Herbal Remedy

a lively band for all barn dances
and folk dances


Fiona, John, Ron


Herbal Remedy are a three-piece band based on the north Worcestershire / Warwickshire borders, in England. The core of the band is Fiona Hawkins, playing piano accordion and melodeon, and Ron Hawkins (electric bass, occasionally whistle and assorted sound effects).

Depth and rhythm are provided by our resident and versatile percussionist, John Evans from Walsall. Occasionally,Lee Jennings (local legend and drum teacher) will deputise for John.

Recognising that not every function will require the extra bounce and noise level of a full drum kit, Ron and Fiona often take engagements as a duo. We find this is particularly suitable for smaller or more senior gatherings, dance clubs and of course those events where only limited funds are available.

The band does not have its own resident caller, or MC, preferring to draw from the wide variety of talented dance callers available in the West Midlands and nearby counties.

Ron vumeters

Professional sound system and lights available

Garth Reynolds & Stephen Woodcock

Garth Reynolds and Stephen Woodcock.
Two fine (but very different) callers
we work with regularly.


As much as possible, we try to match callers to the needs and experience of the audience, when engaging a caller for one of the band's dances, and similarly, callers will contact Herbal Remedy when they need a band with our particular degree of 'bounce' and life. ("When I need a band with balls" one caller remarked - not sure how Fiona feels about that.).

Callers we work with regularly include Jeff Hackett, Barry Jones, Brian Laws, Garth Reynolds, Dave Hunt, Steve Woodcock, and occasionally with Bill or Barbara Kinsman (EFDSS Midfolk booking service, and the West Midlands branch of the Folk Shop), Hugh Rippon, Robin Lamb, Sheila Mainwaring, Dick Hodges . . . the list is endless.


We work more or less exclusively in the West Midlands, in England. Obviously we are open to offers, and the lure of filthy lucre is strong, but in general terms we work in an area covering the greater Birmingham complex, Coventry, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Evesham, Worcester and out into south Shropshire.

John Evans

John Evans


Herbal Remedy play a wide variety of music, within the broad spectrum of folk dance. Largely depending on the nature of the dance and the caller for the evening, the band's music can be anything from 17th Century court music such as that employed by the great dancing masters (John Playford and the like) to modern music penned this decade by such talented writers as Chris Dewhurst (of Four Leaf Clover fame) and the brilliant tunes and dances of Pat Shaw. All the old traditional favourite tunes and dances are the regular fare at dances too, for example the Cumberland Square Eight, the Dashing White Sergeant, the Gay Gordons and so on. Our music is mainly English, with a few Scottish and Irish tunesand a fair sprinkling of American reels. As somebody once said to me: "everything from Playford to Peeping Tom."

The band is extremely popular at weddings, and shows an extra dimension in providing old-time music-hall tunes and other easy-listening, singalong tunes for those inevitable times during the festivities when everyone is too exhausted to get up and dance. While in no way a concert band, we are often gratified to see the non-dancing fraternity tapping their feet and humming or singing along with the music.

Fiona melodeon

Fiona on melodeon

There are a great number of specialist dance clubs around, usually meeting on weekday evenings. We play regularly at such venues as the highly-regarded Dee Chapman's Dance Club in Stratford-upon-Avon (Mondays, 8 - 10pm). Clubs such as this aim to provide dancers with slightly more challenging dances, building on technique and style, with more complex movement. We have found that the music required is often more taxing too! Fortunately, Fiona's sight-reading is pretty good, as we occasionally find a caller will announce a dance at the same moment as thrusting the music in Fiona's hand. We usually get two or three minutes to look it over before being required to play it 'live'.

At the extreme other end of the complexity scale, we used to play regularly for the children of the Bromsgrove Hobby Horse Clubwhere children from 7 to 12 years old went to learn folk dance in its many forms, and other aspects of our folk tradition.

John Chapman

John Chapman calling with us, before his untimely death in March 2003

Hobby Horse

Hobby Horse Club, part of EFDSS

Important Details

The band does not cost as much as you might think. Accurate figures depend on exactly where and what the event is, who we engage as the caller and other factors, but in general you won't pay an arm or a leg for us, and you'll likely get a better deal than going to an entertainment agency.

If you want to make an enquiry about an engagement, or to find out details of any of the people or events described above, you can get in touch with Ron and Fiona via e-mail or by telephone:

Phone (home): 01527 892360
e-mail Ron at: hremedy

Follow this link to see a short history of the band

Useful links

Webfeet - a huge site, well-researched, full of information about the UK folk dance scene - predominantly the southern parts of the UK

Details of an e-mail discussion group dedicated to English Ceilidh dance.

Rodeo Bull Hire Hirers of Rodeo Bulls, Quick Draw, Shooting, and Lasso Games. What better way to add to the wild west theme of your barn dance!

Steve Woodcock - a lively West Midlands caller

Tony West Entertainments - top theatrical and entertainment agency in Merseyside.

Wed2music A terrific free directory of professional musicians all over the UK that specialise in performing at weddings.

www.welcome-2-europe.com is a good directory site for musicians and bands.

BritEvents.com, showcasing the best theatre, sports, music, gigs events in the UK.

Albert Alchemy - most unusual performer - Magician, fire-eater, juggler... you name it. Thoroughly professional. Great act to book as a complement to a barn dance (e.g. for a wedding or anniversary). We've worked with Albert and the combination is excellent.

John Evans' other band: Happy Child Music

Amaryllis - great accordion duo, or trio with guitar. Nice site with discography and gig dates.

The Folk File a useful page with lots on details about folk, folk music, terms etc.

EFDSS the English Folk-Dance and Song Society

Hobgoblin Music instruments, music, books, tapes etc.

FolkFax - Malc Gurnham's local (Warwickshire) folk site - OTT graphics and slow to load, but full of useful info.

Music Resources - music related newsgroups and web resources.

The Racketts - charity 60s & 70s rock band (Ron is manager and heads up the technical crew).

Astwood Bank Scouts - Fiona's scout group

Page developed by Ron Hawkins

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