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The Greater Spotted Ceilidh Band are a covey of five musicians living in Edinburgh. We’ve been performing together for a few years now but the glow that comes at the end of a night of playing for fleet-footed and merry dancers is still as warm and stirring as that first fateful night we unexpectedly gathered to call up the dance.

 

THE PLAYERS

Guitar

Michael has been happily strumming away for a number of ceilidh bands since settling in Edinburgh some 8 years ago, playing at anything from front room hoedowns to big weddings from Orkney to Dorset. He takes particular inspiration from the playing of Irish accompanists like Arty McGlynn and Jon Doyle, as well as from the American Old-time tradition.

Favourite dance:

The reel of the 51st (we don’t do this dance but I saw it once at a ceilidh years ago and it looked great/complicated).

Fiddle

The most recent member of the band, Rachel, had been growing Greater and Greater spots before joining up fully in 2017. She loves TUNES, so fitted in well to the pack. Rachel’s main inspiration comes from awesome fiddlers like Kevin Burke, Liz Carroll and Brittany Haas. It doesn’t matter if the tunes are Scottish, Old Time, Klezmer, whatever – she loves playing them. And to play for people dancing is even more ace.

Favourite dance:

The Spiral

Bodhran

Bartek is passionate about rhythm and percussion instruments in “celtic” music and he represents the rhythmic section of the Greater Spotted Ceilidh Band.

Before permanently moving to Scotland he was polishing his musical skills over the years by participating in workshops, sessions and festivals all over Europe and he was also a member of various folk music bands and projects back in Poland.

Currently he enjoys being a part of Edinburgh’s vibrant folk music scene and one can regularly spot him around local pubs playing folk sessions – enjoying music, good company and fine Scottish ales.

Favourite dances:

Reels, jigs, slip jigs & strathspeys (preferably the ones played in minor keys) 😉

Wooden Flute, Mandolin, Songs

Sam is a player of several instruments with a lifelong passion for music of many forms. He has much experience playing in a host of places, from firesides and festivals to concert halls and the backs of cosy old pubs. He loves the wooden flute and is happy to be part of the instrument’s growing resurgence in Scotland. He is deeply inspired by Irish traditional flute players such as Matt Molloy and Kevin Crawford as well as the diverse and innovative styles of Brian Finnegan, Calum Stewart and Breton flute player Sylvain Barou. Sam is also engaged with Gaelic musical tradition, particularly song, as well as the rich tradition of his native Northumberland. When he gets the chance he loves the roving life of the road, turning up in unfamiliar places to share music and whimsical craic with strangers who may soon become friends.

Favourite dance:

They’re nearly all great but Lucky 7 is certainly up there

Pandeiro, Shaker, Dances

Mark or Dan was just sitting at the back of the room when Katie – one of the vegan banquet organisers – said to him ‘hey, would you call some dances for a ceilidh, err, like, right now? come meet the band’. That was many years and many dances ago now, and what began as dance floor mayhem has matured into some exceedingly enthusiastic and welcoming choreography. He specialises in delving deep into old dusty dance books and revitalising old steps, bringing back to life the likes of “She’s Ower Young to Marry Yet” and “The Bradstone Reel”. He’s reknowned for his ‘ambitious’ spirals (best danced to be believed, with thanks to Morag Brown for first showing him the way), but is most happy watching a previously untested dance run smooth as silk whilst keeping up with Bartek on his pandeiro or tambourine.

Favorite Dance:

The Six Hand Reel (only ever tried once, the ‘vogue-ing’ was totally hilarious, it will reel again!)

Occasionally old pals Emily (fiddle) and Sam (cajon) might join us in the good cheer.

 

THE TUNES

A healthy broth of Irish, Scottish, American and English jigs, reels, hornpipes, waltzes, polkas and more. We have a great respect for the tradition and its bearers as well as the continuing inspiration and creativity that keep the tradition alive. Thus we play ancient tunes alongside contemporary and self-penned music with delight. Our set also features a fair few songs, from fast paced Gaelic mouth music to soulful waltzes and foot stomping bluegrass tunes. All our players have spent many fine evenings playing in sessions not just in Edinburgh but all across the land and our tunes reflect this musical richness.

 

THE DANCES

It was never our intention to be Just Another Ceilidh Band. We bring you all the well-known steps but also less familiar dances from old books and passed-down memories. We’ve got easy ones for the kids and newcomers, and proper fast ones for the enthusiastic, and we might even throw in a game or two if the mood is right. The Greater Spotted Ceilidh Band also looks out to the music and dance of other places, and we are keen to incorporate more Breton, Swedish and other European dances. We are always open to suggestions and do let us know if you have any special requests.

 

THE BIRD

The Greater Spotted Ceilidh is a mythical bird that flies far and wide, searching for suitable perches. She’s a magic one, and likes nothing better than to swoop down into a packed church hall, wedding reception or community discotheque to fill the players and dancers with the foot-flailing, plume-shaking and high-whooping spirit of her special ceilidh wonder.

So come all ye cocks and hens, redshanks and yellowhammers, pigeons and pheasants, come caper at the ceilidh. We can provide a sound system, and no distance is too far for our merry troupe. Whether it’s a wedding, community celebration, fundraiser or private function, please get in touch: greaterspottedceilidh@gmail.com