At last I'm able to give you a bit more information about my new musical project, Wod, about which I've been a bit hesitant to say much as I've been waiting for a chance to grab some audio.

We're a trio, made up of Jane Griffiths ( Telling the Bees) on fiddle, Jim Penny (Red Dog Green Dog) on anglo-concertina, and myself on English bagpipes. Wod is an Old English word meaning furious, mad, or possessed by a god. It shares a common Indo-European root with the Latin vatis, from which the modern druidic ovate stems (photos by Kate Raworth).

We play new and traditional music for Breton and French - or what I prefer to call Brythonic - dancing (the 'Brythonic languages' being Cornish, Welsh and Breton). As the old saying goes, love and music need no passports, and though we are playing a style of music that has come to these shores from elsewhere, it has already become something else, played on different instruments and infused with the all the influences that have shaped us as musicians here. Calling it Brythonic rather than Breton acknowledges this: we are not trying to copy or emulate another culture, but to re-find something of our own through the invigorating effect that such musical cross-fertilization provides.

So far, apart from a few pub sessions and a brief appearance at the Wytham Winter Warmer, we've just tucked ourself away on Jim's narrowboat, stoked the fire, and played. Tunes can last for twenty minutes or more as we explore their inner structure and start to get carried by the trancey wodulations that emerge. I tend to pin the tune down, playing with different ornaments and subtle variations; Jane finds soaring lines or mines the deep harmonic under-layers; Jim adds clusters and cascades of notes, often sending the tune in surprising directions, but always keeping the funk. It's an honour to play with such exceptional musicians, and the grins on our faces as we do say it all.

Here's a couple of tunes, recorded during rehearsal this week. The first set consists of a pair of Hanter Dros written by me; the second a trad tune (I think) for a type of Breton dance called a 'tour'. Recorded straight onto my Zoom with only a bit of compression, the pipes are a little high in the mix but, well, you'll get the idea.

The Golden Plover/ The King's Barrows by andyletcher

Tours by andyletcher

We're not actually in a hurry to go out in the world but gigs are starting to come in. We'll be playing in the bar of the Isis pub, Iffley Village, for the Catweazle Equinox bash on March 19th.


  1. I will come on the 19th! Be lovely to see you again and WOD sounds amazing.


  2. Cor! What a thing! Great narrowboat shots and WONDERFUL tunes :) Very exciting... hope you'll be gigging darn sarf west one fine day....
    x :)

  3. Thanks Andy! Noticed you having a Wod-erful (sorry :-) time in the corner on Sat, next time definitely want to see the band centre stage again :-)

    Vikki x

  4. Was a strange 'gig', to be sure, but we were deep in the music all right, where it starts playing you... x

  5. Absolutely lovely. Especially the first tune. There's this golden, cider in haystacks lark-like quality to the best of Andy's music that evokes the best of England...

  6. Kind of you to say sirrah, glad you like. Looking forward to a tune up the hill muchly! x

  7. Pure magic, dear boy. Just the kind of folk that floats my boat, full of creative interplay and improvisation. The tones of the three instruments blend really well together too. Incidentally, if you're into unusual cover versions, check out Kuljit Bhamra & Shan Chana's 'Staying Alive (Bhangra Mix)' from the CD, Himalaya Dawn.

  8. Loved the music, and I second Rima's call to bring you down Dartymoor way.

  9. Trancey Wodulations... wodnerful xx

  10. Cracking. Spiffing. (I take issue with you about the whole "Brythonic" thing though. It doesn't take into account the close correspondences between Breton dances with those of Anjou, Touraine, Normandy, Poitou etc., or the remarks of Thoinot Arbeau (1589) about the branle. I once attended a conference about this at Fécamp and my notes are in the bottom of a sealed cardboard box at The Big Yellow.)



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