Herbal Remedy

folk dance band

A short history

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Herbal Remedy


The band was formed in 1982. Ron and Fiona met at the Sidmouth 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.

Dutch village

Not all our time in Germany was spent playing music!

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.

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: ron.hawkins

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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.

Steve Woodcock - a lively West Midlands caller

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

Accordion 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 excellent.

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.

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

Page developed by Ron Hawkins