Bellowhead are an piece band who specialise in playing traditional English music, rearranged with a contemporary twist. With a range of influences spanning sea shanties, folk songs and dance pieces, the band use a combination of traditional instruments such as fiddles and the tuba alongside modern-day ones such as drum kits and bass guitars. The material performed by the band relies on the 11 band members swapping instruments many times during a gig, with over 20 instruments used between all members. The band members are all highly respected instrumentalists in their own right, with numerous credits earned on other folk or traditional projects alongside their work with the Bellowhead collective. Formed by John Spiers and Jon Boden in , Bellowhead was the product of a discussion borne from a tedious traffic jam endured whilst on tour. The longer Spiers and Boden sat in traffic, the more musicians they decided they could invite into the band, resulting in the eclectic mix of instruments which gives Bellowhead their signature sound. Described initially as a "bunch of mates" who got together to play a gig at the Oxford Festival in , it was quickly decided that there was merit in continuing as an ensemble. Bellowhead have always seen themselves as primarily a live band, winning the Best Live Group category five times between and at the BBC Folk Awards. In the studio, Bellowhead's debut was the five-track EP released as E. The time taken by the ensemble in creating their first full-length album, Burlesque, resulted in arrangements of folk standards such as Death and the Lady which confounded expectations.
Paul Sartin (fiddle)
Jon's going to be part of GlobalMusicMatch - starts next week! Really excited to be a part of Global Music Match ! There will be a 20 minute support slot from some brilliant young string players, then Sam and his band will play the whole of Unearth Repeat for the first time since they recorded it back in September ! All donations will be split between the band, production crew and the support acts, so please do give something if you can. Sorry for the long wait My Dreams, featuring midi concertina from Rob. If you're enjoying our cover versions, you can sling some money in our hat using the link above. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel. All proceeds will be shared equally between the band. A brand new book of tunes by John Spiers is available to pre-order from today.
It was a bit of a wheeze. The band quickly grew to include like-minded friends of friends of friends, each hailing from almost every corner of the UK. Within no time at all the 11 musicians were creating a uniquely raucous, richly coloured mix of folk, funk, music hall, jazz, classical and improvisational dissonance, spiked with a penchant for creating wild and inventive new arrangements for traditional English dance tunes and ballads. Only weeks after forming, their first gig was a sell-out in Oxford. Soon after, a gig at Sidmouth Festival resulted in a broken dance-floor it also happened twice at Towersey Festival such was the enthusiasm of the audience. And from a bit of a wheeze, Bellowhead have become one of the most highly regarded and sought after bands on the live circuit today. Onymous , one compilation Umbrellowhead , three studio albums, Burlesque , Matachin , Hedonism And now, their latest CD, Broadside.
After 12 years, five studio albums, and thousands of live dates, Bellowhead are calling it a day. Before they go, we asked each of the 11 members to choose their favourite Bellowhead track and tell us about it, and send us a selfie to go along with it. Favourite album: Matachin. Convening in a grotty Bermondsey rehearsal room and recording our version of the theme to The Simpsons for Morgan Spurlock was a particular standout moment. Favourite track: London Town Favourite album: Hedonism.