Bands

The bands for 2021 are

Paul Hutchinson, Fiona Barrow & Karen Wimhurst
Vic Smith, Alan Brunier & Ben Rowe (tbc)
Keeping Thyme
Portland Drive
Kendal Green
3D

Festival Band

Paul Hutchinson, Fiona Barrow & Karen Wimhurst

Fiona Barrow is a Bristol based professional violinist who trained classically. She has played for folk dancing for many years, first with the duo Bristol Players, and more recently with Paul Hutchinson, appearing at Sidmouth, Broadstairs, Chippenham and other such illustrious dance events.

Paul Hutchinson has had a long musical career cooperating with other musicians to form notable bands, perhaps the best-known in the folk world being Belshazzar's Feast, which has a busy performing schedule and twice-yearly tours. Among their many highlights was a nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards in 2010. Look out for their CDs! In addition to performing and teaching, Paul is also active in community work and various local projects including a 17th century music group.

Karen Wimhurst is an accomplished clarinet player, and has worked with a number of folk and jazz ensembles.  In the 1990s she founded the Cauld Blast Orchestra, recipient of two Scottish Jazz Awards.  She is also a widely commissioned composer working across musical genres, bridging jazz, folk and contemporary classical ensembles.  She has been commissioned by BBC Radio 4, amongst many others, and is currently working on Apple Journeys in association with Cecil Sharp House and the National Trust, celebrating the 21st anniversary of Apple Day.  She has also run programmes for Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and directed a team for the English National Opera. Karen’s work has been performed across the UK, Europe, America and Mexico as well as featured on radio and television. 

All three in the trio are members of the Playford Liberation Front and have been playing together sporadically for five years, appearing at Halsway and in Belgium. Their mission is to provide danceable music whilst creating at times, surprising textures and colours which really lift the atmosphere.

Alan Brunier, Vic Smith & Benjamin Rowe

This trio make dance music which is a delight for both the ears and the feet. They specialise in playing for American contras and squares, and enjoy playing driving music which is well matched to dances, whether it be in English Country dance style or American genre. All three are already well known in the dance world, Benjamin from Knotted Chord, Alan from The Night Before and Moonlighting, and Vic from Double Dichotomy and Melodic Evil. Other combinations they play in include the fantastic contra band Contrasaurus (Alan and Benjamin) and the inimitable Bearded Dragons (Vic and Benjamin). [Editor's note] I have heard them play for Playford style as well as American and I can assure you they are just fantastic!"

Congratulations to Ben who got married to Jess summer 2020.

Keeping Thyme

Keeping Thyme is one of the most versatile bands in the country. Based in the South Midlands with a fiddle, accordion, bass guitar line-up, Julia, Shane and Tina enjoy playing elegant Playford, lively squares, zesty contras and anything else demanded of them (well, almost). Their unfailing good humour adds to the lively atmosphere they create with their music. You will find them performing regularly for Saturday dances, residential dance weekends and most of the major dance festivals - do they have any weekends free from dance?

Portland Drive

This excellent band specialises in playing high energy and exciting dance music for contra dancing, and they also love playing the beautiful tunes from the English tradition. Brian Stone on fiddle can tease amazing variations which are so exciting to dance to, and he occasionally switches to jazz guitar. You will recognise him from other bands, including Junction 24 and Fiddlin’ Around. Kathryn Dunphy plays flute, sax and clarinet, not all at the same time, sadly, because all are equally lovely. How she finds the time to keep up all those instruments fitting it into a busy life which includes a young family is a mystery! Elaine Meechan is the elegant pianist, providing the toe-tapping, driving accompaniment and occasionally taking the melody. Do come and say hello!

Kendal Green

Ian and Margaret Jones, aka 'Kendal Green Folk Dance Band' met through folk dancing. When they married in 1968, and moved away from the lively Merseyside folk scene to Appleby in Westmorland it was a very short time before they had formed a band and were much in demand in the Eden Valley district for dances.

Ian Jones is famously known for being both a superb caller and an excellent band-leader (frequently at the same time!) All are envious of this multi-tasking ability. Margaret has also played in the band since the beginning, and, as the duo Kendal Green they run the regular ‘First Sunday Club’ in Cumbria. They have appeared at the Southam Festival, the Bournemouth ‘Light Hearted Dance Weekend’ and elsewhere in the UK, France, Holland and Lithuania.

In 1975 ‘Cumbrian Gap Folk Dance Band’ was formed and Ian and Margaret led that band for over 30 years. They initiated and continue to be involved with regular folk activities in Cumbria, notably Reelfolk, the Spring Weekend at Casterton and the Summer Week at Morland.

Ian and Margaret play a variety of instruments including accordion, piano, concertinas, recorders and drum. Ian has even been heard – from time to time – playing his self-built Hurdy-Gurdy! They play regularly for dances and workshops and particularly enjoy the opportunity at weekends, festivals and workshop days to encourage dancers to respond to the music so that the dances become ‘visible music’.

Although the band especially likes to play dances in the ‘Playford’ style they also enjoy playing for American Squares and Contras and traditional English dances. In that connection Ian edited the music for the new edition of the ‘Community Dance Manual’.

3D

3D is Chris, Julie and Nick Dewhurst, our very own local Lichfield band! Their roots in folk music go back many years, but they have played as a family band since 1997.

They have a busy schedule playing for English and Scottish dance events and festivals up and down the country, and they manage to divide their time pretty much equally between the genres. This year their popularity means that we can only have them at the Festival until Saturday lunchtime, but we are glad they have found time to play for us until then.

The band is equally at home playing romping reels and sensitive slow airs, strict Scottish and purest Playford (well, as pure as you can get with two accordions, drum kit and trumpet!) They enjoy bringing the music to life with their own unique interpretations, drawing on many different musical styles, but their aim is always to fit the tune perfectly to the dance, and to provide that essential 'lift' to help keep dancers on their toes. They also have many CDs – ask them to show you – and have been working on another, “Short & Sweet”, which they hope to have available at this year’s Festival.

Congratulations to Nick who got married to Beth summer 2020.

Festival Band

Our merry band of musicians will play for the Tea Dance on Saturday, with a preparatory workshop in advance.

Continuing the tradition of many years, there is also an opportunity for those who can read music to join the Festival band on Sunday afternoon to help bring this year’s Festival to its climax. Music will be provided, and a preparatory workshop will be held on Sunday morning for those who intend to join in the afternoon. If you are unable to come to that session, but would like to join the afternoon, please contact the Come All Ye Festival Band leaders this year.

There is so much talent amongst the musicians, and, under the more than capable leadership of Keeping Thyme, they blossom into a full folkestra, with great sound and clever variations.