Live Music Around Pensol

Outside of Le Moulin and our animals, one of our great passions is music. We play Irish and French traditional music and have been fortunate enough to find fellow musicians out here in France. We have also discovered a vibrant local traditional music scene, and I have put together this blog for visitors wishing to enjoy some live music while they are here.

1. Session at Les Feuillardiers in Marval

On the first Tuesday of every month there is a live music session at our local restaurant in Marval. This starts at 7.30pm, though you need to arrive before 7pm to stand any chance of getting a table. In the summer the event takes place every other week, and festivities spill out from the small restaurant into the outdoor seating area and sometimes out into the car park. Music is eclectic and ranges from traditional Irish folk through blues and jazz via French chanson with occasional a cappella singing performances, melodians and hurdy gurdys. Basically anyone who sings or plays an instrument and wants to take part can have a go. The restaurant offer cheap meals and the wine is good value.

2. Session at Le Phare in St Mathieu

Very similar to the Les Feuillardiers do above, this takes place on the last Friday of the month and features many of the same musicians though the music tends to be rather more French than Irish. The photo shows members of our band Les Comperes playing at Le Phare.

3. Le Grand Bal de Pensol

Bizarrely, when we lived in Norwich in England, we used to enjoy French traditional music and dance. Heidi played bagpipes for a while in a French band called Xim who used to play for traditional French dances called Bals. These are very popular in the East of England. When we came here, there was nothing like that taking place locally and so in 2019 we organised the first music and dance day in Pensol. It was great fun, and we have set a date for 2020 which will be 4th April. In the afternoon there will be a workshop in the village hall where you can learn to do some of the most common French dances: bourees, mazurkas, waltzes and schottisches. The main dance starts at 7.30. Teaching will be in English and French and everyone will be very friendly and all will be encouraged to take part. It is great fun! Like a cross between a ceilidh and ballroom dancing.

4. Le Son Continu

On 10th – 13th July a large and wonderful festival will take place in the grounds of the Château d’Ars, in the commune of 36400 Lourouer-Saint-Laurent, near La Châtre. This is the traditional French music event of the year and the weekend of live performances, informal sessions, dancing in the village square all night and market of instrument makers from all over France and beyond make it the mecca for the French traditional music lover. If you want to get more acquainted with the addictive music of the hurdy gurdy, discover the many types of bagpipes, buy an accordion, or learn to dance a mazurka – this is the place for you.

5. Pensol Gospel Weekend

Our little village of gospel has found itself as the gospel capital of Haute Vienne! This is thanks to our neighbour Véronique, who fell in love with gospel singing while living in Paris and started organising a weekend of workshops followed by a convert in the church. The weekend is run by Max Zita, a charismatic gospel choir master from Paris. Regardless of your feelings, or lack of them, about religion, this is fast becoming a weekend not to be missed. The 2020 gospel weekend will take place on 3rd and 4th October. Booking essential.

6. Confolens

Since 1957, Confolens has held a famous world music and dance festival which attracts 150,000 visitors every summer. Around 600 artists from all 5 continents and 350 volunteers put on shows connected with the arts and popular traditions of the world. A skilful blend of different cultures sets the town centre alight with folk music and dance rhythms. The date for 2020 is 10-17th August.

The main stage is in the pretty market square surrounded by food stalls and bars. Our own Nik played there last year with the band Samphire. See photo below.

7. Tocane Irish Music Festival

The 30th edition of the Rencontres Musicales Irlandaises of Tocane will take place from July 19th to 22nd, 2020. Just an hour away from Pensol, the festival features workshops in fiddle, flute, accordion, concertina, accompaniment/guitar, banjo, tin whistle, singing, set dancing, sean nos dancing and bodhran. As Irish music is our great love, we may have to try and take a few days off so we can go to this one this year.

Our band Les Comperes. We are next playing on 29th Feb at La Paiilotte in Saint Junien.