February is as busy as it gets. With two concerts with Amaraterra, both at Jamboree (6 Feb) and at Saint Ethelburga's (13 Feb) and the World on 3 broadcast with Lopa Kothari (5 Feb) and a concert at Bolivar Hall with World Scatterlings (6 Feb), there is a lot of music going on.
But concerning the piping world, the flagship event is the upcoming International Bagpipe Conference with 2 days of events and speakers from all around the world flying in to talk about different bagpipes. Concerts, talks, films, jam sessions and dancing... welcome to the National Bagpipe Centre in Glasgow on 26-28 Feb 2016. See you all there and Long Live the Bagpipes!
The New Year started with a bang and Amaraterra is completely in the limelight this month. Our regular residency at Jamboree will resume on 9 January, negotiations with the British Museum are underway, the Al Jazeera documentary we recorded the sound track for will be aired (link to come soon!) but first and foremost we will be recording for our BBC debut, a whole show dedicated to us on World on 3. After a great show on Resonance FM with DJ Ritu (A World in London), World Scatterlings will be recording for an upcoming album.
Varldens Band Autumn Tour is now well underway. With 14 concerts, a UK tour including Musicport, Rich Mix, the Sage and Band on the Wall, many workshops, a concert at Oslo World Music Festival and thousands of kilometres through Britain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway behind us, we are now looking forward to a week-long Danish Tour from 3-9 November before heading back to Sweden. Later this month, I'll also do a short London appearance with an Amaraterra concert at Cafe Barcelona on 19 November and an interview on SOAS Radio with DJ Ritu about Varldens Band on 18 November. But in the meantime, it's back on the road tomorrow for Part 3 of the tour!
September started with a bang at the BBC Extra Late Proms with a sold out Follow the Rats concert, broadcast on Monday 7 September at 10pm on BBC3. We were told that this was the first Extra Late evening where the audience spontaneously broke into clapping during a tune so thank you all for being so wonderful! The month continues with Amaraterra at the Almeida Theatre on 13 September and at our usual hide out, Jamboree, on 26 September. September is also the end of my student years as I hand in my thesis after five wonderful years working on the xeremies, the Mallorcan bagpipes, at SOAS. I was also awarded the British Forum for Ethnomusicology Student Paper Prize for a presentation given in Paris last July. The summer is ending well and autumn should be just as good with Varldens Band's #NoBordersTour in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the UK to mark the release of our first album.
June was fantastic with an amazing concert at the Muzzuni World Festival in Sicily where I was invited to play. I collaborated with Massimo Laguardia and Nino Milia who were fantastic musicians to work with and the people of Alcara could not have been more welcoming. Mponendis was also featured at Tandem Festival in Oxford on a winter wonderland stage. July started with a presentation at the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and the Societe Francaise d'Ethnomusicologie joint conference in Paris. Upcoming concerts include World Scatterlings on 10 July at Mondomix festival on the Isle of Wight and Follow the Rats on 12 July at Cambridge Big Weekend Festival. After that, another conference, this time in Kasakhstan with the International Council for Traditional Music where I will be presenting my research on the Mallorcan bagpipes, focusing on the Xeremiers de Sa Calatrava.
June has started well with a great gig at Blues Kitchen with World Scatterlings and a fantastic evening with Amaraterra at our favourite Jamboree. We'll be back there on 26 September after replenishing our energies under the summer sun.
Coming up now is our debut concert with Kadialy Kouyate & Bedrock on 12 June at the Green Note. We've been working on the music for months and it's finally time to show the world what we've been doing. Don't hesitate to get tickets in advance as the venue tends to fill up fast!
It doesn't stop there: Mponendis will be spreading Greek island vibes at Tandem Festival on 21 June and from 22-25 June I'll be in Sicily playing pipes for a traditional festivity: Festa del Muzzuni. I can't wait!
On the academic front, I am looking forward to the Anthropology in London conference where I'll be presenting about the international bagpipe community and the beginnings of the International Bagpipe Organisation. A busy month indeed!
What a start to the year! Full house all January with Amaraterra, Olcay Bayir and World Scatterlings. February will be slightly quieter but an Amaraterra bash at our favourite Jamboree should get rid of the cobwebs on 13 Feb, just in time to get in the mood for a spot of latin romance. Although the next few weeks seem calm, there will be lots of rehearsing with Follow the Rats as well as with Kadialy Kouyate and his crew for upcoming gigs. There's a lot to learn but it feels good to be thrown in the deep end and to build a whole new range of skills. Media-wise, a short video with interviews from Olcay's CD launch at the Vortex has been published, a preview of the photos from the World Scatterling gig, supporting the famous revolutionary Egyptian band Cairokee and the brand new Amaraterra website of course!