Monthly Archives: June 2015


Perhaps my favourite tune in the whole wide, sky-filled world.

Paul James’s wild rant*, named for falcons, whirls and tumbles and jinks like the Red Kites I watched playing on the Ridgeway thermals near Monks Risborough one summer evening.

Two videos: the first, dancetastic band Blowzabella recording the tune for their album Strange News; the second, Paul’s teaching video.



Several of the band’s musicians are multi-instrumentalists. The line-up here is:

Andy Cutting (triangle), Jo Freya (bass clarinet), Paul James (bagpipes), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar), Jon Swayne (bagpipes)

(‘Blowzabella recording in France 2013’ Youtube video, 4:54. Posted by Paul James, 21 Aug 2013.


Paul James

Paul teaching Falco on border pipes, fast and slow; first in F, then in G from 4:38.

(Note to fiddlers: I like to play this tuned GDGD – gets a little of that pipes/gurdy drone sound. However, E strings don’t last long with all that tuning back up again, so if you want to play cross-tuned, perhaps best to use AEAE, and stick to standard tuning if you want to play along with Paul’s pipes or other non A-friendly instrument.)

(‘Paul James of Blowzabella playing the tune “Falco” on border bagpipes’ YouTube video, 8:58. Posted by Paul James, 28 Nov 2013.

* Rant: a dance with a rhythmic, percussive step (not someone having a right go on social-media!)


For more information on Blowzabella’s gigs, recordings etc – and the fantastic all-dancing, all-playing Blowzabella Days:

More samples from their many CDs are available on YouTube, Soundcloud, Napster, Google Play, etc


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Filed under English folk/modern


A lovely variation on an old-time/bluegrass sessions favourite. I’ll be posting up the standard version later in the year – but in the meantime, caveat musicus: DANGER – this is the OTHER version!


Annie Staninec (fiddle), Luke Abbott (viola)

Annie is a major west-coast bluegrass and old-time fiddler, solo and with a number of bands. Luke sings and plays old-time and bluegrass on ‘a bunch of stringed instruments’ and is part of the brilliant Toneway Project that teaches music by ear online.

(‘Roscoe [fiddle and viola]’ YouTube video, 2:45. Posted by The Abbott Family on YouTube, 12 Aug 2010.

Both Annie and Luke have great websites with detailed information on gigs, projects and teaching:




Filed under American old-time/traditional

Jackson’s Shaving Brush

This candidate for my Best Title Ever award dates from about 1800. It’s played here in a set with Wedding Shoes.



Becky Price (accordion), Miranda Rutter (fiddle, viola), Matthew Coatsworth (fiddle, viola)

Boldwood’s core repertoire stems from forgotten tunes played back into life from obscure manuscripts dating largely from 18th century England – a wondrous musical era when, their website says, “the worlds of folk and classical music happily co-existed and inspired each other to produce rich and fascinating instrumental music”.

This recording is from the group’s 2012 unreleased second album Mudlarking, available on Soundcloud (



They have a new EP out, full of wonderfully earwormy tunes; and their first CD, the dance-inducing Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, is a real treat. For details of how to get your hands on a copy, see their website:


Boldwood-Dancing-Master-front-cover-300x210The dots for Jackson’s Shaving Brush can be found in The Boldwood Dancing Master – a musical treasure-trove of over 70 tunes available from the website. The cover photo alone taught me things I didn’t know about all those Austen balls: next time I’m in Oxford, in the Ashmolean, I’ll tear myself away from my old friends the Stradivarius guitar and Powhatan’s Mantle and the mediaeval bishops’ rings, and make the acquaintance of Dance Fan for the Year 1789!


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Filed under English folk/traditional

Sadie at the Back Door

The second of the crooked tunes I promised last week is a delightful, fairly recent American oldtime tune. Expect the unexpected in the B part!


Canote Brothers

Twin brothers Greg (fiddle) and Jere (guitar/banjo/melodeon) are renowned for their off-the-beaten-track tunes, traditional and modern. This quirky tune, composed by Jere, was inspired by a cat who would always go out by the front door, but would only ever come in through the back.

Greg Canote (fiddle), Jere Canote (guitar), Adam Hurt (banjo), Cathy Barton (banjo), Dave Para (guitar)

A clip from a jam/teaching session at American Banjo Camp 2009, held at Fort Flagler, Washington state.

(‘A Jam/Class at American Banjo Camp, 2009’ YouTube video, 1:11. Posted by Peter Langston, 30 Sep 2009.


Greg Canote (fiddle), Jere Canote (guitar), Candy Goldman (banjo)

Slower teaching audio file of the Canotes and Candy Goldman playing, made for their Seattle stringband class. (Greg’s fiddle is tuned ADAE. If you must, you can get away with standard tuning – but then you’ll miss that great cross-tuned ring from the sympathetic low A…)




For more about the Canote Brothers, including albums, gigs, and the Seattle stringband class, see their website:

For more tunes taught at the Seattle class, see Maya Whitmont’s astonishing archive of audio files and banjo tabs at:

For (even!) more great tunes, see Peter Langston’s American Banjo Camp and other music videos on his YouTube channel:

American Banjo Camp 2015 – 11-13 September at beautiful Fort Flagler, WA – is “not just for banjos anymore! We also feature a FIDDLE track as well as GUITAR, BASS, MANDOLIN, and JAMMING classes!” Sign up for 87 classes, 23 scheduled jams, 2 concerts, 6 meals, 2 late-night snacks, and 2 optional sleep periods. And all over one stonking weekend (note the “optional”!). Here’s the link:




Filed under American old-time/modern