The Shady Grove String Band
Cornucopia have their own band, known as the Shady Grove String Band who are available for parties, ceilidhs (barn dances), banquets, wedding receptions, festivals, health and safety away days etc.
HOW TO HIRE US
Once you have contacted us, we can then talk through the venue, the audience, the type of event and so on, and discuss the possibilities. You could have anything from a ceilidh involving the whole band, PA and caller, to a simple acoustic set with just 2 or 3 of us, just for background music, or anything in between. We’re very flexible.
We play Anglo-Celtic dances on fiddles, octave mandola (octave mandolin), mandolin, whistle, guitars, bouzouki, tenor banjo and tea-chest bass, and Appalachian numbers on fiddles, 5-string banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, guitars, bouzouki and tea-chest bass.
We are occasionally joined by guest musicians Geoff and Linda on mandolin and cello, and Graham on fiddle.
Guitar, noise, Dulcimer, noise, Harmonica, Hats, occasional bass, noise…..
I first heard Blue Grass music while working as a burglar in the Salt Canyon Railroad Poodle Parlour in Burgsburg, Arizona, RG5 3LQ.
Love of this music’s rare capacity for not just playing in D and G led me and my partner Barby-Ann Blenkinsopp to found the famous Hickory Mahal, the only Gospel Curry House west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where musicians would gather every day on a Thursday afternoon to play them crunchy tunes and eat them lonesome poppadoms.
On moving to Wallingford, England, to avoid the notorious “Banjogate” scandal of 1993, I was delighted to meet The Shady Grove String Band who together with the Cornucopia dancers continue the best traditions of behaving loudly which I first met all those years ago in Lard County, Iowa.
The rest, as they say, is noise. Age is 86. Colour of eyes is green. Favourite street name is Lymington Crescent.
Greetings. I am the newest member of the SGSB, but also the heaviest, proving once and for all that statistics cannot always be relied upon to prove anything.
My knowledge of the guitar, bass, mandolin, tenor banjo and washboard has astounded the other members of the band as I know practically nothing about any of them.
Whether we’re playing in a concert, wedding ceilidh, charity fund-raiser, or just in a pub session, we all have so much fun; the music is awsome and the friendships are priceless.
The tea’s good too (maybe a little hot).
Jim (the grey one and therefore the wise one) plays fiddle and octave mandolin.
He reckons that he is the most likely one in the group to be described as anything approaching sensible. Yes Jim. Whatever.
Just look at that photograph. There’s mischief in them eyes and no mistake!
Jim is unable to wear a hat. Any hat.
Originally I asked the kids for ideas for this pen portrait. Sadly, all I got was stuff like ‘grumpy’, ‘messy hair’, ‘poor taste in underwear’, ‘gets carried away’ (whatever that means)… So here’s the truth.
Overview: Cool, composed musician with an intellectual approach who never ever plays too fast or in a wayward fashion.
Age: Old enough to know better.
Role in group: Loud, enthusiastic and sometimes tuneful fiddle-player.
Favourite tune: That would be Nancy. No, Liberty. Wait, hold on, it’s Calliope House (love that diddly diddly thing). Oh I dunno.
Most endearing trait: Finding new tunes for rest of band to learn.
Most annoying trait: Finding new tunes for rest of band to learn.
Most likely to say: ‘Dang, there goes another bow hair.’
Least likely to say: ‘Sorry, can’t make the pub after practice tonight.’
I always wondered how it was that ceilidh band fiddlers come to know hundreds of tunes, but it’s taken me a while to find out.
I started piano when I was very young, gave that up as a bad job and switched to violin on the basis that you generally only have to play one note at a time. The only question is, which one? Mine’s got all the black notes, all the white notes, and LOTS of grey ones in between!
It was decades later that I discovered that if you switch from violin to fiddle you can dispense with the sheet music altogether. And play in pubs! What joy!
Jim saw me playing in sessions and realised that unless he got me into a proper band I was likely to bring the area into disrepute. So although Cornucopia normally only accepts musicians, he suggested I come along. I have never looked back (actually you can’t look back while playing fiddle – try it if you don’t believe me).
And then I finally found the ultimate secret of knowing hundreds of tunes by heart. I should have guessed. You start by learning a few, then you learn a few more. Then a few more and then – a few more. After a few more you learn a few more (this is starting to sound like a drinking song…)
I have been singing and playing at folk clubs and sessions since the Eighties. Initially, it was just singing, then I decided to learn the guitar to accompany the songs. Then I discovered what fun it was playing along with other people at sessions and learning new tunes all the time.
I joined Cornucopia in Summer 2003, and discovered it was even more fun playing in a band, with the sound of the clogs and the spectacle of the dancing as an added dimension.
And I get to dress up as a cowgirl!!
Gettin’ that old organ down from the loft and on to the back of the pick up was just a drivin’ me crazy, so when Clarabella, the contra-alto started her shrieking about mice in her fiddle case, I figured I’d do good to help her out.
Well, goddarn’it if they had’nt chewed away all those holy tunes, and all that old fiddle had left in it was a bunch of them sloppy ol’ bluegrass numbers.
So I says, Monty Spavin, it’s time to take a break from all that God Botherin’ stuff and before those goddarn rodents finds themselves a bit peckish again, youse’ad better take that half chewed Strad and find a couple of those Yankie Apple-bashing dancers; so sure as my middle name’s Ebenezer that’s how I’ve ended! – up the Cripple Creek with a bunch of shady grovers.”
Reginald E. Troubshort’s the name, and I hail from Lumphammer, Missouri, USA, where I started work in Birkett J. Ebenezer’s general store when I was 16.
I later ran a seed-drilling hire business but left the town in disgrace after putting radiator sealant in a rival’s petrol tank during the annual tractor pulling competition. As a result I am still on the run from security staff of Randall T. Flubber Agricultural Plant Sales Inc. Also wanted by the Mason-Dixon Railroad for freight hopping, the Chickenyard dinette for skillet-licking, the Missouri Historic Paddle Steamer Preservation Society for wake boarding, and the Hubcap County Sheriffs Office for practicing TV repairs without a licence.
I now live in Oxfordshire and work as an inspector for the Oxfordshire Society for Boats, Barges, Bridges, All Tethered Bottoms Inspection and Maintenance.
I play 5-string clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, mandolin, road cone, the odd bit of bodhran and zobstick. Would like to play octave mandola (but not on a Dave Ditchwater instrument). Learnt my banjo picking on my grand daddy’s 1925 Windsor Popular as a pupil of the great Seth Grizzley. Other past bands include The Sheep Are Nervous and Three Foot Willie and the Inbreds.