We've spent quite a bit of time in the wonderful surroundings of Kaleidoscope Theatre the past couple of weeks. In the tranquil village of Kemberton in Shropshire, we've started to record our new album in the BWhalebone_recording_fiddle_mic_June_2010_resized.JPGarn Theatre. The acoustics in the room are fantastic and the atmosphere of the space provides a creative and relaxing place to be. So far we've recorded 14 tracks, had lots of fun and have a couple of very new tunes that are in the pipeline that may feature too.  Whalebone_recording_June_2010_resized.JPG

We're musing about album titles and artwork, but are planning to release the album sometime in the Autumn.

At the same venue, we performed 2 nights of Midsummer Melody concerts with the players of Kaleidoscope Theatre and had a great (and extremely hot) time, which included a small amount of acting by the band.... and lovely vanilla ice cream in the interval - woo hoo. Plans are under way for another run of dates next year in November 2011, the theme will be spooky with ghosts and ghouls, atmospheric music and fantastic (as always) cameo performances by the actors.

We travelled up to Widnes to have an interview with Geoff Speed from BBC Radio Merseyside who presents Folkscene. Geoff ran a highly successful folk club in Widnes during the 1960’s and is recognised as booking a young Paul Simon at the club when he was only 18 and providing accomodation for him for a week, where its rumoured he wrote Homeward Bound at the nearby train station. Geoff was very gracious in answering all our questions about the meeting and the gig Paul Simon played, even though he must be very tired of telling people about it! The interview with us should be aired in the next few weeks, so we’ll post another blog when we hear of its broadcast.

We are also collaborating with Kaleidoscope Theatre at the end of the month for two special summer concerts that will be held in their beautiful Barn Theatre in Kemberton, Shropshire. The concerts follow a day from sunrise to nightfall in music and mime, a unique harmonic fusion between Whalebone's music and the players of Kaleidoscope Theatre. The dates are around the Summer Solstice, so they should be magical evenings – with ice cream available at the interval – woo hoo! See the giglist for more details!

The May dates of the Gathering Tour were great and included some of the best singing we’ve ever had, (at Merthyr Cynog - well the Welsh are said to be able to sing a bit) and some of the wittiest heckling (also Merthyr Cynog!) Minsterworth in Gloucestershire came through with the ‘Best cakes’ title, and Chorley Village Hall (see picture below) was an up roaring experience, but in truth every gig has been enjoyable, and we’ve met some lovely people along the way. The next few dates include Wenlock Pottery at the end of June - a great venue with a fantastic atmosphere, and a beautiful Church in Yarpole at the end of July which has an amazing belfry separate to the Church with the main timbers of the tower being dated to 1192 making it one of the oldest timber framed structures in the country (see the giglist for more details).

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Another interesting church we’ve come across recently is in a village called Hope Bagot on the side of the Clee in South Shropshire. It has a amazing yew tree (believed to be sacred) that has been dated at least 1600 years old with a Holy Well nearby that is thought to have healing properties for eyes and used for baptisms hence the dedication of the church to St John the Baptist. We are going to play a festival called ‘Strange Folk’ at the beginning of September to help raise funds for both the church and the ancient yew so look out for more details closer to the time, it really is special place and well worth visiting. Here's a photo of the Hope Bagot yew tree...

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We had a great Bank Holiday Monday playing at the Clun Green Man Festival. You can see some pictures below of the fight on the bridge between the Green Man and the Ice Queen that takes place each year on the bridge in Clun, luckily the Green Man won and spring officially arrived so the rest of the day was spent in sunshine, quite something for a Bank Holiday! It’s a lovely festival with a great vibe and groovy people and it was a real pleasure to be able to play there.

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As part of the Gathering Tour we travelled down to the beautiful Cotswolds to play Box Village Hall and were treated to a great audience – a collective human metronome the clapping was that good, and an impressive selection of ‘Bring Your Own’ that included a homemade lasagne.... It was a great night and we’ll hopefully get back to play there at some point in the future. The following day we played Ludlow Food Festival playing four sets throughout the day and returned on Sunday to play some more. The weather was pretty awful, but the food and drink more than made up for it and the attendance figures hit a new record illustrating how good the beer and food is – and the large gazebos and beer tent ensured we played in the dry! Hopefully the September Food Festival will be sunny again as we’re playing in the moat...

First dates of Gathering Tour and Lincoln Drill Hall

Getting the first couple of dates of our Gathering Tour under our belts resulted in us meeting some lovely people and it was nice to get back into the swing of things after what seems like ages with lots of planning and preparations. Johnny Coppin played the title track of our current tour on his BBC Folk Roots programme last Sunday. His show is packed full of great music and if you miss the show, you can listen via the BBC i player for 7 days afterwards. The link to the show is on our links page.

We drove over to Lincoln to support Spiers & Boden on their Spring Tour on Monday. After an arduous journey of four and half hours thanks to the M6, we arrived and had a great night. Here are a couple of photos from after the gig...

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