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.
Professional sound system and lights available
Garth Reynolds and
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
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.
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
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
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
John Chapman calling with
us, before his untimely death in March 2003
Hobby Horse Club, part of
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
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
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
West Entertainments - top theatrical and entertainment agency in
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.
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.
Folk File a useful page with lots on details about folk, folk music, terms
EFDSS the English
Folk-Dance and Song Society
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
Astwood Bank Scouts - Fiona's scout group
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