The Hedgehog's Skin

About the Band


The Hedgehog's Skin bring a wealth of energy and enthusiasm to their performances, as well as deep knowledge and years of experience of playing for people to dance. They play lively, traditional dance music, lots of it from Northumberland, with some from Scotland, Ireland and North America thrown in. The dances are chosen carefully for each audience, and the tunes tailored to suit the dances.

Based in Hexham, the band has been playing for ceilidhs and barn dances, and at festivals, weddings and parties since the mid 1980s.


The band is led by David Oliver (piano accordion), who has been an active force in traditional music and dance since he joined Sadler Hall Rapper Team while at Leeds University in the late 1960s.  He has led The Hedgehog's Skin since its beginnings, having previously been a member of another ceilidh band, Burglar's Dog, alongside Andy Seagroat and Martin Dunn, and before that a pianist and caller with The Castle Band. As Education Director for Folkworks 1993-2009 he helped countless people in the region learn and enjoy folk music, includng as director of the Folkworks Youth Summer School, an annual event for teenage musicians which has had a huge impact on the regional and national folk scene.

Guitarist Chip Chamberlain has been a familiar figure on the Northumberland folk scene since the 1970s, and has at one time or another played with many other ceilidh bands in the North East. He was for many years a member of Hexham favourites The Marras.

Sophie Lynch, a very talented young fiddler, is a member of the Sage Gateshead's premier young folk ensemble Folkestra and Kathryn Tickell's new young band Superfolkus, and previously played with The Northumbrian Ranters and Down in the Attic. She also playes guitar and mandolin and has her own band Reely Ceol.

To the band's delight Heather Gessey is also playing fiddle regularly with the band again, having been part of the regular line-up before going to university. She is a highly experienced dance musician, and a former member of BBC Radio Two Folk Award finalists Tyde.


Caller and whistle-player Joey Oliver (David's son) is a member of the 1999 BBC Radio Two Young Folk Award winning band 422. He is a highly experienced ceilidh dance caller, with a friendly and relaxed style that puts dancers at ease, and explains dances clearly and simply. He has a large repertoire of dances to suit different occasions and a variety of audiences, from complete beginners to regular dancers.

The flexible nature of traditional music means that the band are often joined by other musicians, and work with other callers. Recent regular Hedgehogs Beth Chamberlain, Catriona Innes and Cameron Lynch still occasionally play with the band, as do concertina player and caller Alex Wade, and melodeon player Richard Adamson.

We don't have a published recording: ceilidh dance music is best heard live! The audience (and caller) are an essential part of every ceilidh, and it is therefore impossible to capture the live, spontaenous feel of a ceilidh in a recording.

However, if you're not sure exactly what sort of music we play, this
set of tunes is a good example.



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