Above: Calling with the Gloworms at Sidmouth Folk Week’s New Callers Showcase 2019
Alison has been calling for ceilidhs professionally for more than ten years and has worked with numerous bands including Glorystrokes, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, the Gloworms, Lasair, Quicksilver, Bowreed, the Antler Ceilidh Band and Chalktown, in addition to bands she also plays fiddle in (see musician page). She has called at many events for experienced folk dancers, including Cambridge Folk Festival, Bristol Ceilidh, Sidmouth Folk Week, White Horse Ceilidhs, Danson Folk Dance Club, Oxfolk, and the Ceilidh Club in London, as well as countless private events – weddings, family parties, student events, Burns’ Night ceilidhs, May Balls and Hogmanay parties.
Alison can work with bands and with recordings, and has her own PA system.
Upcoming public calling events:
Take the Biscuit at Meltdown Ceilidhs – 22nd February 2020
Out Of Hand at Ruff Ceilidhs – 17th October 2020
And several folk festivals throughout 2020 – watch this space!
Sample Set Lists (pdfs):
“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
Clockwise from top left: Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Oxfolk; the Antler Ceilidh Band at Bristol Ceilidh; the Bristol Ceilidh Quartet at Cambridge Folk Festival; Glorystrokes at a private party.
Calling and playing fiddle at Bristol Ceilidh
If you’re looking to book me as a caller but would like to see me in action first, the videos below should give you an idea – although please be warned they are mostly close-ups of my face!!
Calling the Big Fish Square at Bristol Ceilidh (this is my own variation on other square dances – Holmfirth Square/Coming Round The Mountain/Goathland Square Eight – to create an easy but not overused dance)
Calling Fivepenny Bit at Bristol Ceilidh
Calling Cumberland Square Eight – a Scottish favourite – for inexperienced dancers at a private party (including some basket chaos and an overactive smoke machine)
Videos of dancers in action!
Calling for Lasair at Bristol Folk House
Calling for a rootin’ tootin’ wild west birthday party in Bristol with Bowreed