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Free barn dance

Fed up with being stuck at home? Desperate to hear live music again? Us too.

We are planning to break out of the lockdown blues with a barn dance featuring Kick Shins and friends on 10 July 2021 at St John's Hall, Mortimer. For more detail, and to reserve a free ticket see

Free barn dance


New recording

It's been a strange year. Everyone had to cancel their bookings and we only managed to play together once before lockdown hit us again. But now things are looking up and we are about to record an EP. The recording is planned for the second half of May and the EP should be available on Spotify, Apple Music and others from June onwards.


Moissac weekend programme

Attached is the programme for the barge and music event in Moissac on 10-12 August 2018.

Festival programme

Preparing for French tour

We are busy preparing for our French tour in August. There is lots to do: new equipment to consider, new songs to rehearse and a slightly different line-up. In the photo you can see us taking a break in the sunshine before diving back in and arguing about a particularly troublesome arrangement.


A lot of people ask us how often we rehearse. In the early days we had a rolling, three week cycle with new tunes appearing one week and then making it onto the stage 9 weeks later. Because we have built up a fairly large repertoire that we cycle through regularly, and also because the band is a little more scattered, we rehearse a bit less these days. We generally get together a few times a year to try out a new tune or a new arrangement.

This year (2018) is a little different as we have a tour of French festivals and villages. We know from earlier visits that it is sometimes difficult to get people up dancing, so we are changing our set somewhat to include songs and some new arrangements that will work more as concert pieces. We also have a slightly different line-up for the tour with the addition of a flute, so that calls for something different.

Putting together a 2 hour set requires some thought and planning. Through various email exchanges we all agreed on a lively song to start each half, with a sprinkling of dances and re-arranged tunes to feature both the flute and the hurdy-gurdy - a popular instrument in France. But we'll add electric guitar, drums and keyboard to the mix to liven things up a bit.

Software and iPads are fantastic tools these days. We use an app called Set List Maker to plan all our gigs. We have hundreds of dances, tunes, dance instructions and scores included in our database. On stage this app keeps track of which song is next and how long we have to play. If other band members have an iPad the display is shown to them so that everyone can see what is going on.

In between rehearsals we use Sibelius for the score. This allows for multiple parts which can be turned into a wav file with the appropriate sounds to give everyone an idea of what we are aiming at. For finishing off the arrangement and the full sequence we use Cubase. Cubase is also occasionally used to record a live, multi-track version so that we can listen afterwards and criticise ourselves.

French tour 2018

From 10-14 August we shall be touring in south west France. During the weekend we'll be playing at the boat festival in Moissac followed by a Saturday night spot in the town square. During the following 3 days we'll be touring with an Australian band, Pans on Fire, and playing at various local village night markets.

If you fancy a trip to a beautiful part of the world, with good weather, food and drink, come along and see us.

The winter newsletter that discusses some of the events is shown below.

 French tour news

Session at The Elm Tree

Kick Shins had its Christmas party on 1 January 16, starting with a music session at The Elm Tree, Beech Hill, then a long lunch at Stuart's house.

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What is a hurdy-gurdy?

Ray plays the hurdy-gurdy. It features on many of the tunes that we play between dance sets, as well as for some dance tunes.

Many people think that the hurdy-gurdy is some sort of old organ, played with a monkey sitting on top.  Actually it's more like a mechanised violin.  Imagine a violin with a wheel that comes into contact with the strings instead of a bow.  You are halfway there.  Instead of using fingers to make notes, as on a violin, there are keys that press down on the strings.  But there are two more pieces that give the hurdy-gurdy its unique sound.  The first is the drone.  There are one or more drone strings that add a resonance to the overall melody.  The second is the buzzing bridge.  When the wheel is turned slowly the drone strings play normally, but when the wheel accelerates it introduces a rhythmic buzzing.  Skilled players can produce a strong percussive sound as they are playing the melody.

Ray made his first hurdy-gurdy and played that in the band for some time.  He now plays a newer model made for him by a specialist hurdy-gurdy maker.

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Arrival in Norway

We flew to Torp airport, south west of Oslo, where we were greeted by Alastair bearing this large sign, much to the bemusement of the locals.


Travelling home


Ray, Alan, Andy having coffee at Torp airport just before departure.


Stuart doing the same.