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Merry Christmas from the 'bones...

Now we're coming to the end of what has been a fantastic year for us, we'd just like to say a huge, huge 'Thank You' to everyone who has supported us, been to see us at gigs, taken the trouble to get in touch with us and generally been so nice to us throughout 2011. We really appreciate it and have really enjoyed playing and meeting up with old friends and new acquaintances. Here is a festive tune (click on the BIG picture below) to say 'Merry Christmas from Whalebone' - here's wishing you all a lovely yuletide and we hope we'll meet again in the New Year!

Fairytale_of_New_York_resized.jpg

We've also put this track as a free download on the website - just go to www.whalebone-music.com and click on the 'Music (Listen)' Tab, and you can click on the download option :)

A funny radio interview and rehearsals! By Char.

We are counting down to the opening night (tomorrow) of 'Winter Ghosts' - our collaboration with the wonderful Kaleidoscope Theatre Company. Here is a pic of taken at rehearsals over the past few weekends:

Kaleidoscope Theatre & Whalebone Winter Ghosts Rehearsals

Also, there is a great radio interview with Steve and I, Carolyne the artistic director of Kaleidoscope Theatre and Eve one of the main actors in the production and who manages to say the best thing out the lot of us! It was aired on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday morning, so if you missed it you can have a giggle and listen again by clicking this link - Winter Ghosts BBC Radio Shropshire Interview - Many thanks to Rich from Radio Shropshire who drove over on Sunday to do the interview.

A new edition - 'Thid' the Skull and a spooky fun weekend, by Char

Well, we had a lovely weekend joining forces with the wonderful Beck Sian to stage a couple of Halloween concerts. The first at Chorley Village Hall (full of banter and lasagne!) and Wrockwardine Village Hall with the entire front row consisting of some of our favourite heckling people. 

Halloween Red Banners

Dave and Lynne

Both evenings were full of spooky tales, good humour - see pic of Dave and Lynne above - and a new addition to our merch table... 'Thid' the skull (see photo below). His name was originally 'Sid', but following a misunderstanding between Sarah and I where she thought I said he had 'a bit of a lisp', what I actually said was Sid was quite 'minimalist', he is now called 'Thid the Skull'. Although he doesn't really match our band image, I think he will be a permanent feature of the merch table and are currently looking at ways to fit him into one of our flight cases!

 

Thid the Skull

 

Sarah and Beck

It was a shame we only had 2 concerts so we are planning to spread the spookiness over two weekends next year and have even more spooky fun. Talking of which, we start the rehearsals for 'Winter Ghosts' - our collaboration with Kaleidoscope Theatre this coming Saturday.... very exciting! If you would like to have a peek at what to expect you can view the promo video for the concerts on our You Tube Channel at www.youtube.com/whalebonemusicvideos. Details of dates and how to get tickets are on our website under 'Gigs and Tickets'.

A Sense of History - By Steve

When I'm not being involved with music in some form or another, whether playing with the 'bones or just listening and enjoying, one of my interests is history. Not that I'm in any way an expert, but the way people used to live has long fascinated me. I've always been more interested in ordinary folks rather than Kings and Queens, though learning about the hard lives endured in the past can sometimes make me feel a bit guilty about complaining about the modern world!

Whalebone have been fortunate to have the chance to perform at some historic places in the past few years. We've gigged at three castles, Ludlow, Powis and Clun, two ancient Welsh churches and two Victorian railway waiting rooms. Many of the village halls we have played used to be village schools, and one, at Minsterworth, is a beautiful building erected after the First World War as a memorial to those who didn't return. Recently we played at Bewdley Museum in the sawyard, with a mediaeval camp a few yards from us.

Two events in particular stand out for me. One was English Heritage's Festival of History at Kelmarsh earlier this year. Organised on an enormous scale, and with hundreds of re-enactors (including musicians) taking part, there was almost too much to take in, with the climax being a stunning aerial dogfight between a Messerschmitt ME109 and a Spitfire (the Spit won - see below!)

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My favourite though, and right at the other end of the scale in terms of size, was the opportunity we had to play at the first public opening of the restored Miners' cottages at Blakemoorgate, on the Stiperstones above Snailbeach. We were invited by Genevieve Tudor to be part of the event, so we and a few other musicians piled into a Land Rover to be taken on the best journey I've ever had to a gig, bumping slowly up the rutted track to the cottages. Once there, settled into a room where songs may have been sung over 100 years ago we took turns to play, Gen sang beautifully and a few beers were seen off as the sun slowly set over the distant Welsh hills. Maybe a hundred people made the journey up from Snailbeach to see the cottages where the lead miners lived, and to try to imagine the hardships they faced, especially in winter. A magical setting for playing music, and a gig that will long live in the memory.

The Next Stage of the Journey, by Steve

There's been a bit of extra excitement around Whalebone Towers in the last few weeks, as we've been starting to gather together some new material and try out fresh ideas as we enter the first stages of planning our next album. There's been a lot of experimentation going on, with some new instruments appearing during rehearsals, and new techniques and tunings being tried out.

Whalebone's music has always been a mix of original music, traditional tunes and our own interpretations of classic rock songs, and each category needs its own approach. With the original tunes, I've been going through a year's worth of scribbled ideas, written on everything from manuscript paper to bits torn off teabag boxes, and sorting out the ones I think are worth working on from the ones that are destined for the bin - there's usually more in the bin than on the 'worth working on' pile by the end of the day.

With the traditional tunes it's a slightly different process in that there's no shortage of material to choose from, (quite the opposite in fact) but the problem is in hunting down the tunes that we can put a 'Whalebone' stamp on. Sarah does the initial sorting, finding tunes from a number of sources, which she then plays to Char and myself. It's rare that we're not unanimous in our choosing of one tune over another - we all seem to hear the same indefinable something that makes a tune stand out as 'one for the 'bones'.

The classic rock selection is usually down to Char and myself, though it's often Char who has the better ideas - I'm Not Awake Yet, Sweet Child, The Boxer and Sultans were all her choices. Once again there's no shortage of great songs, it's finding the ones that work with our line-up that's the interesting bit. (You should hear our version of 'Whole Lotta Love'... well, maybe not..!)

As the list of 'possibles' grows, we can get on to the next stage. Many hours will be spent arranging, rehearsing and polishing the raw material to create something that we think is worth recording, with much angst and hair-tearing involved, but maybe that's a subject for another blog!

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