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At the heart of English folk

Blowzabella present day of workshops at Cecil Sharp House

On Saturday 21 March, the musical powerhouse that is Blowzabella will take over Cecil Sharp House for a day of music, dancing and workshops.

Those of you who have had an interest in folk music for any length of time will probably be familiar with Blowzabella. Having been around for the best part of 40 years, the band utilises an eclectic range of instruments, from the saxophone to the hurdy-gurdy, to create high-energy arrangements of traditional and original tunes, never failing to get audiences dancing.

“The aim has always to play very strong drone-based European Dance music,” explains melodeon player Andy Cutting, thinking back to how the band came to be.

“Jon Swayne and Bill O’Toole made some bagpipes and were looking for some old English tunes to play, so they went to the Vaughan Williams Memorial library at Cecil Sharp House and found the tune Blowzabella. Sam Palmer had built a hurdy-gurdy and they decided to play some music together. With the strong drone sound and various whistles and flutes the Blowzabella sound was born.”

While all the band members are exceptional performers, coming together to give some incredible concert performances, the times at which they really come into their own are dances.

“Playing for a dance tends to be a more relaxing,” says Andy, “We play for longer and kind of get into a groove. For concerts you play for less time and it’s all a bit more focused.”

What, then, can we expect from a whole day event such as this? Andy gives some hints:

“The day is a great opportunity to be with like-minded people. To play, dance, talk and learn. We have a fantastic French Band, Ciac Boom coming over to teach and play as well as Gaorsach Rapper. They are always memorable events. I love them.”

The full programme for the day, including workshops in a range of instruments, opportunities for ensemble playing and a trademark Blowzabella dance session in the evening, can be found on our event page. A day which truly has something for everyone, this is not to be missed!

Find out more about the event
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National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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