My Tunes: Willie Hoffleman’s Unbelievable Reel

In 1995 I spent a month or so in Munich with some Irish friends. At that time the Deutsche Mark exchange rate was very favourable to those using the pound and the punt and a fair few Irish students would head to Bavaria for the summer to work in the car factories and the beer festivals. I tagged along and managed to get some work at the world famous Oktoberfest, feeding Maßkrüge (litre beer glasses) into a glass cleaning machine in the kitchen of one of the smaller ‘tents’, the exclusive Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke.

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My Tunes: Ruaraidh’s Hornpipe

Over the coming months I’m going to attempt to transcribe, record and post many of the tunes that I have composed. I started writing tunes pretty early in my traditional music ‘career’. I was travelling around a fair bit and didn’t have access to recordings or notation so I just made tunes up. I’ll try and post them in chronological order but I don’t remember all the dates of composition so will have to guess some.

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Old-Time Tune: Barlow Knife

I’ve had this tune floating around my head for a number of years now, one of those tunes that you can hum but never get round to learning. Well, I though it was time to put that right.

I think I first heard Barlow Knife when hanging around with a bunch of old-time musicians from Wisconsin one long musical weekend in Sligo back in the mid 90’s but the memory is hazy so I can’t be certain. Four Men and a Dog recorded a more Irishy version of it but it’s the old-time versions that I like best. I got most of this version from an early 70s recording by The Fuzzy Mountain String Band with a few tweaks of my own to suit my mandolin playing.

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Spaghetti Con Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

During a recent visit to our new house by the lovely sisters Jessica and Georgia Wolfson I prepared what is probably the most regularly eaten pasta dish in our house. Jessica subsequently asked me for the recipe. As a very simple recipe I thought it would take just a minute to write down but soon realised that there are more to these Italian recipes than initially meets the eye (or taste buds). I love Italian cooking and it’s the combination of simple recipes, quality ingredients and attention to detail that makes it my favourite cuisine.

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Our First Film: Out Of Milk

A few months ago, when my two wee boys had a day off school, Fiona left for work when the three of us were still lazing about in bed. She lay a video camera on the end of the bed and said, “I want you to make a film by the time I get home.” I think she was expecting something short and rough but we decided to do the job properly. Below is the result… enjoy!

Old-Time Tune: Roscoe’s Gone

Here is my approximation of an old-time fiddle tune I heard yesterday on an album by American group The Stairwell Sisters. I couldn’t find it online so I just transcribed it myself. Apparently it was written by someone called Hank Bradley on the passing of an old fiddle player called Roscoe Parish. I love the 2/4 bar at the end of each part… really pushes it along.

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