Adrian Lever www.adrianlever.co.uk
Currently based in London, Adrian Lever was guitarist with award winning folk and early music experimentalists Horses Brawl for 8 years, co-writing and releasing three albums and touring all over the UK at festivals and arts centres and performing live on BBC Radio3. He has also been a member of Appalachian roots band ‘Acaysha‘ for 17 years, recording and releasing two albums with the legendary British pedal steel player B.J. Cole wearing the combined caps of producer and performer. Acaysha have performed all over the UK at major folk festivals and arts centres and are featured on the compilation CD ‘Evolving Tradition 3′.
Recent collaborations have included working alongside Saxophonist Andy Shepard and Trumpet player Arve Hendriksson with the Norwich- based ‘Wintersongs’ project in the inspiring acoustics of both Anglican and Catholic Catherdrals in Norwich – and performing with the Radio 2 folk-award winning singer Bella Hardy at Norwich’s Maddermarket Theatre.
Adrian has also delved into the world of flamenco, playing 12-string guitar and tambura alongside leading British flamenco guitarist and composer Steve Homes. Performance highlights include Lewes Guitar Festival and the London Pena. He is also a regular on the London Irish music scene providing guitar back-up at traditional sessions and gigs.
Over the last few years Adrian’s obsession with the wonky rhythms of east has taken him on bus trips to Bulgaria to learn tambura (8-string long-necked lute). He studies there with tambura-playing phenomenon Vladimir Vladimirov who has been teaching him the in’s and out’s of traditional ornamentation and improvisation. Since then Adrian has been busy writing Horos (dance tunes) and performing on tambura – the highlight of which has been meeting and collaborating with UK–based Serbian singer and composer Jovana Backovic and becoming part of the ArHai project.
This project has also led to a recent collaboration with London-based Macedonian singer Tanja Tzarovska. Performance highlights including The Barbican Concert Hall (supporting Yasmin Levy) and RichMix, London as part of the ‘East meets East’ festival 2012.
Jo May www.jomaypercussion.co.uk
Jo originally trained at the Royal College of Music and began her career working with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra. A trip to Sidmouth Folk Festival sparked an enthusiasm for traditional music, which led to her interest in West African and Afro-Cuban music, as well as folk music from Europe and the British Isles. She has studied West African drumming and balafon (West African xylophone) with a number of different teachers, both in England and in Senegal. And she has completed courses in Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian percussion with One Voice Music.
Jo is an experienced percussion teacher and workshop leader. She has spent many years working as a peripatetic music teacher in schools; running African Drumming Workshops; and previously running a range of exciting rhythm-based workshops with her group, Tapatak. Jo currently runs Spoons Workshops for all ages, in schools, and for parties, festivals and other events. She teaches a variety of techniques and rhythms on an assortment of spoons, often accompanied by fiddler, Linda Game, or guitarist, Matt Sullivan.
Jo performs regularly with Against the Grain, her duo with flamenco guitarist, Matt Sullivan; with the new group, Stepling, focusing mainly on English music and dance traditions, with Toby Bennett (clogs) and Deb Chalmers (fiddle); with Folk Dance Remixed, a fusion of folk and hip hop styles of dance with music; with various ceilidh bands including Token Women; and there are other other projects in the pipeline! Previous groups include the folk trio, Zoox, and European Band, Freyja.
Toby Bennett www.tobybennett.net
Toby Bennett is a dancer and dance teacher specialising in traditional step dance, particularly the rich tradition of English step clog. An experienced performer he has performed in many countries including Europe, Egypt and the USA. His dancing combines energy, attack and speed with lightness and fluidity.
Starting as a folk dancer, Toby went on to train in other forms of dance before becoming a professional dancer and later a dance educator. Now returning to his folk dance roots he draws on this rich experience in his performance and teaching of English step dance.
Twice a champion clog dancer Toby is currently focussing on working solo with traditional musicians (especially fiddle players) exploring a tight music-dance integration and spontaneity in performance. He is interested in exploring the potential of English step dance, delving deeper into the possibilities of it’s style and technique in both traditional and new dances.
Deb Chalmers debviola.wix.com/debfiddle
Deborah is a violinist and singer specialising in English folk music. She trained in viola and Baroque viola at Birmingham Conservatoire, before returning to her first love of traditional music, song and dance.
In addition to playing with Stepling, she plays a number of other groups and projects including Folk Dance Remixed, a dance company combining traditional dance with hip hop and street dance styles. She also dances Cotswold Morris with the Belles of London City, and North East clog having learned Pat Tracey’s heel and toe style from Camden Clog.
Deborah works as a session musician, and teaches music, song and dance for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, as well as for various workshop series, festivals and music services.