Bios

John Birkby
John originally started playing the clarinet before taking up the guitar. After studying classical guitar at college he then took up “folk” guitar. About the same time as he discovered various tunings, he started the Peterborough Big Band, continuing to be their musical director to the present. Having played in various folk dance and song bands, he is delighted to be a Pitmatic.

Heather Harding
Before studying music at Oxford Brookes, Heather’s musical background includes playing with an 80s rock band called Precious Little Idols who toured extensively and supported bands such as Bauhaus. A busy working life on the family farm followed until a phone call from Charley Foskett inviting her to join an exciting new band. Now embarking on an exciting new journey with a multitalented group of musicians enjoying the mix and the challenge that traditional folk music demands.

Phil Underwood
Phil is an actor/musician,  singer songwriter, director and playwright with a passion for all genres of folk and roots music on melodeon, concertina, fiddle, guitar, banjo and percussion. He has formed and played in many bands, including The Creole Brothers, KARA (with Daria Kulesh and Pete Morton) and  The Fishwives Choir. He trained for the stage with the National Theatre’s War Horse production and now tours his own stage show Canals of Old England. Career highlights include an appearance with Bill Bailey at Wembley Arena, The Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Glastonbury Rock Music Festival, BBC Breakfast TV and BBC TV Songs of Praise.

Ned Lawton
Ned was a member of 70’s folk band Hartshead Pike based in Sheffield and then London. Whilst pursuing a career in the automotive industry for 30 years, Ned is still actively involved in musical theatre in the Luton area as Director, performer and set designer. He formed Bedfordshire based folk band Ragged Staff in 2008 and has more recently written 3 musicals based on life in the 1800’s and incorporating traditional and contemporary folk songs.

Denise Dryburgh is well known on the folk circuit as a fine and powerful folk singer.  We are delighted to include her in the band and we’ve got her on percussion.

Caroline Riches played with Ned in the acclaimed folk trio Ragged Staff and brings a pure sweetness to the vocals, together with fine fiddle playing. Caroline has done masterclasses with Peter Knight and Maddy Prior. She also plays in Americana band The Moggies. Caroline is also a respected player of hammered dulcimer – including a support for the Sam Kelly Trio –  and has brought out albums of original songs under the name Dulcimer Gold.  She also performs with Phil in Canals of Old England