Getting back to normal and a Taplas review

Last week we (after what seems like an age) got back to playing and rehearsing together - for the first time since early December. Sarah bought the new arrival Charlie along who seems to take life in his stride and seems very relaxed when we're playing. He hasn't got his fingers in his ears, it's just the camera angle!


At the moment we're mostly preparing for the start of the tour, taking posters and leaflets around for each venue, with the first date being March 5th at Quatt Village Hall, just outside Bridgnorth. It's great to organise and plan a new setlist and we're really looking forward to getting out and playing again.

We've had another review for 'Three Fires', this time from Taplas Magazine,  - the review suggests that the CD 'pays tribute to ritual behaviour during the midsummer madness', and as midsummer madness sums up how we felt during the recording of the album we're pleased with the review and the kind words it contained!

Runner up in Instrumental Album of the Year / 2010 Round up and a new video

Looking back briefly, 2010 saw the release of our new CD ‘Three Fires’, recorded at The Barn Theatre at Kemberton. We’re really pleased with how it turned out, and the album ended the year by being voted into the ‘Top ten folk releases of 2010’ by Andy Donnelly's The Celtic Show on CKUA Radio in Canada and runner up ‘Instrumental album of the year 2010’ by FATEA magazine...not bad for an album that was recorded on a tight (i.e. non-existent!) budget in Shropshire.

Other random highs and lows include playing with Spiers and Boden of Bellowhead on the one hand, and the memory of half-dragging a very pregnant fiddle player across Coventry city centre to get to a live radio interview on the other... and talking of pregnant fiddlers, the first highlight of 2011 has been the birth of Sarah’s second son, Charlie! Both are doing very well.

On the Whalebone playlist last year was Among the Oak and Ash, (a great American roots band), Kris Drever, Thea Gilmore, Harper Simon (Paul’s son) and Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, the latter also won our (well Char’s) gig of the year award.

2010 also saw us play some great shows with both the Kaleidoscope Theatre Company and Bridgnorth Players, the latter featuring Char’s acting a small naughty boy called George... We’re looking forward to performing with both companies again in the coming year. We also visited some great new venues and returned to some old favourites and are very much looking forward to getting back to performing in March. We must miss the heckling... There are some new dates in the Gigs/Tickets section of the website along with all the details of the venues and how to book.

We’ve been thinking for a while about capturing on film all of the excitement, dubious lead guitarist shapes and terrible jokes that make up a Whalebone gig, and at last we’ve done it! Well... sort of, as we’ve used some rather dashing looking stand-ins for the filming. We’ve also paid homage to some of our favourite artists in the video. There are seven in there somewhere and you can view the video on Youtube at or on this website under the 'Videos' tab.

Three Fires goes Top Ten, Reviews and some Free Podcasts featuring Hooty Mullock...

Andy Donnelly, who presents the ‘Celtic Show’ on The CKUA Radio Network, has voted ‘Three Fires’ as one of his top ten albums of 2010. This is a huge honour for us and we are keeping fantastic company with the likes of Kris Drever (Lau), Michael McGoldrick and Altan also listed in his selection and one of only two independent artists to make the chart. CKUA is a highly respected radio station that broadcasts all over Canada – and the world now with the internet. We first heard about his show from chatting to a nice guy at Clun Green Man Festival at the start of the year and if you can catch the programme you are guaranteed to hear a great selection of music. 

'Hooty Mullock', one of the tracks on the new album has been featured in a couple of podcasts this month, both feature a great range of music and are a great way of listening to and discovering new artists and releases. FolkCast is published monthly in the UK and features the best in folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter and roots-based music hosted by Phil Widdows and Ken Nicol. CD Baby is our American distributor and their free folk podcast is available from iTunes on the link below:

FolkCast Download link

CD Baby Folk Podcast link

We’ve come to the end of our live performances this year with four Theatrical Winterval shows with the Bridgnorth Players. It really felt festive with the weather at the moment! The last performance at Chelmarsh was magical and extremely funny at times! We had a really great time working with the Players and hope to do something similar with them in the future. Talking of wintry weather... here is what it looks like outside our window at Whalebone HQ at the moment...brrrrr....


Whalebone view from window Dec 2010

And here is one down the lane to the River Severn....


Whalebone view lane Dec 2010

The new album has also received some good reviews from various sources, including FATEA Magazine and Shropshire Review which you can read all about on the 'Press Pack' page of this website.

They're Coming...a new vid in the pipeline and other stuff

As some of you may already know, we have a whalebone channel on Youtube  that currently has the tune Herman the Carpenter uploaded to it. Plans are under way to add another video... here's a sneak preview of what it is going to look like:


In-between planning new videos we've played some really nice village halls over the past week - Cleobury North and Feckenham which were both great gigs. We're coming to the end of the Gathering Tour with the final 2 shows this coming weekend. Little Stretton Village Hall has sold out, so the Three Tuns in Bishop's Castle on Saturday night is the last full whalebone gig for this year, so come and say hello if you're free.

The Theatrical Winterval concerts at the end of November and start of December are shaping up to be great shows. The night is jointly presented with whalebone and the Bridgnorth Players, whalebone will be playing some seasonal tunes and also accompanying the Players on a number of cameo performances - all with mince pies in the interval! Tickets are available online from this website or by phoning the contact number listed under the 'Gigs and Tickets' page.

We've also joined a number of other Made In Shropshire (MIS) members and put our CDs for sale on an online shop which donates 20% of the sales to Severn Hospice. Check out  for some crafty inspirational gifts for Christmas and at the same time support a very good cause, have a look at the website and see what some of the talented members of MIS are producing and selling.

On another Christmas related theme, we've started a 'discussion' on our Facebook page at where we are asking which tune people would prefer for us to send out as a free tune to celebrate the festive period, so drop by and tell us what you think, there's a choice of two!

Some tunes from the new album 'Three Fires' had some plays on Sunday night on Geneivieve Tudor's Sunday Folk on BBC Radio Shropshire (Herman the Carpenter and Wild Cat), you can listen again up to Sunday by clicking HERE. The album has also been digitalised by CD Baby and you can download MP3s now from and it will shortly be available from the usual digital distributors.

New album available to buy... Band of Joy ... Acoustic Avalon

Our new album ‘Three Fires’ is finally here and available from the ‘Buy’ page on this website. Some of the sleeve notes can be read on the ‘Albums’ page where you can read about some of the tunes on there and where you can also find a track listing. It is currently being digitalised so you will be able to download it from the usual suspects in a short while for the peeps who prefer virtual versions. Feedback from the people who pre-ordered and have already received it has been fab, and thanks to all those who have gone to the trouble of getting in touch and saying such nice things. We’ve put a couple of MP3s for you to listen to on the ‘Music’ page with more sound clips to follow in the near future. Listen out for the James McKeefry's Celtic Fringe programme on BBC Leicester tomorrow night (Wednesday 3rd November) at 7.00pm, where he will be playing ‘Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)’ on his show.

October proved to be a very eventful month, we’ve had some fantastic village hall gigs and our thanks goes out to all the committees and people who have helped and supported live music enabling us to do what we love doing! Special thanks to Tom for sending us an album by Jerry Douglas (who we know as a member of Union Station who play with Alison Krauss), Russ Barenberg and Edgar Meyer entitled ‘Skip, Hop and Wobble.’ Like us they are an instrumental trio and they play a combination of traditional and self penned tunes. The sleeve notes of the album really struck a chord with us too!

We managed to make it over to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to watch Robert Plant and The Band of Joy last Wednesday and it was a complete inspiration. Fantastic musicians who looked to be really enjoying the wonderful music they were collectively making.


A great review of the night can be read at the Tight but Loose website – a website dedicated to all things Led Zeppelin – which Char lives on! If you can, check out the BBC red button next week where the performance and interviews from last Friday’s Electric Proms will be screened to see what we mean. Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara played set beforehand and introduced a whole new instrument to us, a ritti, a one-stringed fiddle and West African ancestor of the violin. It makes the most amazing sound and really interweaves with the electric guitar. The album is ‘Soul Science’ is well worth checking out and we are currently playing it and grooving along as we set up all the gear for our gigs. Fantastic evening all round.

Last Sunday, we found ourselves travelling up the M6 to spend the day at Leicester Racecourse where a fantastic guitar shop called Sheehans of Leicester were staging a festival called Acoustic Avalon. It was heaven for two of the band members. If you are into acoustic guitars it is a must to go there. It happens each year and runs over the whole weekend. As well as shipping all their beautiful stock of guitars over there, representatives of all the guitars stocked are on hand so you can actually chat to the people who make or distribute the instruments. Steve’s Taylor 314CE had a fret dressing and overhaul by the fantastic Taylor technicians and now plays even more like a dream. He also discovered a truly beautiful instrument – a Taylor 8 string Baritone guitar, it mesmerised everyone as soon as it was played. Many thanks to David Hosler from Taylor Guitars for introducing us to such an amazing instrument, it will take whalebone in a new direction once we start to write music on it! Every home should have one.

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