In preparation for Christmas we’ve set up a Box Set Special Deal Page! So if you’re looking for some Christmas presents go and visit the shop!
Our preparations are well under way for the Christmas Tour. The first date is only two weeks away! Visit the Christmas Tour website!
Vicki & Jonny
We’ve finally found time to get into the studio to record a new album. It’ll be out next spring, so definitely not ready in time for Christmas. We’ve been having fun though. So here are the first two video blogs. The first is from rehearsals last week and the second is from the recording this week. Video blog two is all about the music that Jonny wrote for two good friends who got married last year. Enjoy!
Vicki & Jonny
And then there were three:
The Scandinavian tune books are now available for Fiddle, Flute and Accordion. All published by Schott Music Publishing they contain not only the dots but a CD of all the music. You’ll also find a web link inside the book to extra materials from the Schott website.
The summer has finally departed. At least in terms of gigs anyway. We spent a lot of time driving crazy journeys to different castles around the country in our alter egos. Battle, Tynemouth, Harlech, Pendennis, Old Sarum – the car racked up quite a lot of miles last month!
Then we had the amazing ‘Harpas at Halsway Nyckelharpa Festival. A record breaking 42 nyckelharpa players all came to my teaching weekend. I was quite moved. It’s been a long journey from when I first took up the instrument to this moments weekend. It was awesome!
So now we’re back to normal for a little while, today has been doing some house maintenance before the winter sets in. Pretty much our only free day for a few months.
We have Smörgåsballad in Ely on Wednesday, standard folk duo in Bromley Cross on Friday and a festival in Douglas in Scotland on Saturday. Then it’s Tenkterden Folk Festival, I’m back in Germany tutoring and so it goes on…. all the while we’re preparing for our new album. We’re back off into the studio at WildGoose to record in November. Jonny has been creating some amazing guide tracks to work with so watch this space!
16.09.15 – Ely Folk Club, Ely, Cambs – (Smörgåsballad)
18.09.15 – Bromley Cross Folk Club, Edgworth, Bolton
19.09.15 – Douglasdale Gaitherin, Douglas, Scotland
25.09.15 – Court Sessions, London (SW18)
02 – 04.10.15 – Tenterden Folk Festival, Tenterden, Kent
Hope to see you somewhere on the road!
Vicki & Jonny
We’ve had a few comments about the google translation of our interview with the people from Zorn (mostly about the gender bits and Jonny riding his horn). So I’ve translated it here for you….
Victoria and Jonathan Dyer are full-time freelance musicians who play a lot at medieval events in different castles over the whole of England and also a little in Wales and Scotland. But it is folk music that is closest to their hearts.
At home in England Victoria plays a lot on her chromatic nyckelharpa, both English and Swedish music and she organises course on the nyckelharpa with invited tutors. In addition she plays different sorts of bagpipes, both Swedish and English and also the Scottish small pipes. None of the them are as loud as the Great Highland Bagpipe – which is more widely known by the general public, but work extremely well played along side other instruments.
Jonathan alternates between guitar, mandola, accordion, singing and piano and got a cowhorn a couple of years ago, that he has now played for the Zorn jury and received the diplom.
– It’s such an awesome sound that the cowhorn gives, says Jonathan, who in the past has played the trumpet.
With roots in Jönköping and a sister in Stockholm there are many reasons for Victoria to come to Sweden, but these have to be planned in advance to fit in with her and Jonathans playing back at home. This year they have chosen to go to the beautiful Korrö, where, parallel with the Korrö Folk Festival, performers are playing for the Zorn badge. Victoria’s performance gained her the bronze badge on her Swedish säckpipa. [bagpipes].
The awards are given out on Saturday and we will be able to hear the new riksspelmän from this week. In addition the recipients of the gold award will be revealed.
Whilst we were in Sweden we went to Jönköping to see family and went to the village of Taberg where Vicki played a couple of tunes at the places that they’re about – Gruvan and Toppen. Here is the video. I promised to put it on the website for the lovely couple that we keep meeting on the mountain as we were playing and videoing the tunes. (We recorded four tunes, but only two were worth putting up).
As always time has flown since we last wrote a blog entry. Again we’ve mostly been on the road the whole month and I think I’ll be sharing a lot of photos today! We’ve been in and out of period costume this month, medieval and 1660s; We’ve run Smörgåsballad; we’ve been to the recording studio and we’ve been to Sweden!
At the start of July we had a wonderful gig on the Norsey Island, having to wait for the causeway to clear before we could get to the venue! Watching the sunset from the awning as we played was magical. A couple of weeks later we got to see the island again, but from the air!
We’ve finally recorded the Whispering Road, after touring it for around 2 years. It was a lot of fun to be in the studio. We’ll blog more about that when it’s out!
The highlight of the month was going to Sweden to play for the Zorn Jury. Wikipedia explains much better who, what and why we played for. Vicki played on Swedish bagpipes and was awarded the bronze award and Jonny on the cowhorn and was awarded the diplom (one below bronze). You can read our interview with one of the Zorn representatives on their website. (Or a translation using google translate). We’re off to play again for the jury again next year – so you’ll probably be hearing a lot about the säckpipa (or swöö-pööps as they’re now affectionately known). We discovered the wondrous acoustic of playing in a forest, so we’ve posted a clip of Jonny’s practise below.
We’re just as busy in August, but you’ll find us generally in a castle in one of the four corners of the kingdom. Come and say hello if you see us and ask Jonny to play his favourite tune – “I’ve lost my sheep”. We’ll post some photos of castles in our next blog entry! Jonny is doing sound at Sidmouth next week, while Vicki is at home working on some more folk tune books for Schott (nothing like working to a tight deadline!) Jonny has submitted his final manuscript for an accordion version of the Scandinavian tunes book. We’ll shout when we know it’s been printed!
So many things and so little time! Enough babble for now. Have a great summer!
Vicki & Jonny
June has just flown by! The exciting news of the moment is that we’re off to the studio! We have three albums that we need to record and we’re starting off with getting The Whispering Road onto disk. We’ll be doing a video blog from the studio, so watch this space for the fun, frolics and troll slaying as we go.
So now we our proud to open up for pre-orders!
We’re recording at the wonderful Wildgoose Studios with Doug Bailey at the helm. To get us all into the troll slaying mood (and to help offset some of the studio costs) we’re putting a performance on in the village hall in Wherwell. So come along and be part of the recording adventure! Doors open at 7:30 for performance at 8pm.
Further details are on the Wildgoose website.
Vicki & Jonny
We kicked off with some Whispering Roads at the end of April where Vicki debuted one of the Smörgåsballad tales.
Then via a wedding ceilidh we hit Framlingham Castle. Can you spot us in the picture below? (A bit like Where’s Wally!)
We performed at Apsley House in London and Jonny wowed the onlookers in his snazzy jacket. The spinet has enjoyed being taken out on the road again and survived the rigours of the journey without too much tuning!
Finally we got to put Smörgåsballad on the road. We’ve been planning rehearsing it for what seems like ages and finally it is well and truly launched. We have sung drinking songs, drunk lots of nubbe and even vanquished the devil in Chippenham Town Library!
We took some video to act as a teaser trailer. It gives a taster of what you can expect at the Smörgåsballad evening!
We then began the biggest chunk of our Mad May Tour. Chippenham Folk Festival was wonderful and we managed to have a harpa-play with five of us meeting up. Witley Court and Gardens was our next ‘office for the day’ and now we’re about to get in the car and shoot off down to Pendennis Castle. So make sure you come over say hello if you spot us – but we’ll be in disguise. 😀 Then Friday sees us at the Granary Theatre in Wells next the Sea… we can sleep on Saturday!
Vicki & Jonny
We had a wonderful evening at Haverfolk on Wednesday night. It changed from a half hour showcase spot to an almost complete outing for the show! We were really happy with it and everything went to plan. You’ll have to wait until Monday to see the full show set, but here’s a picture from the night and also a review! You’ll have to come to the show to find out what we’re pointing at and why there is a little table of shots!
Review from Haverfolk:
“Television is dominated by Scandinavian crime dramas but few have been as bleak and gripping as some of the songs and tales we heard at HaverFolk when the club’s old friends Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer dropped in. They came to give us a sneak preview of Smorgasballad, their new show which sprang from Vicki’s Swedish roots (her mother comes from that lovely country). We’ve often seen Vicki playing her nyckelharpa, the wonderful keyed violin from her homeland, but Smorgasballad offers a splendid introduction to Swedish culture with drinking songs, Maypole dancing, drinking songs, Midsummer celebrations, drinking songs, crayfish parties – did I mention the drinking songs? – and some folk tales.
And this is where the hint of Nordic noir creeps in with the chilling stories of Easter Witches, a Swedish version of the Pied Piper and feuding magicians. Plus a murder ballad that might be considered too grim even for an episode of Wallander. This was Vicki’s debut as a storyteller and she certainly has a talent for it. As for the music, it was of course of the high standard we have come to expect from this talented duo. They are taking Smorgasballad on tour and it can be seen in Essex at the Duton Hill Folk Club on May 21 and the Hoy at Anchor on June 2.”
You can catch Smörgåsballad at the following places over the next few weeks:
18.05.15 – Croydon Folk Club, Croydon – (Smörgåsballad)
19.05.15 – Great Knight Folk Club, Northampton – (Smörgåsballad)
21.05.15 – Duton Hill Folk Club, Duton Hill – (Smörgåsballad)
22 – 23.05.15 – Chippenham Folk Festival, Chippenham, Wiltshire
29.05.15 – Granary Theatre, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk – (Smörgåsballad)
02.06.15 – Hoy at Anchor Folk Club, Leigh on Sea, Essex- (Smörgåsballad)
05.06.15 – Milkmaid Folk Club, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk – (Smörgåsballad)
Vicki & Jonny
We’re very excited! Tomorrow is the first outing for Smörgåsballad. As of last night we were presented with our final prop – the midsommarkrans. Made by our wonderful next door neighbours.
Take one big black floppy hat, sprinkle liberally with assorted feathers. Next add one midsommarkrans, a moon man and mix together with lots of nubbe.
What you get is a mixture of Nordic Noir, love and drinking. We can’t wait to share it with the world. In the mean time have a listen to probably the first Nordic Noir detective story: a medieval ballad from the show. It doesn’t get any darker than this (and thankfully we hit midsummer after this which is much more lively!)
See you soon!
Vicki & Jonny