Bands 2024


Vertical Expression

One of the UK's most high-energy contra dance bands, Vertical Expression are well- known for delighting dancers at festivals and dance series across the UK, Europe
and beyond! Their driving double bass and guitar foundation, layered with rhythmic fiddle and melodeon tunes and foot percussion, makes them one of the most danceable bands around. They excel at picking just the right tune for the dance and maintaining the connection between dancers and music.


John Hymas and Denise Bearon

We are delighted that two brilliant musicians are teaming up to play for the Playford and English dancing at Lichfield this year.

John Hymas, violinist, divides his time between writing, performing and teaching music. His musical background has involved being a violinist in symphony orchestras to fiddling and accordion playing in various genres including jazz, folk, tango and experimental music.

His string playing and writing can be heard on recordings by bands as diverse as The Psychedelic Furs, The London Community Gospel Choir and his own folk crossover band, Hoover the Dog. He is also a member of roots band, Little Rumba and of the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra.

Since moving to the Welsh borders he has written scores for Diversions Dance Co., Theatr Powys, Presteigne Festival and numerous community projects. John started playing for dancing about ten years ago working primarily with Paul Hutchinson and Andrew Shaw.

Denise Bearon has now worked with John on several occasions, delighting dancers with her skilled variations on piano keyboard. No tune is too much for her, moving as she does between the challenging classical pieces and lyrical waltzes.

Denise has been the musical inspiration behind most of Andrew Shaw’s dance books. She has taken the manuscript music from the dances he has selected for interpretation, and made them suitable for publication. This is no easy task, requiring a knowledge of musical notation practices of the period.

She and her husband Norman are keen dancers themselves, and play together as a duo, with Norman on violin, augmented by family on occasions as D.N.A. Norman and Denise will also be leading the Festival Come All Ye on Sunday, together with the workshop to prepare for that.


The Falconers


Based in Bromyard, Herefordshire, The Falconers English Folk Dance Band was formed in 1975, initially to play for the fortnightly folk dance club that still meets in the town, but quickly playing to a wider audience, especially after appearances at the Sidmouth and other Folk Festivals.

The band is now usually a duo, with Roger Wilkins — founder — on accordion, and Maggie Percy on flute and whistle. Roger and Maggie have played together virtually from the inception of the band in 1975, and are the regular line-up for outside bookings.  In recent years their commitments have included Chippenham, Whitby, Sidmouth and Bromyard festivals, plus occasional weekend dance events and, of course, dances over a wide area.

Whilst they have never pretended to be the most technically proficient musicians in the world, no-one tries harder to give dancers the "lift" which is so important. The band covers all genres, including Playford, Contra, Patter, Singing Square, English Traditional, Welsh and, on an occasional basis, Scottish.

Roger continues to provide the resident music for the Falconers Folk Dance Club, with various friends and family joining in.


3D – Chris, Julie and Nick Dewhurst

Chris, Julie and Nick have always enjoyed playing for a variety of dance styles, many of which are on offer at Lichfield Folk Festival once again. 3D’s trademarks include their infectious enthusiasm, drive and ‘lift’ , and they always strive to fit the music to the dance perfectly, often adding a little spontaneous creativity to their musical arrangements in response to the dancers. Expect to hear a little more of Nick’s guitar this year, especially in the workshops, as well as the band’s usual combination of accordions, percussion and brass. They look forward to meeting friends old and new throughout the weekend.


Dave, Marni and Alan


Dave Bartley is a dynamic and versatile dance guitarist/etceteraist and tunesmith. He has previously toured in the UK with KGB, Roguery, and Bag o’Tricks. He has played many styles of music over the years and continues to range over several genres. He has performed throughout the US and Canada, and in England, Australia, France and Greece. It is difficult to count the number of bands in which he plays. UK dancers will be familiar with some of his combinations, e.g., Roguery, with Anita Anderson, KGB, Contra Sutra and with Rodney Miller’s band. Dave has composed over 300 dance tunes, many of which will be familiar to dancers, and choreographers also pick his tunes as inspiration for their new creations.

Marni Rachmiel has been playing flute and saxophone for Contra and English Country dancing for over 30 years. Her varied musical background also includes Early Music choir, Javanese Gamelan, and Gilbert and Sullivan in Michigan, and Panto and Moisture Festival bands in Seattle. Her US dance bands include Contra Sutra, the End Effects, and Reverie. She loves matching tunes to dances to create maximum dance bliss.

Alan Brunier has played accordion for years with anyone willing to listen, perhaps most visibly with Contrasaurus and also with The Night Before. In his spare time he serves on the Chippenham Folk Festival management team as folk dance manager, a role he took on in summer 2022.

Together, this band has decades of experience playing both English Country Dance music and for Contra, and we look forward to them delighting us at Lichfield.


Maureen Knight

Joining the artists this year is Maureen Knight, who will be running two music workshops. A keen dancer and musician, Maureen says that as a child she badly wanted to play musical instruments, and as an adult enjoys doing just that! She mainly plays keyboard for dancing, but also likes to eke tunes from concertina, recorders, ukulele and even Appalachian Dulcimer. She declares that whilst she plays all with enthusiasm, some of them are without much skill!

These workshops are an opportunity for new folk dance musicians or those with new instruments to gain confidence playing straightforward tunes together. The supportive workshops will have time for talking about what to do if the music is too hard or fast, and could include 2nd part playing.

The first workshop features tunes played from a new book of traditional tunes called The Unexpected Polka by Chris Jewell and Alastair Gavin, which can be obtained from or Folk Sales, though of course workshop participants will have access to the written music for workshop purposes. Should you want more detail please email Maureen via our contact page, with the subject Music Workshops.

It would also help planning to contact Maureen (via us) to let her know the instrument and notes /chords you can play.

Her second workshop is another opportunity to gain confidence with playing folk dance tunes slowly.