We're really looking forward to this gig in Bristol next month. Andrew has arranged some music especially for the event, where we will also be accompanying a chorus of sailors. After the launch there will be the opportunity to try out some ceilidh dancing. We hope to see you there!
We're lucky enough to have caller and fiddle player Alison Rowley as a regular member of The Antler Ceilidh Band. Here is a clip from last year's Bristol Folk House gig which shows her teaching The Big Fish Square ceilidh dance. The other members of the band are Hannah Cumming on Fiddle, Andy McLeod on percussion and yours truly on Guitar + Bass Pedals and Keys. Andy and Hannah are also excellent ceilidh callers.
Despite being based in the South-West, we do occasionally venture further afield. Saturday's ceilidh was a most enjoyable excursion to Brightwell-cum-Sotwell in South Oxfordshire. We arrived early in the afternoon to witness the village wassail celebrations (attended by more than 550 people), and later played for the evening ceilidh. The atmosphere was wonderful and we were really impressed with the enthusiasm of all the dancers. Special thanks goes to Sue Robson, who kindly put us up in her lovely bed and breakfast 'Hope Cottage' (www.hopecottagetours.co.uk).
Here's a clip of us playing. (Note: This is an iPhone recording from the stage so the audio quality isn't amazing, but it gives you a flavour of the evening's fun!)
The Antler Ceilidh Band are delighted to have been asked to play for 'Bristol Ceilidh's' public ceilidh series at The Bristol Folk House on the 22nd September. Do come along if you'd like to hear us in action, or if you can't make it this time we'll be playing there again early next year.
Click here to visit the event page on facebook.
Literally some people have asked me about my bass pedals setup, so here is a brief explanation:
Essentially, they allow me to play bass lines with my feet whilst I play guitar or piano with my hands. It is by no means a new concept; organists have been using their feet to play bass lines since the 14th century, but bass pedals are seldom seen in folk or pop music contexts.
My bass pedal setup is made up of two parts; the pedals themselves (a Studiologic MP-117 MIDI pedalboard) and a sound module (an Alesis Nanobass). The pedalboard doesn't make sound itself; rather it sends MIDI signals to the sound module, which is then plugged into a bass amp.
You can hear me playing guitar and bass pedals in this video: https://youtu.be/OeYAv0IUoZw
I find it surprising that more musicians aren't using bass pedals; they're a great way of beefing up the sound of band!
Bass pedals: Not a new idea (though I'm not sure about the practicality of wearing a sword whilst playing...).
Still not 100% sure that a ceilidh is right for your event? Well, please read on!
Everyone can dance!
How many weddings have you been to where there's a sense of reluctance amongst one or other of the different generations? When you have a ceilidh, everyone gets involved, regardless of age or ability! We’ve played at weddings where children as young as four and adults as old as eighty have been dancing at the same time.
Ceilidhs are a great way to mix up your guests.
Most ceilidh dances involve some form of partner swapping, mixing with other groups, or progressing round a circle. This is a great way for guests to interact with those they wouldn’t normally get a chance to talk to. And who knows, perhaps a chance ceilidh encounter between two singletons could even result in romance! After all, before the invention of recorded music, dances and balls were THE primary way of securing a spouse!
We bring our own sound system.
What does this mean? It means that when the ceilidh is finished you can play your own playlist of tunes nice and loudly from your ipod/iPhone/laptop so that you get the same feeling of an end of the night disco/classical concert/rock concert (or whatever you want - it's your playlist of music, so you get to chose!). Plus, our modern PA system (complete with subwoofer) is better than many of the sound systems owned by professional DJs.
Ceilidh bands have volume control.
This means that if you want the band to be loud, they can be; but it also means if you want them to be quiet, they can be too. Unlike most wedding bands, ceilidh bands are very well versed in performing acoustically which means they can play extremely quietly (unlike many modern wedding bands, who have to cater for loud, aggressive drummers or screeching guitar solos).
Ceilidh bands help you burn off the six slices of cake you just ate.
According to science, ceilidh dancing burns a surprising number of calories. A few dances can more than justify eating that extra portion of dessert, helping yourself to a second hog roast, or swinging by the cheese and crackers table one more time.
No more dodgy DJs.
As previously mentioned, we provide our own sound system, so if you want to have a disco before, in between, or at the end of the ceilidh, all you have to do is make your own playlist on your computer or phone and plug it into the band's sound system. Keep it simple, there's no need for the additional hassle and expense of booking a DJ. We also provide lights too, helping to create the right atmosphere for your disco.
There are many other reasons to have a ceilidh band, but we will leave it there for now and end on this note: having a ceilidh band at your wedding will be great fun for everyone. So book a ceilidh; you know it makes sense!
Here's a quick clip of us playing last night. 'Twas a most pleasant evening; keen dancers, lovely staff, amazing food, and great musical company of course!
Yours truly - Bass guitar
Sam - Drums
Alison - Caller & Fiddle
Tim - Uilleann Pipes & Whistles
Louis - Bouzouki & Guitar
Please note: The iPhone was placed rather too close to my bass amp, so apologies for the bass-heavy recording. I also apologise for standing the way of the camera; the dancers are a far more interesting sight than me.
With production of The Antler Ceilidh Band’s debut album well under way, my thoughts have turned to album covers. Below is a collage of covers, followed by some reflections.
1. Instruments or no instruments - Many traditional/folk albums feature a cover with the band holding their instruments, usually outside. I’m not sure why this is such a popular cover theme for folk albums; 99% of the time we play indoors. If we are outside instruments are usually in cases. A picture of the band outside sans instruments would be more accurate, but less interesting - from the outside we look much like other humans.
2. Farm machinery - The wonderful Scottish fiddler Ian Powrie was clearly proud of his bright yellow Caterpillar D2 tractor, as it graces the cover of his 1988 album ‘At Home’.
As Antler Ceilidh HQ is a farm, the farm machinery cover image would be technically doable, though I feel it would be dishonest of me to imply that I can operate such machinery.
3. Scotland - Many Scottish Folk LPs from the 70s feature a rural Scottish scene. Although I did holiday in Scotland earlier this year and took several appealing photos, we're not based in Scotland, so I shan't go for this option.
4. Kilts - the kilt is truly a noble garment. According to my dear mother (who can claim 75% genuine Scots heritage) I can legally wear the tartan of three clans. However, I feel it would be dishonest of me to imply that I am actually a Scot (even though I share an ancestor with Robert Burns!).
5. North - I confess it is tempting to incorporate a pun on my surname into the album title, especially as there are already some great examples in existence (The Sound of the North, A Call From The North, More Sounds from the North, etc...), but The Antler Ceilidh Band takes the ceilidh business very seriously and we wouldn’t want to imply otherwise.
Conclusion / Antlers
All things considered I feel the best solution would be an Antler/Stag-themed cover, similar, but different to the fine creature featured in our band logo.
Our debut album will be available in the Spring of 2018. Sneaky peaks to follow sooner...