Folk Activities of Colin & Sonja Andrews

  

 

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Sonja sings both unaccompanied (she's got a lovely voice !), and with accompaniment on guitar or duet (crane) concertina. She is an original member of Home Brew Country Dance Band, with whom she now plays guitar, and, formerly, spoons and tambourine. Sonja sings with the Crediton West Gallery Choir, and with local church choirs

 

Colin plays melodeon, anglo & duet concertinas, guitar, banjo, whistle and pipe & tabor, and also sings unaccompanied. He is foreman and founder member of Winkleigh Morris, and a regular musician (but less regular dancer !) with the Exeter Morris Men. He is an original member and regular caller with Home Brew Country Dance Band and plays with the Winkeilidh Band. He also calls and plays with other bands in the West of England. He is the author of three books of folk dances, one of morris dances and one on songs, with accompanying CD, of Sussex Shepherd, Michael Blann. Colin's first novel, A Matter of Degree, came out in 2011 and his second novel, Shattered Pretensions, in 2015. He has also published a book of poems and short stories Who Gives A Hoot. The sequel to A Matter of Degree, One Degree Over, was published in 2018

 

Colin and Sonja perform unaccompanied songs, as well as instrumentals and songs with various musical accompaniments . They are available as a duo or individually for folk clubs, harvest suppers, and other social occasions where live performance of traditional folk music would be appreciated. They have recorded a CD of Christmas carols and seasonal songs, Season's Greetings, and Colin has also produced two CDs, Gleanings, with 16 songs and 3 instrumental tracks, and, in 2018, Ever Remembered, with 13 songs and 3 instrumentals. Three CDs of songs sung by Sonja (Songs My Granny Sings) have been produced recently.

 

Return to home page  or read on for more detailed biography.

 

Colin first became interested in folk song in 1964, and started up a folk song club when he went to University College, Cardiff. On returning to his home town of Shoreham-by Sea in Sussex in 1968, he joined the Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men, danced regularly at local folk dance clubs, and performed at folk song clubs around the Brighton area. Together with Eddie Upton, and David & Maggie Robertson, he formed 'The Trugs' , a four-part unaccompanied harmony group who established a good reputation locally and were beginning to make an impression on the folk scene nationally when David & Maggie moved to another part of the country.

The Trugs made a record (And Boldly Go To Sea, TSR 005) for Traditional Sound Recordings after a chance meeting at a folk club in Macclesfield.

Soon after the group disbanded, Colin & Sonja, who had met at a folk club in Brighton, got married, and moved to Devon. There, they quickly became active in the local folk scene, performing unaccompanied songs in harmony at folk clubs in Crediton, the Jolly Porter in Exeter, and elsewhere. Colin joined the Exeter Morris Men, and served as their bagman for eight years from 1974. Sonja became membership secretary for the Devon District of the English Folk Dance & Song Society and edited their bulletin & diary dates. Colin also became a member of the District Committee and has, with a short break, remained a member until the present day. Until 2018 he was also actively involved in the editing and production of the Devon Folk magazine, What's Afoot since its launch over thirty five years earlier . Colin served for a couple of years on the National Executive Committee of the EFDSS in the mid-80s

At various times, Colin & Sonja have travelled to Sweden, Denmark, & Germany as singers, folk dancers, Morris dancer/musician with Dartington Morris Men, Isca Folk Dance Group, and Muddiford & Milltown Morris. Colin has also visited France, U.S.A., Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Estonia, Italy & Ireland with Exeter Morris Men , Winkleigh Morris, Exmoor Border, Tinners or Chameleonic Morris Men

Whilst still maintaining strong contacts with Sussex during the 1970's, Colin researched the life and songs of Michael Blann, a Sussex Shepherd, whose handwritten notebook of songs had been discovered in Worthing Museum (where it can still be viewed) during the Trugs' singing days. Colin's book Shepherd of the Downs was published by Worthing Museum in 1979 and reprinted in 1987. An extensively revised edition, with an accompanying CD is now available.

In 1978, the idea of starting a folk dance band was mooted by Rod Ballard, then fiddler with Exeter Morris Men. Colin was invited to be the caller (though had no previous experience of calling !) and Sonja provided percussion. Over thirty five years later, the band, Home Brew, is still going strong, with a line-up of instruments that has remained remarkably constant despite several changes in personnel. Colin & Sonja, however, are the only original full-time members of the band, though the original bass player has re-joined after a few years break. The band's first CD is still available. He also calls and plays with the Winkeilidh Band

Enthusiasm for experimentation with folk dances led to the publication of two books of original dances by Colin during the 1980's (Devonian Double Circle, Exe Setter's Ball) A further compilation (Contrary Contra)followed several years later. Colin and Sonja have also produced an album, Season's Greetings featuring Christmas carols and seasonal songs. Colin has recorded two CDs, Gleanings, and more recently, Ever Remembered, with songs acquired from various sources over the past forty years together with some of his own tunes and songs. Colin's first novel, A Matter of Degree, was published by Troubador. in 2011. He published a book of original poems, songs & short stories, Who Gives A Hoot in 2014, and his second novel, Shattered Pretensions,in 2015. One Degree Over, the sequel to A Matter of Degree was published in 2018

In 1990, Colin was approached by the Community Education Coordinator at Chulmleigh Community College, with a view to running an evening class in Morris Dancing, following a request by the landlady of a pub in a nearby village who had signed up a number of her regulars. From an unlikely beginning, Winkleigh Morris was born. Twenty eight years on, the pub has closed but Winkleigh Morris are thriving, though none of the original 'conscripts' are still with the side. From January 2010 until the end of 2015 Colin was Newsletter Editor of The Morris Federation, the largest of the three national organisations for Morris dancing and related activities. He is currently working on  a national database for morris dances and is New Dance Collaborator and a member of the Archive Group of The Morris Ring

During the 1980's there was of necessity a cut-back of their folk activities following the birth of their son, Gareth, in 1981, but in the new Millennium, Colin and Sonja are still actively enjoying folk music in even more ways; folk dance band, pub song & music sessions, various singing and speaking engagements & folk clubs, Colin with Morris Dancing and calling with other bands, Sonja with West Gallery Choirs. Gareth is now married, with a baby daughter, and currently living in Australia.