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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2017 - our 25th! It was a fantastic weekend. See you at number 26 (1st to 3rd June 2018)

Polesworth Abbey, near Tamworth, Staffs


  • Griff Trio
  • Cätlin Mägi
  • The Jon Swayne Mystery Band
  • David Faulkner and Steve Turner
  • Paul Roberts
  • Sean Jones
  • Scott Marshall
  • Pat Goodacre
  • Terry Mann
  • plus… The Friday Tune competition!!


For workshop material downloads, go to the “Workshops” section below

Griff (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. Rémi Decker: bagpipe, whistles, vocals Colin Deru: bagpipe, whistles, vocals Raphaël De Cock: uilleann pipes, whistles, vocals “… they bring bagpipe music to a higher level!” Eelco Schilder -

Cätlin Mägi (Sat, Sun)

Cätlin 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.

Jon Swayne and Friends (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 lineup is still to be confirmed but knowing Jon, it will be something very special. Watch this page 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 (Sat)

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.


Remi Decker and Colin Deru (Sat, Sun)

Workshop 1: 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 mp3”

“Visa from Venjan music PDF

“Marche de Pélerinage” (pelgrim’s march)

“Marche de Pélerinage music PDF

Workshop 2

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 workshop1. Bagpipes in G and D.


“Jepuan Marssi”

(played in D but we will play it in G at the workshop).

“Jepuan Marssi” music PDF

“Chapeau & Bretelles” (hat and straps)

“Marche de Pélerinage music PDF

Cätlin Mägi Estonian tune workshop/session (Sat)

Cätlin will be introducing us to some pipe tunes from Estonia. Suitable for pipes in G Videos of the workshop tunes plus downloadable scores available here:

Music for “Torupilli Jussi lugu nr 21”

Music for “Loppevalts”

Music for “Hiiu polka”

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

David Faulkner - English Piping, advanced technique (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.”

Sean Jones – Meet the Uilleann Pipes (Sun)

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

Pipers’ Surgery - Tery Mann (Sat)

Designed principally for players of Southern English Border Pipes, this workshop is open to all, but especially beginners and those at an intermediate level. Come with questions about technique, posture, repertoire, or practice and we will do our 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.

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, naturally! Suggestions in advance to , 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!


This year, we are celebrating our 25th Blowout, so to mark this, we are holding a competition on the Friday evening: Any performance 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 may well 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
  • Ross Calderwood

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!

Fri 2nd June

Supper £5 Big,chunky, vegetable stew with real mashed potatoes,pickles and chutneys,followed by nice yogurt with honey and cinnamon

Saturday 3rd June

Big Breakfast £3.50. Cereals, muesli, bacon and egg sandwich, tea, coffee, toast and jam

Lunch £5 Pasta bakes with salads (various and seasonal) and a chocolate trifle

Dinner. £6 Vegetable tagine with cous cous and sundry bits and bobs(harissa..etc)followed by k’naffa (arabic pastry,honey,soft cheese and pistachio pastry)

Sunday 4th June

Big Breakfast £3.50 (as Saturday)

Lunch £5.00 Homemade Pizzas and quiches with various toppings and fillings, green salad, grated carrot salad and some freshly made summery cakes for pudding.

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 The Memorial Hall) from Friday pm to Sunday 6.00pm. This gives us plenty of space and facilities, which include a good number of toilets, warm dry rooms, a dance-sized hall with stage, kitchen and a bar with real ales ordered. Camping 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. Spaces are available on a first come basis Wash facilities are still limited to small hand basins, but hey – we’re all friends


Camper Vans etc

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR CAMPER VANS - UPDATED 25th APRIL 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). Whilst we recognise that this is not ideal and that access is tight and certainly not possible for larger vehicles, it is all we have been able to find locally. Please take great care to thoroughly check the condition of the ground before you park on any grassed area. Archaeological digs have left some areas ery soft

NEW:FOR LONG WHEELBASE CAMPERVANS The manager of the Polesworth Club, which is virtually opposite the Gatehouse on High Street, has agreed that we can park up to three long wheelbase camper vans in his car park, which is on the left side of the club building. IMPORTANT: please contact beforehand AND call in to the club before you park up. The manager will tell you where to set up. Parking of large vehicles on the main Community Centre car park or surrounding grass is strictly forbidden.

Campers (tents)

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 in the grounds of the Learning Centre (see photo above), space permitting.

Local Accommodation

Polesworth is not a tourist area and accommodation is scarce in the immediate area. There is one hotel in the village and Bed and Breakfast accommodation not too far away – contact me if you are considering either of these options. Tamworth is only a short drive away and can offer a wider range of accommodation.


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 turn right into the Community Hall, Library and Surgery car park. On arrival, please make yourself known at the reception area in the Memorial Hall. Camper vans or caravans will then be directed to the new parking areas, if necessary.

General enquiries: