The Witchmen

Reviews and Quotes

With people of only moderate ability modesty is mere honesty; but with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy (Arthur Schopenhauer)

from facebook

  • Trying to look like The Witchmen doesn't make you dance like them
    - Simon Care Sept 2011

About our band

  • the Very beautiful, Highly talented, heavily armed, lady musicians
    - Middlewich 2000
  • a veritable 'orchestra' of musicians
    - Ely 2000
  • Dic (Bradshaw Mummers)
    You've gora reet shaggin' band
    - (we think it's a compliment - he's from a village near Halifax)

from the web

  • The Witchmen completely took me by surprise - these guys where hardcore! Not a word usually associated with Morris: dressed in black, blacked up faces – top hats adorned with pheasant feathers and wheeling big bits of wood. When they started it was so tribal, yelps and screams, drums and the crack of wood against wood, intimidating but entertaining too. If you have any doubts about Morris Dancing go check out The Witchmen.
    A comment posted on the Ely community website after the 2011 Ely Festival at elypeople.co.uk
  • are to Morris dancing what the hells angels are to Cycling Proficiency
    A comment on dawn tebbutt's amazing blog - The Merryweather Gazette.
  • the Witchmen, a side that often changes people's perceptions of Morris dancing.
    - Didge Lewis for Folk Orbit Chester Folk Festival 2005
  • Witchmen - Pagan Morris at its best. Once seen never forgotten!
    - Tradition magazine
  • the Witchmen appeared....Things were about to become more aggressive. It was down with hankies and up with sticks. Gathered into groups of 8 we bashed, danced, span each other round and shouted something about monkeys sticking bananas up their bums
    Ely folk festival website
  • the fearsome sight of the Witchmen morris men side bangin' and boppin' their way down the High Street and round to the Cathedral
    http://www.ely.org.uk/folkfest2002/index4.htm
  • gnomes This year saw a prize of a barrel of beer awarded to the Witchmen morris team for the most innovative decoration of their part of the campsite. (Their somewhat dark and Gothic approach to the competition was to design a miniature cemetery in which a figure of Father Christmas lay in an open grave surrounded by gnomes in Witchmen colours!)
  • But we couldn't resist choosing favorites. The very first group we saw was the Witchmen ("from that dark place known as Kettering"). And from the first whooping cry they made and fist shaking dance they did we knew this was the sort of scene that graced the hillsides when they lit the bonfires at Stonehenge ... While the men rule the dance, the women rule the band. Their rhythms evoke all the musical archetypes of our heritage from the ancient pre-Celtic drums to the medieval tambourine
    http://www.leafpile.com/TravelLog/England/Warwick/Warwick.htm
  • crowds of Morris groups descend on Warwick town centre. ... Some of the most frightening were the Witchmen.
    BBC Coventry story about Warwick folk festival 2004.
  • the famous 'Witchmen' with their hypnotic music, blacked-up faces, black and amber jackets, and pheasant feathers in their black top hats, who represent the testosterone-fuelled world of "pagan" morris! ... they have a superb website ... The middle-aged men, with their grey beards and black skin, looked almost aboriginal and their throbbing music went back to the dawn of time.
    http://anneloaderpublications.co.uk/news/news022.htm
  • the Witchmen doing their Big Bad Pagan Biker act
    Adam - Gog Magog Molly
    MDDL Re: Sidmouth Folk Festiva 2002
  • For pure Border you can't do much better than Witchmen.
    Alec Brady - Boggart's Breakfast
    MDDL

In printmedia

  • "ungodly"
    - from a letter in a Wisbech newspaper from a Jehova's Witness
  • Times on line The Witchmen, the Hell's Angels of Morris dancers, dressed in black and amber, spiked with pheasant's feathers and wielding big sticks. ... a sudden realisation that this is what, until very recently, being English had all been about. ... hundreds of years of this: peasants in the middle of winter, without antibiotics or telegraphs or thermals, pretending to be witches and warlocks and Straw Bears until the spring finally came. ... wild drunken joy, fear, cheap, deep magic ... And the dancing - stomping, hearty, ramshackle.
    - Cry God for hairies, England and straw bears - Caitlin Moran - January 14, 2005
  • The ghoulish, primal-looking Witchmen, in dark glasses and feathers.
    - The Magic Spring (My year learning to be English) - Richard Lewis - Atlantic books, London
  • Fosse Way Magazine If punk and Goth are not words you would readily associate with Morris dancing, you haven't seen The Witchmen.
    ... the black-faced and black-clad dancers with their feathered top hats and their Goth girl-band with black leather mittens are definitely one of the hits of this year's Sidmouth Festival.
    The Witchmen's style of dancing is full-on Welsh Borders ... with a distinctly hard edge. And they're funny too...
    Morris, you might say, has come bounding and ringing its bells into the 21st century.
    - August 9th 2002
  • ...one thing above all will remain with me from this festival. And that's the memory of walking through the town, watching the Morris teams. All happy, bouncy, white-clad Cotswold sides, straight off a picture postcard. Until at the end of the High Street I saw The Witchmen. This is Morris of a darker bent. Clad in rags, with blackened faces, they wielded large sticks with a grim and phallic energy. I was suddenly struck by the very real fear that if they weren't doing what they were doing...the crops really wouldn't grow!
    FACTS & FICTION magazine August 2008
    Alcester Folk Festival 2008 - A personal review by Sarah Morton

from festival programmes

  • the side everyone else wants to be
    - Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival 2006
  • emerged ... to give some magic back to a land gone stale
    - Warwick 95
  • dangerous but funky
    - Beverly 95
  • back from their successful tour of the twilight zone
    - Whitby 03
  • a morris experience that you won't forget quickly
    - Clitheroe 98
  • supremely confident & with good cause
    - Middlewich 2000
  • one of the best known morris sides in England, if not the galaxy. They have a darker and heavier Border style - emphatic and earthy .... the magic and menace of the performance
    - Ely 2000
  • they will bewitch you with their spectacle
    - Pontardawe 2000
  • as dark and mysterious as their name suggests .... performances that are pagan in the extreme
    - Wallingford 03

the spoken word

  • Scarily attractive Goth woman to her male companion
    You want to see this lot, they beat the shit out of each other!
    - Rochester Sweeps 2015
  • Awesome
    - Walton festival
  • Passer-by looking at some Witchmen sitting on the Esplanade Rails
    You lot look like a row of vultures … waiting for something to die!
    - Sidmouth Festival 2009
  • Dancer with Beltane (Female)
    It’s one of my fantasies to be stalked by a Witchman
    - Warwick Festival 2008
  • Steward on Festival Site
    There was this sea of bright flowered morris hats and then there were the Witchmen, looking like a black oil-slick
    - Gate to Southwell Festival 2008
  • Member of the Pussycat Dolls Hobos Morris
    Watching you is like an orgasm for me
    - Rochester 2008
  • Brazillian spectator
    They look like they're from the rain forrest, we don't expect this in civilised England
    - Rochester 2008
  • Passer-by in the Oracle centre
    Are you going to the gay pride march?
    - Reading 2007
  • Child
    Don't go yet mum, these are the good ones
    - Henley 2007
  • Paying customer
    These're worth the admision
    - Ely festival 2007
  • Morris Dancer
    The side other teams should look to for precision
    - Ely festival 2007
  • Folk Festival dance organiser
    Who do I have to sleep with to get you lot to dance at Holmfirth
    - Cleethorpes 1995
  • female spectator - to friend
    You wanna watch these, they're sex on legs!
    - Grimesthorpe Festival
  • spectator
    Are you lot really pagan?
    Witchman
    yes
    spectator - to partner
    I told you so, you can tell 'cause the women are in charge
    - Chippenham arena 2004
  • Motorhead roadie
    The Motorhead of morris
    - Walton festival
  • Anstey Morrisman
    What are you doing with your head up that pheasant's arse?
  • Teenager (with strong Welsh accent) at Pontardawe
    Are you Gothic?
  • Old bloke (with strong Welsh accent) at Pontardawe
    Would I be right in thinking they're mother and two daughters?
    - Of Linda, Ruth & Ali
  • the Grandmeister
    Unt this is how you dance when you've drunk ze wine cellar dry
    - Hotel Nicolai, Cochem, Germany
  • nutty Christian
    You don't frighten me
    - Rochester
  • A Fezhead
    We know who the real stars are
    - Rochester
  • pagan geezer
    I've seen bibles spontaneously combust when this lot dance
    - Wadebridge
  • Tony of Beltane
    You lot're in for a treat,
    you're looking at one of the two best border teams in the country - the other being the Witchmen
    - Wadebridge
  • Ashley Hutchins
    The Witchmen, wow!
    - Sidmouth 2002
  • White haired old lady
    You're the best - it's the rhythm man!
    - Rochester, Beltane 2006
  • After the ceilidh spot
    I've paid good money all over the world to see dance and theatre, but to see that here for free ... wow, that was something f**king else
    ......Man on Sunday afternoon at The Hop Inn
    You guys have been brilliant all weekend... and you frightened my children... so nice one, cheers !
    - FolkEast 2016