Three Cane Whale

Arno's Vale Cemetery
Arno’s Vale Cemetery

Yup. Odd name. No idea, go ask them. First saw them at Priddy Folk Festival and was utterly entranced. Three Cane Whale played last night in the Anglican Mausoleum at the Arno’s Vale Cemetery, in Bristol. Now, I lived within a mile of this cemetery for a goodly part of my teenage life and more than ten years of my adult life last night was the first time I actually visited it. In truth, that’s because for many years it was locked up, in the private ownership of someone who seemed intent on allowing reckless abandon destroy the listed buildings and monuments therein. A Lottery grant – and I think a legal case – allowed a new group to take over the carefully restore the wonderfully overgrown funereal landscape and make it open to visitors.

Arno's Vale Cemetery
Arno’s Vale Cemetery

The place is full of footpaths, running through the lines of green-covered graves. It’s open to the public and as far as I can see fully funded through the Heritage Lottery fund and voluntary donations.

I’m soo looking forward to going back with a proper camera. These iPad pics are fine but don’t do the place justice at all, and a dusk photoshoot would be grand. There are bat walks too!

Anyhow, the gig!

I was stunned by the opening performance. Totally unexpected, as I’d never heard of John  Pearce. We were lucky to have front row centre seats (ok, lucky and a pit pushy), and the hairs stood up on the back of my head as this violinist played Bach movements and Classic jazz standards. Ok, I admit the back of my head is the only place now that the hair can stand up, but even so. I would have been happy with the ticket price for his performance alone.

Three Cane Whale Instruments
Three Cane Whale Instruments

Three Cane Whale had their work cut out to follow that, but they did and admirably so. They play a suite of oddly assorted instruments, from an upside down left handed guitar (trying to work out… isn’t that just a normal guitar?) and lap harp, muted trumpet, zither and mandolin, not to mention an out of tune Dulcitone (keyboard hammered tuning forks?).

The thing about TCW is that they play and record their music in unique environments… under bridges, on top of mountains, in churches and chapels (and mausoleums) allowing the environment to colour their quiet, precise and simple/complex compositions. The air in this tall reflective open space was different to the close confined, stone arched church at Priddy, or the community centre of the previous year. It is wholly appropriate druid music! Although of course in no way presented as such.

In the dim light of the performance, mostly lit by electronic tealights (atmospheric with none of the fire risk!), the iPad failed miserably, but here’s one last picture of Four Cane Whale (!) when John Pearce joined them (borrowing Janet’s chair!) for a finale.

Four Cane Whale!
Four Cane Whale!


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