Having the opportunity to play contribute to Jim Causley’s Clemo 100 project early this year made me realise just how much I had missed playing over the past few years and gave me a much needed kick up the arse!
Whether it was performing a local gig, playing for radio, visiting some of the fantastic sessions and open mic nights that are emerging in the Truro area, or just taking the dulcimer for a day out I don’t seem to have stopped and loved every minute of it!
The highlight for me was getting together with ‘Leski’ (Fiddle player/ singer Richard Trethewey & Guitarist Steve Hunt) for our first gig in … um … a few years. I can’t wait to do it again as soon as the opportunity arises!
I have been lucky enough to meet lots of lovely new people and there has been a huge interest in the Hammered from people of all ages. I will be teaming up with some local players to provide some workshops and taster sessions in the new year. If you would like to be added to the mailing list for updates, drop me a line.
With Christmas fast approaching there’s lots to look forward to! Traditional Cornish carols and mulled wine are on the top of my agenda….. but over the winter months I will also be working on the dulcimer tune book I have been mulling over for some time and continuing plans for a long over due album for 2018.
If anyone has come across a Hammered Dulcimer that can be carried in your pocket and just happens to pop up nicely in the middle of a crowded pub please let me know! (Sometimes wonder why I didn’t stick to the whistle!)
A favourite quote springs to mind … “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~ Allen Saunders
Due to unfortunate circumstance I was forced to take a 3 year break from performing and teaching and confined to playing Hammered Dulcimer on rare occasions at home.
I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a peripheral neuropathy which effect’s the nerves / muscles in you feet / legs and in your hands. Although it causes pain and weakness I found that playing the Hammered Dulcimer was actually a great way to keep my hands moving and it’s provided great therapy – both physically and emotionally. (There is no greater way to relieve stress than by hammering out some jigs and reels at full pelt – not that the neighbours would agree!) It also gave me the opportunity to put my tune writing skills to the test and I have been quietly working on putting together a collection of favourite pieces both traditional and new which really lend themselves to the Hammered Dulcimer. The aim is to publish a tuition / tune book for beginners to advanced players which I am looking forward to releasing early next year.
Just as I was starting to think that the time was right to reconnect with the wider world, I was asked to take part as a guest musician in Jim Causley’s latest project Clemo 100.
This was a specially commissioned project by Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival where Jim collaborated with author Luke Thompson to make an album of poems by Cornish poet Jack Clemo as part his 2016 centenary celebrations. Clemo – a close friend of Charles Causley – was a fascinating poet who lived in the evocative Clay Country district of mid Cornwall and was greatly inspired by that dramatic, man-made landscape. Often described as angular, his poems couldn’t be more different from that of his Launceston friend and that is parallel in these new musical settings. Recorded in his home village, this project features some of the finest musicians in the Duchy (including Neil Davey, Steve Hunt and Richard Trethewey) and brings to life the clayscape world of Clemo.The project was launched at this years Bodmin Poetry festival, with a live performance and I am looking forward to doing it all again in the near future. Keep an eye out for performance updates and in the meantime you can find out more about ‘Clay Hymnal’ the CD here.
Whilst working on the project, myself and Richard kept joking about how we can’t get away from each other! It seems that fate keeps throwing us together so we have decided that it’s about time that we need more ‘Leski’ in our lives.
Our debut album ‘Leski’ featured some fantastic musicians and dancers and sold out when it was released in 2008. We never got around to doing a 2nd run, but it is available to listen to and download from bandcamp.
As well as our usual fiddle / hammered dulcimer duo, Richard has written some great songs which we can throw into the mix.
We have also been rehearsing with celtic singer Jackie Clark from Cornwall whose voice, when I heard it for the first time brought tears to my eyes (in a good way!). Who knows where this collaboration will take us, but we are confident that we will be making our debut in the near future, so keep an eye out for latest news.