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The Electropathics

The Electropathic Battery Band was formed in 1979. The English Country Dance revival was just getting going and the band was inspired by the Old Swan Band and New Victory Band, among others. They also specialised in Music Hall material, and made a feature of performing in Edwardian costume. The original members were Alan Rawlinson, John "Grog" Gregson, John Lewis, Dave and Moira Hanvey, and Nick Tamblin and Maggie Andrew.

In 1984 Nick, Dave and Moira left the band and Howard Jones and Keith Hancock were invited to join. As both were melodeon players, this gave the opportunity to share melody and harmony lines rather than be dependent on one lead instrument. Howard also played concertina and hammered dulcimer, while Keith, a singer/songwriter, brought his own compositions. The band also decided to modernise its image, and dropped the period costume in favour of modern clothes in red and white.

The band’s sound was starting to evolve into something more adventurous. In addition to the possibilities offered by having two lead instruments, the supporting instrumentation was also changing. In particular, John Lewis put aside his rhythm banjo in favour of wild tenor sax and clarinet, giving a much more jazzy effect. Jackie Hamilton (later Rawlinson) joined on fiddle, and percussionist Maggie Andrew left and was replaced by Pierce Butler.

As well as playing ceilidh tunes, the band also had a varied repertoire of songs, reflecting the eclectic tastes of its members. As well as both traditional and contemporary folk songs, including several by Keith Hancock, this also included Music Hall and 1930s songs, as well as Sacred Harp harmonies.

In 1987 the band went into the recording studio to record its only album. At the same time it was decided to shorten the name, since the associations of the original name (see below) no longer suited the material or style. The Electropathic Battery Band became simply The Electropathics, and the album was released under the title batteries not included.

Later that same year, they were invited by BBC Manchester to contribute a track for a double cassette folk album being released for the Children in Need Appeal. Another session in a recording studio resulted in "Harry Rag", a cover of an old Kinks’ song with a traditional morris middle-eight!

Shortly afterwards Keith Hancock left to pursue his solo career, and John Lewis and Grog also departed. Pierce Butler also decided that playing in a North West band while living in Aylesbury didn’t really work! However the band continued, with Alan and Jackie Rawlinson and Howard Jones being joined by various permutations of musicians, including Tim Kenny, Dave Manley, Ian Sherwood, Alistair Gillies and Tim Veitch. For some reason it was particularly difficult to find and keep percussionists, and a whole series of these came and went until the band finally settled down with Chris "Yorkie" Bartram.

In spite of these personnel changes the band continued to develop a distinctive sound and was in great demand throughout the country. Their popularity was confirmed when in the 1988 Folk Roots magazine's readers' poll they were voted among the top 10 most popular dance bands. The Electropathics appeared at most of the major festivals and dance clubs, and on national and local radio.

The band continued until 1994 when Jackie moved away from the area. By this time, family and professional demands were taking their toll, and it was becoming harder to give the band the commitment it required. It was decided to finish while still on a high.

The Electropathics are no longer gigging, and sadly both Maggie and Moira are no longer with us. However the band was the springboard for other musical ventures, and former band members have appeared in a number of other bands. including:

Jackie Allen (formerly Rawlinson): Token Women, the Kitchen Girls, Asha
Alan Rawlinson, Pierce Butler: Housewive's Choice
Howard Jones: Albireo
John Gregson, Dave Hanvey, Moira Hanvey: the Grand Cru
Alistair Gillies: All Blacked Up, Fidget Pie
Tim Veitch: 5 Speed Box
Chris Bartram is well-known as a singer and also plays percussion with several bands
Keith Hancock turned full-time professional musician and issued several solo albums.

The origin of the name

"Electropathics" is the use of electricity to promote health. The original Electropathic Battery Band was a Victorian invention, an electric hatband (!) which it was claimed would invigorate and promote the health of the wearer.