Friday, 16 January 2009

Playing in a space with no electricity

Do you enjoy listening or performing in unusual venues? I've always been drawn to them. They bring their own challenges of course. Access, space, light and power for a start. And then acoustics and audience sight lines. A few Fridays ago I played in a mud building based on an Iron Age round house, deep in the Norfolk countryside. And when I say deep I'm not just using a clich̩; the mud promised to be deep and sticky and it didn't disappoint. And, usually for a venue, there is no outside light. So, a dark, muddy access. But the space inside is lovely with a wood burning stove that throws out a good heat. And there is no electricity Рjust candle light Рand I just love that. The acoustic is warm and only slightly reverberant on account of wooden dance floor. The musicians stand on the stone flags by the wood burning stove and, while the dancers learn the steps for the next dance, they attend to the mulled wine.

So that just leaves sight lines. I feel I've used the word 'unusual' a little often but, except for a pit band at the theatre, how often are the musicians placed at a level below the dance floor? On this occasion the audience is there to dance, not to watch the band. Circle dancing to be precise. And I just love playing for dancers, too.

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