The Carnival Band (folk group)

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The Carnival Band is an English early music group. Their broad repertoire focuses on popular music from the 16th and 17th centuries, and traditional music from around the world. Presentation is informal and humorous, and in the spirit of medieval and renaissance Carnival. The band was founded by Andy Watts (principal bassoon in the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) and Giles Lewin (Dufay Collective) while they were members of the Medieval Players touring theatre company in the 1980s. They have had a long association with Maddy Prior.


The band was founded in 1983 by Andy Watts and Giles Lewin, together with Bill Badley, after Watts had been the musical director of an open-air Medieval Players production of Rabelais' Gargantua. The show featured actors, giant carnival characters, puppets, acrobatics, juggling and 16th-century music. The three founding members were musicians with the Medieval Players. Together with percussionist Charles Fullbrook the quartet made their debut on the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool canal at the Burnley Canalside Festival in 1984. Andrew 'Jub' Davis joined the band for a New Years' concert in 1985 and, according to the band's website[1] "this date marks the band's real birthday." There have been four lineup changes since then:

  • Charles Fullbrook left in 1990 and Raph Mizraki took his place.
  • Steve Banks joined in 1999 when Raph Mizraki moved on
  • Bill Badley stopped appearing regularly
  • Steno Vitale joined in 2002 to form the current line-up.

Bill Bradley and Raph Mizraki both continue to make occasional guest appearances with the band.

Maddy Prior's collaboration with the band began near the start of their existence in 1984 for a BBC radio programme of Christmas carols.[2] Since then, Maddy has featured on most Carnival Band albums. They have co-written material. For example, they wrote and toured a song cycle based on the life of Worcester-born heroine Hannah Snell.[3] Maddy toured with them again in 2007 for their "Music for Tavern and Chapel" tour.

Other performers have appeared on their CDs. For example, Rose Kemp sang on Carols at Christmas and Terry Jones appeared on Ringing the Changes.

Current members[edit]


  • Hoi Polloi (Park 1999 PRKCD51)[4]
  • Live – Jump for Joy (1994)[5]
  • My Heart Doth Dance (Park 2007)[6]
  • Choral History: Radio Ballards (2008)[7]
  • Around the World (2010)[8]
  • Capriol's Christmas (2018)

with Maddy Prior[edit]

Instruments played by the band[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]