The Castle Band is a lively Northumbrian barn dance band which plays for barn dances, ceilidhs, festivals, weddings and private functions.
The band specialises in the very rhythmical jigs, reels and hornpipes and the tuneful slow airs and waltzes which feature in the traditional music of Northumberland and the Borders. The bandís repertoire also includes many newly written additions to the Northumbrian tradition.
The basis of the bandís great sound is the traditional blend of fiddle and accordion, supported by a rhythm section which, depending on availability or your requirements, can include second accordion and drums, with piano and bass from the left hand side of Colin Bradfordís MIDI accordion.
For those who donít know the dances, our own caller, Ruth Ball, will explain all the steps and encourage the cautious to join in.
We in the Castle Band are very sorry to have to say that our friend, Ian Murray, died on 10th May 2012.
Ian Murray was one of the most experienced drummers in Northumberland and he successfully spanned the two different genres of rock and traditional music. He was one of the original members of the Rothbury rock band, "Ken and the Rebels" and still turned out for their rock gigs until just a few years ago.
On the traditional music side he had been a member of the Border Country Dance Band ( with Alan Coulson and Geoff Purvis) and of the Tommy Emondson band. Between 2002 and 2008 he continued his involvement in traditional music by by providing the solid rhythmic foundation for The Castle Band. Ian is pictured below in the centre of the back row.
Left to right above
Nathan Armstrong (2nd box), Anthony Robb (Fiddle and smallpipes), Ian Murray (Drums), Heather Robb (Fiddle), Colin Bradford (Accordion)
David Normanton (Caller)
What do people think?
Here are a few comments spread over recent years...
"We and all of our guests absolutely loved the ceilidh!! The people who had been to ceilidhs before said how brilliant it was and that the band and caller were first class! The people who hadn't been to a ceilidh before were blown away I think! Quite a few of our friends danced to every number, even the children's Hokey Cokey, as they loved it so much! David's enthusiasm was fantastic and we loved how he got everyone involved. We also loved how passionate you were about our venue in the College Valley. Without a doubt - The Castle Band made the wedding! Thanks so much!!
"Thank you very much for providing the music for our Civil Partnership celebration evening. We had the most perfect day and we had so many comments on how fantastic the band and caller were.
"Thanks to you and the rest of the band for another cracking night - please pass on to all concerned.
"Dear Colin and all the members of The Castle Band, Thank you so much for making Saturday night such a memorable occasion. We all had a wonderful night and thoroughly enjoyed listening and dancing to your band. The kindness and patience shown by David, the caller, to all on the dance floor was much appreciated as many of the guests had not had the opportunity to dance to a traditional ceilidh band before. They all had a great time and were suitable exhausted at the end of the evening though it didn`t stop them staying up till 5.00am! I have a brilliant picture of dancers during the Dashing White Sergeant which I shall send you.
"Thank you and everyone in the band for such a fantastic evening on Friday. The band really made my 18th birthday party a truly special evening, and one I will long cherish the memory of. Ceilidh dancing was a great way to break the ice and all of my friends loved it. The band were flawless musically, and the caller David was brilliantly patient, even making those of us who have two left feet feel like we could actually dance! This is definitely the best ceilidh band I've experienced and one I would not hesitate to use again. I can't thank you all enough for a wonderful evening.
Vets' Ceilidh, January 2011, Longframlington
"It's been a while since you played at our wedding in the College Valley ... but we just wanted to write to say a huge thank you for your fantastic music which absolutely made our day . It was, without a doubt ,the best folk dance we've been to - and many of our guests said so too You really were a highlight of our wedding and we can't thank you enough."
"A huge 'thank you' to Colin, David
and the Castle band. After a fantastic wedding and reception the
day was made complete with a ceilidh and music by the Castle Band. Music
was excellent from start to finish and was thoroughly enjoyed by dancers
and spectators alike (we had so many good comments from our guests).
David, the caller, was amazing with his friendliness, humour and
"Thanks to the Castle Band for
playing at our wedding. The band were excellent and David (the caller) was
fantastic and pitched it just right. It was a really nice touch for
Anthony to play a solo on the Northumbrian Smallpipes and everyone made a
point of saying how good the band was. The bride herself was not a
fan of ceilidh dancing before the night but the Castle Band have changed
all that which is praise indeed! Highly recommended.
"We would like to thank you and all
the members of the band for helping us to have a really great evening. A
ceilidh is a great way to have a party and to get everyone involved, and
once again the band were superb and helped to make it a very special
celebration. Please pass on our thanks to all the band members."
"Thank you for making our daughter's wedding reception at Durham Castle so special. You warmed us all up on what was a freezing cold night. The ceilidh was out of this world ! I have never been to a ceilidh where there were so many people on the floor for every dance!!!!!!!!!!! All our guests raved about you. Quite a few were from the SOUTH and had never heard of a ceilidh!
Wedding ceilidh in Durham Castle
"We just want to thank you all for
playing at our wedding at Doxford. We had a fantastic time and
could not have asked for a better ceilidh band. All of the
guests loved it too, so thank you for making our wedding so much
"I think everyone had a great time
- I certainly did! Thanks very much for playing so well and I appreciated
David's relaxed style. He pitched it just right. Please would you
pass on my thanks to the rest of the band? "
"Just wanted to say a huge thank
you to you and the band for Zosiaís wedding. Everybody had a fantastic
time and thought the band were great. It couldnít have been better. "
"Thank you so much for the wonderful ceilidh at our recent
wedding at the Vermont Hotel . We all had a fantastic time and
it was the highlight of the day. Thank you also to Anthony for
his beautiful pipe-playing during the ceremony. It added a lovely
aspect to the wedding.
"Thanks for asking me to play last night.
The best ceilidh I've ever played at! I think they all had a
fantastic time. Cheers"
"Just a note to thank you and the Castle Band so
much for the ceilidh at the Sun Hotel, Warkworth... The feedback we've had
has been great and we all had a fantastic time. Thanks again"
"Thank you so much to The Castle Band for the
fantastic ceilidh you provided at our wedding at Chillingham Castle on
January 7th, 2006. You were superb and the fact that even my
71-year-old German father joined in and had a whale of a time says it all.
I couldn't believe my eyes!"<
"I just wanted to leave a little message to thank you
very much, Colin, for the gig on Saturday night, at the wedding do...
We were really impressed with the band and with David. We thought it was
really well judged... David did a really good job as caller...the
music sounded lovely. We really appreciated the obvious professionalism.
So thanks again to you for that. We wouldnít hesitate to try to get you
would like to thank you all again for helping us make last Friday such a
successful evening ... Everyone we have spoken to agreed with
us that the band was excellent."
"Please convey my thanks to all the members of the
Castle Band for the superb contribution all made to [our daughter's]
wedding on May 28th. We had a wonderful day helped by the barn
dancing. Thank you"
"Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution to the success of our
party. You were fantastic! We all enjoyed
ourselves enormously. The playing, the calling, the choice of
dances, the pace and the MC-ing, were all excellent. You
pitched it just right and many of our guests commented on the quality.
Many thanks again."
"Just a quick note of thanks to you all for being so
fantastic at our wedding on the 24th. You set the evening off
on exactly the right note, the band was superb and David did an exemplary
job in ensuring a bunch of novices didn't trample each other to death."
What do you sound like?
You can download some samples of the band as *.mp3 or *.wav files. Right-click on each item and "Save Target As..." to your hard-drive and then play the downloaded file.
If you left-click (to play the file immediately) then, unless you have Broadband, you are likely to get very bitty playback until it has all downloaded.
BAND - Various snippets for a flavour of
a live ceilidh
TRIO - Rant - Ian Augustís Allotment (©Colin Bradford)
TRIO - Jane Northumberlandís Fancy (©Colin Bradford)
|A new tune for the occasion?||One of the extras we can provide is a new wedding waltz specially written for the occasion and named after the bride (e.g. "Julia", or "Elizabeth Jane"). We would play the new tune at the wedding ceilidh (perhaps, but not necessarily, when the bride and groom are dancing) and present you with a framed version as a memento. I prefer one or two months' notice for this. For some samples (mostly computer-generated sounds from my score-writing program) click here.|
We play for many weddings in Northumberland and have plenty
of experience of the better venues. If you are still looking
for a venue for your wedding or other big event, you could consider some
of the following :
|Northumbrian Smallpipes||We can also provide a Northumbrian smallpiper to pipe in the guests or the bride at your wedding ceremony|
For more information
Mob: 07 727 - 874 619
Email: to minimise spam we have had to remove email addresses from the website. If you want to email the band, replace "AT" in the following with the @ symbol - nathan.armstrongATnorthumbrian.info.