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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2016

3rd to 5th June

Savage Prunes (concerts, Saturday, Sunday)

In 2015, the Savage Prunes won the ‘Petites Formations’ competition at ‘Le Son Continu’ music festival, since when they have expanded into a trio. The group is particularly influenced by European folk, as well as baroque, Celtic, jazz, techno, and classical music.

Callum Armstrong

is an innovative piper whose questing approach to the hitherto unexplored acoustic possibilities of the smallpipe is taking the instrument into areas most of us have never encountered. He has played as a soloist with the London Philharmonic orchestra, as well as appearing in Steven Spielberg’s film Warhorse as the piper. In 2014 he won the Chateau D’Ars Solo Piping competition.

George Pasca

was born in Arad, Romania and started his musical training at the Sabin Dragoi Arts High School, where he studied cello and piano.

Alongside being an active chamber and orchestral musician, George is also a very keen folk cellist, who enjoys exploring and creating new Techniques for his instrument. John Goodacre is a young musician with a fiddle style rooted in the dance music traditions of Europe. Having grown up surrounded by folk music, he developed his style under the tuition of the English fiddler Sam Sweeney. His musical travels have more recently taken him across much of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and led to encounters with musicians from as far afield as Chile, Iran, and Kenya. John also performs as part the latest manifestation of the English bagpipe trio, The Goodacre Brothers.

Juraj Dufek (Concerts Saturday, Sunday, presentation Saturday)

Juraj became interested in traditional Slovak music in the 1970s. He decided to start playing bagpipes after the meeting with Anton Vranka, the instrument’s virtuoso. Juraj participated in and co-created various music projects in Slovakia. In 2009 he founded the first Slovak bagpipe band, Spojené huky Slovenska (United Drones of Slovakia). As a long established maker of the Gajda, he has learnt to make those used in various regions of Slovakia, and in neighbouring countries. Together with leading Gajdos and Bernard Garaj from the Department of Ethnology and Ethnomusicology, University of Constantine the Philosopher, he was able to reconstruct the bagpipes from the Slovakia-Moravian border, as described by the composer Leoš Janáček. Juraj will be performing in the concerts and giving a presentation, accompanied by Paul Martin.

Estron (Concert, music session, Saturday)

Estron are based in Pembrokeshire in West Wales and perform mostly traditional Welsh music. The heart of the band are the Tose family - John and Danny on their Welsh Pibau Cyrn and Micky on ukulele and clarinet. They will be accompanied at the Blowout by Holly Robinson (Amazonne) on octave fiddle.

MoltenAmba (Bal, Saturday)

Led by fiddle, pipes & sax, with blistering guitar solos and a monster groove machine of keyboards, double bass and drums, MoltenAmba deliver concerts and dances with haunting vocals, stunning tunes and instrumental pyrotechnics … an extraordinary musical fusion, bringing the rhythms of the world direct to your feet.

Cliff Stapleton & Julian Scott (Concerts, workshop on Saturday)

Cliff began playing the hurdy gurdy in 1980. He has since become prolific as a composer of highly charged, spine tingling, hypnotic, tuneful music both in bands and with film and theatre. His work ranges from the powerful folk dance style of Blowzabella to the sublime industrial electronica of Coil. For almost 16 years he has been a member of Cyclobe ( which recently performed several concerts at the invitation of both Brian Eno and Antony Hegarty. Cliff is joined in the concert by Julian Scott, piper in Venn, which regularly performs at the Horsely French Dance Club. (Photo: Mike Smith)

Paul Martin (Saturday workshop, concerts)

Paul has played several varieties of western and eastern European bagpipe, initially learning the Highland pipes before experiencing local traditional music and taking up Smallpipes and Uilleann pipes. Over the last 15 years, he has explored the bagpipe music of the North of England and Lowland Scotland, whilst also trying other European styles of tunes suitable for bagpipes. In 2009 Paul recorded a solo CD “Blue”, playing Border pipes in A and G, and Northumbrian and Scottish Smallpipes. Jean Pierre Rasle (Saturday, Sunday workshops) has been at the forefront of pipe playing in Britain for many years, exploring innovative ways of developing the French versions of the instrument and its repertoire. He has covered folk-rock with the Albion Band, prog-folk ceilidhs with his own classic band of 30 years’ standing, Cock and Bull, French chanson as an internationally touring duo with Gabriel Yacoub of folk-rock giants Malicorne. He now lives in France and is currently exploring the traditional repertoire of the Cantal and Corrèze regions.


Cliff Stapleton - Hurdy-gurdy (Sat) Cliff will be leading the extended hurdy-gurdy workshop in the refectory. He says: I will guide, in detail, techniques of fingering and musical expression using simple melodies which relate to drone, no drone and with trompette rhythm. My aim will be to create a strong collective sound from all the participants and a communal feeling of “being in the zone”.

Sean Jones - Meet the Uilleann Pipes (Sat) A rare chance to try the Uilleann pipes, using a number of student sets made by Sean.

Andy Letcher - Pipers’ Surgery Andy will be returning with his popular ‘piper’s surgery’, designed principally for players of Southern English Border Pipes, but open to all, especially beginners and those at an intermediate level. Come with questions about technique, posture, repertoire, or practice and he will do his best to help!

Jean Pierre Rasle (Sat, Sun) Saturday: The lost pipes of South Massif Central: fiddle music of the Artense. “Based on the music of André Vermerie of Pons, South Cantal, for Cabrette, and the repertoire for the Chabrette of Limousin, with that of Alfred Mouret, Joseph Perrier, etc, from a mountainous region on the edge of Puy-de-Dôme, Cantal and Corrèze, we will look at the traditional melodies preserved by these fiddle players and how their techniques were influenced by pipers.” (esp. Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 5)

Sunday: Music from the Baroque era: from smallpipes to great pipes and back. “I’d like to cover in particular “Noels” (Christmas songs) and popular songs in general, that travelled from peasant to nobleman.” Music for the workshops will be available via the website

Paul Martin - Ornamentation in British piping traditions and how it can be adapted for the Border pipes. (Sat) Paul will be looking at how some aspects of Northumbrian, Scottish and Irish gracings can be applied to the G borderpipes.

Vicki Swan - Säckpipa repertoire and ornamentation. (Sun) Vicki is holder of the Brons award for traditional playing of the säckpipa from the Swedish Zorn jury. This year her focus is on the music from the county of Småland (which her family is from). She will be bringing the fruits of her research to find bagpipe-able tunes from Småland to the Blowout. Please note: this workshop is aimed solely at players of the Säckpipa, but others are welcome to observe!

Dave Rowlands - Variations and Gracing in a Tune for ”D” Pipes. (Sun) This year Dave will be focusing on another Jig, “Mary Do It Again”. The workshop will have a similar format to last year; learning the tune (though it will benefit you if you spend some time with it before the Blowout), looking at some gracing, and asking participants to try their hand at creating variations in the Irish style. Music for workshops and all other information will be available via the website at


This year, we are celebrating our 30th anniversary as a Society, so to mark this, we are holding two competitions on the Friday evening:

  1. An original tune composition to mark our 30th year.
  2. Rather less serious, any performance on the theme of “1986 and all that”. Inter- pretation is entirely up to you! Prizes? Maybe…


The following pipe makers will be exhibiting their wares and will be glad to help you draw up your wish list: Jon Swayne, Julian Goodacre, Sean Jones, Jim Parr. Whistle maker Phil Bleazey & Tabor pipemaker Terry Mann will also be in attendance. The Bagpipe Society’s Stall - the place to buy and sell second hand pipes, books & CDs.


Vanessa (The Blowout’s official caterer) will again be providing all the meals for the weekend – quality, quantity and value for money. Most of the food will be bought in the village to support the local economy and reduce food miles. See website for menu details

Please read: All meals must be booked and paid for in advance. Kitchen facilities are tight and there is an upper limit to the number of meals we can provide. The cut-off date for meal bookings is Saturday 28th May. We cannot guarantee that any spare meals will be available on the day, and non-bookers will be served last – you have been warned!


Due to local parking concerns, we have had to make some changes. Unless there has been heavy rain beforehand, all camper van and caravans must park in the grounds of Polesworth Learning Centre, which are accessed through the gate on the right just after passing the gatehouse and the Co Op on High Street. The Church driveway is strictly no parking. There are only a few spaces available for cars, next 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 preferably on the Learning Centre Car Park (see above), space permitting. There will be a map available via the Blowout web page.

Directions: Postal address: Polesworth Priory, High Street, Polesworth B78 1DU. On arrival, please make yourself known at the reception area in the Memorial Hall. Camper vans and caravans will then be redirected to the new parking areas, unless you have found it already.

Paying: There is a £5 reduction for current members who pay in advance. We are also going ticketless. Print off your PayPal or email receipt if you require proof of purchase. Please make our lives as stress free as possible by paying as early as you can. You can pay online by PayPal – just follow the link from the Blowout page on the website

All ticket enquiries:

See you in June!