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Blowzabella are an English band who play bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies and an array of acoustic instruments to produce an inimitable, driving, drone-based sound influenced by British and European traditional dance music.


The band was formed in Whitechapel, London in 1978 by Bill O'Toole (bagpipes, flutes) from Sydney and Jon Swayne (bagpipes, flutes) from Glastonbury, both students in London. They invited to join them Chris Gunstone (bouzouki, tapan), Dave Armitage (melodeon, bombarde, percussion) and Juan Wijngaard (hurdy gurdy, Flemish bagpipes) who was soon replaced by Sam Palmer (hurdy gurdy). In late 1979 Bill O'Toole returned to Australia and was replaced by Dave Roberts (melodeon, percussion).

The band's name was taken from an English jig (and bawdy drinking song), "Blowzabella My Bouncing Doxie", popular in the late 17th century and early 18th century. Founder-member Bill O'Toole, who discovered the tune while researching potential bagpipe repertoire in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, thought the name, with its combination of "blow" and "bella", summed up the band's sound.

In 1980 Dave Armitage left the band, to be replaced by Paul James (bagpipes, woodwind) and Cliff Stapleton (hurdy gurdy). In 1982 Chris Gunstone left and Dave Armitage rejoined the band for a brief period . Early in 1983 Dave Shepherd (fiddle, five-string fiddle, viola d'amore) became part of the lineup. Later, in 1983 (after the Winnipeg, Vancouver tour),...
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