Madcap Ceilidh Band

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A History of Madcap.

Madcap was formed in 1985 when a Sale/Altrincham based crowd decided to get together to form a ceilidh band. Mick Huntley, now living and working in America, acted as coordinator and, together with Dave (Buttercup!) Robinson (melodeon), Pete Pascoe (concertina), Tim Veitch (cello), Joanne Blinkhorn (whistles), and John Snelson (highland bagpipes) started to rehearse a repertoire of traditional music together with self-penned Robinson tunes.
Mick Huntley had previously worked with the short lived
Hong Kong Kay-Lee Company (Mike Billington, Keith Hancock, Jamie Knowles and Tony Nyland) and invited Mike Billington, formerly with Rebec to join the band to contribute his array of renaissance woodwinds including recorders, crumhorns, rauschpfeife and bombarde.
The band was, at this time, called
Contrabande but changed to Madcap after Mike revealed at one of his first band rehearsals that the name had already been used.
The band then embarked on working the ceilidh scene in the Cheshire area and quickly made a name for themselves as an exciting dance band and work included folk events as well as weddings and private birthday parties.
Madcap have, as yet, contrary to all rumours, still not played at a barmitzhah!!! Still, if the opportunity should arrive….!

Various line up changes have ensued over the years. Firstly Joanne Blinkhorn left and was replaced by Hudson Swan, once of the Scottish band The Tannahill Weavers. Hudson brought a fresh dynamic to the band with his driving guitar and bouzouki playing and he also contributed the occasional violin. Indeed, Hudson was to rejoin The Tannies only to rejoin Madcap soon after. After Hudson left for the second and final time to concentrate on his PA and management businesses the band decided to take a rest and take stock of matters. Tim also left at this time to join The Electropathics and Dave returned to his native West Country roots. Mick was shortly to leave the scene but in more dramatic fashion to work in Atlanta, USA.

The band reformed after a short time with Mike and John inviting melodeon player Paul Woods and fiddler Willy Simpson to join and the band started afresh albeit with a more streamlined line-up. Mick was still calling for the band at this time just prior to his transatlantic exile.

It was around this time, the years merge into a blur, that the band was joined by guitarist Bill Phillips, well known for his involvement with various bands in the area. Bill, as anyone who knows him will testify, is not only a superb musician but one in high demand. He decided to trim his commitments and was replaced by current guitarist Iain Bowley, who had played with Bill in previous bands.

The band then comprised Paul, Willy, Iain and the ever present Mike. Much of the repertoire, however, remained the same as in the early days but new material was slowly being added. The absence of Tim’s cello had left a gap in the bass section and two new members were drafted in to remedy this. Tom Francis more than filled in the bass with his consummate keyboard skills.  Bill Pook’s djembe and other assorted percussion completed the Madcap sound.  That's how things stayed until Tom had to retire from the band due to ill health.

Madcap still play the ceilidh scene and are out and about in the north west doing 30+ gigs each year. Mick Huntley’s departure, of course, necessitated the search for new callers and the band regularly use the services of Arthur Marshall, Brian Corrigan, Pete Crowther, Francis Roe, Ralph Smethurst and Nick Tamblin (once of Pidgeon English.)

Occasionally the band invite other musicians to help out when members of the band are unavailable and regular first reserves include melodeon players Ian Murfit and John Jocys, bassist and saxophonist Ian Jesse, fiddlers Nicola Smalley, Claire Smith (Fluff) and Emma Corrigan with Mark Woolley stepping in occasionally on percussion.

Madcap are busier now than at any time over the last twenty years and are currently working (very slowly!) on the recording of their first CD.

In memoriam

A fantastic musician and a great friend Tom Francis sadly passed away in 2010. We miss him greatly. Also founder member John Snelson died in 2007 and is fondly remembered by Madcap and all his other friends in the world of music.

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