The fiddle it was wailing
The sun is out, the sky is blue, and the best news I've heard this week was that there was so much demand for vaccines from the Under 30's age group that you crashed the booking system.
Gradually, bands and venues across the country are announcing gigs from July onwards. Our plan is to hold gigs in August and September at the Hubble & Home on Abingdon Road, and this is the line-up for those two gigs:
Friday 6th August, 8pm to 11pm
The Mighty Redox
Mark Atherton and Friends
Friday 3rd September, 8pm to 11pm
I will provide further details of our gigs closer to the time. Around Oxford I am seeing bands lining up gigs at the out of town venues, The Bullingdon, The Jericho, and the O2, but there is still nothing positive to report from the Wheatsheaf. I fear the centre of Oxford is on the fast track to becoming a cultural wasteland.
Folk music across the world
It is surprising how music can travel the world. The most popular folk song in Finland is "Ievan Polkka" (Eva's Polka). It is one of those songs that you can find all over youtube and you may recognise it as the music from the "vibing cat" video that went viral last year. Here is a slightly more traditional Finnish version of the polka to get you started.
Ievan Polkka is surprisingly popular in Japan where it was a hit for the computer-generated anime vocaloid character, Hatsune Miku. I've also found a brilliant cosplay re-enactment of the Japanese anime by Russian artist Saya Scarlet, along with shuffle dance versions, techno-remixes, heavy metal versions, a terrific wailing violin cover from Korea, a drum cover, a brass band cover, and a full orchestral version suitable for playing in stuffy Oxford colleges. Just because something is originally labelled "folk music", doesn't mean it's confined to the tambourine and acoustic guitar, and if you are going to do a cover song, don't be afraid to look outside your own genre for inspiration.
Warning, Mexican spice, no ginger
Can you think of any Mexican bands, apart from Mariachi folk bands? A band called The Warning is possibly the best thing to come out of Mexico since Santana, tortillas, and Corona beer. It's an all-girl band, but definitely not modelled on The Spice Girls. The band is three sisters, seen here playing at a festival in Colombia, two years ago, and the song is called "Narcisista".
They were first spotted in a homemade video on YouTube playing a Metallica cover when they were so young that they could barely reach the mics, later invited onto the Ellen DeGeneres show, and have since opened for bands such as Def Leppard and The Killers touring Mexico. Last year would have been a big year for them with a tour of North America but, of course, Covid put that on hold. They turned to Kickstarter hoping to raise up to $25,000 to fund album work, and their fans around the world responded and donated almost $150,000. The message is clear. If you want to be recognised, you've got to build fanbase.
If in doubt, ventilate
Now that the warmer weather is here, we can go outside more, ventilate rooms more. The latest covid guidance says that the biggest risk of transmission is from being indoors in noisy rooms where people are talking or loudly or singing loudly, and that a good flow of fresh air is more effective than social distancing at reducing transmission. So if you go to the pub, or on the bus, or into the office, make sure the windows are open. Remember that even if you have been vaccinated, you can still help others stay safe by observing the basic precautions.