Friday, July 10, 2009
Well, before we went out to the session, last Thursday, Nikita treated us to a few tunes on his Hackbrett, in our kitchen.
Then Nikita took his Hackbrett along to the Springhill Bar & the punters really loved his playing.
As you can see from the second photo, he also took his accordion with him.
Tonight in the House of McDonnell, Nikita took only his two Castagnari Accordions, as there's not much room for a Hackbrett around our tiny session table!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Dulcimer being Hammered in the Bushmills Inn
If anyone would like to see & hear a Hammered Dulcimer being played in County Antrim today, then you should visit the Bushmills Inn any Saturday night, where you will hear me play my Hammered Dulcimer along with our group Scad the Beggars at our weekly Session.
In front of Glenarm Castle at the Festival Launch.
In 2005, in an effort to raise the profile of the Co Antrim Dulcimer even higher & perhaps even kick start a revival, I organised the first ever Dulcimer Festival in Co Antrim, the 'Causeway Dulcimer Festival'.
This event took place in & around Bushmills over a weekend, with various warm up events taking place during the week before, plus classes, sessions, talks & concerts during the weekend itself.
Dulcimer players came from America, Scotland, England & mainland Europe too, to help celebrate the life of John Rea & the history of the Dulcimer in Co Antrim.
In 2006, funding was not to be had so a few enthusiast gathered & enjoyed a number of Dulcimer sessions over a weekend.
Another well known County Antrim Hammered Dulcimer player was Derek Bell of the Chieftains.
Although he called his Dulcimer a Timpan, it was simply a Hammered Dulcimer. He regularly used his Dulcimer both for recording & performing with the Chieftains.
John Rea of Glenarm
The most famous Co. Antrim Hammered Dulcimer player of them all was John Rea of Glenarm. He started out on the Dulcimer at the age of eight, and says his brothers all got fiddles but he was too small, so he got the dulcimer! John worked on the tug-boat in Belfast Lough and lived on board a lot of the time, which I suppose gave him plenty of time to practice. Today people play the dulcimer with little wooden hammers but John Rea used hammers made of thick steel wire, wound with wool, which were his own idea.
John, in his day, was very famous. He performed on the TV, played with ‘The Chieftains’ and recorded two LPs.
In Scotland the players used to play a lot of old song airs, and of songs which were popular between the wars, but John Rea tended to play the old traditional tunes he learned from his dad’s fiddle playing. So Reels, Jigs, Marches and Strathspeys were more his cup of tea and a fine healthy mix of Scottish and Irish tunes he played too.
John Rea, before he died, used to regularly play duets with his brother William Rea, and thankfully Willie is still going strong, as is Nat Magee, so the glens still ring to the sound of these two men playing their Hammered Dulcimers.
Blogger Mark Thompson had an interesting piece on John Rea recently.
Although this instrument is relatively unknown now in Co. Antrim, some say it has actually been on these shores, in one form or another since, at least, the 18th Century.
Here is the link to David's site.
Go to the section there on 'Northern Ireland'.