Archive for December, 2018

Songs and tunes

December 25, 2018

I have created pages for the lists of songs and tunes from our session repertoire. I have added some links to videos, will also link to dots (sheet music) in the future. Note that the links on these pages are to recordings made by professionals and/or elsewhere. Videos recorded at our sessions and related events appear on the page videos list, which I also updated.

Also, there are exciting things coming up in January, check the events page!



image source



Keep moving …

December 20, 2018

Ooops, update to the update, the James Street Tavern has closed and reopened under new management now, so don’t believe any events diaries that may still advertise sessions there. We still don’t know whether it will welcome sessions in the future. Lack of reply to messages suggests maybe not.

Meanwhile, we had our first Galician session at the Port Mahon yesterday, following on the heels of the French and Scandi sessions there, also exiled from the James Street Tavern. The space is lovely for playing and dancing. Only trouble is that it reflects and amplifies the sound very efficiently, so with two bagpipers playing a nice duet yesterday, we quickly reached the pain threshold of the bar staff and some customers …

Another caveat is that we still don’t have confirmation that we will be able to have sessions there in the new year. Watch this space.

The good news though is that with the move out of the JST, the three “continental” sessions appear to have acquired a few dedicated dancers who use the sessions for a miniature folk bal, aka bal minuscule. That website include videos from all three sessions we had this month, but for some reason the Galician one doesn’t show up on Firefox right now, so I’ll put it here as well:


Oh, and the January session is likely to be a week early again. This is because Xabier Diaz and the Adufeiras de Salitre are going to play at the Rich Mix in London on Wed 30th of January, and as we have pinched several songs from them (including Agarrado de Vilar de Cabeiras), it’s only fair we send a delegation to support the artists. I also hear there may be a workshop happening the day before the concert, details to be confirmed. So please keep the Wednesday 23rd of January free for the Galician session.






December 19th session @ new venue

December 12, 2018

As the usual last Wednesday of the month falls on Boxing Day, the Galician session will exceptionally be a week earlier, i.e. on Wed. 19th. It will also be in a new venue, as the James Street Tavern is closed for refurbishment and under new management, and we don’t know yet whether it will welcome folk sessions when it reopens.  So this month (and hopefully next year as well, but that remains to be confirmed) we will be at the

Port Mahon, 82 St. Clement’s St., Oxford OX4 1AW

That’s on the corner of Jeune St, which is the street that has the Ultimate Picture Palace at the other end. Buses and coaches including X90 / Oxford Tube from London and Park and Ride services stop just a few metres further down the road, the stop is called St. Clement’s. Parking is available alongside the road, as well as at the St. Clement’s car park on the other side of the road. Failing that, the Tesco car park, which many people used to use for the JST, is still within walking distance.

Last Monday, the pub looked like this:


Sessions will usually be in the downstairs bar, which is the little extension you see on the right hand side. It has a direct door at street level on the Jeune Street side, so you don’t have to haul your instruments upstairs to the front door and back down to the bar.  There is a lovely square room at the far end that will easily accommodate 15 musicians in a circle around the sides, leaving room in the middle for dancers. There is additional room alongside the bar with a few tables where people can sit and listen.  Here is an impression of the dance space from this week’s French/Breton session which saw quite a lot of enthusiastic dancing happening:



So let’s fill this space again, next Wednesday !

Here are the usual instructions for anybody who has never been to our sessions:

This month, in the eighteenth session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines and sing some of the songs they practise in their weekly meetings (you can also join a new monthly singing class with them!). Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There will be space for dancing. A box of miscellaneous percussion instruments (plus cunchas!) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

Note that the pub has a 11:00 curfew for musical activities (NB that’s half an hour earlier than at the JST!), so the  session will close before that time with the traditional anthem of “Fisterra”. If you don’t have to leave earlier, it would be nice if you could stay for that. The curfew also means that if we start late, we’ll just have less time to play music.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders sent a week before the sessions.




Memoria da noite

December 7, 2018

I’ve known this song by Luar na Lubre for a few years now, but only last week discovered the Irish tune Carolan’s dream (aka Molly McAlpine, see dots here) by the blind harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), which very obviously inspired Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to heaven. Re-listening to Memoria da noite after obsessing about Carolan’s dream for a few days, I now hear the Irish tune in Memoria da noite as well (so we could play any or all of these three at Galician sessions!). Compare and contrast:

Here’s Carolan’s dream on a steel-stringed Irish harp:

a version with a modern concert harp:

and here’s Led Zeppelin live:

enjoy …

PS: Here’s Heart covering Stairway to heaven with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin in the audience. How scary is that …

New venue, new poster

December 6, 2018

We have an amazing new venue for the sessions, from now on we will be at the Port Mahon in St. Clement’s, close to the bus and coach stops so very accessible by public transport, even for people coming from London. Parking spaces are also available in the vicinity, and if all else fails, the Tesco car park which people used for the JST sessions is also within walking distance.  (You can find them on facebook, their web domain seems to have lapsed.)

So I had to change the poster very quickly (although in the new year I’ll look into designing a brand-new poster as well):


Please share, print, spread the word so we can get a few more people coming and impress our new hosts, who have taken over at the Port Mahon quite recently.




Gaztelugatxeko martxa

December 1, 2018

Stephen played this lovely Basque tune at the last two Galician sessions, and I finally got round to looking it up, here is a version with Kepa Junkera (who wrote it) on button accordion and a full symphony orchestra (watch out for the txalaparta, eg at 2:37):


and here are the dots on Folktune Finder (they may not quite line up with the orchestral version, but FF will play the tune for you as well). Enjoy!

PS The back story: I first heard Stephen play this at the Early English session this summer, when Tim was away and we were playing “When the cat’s away” style non-English things all evening, from Finnish tangos to Galician tunes, via Breton and Basque ones.

PPS Think this may have been the first time I consulted the Basque version of Wikipedia – not knowing any of that language. It confirmed my suspicion that “martxa” means “march” (the musical and military term) and revealed that Gaztelugatxe is an island off the Basque coast, which according to the English wiki page has appeared in Game of Thrones.