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Free Reed Band has been providing lively, danceable traditional music for ceilidhs in the
Lancaster area since 1980.
We are regularly booked for weddings, civil partnerships, birthdays, social events, community groups, school PTAs, fund-raisers, conferences, anniversaries, family celebrations and other special occasions.

To contact Free Reed Band:

Listen to recordings of
Free Reed Band

The Athol Highlanders                          
a typical rollicking ceilidh dance tune.

A quieter sort of tune that we might play between dances

FRB at the Gregson dec 08          Christmas Ceilidh with Free Reed Band 2008
The band features:
CHARLES ELY     accordion
ANDY HORNBY  mandolin, banjo, tin whistles, Scottish small pipes
TONY COOKE     guitar,bass, occasional songs.  

Andy, Charles, and Tony, are widely regarded as some of the finest folk music players in the area. They all have wide and various musical interests and you may catch the influence of classical, bluegrass, big band,  rock or "world" music in their arrangements.

Apart from great music, a vital part of any ceilidh is a great dance caller.  The band works with various callers, depending on the location or type of event. All our callers are very experienced at explaining and guiding people through the various dances and choosing the right dances for the event.

The Music

Most of the band’s music comes from across the British Isles, but don’t  be surprised in the middle of a Ceilidh to hear tunes from Finland, the USA,  France or even the Carribbean!. They will play music from anywhere, as long as it is good to dance and often feature dance tunes that members have hunted out from old manuscripts, particularly from the North West of England. Additionally, they play some of their own composed tunes.

The Dances

The band plays for traditional dances. These range from the delightfully simple to the ridiculously complicated, but fear not, the band and caller always ensure that the dances are well suited to the audience. As with the music, most of the dances hail from the British Isles, but Danish, Italian or French dances are also likely to feature.


The word “ceilidh” is a Celtic word meaning “gathering”, and the gathering would have included singing, dancing, music, eating, drinking, storytelling etc. In many places now, however, the word has come to mean a traditional social dance otherwise known as a barn dance. An average ceilidh would last about 4 hours,  for example: 8pm-midnight,  

 Everyone can have a go – the music and dances are enjoyed by young and old alike. Unlike a disco, the music is not too loud, and it’s live, played by expert players!  Breaks between dances allow you to chat or have a quiet drink and catch your breath.  All the dance steps are clearly explained by a patient, tolerant and friendly individual – the Dance Caller - and, to be honest, we don’t mind if you get it wrong, as long as you are having fun and enjoying the music and the company!

Web site by Andy Hornby. 2 Grasmere Rd Lancaster LA1HE   01524 382447, or contact me by email
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