Contra & Ceilidh Band

A website for one of England's leading Contra Dance Bands.
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   Whether you’re looking for superb music to dance to, or simply want to get your feet tapping at home, you’ll find something here to move you. There are slinky sets to lull you into the “dance trance” and vibrant rhythms to snap you back out of it again. Skylark spreads its wings with a beautiful arrangement of Brian Stone's tune "Emma's Waltz" to accompany Colin Hume's Dance and the tune "Key to the Cellar" for a dance written by Jenny Beer.

Track List

  • Dick Gossip's Reel (Trad.) / Devil's Churn (Joseph Grote)
  • The Frost is All Over (Trad.) + MinJig (© Dave Brown) sound sample
  • June Apple (trad.)/ Fiddlin’ Around (trad.) sound sample
  • Key to the Cellar (Trad.) (Dance by Jenny Beer) Click here to see the dance instructions.
  • Remembering Alan (© Dave Brown) /Accolade for Alan (© Dave Brown) (Dance by John Meechan)
  • Mrs. McGee (© John Riddell)/Megajig (© Larry Ungar)
  • Coffee Break (© Skylark)
  • Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh (trad.)/Gondolin (© Noah VanNorstrand)
  • Sky Slip (© Dave Brown)/Lark in Blue (© Dave Brown)
  • Emma’s Waltz (© Brian Stone)
  • (Dance by Colin Hume)
  • Morning Dew (Trad.)
  • The Polychromatic Gentleman (© Dave Brown)
  • (Dance by John Meechan)
  • Crimea RiverDave Bartley)/Ferris EugeneDave Bartley)
  • Bus Stop Reel (© Anita Anderson)/Hommage à Edmond Parizeau (© Marcel Messervier) sound sample

Skylark supports Halsway Manor - A National Centre for Traditional Music. As a band we were involved in producing a second CD for the Halsway Millennium Players - a Folk Orchestra founded in 2000.

"Spreading Our Wings"

review by Mike Courthold (Dance Director - Chippenham Festival)

   Skylark's 2nd album was debuted at the American Evening dance at Chippenham Folk Festival this year (2010), with Geoff Cubitt calling, a rerun of their 1st album debut at the same event in 2007. The launch event was hugely popular, as was their CD, with John Meechan on sales being overwhelmed at one point with people literally throwing money at him in the scramble to get copies of the CD.

   In my opinion, Skylark's 2nd album is inspired and exceedingly well crafted, clearly demonstrating both the individual and combined talents of these fine musicians, who, as Skylark, have evolved a superb collection of tune-sets to suit a wide range of dance styles, English as well as American, and are now deservedly in great demand as a band........ read the full review in Set and Turn Single - Autumn 2010 edition.

Reviews of Skylark's Original CD

If this CD doesn’t get you leaping around the dance floor (or the kitchen), nothing will!

Overseas review from Kentucky! “…..for making such a good CD. The tunes are just wonderful and they won’t leave my head. I keep waking up with them playing in endless loops, I hum them doing laundry, I catch myself whistling them in meetings (oops). It’s a real triumph for the dance world, but driving me crazy just at the moment. Congrats to Skylark. A+!”
Kent Gilbert, Berea Kentucky, USA

“I've just listened to the whole of the Skylark CD again and I want to tell you again how terrific it is. There's so much life and vitality, and the final tune is so much fun. Afterwards, I listened to Mozart's Piano Concertos number 20 in D minor and 21 in C major which were also terrific, but I couldn't email him to tell him so!”
Colin Hume, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom

Quick Purchase:
SKYLARK's original CD:

"Spreading Our Wings"
Release date May 2010

Reviews: a now soaring - bringing the modern sound of Contra Dance to the UK. The musicians are - Dave Brown (Fiddle), Elaine Meechan (Keyboards), Kathryn Dunphy (flute), and Mark Brown (Bass). "The bright new sound of Skylark starts the week with their crisp, new arrangements, performed with excellence and great enthusiasm."
(Sidmouth Festival programme August 2006)

“Quite probably the best Contra Dance Band in England!” (Quoted at the Leeds Contra – September 2006). Festival organisers, clubs, Contra Dance Organisers please contact Dave Brown and book the band now. - "incredible energy, superb musicianship and incredible dancebility." John Meechan.

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Dave Brown: has played in many bands over the years including, Wild Thyme, Contradition, The Dave Brown Band, Grumbling Old Men and Square Root. In Skylark Dave is able to use all his skills of arrangement and composition to help the band create its live and exciting sound. Click Here to see Dave’s Website.

Kathryn Dunphy: has also grown up with Folk Dance music. She works as a Primary School teacher in Manchester. Kathryn mainly plays the Flute in Skylark but can often be seen playing the Alto Sax and even, occasionally, the Piccolo.

Elaine Meechan: has played accordion mostly in her other musical incarnations, notably with Glorishears Band. Elaine has worked as a musician with Folk Camps an has a wide experience of Folk Music and dance. In Skylark she provides the rhythmic harmonic structure for the rhythm section of the band.