Dave Brown's Musical Blog

Musical activities and life in France


  • Tunes with a difference (part 1)

    I have spent many productive hours over the years writing melodies, mainly for country dance, and often to mark a significant life moment. These tunes, and many arrangements, can be downloaded as PDF files from my website. Please help yourself.

    My tunes are normally constructed to match the movements of our traditional dance style. It is rooted in English Country Dance, but has many international derivative dances such as Scottish Country Dance, Irish social dance and American Square and Contra Dance. The music typically has 2 main phrases (A and B) of 8 bars each, which are repeated, making 32 bars in total.

    In this blog post I wish to present two recordings and introduce 3 tunes.

    1. Patience

    CD Cover for Ginger Bread and Moonshine

    In 1998, Patience and I were married in Worcestershire, England and, after the return from our Honeymoon (which involved taking 61 children skiing to the Austrian Alps!), I recorded a solo CD called “Gingerbread and Moonshine”.

    For that CD I recorded a tune which I had written for her two years before called (unsurprisingly), Patience. I think it’s a lovely waltz tune and I really enjoy playing it whenever I get the chance.

    Woollas Hall, Worcestershire – Home on the Hill

    On the CD track you can listen to here, I recorded two tunes together. The first is another favourite tune of mine “Home on the Hill“. The tune reflects the tranquility of the old manor house in which I was living before our marriage. It is followed by the tune Patience. (More musical readers will, hopefully, appreciate the key change between the two tunes.)

    You can listen to the CD track by playing the sound file below and download a copy of the melodies at the end of this blog post.

    Home on the Hill (Ref: 132 ©Dave Brown 1996 ) + Patience (Ref: 133 ©Dave Brown Jan 1996) pub DLBMUSIC

    2. Romance

    On the same CD I recorded a tune which is not in my usual style. I chose to record “Romance”, a piano solo piece.

    I’ve always imagined this piece of music being a “Big Movie” theme and have often thought about how it would sound with a full string orchestra.

    You can Listen to me playing Romance by playing the sound file below. To download a copy, so that you can play this yourself, please visit the end of this post.

    Romance (©Dave Brown 1980 Ref:A076) pub DLBMUSIC

    All music recorded and printed is ©Dave Brown. See individual pieces for copyright information.

    The music is free to play – reproduction by licence – public performances please complete the appropriate Performing rights notification including the copyright information.

  • Apéro Concert

    Once again we enjoyed an evening at the terrace bar at the Hotel, Loges du Parc in La Roche Posay. July 2022.

    Une fois de plus, nous avons profité d’une soirée au bar terrasse de l’Hôtel, Loges du Parc à La Roche Posay.

    Les Loges du Parc

    The band, Trio Valdes, played a great selection of Spanish and South American Salsa, Rhumba, Tango and Beguine rhythms to a host of well-known songs.

    Le groupe, Trio Valdes, a joué une grande sélection de rythmes espagnols et sud-américains de salsa, de rumba, de tango et de béguine sur une foule de chansons connues.

    Trio Valdes

    The resident dancer, a lone man of 94 years, led the dancing in his own individual style.

    Le danseur résident, un homme seul de 94 ans, a dirigé la danse dans son propre style.

    As usual there was a good crowd of locals, holiday makers and good friends all enjoying a selection of Cocktails from the A la carte menu.

    Comme d’habitude, il y avait une bonne foule de locaux, de vacanciers et de bons amis, qui ont tous apprécié une sélection de cocktails du menu à la carte.

    Le Lounge Bar – La Carte

    It was a fun, and relaxed evening and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. However, I did wonder what all the arriving guests thought about their South American welcome to the Loges du Parc as they checked-in.

    C’était une soirée amusante et détendue, appréciée par tous. Cependant, je me suis demandé ce que tous les invités ont pensé de leur accueil sud-américain aux Loges du Parc lors de leur enregistrement.

    Loges du Parc, La Roche Posay.
  • Soirée Irlandaise

    We have been in France now for nearly 8 years and ever since we moved here we have been delighted to be involved with the Annual Irish Night organised by various social groups in Le Grand Pressigny.

    Previously the Irish group SIANSA had played as the main band, but this year, as Siansa have disbanded, our Celtic Folk Music and Song Band – CELTIQUA was the main band to play during the evening. We were preceded by guests from England, this region of France, Le GrandPressigny, Brittany and Poitiers.

    As always with events like this, there was a great deal of organisation in the background, mainly by volunteers, so we have to say thanks to those who erected stages, put up tents, arranged tables and chairs and organised the food trucks to arrive. Once the evening started, it was full of people, maybe as many as 200. The bar was open food was being served and the atmosphere was conducive to the forthcoming concert of Irish and Celtic rooted music.

    Advert for the Soirée Irlandaise

    How to pronounce Celtiqua:

    As an aside to the all important process of playing music, our band’s name is CELTIQUA. In France this is pronounced with a soft “C” (sell-tiqua). Of course, Celtique (sell-tic) is a Scottish Football team.

    We play music and sing songs which have a “Celtic” (K-eltic) origin. Therefore our band is called Celtiqua (K-eltiqua) except in France of course.


    The Programme

    The first group on stage was Dave Henderson (guitar), Geoff Pollitt (fiddle) and their friend Peter O’Brien (Bodhran) all of whom used to be members of the group Siansa. They played a selection of Reels and Jigs, including PaddyLynn’s Delight, Julia Delaney, The musical Priest and The Merry Blacksmith. The jigs included The Miller of Glanmire and Up in the Air. Plus some songs such as the Belfast Mill. Geoff told me that he was pleased to be able to sing the harmonies to the Belfast Mill once again.

    Peter, David and Geoff from the band Siansa.

    The next performers came from Poitiers – Jean-Philippe Nicolas who played the Fiddle, Flute, Whistles, Guitar, and sang songs, and Olivier Bouchard who also played the Fiddle, Flute, and Whistles. They were joined on a couple of pieces by Peter O’Brien from Siansa.

    Peter, Jean-Philippe and Olivier

    Gwenael Quiviger came from Brittany specially for the evening’s concert. An excellent button accordion player and singer he entertained us with Breton Songs and Music.


    Then it was the turn of Celtiqua. We played a selection of 20 pieces from our repertoire with a slight bias towards Irish Tunes rather than the usual mixture of Celtic tunes and American versions of Celtic we normally play. We did manage to slip in a couple of more American sets. Our songs, as usual, are nearly all Irish in origin.

    Finally, all the musicians gathered together on stage to play together. What a great sound it made. To see and hear a 10 minute video of the evening’s music please CLICK HERE.

    Soirée Irlandaise 2022 – Grand Finale.
  • Calabash PicNic

    It’s great when there is a cooking school nearby with an international reputation. From time to time, The Calabash organise special events, of a culinary nature, and we, “The I Don’t Know Band” were lucky enough to be invited to play at their recent PicNic.

    The PicNic was set in their extensive garden at the back of the restaurant. People sat in the shady areas of the garden and were offered a special PicNic basket with a variety of specially prepared foods which were inspired by the cuisine of Cape Malay. (see menu).

    We played for approximately 3 hours as the evening cooled down. Our repertoire included “Non, Je ne regret rien” – Edith Piaff; Will you still love me tomorrow; I don’t know how to love him from Jesus Christ Superstar, California Dreaming, and the Hotel California – To name just a few titles.

  • Fête de La Musique

    The I Don’t Know Band on June 21st 2022 at Chez GrandMa’s Restaurant in Le Grand Pressigny.

    Every year, on the 21st June, France holds its National Fête de La Musique. Every musician in the country is faced with the all important decision, “Where do I go to play?” Almost every Village, club, organisation, school or restaurant has an event, so there are plenty of opportunities.

    ​This year we, that is the “I Don’t Know Band” (Dave Brown, David Henderson and Cally Cheetham,) were invited to play at GrandMa’s Restaurant in Le Grand Pressigny. The owners, Henry and Julie put on a Charcuterie meal and dessert, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the 35 guests who booked in to eat. They were joined by many passing visitors who called in to listen to the music and to share a drink.

    ​Traditionally, all musicians play for free on this special night, so you never really know who might be playing for you.

    ​Thanks to everyone who came to listen to us and to enjoy the food and ambiance at Chez GrandMa’s.

  • International Celebrations

    Celtiqua playing in Bar Sol at Gites de La Richardière

    One of the great things about running our self-catering Gites is that we get to meet people from all over the world. It’s even better when those visitors are also friends and musicians.We were delighted when Charlie Pilzer chose to celebrate his “significant” birthday at Gites de La Richardière, with 9 other friends, and we knew we were guaranteed to have a great time. There was a lot of interaction between us all during the week, but the best and most notable part was our musical soirée to which we invited our local musical friends.

    People were asked to contribute to a potluck supper and Patience (my wife) barbecued all the meat and fish based contributions, with some help from our guests. It was a fine feast much enjoyed by everyone.

    The evening continued with music and song provided by the guests. What a variety of genre. Most was from the Folk Tradition – English, Scottish, Irish and American, but there were other genres too with some Beatles songs and a fine rendition of “Non, Je ne regret rien”. A famous Edith Piaff number sung by Cally Cheetham from the Celtiqua/I Don’t Know Bands.Our good friends Jim Craig and Dominique Bourgoise, who perform as the “Old Hat” Band sung some Scottish songs and visitors Annie, Sarah and Dana played the Banjo and sung traditional songs. Dave Henderson also sung a fine rendition of the Gaelic song – ​Siúil a Rúin.

    I re-posted some of the visitors’ Facebook postings on my Facebook page, so please take a look.

  • Soirèe Celtique

    One of the joys of living here in France is the enthusiasm shown by our local friends for traditional dance. Our dance club – Danse Pressignoise, with French, English, American and Dutch members, meets every week in the local Salle des Fetes. We learn Traditional English, American, Scottish and Irish social dances with varying degrees of success. 

    On Saturday May 21st we held a Soirée Celtique for the community with food, drink, music from our band Celtiqua . This was followed by some social dancing. It was amazing how well people coped with the dances even though many had never danced before.

    There were well over 100 people at this event which was very pleasing and somewhat surprising as there were other events on in the village. The evening opened with Celtiqua playing a 90 minute concert whilst people arrived and started their evening by enjoying the food provided by the Traiteurs who were situated on the car park in front of the Salle des Fetes. Burgers and Galettes were the order of the day.

    There was a small interval with some games for the assembled masses of people and allowing the musicians to re-group. We welcomed Geoff Pollitt and Bernard Wattelet as guest musicians while I took to the floor to call dances and to support the new callers from our club Danielle and Dominique.

    We have two teachers, our friend David Henderson and me, and we’re pleased to be growing some new teachers from the members of the club. From time to time we have visitors to the club. These could be unsuspecting holiday makers, or friends who are passing through or even a well-know caller (thanks Rhodri Davies.)

    Well done to all the organisers, Phoenix en Claise, Musicians and Dancers, for creating an excellent evening.

    The evening included simple dances such as:
    She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain
    Buggy Ride Jig
    Circassian Circle
    Lucky 7
    Brian’s Reel

    Celtiqua finished the evening by playing CATHARSIS by Amy Cann

    Interested in Dancing?

    Then please join us at the Salle des Fetes, Le Grand Pressigny on a Tuesday Morning.