There is a thriving folk scene within Wantage, Grove and surrounding villages.
Wantage Folk Dancing
The effervescent Icknield Way Morris Men, who celebrated 50 years in 2009, practice every Wednesday night throughout the winter in Grove Scout Hut (by the Rugby Club). They dance at pubs around the Vale during the summer and their favourite pub is the Abingdon Arms in Wantage.
The energetic Cornucopia perform Appalachian Step Clogging and British Clog dancing and meet at Grove Methodist Church Hall every Monday night, than afterwards at The Bell in Grove.
The light-heartedly dignified Vale Islanders perform 17th century Playford dances in the costume of the period. They meet every Tuesday at Charney Bassett village hall, then often at The Chequers afterwards.
The Wantage Folk Dance Club is a friendly group who meet at the Charlton Centre and dance a variety of dances (traditional, modern, Playford, Amercian square dances and contras). It’s a fun way to exercise!
Wantage Ceilidh (barn dance) Bands
These bands play for ceilidhs (barn dances) and can be hired to play at weddings and other events.
Bathshebas Wedding - ceilidh band
Jigworks - Irish ceilidh band
Larkrise Ranters - ceilidh band
Mad Hatters - ceilidhs plus Thomas Hardy inspired music
Melobo Ceilidh Band – English folk/rock barn dance band
Tumbledown Dick - traditional barn dance band
Music in your own garden
If you just want two or three musicians to make fine music in your garden for a family party, BBQ or maybe a neighbourhood get together, then get in touch with Howard who is in contact with most of the musicians above.
The sound of real acoustic music is a wonderful backdrop for a garden party; relax, eat food, drink wine and chat to your friends long into the evening.
White Horse Ceilidhs
Stomping barn dances in Grove. White Horse Ceilidhs organise a dance every months with live bands and good ale.
Local display teams are invited to perform during the half time interval, with Cotswold, North West, Border, Rapper, 17th Century English dance, Appalachian and English Step Clog groups all based within the Vale of White Horse, so you’ll be well entertained whilst you catch your breath!
Folk Music Sessions
Abingdon Arms There is a folk music session on the third Friday of the month. Starts 9.00pm.
The Shoulder of Mutton has a session every Friday at 9.00pm, except the third Friday. It also has a Slow Session for beginners and the not so confident players on the 2nd Sunday of each month from 3.00pm.
The Greyhound Inn in Letcombe Regis plays host to a session on the last Friday of each month 8.30pm. John Langrish runs this session and also has a great website with a wealth of music and recordings www.greyhoundmusic.co.uk
Wantage Folk Workshops
A new series of folk workshops was started in 2011. Based at The Shoulder of Mutton they’re hosted by landlord Peter Fowler, organised by Jerry Tozer (of Monty’s Maggot) and feature top national performers teaching fiddle, melodeon, whistle and other instruments.
There are two well established festivals run by Kate and Dave Guest - Folk for MS is the first weekend of the Wantage Summer Festival and White Horse Folk Festival is usually the third weekend in August. Both events give you the opportunity to watch, listen to and dance to some of the best folk and traditional artists in the country.
Evenings of varied entertainment – folk music, songs and recitations are provided by Pandemonium. Folk for MS (see above) includes a first class folk concert evening each year.
Christmas is a particularly busy time with Carols in the Abingdon Arms the last Wednesday before Christmas and the Wantage Mummers annual rendition on Boxing Day in Faringdon (10am), Wantage (12noon) and the Hatchet in Childrey (1pm).
There is also Around the Christmas Tree an evening of music and readings put on at Wantage Museum by The Domino Players and often includes folk band Pandemonium.
Graham Hubbard and Howard Hill
Updated March 2013