Yorkshire based Teacher of Celtic and Traditional Folk Music, Specialising in Uilleann (Irish) and Northumbrian Small Pipes, Fiddle and Tin Whistle. Uilleann/Northumbrian Piper & Multi-Instrumentalist for hire.
Due to the ongoing situation with Covid I will continue to deliver traditional music lessons online. I am pleased to announce that face-to-face lessons will resume with caution from Monday 12th April in line with government guidelines.
Many thanks to Bright Young Folkfor publishing this reviewof the ‘TuneChaser‘ EP. They are busy “Keeping a beady eye on the traditional folk music scene of the British Isles”. Check out their website for a host of reviews, interviews and other interesting stuff.
Delighted to be playing out again in Hebden Bridge this coming Sunday 8th December, where I shall be playing a few tunes with ace DADGAD guitarist, singer and fellow Atlas Bridge bandmate Steve Lacey at the White Swan.. We shall have an array of pipes, whistles and songs to entertain you with. Kicks off at 8.30 with floor spots, so get down early if you would like to play or sing! More info at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/folkrootsattheswan/
To give you an idea, here’s a little clip of us playing an old favourite up at Wadsworth earlier this year.
Brand new acoustic 3-piece Atlas Bridgebring together the tuneful talents of Uilleann Piper & Multi-instrumentalist Becky Taylor, with sensitive, honest vocals and melodic 5-string banjo from Madeline Smyth underpinned with inventive and energetic accompaniments by Steve Lacey who also adds a song or two to the mix.
Atlas Bridge came to life in the Sparrow Café in Bradford drawing from their shared love of good tunes, good songs and a willingness to keep the show on the road no matter what. Their name, with its roots from Greek mythology for the Atlantic Ocean or Atlantis Sea, echoes the bridge and deep-rooted musical connections between Irish and other Celtic folk traditions and the Americana/Appalachian music and song that is reflected in their repertoire.
Expect engaging, high energy, lively tune sets interspersed with thought-provoking songs. With a multitude of different instruments between them and a fresh approach to more familiar material as well as vocal variety, there is plenty of interest here!
Becky Taylor: Uilleann pipes, Northumbrian Smallpipes, Whistles, Mandolin and Fiddle. Madeline Smyth: Vocals, Banjo, Guitar, Bodhran and Whistle. Steve Lacey: Guitar and Vocals.
Here’s something I came across whilst looking for something else (isn’t that always the way!). Messing around on the duet concertina with the odd whistle and pipe thrown in, recorded at Steve Smith’s (now of Kimbers Men fame) in 2016 just before the problems with my hand stopped me playing for a while…good news on that front – I will be back in the bellows soon! Watch this space
Please support #Fair Plé wherever you can – it’s so important to the traditional music world. In the many years I have been on the trad music scene I have lost count of the number of times when Fair Plé was more un-Fair Plé.
FairPlé aims to achieve gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. They advocate for equal opportunity and balanced representation for all.
Their mission statement is:
FairPlé aims to achieve gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. We advocate for equal opportunity and balanced representation for all. Continue reading →
Unfortunately, as some of you know, I haven’t been able to play my beloved pipes recently due to a steadily worsening case of ‘the curse of the MacCrimmons’. Its not just Scottish pipers that are affected though, Uilleann pipers, pianists, flute players, fiddlers, and many others develop this ‘thing’ known as Dupuytren’s (honestly the names really don’t help!).
According to the British Dupuytrens Society, Dupuytren’s disease, also called Dupuytren’s contracture, is a “benign thickening of the connective tissue, or fascia, of the palm and fingers”. It usually starts with a tiny lump, in the palm of the hand and eventually string like cords develop beneath the skin. As the condition progresses the affected fingers are pulled towards the palm and cannot be straightened anymore,. This is NOT good (understatement). Especially if you are a musician of any type (piper or not!).
So, while I’ve not been piping I have been looking into it and here is the story (with thanks to the British Dupuytrens Society history section!) Continue reading →
Last Autumn I was asked to write an article for the Northumbrian Pipers Society quarterly newsletter. An edited version was published in the Autumn edition, but here is the full version…
Waking up on the morning after my birthday this year I realized with some horror that I had now been playing the pipes for 30 years (you would have thought I would have the hang of it by now really wouldn’t you?!..)
Starting back in 1983 with Dave McQuade’s loan sets to schools and moving on to a particularly decrepit Hedworth set which I played for many years, my early NSP playing was unorthodox to say the least, and heavily influenced by the Irish musicians in the area and my passion for Uilleann piping for which I am perhaps better known. The defining moment in my NSP playing career was when, after many years I finally acquired a beautiful boxwood 17key set from Colin Ross in 2008 – it did take a little persuasion it must be said, as he was concerned that the Bb keys may not have been strictly necessary, with me assuring him that them they were, and subsequently playing many Gminor sets just to make sure I got the good use of them! Anyway, on playing this set it was impossible not to fall in love again with the sound of NSP and I returned to regular playing with renewed enthusiasm.
Over the years my piping career has taken me to some interesting places, most recently in Russia where I was invited to play (Uilleann) pipes as a guest with the legendary Boris Grebenshikov and his (mainly rock based) band Aquarium. After several visits I introduced the smallpipes as my F set very conveniently played in the keys of F and C that my Uilleann sets (being a concert pitched or ‘B’ set) couldn’t, and they were subsequently used on several tracks even making a brief appearance on the (very heavy) album ‘Архангельск’.
Playing NSP in Russia with a (very large) rock band came with its own particular set of challenges, the first of which was getting them there. Travelling through Russian border control with a pipe case containing both Uilleann and NSP is interesting to say the least. The very first word I learnt in Russian was ‘волынка’ pronounced ‘Volinka” and meaning literally ‘bagpipe’ and it is essential information for smoothing the difficult conversation between me (no Russian) and the rather bemused looking immigration staff (little English) when they pointed to my case with a stern ‘open’..