Documenting the curious world of the hurdy-gurdy.

Blowzabella Festival, 27-28 April 2012

Stamford Arts Centre, 27-28 April 2012.

A day and two nights packed with dances, concerts, workshops, sessions with Blowzabella, Esquisse (Brittany) and guests.

Blowzabella produce an inimitable, driving drone-based sound played with a fabulous sense of melody, rhythmic expertise and sheer feeling. They have played everywhere from the main stage at Glastonbury Festival to the outer reaches of Brazil and West Africa. They compose their own music which is influenced by British and European traditional dance music. Many bands across Europe who experiment with the boundaries of folk music cite Blowzabella as a major influence. Andy Cutting- diatonic button accordion. Jo Freya - clarinet, saxophones. Paul James - bagpipes, saxophones. Gregory Jolivet - hurdy-gurdy. Dave Shepherd - violin. Barn Stradling - bass guitar. Jon Swayne - bagpipes, saxophones. 

Esquisse is the best young band to emerge from Brittany in the last 5 years and this is their UK debut. Thrilling music and virtuoso playing - they are in a completely different league to most bands playing traditional dance music. Pierre Le Normand – drums. Thomas Badeau – clarinet. Gweltaz Hervé – soprano saxophone. François Badeau - diatonic accordion. 

Friday 27 April

Doors open 7pm.
8pm-11pm. Blowzabella. Dance/concert.

Saturday 28 April

Workshops 10am-5pm – British and European folk dances, folk orchestra (playing and arranging folk dance tunes, all ages, all instruments, all abilities), master classes in diatonic accordion, hurdy-gurdy, folk violin, bagpipes. Dance Tune Competition.

Doors open 7pm. 7:30pm-9pm. Blowzabella. 9:30-11:30pm. Esquisse

For full programme and further information, including workshop music and places to stay, go to

Queries? phone Paul James 0788 794 8853.


Friday and Saturday ticket for everything - Adults £52. 16 years old and under £12

Saturday workshops and Saturday night dance - Adults £38. 16 years old and under £10

Saturday workshops only (10am-5pm) – Adults £25. 16 years old and under £5.Friday night dance - Adults £15. 16 years old and under £5. Saturday night dance - Adults £16. 16 years old and under £5.

More information here.

Loreena McKennitt

Renowned Canadian singer Loreena McKennitt performs Santiago, featuring Nigel Eaton on hurdy-gurdy.

The Quarter Brawles
Neil Brook

Luthier Neil Brook plays the Quarter Brawles, popular in England as early as 1565, and demonstrates his “St Thomas Altar” hurdy-gurdy.

Nigel Eaton

A 2/2 time Breton Andro style schottische written & played by Nigel Eaton in G on a Chris Eaton double keyboard Hurdy-Gurdy.

Halsway Schottische

It appears that Nigel Eaton’s composition, Halsway Schottische (or Halsway Carol) has somewhat of a cult following.  This page provides the sheet music for the tune, plus a link to some 40 different arrangements and recordings of it.  What’s more, they’re looking for more!  Record your version and send the link to this email!

Nigel Eaton

A 2/2 time tune in d on a Chris Eaton gurdy (g melody), written & played by Nigel Eaton.

Halsway Schottische aka Halsway Carol.
Nigel Eaton.

Cracking tune composed by Nigel Eaton and played on a newly-restored Pajot hurdy-gurdy.

Gurdypedia joins Facebook

Gurdypedia has launched its own Facebook page, where future updates to Gurdypedia will automatically be posted.  Subscribe here.

Fete de la vielle, Anost, France, 15-19 August 2012

Now an unmissable event in Burgundy, the Fête de la vielle has gradually made a name for itself among the biggest traditional music and dance festivals in France. For 4 days, Anost vibrates to the sound of bagpipes, violins, diatonic accordions and the hurdy-gurdy. The programme features different concerts and improvised jam sessions in the village’s bars and restaurants. Each year, 20 000 people come to Anost in Burgundy to experience this friendly festival.  More here.

Electrorotation.  La Cabale and Fabuliste.  Stephane Durand. 17 April 2010.  Teatro Subasio, Spello.

Dare to Hurdy-Gurdy.  Caroline Phillips talks at TEDxTransmedia about the hurdy-gurdy, ending with the performance of two Basque songs.

Hurdy-gurdy hospital.  Caroline Phillips, Bidaia's resident singer and hurdy-gurdy player goes to her Luthier's house in Perigord (vert) to get her Hurdy fixed.

Gregory Jolivet playing Earth.  Fantastic.

There's another app for that...

Hurdy Gurdy - Remix, play and enjoy.  Based on three songs from Bidaia's last album, Duo, this app allows you to play the hurdy-gurdy by moving your iPhone or iPad and create your own mix that can be saved to MP3 format.