Last Sunday I had a run through to Bowness-on-Solway Folk Session. Colin Butterworth came and gave me a lift. I have been playing with Colin the past week at various session in Kendal (South Cumbria) and Bowness was a local one he came to. Colin is a well-known Bodhran player in Cumbria (and beyond). In fact when I first started going to folk meetings by myself (age of 14) I noticed Colin at the session at the Newcastleton Folk Festival.
In those days there was not too many Bodhran players around, he was more noticeable by his red beard and hair. He makes Bodhrans and his style of bodhran is quite different to the normal bodhrans you see today with an open back. Often his bodhrans are closed on both sides, or the animal skin is stretched partly over one side, making if difficult to insert ones hand in. As I have gotten to know Colin over the years I also notice his playing style is different too (difficult to describe in words). He generally goes to the Irish music sessions, but has an interest in all good folk music.
I started playing bodhran a few years ago and Colin has kindly given me encouragement along the way. I had my mother’s bodhran (bought in Ireland from a tourist shop), it was ok but it did not have a bass tone. Colin exchanged it with one of his own and the sound is much better. It was made by himself and I like its feel. I have tried to make him some beaters but I could not make them to his satisfaction, but he has given me one which is slim and works very well with my technique. At the session last week in Kendal I sat beside him and tried to play a long in his style, it was difficult, especially with the 6/8 tunes.
Colin has an old collection of cassettes, he has recorded over the years from good Irish musicians, from private gatherings to festivals and sessions. These are really interesting to listen too.