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The Bootleggers were re-formed over a decade ago by Julia Pollock to provide people in North Lincolnshire with the opportunity to learn the percussive steps used in American Folk Dance. Julia Pollock and co-dancers Marion Smith & Kate Marshall were founder members of the original Bootleggers Dancers who appeared at festivals throughout the 1990's. A few years ago they joined forces with Tatterfoals Morris dancers Pam and Hannah Cook (now Houldsworth) and Rosianna Ceilidh Band’s Alvina Greig to get a display team started again. Over the past 10 years, the annual 'taster' workshop has attracted a large number of new members, many of who have joined the Display Team, supported by some very talented and experienced musicians.
Julia’s choreography has been influenced by everything from English Morris dance to Hollywood musicals! Many dances have been written for special occasions such as team member’s birthdays and many incorporate themes from the tunes they are danced to. Occasionally ‘body percussion’ is used to emphasize a rhythm or a few words from an Old Tyme American song thrown in to entertain the crowd!
What is Appalachian Dance?
Appalachian Dance is a totally infectious and thoroughly enjoyable fusion of world folk dance. When the early settlers, (many from The Bootleggers home county of Lincolnshire), made the journey to the New World, they took the music & dance of their own culture with them. Step dances from the North, Morris dances from the South & Celtic Rhythms from Scotland & Ireland combined with Native American ritual dance to become what was simply known as "Clogging". Accompanied by fiddle & banjo, these "hillbilly" dances mixed with the syncopated jazz beats introduced by African slaves to form the highly percussive performance style now known as Appalachian Dance.
The Bootleggers specialise in a display form of clogging known as ‘Buck Dance’ or ‘Precision Clogging’ which is characterised by small group routines using energetic shuffles, hops and kicks. They dance in traditional ‘oxford’ tap shoes and use the metal taps on the toes and heels to beat out the rhythm of the Celtic and American tunes they dance to.
The band are currently known as “The Lootbeggers”, made up of Phil Green on fiddle, Carl Hoeft on guitar, Gerry Fillingham on octave mandolin and banjo, Chris Marshall on double bass and more recently Derick Liversidge on mandolin. The band has in the past also included Phil’s daughter Sarah Green on Double Bass, the Rev.Alice Nunn on fiddle and Ray Banks on banjo.
The band have developed a real name for themselves, twice winning the Brigg Fiddle Festival Busking Competition. Their extensive repertoire of American Old Tyme tunes is peppered with other Celtic, Cajun and even Classical influences!
The Bootleggers Appalachian Dance display team with their old-tyme band 'The Lootbeggers', are available to entertain at folk events, dance shows, fetes, festivals and other events for a mixed crowd. However they do need a good quality wooden floor or stage if they are to perform and in most cases the use of a PA to ensure the musicians are heard above the dancer’s feet! They can perform spots of between 10 minutes and half an hour at a time and the band are happy to ‘busk’ in-between displays if needed. The Bootleggers usually ask for a contribution to their expenses so that they can cover the costs of costumes, travel etc.
If you attend a Bootleggers workshop – be prepared to have fun and to let go of your inhibitions! Julia’s enthusiasm for the music and the dance is infectious and she guarantees to have even the most reluctant and inexperienced dancer enjoying contributing to a simple routine by the end of an hour. An old pair of tap shoes makes joining in much easier but any comfortable pair of shoes with a small heel can be used to learn in. Just wear loose clothing and bring some water to drink!
Living Tradition Magazine columnist Dai Woosnam wrote about their appearance in 2003: “…the highlight for me just had to be the Appalachian Workshop with The Bootleggers. Such sheer enthusiasm!” Dance Leader Julia Pollock is a professional educator who communicates her love of step dance rhythms to audiences of all ages & levels of ability. She believes in the power of dance to enhance mental and physical fitness and is determined to keep dancing as long as she can!
Copyright © The Bootleggers 2011. Latest update 11 03 2015