The Bullenbush Band was formed in 1984 by accordionist John Bullen as a ceilidh and barn dance band. He assembled a group of musicians which included his sister Pamela on various wind instruments, Andy Paton on whistles and Steve Deeks on bodhran. After a chance meeting with bass player Ian Bembridge in a country pub, the line up was complete.
It was not long before John progressed onto keyboard leaving more freedom for Ian to introduce acoustic and electric guitars. When Pamela left to pursue a career as a teacher, singer and composer Sue Crow took her place. The band started to produce songs and concert pieces that led to festival bookings and folk circuit gigs throughout England.
Into The Studio
The first album Walthamstow Market was released in 1987. The album, which was mastered at the famous Abbey Road Studios was cut to vinyl and sold in record stores nationwide. It wasn’t long before Walthamstow Market gained some media attention, being featured on Jim Lloyd’s ‘Folk on Two’ programme for the BBC.
The second Bullenbush Band album On The Edge was released in 1992. The songs and tunes were this time written by Ian and Sarah Heath, who had joined the band to add flute and recorders. Graham Baldwin, a professional jazz drummer who toured with some of the Deep South’s best during his time in the USA, was also added to the lineup.
Soon after the release of On The Edge, John and Sarah departed and were replaced by fiddler Neil Bullen (John’s brother). The line up then achieved a decade of stability.
Will Bembridge replaced Graham as the regular drummer in 2004 as Graham’s popularity playing Jazz restricted him to very few performances. After over a decade with the band performing for weddings, ceilidhs, barn dances, concerts and other private bookings across the South East of England, William moved to Canada in 2015. Steve Deeks, the original bodhran player from the 1984 lineup, was once again reunited with the Bullenbush Band on drums.
The band continues to deliver a mixture of original and traditional songs and dance sets in a rocky folk style throughout the UK and abroad.