INFORMATION ABOUT JIGABIT BAND MEMBERS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
Please note: if your event is not in the East Midlands area, CLICK HERE to visit Fiona's agency website. She will be able to offer excellent bands in most areas of the country!
ABOUT FIONA MAURICE-SMITH
When I first picked up a piano accordion at the tender age of 16 it was love at first squeeze for me! I knew straight away that it was an instrument I was going to LOVE playing. Several other instruments I played as a kid suddenly took a back-seat to make way for the ol’ squeeze-box and here we are, 38 years later, I’m still squeezing my portable expanding chest and loving it. Definitely a successful lifelong relationship between me and my squeezebox….
Playing the accordion gave me a social life as well as a potential means of earning my living – double bonus! As a rather shy withdrawn youngster, it was a joy to be able to speak through the music, and playing the box really did open up a whole new world for me. I was taken to the heart of Quorn Folk Dance club by all the dancers who put up with my early playing with bum-notes-and-all, and their considerable encouragement and support really helped me learn the essentials of playing for people dancing. It wasn’t long before a band of several other musicians formed and we started playing for Barn Dances and Ceilidhs in the Leicestershire area.
I’m not an academic sort, but I managed to bumble my way through a 3-year BA degree in art and music, having thoroughly enjoyed my year on a foundation course in Art at Loughborough Art College. However, at the time I was studying music, the accordion wasn’t accepted as a “proper instrument” so I was forced to appear to be a serious student of classical music, studying flute and piano’, whilst I was actually a closet semi-pro accordion player, doing gigs to supplement the student grant! (Grant?!! Yes, I was lucky enough to be studying in the days when there were grants for the likes of me!)
After completing my Degree, I worked and played for a small local travelling theatre company who went all over the country in a very tiny van with me and my accordion and a million other props and cozzies squashed in. My small claim to fame at this time was an appearance on Blue Peter, where, bizarrely, I stood on my head in a bucket and waved my legs around to music. Hmm…! Enough said! It was good fun for a year, but I felt the need to move on and I began to build up my own music business through the 1980’s.
When I went full-time professional in the early 1990s, my gig schedule doubled and the Ceilidh and Barn Dance Band Agency was born. It’s here that I now put to good use my 40 years experience of gigging nationwide and abroad alongside many excellent musicians and callers. Getting gigs for my own band is my primary aim, but along the way, I successfully get gigs and music work for other local ceilidh and barn dance bands and callers too - a win-win for all.
With the bands Dargason and Two’s Company, I played for the nationwide circuit of Folk Dance Clubs and made numerous UK Folk Festival appearances at Sidmouth, Whitby, Lichfield, Chippenham, Eastbourne, Broadstairs. With Two’s Company, I recorded three folk dance albums in the late 80s. Other line-ups I’ve played in were WYSIWYG, Big Bad Contra and Desperate Measures – renamed JIGABIT about 10 years ago. JIGABIT and ALFI are the line-ups I’m currently gigging with, doing loads of ceilidhs and barn dances for weddings birthdays and anniversary parties….
Playing music and helping people have a good fun evening with our band – what better way to spend my time?
When I’m not playing the accordion, I’m gardening, looking after a tribe of furry felines and trying to keep as fit as possible, since playing an accordion demands strength and stamina!
Al and I also work as a Duo called ALFI, providing background music for all occasions including wedding afternoon receptions, wedding anniversary and birthday parties, garden and dinner parties. Our speciality is French themed events.
Please visit www.alfimusic.co.uk
for more information or call me to chat about your requirements.
" Not so much a caller as an excellent entertainer."
Who said this?! Well, he did actually - but it's not too far from the truth. Born more years ago than he cares to remember, Bob has been performing for the last 40 years and therefore has the experience to give what his public want - a cracking good night!
Playing in skiffle bands in the late 50s, rock bands in the 60s, and folk line-ups in the 70s, and during the last twenty-odd years being very involved with Ceilidh and Barn Dance bands as both musician and Caller, Bob's experience is both long and wide.
Experience a night with Mr Ballard, and you'll have a night to remember!
His dance repertoire is aimed primarily at the sort of person who thinks they have two left feet and remembers that the last time they did this sort of thing, they were wearing short trousers.
As well as calling for Ceilidhs and Barn Dances, Bob regularly plays and sings in a number of midlands Folk Clubs. The following links will take you to Youtube clips of Bob:
Answer To The Man
The Ballad of Easy Rider
The Galaxy Song
Click here to visit Bob's website!
Al Harris first picked up a guitar in the late 1960s and despite friends’ pleas, he absolutely refused to put it down. He began performing at Worksop Folk Club, a centre of tolerance, and formed the group Widdershins, featuring Clive Heenan, 6 foot 8 inches tall and with a voice to match.
This was followed by Six Hands in Tempo, with Steve Bailey and Dave Proctor, playing songs from the 30s and 40s, together with such immortal creations as the Western Medley and Songs from Science Fiction TV Programmes. Amazingly, with a repertoire like that, Six Hands played at Folk Clubs and Festivals all over the UK and in Europe and Canada, appeared on radio and TV, and made three albums. They also played at some spectacularly unsuitable venues, the true stories of which will be told in the fullness of time…
At the same time, Al was learning bass, having joined the Ken Eatch Jazzmen in Nottingham when their bass player moved on, selling his bass to Al as he left. Al also took up double bass and recorded albums with Tufty Swift, the Excelsior Band (with John Tams), Judy Dunlop and Umps and Dumps, with John Kirkpatrick, Sue Harris, Tufty Swift and Derek Pearce. He played with Umps and Dumps for some years, then occasionally with the John Kirkpatrick Bumper Ceilidh Band (or whatever it was called on the night!) and also with Five Go Off and Dance Cupola for ceilidhs around the East Midlands.
Since 2000, he has played bass and added harmonies in Jigabit, playing for weddings, parties and anywhere people want to have a dance!
Al has depped with anyone who has ‘phoned needing a bass player, banjo player or guitarist in both ceilidh and traditional jazz bands, especially with The Footwarmers, which is the resident band on Sundays at the Bell Inn, Nottingham Market Square. His latest project, much to the joy of all around him, is to learn the euphonium.
Jim took up piano lessons from Linda McCartney's piano teacher Eva Warren in the early 70's but then picked up a violin and realised that was the main instrument for him. After many years of study and orchestral playing he jumped on stage at the Hat and Feather pub Open Mic session, played some Waterboys and Levellers numbers and liked it…..
Fast forward to numerous tours of Germany, Holland and Scotland with Nottingham anarcho-acoustic band Wholesome Fish in the 90s, then years of Gamelan playing, including 2 tours of Malaysia in the last 5 years, many years of Ceilidh service with 5 Go Off and session-playing for music libraries, regular jazz and Balkan sets at Glastonbury festival's Rocket Lounge - not to mention stints with African Kora maestro Surahata Susso and Persian group Arian.
So Jim finally feels like a fully rounded fiddler. He is now equally as happy guesting with Jigabit as he is helping his violin pupils through tricky grade 8 Bach, Bartok and Beethoven pieces.
Simon started drumming for the school orchestra in 1973. (aged 14). He joined Shirebrook brass band in 1974 and at the same time formed a group at school and started to play the club circuit. The band was called "Second Coming" not what you think... A religious combo?.... no... but named after an Alice Cooper track from, Simon thinks, his "Dead Babies" album.
Simon was asked by a local Ceilidh band called "Some Like it Hot" to help them with a few gigs. As a result of these connections, he was asked by Judy Dunlop, a local folk Singer to do some recording on her album "Tea for Two" with Al Harris. Out of this came work with the band "Five Go Off" in Nottingham, again with Al Harris. Was there no escape?
From 2005, Simon has gigged with Jigabit when a drummer is needed and is always a great addition to the band! He copes effortlessly with all the styles needed, ceilidh tunes to rock covers