Well, 2015 was an odd year, lots of good things and lots of bad things in the world. I guess that’s generally the case but the media and social media seemed to bring us all down somewhat. My feelings towards the end of the year are perfectly described by the fiddle player Thomas Hardy in The Darkling Thrush (think he wrote some books as well…….!).
This year I’m going to stay informed, but stay positive – my goal is going to be (as ever) to add to the general happiness in the world.
The Darkling Thrush
BY THOMAS HARDY
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
A quick look at the gig list shows an intensive few weeks ahead – particularly looking forward to supporting Kate Rusby on the main stage at Broadstairs Folk Week – Their 50th festival this year, our second visit! Amongst other things Dave’s running a guitar workshop – that should be a hoot, I’m looking forward to picking up a few tips myself….
I’ve fitted up the fiddle I’m making and strung it up “in the white” so that I can shape the neck whilst it’s strung – I thought this would make sense – it also meant I could have a good play and get an idea what it’s going to sound like………… and I’m very happy!
So, shape neck, finish edgework, refine nut and fingerboard, scrape the whole fiddle and then time to start the varnishing.
Sorry to go on, but I am loving my C19th German fiddle. The rest of the (rather small) collection are languishing in their cases!
Booking loads of gigs at the moment. I always know a gig’s gone well when we get people coming up to talk to us afterwards and asking to book us for their own events. Seems to be happening quite a bit at the moment.
Onwards and upwards.
Saw in the new year with some style at the Fox & Hounds in Cattistock, Dorset. Lovely pub and lovely people.
I was a bit nervous as it was the first time I’d really played my recently acquired C19th German fiddle in public and also the first time I’d played it vigorously since I repaired the massive crack in the front! Glad to report it went well and the repair has held. I think this violin is going to become a favourite of mine and the C20th French violin I normally play may start to gather some dust.
Dave is threatening to make himself a new guitar this year as a backup for the rather splendid instrument he plays which he built a few years ago now. I think I’m also going to start building a violin for myself – but it’ll be a surprise if it’s good enough to push the German fiddle off stage!
The first album is nearing completion and we’re getting artwork and sleeve notes ready.
Amusing to see Reverbnation has us at No 1 in our regional folk music chart, not sure what that means, but now we can say we’ve been at number one (won’t say of what!).
Anyway, must go and practice some of our new tune sets for the next gig!
Have a good 2015 – Graham
2014 was a great year for us, we played a load of memorable gigs and got into the studio to record our first proper album. It’s due for release in early 2015 and there’ll be more news about it here over the next few weeks.
In addition it might be worth following Dave on Twitter for news: Follow @Mitchellandvin
Or me: Follow @Mitchellandvinc
Aims for 2015? More playing, more festivals, more house parties. Do get in touch if you want us to come and play for you. Do have a look at the gig page occasionally, I update it all the time.
Bye for now, hope to see you soon!