Tag Archives: Blowzabella



Pre-eminent English melodeon player Andy Cutting presents this airy tune in two videos, one teaching, and one performance. According to a YouTube comment, ‘Andy isn’t sure of the real name, and only knows that it’s Scandinavian.’ If you knowGunga’s secret identity, please let us all know!

Andy Cutting is renowned for his work with a number of iconic bands, including Leveret, Blowzabella and Topette. You can hear him live right now, along with fiddler Sam Sweeney and conertina-player Rob Harbron, on the current Leveret album launch tour.


Andy Cutting (melodeon)

Recorded playing for his class at the 2016 Burwell Bash folk music summer school.

(‘Andy Cutting, playing “Gunga” Melodeon and Accordion Workshop Burwell Bash 2016’, YouTube video 4.36. Published by Burwell Bash Aug 22 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6los3syfWVg)


Andy Cutting (melodeon), Jock Tyldesley (fiddle), Tola Custy (fiddle), Katherine Mann (flute), Brian Finnegan (whistle), Ed Boyd (guitar)

‘Gunga’ is first tune up (1.20) in this clip from the wonderfully eclectic 2016 Burwell Bash tutors’ concert.

(‘The Tutors’ Group Performance, Burwell Bash 2016 Tutors Concert’, YouTube video 16.15. Published by Burwell Bash, Aug 9 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvHsEn-jdM0)


Andy Cutting:  website   Facebook   Twitter


Leveret:  Current tour   website   Facebook   Twitter

New album Inventions available from RootBeat Records and via their website


Burwell Bash 2018 http://www.burwellbash.info/


Use the Fiddletails search box to find more tunes by Leveret and Blowzabella




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Filed under European traditional, Nordic traditional, Scandinavian folk, Uncategorized

Bushes and Briars

Briar rose


Something a little different, a little summery. This beautiful song was the first piece ever collected by composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, on 4 December 1903, from the singing of 70-year-old labourer Charles Pottipher in the village of Ingrave, Essex.

Though the song is often rendered very free rhythmically, ace folk-dance band Blowzabella present this more rhythmic but subtle arrangement. Fiddler Dave Shepherd lays out variations on the tune over Andy Cutting’s haunting accordion riff, before piper Paul James’ evocative singing.

I seem to have found the summer fiddle-singing project I was hankering after…



Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion), Jo Freya (vocals, saxophone, clarinet, whistle), Paul James (bagpipes, saxophones, whistle), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (bass guitar), Jon Swayne (bagpipes, saxophones, whistle)

Recorded at a dance in Stowmarket, Suffolk, May 2016.


(‘Bushes and Briars by Blowzabella’, YouTube video, 6.31. Posted by Dave Shepherd, 25 May 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-ARR_vSr6M)


Blowzabella:  website   Facebook  Soundcloud




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Filed under English folk/traditional

Jan Mijne Man


The melody from a Dutch/Flemish traditional children’s song about a little boy who creates havoc pretending to be a knight.


Sometimes found in English morris dancing, the tune is played here live by wondrously funky dance band Blowzabella, first up in a set in Am, then transposing to Bm to morph into second tune Go Mauve (at 1:45).

(Image: Manet, Boy with a Sword*)




Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion), Jo Freya (vocals, saxophone, clarinet), Paul James (bagpipes, saxophones), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (bass guitar), Jon Swayne (bagpipes, saxophones)



(From Blowzabella’s 2010 live album Dance.)

See Blowzabellawebsite  Facebook  for 2016 upcoming gigs, band news and recordings

*Metropolitan Museum, New York. Image courtesy of Simon Abrahams and EPPH


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Filed under English folk/modern, English folk/traditional, European traditional, Uncategorized

Jenny Pluck Pears

An attempt to conjure a golden September from this year’s grey English summer – if we all play it like mad, the sun will come out!

My beautiful namesake tune is from Playford’s Dancing Master of 1651. Two very different arrangements – it is traditionally played with the A and B parts in different time signatures. And (might have guessed!) any tune involving women and fruit had sexual connotations. Who knew…



Andy Cutting (melodeon), Rob Harbron (concertina), Sam Sweeney (fiddle)



The tune is on Leveret’s 2015 CD New Anything, available from their website.

Leveret are touring in the UK in October – starting with a gem of a format: an acoustic set, performed in the round. Cecil Sharp House, 1 October. Details and booking here. Don’t miss it! Full tour dates here (scroll down to Gigs/Autumn Tour 2015).



Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion, triangle), Jo Freya (vocals, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, whistle), Paul James (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones, whistle), Gregory Jolivet (alto hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin, octave violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar, octave bass guitar), Jon Swayne (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones)

Played here with the traditional time-changes, first in a set with Half Hanniken


(‘Jenny Pluck Pears / Half Hanniken’ YouTube video, 4.37. Posted by #Blowzabella, 20 Nov 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h49aR3R_g8U)

For upcoming gigs, band news and recordings, go to Blowzabella’s website here.




Filed under English folk/traditional

The Muffler/Bhaskar’s

(NB: This set of tunes is a double post to cover next week as well, when I’ll be fiddling away on the EAC Summer School somewhere in deepest Gloucestershire, and nowhere near a computer!)


The Muffler composed by Jon Swayne; Bhaskar’s composed by Barn Stradling. From the Blowzabella album Strange News.

A pair of breezy mazurkas to wish Cool Spinnings to Alasdair Paton and all the courageous amateur cyclists taking on the gruelling Étape du Tour in the French Alps this Sunday 19 July.



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Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion, triangle), Jo Freya (vocals, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, whistle), Paul James (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones, whistle), Gregory Jolivet (alto hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin, octave violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar, octave bass guitar), Jon Swayne (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones)




For upcoming gigs, band news, and to possess Strange News in the flesh, go to Blowzabella’s website, here.



Ernesto Voena (diatonic accordion), Angelo Girardi (bass guitar), Giulia Tomasi (violin), Arcangelo Divita (clarinet), Luigi Mingoni (flute), Marco Gajon (guitar)

This group from the Piedmont region of north-west Italy specialises in playing for folk dances. The dancers in this video show the lilting rhythms of the mazurka steps.


(‘The Muffler / Bhaskar’s (Mazurka)’ YouTube video, 4:16. Posted by girando49, 23 Feb 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC9BzvTd1g8)

For more information and videos of many more named folk dance tunes, see Controcanto’s website, here, and girando49’s Youtube channel, here.




Filed under English folk/modern


Perhaps my favourite tune in the whole wide, sky-filled world.

Paul James’s wild rant*, named for falcons, whirls and tumbles and jinks like the Red Kites I watched playing on the Ridgeway thermals near Monks Risborough one summer evening.

Two videos: the first, dancetastic band Blowzabella recording the tune for their album Strange News; the second, Paul’s teaching video.



Several of the band’s musicians are multi-instrumentalists. The line-up here is:

Andy Cutting (triangle), Jo Freya (bass clarinet), Paul James (bagpipes), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar), Jon Swayne (bagpipes)

(‘Blowzabella recording in France 2013’ Youtube video, 4:54. Posted by Paul James, 21 Aug 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhfrhJWR_AE)


Paul James

Paul teaching Falco on border pipes, fast and slow; first in F, then in G from 4:38.

(Note to fiddlers: I like to play this tuned GDGD – gets a little of that pipes/gurdy drone sound. However, E strings don’t last long with all that tuning back up again, so if you want to play cross-tuned, perhaps best to use AEAE, and stick to standard tuning if you want to play along with Paul’s pipes or other non A-friendly instrument.)

(‘Paul James of Blowzabella playing the tune “Falco” on border bagpipes’ YouTube video, 8:58. Posted by Paul James, 28 Nov 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aICsx8Ig820)

* Rant: a dance with a rhythmic, percussive step (not someone having a right go on social-media!)


For more information on Blowzabella’s gigs, recordings etc – and the fantastic all-dancing, all-playing Blowzabella Days:




More samples from their many CDs are available on YouTube, Soundcloud, Napster, Google Play, etc


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Filed under English folk/modern