folk dance band
A short history
Return to Home Page
The band was formed in 1982. Ron and Fiona met at the
International Folk Festival in 1981. Fiona was playing melodeon for a Morris
Dance side, Ron was playing bass with Oxfordshire based Woodpecker Band.
Finding a mutual keen interest in playing in a band that did more than just sit
around in street clothes and play for their own amusement, they joined forces
in Staffordshire and Herbal Remedy was born. Our first gig was in autumn 1982.
The less said about it the better.
Herbal Remedy played the Staffordshire and Shropshire circuit for four
years, building a firm reputation as a melodeon-based 'umpitty' band in the
barn-dance tradition. Notable was their attention to good quality PA equipment
(Bose 802s etc), their own lights and proper stage wear - all three of which
were unheard-of in folk dance music at the time, and even now something of a
rarity. Drummer at that time was Peter Blakeman.
In 1985 Ron and Fiona 'emigrated' to Holland. The band languished
around for a few years while babies were born and so on, although a few gigs
happened here and there, with callers such as Wim Lammers, Anthony
Heywood etc. No drummer was used in Holland, but occasionally Debbie
Pearson played fiddle, and Eli Defriend played guitar.
Ron and Fiona joined de Meulenvelders, a Dutch dance group, who danced in
full traditional Dutch costume including clogs! Dancing the polka in clogs on
cobbled streets is not easy, and explaining to passers-by in broken Dutch that
we were English was amusing. We learned a lot of Dutch tunes, and picked up a
good deal of influences from this period.
Not all our time in Germany was spent playing
In the late eighties, Ron and Fiona lived in Germany, and other than
acquiring more music, did no real band work, although from then on Fiona turned
more and more to the accordion, which gave the band an enormous boost in
potential music and types of music. We were then able to move seamlessly
between dances requiring the smooth, flowing lilt of the Playford style and
those which demand just that degree of inbuilt rhythm and bounce provided
uniquely by the melodeon.
Returning to the UK we were catapulted back into the folk dance scene by a
phone call from Robin Lamb (well-known Shropshire caller and dairy
farmer) saying "glad to hear you're back in the country, can you do a gig
next month?" We said "yes" and set about re-forming the band.
Since then we haven't looked back, with a very comforting list of
engagements and a pleasant and ever-increasing circle of friends in the folk
dance world and beyond.
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: ron.hawkins
Return to Home Page
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.
Woodcock - a lively West Midlands caller
Amaryllis - great
accordion duo, or trio with guitar. Nice site with discography and gig dates.
Centre - Rob Beecroft, accordion tuner and builder extraordinaire.
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
The Folk File a
useful page with lots on details about folk, folk music, terms etc.
English Folk-Dance and Song Society
instruments, music, books, tapes etc.
Malc Gurnham's local (Warwickshire) folk site - OTT graphics and slow to
load, but full of useful info -
Page developed by Ron Hawkins