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Kettle Bridge Concertinas

Concertina group based in Maidstone, Kent, UK

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WCCP St Audries Residential Weekend  -  Fri 23rd to Sun 25th March 2012

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Written by Liz Millward

I can't tell you how excited I was to be going to Kilve / St Audries Bay in March 2012. I left work at 3pm and raced across London to get on the 17.03 train from London Paddington to Taunton. I was relieved to get in the taxi at Taunton as my train was 20 minutes late, but I had a very pleasant journey to St Audries, despite arriving at the wrong holiday park! Note to self: always remember to give a specific address to a taxi driver! After a few texts to the Kettle Bridge crew with a new address, I arrived in the dark and I was whisked straight to the dining room where everybody was just finishing their meal. I was given a badge, a folder, the run down of the caravan by my roomies MFD and Carol and a lovely plate of roast dinner, which I had 10 minutes to eat before the first workshop.

I decided to go to Sandra Kerr's workshop. She made us play a 2-octave scale in D, with no music, and told us to play it with feeling! Already I was smiling from ear to ear. Sandra's focus for the weekend was to play Northumbrian tunes and learn about accompanying these. We were introduced to the beautiful "Lovely Nancy", "Nancy Clough" and "Go to Berwick Jonnie" and we even had a taster of a simple accompaniment to go with this. After an inspiring start to the weekend it was time to catch up with friends and enjoy the music in the bar which was lead by Paul McCann. This went on until the early hours of the morning. I managed to sneak off to hit the sack and to find out where my caravan was.

I woke up to a very cold caravan but a bright morning and as I walked over to breakfast I could see the sea! Breakfast was reasonable, with a choice of cereal and a cooked breakfast. There was lots of talk over breakfast, mostly about sharing advice on how to warm the chalet or caravan. Second note to self: don't expect a caravan to be warm in March! The workshops started at 9.15am. I continued to be in Sandra Kerr's workshop. Before we did any playing, we started off with some hand yoga. We then focussed on developing the skill of playing with feeling and moved onto complex playing for accompaniment with triads and chords (D, E minor, F sharp and A7). We were also introduced to "Geld llim Lassies" which was incredibly fast but had a great rhythm to it.

After the break, I decided that I wanted to join the band and to play my wonderful baritone. I was thrown in at the deep end with "Harmony Moze" - that was hard. Thankfully, Paul Barrett had brought a recording as the tune changes 3 times within the piece. This really helped us to understand how it sounds when played well! We also played "With a little bit of luck" (from My Fair Lady) and the lovely Waltz "Bushes and Briars". Paul took the pieces apart, building upon each section, so that we all played well together. We continued to develop our band playing skills in the afternoon and were introduced to "My Heart Will Go On", the theme from Titanic.

By 4pm, we were cream crackered! I went to the talk by Eddie Upton; this was fascinating. We were told to bring our concertinas along, as there would be audience participation. Eddie explained how he got involved in the folk world, and some of the people who had influenced him over the years. Eddie played a few tunes on the harmonica & concertina, sang a few songs and then asked us to play a bit of "Man On The Moon" and other tunes. This was a good test for the ear! The finale was a song he got us singing, as a round, about the concertina.

The evening was spent with a 3 course meal in the dining room and a Ceilidh in the main hall with the tutors playing. The first dance of the evening was "Michael Turners Waltz" - my favourite! Mal Derricot took it in turns to do the calling while it was up to Kettle Bridge (MFD, Sally, Tricia, Pat, Carol, Sandy & John) and the rest of us to cause mayhem with the dancing! A good time was had by all and the dancing went on until we couldn't dance any more. We then retired to a different bar where we played until the last fingers were still twiddling at 2.30am.

We had a lie in on the Sunday (although we lost an hour with the clocks going forward), but we were all as enthusiastic as ever. I decided to stay with the band and was really enjoying "playing together". For one of the sessions we played tunes from Norwich and had a mini showcase of tunes from the group. We then had one final run through before the showcase. Paul decided we would play "with a little bit of luck", "Harmony Moze" and "Bushes and Briars".

After a sunny lunch, all the workshops joined together in the large hall for the showcase. The standard was really high. Ciaran O'Grady who ran the Anglos shared with us what they had learnt. The Duets presented us with John Morgan's arrangement of "Pachelbel's Canon in D". Sandra's group played "Lovely Nancy", "Nancy Clough" and "Geld llim Lassies". The band finished the showcase off. It was then time to play the tunes which we were sent before the weekend. That was a whole new experience! The 2 Pauls lead the chaos while over 100 concertinas played all at the same time. I was sat next to the basses and I have never heard "Que Sera Sera", "Lambeth Walk" & "Beside The Sea Side" in such a low key! This was such a brilliant end to the weekend.

I would like to thank John & Mal Dericott and Colin & Rosalie Dipper as well as all the tutors for arranging a fun, inspiring and friendly weekend. St Audries was a good move. We had a larger hall, a great bar, more space to practice and relax in, I got to see the outdoors, while it still had the heart and warmth of the October Kilve. I have already reserved a place for next years WCCP 30th Anniversary at St Audries Bay.