We have exciting news – we’ve just had our first practice weekend of the year and we had six whole people there. That’s a lot for a jig team.
It’s pretty hard to get us all in the same place as our locations are currently West Yorkshire, Sheffield, Bristol and Budapest. It feels like a proper team and we now have two non-jig dances – Good Old Way and our shiny new dance entitled “Three Jolly Stags”, which will also be the name of the pub I’ll get when I am too old and broken to caper.
So from left to right, we now have Sam, Fru, Lisa, Simon and Emma. Yours truly is taking the photograph but there’s one of me on the website somewhere.
Three Stags made it down to Sidmouth this year and we entered the John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition for the third year running, with the help of two musicians.
Firstly, we have Lisa dancing Sheperd’s Hey with Gareth Kiddier on Melodeon. Kudos to Gareth for picking this up so fast as he was originally supposed to be on the keyboard but technical issues thwarted them at the last moment!
John Gasson’s mum and sister were on the judging panel this year and picked Lisa’s jig as the one which most emulated John’s playful spirit (apologies if I misunderstood this) and she won a pork pie and some mustard as a result. Legend has it that John could eat an entire pork pie and jar of mustard on his own. Lisa is a vegetarian, however, so enlisted the help of many hungry morris dancers at the pub afterwards instead.
Black Hart also entered a double jig with the help of Matt Norman on the fiddle. This is My Lord Sherborne in in Longborough style, rather than Sherborne, as the name might suggest.
It was a lot of fun to dance but it’s too bad Anna messed up right at the end.
The Jig Competition is always an enjoyable event and it’s great to see the creativity of teams and individuals displayed every year. You’ll be able to see more excellent jigs from the 2016 competition linked to the ones shown above.
On Sunday we marched along the Monsal trail, through an old train tunnel and danced on a viaduct. Having never been there before, I was blown away by the location.
So we danced a jig.
It was such a good weekend, great food, great people and lots of dancing. Thanks must go to Ben Potton from Customs and Exiles for all of the fantastic photographs.
Only a couple of days later we met up with Five Rivers Morris in Sheffield for an evening dance out. My photos are nowhere near as good as Ben’s, but here’s some evidence of Sam and Lisa joining in a set dance:
Another summer, another John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition at Sidmouth Folk Week. I think that, being primarily a jig team, we will try to enter something every year. It at least gives us a good reason to hobnob with other morris teams on the South Coast once a year.
We danced with some good teams on the sea front, including Makeney morris, Berkshire Bedlam and Windsor Morris, before heading off to the competition. There were some fantastic jigs; it’s always a good place to go to get inspiration and to see what other people are doing with The Morris.
Lisa entered a single jig with Sam playing and then, after getting her breath back, sang for Sam and Anna’s double jig. This was specifically written after last year’s competition to the song ‘Pilgrimage’ written by Jess Arrowsmith.
It’s a touching lament about war and we hope we did it justice. A few people remarked that we had made their eyes well up, which isn’t usually the desired reaction from a morris dance, but we’ll take it! Anyway, we were awarded 2nd place for our efforts which we are most pleased with.
Here is a dorky picture of us wearing our medals (taken by a proud dad) which I have attempted to make look more classy using our traditional greyscale colour scheme.
Despite the radio silence, Black Hart have been busily purveying their unique variety of black-clad morris at various dance outs over the spring and summer.
We were delighted to dance in honour of that well-known Palestinian, St George, in Sheffield on the 25th June, alongside the Sheffield Giants, Sheffield Steel Rapper and a number of other teams who escape me now (this being written 2 months after the event in question).
Thanks to the marvel of moving picture technology, we are able to bring the following clip of Black Hart’s version of Idbury Hill to our literally handfuls of fans across the globe:
On the strength of this – or maybe because they couldn’t find anyone else to ask at short notice – we were invited by the chaps of Five Rivers to join them at a dance out on platform 1 of Sheffield railway station. Fortunately this platform is adjacent to the Sheffield Tap, so we were able to stay lubricated between dances. It got rather cold towards the end, and the sound of the trains was occasionally irksome (although Simon made a stoical – if tuneless – effort of bellowing ‘Pilgrimage’ over the roaring twin diesels of the 20:42 to Huddersfield), but a great time was had by all. Simon’s mum and dad came to watch, and a few passengers were delighted by the free entertainment.
Our most recent official engagement of the summer came in the form of Sheffield City Morris Men’s day of dance, celebrating the 40th anniversary or their inauguration. It rained most of the day but the Winter Gardens provided an excellent all-weather venue for a bit of capering and jigging. Later there was the opportunity to dance in Tudor Square with loads of morris teams from all over the country. We wish SCMM another 40 happy years of dancing, by which time many of the dancers will be over 100 years old…
“What next?” I hear you cry. Well, Black Hart will once again be entering the double jig competition at Sidmouth this year. Wish us luck! Once that’s all out of the way, we have some exciting dances to practise over the autumn and winter, introducing different Cotswold traditions to the repertoire; and another foray into ‘singing for dancing’ which could become a bit of a signature feature for us.
Also, we have at least one new member to the team and a wider variety of instruments to bring to the table next year.
Black Hart made their debut performance this month at the John Gasson Memorial Jig Competition at Sidmouth Folk Week. Nothing like a competitive element to give the first danceout an edge, but it was all very exciting!
We entered a double jig in the raglan style, danced to a Swedish polska tune, and were awarded best newcomer. Not a bad start…
That’s all for this year but keep a look out for news and 2015 danceouts on this page.