The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2011 Preview

Featuring: Mister Klof, Paul Martin, Rémi Decker, Julian Goodacre, Clive Matthews, Andy Letcher, Chris Allen & Mike Gilpin

This year, we’re back to a “normal” weekend, a little later than usual, but this guarantees much better weather, of course.

The programme is still evolving and there will be updates on our website:

Mister Klof (Saturday Bal)

are Julien Cartonnet on pipes, Tiennet Simonnin on accordéon Sylvain Quéré on guitar. Sylvain Vuidart: transverse flute. Last Blowout saw the one and only UK appearance of the excellent Re-fût de Chêne which, sadly, disbanded in the autumn. However, I am very pleased to introduce the new incarnation, Mister Klof. The brilliant and innovative piper Julien Cartonnet and guitarist Sylvain Quéré from Re-fût de Chêne have joined with Sylvain Vuidart (Kitus) and Tiennet Simonnin (Duet TTC) to bring us a dance band fusing the diverse influences of the members to create a blend that is quite their own. The Bal last year was something special and you are strongly advised not to miss what will undoubtedly be one of the dance events of the year!

Paul Martin (Concerts, workshops)

It has taken me two years to get this amazing player to the Blowout and I am sure that the wait will have been more than worthwhile! Paul has a style which is both deeply rooted in his traditions and also very much his own. Not to be missed!


Paul has spent most of his life in County

Durham in the North East of England, apart from a spell in the Army and a prolonged stay in Australia.

Since the age of 12 he has played several varieties of bagpipe, initially learning the Highland pipes before experiencing local traditional music and taking up Smallpipes and Uilleann pipes.

Over the last 12 years, he began to explore the bagpipe music of the North of England and Lowland Scotland, whilst also trying medieval and other European styles of tunes suitable for bagpipes. This led to the formation of Northumbrian 5 piece Horseplay, neo-medieval street band Wulffengrimm, and latterly the trio Roughshod. He’s also half of duo Mckone and Martin (Pipes , Song, Fiddles and Guitar).

In 2009 Paul recorded a solo CD “Blue”, playing Border pipes in A and G, and Northumbrian and Scottish Smallpipes.

Paul continues to add to his bagpipe collection, and developing his playing style which varies depending on the favourite music of the moment! When it gets too much he plays Mandolin, Fiddle, Whistle and Hurdy Gurdy.

“ the timing and dexterity of Paul Martin’s playing is exceptional…”

Alex Monaghan Living Tradition

“ a well earned reputation as an exponent of the Border pipes…”

John Tose Chanter “Paul has developed a style which works well with the repertoire, crisp fingerwork with

thoughtful application of gracing.”

Chris Ormston Northumbrian Pipers Society Magazine also try “Dunholmpiper” on YouTube for some webcam recordings.

Rémi Decker (Concerts and Workshops)

This is another UK first!! Rémi must be one of the top pipers in the French /Belgian scene. He is coming over specially for The Blowout and is not to be missed. He will be performing in the Saturday and Sunday concerts and also running two workshops (details below). Catch him on YouTube and prepare to be impressed!


Rémi grew up in a musical family. He

discovered the (continental) bagpipe at the

age of 10, which was something of a co-

incidence: his great-grandfather, Emmanuel

Durlet, a well-known composer and pianist,

was fascinated by bagpipes and traditional

music (he composed a piece called ‘Bagpipe

player’). Through the years, whistles took a

rightful place next to the pipes. Tradition and

creativity makes Rémi’s musical language

rich, inventive and spontaneous. His talents and his desires have led him to initiate an eclectic variety of projects including:


GRIFF, BBGE (Belgian Bagpipe Groove Experience), DUO DECKER-DECOMBEL All details can be found on Rémi also performs with SOURDINE (, IALMA, the BRABANTS VOLKSORKEST and the French band MINUIT GUIBOLLES.(

He has toured with his projects in Poland, Finland (Kaustinnen Folk Festival), Italy (Liguria, Puglia, Sardinia), France, Spain, Andorra, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, Mexico… Rémi is also often asked for different projects as studio musician (film music, singer song…) and is becoming a renowned teacher of whistle and bagpipes.

Illustrated Talks:

Julian Goodacre

“Old tunes. New Tunes. Your Tunes?”

Julian says: “The aim of this presentation is to encourage everyone to explore

their own potential as composers of tunes. I will consider tunes, their inspiration, where they come from and my own process of ‘capturing’ them. This is based on my personal experience and is open to all; pipers and non pipers alike.”

Clive Matthews

“Apes,Jugglers and the Scourge of Actors: Glimpses of Tudor and Stewart Bagpipers” This talk will introduce some recently discovered references to 16th century bagpipers in England. The main focus will be on the Revels accounts of Edward VI which describe a Masque of bagpipe playing apes performed in front of the dying king in 1553, a 1592 diatribe by William Cuckoe an Elizabethan bagpiping juggler and an anti- Puritan play written in Latin and performed in 1623 which includes the named role of “utricularius” (bagpiper).

After an initial classical training on the oboe at the Royal College of Music, Clive came to the pipes in the mid-1990s as part of the historical re-enactment scene. In recent years he has become interested in exploring and writing about the history of the pipes, especially in an English context.

Workshops in The Vestry

Chris Allen & Mike Gilpin

Chris says: I started to make lutes 23 yrs ago but have long since been abducted by the hurdy gurdy. This amicable separation has allowed me to indulge my love for French traditional dance music. I will be teaching from beginners to intermediate, French repertoire and trompette technique. The plan is to add layers of difficulty until we all have a good workout. The Montagnard St Anne as listed on the hurdy gurdy forum resources page is a useful tune which we could work with, or Carrée de Vouvray is well known and we could use it as a vehicle to find harmony, counter-melody, and rhythmic diversity. Maybe people will have their own agenda that I can try to work to.

Precisely how things pan out will depend on what level of playing (competence) we have and the mix of G/C and D/G instruments.

I don’t want to spend much time setting instruments up as this frustrates the better

players ! We should do that before class, and I’ll be happy to help. Mike intends to come too, so we could split the G/C D/G, or separate out beginners. There will be number limits for this workshop, so please make sure you book a place by ticking the box on the application form, and returning it asap.

Workshops in the Community Hall

Rémi Decker

Rémi will be presenting two workshops based around Belgian music, one about the historical aspect with musical illustrations, maybe learning a tune, and the second one about how to arrange traditional tunes.

Paul Martin

Paul will be presenting two workshops entitled: Ornamenting Tunes on the Border Pipes and Tackling Variations in Border Pipe Music

Andy Letcher

Pipers’ surgery - for ‘southern’ English Border pipes in G or D. Andy will be offering individual (or small group) lessons where you can concentrate on one aspect of pipe playing, depending on your stage of progress/personal interest. Examples might include ornamentation, developing rhythm, reaching the second octave, or handling tricky fingerings. Each session will be 30mins and can be booked on a chart, which will be available from 9.00 Saturday morning. There will obviously be limited availability, so it will be offered on a strictly “first come” basis.


Andy Letcher (southern English border pipes) has worked with Distil, Max Reinhardt, Kerfuffle, The Steve Tyler Band, Nonimus and Dragonsfly. In 2008 he appeared with Bellowhead at the BBC Proms in the Park, and was guest tutor at Chris Wood’s English Acoustic Collective summer school; and in 2009 he performed in Rosemary Lee’s ‘Common Dance’ with a score composed by Terry Mann. He plays for French and Breton dancing in a duo with Cliff Stapleton, and in 2011 is set to launch a new trio, Wod. A song-writer, he also fronts Spiral Earth Award-nominees, Telling the Bees.


Other participatory workshops to be announced – as in previous years, there will be workshops for “novice” players as well as those who already know their way round the instrument. Please contact me direct if you have any requests or suggestions.

We will also be running a dance workshop prior to the Bal. Details to be confirmed.

Makers’ Stalls

The following pipe makers will be exhibiting their wares and will be glad to help you draw up your wish list: Julian Goodacre, Dominic Allen, Sean Jones

There may be others…

CD Stall and “Swap Shop”

This become quite a success and we have expanded our services, to include a small range of commercial recordings, mostly produced by BagSoc members (sold on commission only) and a selection of tune books. We will also continue with our CD swap shop – bring along your unwanted pipe CDs and swap them for someone else’s – small contribution to BagSoc funds invited. Start digging them out now!!

Enquiries to: vicky”at”

The Venue

Polesworth Priory has a beautiful setting among mature trees and the remains of a monastery by the river. We have unlimited access to the mediaeval church and vestry (services permitting) and we have hired the adjacent community centre from Friday pm to Monday midday. This gives us plenty of space and facilities, which include a good number of REAL MODERN TOILETS, warm dry rooms, a dance-sized hall with stage, kitchen and a bar with real ales ordered.

Camping at the Blowout will be in two main areas: inside the Priory’s secure and fully enclosed walled gardens and also the adjacent field, both of which are secluded and well away from public rights of way. There is unrestricted access to the modern toilet facilities throughout the night.


We are getting an increasing number of caravans and camper vans and this is beginning to cause some space issues in the main car park round the community hall. With reluctance we will need to place a restriction on total placements, so it is most important that you pre-book as early as possible, by returning the booking form and ticking the “camper van/caravan box”.

Wash facilities are still limited to small hand basins. Last year we had access to the showers at the local leisure centre on the far side of Polesworth. It may be possible to use them again. Please ask when you arrive.

Local Accommodation

Polesworth is not a tourist area and accommodation is scarce. There is one hotel in the village - contact me if you are considering this option. Tamworth is only a short drive away and can offer a wider range of accommodation.


Over the years, the smooth running of the festival has relied upon the hard work of a few totally unpaid volunteers who put in more time than they should. Please be prepared to lend a hand whenever you can, whether it involves collecting up empties, sweeping round, putting out or clearing chairs, wiping tables etc.

Blowout Menu

Vanessa (The Blowout’s official caterer) will again be providing all the meals for the weekend – quality, quantity and value for money! At last year’s prices too! However, in order for this to work, it is vital that we all pitch in with peeling, chopping, setting out, clearing away and general all round helpfulness.

NB All meals must be booked and paid for in advance.

Fri 10th June

Supper £4.00: Vanessa’s vegetable special! Stew, mash plus pickled cabbage, onions and gherkins, yoghurt, fruit

Saturday 11th June

Big breakfast £3.50: Cereals, bacon & egg bap, tea, coffee, juice, toast, jam etc

Lunch £5.00: Pasta Bakes, seasonal salads. Tiramisu, fruit

Evening meal £6.00: Big Vegetable Curry, dhal, raita, onion salad, chutneys, rice, lime pickles. Fruit salad, mango couli, yoghurt

Sunday 12th June

Big breakfast £3.50: (As Saturday)

Lunch £5.00: “Big Soup”, bread, salad. Cakes


Postal address: Polesworth Priory, High Street, Polesworth B78 1DU

Nearest Motorway Junction M42 Junction 10, take A5 (East) to Dordon, then

follow signs to Polesworth. From Tamworth, take the B5000. At the mini roundabout in Polesworth turn left over the river then follow second paragraph below.

Directions from the A5 Grendon (near Tamworth). At the Black Swan Roundabout turn on to Spon Lane, which is the exit on the opposite side of the roundabout to the pub. At the end of the lane, turn left on to the B5000. On entering Polesworth, stay on the B5000. You will pass a Gulf garage on your right. Take the next right turn over the bridge, signed to Warton.

Turn right into the Community Hall, Library and Surgery car park. On arrival and before you set up/ pitch tents etc, please walk through the park to the church and make yourself known at the reception area, where you will be directed to the appropriate camping spot.


The driveway is now complete and is no longer a car park! It’s definitely a driveway.There are only a few spaces available for cars, quite close to the Church, but they are solely for disabled visitors to the site. There is no problem with the usual drop off and unload, either by the Refectory door or by the garage — which is probably an easy way into the garden. After drop off, re-park, either by the Memorial Hall or on the College Car Park, which is the next entrance up from the Gatehouse, opposite the Co Op. Both are really convenient — within 100 metres of the Church.

Ian Clabburn