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Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Blowout 2020 - CANCELLED

5th to 7th June Polesworth Memorial Hall and Priory, Warwickshire, UK


  • Olle Gällmo
  • Olle Geris
  • Toon van Mierlo
  • Porembela
  • Quentin Budworth
  • Dave Rowlands

plus … The Friday Tune competition!!



Saturday timetable

Sunday timetable

Please note: there will be updates, so do check from time to time


Olle Gällmo (concerts & workshops)

Olle Gällmo is ‘riksspelman’ on Swedish bagpipes (Säckpipa) and well known for his work in playing and promoting the instrument, in Sweden and abroad. His comprehensive web site ( has been a great help and source of inspiration to Säckpipa players all over the world."

Olle will give two workhops, one for Säckpipa in E/A, which will focus on Säckpipa-specific playing techniques, and one for conical half-closed bagpipes in G/C which will focus on the rythmic peculiarites of Swedish traditional music."

Olle Gallmo

Olle Geris (concerts, bal and workshops)

Olle Geris grew up in a musically minded family and soon discovered a love of bagpipes. She studied with Jean-Pierre van Hees in Brussels for several years, but at the age of 18 turned to making bagpipes to the exclusion of all else for some time. In 1995, Olle received a royal bursary to support her in mastering the craft of manufacturing bagpipes. She worked with her mentor Remy Dubois until 2009, when she took over the workshop, enabling him to pursue investigations into recreating historical bagpipes from European collections. Olle performs internationally with a variety of bands (Willem Schot, Swart & Co, Zefiro Torna, Camerata Trajectina, Rans en Flagel, Göze, Idool 1900). In 1995 she won first place in the duet category at St Chartier with Machteld Truyens. She has also run numerous bagpiping and reed-making courses.

Olle Geris

Toon van Mierlo (concerts, bal and workshops)

Toon Van Mierlo studied oboe for several years as a child at the music academy in Turnhout. Ten years later at twenty-one, Toon fell head-over-heels for uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) - French pipes, clarinet, soprano sax, and button accordion soon followed. In 2003, Toon joined the band Fluxus and after that was soon asked to join Floes, Embrun, Harakiwi, Manimoen, and other bands. Today he plays with Naragonia, Naragonia Quartet, Hot Griselda, Novar and in duo with Olle Geris. Toon has recorded many albums with these groups and played as a guest artist on many more and he loves people and nature

Toon van Mierlo

Porembela (concerts & workshops)

Hailing, respectively, from Poland and the north-west Spanish region of Galicia, Michał Poręba and Gerardo Albela have between the two of them lived embedded in at least seven different cultures and speak seven different languages. They also come from very different musical backgrounds, the first from a classical upbringing, the second from a tradition-based approach. Together, they drink from all those experiences and mix all those differences to put together a musical experience that will take you from the roots of their different folklores through to their own compositions, flowing from the simple to the elaborate. Their music will make you feel, it will make you think, it might make you cry… but it will surely make you smile… and stamp your foot on the ground too. Michał Poręba and Gerardo Albela are… Porembela !!!


Quentin Budworth (Saturday workshop)

Quentin Budworth is a Hurdy-gurdy player and composer on a quest. For the last year he has travelled across Europe learning from master Hurdy-Gurdy players from different traditions. Supported by an Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice Grant his travels have taken him to France, Spain, Crete, Germany and Holland. He has studied with some of the worlds leading Hurdy-Gurdy players and folk musicians from many different traditions notably: German Díaz, Gilles Chabenat, Efren Lopez, Patrick Bouffard, Isobel Pignol, Rafa Martin, Sebastian Geworkian Hillsman, Kelly Thomas, Ross Kelly, Paul James, Merit Zloch, Anne Neopold, Carol Turner, John Goodacre, Gregory Jolivet and many more. In the mid 1990’s he played with the legendary Suns of Arqa, recording sessions with them for Radio 1’s John Peel and Andy Kershaw, tracks which were late picked up by Mix Mag as their track of the month. Quentin Budworth works as a soloist and also plays Hurdy Gurdy and writes for world music band Celtarabia the Hessle Ceilidh band and renowned historical entertainers The Grinnigogs.

Quentin Budworth

Dave Rowlands (Sat workshop)

Dave Rowlands bought his first set of pipes about the time Blowzabella first started playing in public, circa 1979, at the beginning of the bagpipe revival in the UK. He has combined his knowledge of dance with his love of drone music in Europe, writing many tunes, specifically for dancing. Dave has studied under some of the best pipers in Europe, including David Faulkener, Gunter Bauweraerts, Jon Swayne, Brian McNamara, and Judy Rocklife. He was the Co-organiser of the successful South Coast Bagpipe Day workshops, and has organised the Bagpipe Society Blowout twice. Dave has played in the Ploughmans Bunch (1980’s), Wizzard Wheeze (80’s-90’s), Citizen Camembert (1996-2003), and Snaketown (2006-2008). He has published several collections of music from Ireland, two studying the Baroque period, and has a forthcoming work on Francois Couperin, harpsichordist to the Sun King.

Dave Rowlands


Please Note All resource/preparatory material will be made available via this page and will be updated when necessary

Olle Gällmo

Swedish tunes by ear - for G pipes (Sat)

Swedish tunes for Säckpipa in E/A (Sun)

Olle Geris

Piping techniques & ornamenting (Sat)

Playing rounds on bagpipes (Sun)

Toon van Mierlo

Tone making on the bagpipe (Sat) Bagpipe playing must be like singing. You should feel like the sound you make comes straight out of your belly or whatever . But how do you that? Let’s discuss that in this workshop. So welcome.

Variations (Sun) Bagpipe playing is like making love: If you do always the same thing with your partner, everyone will get very bored, including yourself. So, you, get up and come to the workshop for some advanced love making with your beloved partner

Quentin Budworth

Hurdy Gurdy Session 1 (Sat)

Having attended a lot of music workshops and masterclasses I really am of the opinion that learning should be fun, challenging and achievable. I’ve been very privileged to study with many players and I have noticed that although many beginner and intermediate players think about Coups the advanced players have a very different approach to thinking about the bowing techniques used when playing the Hurdy-Gurdy. I will be teaching bowing and ornamentation from different Hurdy Gurdy traditions using simple tunes. We will learn how to play the tunes using a variety of different approaches to trompette technique. The aim of the session is to rethink the process of playing and to bring a greater richness, emotional expression and variety of sounds to your playing.

Hurdy Gurdy Session 2 (Sat)

Using the tunes that we have learned in session 1 we will explore what the tunes have to offer us and develop more complex compositions based on some key questions that will enable participants to write their own compositions confidently. Information


Gaita: the Galician bagpipes (Sat)

Gerardo Albela, from Porembela, will be talking about the Galician bagpipes, or gaita: history, types, repertoire, fingerings, tunings… If time allows, Gerardo and Michał might also do a brief incursion into some types of Welsh pipes too.

Porembeland (Sun)

One comes from Poland, the other from Galicia and they both live in Wales. The members of Porembela will take you on a musical trip, teaching you some melodies from each of the three cultures they are trying to amalgamate in their band. For diatonic instruments, we will mainly work in G.

Dave Rowlands

ADVANCED for D pipes of the grand cornemuse / European / Swayne type, chromatic with 1 1/2 octaves (Sat)

Collecting from other traditions, with a focus on the French harpsichord tradition at the court of Louis XIV. During this workshop we will look briefly at why this can be fun and important, then focus on two pieces by François Couperin, to be played as duets. This is a workshop for confident players (on “D” pipes) and music (sight) readers, playing and working from music in “D” (re). Those players with a good ear, and who usually pick up quickly are welcomed, as are those wishing just to watch and see the work evolve. The works we will study are “Les Vergers Fleuris” (part two), and “La Pastorelle”. The focus of these studies are concerned with the translation from their native instrument to the Bagpipe, and the reduction to two parts, from a complex score for harpsichord.

La Pastorelle

Les Vergers Fleuris

John Tose

Ensemble playing: ADVANCED - Pachelbel’s Canon in D for 2 G & 2 low D pipes - must read music and be confident playing in ensemble. Numbers strictly limited! (Sat)

To be performed at the Sat concert.

Pachelbel’s Canon G Bagpipes Page 1

Pachelbel’s Canon G Bagpipes Page 2

Pachelbel’s Canon D Bagpipes Page 1

Pachelbel’s Canon D Bagpipes Page 2

Terry Mann

Pipers’ Surgery (Sat)

Now a regular feature of the festival, the ‘pipers’ surgery’ is 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 (Sat)

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.

The Competition!


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 the opportunity to acquire some of the last remaining paper copies of Chanter from the days of yore

Blowout Menu


This year we are very pleased to welcome Mo, of Simply Paella (, who will be providing all the catering for the weekend. Do have a look at his menu – he comes highly recommended having cooked for VIP’s and in top restaurants, even at the Houses of Parliament!

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 30th May. We cannot guarantee that any spare meals will be available on the day – so book early!


The grounds of Polesworth Learning Centre are no longer available and we have negotiated the use of two alternative sites, both within a very short distance of the Memorial Hall. Spaces remain limited, so if you are intending to bring a motorhome / caravan, it is important that you contact for pitch reservation and practical information, including directions, with map. 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. Please note that these spaces are for cars only, and camper vans are not permitted to park there overnight.


Both camping areas are accessible via the church annex. There is no problem with drop off and unload, either by the Refectory door or by the garage, which offers an alternative access to the garden. After drop off, re-park behind the Memorial Hall. The first area is within the old cloisters and fills up quickly. The second area is reached though a gate diagonally across the lawn and consists of rough pasture leading down to the river. There is always plenty of space available. There is 24 hour access to toilets in the Church annex, which contain small wash basins. There is no additional charge for camping, beyond the purchase of a weekend ticket.


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

On arrival, please make yourself known at the reception area in the Memorial Hall. Ask for Ian or Kirsten




Ticket enquiries:

Any updates or changes will be announced on our Facebook page

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