How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I use the term loosely, considering that we aren’t yet allowed to play in public either in a session or concert… Well, almost true, as I’ve had the odd tune or two outdoors.

Anyway, at the start, I had high hopes of immersing myself in the music and learning lots of new and different tunes. Also, I thought I’d practise much more on my various instuments.
However, it’s not really worked out quite like that as (I’m sure many others might feel the same) my heart hasn’t always been in it as far as doing anything new is concerned.

That’s not to say I haven’t been playing, of course. I’ll pick up an instrument most days but instead of learning new tunes I find that I’ve been revisiting many old tunes from the past. Many are old favourites which have either gone out of fashion or I don’t always get an opportunity to play. It’s as if the fact that there’s no need or urgency to learn or practise new material has actually cleared my head a little and the positive thing is that I find myself just playing a lot of the old stuff without having to think about it. One tune just leads to another and so on.

Has anyone else had similar or different experiences?

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I haven’t played any trad Irish music for months. As a backer I need to be sat on the same room as a melody player! But anyway, I have increased my non Irish tune repertoire up by doing a song on my YouTube channel every single day since 25 March 2020. A 151 songs so far! https://www.youtube.com/user/yhaalhouse (click on ‘video’ option should anyone visit).

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Great stuff.
Will you be doing "I wish it could be Christmas everyday" in a few weeks time?
🙂

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I don’t think my repertoire has changed much at all.

At the start of lockdown I involved myself in a few projects, related to the music I play, to eat up the time. As the months have passed the emphasis on those projects has changed but I wouldn’t say the music has.

What I would say is that I’ve found quality time to practise a few pieces that I’ve been tinkering with for years, so that they are now closer to "being there" than they’ve ever been. I’ve also got to grips with modern audio and video technology so that new areas of adventure have opened up for me - but still related to the same repertoire (which is not just "traditional" music, by the way).

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

It’s gotten more technical.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I learned about ten Irish tunes and about twenty jazz tunes and promptly developed tennis elbow from playing so much. That or chopping too much firewood for the campfires we had in the backyard every week. Hopefully easing back into playing soon.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been doing less session tunes and more tricky tunes to improve my finger work. It’s been a skill building time for sure.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Predictably, the new tunes I’m learning have been drifting more in the direction of personal interest rather than local session repertoire. I still practice a few tunes and sets played in local sessions so I don’t lose them completely, but mostly it’s obscure tunes with no chance of getting anyone else to learn them.

One thing I’ve been working on is getting better with the lesser-used Bb, Eb, and low C# keys on my flute. I never touch those keys in any of the local Irish or Scottish trad session repertoire, but there are a few great tunes I enjoy that require those notes like the J.B. Reel, or that Paddy Fahey jig with all the Bb’s. I’m not very good at using these keys smoothly, but it’s challenge I’m enjoying during the down time.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Good OP. I hope to see a lot of responses. As for me I have opened up to other genre. I’ve expanded my "book" to include tunes outside of the usual jig/reel thing. I’m leaning to "sweeter", maybe "lopey" tunes, even classical pieces for flute/piano, "musical comedy/music hall/vaudeville/ Tin Pan Irish" tunes along with waltzes (waltzi?). Tunes in other, mostly flat, keys. I’ve even become able to reach two and a half octaves on my flute, low C to third octave g’. I’m also developing my sight-reading skills. Not that I’ll ever get to play these tunes with anybody else, most of my friends are mostly interested in learning yet another reel.

Thanks for asking.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Right at the beginning of lockdown I discovered some amazing Québécois bands/players, and I’ve been learning some of their tunes during these past few months. Absolutely zero chance of ever getting to bust them out at a session, but I don’t care. I’ll drift back to Irish eventually, and I’m greatly enjoying this foray into up-until-recently-unknown territory.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been practicing daily, though sometimes only for 20 minutes, sometimes for an hour.

I’m specifically building up my session repertoire, working on a large number of "tunes everybody knows" that I’ve heard a thousand times but never actually learned.

My other lockdown music project is putting up on Youtube the contents of a book I wrote 20 years ago and never published.

At that time I was piping around 50 weddings and other church gigs a year and playing a large number of Hymns on the pipes. In an effort to get some sort of grasp on Hymnody I acquired a pile of Hymnals (which taken together cover over 90% of US Christians) and started cataloguing the Hymn-tunes. The result was a collection of a couple hundred Hymns that I had arranged for the pipes. Unlike previous "piper’s Hymnals" my collection was interdenominational and organised according to the tunes rather than the texts.

Realising that I was never going to publish this collection I decided to put it all up on Youtube and Facebook. The result is "Bagpipe Hymn A Day". Each day I play, and give sheet music for, a different Hymn tune arranged by myself for the Highland pipes. The tunes are all Public Domain. I’m starting by presenting only tunes that fit, as they stand, perfectly on the ordinary traditional scale of the Highland pipes, and required no "arranging" beyond transposing them to a key that works on the pipes, and adding straightforward Highland pipe ornaments.

Tomorrow will be Day 30, at which point I will have presented 30 Hymn-tunes which serve as the vehicles for 145 different Hymns.

Repertoire speaking, it’s meaning that I have to brush up on tunes which in some cases I’ve not played for many years.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been taking the time to learn some less common hornpipes and barndances.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I anticipated that I’d be playing more hardingfele, harp and oud - which is generally what I did at home. But instead, I’ve been listening - enjoying my extensive library of avant jazz and art music - and dancing; playing piano accordion (mostly forro, cumbia, chamame, etc), woodwinds, and hand drums. I often play along with what I’m listening to. The dancing is the new thing I guess..

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Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

My repertoire has changed, but not in much of a different way than it is always changing. I pick up about a tune a week still, which is more or less my normal pace. Some of those would normally be picked up in sessions, and I still do two regular sessions a week (JamKazam and Jamulus, mostly… I’ve also had the odd tune in person here and there). So I am still picking up tunes that way…

I have also been teaching tunes weekly on video, which is a great way to keep my skills and tunes sharp. I would say one big difference for me has been in my ability to talk and play. It’s still not great, but I find that when I’m teaching tunes on video, I talk more while I’m teaching parts of the tune, and I’m more likely to tell people what notes I’m playing, because I’m not there to hear whether they got it or not. So the more talking, the more efficiently I can teach to keep the videos shorter.

So all in all, I have kept my music routines pretty much the same (albeit with a lot less commuting). 😉

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve picked up 10-12 new tunes. They have all been tunes on my "I need to learn those" list and I’ve just been learning whatever strikes my fancy. I was hoping I could learn more, but with my family home more I’m practicing less.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I have saved so much money I used to waste on going out for coffee and lunch and buying gasoline for the drive to work that I decided to take violin lessons. So my repertoire has changed to playing the G scale with tape on my violin.

Also, as an American I can understand that feeling of not being that into it. After 2016 I put down some of my more joyful instruments and haven’t played them again. I cannot bear it. With a heart full of dread and resolve to fight a whole culture of complacency, how could I express joy? But I have kept up attending my sessions because I think you can fight fascism by belonging to a community that does things together, even if we now have to sit too far apart to hear each other and wear masks.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Rather than changing, I’m getting back to tunes I don’t play with others - namely, traditional Irish and Scottish ballads. I have just purchased a wonderful alto flute that goes down to low G. I had one years ago that I sold because I wasn’t playing it much. It’s great for accompanying singers because of its range and lower voice. I really love the sound for the ballads. So buttery and sweet! An added benefit is that, because I must use a more relaxed embouchure and an open jaw, I sound better when I go back to my regular wooden flute for Irish. It’s great exercise for both embouchure and fingers. It’s been a great motivator to keep me playing by my lonesome.

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Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

"Realising that I was never going to publish this collection…"

Is there a reason for that, Richard? Could you not self-publish, especially in these unique times? I’m sure there would be interest in the project.

I just put together a book for the personal use of our local fiddle group. We had a local printer run off fifty copies. Transcribing and typesetting sixty-six pages of tunes and accompanying text took me about two weeks, with breaks to mow the lawn, etc.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

@sbhikes, I can relate with it. I haven’t been compelled to play a fiddle tune since February, unless it’s of the very dark, somber kind.

We’re not accustomed to such crises in the states, but this is all a logical inevitability; we (the masses) are low-hanging fruit.

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Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I started of by gathering together all the physical and virtual ‘loose sheets of paper’ and files of ABC that I had accumulated and splitting them into three notional piles.

1. Tunes that I played or had at some time been able to play and would want to play if the opportunity arose
2. Tunes that I liked and would learn if I found the time
3. Tunes that I could set aside.

I got a fair way through pile 1, checking I could still find my way through each tune and putting a lot of time into some. Then the Zoom sessions started and I reverted to doing more or less what I did for real sessions - practicing tunes that I wasn’t happy with, polishing up tunes so that I could lead them and learning occasional new tunes that someone introduced.

So I don’t think my repertoire has changed any more than it normally would in the same time period, but I know some of it better.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Having a working computer again, I’ve been transposing tune recordings to their standard keys so that I can play along to them. So I’ve been re-learning tunes as I play along with the recordings. I didn’t realize how different and necessary it was to play tunes against a recording, but I’m glad I finally decided to plug up the piano, load up Audacity, and get to key-checking and transposing.

I can finally play my favorite reel, The Graf Spee, in a way that I can enjoy. I’ve been developing my ornamentation much better now that I’m able to play along with more recordings of other instruments. Relatively slower tunes have become increasingly enjoyable to play along to, and keeping up with the recorded reels has presented a healthy new challenge. All in all, it has been a hearty and gracious revisiting of my Irish music collection.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I haven’t actually learned much more rep. Maybe 10 tunes or so. I’ve been trying to work more in technical stuff.

Early on I did a Skype banjo lesson with Brian McGrath, and he had me change my right hand. So I had maybe a month where I was playing like garbage until I got the hang of what he showed me. Then it changed a lot, for the better.

Now I have aspirations of emerging from quarantine a fiddler, so I’ve been torturing my family with that.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been doing some YouTube clips, and digging out old tunes and songs that I’d half learnt and getting them up to scratch, including Finbarr’s ”The Spring Well”. Am currently learning some Michael Rooney slip jigs that I heard these two young musicians playing:
https://comhaltas.ie/music/detail/comhaltaslive_590_15marie_tres_and_niamh_mcanenly/
I’ve been lucky with work as I drive a truck so we have’nt had to lockdown but the social life has shutdown so I’ve had some spare time.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been working all the way through the "lockdown," so the available time to me for practice has remained the same.

Not being able to play at sessions in person, I thought, would give me a little more time at home to add the repertoire……or so I thought. It turned out that, without having a session or two to look forward to each week, has lessened my motivation in taking out the box for a few ‘chunes.

Then my father-in-law passed away, and my cousin was diagnosed with a brain tumor….and on and on….

I have come to the conclusion that I didn’t drink NEAR ENOUGH last New Year’s Eve to prepare adequately for 2020!

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Yes I could self-publish but nowadays people tend to look on Youtube for learning tunes rather than printed books. I also have a Facebook page. I’ve noticed that most musicians, bands, and instrument makers use Facebook pages in addition to or instead of web sites nowadays.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I guess I’m just a fuddy duddy book junkie. I don’t do Facebook.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

After having my right wrist fused this last December I’ve had to take time and learn how to play all over again anyway. At least I’m not missing any sessions. I’ve learned a fair number of tunes in the meanwhile though.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve struggled for a long time with playing reels on my fiddle, so since the lockdown began, I’ve worked on that particular issue. I play by ear, so I began by deciding on a particular reel that I wanted to learn, listened to it until I could lilt and whistle it, then began the process of playing it on the fiddle. For a long time I was caught up in the technicalities of bowing and bowing patterns, and couldn’t make it work, but I eventually learned to let that stuff go and just played the tune. This was partly thanks to a friend of mine who flys commercial aircraft. During a conversation, he talked about all of the distractions which a pilot can experience, particularly during an emergency, but at the end of the day, he told me that the bottom line is that apart from all that other stuff, you must fly the plane. That got me thinking. I had to learn to relax, to sing the tune in my mind, then allow my hands to just play it. After almost six months, I have to report that things are going well. I have learned eight reels which I can now play confidently and look forward to playing them at a session in the future. I really don’t think I would have put this work in under normal circumstances, so maybe Covid has given me a positive experience.

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Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been playing mostly swedish folk music, especially tunes I was afraid to play because I didn’t have the level. Writing down quite a lot of tunes I’ve always wanted to play. And I composed my first slängpolska. It took me a week but I’m happy with the result.

X:1
T:Värmeböljans Slängpolska
R:slängpolska
C:Damien Rogeau
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Ador
AB|c2Ac B2G2|A2E2 E2AB|c2Ac B2^d2|e4 e2ef|
g2eg a2f2|g2e2 c2ec|d3B E2^GB|A4 A3B|
c2Ac B2G2|A2E2 E2AB|c2Ac B2^d2|e4 e2ef|
g2eg f2d2|e2c2 c2ec|d3B E2^GB|A4 A3B|
c2ec {f}g2{f}g2|f2d2 d4|e3c ABcd|B2E4AB|
c2ec {f}g2{f}g2|Tf6ec|d2B2 E2^GB|A4 A3B|
c3e .f2g2|f2d2 d4|e2c2 AB^c^d|e4 e2dB|
c2ec {f}g2{f}g2|f2a4=f2- |f2e2 d2c2|B2e2 A2|

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Been working on several sets of tunes which I’d planned to have ready for potential gigs (back in January) but there’s no gigs for at least a year, I’d guess, until the plague gets sorted out. Anyway, I’ve been adding reels mostly, which I’d been meaning to learn anyhow. Then the Zoom sessions came along, so I’m also reviewing the old chestnuts (we have some new folks who are just learning). So here’s a few for you to try: Maudabawn Chapel/Beare Island/Golden Keyboard. Down the Broom/Gatehouse Maid/O’Brien’s. Banks of Lough Gowna/Castletown Connors/The Luathrachan. Tailor’s twist/McDermott’s/Galway Hornpipe.
Your Mileage May Vary, of course, but it’s to have fun with, and we gotta do something to while away the time. Sorry , sbhikes, but I have to be really depressed before I can not play. A "somber" tune that picks me up is the Humours of Tullycrine, a hornpipe in A-minor. Try keeping it slow and flowing and see if it doesn’t work for you.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve also been trying to buff up my session repertoire and learn some standard or mostly standard tunes that I’ll get around to learning "someday." On the technical side I have been working on my flute keywork.

Lately I’ve really been enjoying composing tunes on the flute (check my profile for a few). I’ve also been combing though Liz Carroll’s written tune compilations and noodling around with some of those.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’m not sure I would call it a repertoire. One month into the lockdown I purchased my tenor banjo. I’ve played mandolin and fiddle for years but the banjo is new! I’ve learned a couple things since I’ve started. #1 Banjos are heavier than mandolins. #2 Banjos are definitely fun! I’ve learned a few new tunes from this website. (Love The Session!) Learned to play some that I’ve already memorized.
I hope to be able to join a beginner session when things open up.

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Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Yes — it has got a lot smaller. I haven’t played since sometime in July. I see little point when sessions are not something we will be able to do for the foreseeable future.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

DrS, I recently expressed a similar view in the parallel discussion ‘Chicken and Egg’ and several people advised me to take the long view and look beyond the current situation - sound advice. Yes I know its hard to get motivated sometimes but remember the old adage ‘use it or lose it’………………

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I have been pretty busy musically speaking, thanks to Zoom: I know some people see it as pointless, but there are plenty of us who do enjoy getting together on screen, and playing along, muted, with a solo player or occasional duo, rather than sitting on our lonesome. The social benefits of these sessions are every bit as important as the music, and it’s great to hear solo versions of tunes on instruments that might otherwise just get lost in the mix of a big session.
I have played a lot of tunes that were new to me, chosen by other session members, or delving into the "back catalogue" of a class that many of used to attend: several years’ worth of tunes that may have only been played for a short time before moving on to the next one.
I can’t say I’ve done a lot of practice, other than before one of our band sessions when I was to lead a tune on piano where I usually only play a chordal backing: it was a good challenge to play the melody as well!
And there have been occasional forays into such things as Vera Lynn song tunes, and "You’ll Never Walk Alone" when the street was celebrating VE Day and turning out weekly to "Clap the Carers", plus a few action songs for the kids.
And, new tunes, I have enjoyed playing "The Lockdown Waltz", which was posted on this site but disappeared below the horizon in record time, and "Everyday Heroes" which was a tribute to our National Health Service from the band Skerryvore and others.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Mine’s changed immensely.

I finally sold off all my electric and acoustic guitars and bought a banjo to finally start jamming Irish tunes, something I’ve always wanted to do. I bought a new Deering Goodtime Artisan 19 fret tenor. Still waiting on delivery. They’ve been shut down for months due to the plandemic. I should have it in a week or two.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

@Sir Illsa Moustache, congrats on the new banjo, and finally coming over to the green side! I think there are a LOT of players around your area, and many many more not too far to the North of you. If you go into your profile, and then click the "Nearby Members" link under the map, it will show you other members of this site that reside near you, and you could try reaching out to them through private messages (which they might only see if they’re still active on the site). But at least it will help keep you from feeling so isolated!

A word of warning for you: Irish players tend to bristle at the term "jamming" when referring to this music. It’s a long, heated debate. (Here’s one of many discussions about it on this site: https://thesession.org/discussions/8484) So you’ll be more accepted into the community by breaking the habit of calling it a "jam session", or say that you’re "jamming Irish tunes". Nothing to be too worried about — it’s just a dead giveaway to experienced Irish players that you’re inexperienced. (Another one that gets people is when someone calls a tune a "song", or says "what song was that" at the end of a tune. Songs have words, and most of what we play are just melodies or "tunes"). 😀

Best of luck on your new journey with the banjo!

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve been doing quite a bit of composing and arranging. Some of this is for my students, who I’ve continued to teach via Zoom.

The most inspiring things for me have been challenges. I set myself some – for example, to arrange, record and upload a Swedish Polska within 24 hours of first hearing it. I think it’s brilliant to have a deadline, otherwise – personally – I never do anything.

Other people have also set challenges. For example, harpist Asya Sergeeva set a Carolan Lockdown challenge for people to be given a random Carolan tune to arrange and record/notate. It ended up being an extraordinary project, with about 150 – at least – of the pieces being arranged, by many harpists (search for it in YouTube). I have contributed 3-1/2 arrangements, all of which were pieces given to me at random. The first three were all new to me. I’ve set one as a duet for organ and harp, one as a solo in an Irish theme pub in Australia, and one as a socially distanced duet with myself. The remaining 0.5 is still in progress. I was given Carolan’s Concerto, which I’ve never particularly liked, complete with the “B” section that’s not the one you usually hear in sessions. I’ve arranged it as if it’s an actual concerto (of course, it’s not – I think Carolan just liked the word) and I’ve set myself the challenge of assembling a video of it with multiple greenscreened players, who contributed the parts remotely to me.

I also ran a session on composing to a group of Swedish and Norwegian harpists – all online – which was a lot of fun. So for me, it’s branched out in other ways. Partly this is because composers are also sharing their own work, often free of charge. I’m working on an Italian piece at the moment, which is really challenging my technique. And Erik Ask-Upmark in Sweden has been sharing the most wonderful online Swedish traditional music concerts.

By the way, a lot of this discovery happens via Facebook. What I really like about it is that it has lots and lots of different communities which you can hop between easily and take inspiration from. Also, specialist Facebook groups tend to encourage people to be generous and interactive (much in the way The Session does, of course).

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I’ve worked at home the last two decades, so lockdown has mostly meant the loss of my "alone time" I normally got while my wife/kid were at work/school.

The musical aspects of my lockdown have gone in phases:
1) Early on, recorded a bunch of videos. Learned little to nothing.
2) May, bought a flute off the internet because the price was right, happily discovered I liked it better than my old flute and started trying to seriously learn how to play the instrument.
3) June, Minnesota Irish Music Weekend at Home means getting advice and 4 new tunes from Conal O Grada.
4) August, Vinland Music Online Camp has stuffed a bunch of new-to-me Newfoundland tunes into my head, plus started online flute lessons from Shannon Heaton and Gerry Strong. Maybe finally getting comfortable practicing with the whole family home, too, though it still seems like more practicing would be good.

I suspect in September I will consolidate the tunes I’ve learned so far this lockdown and hope to make more progress on flute…

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

"I was given Carolan’s Concerto…I’ve arranged it as if it’s an actual concerto (of course, it’s not – I think Carolan just liked the word)…"

That’s a cool project!

BTW that tune is one that Carolan composed in honour of a patron- in this case Mrs Power, and it was so titled in its earliest published version (according to Donal O Sullivan).

The "concerto" title was apparently affixed to the tune as part of the "Italian music-master" story which is first attested over 20 years after Carolan’s death, the naming of the tune "Carolan’s Concerto" dates to a half-century after his death.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

I can’t say that it’s changed to any significant degree since the pandemic restrictions were enacted, than it had when I ceased performing a few years back. I still have all of our set lists from when we started in 92, there are a number of songs and tunes that I never cared for that much. So after "retiring," those tunes were binned in the years to follow. A few were lost due to the absence of the lead instrument not being available for proficiency practice in support, and a good number of cliché/audience pleaser songs.
This is probably entirely due to a performance vs Sessions background.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

What Conical Bore said:

"Predictably, the new tunes I’m learning have been drifting more in the direction of personal interest rather than local session repertoire.

One thing I’ve been working on is getting better with the lesser-used Bb, Eb, and low C# keys on my flute."

I’m really enjoying tunes in F, Dmin and Gmin, like a couple of ones great Lad O’Beirnes tunes.

In addition, I’ve been focussing on NOT learning too many new tunes, something that always seems to happen when I was going to sessions. That gives me more time to get better at the tunes I know, in other words to actually KNOW them.

I did pick up a larger-holed flute a few months before the shutdown. I have been playing consistently enough that my tone has improved in quality and consistency.

Re: How has your "repertoire" changed during lockdown?

Richard D Cook - thanks for the info on the “Concerto” name.

As it’s a virtual, lockdown project, I wanted to set it in the house owned by the Power family, but the house doesn’t exist anymore. Next I found a castle with a perfect hall, and I had permission from a photographer to use her photos of the hall of the castle but the owner wasn’t so keen.

I’ve now found another couple of locations. I’m planning to shoot my part of the video today but it will need a lot of careful assembling before it’s fit to view. Should be fun though.