Bagpipe Society Logo
Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2017

Welcome to the programme for our 25th Blowout!

We have again been most fortunate to book a wide range of exciting guests from both near and far. There may be updates, so keep an eye our Facebook page and especially our website, where you can read more detailed practical information and download timetables, music scores etc via the Blowout 2017 page. Cätlin Mägi (Estonia), Griff Trio (Belgium), Jon Swayne’s Mystery Band, David Faulkner & Steve Turner, Scott Marshall, Andy Letcher, Sean Jones, Paul Roberts, Pat Goodacre

plus … The Friday Tune competition!!

Cätlin Mägi (Sat, Sun)

is a leading figure in the Estonian piping revival. Having first discovered the Estonian torupill as a teenager, Cätlin is now a full time professional musician and teacher at the Viljandi Culture Academy. She tours widely with various groups, including the innovative folk jazz band Ro:Toro. You can read much more about her in Chanter, Summer 2015.

Griff Trio (Sat, Sun)

They are 3. They are from Belgium. And they are great musicians. These 3 authentic troubadours from the 21st century invite you on a journey of Celtic myths and legends, Scandinavian sagas and other traditional laments through vocal polyphony, bagpipes and flute soundscapes. A journey through Belgian’s cultural crossroads and traditions. “Pipes but no kilt” is their motto. For more than 10 years, Griff has been creating a new music laboratory for bagpipes and traditional music. “… they bring bagpipe music to a higher level!” Eelco Schilder - Rémi Decker: bagpipe, whistles, vocals Colin Deru: bagpipe, whistles, vocals Raphaël De Cock: uilleann pipes, whistles, vocals

Jon Swayne’s Mystery Band (Saturday Bal)

To mark our 25th anniversary as a festival, Jon Swayne (Blowzabella) is putting together a unique band especially to play for the Saturday Bal. The final line-up is still to be confirmed but knowing Jon, it will be something very special. Watch the website for updates!

David Faulkner and Steve Turner (Sat, Sun)

David and Steve have worked together for over 20 years with The Eel Grinders - a group making innovative acoustic music and dance music inspired by British and European traditions. They also play for concerts and dances as a duo. This weekend they will be playing music from their new recording “More tunes about baggage and hills; English and border music. 1625 to 2017” This is a long overdue follow up to their previous recording “English and Border Music for Pipes”.

Scott Marshall (Sat)

Scott has been playing the hurdy-gurdy for twelve years. He plays at sessions and for dances and occasional duets and has taught the instrument both in the UK and abroad with Cliff Stapleton. He is currently experimenting with vintage electronica and echo units to create textured improvised sound tracks. Scott writes quirky, catchy tunes and has recently finished recording his first solo hurdy-gurdy album.

Talk by Paul Roberts - Lincolnshire, Lancashire & Scotch Bagpipes: Regional & Pastoral bagpipes in 17th Century England

Paul will be looking at evidence for the existence of these pipes, their likely origins and use. This talk was first presented at the Third International Bagpipe Conference in Glasgow last year.


Cätlin Mägi (Sat) will be teaching some traditional tunes from Estonia and looking at how they can be adapted to the “English” bagpipes. G pipes

Remi Decker and Colin Deru (Sat, Sun)

Workshop 1 (Sat):

Discovering bagpipe polyphony

Content: some basic polyphonic rules, how to create 2nd and 3rd voices based on chords, and also on following the instinct/melody. Suitable for all levels , beginners welcome.

Bagpipes in G and D . A basic recording of the tunes can be found here:

“Visa from Venjan” see “Marche de Pélerinage” (pelgrim’s march) see

Workshop 2 (Sun):

Working with more difficult chords and some examples of writing arrangements for 3 bagpipes (G G D). It’s strongly recommended that to gain maximum benefit, you will have attended Workshop 1. Bagpipes in G and D.

Tunes: “Jepuan Marssi” see (played in D but we will play it in G at the workshop).

“Chapeau & Bretelles” (hat and straps) see

Music for both workshops is available via the website

Scott Marshall - Hurdy-gurdy (Sat)

Scott will share some of the things he has been discovering through playing: instrument set up, rosin & cotton, ideas for practice and improvisation, improving technique and making practice fun, playing to records.Also trompette tricks and patterns, adding the buzzes between the buzzes, scales and exotic scales, visualising the keybox and intervals. Amplification & using effects pedals.

Please let us know the tuning (G/C or D/G) of your hurdy gurdy when you order tickets

Sean Jones - Meet the Uilleann Pipes (Sun)

Returning by popular demand, a second chance to try the Uilleann pipes, using a number of student sets made by Sean.

Andy Letcher - Pipers’ Surgery (Sat) tbc

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!

Ian Clabburn - Absolute Beginners (Sun)

This workshop is for anyone who has just started out and would like a bit of help in establishing good practice from the outset. The Bagpipe Society’s own student borderpipes and smallpipes will be available for use if anyone wishes to try them out.

David Faulkner - English Piping (Sat)

David will be running pipe workshops for the more experienced player who likes a challenge. The music will be for pipes that are in G, that can play over the octave and have some capability for playing accidentals and chromatically. “We will be looking at and working on English and border music and how to make it your own using expression, technique and variation. We will be working by ear supported by music scores. The scores will be available on the day.”

New: “workshop on demand” (Sat)

Now here’s a new idea: Let us know what you would like to learn and what ever the majority come up with, we will try to find a tutor and put on an impromptu workshop. It does have to be bagpipe related, of course! Suggestions in advance to (best option), or you can talk to Ian at The Blowout

Pat Goodacre - French Dance (Sat).

Pat will be leading us through some of the dances likely to feature in the Bal, plus something new, no doubt!

D Smallpipes Session (Sat)

An opportunity for all you players of the Dudy, Hummelchen, Leicestershire smallpipes etc to get together and swap tunes, away from all those noisier pipers!

The Competition!

To celebrate our 25th Blowout, we are holding another of our famous competitions on the Friday evening, on the theme of “Cultural highlights of 1993”. There’s plenty to choose from including Meatloaf, Whitney Houston and Mr Blobby. Interpretation is entirely up to you! There will be a prize of no significant value.

Makers’ Stalls

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, Terry Mann. Whistle maker Phil Bleazy will also be in attendance.

The Bagpipe Society’s Second hand pipes, books & CD Stall.

Buy, sell, swap, donate - it’s up to you! There will also be a final opportunity to acquire some of the last remaining paper copies of Chanter from the days of yore

Blowout Menu

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 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 27th May. We cannot guarantee that any spare meals will be available on the day – so book early! See the website for details


Due to local parking concerns, we have had to make some changes. Unless there has been heavy rain beforehand, all camper vans 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 (map on website). There will be marshals on hand to guide and advise. Whilst we recognise that this is not ideal and that access is tight and certainly not possible for larger vehicles, we are trying to find alternative parking arrangements. Please keep an eye on the website/facebook page for developments. Parking of large vehicles on the main Community Centre car park or surrounding grass is strictly forbidden. If you are in doubt, please email in

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 paragraph above), space permitting. A map is available via the Blowout web page


Postal address: Polesworth Priory, High Street, Polesworth B78 1DU On arrival, please make yourself known at the reception area in the Memorial Hall.


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 or by using this address:

Ticket enquiries:

General enquiries: See you! Ian Clabburn