By Ian Bloor - 13th November 2012 7:07am
The 15th consecutive Audlem Bagpipe and Hurdy Gurdy Day
The 10th of November dawned bright and clear, and the early morning sun found musicians travelling from several points of the compass towards The Bridge Inn, in Audlem, all eager to play their part in the village's premier musical event of 2012.
Well before noon, which was supposed to be the official starting time, the tuning and flossing of hurdy gurdies, and the warming and easing of pipes had begun in earnest.
Over the following thirty minutes, the Bridge's conservatory, with all its tables moved to the walls, and extra chairs brought in, became filled, almost to capacity, with players and instruments of many shapes, sizes, colours and ages.
Representing almost the entire spectrum of the gurdy-universe:-
There were short ones, long ones, square ones and lute backed,
Brook ones, Eaton ones, and one in lurid red.
There were loud ones and quiet ones, trompettes and drones galore,
Fast ones and slow ones, and one as big as a bed.
There were big ones, little ones, brown, black and red ones,
Simple ones and Uilleann, and some I couldn't see.
There were Dudey pipes and Shepherd pipes, and one pair of Double pipes,
Most had one or two drones, but mine have three.
There were fiddles, flutes and crumhorns, concertinas and melodeons,
A banjo, some guitars, and whistles in a gang,
A bouzouki and a mandolin, recorders, shawms and dulcimers,
A lot of shakes and rattles and a lone bulbul tarang.
Over the next seven hours, as copious drinks lubricated elbows and wrists, with late arrivals setting up a separate, but not rival, session in the 'front room', the music flowed continuously, delighting the performers and attracting 'passers by' by the several.
There was even a song; not quite unprecedented at Bagpipe and Hurdy Gurdy Day, but certainly unusual. On this occasion, after the requisite number of doses of 'restorative', Mr Practical broke, unexpectedly, into his very own version of 'Hard Times', modified to include references to the instrument on which he accompanied himself, with lines such as 'When you play the Hurdy Gurdy, it's a long and winding road'.
English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, Spanish, Manx, Flemish, Serbian, American, German, and probably several other melodies, drifted out across the canal.
Perhaps, one year, we'll do a retrospective 'play list' to record exactly what was played, but with some 'sets' including three or more tunes, and with some of the titles eluding even those who played them, this will not be an easy task.
Long after the sun had set, the tired but happy throng left the village to travel back to homes that lie as far away as Sowerby Bridge to the north, Peterborough to the east, Solihull to the south and Aberystwyth to the west.
Our thanks to all those musicians and supporters who joined us, and to Vicky and Gary at the Bridge for their support and friendly forbearance.
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