythm on the help pages. (See menu.)

Gigs
According to our records we did only one gig in May, Catmore House in Scone.  Another captive audience who seemed to appreciate the entertainment.  As it happens we have turned a few gigs down - including a couple for May - mainly to avoid interfering with exams.  It has also been a bit tricky to get players out mid week because of other commitments, so we will have to begin a campaign of getting people to sign up for everyone gigs again.

Away Weekends
Adults weekend was on 22-23 May.   Marie Fielding was our tutor on the Saturday and on the Sunday we tutored ourselves.  Three new tunes and lots of tips on ornaments and so on.  All in all it was a good musical event.  And then there was the food, the company and the craic.  We must do it again sometime.

The under 18s weekend is on 4-5 September.  Tutors will include Ruaridh Campbell and a guitarist. Possibly a second fiddler too.  This will be a great weekend - lots of new stuff and plenty of fun.  If you want a space speak to Isobel.

Workshops are being planned.  Keep you eye on the Events Page, which one day will be turned into something useful.


Members' News     July 2010



We will be having a holiday from Friday sessions in July.  No hall sessions on Friday 23rd July or 30th July.  On 6th August, instead of the session we will be playing at Drummond Castle near Muthill.  See session and gig pages for more details.  All members welcome to play.

 
The big news is that we have secured a grant of £1000 for tutors and other things.  See below for more details.

Friday Sessions

Fridays have been busy again, with three sessions led by tutors.  We had Ruaridh Campbell once, then Marie Fielding the next week, and then the luxury of both of them for the last session of the month.  We managed some new tunes, worked on ideas for how to arrange tunes with more style and generally enjoyed ourselves.  And that is the whole point of the exercise. 


Summer barbecue

On Saturday 26 June we had the excellent BFG summer BBQ at the Sloan's.  Fantastic weather, lovely food, excellent work by the chef and all in all a really good evening. There was even some music as well.  What could be better.  In fact it was so good we all think Andy should organise another one before the summer is over. (AT the time of writing the excellent spell of good weather that has gone on for weeks has just ended with gales, thunder and heavy rain - much more what we expect in the summer. 

Gigs
June has been a busy month for ceilidhs.  We played three in total, two for schools and the Langtoon in June Community Ceilidh in Auchterarder - where we are almost a fixture.  The good thing about all these gigs is that we can take players who are not yet seasoned ceilidh performers.  So thanks to everyone who managed along and made them a success.

The other event which we can almost claim as a BFG gig was the Langtoon Folk Session at the Niblick.  We suggested to the organisers that we host a session and they arranged for us to go to the Niblick.  About 5 or 6 BFG members were there along with an equal number of others from Dunblane and Auchterarder.  It was a good night and and was for a couple of people this was their first taste of session playing.  It might catch on - we just need a regular local venue.  Until then (and beyond) there is the The Tappit Hen.
   
Grant from Ochils Developments Blackford Community Fund

We applied for a £1000 grant from this fund and have been successful in getting the full award.  We will be using the money for tutors and workshops over the next few months.  Details and full credits will follow but we wanted to let you know straight away that we have secured this money.  Last year the same fund gave us £600 to which we added another £800 for tutors and workshops. This year we expect to spend around £2000 including the grant which is fantastic news for us all.

Workshops / Tutors
Using part of the grant we will be running workshops and extra events with tutors in the autumn.  We hope to organise some short courses of 1 to 1 sessions for under 18s and if you are interested then let us know.  There will be a charge for the 1 to 1s, but we'll keep the price as low as possible

Away Weekends
The under 18s event is on 4-5th September and promises to be a good one.  We have two tutors at the moment and plenty of interest.  Speak to anyone on the Committee and to Isobel about arrangements.

PLEASE BOOK AS SOON AS YOU CAN - IT IS GOING TO BE A GREAT WEEKEND

Members' News     August 2010


Len writing a tune
At the tune writing workshop
It is with great sorrow that we have to tell you that one of BFG's great characters and supporters, Len Dalgleish, died on Sunday 8th August.

Our thoughts and condolences go to Jo, Lachlan and Stuart who more than anyone will miss Len's infectious enthusiasm and good humour.

His funeral will be at 10.15 on Saturday 14th August at the Parish Church Bridge of Allan. BFG members are welcome and there will be some tunes.
Len and friends at Dunblane
At a gig in Dunblane
Len was always the first to admit that his fiddle playing was a bit erratic but he more than made up for that with his passion for music and encouragement to others. We will remember him as someone who captured the spirit of BFG, knowing that being part of it was the main thing and seeing others, especially the young folk like Lachlan just getting better and better was the other half of the pleasure.

Len Dalgleish

Now how many of you just had to play the the tune 1st of August on 1st August?  Guess that's not many of you. But why not - its a good tune.

Friday Sessions

We have had a summer holiday and had only three sessions in July.  Two sessions were at the hotel (the second because we were booted out of the hall because of a double booking - something to do with custom cars, a dance and a bar. Can't think why they didn't want us there.) and one at the hall.  All a bit quiet but most enjoyable.  There was a time when we didn't stop for anything as trivial as the summer holidays but we have established a new tradition over the last couple of years of shutting down for a week or two. So the last two Fridays in July we had no session.  And of course the next Friday (6th August) there is no session either as we will all be playing at Drummond Castle won't we?. 


Gigs
There was only the one gig, the now regular Stirling University International Summer School ceilidh.  A new venue for them (but not for us) the Broomhall Castle Hotel in Menstrie, and a particularly lively group of dancers.  To say wild would not be an exaggeration.  Well done to Tom on sound - this was perhaps the most difficult venue we have played in ages as far as sound was concerned.  Lots of hard surfaces, echo, and general noise (especially the loud and lively summer school folk). It was remarkable under the conditions that we managed to get the system sorted out at all. It was made even more complicated by a fault in one of the mini-mixers we use on stage.  These things shouldn't happen - but of course they do.

Don't forget that the BFG annual Ceilidh will be on Saturday 30th October. (See Gigs)
We may make it into a Halloween Party.

   

Grant from Ochils Developments Blackford Community Fund

As we reported briefly last month we have received a grant of £1000 from the Ochils Developments Blackford Community Fund.  We applied for £1000 and have committed to spend over £2000 mainly in tutors and workshops. We hope that these will start up in the Autumn - possibly September but maybe later. There should be opportunities for group sessions and some individual tuition if people want that (under 18s only at first for the individual lessons). We will discuss this at the hall in August. There will be a charge for some sessions/workshops and the individual lessons, but as ever, BFG will subsidise the tutors from our own funds. Please remember, the people who turn up and play at gigs are the ones that earn the cash for BFG - and there are gigs for everyone, so please come to as many as you can.

A small part of the money will go towards getting some BFG shirts made (tee-shirts, rugby and polo shirts are all options) so that we have a sort of gigs outfit. But it isn't ever going to be something you have to wear (but you will want to anyway) and it isn't going to be a uniform - no fixed colour for example.  There will be a standard logo though. Once we have some samples made up we will order shirts as requested. A small discount may be offered.   

Workshops / Tutors
See the Grants stuff above.

Away Weekends
The under 18s event is on 4-5th September and promises to be a good one.  We have two tutors at the moment and plenty of interest.  Speak to anyone on the Committee and to Isobel about arrangements.

For parents / guardians.  We have to insist that you are contactable and available over the weekend in case of emergencies.  There will be plenty of responsible adults at the weekend event but not enough that we can spare any should any of the kids have to be returned home. I'm sure that this won't be a problem, but just so you know.

IF YOU HAVE NOT BOOKED PLEASE DO SO NOW. EMAIL BFG OR CALL ANDREW OR ISOBEL.
IT IS GOING TO BE A GREAT WEEKEND

Ceilidh Band
Last year we had a few ceilidh band practices on Sunday evenings. IT has been a bit difficult to keep these going, but we should have a few more as we may well see more changes in the band over the next year or so. If you are interested in being part of the Ceilidh Band then speak to Andrew B.  Dates for the practices will be fixed and announced at the hall. There should also be an update on the members' page too at some stage.

Members' News     September 2010

Ceilidh Band success
The BFG Ceilidh Band entered Scotland's premier Ceilidh band contest for the Craigenroan Trophy at the Kilsyth International Carnival on 14th August.  Against eight other bands, including some seasoned experts we thought we would give it a go at least for the fun of it.  We listened to some of the others and knew that the competition was stiff.  With a large cash prize and glory at stakes we did our two sets (The Riverside and a Canadian Barn Dance) and the applause at the end indicated we had made contact with someone. We then had to dash away to play a ceilidh that evening and only heard later that we had achieved 2nd place, which was a fantastic achievement.  We were only just pushed from top slot by the last band and were told that our playing and presentation was excellent.  Well done guys.  But did we really need to do this to know we are OK?  Not really and as reported below after the ceilidhs we did later in the month we were described as the best band in Perthshire and the best band one customer had booked in 17 years. 

As most members know, the ceilidh band is open to all members who can learn the tunes and play enough of them up to speed.  We don't set out to be the best, but to be good enough not to disappoint anyone and to have enough good players that novice ceilidh players can get in alongside them and learn how to do it.  After 10 years of ceilidh playing the formula still works, and perhaps we are just getting that wee bit better too.

We will soon be re-starting ceilidh band practice sessions for all budding members.

Friday Sessions
August is a traditional time for new members to arrive and this year has been no exception. After a couple of quiet weeks mid month the last two Fridays saw the hall bursting with the sheer weight of numbers, many returning from their summer hols and others new to BFG.  Our new members are very welcome. Please remember that at its best BFG is chaotic - with occasional attempts at organisation.  This means that if feel you are being ignored or overlooked, that's because you are, but its not on purpose. We try hard to make sure everyone is getting some help but you may need to speak up.  You will have spotted that we don't do formal lessons and most of the time we rely on members to help each other.

Its time for a new tune learning list.  Every few months we produce a long list of the learns we want to learn and then we try to fit the Friday session playing around learning some of them.  The list is always too long but at least it gives you an idea of what to expect.  The tunes on the list are almost all in the music books and if not we can usually supply the music.  We try to put all the tunes on the music pages as well (see the link on the menu on the left). 

The new tune list for September to December will be on the Member's' Page very soon. You will also find a list of all the tunes we have learnt in the last couple of years.  If the tune you most want to learn isn't on the list just let us know.

Sessions
If you fancy trying out your tunes at a public session but with the safety of having a few friendly BFG faces around please come to;

The Niblick pub - Auchterarder.  Thursday 2nd September from 8.30 pm.  (Should now be every first Thursday of the month). Pleass support this new session if you can.

The Tappit Hen, Dunblane.  Every Tuesday from 9.00.
Gigs
August was a great month for gigs, although to say the least they were for a very wide range of different events. We played seven times in the month - three times on one day!

There were two "Everyone" gigs;  Drummond Castle and Ochil Towers.  Congratulations to first time giggers on doing their first gig, with lots more to come!
Jennifer Gairns,
Holly and Abbey McLean,
Ewan and Cameron Sinclair,
Finn and Briona Mannion,
And Isobel Drury
Certificates can be collected at the Hall on Friday. Let Andy know if any youngsters doing their first gig recently have been missed. 

The Drummond Castle evening event was a bit wet but we had a good turnout from BFG. The Ochil Towers gig even provided some impromptu dancing.

Several members of the band played for Len's funeral.  It was a very moving ceremony and many of us found it very hard to play, especially for Twinkle Twinkle, which we are sure Len would have smiled about.

Then there was the ceilidh competition - short and sweet.  Lastly we played for three ceilidhs.  The first was for another Stirling University Summer School and yet again the dancing was enthusiastic and we got quite an ovation.  Then there was a big party at Findo Gask and didn't mind at all when they described us (at the end) as the best band in Perthshire.  (The flattery didn't work, we wouldn't reduce our fee.) The last gig was near Comrie for a big private party. An interesting novelty was that they had double booked and had two bands.  BFG, with fiddles, guitar, flute, bass, bodhran and caller. And the others - accordion and drums.   As we outnumbered the others we simply scared them away. By the end, the host said we were the best band he had booked in years, was relived that he had kept us and not the others and has given us bookings for the same weekend in August every year from now on.

With a few gigs in September and some more everyone gigs on the cards for November and up to New Year it is beginning to look like another successful year. Ah But!  Just when it all looked so good the wheel quite literally fell off our wagon.  On returning from the Comrie gig the trailer with all our PA equipment began to make a very odd noise. A quick inspection in Muthill revealed nothing but before we reached Gleneagles the wheel was off and we were brought down to earth. It only goes to show - I'm not sure what it only goes to show, but it was very irritating and I got home at 3.00am.  There are times when giving up seems like a good idea. Fortunately these times are more than cancelled out by the gigs.


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Workshops / Tutors
More detail to follow.

Away Weekends
The under 18s event is on 4-5th September.

Forms must be signed by parents / guardians and returned to Isobel before your child can attend. We also have to insist that you are contactable and available over the weekend in case of emergencies.  There will be plenty of responsible adults at the weekend event but not enough that we can spare any should any of the kids have to be returned home. We're sure that this won't have to happen but just so you know.

Members' News     October 2010


Updated 17th October


Sorry for the late arrival of the October news. Been away and been busy. So here it is - brief and to the point for a change.

Away weekend at Blackwater
The away weekend for under 18s was a great success.  We had a very wide range of talents but everyone got smeting from it and we managed to arrange couple of new tunes, including such traditional melodies as Night on Bare Mountain and The Godd The Bad and The Ugly!  The toasting of weird bread things (what on earth where they Karen) on the excellent open fire was a laugh and the ghost stories were - well not very frightening. The only disaster was that the recordings of the news tunes (so that we could remember them) somehow got erased.  And we know who's fault that was don't we?    (Answers on a postcard - or just check the AGM minutes!)


Friday Sessions
Busier than ever.  Thanks to everyone for coming along.  Congratulations to Freya for leading the last one of the month.

Sessions
If you fancy trying out your tunes at a public session but with the safety of having a few friendly BFG faces around please come to;

The Niblick pub - Auchterarder.  Thursday 4th November from 8.30 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessins required. We'll play stuff everyone knows  This session is now every first Thursday of the month. Please support this new local session if you can.

The Tappit Hen, Dunblane.  Every Tuesday from 9.00.
Gigs
Three gigs in September -  all ceilidhs. 
 
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Workshops / Tutors
Details will be available at the Hall

Members' News     November 2010


Gigs
September was a bit busy for gigs, but then October was very quiet.  In fact if it hadn't been for the last minute call from John of the martgaret J Gordon Arts and Crafts Trust we would have had no gigs at all, other than the BFG Ceilidh.  So of fwe went to Tillycoultry to the rather lovely Devon Vale Hall, to privide what was a bit of a rarity at the gala concert and awards ceremony - live music.  There were two singing groups plus dancers, all with backing tracks, whereas we had live music, but no singing.  So here's an idea - how about some BFG songs to go with the music.  We have often done this but its always been with guest singers or with David Leask, who doesn't come all that often especially if we're just doing a few numbers. 

There are some cracking photos of the gig - we'll get them up on the web. Some were in the Stratheaen Herald and a copy is pinned to the notice board at the hall.

The Annual Ceilidh
As ever BFG put on a great event for itslef and friends.  This was the 14th anniversary (we think) and by popular acclaim this was the best ceilidh for a while.  Plenty of music - thanks to everyone who come up and played with the band at some stage, more or less everyone manged to play for a dance - plenty of dancing, indluding a 20 minute Strip the willow to finish off (did we really play the Panda 9 times?) excellent soup and a fantastic atmosphere.  We must do it again sometime.  And to cap it all we raised about £900 for WaterAid.  Still adding up the figures, but I'll add the final amount when we have it.  Thanks go to donors of prizes, including Gleneagles Hotel, Tullibardine Distillery and others who I will name when I have a full list. 

Friday Sessions
Well we took a week off and had a couple of quiet weeks around the school holiday.  What happens next are some workshops - details below.

Workshops and tutors
We have several workshops and visits by tutors organised for the next few weeks.  This is what is happening.

  • Friday 12th November.  Tutors Marie Fielding and and ruraidh Campbell giving some one to one help.  Priority to under 18s.
  • Saturday 13th November.  Ruraridh Campbell and Alan Train doing a performance and arrangement session for the ceilidh band. (If you have not been a regular player but want to come along you can do that.)
  • Friday 26th November.  Tutor marie Fielding doing more one to one sessions. Priority to under 18s
  • Fridays 3 and 10 December.  Tutor Mike vass doing some one to one and group work for everyone.
  In February and March 2011 we expect to have 5-6 evening of tutors as well.

These events are all part funded by theOchil Developments Blackford Community Fund, manages by the Scottish Community Foundation.


Sessions
Excvellent session on 4th November at The Niblick, Auchterarder.  Next one is onThursday 2nd December from 8.30 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessins required. We'll play stuff everyone knows  This session is now first Thursday of every month. Please support this new local session if you can. If you can't wait until then come to the Tappit Hen in DunblaneSession at the Tappit Hen every Tuesday from 9.00.

Members' News     December 2010




HI



THERE IS A SELECTION OF TUNES FOR CHRISTMAS GIGS ON THE MEMBERS' PAGE.  YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OR PRINT THEM AND THERE WILL BE SOME COPIES AT THE HALL TOO.

BFG appeared at the Hands Up For Trad Music Awards at the Perth Concert Hall on 4 December and then on BBC Alba the following week. We hope to upload extracts from the performance soon.

Na Trads

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EPftloTRQk
And you may also want to see the these too.

http://www.footstompin.com/public/forum?threadid=1357694

http://www.footstompin.com/public/forum?threadid=1344037&pageid=5

http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/music-reviews/scots-trad-music-awards-perth-concert-hall-1.1072568
http://www.larrydeluxe.com/2010scotstradwards/source/39.htm

This was all organised between 8.00 and 9.00pm Friday. Sorry we didn't have time to put out a wider call for support.

Burns Club Success
Congratulations to Freya who won the Graham Thomson Rosebowl for Fiddle Playing in the Seniors section of the Perth Burns Club Festival on 21st November.  She played a great set beginning with Ae Fond Kiss followed by Sidlaw Hills and the Barrowburn Reel.  It was (and I may be a little biased) played with real skill and feeling.

Courier Pic Courier 22-11-10

Workshops and tutors
Two workshops ran this month. The first was a double bill with Marie and Ruaridh doing one to one sessions with about a dozen or so of our younger members.  This seemed to work really well - although 2 hours solid "teaching" was asking a lot from the two tutors. We have two more tutor sessions in December, both with Mike Vass. 

We also ran a superb workshop one Saturday in November with Ruaridh Campbell and Alan Train. This was for the ceilidh band, including a couple of new band members.  The purpose of the day was to get some tips on performance and arrangement, playing and accompaniment and it worked out really well.  We had the PA system set up and managed to play around with some familiar sets to make them more interesting.  The only problem with the day (other than running out of time) is that the Blackford Hall has a terrible echo unless it is full of people (people = padding) who stop the sound bouncing about.

Anyway, next tutor sessions are:
  • Fridays 3 and 10 December.  Tutor Mike Vass.
In February and March 2011 we expect to have 5-6 evenings with tutors but dates have yet to be fixed.  Some of you may recall that we did this last year but the exceptionally heavy snow meant we had to cancel some.  Of course that couldn't happen again could it?  Well as I type there is 50cm snow lying outside -  and this is still November!  We will continue to plan, but as ever members should keep an eye on the Friday page for news about sessions and possible bad weather arrangements.

Latest Tunes on the Music pages
We have played a few tunes recently that were not on the music pages or in the books. The following have been added recently.

Da Slockit Light
Da Peerie Hoose Ahint the Burn
Hector the Hero

Da Slockit Light has been taught at the hall already, the others may on on the tune learning list at some stage.

Gigs
While we are on the subject of weather and cancellations, we were due to play at Baxters, Eaglesgate Blackford on Sunday 28th November but the snow forced the closure of the A9 and of Baxters, so there was no gig.  We will see if they want us to go another Sunday in December. We really need to get out and play the newly learnt winter tunes, including impressive 4 part version of Troika complete with bells! The only November gig that we actually played was an old folks band (that is BFG members over a certain age) in Crieff.  A few more in December, including the very important everyone gigs

The Annual Ceilidh
Final fund-raising tally was £974.26 which has been sent to Water Aid.  This is the biggest sum we have ever raised and it was also one of the best nights we have ever had. So many many thanks to everyone who made it such a success.  There are pictures on the members pages.

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Friday Sessions
Friday sessions have seen a major break with tradition.  For two weeks in a row we didn't start with the usual tune, but (oh the horror of it all) with scales.  You know the Do Re Me sort, not the weighing or fishy sort.  Now this idea has been brought to us by someone (we will not name her right now) who has observed that we all need to warm up before playing, much like an athlete does before a race.  Not only that, but scales do appear to help with playing in tune better. We'll see.  Scales so far have been D and G. We will progress to A soon.  Now is this a good idea or a step too far away from tradition and towards the dark side?  Its up to you to say as you can vote with your fingers and bows.

Welcome to the new members who joined in November.  The Hall is getting very crowded again, but that's a good thing. 


Sessions
Excellent session on 4th November at The Niblick, Auchterarder.  Next one is on Thursday 2nd December from 8.30 pm. All welcome. No previous experience of sessions required. We'll play stuff everyone knows  This session is now first Thursday of every month. Please support this new local session if you can. If you can't wait until then come to the Tappit Hen in Dunblane Session at the Tappit Hen every Tuesday from 9.00.