Kick Shins Barn Dance Band blog

Damazan night market - Branle des Chevaux

Kick Shins Branle des Chevaux from Stuart Barry on Vimeo.

Live in Damazan 1

 

The night markets in south west France are fantastic. Each village has a market on a different day. This one in Damazan is in the town square, surrounded by mediaeval houses. The town hall is on the first floor level giving us cover and a stage. We called a few English dances, then, as we started playing some French and English tunes, loads of people got up and did their own line dancing.

French tour 2018

Above - band enjoying dinner before playing in Moissac

Last week we completed a short tour of villages in south west France. The opening night was in the Parvis, the main square in Moissace, famouse for its Abbey and being on the route to Compostella.

Dindi Moon, a steel pan band from Australia, opened and we finished the evening. It's a magnificent setting, surrounded by restaurants and hundreds of people eating. Despite the blinding stage lights and a few sound glitches we had a very enjoyable evening, and managed to get a few people up dancing.

Look in the blog and video section for more.

Moissac weekend programme

Attached is the programme for the barge and music event in Moissac on 10-12 August 2018.

Festival programme

Preparing for French tour

We are busy preparing for our French tour in August. There is lots to do: new equipment to consider, new songs to rehearse and a slightly different line-up. In the photo you can see us taking a break in the sunshine before diving back in and arguing about a particularly troublesome arrangement.

Rehearsals

A lot of people ask us how often we rehearse. In the early days we had a rolling, three week cycle with new tunes appearing one week and then making it onto the stage 9 weeks later. Because we have built up a fairly large repertoire that we cycle through regularly, and also because the band is a little more scattered, we rehearse a bit less these days. We generally get together a few times a year to try out a new tune or a new arrangement.

This year (2018) is a little different as we have a tour of French festivals and villages. We know from earlier visits that it is sometimes difficult to get people up dancing, so we are changing our set somewhat to include songs and some new arrangements that will work more as concert pieces. We also have a slightly different line-up for the tour with the addition of a flute, so that calls for something different.

Putting together a 2 hour set requires some thought and planning. Through various email exchanges we all agreed on a lively song to start each half, with a sprinkling of dances and re-arranged tunes to feature both the flute and the hurdy-gurdy - a popular instrument in France. But we'll add electric guitar, drums and keyboard to the mix to liven things up a bit.

Software and iPads are fantastic tools these days. We use an app called Set List Maker to plan all our gigs. We have hundreds of dances, tunes, dance instructions and scores included in our database. On stage this app keeps track of which song is next and how long we have to play. If other band members have an iPad the display is shown to them so that everyone can see what is going on.

In between rehearsals we use Sibelius for the score. This allows for multiple parts which can be turned into a wav file with the appropriate sounds to give everyone an idea of what we are aiming at. For finishing off the arrangement and the full sequence we use Cubase. Cubase is also occasionally used to record a live, multi-track version so that we can listen afterwards and criticise ourselves.

French tour 2018

From 10-14 August we shall be touring in south west France. During the weekend we'll be playing at the boat festival in Moissac followed by a Saturday night spot in the town square. During the following 3 days we'll be touring with an Australian band, Pans on Fire, and playing at various local village night markets.

If you fancy a trip to a beautiful part of the world, with good weather, food and drink, come along and see us.

The winter newsletter that discusses some of the events is shown below.

 French tour news

December 17 gigs

We had a busy December with a Christmas party in Pangbourne and a 21st birthday party in Shiplake. Both had lots of willing dancers - so willing that we tried out some of our more difficult dances. We usually start with a selection of simple dances for the first half, then judge whether we can step up a notch. As long as people are enjoying themselves it does not matter too much if not everyone makes it perfectly to the end.

Wedding at Bradfield College

 

We played for a wedding at Bradfield College on 28 May. The hall was very grand, with a high roof and good acoustics, and the large audience made good use of the space, filling the hall with dancers..

Abingdon Operatic Society

 

We played at Steventon Village Hall (a great location - big dance floor and good stage) for Abingdon Operatic Society on 24 March.  Another very lively and rocky dance.  The above video is a full length one of one of the dances, complete with audience participation noises.