back at Cannings Court
It had been six of seven years since I'd been to one of Heather and John's annual barndances. I used to show up every year to help set it up and tidy up afterwards, when I was based in Exeter. The events used to attract an interesting mix of polite Francophile folkdance enthusiasts, and rather piratical West Country horsedrawn travellers and their associates. These days the latter faction seem to have melted away, so although there was perhaps a lack of "edge" (whatever that is), the crowd was a lot smaller and more sober, so you could actually hear the music quite clearly.
I got a lift from near Lewes with Jo who was part of the group of musicians I travelled with in Cornwall in the late 90s. Her band Red Dog Green Dog with Joel, Mike and Jim (all part of the same gang from that time) played two alternating sets with Wod (Jim, Jane and Andy Letcher). RDGD mostly play original tunes written in the style of particular types of French folkdance tunes – melodion, concertina, English bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy. Wod (concertina, violin and pipes) play a lot of traditional tunes with extreme, extended droney arrangements. All great stuff, even though I'm not really into the dancing scene. Best of all was the late night session where both bands combined, supplemented by Jo's fiddler boyfriend Mike and Jane's partner Colin (who'd been doing the sound) on guitar, playing endless traditional tunes, as the pool of dancers boiled down to the most dedicated. I even got roped into a hanter dro dance encircling the musicians towards the end (I was the only person in the barn either not playing an instrument or dancing, so...).
My saz didn't get played there (the next day mostly involved eating, drinking tea and hanging out) but it was a great musical and social experience. But, en route from Kent I'd stayed at Stella's for a couple of days and we had a very pleasing little saz-and-harp improv jam. We could do a lot more of that, and we both hope that we will. Unfortunately that one went unrecorded.