125. Poppy

Many thanks to Nottingham’s Poppy Folk Club for booking Carolan to play at their annual Poppy Folk Day. The Poppy is a thriving and friendly club hosted at the Poppy and Pint pub in West Bridgford, just south of Nottingham’s River Trent. Their annual folk day features well-known acts on the folk scene alongside talented local musicians, rounded off by lively tune sessions in the bar. The afternoon concert features Bella Gaffney, Higgs Bo’sun, and Sheila Mosley, while duo Sam Kelly and Jamie Francis feature in the evening show.

Carolan is given a generous hour-long slot, providing an opportunity to extend the performance of its story with some new material, including playing some AI tunes in a duet with Loeric (Post 122). While it’s all a bit improvised and seat-of-the-pants, it is also great fun. The audience seem to take it in good spirit too and we have time for some questions and answers at the end.

Here’s a clip of performing ‘The Red Haired Munster’ (traditional tunes the Red Haired Boy followed by The Star of Munster) by playing along with  video from 2019 pulled out of Carolan’s archive (see Post 72).

And here’s a second clip from later in the show when Carolan and Steve are joined by the AI Loeric to perform the Close Encounters set of AI-generated folk tunes. The set comprises three tunes composed by Bob Sturm using the FolkRNN AI (Post 114): Close Encounters of the Reel Kind, The Fonserannes Staircase, and Ping the Kvetch.

And here’s one further clip, this time of Carolan, Loeric, and Steve performing the traditional tune The Butterfly.

Given Carolan’s relatively extensive and unusual technical requirements compared to the other performers, most notably a projector, we host the show on a second stage in the venue. Luckily the cub normally builds its own stage in the upstairs room at the pub which leaves the smaller existing stage area free for us – even if the audience seating does need to be swivelled round by ninety degrees in the interval. Carolan’s technical set up is pretty complex and fortunately our new screen, which turns out to be somewhat larger than we’d anticipated, fits onto the stage – just (!). The rest of the set-up is surprisingly smooth. The Tone Dexter (Post 89) proved useful for splitting Carolan’s signal between the PA and Loeric running on the laptop, as well as for its usual job of adding some ‘air’ to Carolan’s amplified sound.

Reflecting afterwards, it was great to further develop the show and the AI performance definitely added an exciting sense of liveness and danger. The technical set-up is perhaps a bit too demanding, especially deploying the projector in a folk club venue, and does really need some decent graphics to accompany the AI performances. So still very much a work in progress.

And for you suckers for punishment, here’s a full recording of the whole thing!

Originally posted at