Unlike some more traditional Cotswold sides, who have only one or two musicians playing for them, we believe there is safety in numbers and have, on a good day, a small orchestra to serenade the dancers and audience. Our regular musicians play melodeon, concertina, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and percussion and several of our multi-talented dancers can also add to the throng if they are not needed in a set.
Playing for Cotswold Morris involves a strong degree of discipline, with tempos and styles in keeping with the tradition from which each dance comes. How we need to play for a dance can be affected by the weather, the surface on which we are dancing, the time of day and level of hangovers being suffered and not least by which dancers are in the set! Part of our responsibility is to assess these and other factors and to adjust our speed to suit the occasion. We do our best!
The Border dances give us the opportunity for a more relaxed approach to a tune and greater scope for individuality. This is where we can let go and create harmonies and have fun with the tune. As long as we keep the pace steady, the dancers don't seem to care what we do and in truth, do they even notice?
The music for rapper sword dancing, played by only a handful of our band members, has to be maintained steadily and interminably at a fairly furious pace and is every bit as deserving of applause as the intricacies of the dance itself.
As well as playing for the dance, we love a good music session afterwards and with many of us having played in ceilidh bands and some who spend entire festivals playing tunes in pubs, we have a fairly extensive repertoire. Although our predominant tendency is to play English tunes, we also have favourites from the Scottish, Irish, French and Scandinavian folk traditions. In the end, we believe that a good tune is worth playing, wherever its origins might have been.
And finally: As recently as five years ago, Crook Morris was pretty much incapable of holding a song together and there are those of us who can remember the embarrassment at our attempts to regale an audience with the opening songs to Fanny Frail and Postman's Knock. Well.... all that has changed. With several of us singing together regularly we now feel confident enough to break into song whenever the mood takes us. And take us, it does!
New musicians are always welcome to join us so anyone who is tempted, just contact one of our officers or come along to our Monday evening practices and have a go.