History of Madcap.
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
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
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
Occasionally the band invite other musicians to help out when
members of the band are unavailable and regular first reserves
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
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.
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