At last I'm able to give you a bit more information about my new musical project, Wod, about which I've been a bit hesitant to say much as I've been waiting for a chance to grab some audio.
We're a trio, made up of Jane Griffiths ( Telling the Bees) on fiddle, Jim Penny (Red Dog Green Dog) on anglo-concertina, and myself on English bagpipes. Wod is an Old English word meaning furious, mad, or possessed by a god. It shares a common Indo-European root with the Latin vatis, from which the modern druidic ovate stems (photos by Kate Raworth).
We play new and traditional music for Breton and French - or what I prefer to call Brythonic - dancing (the 'Brythonic languages' being Cornish, Welsh and Breton). As the old saying goes, love and music need no passports, and though we are playing a style of music that has come to these shores from elsewhere, it has already become something else, played on different instruments and infused with the all the influences that have shaped us as musicians here. Calling it Brythonic rather than Breton acknowledges this: we are not trying to copy or emulate another culture, but to re-find something of our own through the invigorating effect that such musical cross-fertilization provides.
So far, apart from a few pub sessions and a brief appearance at the Wytham Winter Warmer, we've just tucked ourself away on Jim's narrowboat, stoked the fire, and played. Tunes can last for twenty minutes or more as we explore their inner structure and start to get carried by the trancey wodulations that emerge. I tend to pin the tune down, playing with different ornaments and subtle variations; Jane finds soaring lines or mines the deep harmonic under-layers; Jim adds clusters and cascades of notes, often sending the tune in surprising directions, but always keeping the funk. It's an honour to play with such exceptional musicians, and the grins on our faces as we do say it all.
Here's a couple of tunes, recorded during rehearsal this week. The first set consists of a pair of Hanter Dros written by me; the second a trad tune (I think) for a type of Breton dance called a 'tour'. Recorded straight onto my Zoom with only a bit of compression, the pipes are a little high in the mix but, well, you'll get the idea.
The Golden Plover/ The King's Barrows by andyletcher
Tours by andyletcher
We're not actually in a hurry to go out in the world but gigs are starting to come in. We'll be playing in the bar of the Isis pub, Iffley Village, for the Catweazle Equinox bash on March 19th.