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Spring Festival
The Stables, Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK

Saturday - May 7th, 2011
10am - 11pm

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Last year's Spring Festival 2010

A Day and Evening of Playing and Learning

Booking has now opened for our third year at this world-class theatre/restaurant complex, with professional workshops from Con O’Neill, Joff Watkins, Will Greener , Lee Sankey, Richard ‘Wandering Wilf’ Taylor and others. Join Giles Headly’s storming band at the evening jam to make your on-stage debut or just strut your stuff. Our mission: to inspire you and push your diatonic playing forward.

Tickets are limited so book early to avoid disappointment

The 2011 Spring Festival will be held at The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU on May 7th 2011. It is being organised by the London Harmonica Group and will be starting at 10am and finishing at 11pm with a break for dinner. Workshops are aimed at and diatonic players of beginners level and upward. There is a list of local B&Bs and hotels at the bottom of this page.

Directions - Click here for directions to The Stables.

You can find details and times for travel by bus, train, coach, ferry or underground by visiting The Traveline web site.

The Stables: This large, modern and professional venue (just off the M1) gives us the opportunity to run a variety of workshops and bring in a band for a jam session in the evening.

This festival will follow the format of the last one. Workshop Coordinator Joff Watkins has booked a stellar lineup for this year's Workshops including Lee Sankey, Wandering Wilf Taylor, Con O'Neill, Will Greener and Joff himself.

Workshops. Our workshops this year fall into two categories: unpicking classic tunes and offering new approaches to improvising and playing. You will have the opportunity to create your own path through these workshops to meet your own needs for inspiration and instruction, before we all meet up in the afternoon for Lee Sankey’s workshop.

OUR HEADLINE EVENT Lee Sankey – Be Interesting! - Discover new musical avenues and extend your creativity, break out of ruts and rejuvenate old phrases. Lee Sankey takes a break from his groundbreaking study of excellence in harmonica playing to demonstrate and teach you the techniques to bring your playing and improvising to life. Bring a C harp (and an A and Bb if you have one).

Will Greener – Easy - Walter Horton’s ‘Easy’ is one of the great instrumentals of the harmonica repertoire. With insights into technique, timing and tone that will enrich all your playing, Will Greener will help you build your own version of Big Walter’s masterpiece for solo or band performance. Bring an A harp.

Joff Watkins – Six Positions on a C Harp (C harp) - In this workshop, you will improvise and play tunes in 6 different keys on a C harp. Break out of those first 6 holes and solo in major and minor keys over the whole range of your harmonica.

Richard Taylor – Whammer Jammer - Play your way through Magic Dick’s seminal electric harmonica instrumental, as Richard Taylor uses it to teach you vamping, tongue, blocking, mic cupping, head rolls and blow bends. Tab will be provided. Bring a harmonica in A.

Con O'Neill – The Rutbuster: 57 Varieties of Blues Harmonica Solo. Whether you are just starting out, or you have hit the famous plateau (“everything I play sounds kind of the same”), this workshop will push your playing in new directions. You will practically explore different approaches to improvisation, chosen by participants from a list provided by the facilitator. Bring harps in C and A (D might be handy, too).

See below for the anticipated timetable.

  • Registration: 10:00-10:15am
  • Workshops 10.15 to 11:30am - Con O'Neill – The Rutbuster: 57 Varieties of Blues Harmonica Solo or Richard Taylor – Whammer Jammer
  • Workshops 11:45 to 1.00pm - Joff Watkins – Six Positions on a C Harp or Will Greener – Easy
  • Lunch: 1:00 to 1:45pm - Sandwiches, panini and hot and cold bevearges available from the bar.
  • Workshops 2:00 to 3:30pm - Lee Sankey – Be Interesting!
  • Taster Workshops: Many of you will have come from outside MK, so our workshop facilitators will be offering some short sessions to take us up to dinner time.
  • Taster Workshops 4:00 to 4:30pm - TBC
  • Taster Workshops 4:30 to 5:00pm - TBC
  • Dinner: The restaurant will be open from 6:00 to 8:00pm
  • Evening Jam/Gig: Giles Hedley band - Doors Open approx 8.30 - End: 11pm

The Price: the full days activities cost £16 for NHL members and £26 for non-members.
Click here for The Stables web page for the festival

NHL Membership: you can join the NHL here.
          Join the Spring Festival Facebook Group here, and
          for up to date information about harmonica events and news etc.,
          join the NHL Facebook Group here .

Tickets: tickets are on sale now from the Stables Booking Office web site. NHL members should book their places promptly as only 80 are available. The Stables has been running harmonica events for several years, so we can expect competition for tickets from non-NHL folk.

Tickets for events at The Stables can be booked over the phone, by email or fax, or in person at the Box Office, before and on the day.

This information is from the Stables Booking Office web site

  • By phone: 01908 280800

  • By email:
  • By fax: 01908 280825
  • In person: The Stables Box Office. Opening hours: The Box Office is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-6pm (open later on show nights). On Sundays the opening hours are from 5pm-8pm on show nights only.
  • Handling charge: With the exception of in person bookings, all bookings are subject to a handling charge of £2.50 which includes postage.

Local accomodation: click here for a list of local B&Bs and small hotels.

Contact person for queries or further information is Con O'Neill.

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