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Justifying the Taylor Baritone 8 string - the video! By Steve

When I first heard the Taylor 8-string Baritone guitar around a year and a half ago, what immediately attracted me to it was the 'otherworldliness' of the sound it made, with its deep rumbling bass notes and shimmering, haunting double strings. The tone seemed to be almost primeval, hinting at hidden depths and half-forgotten memories, and I instantly fell in love with it.

We now use it on several tunes, including a solo piece called 'Justify', which is in two parts, a slow ethereal section followed by a faster reel. We thought it would be fun to make a short video to accompany the first part, so the start of May saw us filming in the depths of Shropshire, trying to produce images to match the music (and making ourselves dizzy in the process!) You can view the results below:

 

Let us know what you think!

8 String Baritone Tune to listen to, by Steve

For me, one of the more challenging aspects of Whalebone's Origins Tour has been getting to grips with the new 8 string Baritone guitar. It's a bit of a beautiful but strange beast, with two bass strings, two pairs of strings in the middle which jangle like a twelve string guitar and a couple of high ones. It's tuned somewhere in between a guitar and a bass, and is physically bigger than my usual acoustic guitar. It sounds quite unlike any instrument I've ever come across, and as soon as I heard it I knew it'd really suit Whalebone's music, and bought it on the spot.

The unique nature of the baritone meant that we couldn't just fit it into existing tunes, and so we've written some new arrangements around it. One in particular was written as a solo piece in an attempt to show what the baritone could do, and on its first performance I announced that the as-then-untitled tune was invented to justify the purchase of the guitar. One of our friends, John Perry, came up afterwards and said 'You'd better call that tune Justify then!' and so we did. It's in two halves, and the first half can be heard by following the link here. Hope you like it!

Justify Part 1 MP3 Listen

Fergus and the Whale, by Sarah

In the last couple of weeks we’ve been absolutely blown away by some of our fans who, entirely independently of each other (it must be the spring!), have been inspired to create amazing things for us. Firstly there was the lovely Emma Baker who (appropriately enough) made foot-high gingerbread effigies of the three of us, individually decorated and complete with instruments. (We should also mention in this connection Claire Glover who brilliantly dubbed them ‘doppelgingers’; clearly some crossword experts in that family…).

Whalebone Dopplegingers

And THEN this weekend one of our newest fans, bluegrass-enthusiast and expert hare-dancer Fergus, turned up at a gig with a whale skeleton bigger than himself, which he’d painstakingly crafted from cardboard tubes and gaffer tape and spray-painted. Completely astonishing, and brilliantly mad!

Fergus and the Whale

As you can imagine, the doppelgingers were somewhat easier to get in the car post-gig than the whale (and very easy, it subsequently turned out, to get into our tummies…). Now many of you might know that, by an impressive feat of tessellation and a system of packing which not even I’m privy to after five years in the band, we get all our gear plus the three of us into an Astra estate and a Nissan Micra. After several unsuccessful attempts to squeeze the whale into the Astra, it eventually made it (somewhat improbably) into the Micra, with the only downside being the inaccessibility of the handbrake for the rest of the journey home. As a result, we’ve concluded that the proper home for the whale is in the new studio at Whalebone Towers, and we hope that’s OK with Fergus (who really wanted it to become part of our touring stage set). So thank you brilliant people! We’re in awe. And slightly nervous at the prospect of anyone trying to one-up the whale…

New Tour - New Workshop Date, by Char

On Saturday night we played our first gig of 2012 at Wenlock Pottery's Burns Supper. Much haggis, fun and laughter was had as we tried to convince a sceptical audience that every Whalebone tune we played was Scottish.... It was also notable as the first time that we've been heckled in the form of an enquiry about a Wombles hit.  (If you're reading this Rosemary, Minuetto Allegretto was co-written by Mike Batt and 'Wolf Mozart' and got to No. 16 in 1974.)

It was a great to get back to playing to an audience after a 6 week break, and a nice warm up for the Origins Tour which kicks off at Cheslyn Hay Village Hall on the 4th of February - this coming Saturday. We've decided on the 'Origins' name as it's the title of a new tune we've written during the break. The shows will include this and other brand new numbers, some of which feature Steve's very beautiful (and never gigged before) 8-string Baritone Taylor guitar which sounds amazing!

The first workshop at Wenlock Pottery went brilliantly, I recorded some footage of the group playing together on my phone, but for some reason when I tried to upload it to this blog the sound vanishes... so you'll have to make do with some photos which I also took.

Wenlock Pottery Whalebone Workshop James

It was a great day, with mandolins, acoustic guitarists, an electric guitarist (James with his Epiphone SG above), fiddle players, flautists and clarinets all playing together and amazing us with the outcome. Very satisfying and all with Shelagh's amazing food and a lovely log fire. We've decided to run another one on February 5th - this coming Sunday, so if anyone would like to book themselves in just get in touch, as there are a few places left... check out the concentration on the faces below...

Wenlock Pottery Whalebone Workshop

Wenlock Pottery Whalebone Workshop 2

Workshops!

We are counting down to the first workshop of 2012 this coming Sunday which is now fully booked - but we have decided to run a second one on Sunday 5th February - hooray! The venue is the dining room at Wenlock Pottery in Sheinton Street, Much Wenlock, where we can play in comfort around their log-burning stove. Arrival time is 10am, and we'll run through until 5pm.

The workshops are aimed at players of all levels - previously we've had beginners through to quite accomplished players - and we aim to get everyone playing together throughout the day. We'll be covering tunes in a variety of styles, touching on folk, blues and the lighter end of rock, and discussing melody, accompaniment techniques and improvisation. You don't have to read music - most of the guitarists who come along don't!

The aim is to have a fun but informative day working with each player's capabilities, supporting the beginners and stretching the more able. The cost is £60 per person, which includes all course materials and refreshments (tea and croissants on arrival, a hot meal at lunchtime and tea and cake in the afternoon.) At the end of the day Mike from the Pottery will open the bar and anyone who wishes can stay for a chat/drink/jam session/question and answer around the fire. If you're interested in booking a place for Sunday 5th February - get in touch :)

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