April 8 – Chiltern Ceilidhs…

Summer season band

The Chiltern Ceilidh Band

Another busy day as we sort out stuff for this evening’s Chiltern Ceilidh in Dunstable. Ali sorts out food and picks up accordion player Alex Cummings from the station.

Tom’s van conks out on the motorway and as my van is still not ready things are getting a bit tense and I start wondering if we can ferry enough gear to the venue in the car to do the gig.

Everything comes good at around six as I get call to say the van is ready at 5:45pm and Tom arrives at the venue with a working van, the PA and two of the musicians. Not a great turn out for the ceilidh but Jo May’s African drumming group and dancers put on a great show.

The band for the gig was really kicking with Alex on accordion, Debbie Chalmers on fiddle, Tom Fairbairn on bass, Sam McEvoy on kit drums and me on guitar. The caller was Will Hall who guided the small but enthusiastic audience through a range of differnt dances.

We’ve been running this dance as a monthly event for over a year now and I am wondering if we’re on a hiding onto nothing. This meant to be a way for us as local musicians to put something back into our local community. However if we can’t draw in either the regular crowd of dancers or locals who want support the local social scene then perhaps we need to rethink the whole thing. Last year there appeared to be a bit of a groundswell for support for local activities in Dunstable but these seem to be more focused on retail therapy and clubbing.

Maybe we’re just barking up the wrong tree in Dunstable. We’re providing a social function in the town for which we would normally expect to get paid a professional fee. At the moment the door takings don’t cover the cost of the venue and the travelling expenses of the musicians and caller. The next two month’s will be make or break for the event. If it doesn’t improve I can’t see how we can justify carrying on.

If the event fails now then it’s just another nail in the coffin of Dunstable as a viable community…


About Brian Heywood

Brian Heywood is a free range musician who specialises in edgy roots / country / celtic fusion music. Previous work has received comments such as "... aggressive, top notch fiddling set off by periodic guitar explosions." - Tom Nelligan, Dirty Linen Magazine (USA), "Just when it seemed as if newer electric British roots bands were getting thinner on the ground - Very welcome and very good." - fROOTS Magazine (UK) and Steve Barnes Fairbridge Festival Artistic Director (Australia) - "... a rocking band - I was delighted with the audience response."
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