Announcing my new music teaching venture!

I am happy to announce that I have set up my own business teaching music! In addition to the usual workshops and one-to-one tuition, I will be using Skype to enable me to teach tin whistle and flute long-distance.

All details can be found on my new website:

I have lots of gigs coming up over the next few months, and also am very pleased to have been asked to teach for Folkus at a number of upcoming workshops throughout North West England. Details of all of the above can be found on my new website also.

Happy days!


Music updates

It’s an awful long time since I updated this blog, so you might be forgiven for assuming I’d given it up altogether. However! I feel impelled to come back today and write an update about all the great musical stuff that’s been happening.


Bush Rush

Ever fancied dressing up as Kate Bush and doing the dance to Wuthering Heights out in the open for all to see? These people did:

One drunken night, my mate Lucy and myself had an idea. “Let’s do this in Lancaster!” We said. “Only… we’d better get a load of other people to do it as well so we don’t end up looking like a right couple of nobs.”

With all kudos to Lucy’s amazing event management talents as one of the organisers of Lancaster Music Festival, we made it happen. The Bush Rush was born. Our very own Kate Bush flashmob, is due to take place at 5.00pm on Friday 6th March in Lancaster Market Square.

I am going to be playing Kate Bush covers on the flute and – of course! – dressing like Kate and dancing to Wuthering Heights. I cannot wait. Wear red and join us in the Bush Rush!


Absolutely Legless

A big development since I last wrote in my blog is that I am now playing flute and whistle for the amazing Irish dance group, Absolutely Legless. Most of the members of AbLeg are based in Edinburgh, but there are a few, like myself, who are based further afield, and are only too happy to travel for the privilege of being part of this amazing group. I had the tremendous experience last year of playing at Festival RITE in the South of France with them, as well as doing theatre performances in Buckhaven and Berwick-on-Tweed. On Friday 13th March 2015 we will be performing at the Netherbow Theatre on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and I am expecting to make my way to a few sessions in Edinburgh over the weekend also.

This summer Absolutely Legless are taking part in Rothbury Festival (17th – 19th July), then in August we are heading off to Switzerland for Celebrations Interculturelles de la Montagne in Evolene. It is all very exciting and lots of fun. In AbLeg I have found my kindred spirits, and collectively we knock back conventional spirits, wine and beer after each gig, for lo these people flippin’ well know how to party. I suppose the clue is in the name!


Bev Whelan Band

By dint of reasons it has come about that I have my own eponymous band. The name absolutely must change, but for now we are stuck with it, primarily because we are all crap at coming up with anything else we can live with!

The band consists some of my closest session mates in Lancaster, all of whom are members of the fabulous Balkanics: Joe Murphy (flute and whistle), Paul Ferguson (fiddle, guitar) and Roger Purves (mandolin, bouzouki and guitar), with myself on flute, whistle and low whistle. We have done a couple of gigs, one of which was a fundraiser for the New Fylde Folk and Roots festival . We will be playing at the Festival itself in September, where I will also be ensuring that Irish sessions happen, and will be giving classes on Irish Tin Whistle under the auspices of Folkus over the weekend.


Lancaster Irish Music Weekend

The next twice-yearly weekend of Irish sessions is coming up, scheduled for 27th to 29th March. Needless to say I will be out and about playing jigs and reels and quaffing a pint or two in exceedingly good company. The timetable is as follows (all venues are in Lancaster):

7.00pm – 1.00am Britannia
7.00pm – 4.00am Robert Gillow

Noon – 1.00am Britannia
Noon – 4.00am Robert Gillow

Noon – about 6.00pm Britannia


Langdale Festival

I’m not booked to play at my beloved Langdale Festival in May this year, but am planning to go nevertheless and help out however I can and probably play along with any band that’ll have me! I’m hugely looking forward to seeing all my lovely Langdale people again, and drinking fine ale whilst warbling folk songs into the early hours. The last time I was in Langdale was with a bunch of incredible musicians and friends to celebrate my mumble mumble significant birthday last August, and a fine old musical time was had by all.


So, in conclusion, you can see that I’ve been having (and continue to have) a busy musical time, engaged in actually playing more music than writing about it. My silence on this blog has therefore been for primarily positive reasons!

Trip to the Cottage

Trip to the Cottage

The cover of the Trip to the Cottage tape. Left to right: Dave Lyth, Michael Feely, Bev Whelan, Gordon Johnston.

Last night’s session at the Lord Ashton was a trip down memory lane; or, more accurately, a Trip to the Cottage.

That is rather a cryptic thing to say, so I shall elaborate. In 1991, I was one of a bunch of musicians with connections to Lancaster who made a recording called Trip to the Cottage. The musicians on the tape – no CDs in those days! – were Dave Lyth (fiddle), Michael Feely (flute), Gordon Johnston (banjo/guitar), and myself on flute and whistle.

The recording was made in Dave’s house, which has the enigmatic words ‘Vi Cottage’ etched in the stone over the door. A proper cottage industry, therefore, was Trip to the Cottage! Our sound engineer was my good friend Mike Allen (frequently mentioned in these pages for his excellent fiddle playing), and the cover was designed by local photographer and jazz musician Barrie Marshall.

We probably sold three or four dozen of them after it was released, and whilst it didn’t exactly rock the trad world, it was nice to discover that a radio station in the north of Ireland regularly played tracks from it on the air. Tapes became obsolete soon after that, of course, and sales dried up completely. Rumour has it that a forlorn box of unsold copies still lurks in the depths of Dave’s cellar, waiting to be discovered by future generations who will no doubt shake their heads in puzzlement at this bunch of strange objects, featuring people they have never heard of.

We were destined never to hit the big time, but of course the tape is a nice memento of those days for those of us who were involved. Here’s a sample of what it sounded like. This is me on flute, along with Gordon playing both banjo and guitar. Wow, we were cutting edge, with all that multi-tracking! This set of reels is the Old Copperplate followed by the New Copperplate:

Fast forward to the present. It was a quiet night at the Lord Ashton last night, with several of our regulars away, and by chance the four of us who turned up included three of the original musicians on Trip to the Cottage – myself, Gordon and Dave. We ended up playing set-after-set of nostalgic tunes from our past, including several that were on the tape, ably accompanied by Paul Beevers on bouzouki. It was all very laid back and pleasant, and brought back lovely memories of those days.

Dave Lyth (fiddle), Bev Whelan (flute), Gordon Johnston (banjo) and Paul Beevers (bouzouki).

Dave Lyth (fiddle), Bev Whelan (flute), Gordon Johnston (banjo) and Paul Beevers (bouzouki).