Fund-raising concert at St James the Great, Claydon 26 April 19

Claydon, meaning clayey hill, is the most northerly parish in Oxfordshire, and the small ironstone church stands at its highest point. It consists of chancel, nave, North aisle and North chapel, and a low West tower with a saddleback roof. The original church had a 12th Century nave and North aisle and most of the changes took place in the 13th Century.

Claydon was originally a chapelry of nearby Cropredy, where the Bishop of Lincoln held a large manor recorded in the Domesday Book. In 1851, Claydon joined the chapelry of Mollington and formed a separate benefice. In 1996 these parishes joined with Cropredy, Great Bourton and Wardington to form the Shires Edge Benefice, and we are grateful to the Benefice Vicar, Hilary Campbell for inviting us to play.

This beautiful old church was full to capacity for the fund-raising concert in aid of the church and the event raised nearly $400 for this purpose.

Our thanks to Hilary and the warm and appreciative audience for making us feel so welcome. We’ll look forward to coming back!

Burns night weekend! 25-26 January 2019 in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire

Once again, the Silver Bough Ceilidh Band led by Donald and Jackie provided the poetry, music and dancing for Burns Night at historic Talton House, Warwickshire on Friday evening, 25 January 2019. It was pleasure to work with Piper and Orator Alistair Wilson again and we began the evening outside, welcoming guests with bagpipe, drums and flag-waving. Most enjoyed our loud serenade – just a few looked a little intimidated by our efforts! As in previous years, a full-house of guests enjoyed a lovely meal and afterwards, danced until late. We would like to thank the staff at Talton House for their hospitality and the guests for dancing to exhaustion point!

Burns night at Talton House, 25 Jan 19

Our Burns celebration weekend continued on Saturday 26 January when together with Alistair, we provided the entertainment, poetry and music for a fund-raiser at Bloxham School, Oxfordshire. The Great Hall looked fantastic and the event was beautifully organised and run by the School’s BTEC catering students. The large group of guests were clearly in the mood to enjoy themselves and danced with much enthusiasm until the caretaker arrived to lock-up! The band would like to thank the organisers, staff, catering team and students at Bloxham School for looking after us so well.

The Great hall, Bloxham School, Oxfordshire, 26 Jan 19

In the slightly amended words of the old Wizzard song, ‘We wish it could be Burns night every day’!


All Saints, Mollington, Christmas fund-raising concert, 14 December 18

The earliest parts of the Church of England parish church of All Saints, Mollington, date from the 14th century, but the font is 13th century and so it is thought that there may have been an earlier church building on the site. The tower was built in the 16th century and the building was restored in 1856. All Saints’ parish is now part of the Benefice of Shires’ Edge along with the parishes of Claydon, Cropredy, Great Bourton and Wardington.

We love playing in old churches (centuries of worship make them special places in which to play and sing Gospel music) and on Friday evening 14th December, Gospel Bell facilitated a fund-raising concert at All Saints. The small church had a near capacity audience tapping their feet or singing along with us. After a break for mince pies and a glass of wine, we sang the 2014 Christmas truce carols as featured in Donald’s ‘Story of the dancer’ prior to our second set.

We should like to thank the Revd Hilary Campbell, Vicar, Shires’ Edge Benefice for inviting us to play and all who attended last night’s fund-raiser – a lovely evening in a beautiful setting. Hilary’s comment was: ‘Thank you all for a fab time of uplifting music!’ Concert attendee Mike Duffin later emailed to say: ‘It was a very joyful and uplifting evening which I think everybody enjoyed.  It had the added advantage of raising some much needed funds for our church. My thanks again to all of you, I look forward to seeing you again in the future.’

Thank you Mike – we are already looking forward to a return visit!

Gospel Bell at All Saints, Mollington with Hilary Campbell (front row, left)

St Mary’s Adderbury Christmas tree Festival, 08 December 18

Gospel Bell were delighted to perform again at the annual Christmas tree Festival at St Mary’s Adderbury. As ever, the church looked really beautiful and it was a pleasure to engage Festival-goers with our brand of Gospel music. Over to our left, I noticed that a young mum (Emma) and her toddler danced during most of our set while her baby – too young to dance – but transfixed from the comfort of a pram – watched us intently. Our goal is to encourage all who attend the events we play at to participate – sing – dance and connect with the spiritual truths that our songs contain. Thank you Emma and your children for your joyful reaction to our music (others were shuffling their feet too!) and afterwards, for taking the lovely photo below. I especially like the fact that Donald’s head is suffused by Angels!

Silver Bough at Tudor Hall, November 18

The Silver Bough Ceilidh band led by Donald and Jackie played for nearly 200 teenagers at two socials organized by Tudor Hall school, Banbury in early November. We began by playing for a younger age group of around 80 children aged 12-13 on Sunday afternoon 11 November.

Sunday 11 November, Tudor Hall

A larger group of the older pupils from Tudor Hall girls school and Radley College boys school, Oxford enjoyed a social evening on Saturday 17 November – complete with mountains of Domino’s Pizza!

Silver Bough would like to thank the staff and pupils of Tudor Hall for making us feel so welcome and for the excellent hospitality and great dancing!

Allerford Village Hall, Somerset, 29 September 18

Gospel Bell played a concert set to a full-house in Allerford on Saturday 29th September. The event was part of Allerford’s first Music and Dance Festival and the audience came ready to sing! Donald began with one of his inimitable stories about the adventures of one of his guitars – was it really played by Elvis and later by Johnny Cash? The mystery remains and no doubt the story will continue! The band was ten-strong for this really special evening with young percussionist Dylan joining us for the evening.

Our thanks to Graeme Horn and Lisa Eden from Allerford for inviting us to play and for organising a memorable event.

Allerford Music & Dance week, 22-29 September 18

Gospel Bell are playing at the Allerford Music & Dance Week in Somerset on Saturday evening 29 September. The promotional material provides a nice summary of what we do: ‘The Vale Music presents Gospel Bell, who play uplifting, spiritual music from the American Gospel Blues and Country Gospel traditions. An infectious, singalong, toe tapping treat.’

St Mary’s Fairport’s Cropredy Convention fringe Thu 09 & Sun 12 August 18

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is a long-established and much loved music festival with fringe events dotted around this small village in rural Oxfordshire. This year, Gospel Bell discovered that the best fringe venue is St Mary the Virgin Parish Church and we were delighted to accept an invitation to play at St Mary’s lunchtime concert on Thursday 9th August and at the Fairport Sunday service on 12th August.

Gospel Bell at St Mary’s Thu 09 Aug 18

The church was full and it seemed that the Cropredy singers all sang along with us. Our grateful thanks to Hilary the vicar, the church wardens and to Gospel Edge for singing with us.

Gospel Bell at St Mary’s Sun 12 Aug 18

St James the less, Sulgrave, Sunday 1 July 18

Gospel Bell were delighted to help with a fund-raising event that raised £740 for the church. Here is their report: On a gloriously hot summer’s afternoon, villagers and visitors were entertained by Gospel Bell, described by group member Troy Daniels (of Helmdon Road and the Parish Council) as “an ensemble of musicians and singers based in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, playing gospel blues and country music”. Everyone was in good voice and those of “a certain age” hardly needed reminding of the words on the printed sheets. Refreshments were provided by volunteers and proceeds from the event will go to the Church of St James the less.

GB at St James the less, Sulgrave


Somerton Village Hall, Oxfordshire, 24 May 18

The Somerton Social Club promotes social events in the village and the club opens its bar in the village hall every Thursday from 8.30pm until 11.00pm. On Thursday 24 May, Gospel Bell made our second visit to this modern and beautiful village hall, where we enjoyed a warm welcome and great hospitality – quite a challenge when a band of ten people turn up!

Gospel Bell on our second visit to Somerton village hall.

We should like to thank Emma Fitzgerald, Tracy Clark and all their team for organizing the evening and looking after us so well: Tracy’s comment was: ‘Great Thursday Night Live music, Fab food, Great village and chocolate cake!’ Band members Dave and Toni live in Somerton and Dave says there were lots of appreciative comments on the evening from friends and neighbours gathered in the bar after we’d finished our second set. Thank you Somerton – we are already looking forward to our next visit.