Haringey on the Danube!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The Budapest Café Orchestra play a wonderful mix of Eastern European dance tunes, gypsy music, Kletzmer, even variations on classical tunes. None of the band are actually from Budapest but how they explain this and their general banter is great fun.

As I have said before, the National Centre for Early Music needs a decent sized band, ideally above three, to really fill the place with sound and the four incredibly accomplished and versatile members of this group certainly managed to do that with their double bass, accordion, violin and guitar (or sometimes balalaika) plus percussion.

I read somewhere that the NCEM had been given some funding to increase accessibility, so I was interested to see if there had been any changes. The only one I could see was that the gaps between the paving slabs up to the entrance (from Percy’s Lane) had been filled in, making it much smoother. I was disappointed that the thresholds hadn’t been changed, they still give you rather a jolt but in general the place is very accessible.

We had joined their Access Scheme and had booked a Blue Badge parking space but unfortunately when we arrived both the accessible spaces had a car in them, with no Blue Badge on so we just pulled up and decanted me then Pete parked up in the one remaining ordinary space.

I went inside and explained the situation to the person on reception who was most apologetic and made a note so we shall just have to see what happens next time. At the end of the concert, one of the accessible spaces came free so Pete moved to that so I could get in the car. By the time we left, even though we were amongst the last people there the car park was still almost full so I think they probably weren’t concertgoers but people sneakily using a convenient parking place.

Not an ideal situation but at least they are trying to have a good system in place. It’s good to support somewhere accessible and we have never had a disappointing evening at the NCEM.

I thoroughly recommend The Budapest Cafe Orchestra if they have a gig in your area, you are sure to have a fun evening!

More music reviews at the NCEM.

Goday, My Lord Sire Christemas

York Waits

Definitely feeling Christmassy now, thanks to The York Waits! There is somehow something very festive about crumhorns, shawms, sackbuts and rebecs!

York Waits
York Waits

Yes, we’ve been to the National Centre for Early Music and actually seen some early music for once – usually we see what I suppose you’d call World Music and occasionally the two coincide, but this was very definitely English Early Music, from the 15th to 17th century. The programme included some familiar pieces, such as Past 3 o’clock, God rest you, merry gentlemen, The Coventry Carol and an encore that was a storming rendition of Gaudete – who knew mediaeval music could be so funky? – and some lovely songs and tunes that were new to me, all with a Christmas or Wintery theme.

The five versatile musicians each play a number of instruments that also included harp, recorder, tabor pipe and bagpipes – nothing like Scottish pipes, but more like the Spanish gaita or Breton pipes. They were accompanied by the splendid Deborah Catterall on vocals and sometimes recorder.

The NCEM was packed and extra-atmospheric as they had lots of candles going, plus there were mince pies on offer along with the other refreshments. (I heroically resisted!)

The York Waits have been going since the 1970s, playing around the UK and abroad on period instruments, including at the Sheriff’s Riding, when the company the Sheriff of York around the city while he reads a proclamation at various locations allowing “whores, thieves, dice players and other unthrifty folk” into the city for the 12 days of Christmas.

As ever, the NCEM is wonderfully accessible, in fact there were two other wheelchair users there apart from myself. Word has obviously got around!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

Around this time last year, we went to see Joglaresa at the NCEM. They were there again this year but on a day when we couldn’t go and, having seen them before, we thought we’d give this a go instead and I’m so glad we did!

 

Moishe’s Bagel are always fabulous!

NCEM entrance

We had a lovely evening yesterday at the wonderful NCEM listening to Moishe’s Bagel and their superb mix of klezmer music with jazz and Latin influences – toe-tapping one moment, break-your-heart plaintive the next. They even played a really stomping rumba – I suspect they could play anything and it would sound terrific. The line-up includes piano, double bass, accordion, violin and percussion but sometimes mandolin and occasionally two accordions – a really rich sound which filled the place, especially in the tunes where they really gave it some welly!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The chat between songs was sometimes jolly sometimes touching and the atmosphere was great: the audience loved it and there was even some dancing!

I’ve reviewed the NCEM plenty of times so suffice to say: it is completely accessible, has an accessible loo and at least one Blue Badge parking space. The staff are helpful and for the first time, they had a couple of spaces (we were on the front row!) specially reserved for wheelchair-users which removed the small amount of hassle we had before where a member of staff struggled to disconnected a chair from the row to create space.

We’ve never seen a show here that was anything less than good, they are usually absolutely brilliant and this was no exception. Moishe’s Bagel have more dates coming up in the New Year. If you went to see them, I can’t imagine you would be disappointed.

Can’t get enough kletzmer!

NCEM entrance

We knew She’ Koyokh were good having seen them before and having seen them again we still don’t know how to pronounce their name but I really recommend them! I can’t remember the line up from the previous occasion but it didn’t include Çiğdem Aslan the singer, although she did feature on the album we bought, Wild Goats and Unmarried Women in rather a lot of somewhat plaintive songs. She was in much jollier form at this concert and there was lots of jolly banter between band members and with the audience.

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The music is fabulous and with four musicians, it filled out the NCEM which itself was pretty full – maybe their fame has gone before them or maybe it was because it wasn’t midweek like the last band we saw, Sklamberg and the Shepherds.

This was the second time visiting with my powerchair and again a member of staff removed a seat from the end of a row for us and I had a fabulous view and it’s so much comfier than their chairs!

As ever, it’s great to have this venue in York for the amazing variety of bands they book, its accessibility and the lovely atmosphere – the dancing ladies were there again and I’m sure everyone’s toes were tapping! We bought their latest CD First Dance on Second Avenue which is a good reflection of what this concert was like – joyous, celebratory stuff.

Russian musicians play faster when it’s cold!

NCEM entrance

Koshka are a trio, Lev Atlas and Oleg Ponomarev on violin and Nigel Clark on guitar, playing Russian gypsy folk, sometimes sinuous and haunting, sometimes jazzy and foot-tapping, always excellent, at least going by last night’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) in York. We also had a listen to them on youtube in advance.

They were joined for a few numbers by Lev’s daughter (didn’t catch her name!) – Russian folk songs in the first half and a couple of night-club numbers in the second.

We have tended to avoid smaller groups at the NCEM as it needs a bigger sound to fill the place but with music of this quality, it wasn’t a problem, there was so much variety – and some amusing anecdotes in between.

I would definitely recommend catching Koshka if they are appearing near you – I’m sure no one could resist their folky, jazzy sound!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The NCEM is a wonderful venue I have reviewed before as we often go. It is accessible and spacious, has two Blue Badge spaces in the carpark on Percy’s Lane and you can park in the street outside. There is an accessible loo and the staff are very helpful – offering to move chairs if need be for example. They serve drinks beforehand and at the interval and there are leaflets and fliers for other events displayed at an accessible height.

We’ve never been to an event there that wasn’t great, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on their events calendar if you are in the vicinity!