Friday, October 14, 2005

Rainy Night in the Bell Tent

I've finally got around to processing one of the most worthy recordings in my personal archive.

It's a selection of folk tunes from Brittany, France, Corsica, Ukraine, Armenia, Ireland, Wales, etc. recorded spontaneously in my bell tent in some woods near Ventongimps (near Perranzabuloe) in Cornwall one rainy night in autumn 1997. This was shortly after Inge and I had started travelling with the Dongas, and it's certainly the best recording which exists of the Cornwall-period Dongas.

Listen Here

Ruth - fiddle
Jo - wooden flute, melodeon, recorder
Stef - mandolin (and possibly bouzouki)
Inge - mandolin, percussion
me - saz (and possibly percussion)
Howie - percussion (and possibly octave mandola)
Colin - percussion
Josh - percussion (incl. horizontal tambourine)

Colin, Ruth, Inge, Jo and me playing at Roskilly's on The Lizard
Colin, Ruth, Inge, Jo and me playing at Roskilly's on The Lizard, probably summer 1998

This was originally recorded onto high-quality chrome cassette via Howie's professional-quality handheld cassette recorder. Unfortunately, that tape either got lost in the post, or is languishing amongst Funkey's millions of tapes in Sint-Niklaas - I sent it to him for digitisation and safekeeping. Fortunately, Ruth did make a copy (not brilliant quality) shortly after the original recording, which remained with our friend Stevie P in Glastonbury until recently.

These second generation recordings have been tidied up with a bit of digital processing and a few little splices.

I'm not actually playing on quite a few of the pieces, as I was dealing with the technical aspects of the recording. There are a few Irish tunes which feature me and Inge (we'd been travelling around Ireland playing a lot of trad earlier that year) with Ruth and Jo. Also, I can be heard starting the Armenian tune "Ambee Dagez" (you can just about hear Inge giggling at the beginning, as I'd messed up the intro a couple of times before getting it right). There might just be another recorder involved in some of the tunes, too - If so, then I'm guessing that would be Kel.

I remember at one point hearing a tambourine through the headphones I was using to monitor the levels. I kept looking around the circle of people sitting in the tent, none of whom was playing a tambourine, and thinking "Where's that tambourine sound coming from?", beginning to wonder if this was some kind of paranormal phenomenon. When the tune in question ended, it became apparent that it was Josh, lying out of view in his sleeping bag tapping a tambourine which happened to be within reach. Josh had a reputation for "tortoising out" (an obscure Jon Pertwee-era Dr. Who reference we'd picked up somewhere) earlier than most of us, but just couldn't help joining in, despite his horizontality.

The rain on the bell tent can be heard at the beginnings and ends of some pieces (and throughout the last piece, which is just Jo playing a lovely French tune on her wooden flute). As Stevie P pointed out, this makes it sound rather like old vinyl - nice.

The bell tent, in Bosahan Woods near Constantine, our next camp after Ventongimps
The bell tent, in Bosahan Woods near Constantine, our next camp after Ventongimps


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