Music Weekends History / Background: 

The singing, guitar picking and just 'plain old music' weekends at Savio House, Bollington, near Macclesfield, Cheshire (UK) are held twice per year (see timetable below). They are run by Joe Cainen, a guitarist of note, from Warrington in the north of the county of Cheshire, UK (North-West England).

These are superb weekends with very friendly people, most of whom play and most of whom are more than willing to help others along the way. The weekend starts on Friday evening with most people turning up around 6:00 to 7:00pm for tea, though there are inevitable stragglers due to work commitments and the exigencies of travelling. After tea the first session of the weekend gets under way. It starts with a few communal items with everyone joining in (or not as they wish) with some songs and some tunes (instruments depend upon who turns up but usually includes 20 or so guitars and a sprinkling of others such as clarinet, flute, penny whistle, mandolin, and even banjo. This is followed by a round robin where everyone around the large room takes it in turn to play or sing something or pass if they don't feel up to it. On many occasions two or three people will do something together that they have been working on since the last weekend. This goes on until about midnight when the more world weary begin to drift off but the hardy ones are known to still be there and both playing hard and drinking occasionally through until 3, 4, 5, or even 6 in the morning (just as well the soundproofing is good).

Saturday starts at about 9:00am and, punctuated by breakfast and lunch, is comprised of groups forming to practice, small groups passing tunes and tablature, even smaller groups of teaching taking place, a few hours of folk dancing to Derek Style's accordion or his fiddle, and a degree of time spent in leader groups working on something for each group to perform in the Saturday evening session, and if you wish you can even join in with the weekends Barbershop group. The evening proceeds in much the same fashion to Friday evening but by this time there are the group performances worked up and the Barbershop performances as well as everyone's individual and group offerings. Of course by now everyone is raring to go having got over Friday's end of work tiredness and these Saturday sessions are often by far the best of the weekends.

Sunday starts in much the same fashion but is often a little bit more subdued than the Saturday - possibly because people are knackered after the Saturday evening session but also ever so slightly because the realisation is already dawning that it will soon be time to go home to face work once more on the Monday. The Sunday session starts after lunch and goes on until about 4 to 4:30pm whence everyone departs amidst much friendly banter, hand-waving and smiles - yet another excellent music weekend with tunes running through ones head all the way home.

Many people, particularly in their early days with regard to attending the weekends, arrive on the Saturday, some only stay for the Saturday and drift off in the late evening or even in the early hours of Sunday morning. A very few, those with heavy commitments in either work or family, just turn up for the camaraderie of the Sunday. Come along as you wish.

To make a reservation for the weekend please contact Joe at: IGAS, 60 Acton Avenue, Appleton, Warrington, Cheshire, WA4 5PT, United Kingdom - Tel.: (01925) 602217. If you do not wish to attend for the full weekend I am sure Joe will be able to accommodate your requirements - or why not just turn up for the Saturday evening sing-around for a taster of the event to see if you enjoy it - I am sure you will. See you there !!

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Joe Cainen's Comments:

As always, the emphasis of the Folk Music Weekend will be on providing opportunities for people to engage in dance and song activities of their choice in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, with occasional very light washing-up duties. The barbershop 'quartet' will once again come into its own and we will have, for example, guitar workshops so that beginners (at all levels!) can exchange ideas and improve their technique. We hope to build on the tremendous success and warm, welcome atmosphere of previous weekends at Savio House, not to mention similar ventures at Spode House, the Maryvale Centre and Dehon House, over the years.

Newcomers will be made most welcome - the weekend is open to all, so please invite your friends to come along and join in.

Savio House is just outside the small town of Bollington, five miles north of Macclesfield. It is situated in its own spacious grounds in very pleasant surroundings bordering on the Peak District National Park. The Centre is easy to get to: it can be reached by car in 45 minutes from the centre of Manchester, and Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Stoke, Derby and Frodsham are all within an hour's journey by car; there is a frequent train service to Macclesfield from Manchester, and also from London, Stoke, Stafford and Milton Keynes. A regular bus service links Macclesfield with Bollington, but we hope to give lifts as required from Macclesfield.

The Savio Centre provides comfortable accommodation for a maximum of 48 persons. There are 37 single rooms, several of which also contain a comfortable fold-down bed-chair to enable them to be used as twin rooms, and one family room. The fees for the Weekend (if you are staying the whole weekend and require a room) will be £71 for adults and £59.75 for the unwaged. Infants and small children go free, but please note that the Centre makes no special provision for babies. There are further reductions for juniors. Special offer for newcomers: just £50 per person. These fees include a non-returnable deposit of £6 per person. Given that the Centre provides all bed-linen and offers a good standard of cuisine, I am sure that you will agree that these fees represent extremely good value for money, unlike the Ornithology Weekend attended by the famous Long-John Silver which allegedly cost him an arm and a leg. Indeed, as the fellow said, "Omnes lagani pistrinae gelati male sapiunt!!" or as Anne Hathaway said as she tried to write a poem after leaving Shakespeare, "These days I seem to go from bard to verse".

If you cannot join us in May or September but would like to be on our mailing list for the next/following weekend(s) please simply write to let us know. We ask you to do this so that you won't feel 'persecuted' by receiving a letter every six months and so that we can keep administration costs low. Please telephone to book as prices vary from year to year. I look forward to hearing from you soon and seeing you at Savio House for what, hopefully, will be another enjoyable, relaxing and successful Music Weekend. Cheers.

Timetable of Bollington Weekends

Bollington 36:-
30th April - 2nd May 2010 - Savio House Weekend - ring Joe Cainen on: 01925 602217 - for further details.

Bollington 37:-
15th October - 17th October 2010 - Savio House Weekend - ring Joe Cainen on: 01925 602217 - for further details.

The "Irene, Goodnight, Appreciation Society":

The IGAS Logo and Badge - produced by: Steve McWilliam - C.1994/94At the music weekends, one of the traditions which has developed over the years has been the singing of Leadbelly's song "Irene, Goodnight Irene" at the end of the Saturday evenings sing-around. This tradition has developed its own group or 'Society' which calls for a drink to 'Irene' each music weekend in the pub close by - nothing more, nothing less. The 'Society' is better known by the acronym generated from the initial letters of its title - namely: IGAS. Some would say this is very suitable following a beer drinking session. For much more information about the 'Society' and about Leadbelly (both fact and very humorous fiction) why not drop over to the IGAS web-site at: - well worth a trip.

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