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Kick Shins Barn Dance Band blog


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

December 17 gigs

We had a busy December with a Christmas party in Pangbourne and a 21st birthday party in Shiplake. Both had lots of willing dancers - so willing that we tried out some of our more difficult dances. We usually start with a selection of simple dances for the first half, then judge whether we can step up a notch. As long as people are enjoying themselves it does not matter too much if not everyone makes it perfectly to the end.

Wedding at Bradfield College


We played for a wedding at Bradfield College on 28 May. The hall was very grand, with a high roof and good acoustics, and the large audience made good use of the space, filling the hall with dancers..

Abingdon Operatic Society


We played at Steventon Village Hall (a great location - big dance floor and good stage) for Abingdon Operatic Society on 24 March.  Another very lively and rocky dance.  The above video is a full length one of one of the dances, complete with audience participation noises.

Purley Memorial Hall


We played at Purley Memorial Hall on 18 March to a young and lively audience.

Party in Wiltshire 5 Nov 16

We had a bit of a drive through the lanes of Wiltshire but this was a great family party in a very nice village hall.  We did a bit of live recording and part of one of the tracks is available below.  The shouting at the end is the audience having a good time.

Wedding in Islip, near Oxford

On Saturday 15 October we played at David and Tehmeena's wedding.  Dave is a former band member so joined the band to play a few tunes.  It was a lively evening.  We ran straight through about 8 dances non stop then moved onto a disco run through our PA.  Here are some photos, taken by Dave's son.

Stuart starting to explain the dance.

Paul tuning his bass

Stuart calling and playing

Ray, Dave and Stuart playing

Kick Shins 35th anniversary dance


An extract from one of the dances with Fran Woods calling.

Kick Shins 35th anniversary songs video


 At our anniversary dances we try to do something different from our normal dances.  We performed three songs: Handle With Care, We are Each Other and One day like this.  Here parts of each are combined to give a shorter overal version.  Thanks to Carl for the vocals.