Above: Calling for Whapweasel at Towersey Festival 2022
Alison is a highly experienced ceilidh caller, known for delivering calm and clear instructions with patience and humour. She has called at countless public and private events over the last 16 years, including Towersey, Cambridge, Sidmouth and Gate To Southwell festivals, and ceilidh series such as Meltdown, Oxfolk and the London Ceilidh Club. She has worked with many renowned bands including Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Whapweasel, Out Of Hand, Granny’s Attic, the Glorystrokes and Lasair.
Alison can work with live bands or recordings, and she has her own PA system.
I plan my dance programmes carefully to include a variety of formations and figures, sometimes writing or adapting dances to suit the dancers’ level of experience. Where possible I also get to know the repertoire of the band beforehand so that I can consider which sets will work best with each dance.
At weddings and other celebrations with a lot of beginners, my aim is always to get people dancing as quickly as possible, so I’ll choose easier dances with a range of easy figures to keep things interesting. I also look for opportunities to keep up the energy and excitement in the room – like cheering, freestyling and laughter.
At festivals and ceilidh series I always aim to include a few more unusual dances to keep regular ceilidh-goers on their toes whilst still catering to the ability of newcomers. As a dancer myself, I always find ceilidhs more fun when I come across a dance I’ve not seen before!
Upcoming Public Calling Events
2024 ceilidhs still to be announced – watch this space!
~ Knees Up Cecil Sharp (with Granny’s Attic) in October 2023
~ Towersey Festival (with Granny’s Attic) in August 2023
~ Broadstairs Folk Week (Family Ceilidh with The Tonic) in August 2023
~ Broadstairs Folk Week (Family Ceilidh with Rejigged Ceilidh Band) in August 2023
~ Sidmouth Folk Festival (with New Bees) in August 2023
~ Priddy Folk Festival (with The Molecatchers) in July 2023
~ Ruff Ceilidhs (with Out Of Hand) in May 2023
~ Towersey Festival (with Whapweasel) in August 2022
~ Gate To Southwell Festival (with Blackbeard’s Tea Party) in July 2022
~ Bristol Ceilidh (with Antler Ceilidh Band) in February and June 2022
~ And many private events
Big Fish Square (I can’t remember but probably sometime between 2017 and 2019!)
Third Time Lucky (2019)
Scatter The Seeds (2022)
Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Gate To Southwell Festival 2022 – set list from 16th July 2022
Whapweasel at Towersey Festival 2022 – set list from 26th August 2022
Out Of Hand at Ruff Ceilidhs 2023 – set list from 20th May 2023
The Molecatchers at Priddy Folk Festival 2023 – set list from 8th July 2023
New Bees at Sidmouth Folk Festival 2023 – set list from 4th August 2023
Rejigged Ceilidh Band at Broadstairs Folk Week 2023 – set list from 16th August 2023
The Tonic at Broadstairs Folk Week 2023 – set list from 17th August 2023
Granny’s Attic at Towersey Festival 2023 – set list from 26th August 2023
Granny’s Attic at Knees Up Cecil Sharp 2023 – set list from 20th October 2023
An incomplete list of bands Alison has called for over the last sixteen years: Antler Ceilidh Band, Baltik Ceilidh Band, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Bowreed, Bristol Ceilidh Quartet, Cambridge University Ceilidh Band, Ceilidh Factor, Ceilidh Tree, Chalktown, Dancing Yew, Haddo, Hilltop Ceilidh Band, the Gloworms, Glorystrokes, Granny’s Attic, Head Over Reels, Lasair, Licence To Ceilidh, The Molecatchers, New Bees, Out Of Hand, Quicksilver, Rejigged Ceilidh Band, Take The Biscuit, The Tonic, and Whapweasel.
“Alison is a great caller to work with and I have been booking her more and more recently. Her professionalism is fantastic and she is really well organised. Her enthusiasm is infectious so that she is able to get everyone joining in and her skill in choosing and teaching the dances means that it is fun for everyone. I have now worked with her in a wide variety of circumstances and her superb fiddle playing is definitely a bonus to me as a band leader when we need to play music for listening.” – Mike Ruff (Tradamis, Quicksilver)
“Our event was a busy youth camp with Woodcraft Folk, and the ceilidh got everyone dancing. … The caller was funny and really understood the age and mood of the audience, as well as accounting for a big age range (from 12 – 80). We really appreciated that she explained partner dances with ‘1’ and ‘2’ rather than by gender as well. The dances were varied and managed to include some very complex sequences without confusing our group, which made the evening even more enjoyable.” – summer camp ceilidh with the Antler Ceilidh Band 2019
“A few guests pointed out that the calling was the clearest they had heard for a long while, and that the dances were pitched at just the right level of complexity and fun.” – 30th birthday party 2018
“They taught everyone a waltz for our first dance which was really fun, and then the rest of the evening the music was excellent and the calling was really simple to follow. We and all the guests had a wonderful time, thank you so much!” – wedding ceilidh with the Antler Ceilidh Band 2019
“Good selection of dances. Brilliant calling so even the 1st time dancers can dance the night away.” – Bristol Ceilidh 2018
“The caller was wonderful and the dances were adjusted perfectly for the small space (though the cramped space made it even more fun we think!) … Even my Uncle who didn’t dance at his own wedding loved the Strip the Willow finale!” – wedding with Bowreed 2017
“Alison was a really fantastic caller” – 60th birthday party
“Thanks a million for Saturday. You played a blinder.” – primary school fundraiser
“I just wanted to thank you very much for the ceilidh on Burns’ Night. Everyone had a wonderful evening, really enjoyed themselves and it was great fun!” – Burns Night ceilidh
“I was impressed by this caller working with Blackbeard’s Tea Party last night at Oxfolk… We finished with walkthroughs quickly and got on with the dancing. There seemed to be little confusion or tendency to break up into discussion groups… I also noticed that her calls were very well timed.” – Oxfolk ceilidh series with Blackbeard’s Tea Party