Stone The Crows – Give them some stick

Leyland’s well-known Stone the Crows morris dancers – who danced at the 2012 Furness Tradition Festival –  are sending out a desperate appeal for coppiced hazel after they keep breaking the sticks they traditionally clash together while dancing.

Stone the crows

Founder member Murray Riggs said: “There are now over 40 of us in the team. With weekly practice and lots of dance displays in the local and wider area, our sticks take quite a hammering with the constant clashing together they get in all of our dances. Although they do literally grow on trees, we are struggling to find fresh supplies. At the moment, most of our very limited stick collection is bound up with gaffa tape to stop them deteriorating further. This does help to preserve the sticks but deadens the sound of them clashing together – which spoils the impact of our displays.”

Murray said: “We have tried many different types of wood but have found that hazel is the most robust and when it has been coppiced or cut back tends to grow nice a straight stick. We need sticks about 30 inches long and somewhere between a broom handle and a pick axe handle in girth. If anyone has any suitable hazel we would be more than willing to cut and collect it. We then need to strip the bark and leave them to season for at least six months before we can use them.”

If you can help the Leyland based troupe, you can contact them through their website, at, or call 01772 499074.

Apologies for the headline.

BBC Young Folk Awards

A few weeks ago a group of us from Furness Tradition were fortunate to attend the finals of this year’s BBC Young Folk Awards at the Brewery in Kendal. There were 10 acts; all of them were exceptionally good, and the variety of different musical styles was amazing. One act sang shanties, another was a singer-songwriter. Some acts played acoustic instruments, others used technology.

For the performers, the weekend included tutoring and mentoring by the likes of John Spiers and Rachel McShane of Bellowhead. Here’s what John had to say “A few weeks ago Rachael and I had the privilege of being the workshop leaders and judges at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards weekend in Kendal.  We had a great time sharing our knowledge and working with such a talented and varied bunch of up and coming musicians.  The standard of the performances in the semi-final concert was mind-bogglingly good and the judging panel took longer than the concert itself to discuss the performances and arrive at the 4 finalists who will go through to the full Folk Awards next year.”

I can well believe that it took the  panel such a long time to decide the final shortlist, and I did not envy their task.

To hear who the finalists are and listen to some of the performances, tune in to Radio 2’s Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe on 20th November. Highlights of the concert will be televised on the BBC red button channel but I don’t know the times yet.

Festival Comments

What was your opinion of the festival? We would like to hear your comments; both good and bad. You will have to register to post – this is purely a measure to prevent spam. Your comments may be held for moderation before being published.

Martyn Harvey had this to say :-

Just to say thank you and very well done.
In particular and in no particular order:-
*    The camping worked really well as we could be close together and it’s an easy
      walk to venues.
*    The 3 stages on Sat night works superbly very impressive.
*    Inside and outside the ‘Coro’ were good spots for us. The market cross much 
     less so as you well know – cobbles and a severe slope !
*    Several good artists  – Young Uns, JD VS & NH, Horizontal Sunday.
*    Nicely laid back.
There’s more but I’m sure we’ll talk at Sidmouth, so simply –  Damn fine weekend !


Toby Bennett


Toby Bennett is a late addition to the Festival line-up. He is a dancer, teacher and researcher with a fascination for traditional step dance, especially the rich tradition of English step clog. Twice a clog dance champion, Toby is a winner of the Westmorland Step Dance Championship and Dancing England’s ‘Stepping Competition in Derby’. He is accompanied by Carolyn Francis on fiddle.