During my time with the Riverdance show, I became good friends with Georgi Petrov, a Bulgarian master musician in the band. He introduced me to Bulgarian folk music, patiently demonstrating the complex rhythms and scales - often assisted by generous doses of rakia (the potent Bulgarian fruit spirit). After a while I tentatively started to transfer my growing understanding of the music onto the harmonica, an interesting challenge! I learned some traditional tunes and even started to compose my own Bulgarian-style original music. One night after several rakias we decided to make an album together! Thus it was that in the summer of '99 I flew to Sofia, Bulgaria for two weeks of cultural and musical adventure: a week of recording and a week travelling and meeting the big-hearted people of that great country. Georgi organised the sessions and plays brilliant gadulka. The other Bulgarian players were top names on their instruments, including Nedyalko Nedyalko (kaval), Angel Dimitrov (tambura and electric guitar) and Peyo Peev (keyboards), plus Georgi's wife Valaria and her friend on amazing vocals. Along with the astonishing musicians and singers Georgi recruited from his home country, we were also joined by Ray Fean, the noted Irish rock drummer. Much of the music was composed in the studio, and this gave the whole project an on-the-edge immediacy that bursts through: this is one of those original studio tunes composed by all of us.
Very sadly, Georgi died a few years ago, a huge loss to his country's musical family, but he left behind some amazing music to remember him by. Here is a live video clip with all the main players from the Bulgarian Project - please check it out. More info and further clips at the link above.