Here are brief details of the bands I have the pleasure of playing in, or of having played in in the past, with links to their websites where one exists, which will have more information on the band, together with sound and video clips.
Bosun Higgs English Country Dance Band
Bosun Higgs English Country Dance Band is my latest band and, as well as myself, includes Carly Rose (percussion), Martin Banks (banjo), Keith Holloway (melodeon), and Neil Gledhill (bass saxophone). We all have long-established track records in well-respected combos including Old Swan Band, Token Women, Random, and Grand Union. See www.bosunhiggs.co.uk for more information, gigs, and audio and video clips.
The Old Chapel Band
The Old Chapel Band is led by Keith Holloway (melodeon) who brought the band together to play one ceilidh in an Oxford college, but right from the first rehearsal (in an old chapel) it became obvious that this was never going to be a “one-off”. The last line-up, which included Keith Holloway, Heather White (Tenor Saxophone) and Toby Goss (clarinet), and myself, performed together from the summer of 2016 until our last gig in March 2022.
The English String Band
Many years ago, at Sidmouth International Folk Festival, at the behest of Paul Burgess, a group of English fiddlers, cellist and double bass players formed an impromptu band, dubbed The English String Band. Our main gig that week was to play an overture or two at the Arena venue. The band was short lived, the idea stuck around for a few decades until I decided it
was too good an idea to leave at that. Enter The English String Band Mk.2 with a few of the original members, but more importantly a pool of excellent musicians of today, to call on whenever an opportunity to play presented itself. See www.englishstringband.co.uk
Monty's Maggot was put together and managed by Jerry Tozer with the support of Flos Headford. Going through several changes of personnel, the final line-up was Jerry (melodeon), Flos Headford (fiddle), Taz Tarry (fiddle), Keith Holloway (electric guitar), Heather White (tenor saxophone), and Feebee Benjamin (baritone saxophone). Monty's Maggot played at a number of UK folk festivals as well as private bookings. Monty's Maggot played our last gig in September 2019.
I was invited to join Grand Union shortly after I moved to Nailsworth in Gloucestershire in the 1990's when Roger Grimes decided to resurrect his band of that name. The line-up then was Roger (melodeon), Tim Normanton (banjo), Taz Tarry (fiddle), and Vic Laubech (sousaphone). Again, there were a number of changes in line-up with the line-up
expanding to a six piece, with the addition of Fran Wade (fiddle), Martin Brinsford (percussion), and Kevin Bown (double bass) - Vic Laubech having left the band by then. It was with this line up that we recorded our own-produced 7-track CD, Union Specific, which was very favourably received (one reviewer likening it to a cross between Flowers and Frolics and The Old Swan Band). One track, Queen of the May/Watson's Hornpipe) was selected to be included on the Hardcore English CDs to accompany Barry Callaghan's excellent tune book of the same name, as well as Ian Anderson's compilation CD Stepping Up on the Topic label. Tracks from the CD were also played on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction programme. In recent years, Roger, Tim, Martin, and myself have got together and played as Grand ReUnion at Sidmouth Folk Festival as one of the interval bands at the Volunteer 'In the Tradition' lunchtime singing sessions. Jolly good fun they were too.
STOP PRESS: Union Specific is now available for download - go to the Union Specific shop page
Jack O'Legs was my first band, local to Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and playing mainly for private bookings - weddings, birthday parties, etc, but also for local ceilidh series. Jack O'Legs was popular in its day, and for a number of years we held our own annual ceilidh/barn dance which always sold out very quickly. Again, there were various line-ups, with the last line-up being me, Martin Banks (guitar and banjo), Howard Newton (drums), Andy Smith (electric piano) and Julian Martin (electric bass). I had to leave Jack O'Legs when I moved away from Hertfordshire, at which point the band folded, but now I am back in Hertfordshire, interest in a re-union dance is sometimes expressed. You never know.