Tag Archives: Oxford

Toy Factory in Krakow.

Yesterday, I arrived in Zadar, Croatia, and roamed around looking for a place stay. I came across a hostel on the fifth floor of a nice old building on the very outskirts of the old town.  They had space for me and so I logged all my stuff up five flight of stairs leaving Doppler locked up to the banister. After packing all my stuff in a locker, I set out to explore the town. On my return I found Doppler in a weird position, as I got closer I noticed the front tyre was flat. I was annoyed but not too surprised – I’d  just cycled over 200km in two days in over 30°C. However, I then noticed my back tyre was also flat, that my saddle had been dug into with some sharp device and that there were traces of mud on the frame – some idiot thought it was alright to vandalise Doppler – maybe he didn’t like where I’d left it? is that a good enough reason to do what he did? I stood there for a good half hour to take it in and wrote a note letting the person know how far Doppler had travelled and how he had been treated respectfully until Zadar. In the meantime, today will be bike-repairing-day…

Anyways, after Poznan and Warsaw, and now nearly two weeks ago, I arrived in Krakow. In my opinion it was by far the nicest city of the three Polish cities I stayed in! There I stayed with an acquaintance of Monika from Poznan. He introduced a friend’s  band called Fabryka Zabawek (translates as ‘Toy Factory’) who play an acoustic groovy jazz with Damian Skóra on guitar, Martin Dyjak on Harmonica and Ela Łuszczakiewicz on vocals. We recorded on what at first seemed like a fairly quiet location but, as was to be expected, it turned out to be quite busy with cars driving by quite close to where Fabryka Zabawek were performing… The band did very well given that the guitarist had just come out of an exam and that all the members were slightly sick!  To me their playing was quite impecable! Anyways, here are the recordings and I’ve been told there might be a video to come!

PS: I broke my main hardrive and realised I was baking everything but videos and photos… So for the meantime this band will have to remain faceless. Sorry. 



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Sirte Tircco a band from Argentina

Near to where I am staying in Berlin in the Neukölln area there is a market every Tuesday and Friday. There is loads of nice a food and at the end of it is a little balcony overhanging over a river. There you’ll usually find loads of performers busking or just looking to entertain. Last Tuesday, there was a particularly good  selection of them. While I was enjoying some nice african food with Jack Durtnall who came to join me for few days, a trio of Argentinians (guitar, bass, cajon and all three singing) took the front stage (more like the left side of the balcony on the side of the road and not of the river). They started to play some of their reggae songs from a band they have in Argentina adapted to a trio format. Slowly people couldn’t resist getting up and dancing and Jack couldn’t resist running home, taking his sax out and jamming along!

Once they finished their set, we went and asked them if they wanted to take part in the project. They accepted. We took them to where we were staying whilst our amazing host made them maté (the Argentinean national drink).  We set up in a narrow corridor and they started playing. Jack joined in a few of the recordings and so did I with my flute (it’s my sister’s actually…)! It was absolutely great! We had a great time. So if you’re looking for things to do in Germany, they’ll be there for a month and have a few gigs. Go and see them!  They’re awesome!
Here’s there facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sirtetircco

ps: there’s a rumor that they’ll be playing on the same market this coming Friday and probably in Maurepark on Sunday?

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Alasca in Volendam – 25/05/2012

Volendam is an old fisherman town that has apparently been the home town of many successful artists in the Netherlands. AlascA will hopefully follow that lineage.

We recorded in the cultural center which was silent apart from beer-fridges’ eternal hum. It’s interesting how that sound was considerably more annoying than louder and more obtrusive sounds encountered when recording outside!

I didn’t record the full band set-up. They normally are a four piece with lead-vocals/guitar, banjo/guitar/vocals, piano/vocals and drums. Instead, I recorded Franki the lead singer and guitarist with banjo, twelve string guitar and backing vocals.

Alasca are a very tallented band on their way up, I hope you enjoy and if you want to hear more please visit: http://www.alascamusic.com/
Otherwise, they have an album you can purchase here.

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A Lovely Afternoon in Amsterdam with Sophie Ter Schure – 24/05/2012


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Traditional folk in Amsterdam – 24/05/2012

Last week I was in Amsterdam and went to an Irish pub called Mulligans where they have an Irish music session every Wednesday. I sat down and enjoyed lots of nice songs whilst drinking beer in its correct format i.e in a pint glass and not in a 25cl glass…

There I met Sophie Ter Schure who was leading the session with her fabulous voice. The next day in a last minute rush we arranged to meet up and record some tunes. We ended up heading towards the outskirts of Amsterdam beside a large canal/river. We set up on a little platform over the water from which a ferry takes punters from one side of the river to the other.

Halfway through the first song, Sophie realised how noisy the place actually was. She remembered it to be very quiet and said something along the lines  “It’s funny how much noise there is when you’re listening”. I thought it was interesting because it shows our mind’s ability to ignore certain sounds and highlights the difference between hearing and listening. Thus, in the recordings, you’ll hear lots of extra sounds like babies crying, the ferry arriving and departing, aeroplanes flying low and many more. I think I’ve learn’t to enjoy these sounds. They make the recordings sound closer to the way you experience music in a live situation rather than in a acoustically sealed studio environment.

Anyways, we recorded quite a few songs on that platform and then decided it would be nice to record a few on the ferry! You can’t tell the difference in sound (except for the background rumbling of the motor), it’ll only be interesting when I get round to making a video or finding someone to do one for the project. (By the way if anyone likes video editing and wants to help out, please get in contact!)

After lunch on the terrace of a tall building involved in arty stuff and with a view over Amsterdam, we went to meet some of Sophie’s friends on the other side of town. We recorded another couple of songs in their garden after which I recorded her friends – more on that later!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the long collection of songs Sophie Ter Schure performed during a very nice and sunny afternoon whilst she was running away from her PhD work…


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Quick Update – 30/05/2012

I have a lot to tell you but I have no idea where to start! So I’ll just go through things chronologically! However, I’ll just start by giving a quick update on the trip.

I have spent the last 4 days on the road cycling from Amsterdam to Celle, Germany. The first night I stayed in Zwolle. I had a very nice evening siting in a square with Patrik (him and his wife were my hosts for the night) whilst a trio of musicians improvised groovy covers of rock and folk classics. He told me about a project he has been doing for last couple of years. The project is called In De Kringloop which is Dutch for In the Secondhand Shop.  The idea is to get artists to perform in an open second hand store with customers roaming around whilst Patrik and his team film and record the performance. Here is one of their videos and if musicians passing through like the idea and want to play for In De Kringloop please contact Patrik.

The second night, I spent somewhere in between Zwolle and Bremen next to a river. I had a very nice evening trying to play flute and reading. Here is a photo of my spot for the night:

The next day I arrived in Bremen. It was Whit Monday so everything was closed… I was unable to discover the stories behind the beautiful city. Instead I got on my bike a cycled with the setting sun. I ended up cycling over 130km that day!
The last cycling day towards Celle was exhausting! What made it particularly hard was that my rear wheel wasn’t straight… When I finally decided to stop to adjust it, I discovered that a spoke had broken… So I couldn’t do anything but release my rear brakes in order for the wheel to run freely without touching the brakes every time it went round…

Anyways, after four days of cycling I arrived in Celle where a good friend of mine is staying at his parents house. I’ll be recuperating here for a few nights, preparing the recordings from Amsterdam and taking care of brave little Doppler. On Friday I’ll head up to Hamburg, then I’ll set out for Berlin!

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Belarus in Brussels

On the same day Doppler and me met The Esencia,  we also met an incredible duo playing a wide repertoire of classical music. What I thought was amazing was them playing pieces written for entire orchestras with only a violin and a double bass. I approached them just before they played the last song for the day. They were very kind and allowed me to record them. . However, a bunch of film students turned up. They asked the duo if they could play a bit longer so they could serve as a backdrop to a scene they were shooting. Thus, I got another song out of them!

It turned out the duo were from the Belarusian State Chamber Orchestra.

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