Mal Derricott has asked me to post this article (below) that she has written about Rollo Woods being awarded and receiving an EFDSS Gold Badge. Rollo was incredibly generous with his knowledge when I interviewed him for my dissertation, concerning the pitch analysis of field recordings of Stephen Baldwin. (He was there at the recording, and was able to offer me incredibly useful background and information on exactly how it was done, the atmosphere and how he coaxed Mr Baldwin into letting us all hear him). Its fantastic to see Rollo being recognised for his many contributions to and work in the folk scene!
Rollo Woods – EFDSS Gold Badge Award
On Saturday 28th. November a very special party was held in Rollo’s home town of Swanage to celebration his award of the
Gold Badge of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. He is in very great company; Vaughan Williams received it too!
200 people attended the celebration from many sections of the Folk society. The event began with a ‘Sing the Old Carols’
workshop and some of the carols were mentioned by Thomas Hardy. Others were chosen for their particular link to the Purbeck area of Dorset. The carols chosen were Rollo’s favourites, or at least some of them as his repertoire is so vast it must have been very difficult for him to make a choice, and only 2 versions of ‘While Shepherds Watched’ out of a possible 400+!
There followed a wonderful afternoon tea and then the main event; the formal presentation of the EFDSS Gold Badge Award.
A long citation (although still an abbreviated version of the original text of 45 pages long) covering his lifetime of achievements involving Folk Music and Dance, was read out by Jack Crawford, the Chair of the West Gallery Music Association and then he presented Rollo with the Gold Badge on behalf of the English Folk and Dance Song Society.
The celebration then continued with a family barn dance with caller Nigel Close (a long term friend of Rollo’s and band caller) leading Rollo’s current ceilidh band, Maiden Oak. We were also entertained by members of Rollo’s musical family. His grandson, Owen, a noted melodeon player, his son Tony and his daughter-in law, better known to jazz lovers than to folk enthusiasts. We were also surprised by a group of dancers from the local school who did 2 country dances and the Purbeck Mummers. It was an absolutely fantastic day and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Rollo is recognised today as a collector and researcher of West Gallery Music; but far more than that he is also a performer of this music, folk song and dance music and an inspiration to others to perform. He is also recognised widely amongst concertina players for his skilled playing and his enduring encouragement to all who play or aspire to play concertina.
Rollo has that rare combination of the eye of an academic researcher combined with the active participation of a dancer and musician. Without performance the research could lie gathering dust on a bookshelf and what Rollo has done is ensure that this music is sung and played and above all, enjoyed.
Rollo also represents in many ways the full range of activities of a Village Band member of Hardy’s day. He was an instigator and is now an Hon Vice President of the West Gallery Music Association. He was the founder, and is now the researcher and band leader for the Purbeck Village Quire and before that was a founder member of The Madding Crowd. In these groups he has championed the performance of Church music from the West Gallery era. But he is just as much at home as leader of his dance bands Maiden Oak and before that of Greenwood Tree and when in Hampshire, the Black Glove Band. As a dancer he was a member of the Cambridge Morris Men and later the Winchester Morris Men. This combination of West Gallery musician, dance band leader and Morris dancer is something very special and has been beneficial to all three areas.
In all these roles Rollo has always been actively encouraging new talent and through that to ensure that the next generation will carry on singing dancing and making music!
Purbeck Village Quire