Token Women 30th anniversary ceilidh at Sidmouth Folk Festival

PUBLISHED: 13:21 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:21 06 August 2019

Token Women. Picture: Brian Ablett

Token Women. Picture: Brian Ablett

Brian Ablett

An enthusiastic crowd started queuing well in advance of the doors opening at the Blackmore Gardens Marquee on Monday, August 5 For the ceilidh to mark the 30th anniversary of celebrated dance band Token Women.

Token Women, Picture: Brian AblettToken Women, Picture: Brian Ablett

It all started in 1989 at Sidmouth Folk Festival at a time when many ceildih bands were all male or had only a 'token woman' who was usually the vocalist.

"We had the idea it would be great to show off women as instrumentalists and so 'Token Women' was formed," explains Fi Fraser, who plays fiddle and clarinet. "We came to be known as 'the Divas of folk', playing energetic folk tunes with innovative arrangements. Our first gig was at The Anchor Gardens so Sidmouth will always hold special memories for us. The folk scene has moved on since then and there are far more women playing instruments in bands which is great to see.'

The line-up has changed over the years and playing at the Blackmore Gardens were Fi Fraser, Alice Kinloch, Jo Freya, Heather Horsely, Jo May, Linda Game, Jackie Allen, Kathryn Locke and Carly Rose.

The Token Women retrospective tour covers a number of venues including Bath, Cardiff, and Towersey.

Dancers at Token Women. Picture: Maria McCarthyDancers at Token Women. Picture: Maria McCarthy

The evening took off with a swing as enthusiastic dancers of all ages took to the floor to enjoy a varied range of dances from traditional ceilidh dances to polkas and waltzes. The band played with the passion and infectious energy they are known for and created an exuberant party vibe.

Jayne and Richard Gale from Exeter have followed the band for decades and Jayne remembers Fi and Jo from folk clubs in Cheltenham back in 1975. "Token Women's music is so bouncy and uplifting," added Richard. "And they always create such a wonderful atmosphere."

Gig-goer Stephen Coleman from Cumbria agreed. "They're such talented musicians with a great brass section."

In the interval the audience was entertained by Mackeney Morris, a young Cotswold Morris side from Derbyshire who provided an energetic and engaging performance.

Dancers at Token Women. Picture: Maria McCarthyDancers at Token Women. Picture: Maria McCarthy

It was a magical evening - one which both the band and audience are sure to remember for many years to come.


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