Bush Ceilidh - Background

Brian Heywood & Greg Hunt performing with the Bluetongue Bush Ceilidh Band at The National Festival in 2013

Led by guitarist and singer Brian Heywood who cut his teeth with the original Bluetongue Bush Band playing the bars and dance halls of Sydney under the stars of the Southern Cross. Since then he been in the UK playing a major part in the British eCeilidh movement with his band MoonDance which has been described as "without a doubt the most exciting ceilidh band on the UK dance scene".

Unlike many ‘electric’ dance bands, the Bluetongue sound is more than just an acoustic folk band grafted onto a pub-rock rhythm section. The music has been developed as true fusion of the best of traditional and modern dance rhythms. And we don't stop the music every five minutes, we keep a groove going to maintain the atmosphere to help the dancers during the walk-throughs.

Social dance has always been the most fundamental form of cultural expression for the population at large and has been a natural bridge between ethnic and national groupings since time immemorial. The free movement of music and dance forms across ethnic, national and language borders is apparent by the current dance repertoire on both sides of the world.

Both the UK and Australian social dance scene share common roots derived from both the time of the European settlement of Australasia and the continued cultural and commercial links between Australia and Europe. This commonality has been modified by the gradual divergence of the two cultures over the century since federation and the differing political affiliations and population demographics of the northern and southern strands of English speaking culture.

In the British dance scene these developments/influences have taken the form of an influx of European, Scandinavian, latin and African influences (e.g. Prego, Boka Halat, Mas Y Mas) which has augmented the English and Celtic traditions to produce a genre of social dance known as E-Ceilidh - variously referred to as English, Eclectic or Electric Ceilidh depending on the observer's inclination. Bush Ceilidh audience dancing at Fairbridge Festival in 2008

The E-Ceilidh scene developed from the earlier "Rogue Folk" movement - a term coined by fRoots' editor Ian Anderson - which in turn was contemporaneous with the Australian Bush Dance movement. Although impossible to verify, it may be that the Australian scene helped kickstart the E-Ceilidh movement, both directly through the influence of Australian musicians such as Trevor Lucas (Fairport Convention et al) and Brian Heywood - via The Cluster of Nuts Band (which later sparked off Simon Care's Tickled Pink) and via the work of Australian bands like the Bushwackers and Redgum which took a fresh look at the Anglo-celtic tradition and bands like Tara! that brought in diverse new ethnic influences into the scene.

To read about the history of the band click here.