Dance Bands and Callers

A guide to folk dance bands and callers in Tasmania.

Most of these bands have played for the Folk Federation’s monthly dance series. They are all available to play for a variety of other events. Please support them. They can all help your group have a great time.

Northern Tasmania:

The Bottom Pub Ceilidh Band: bush/Scottish/…. Contact Mark Phillips, 0447 342 773 or John Roden, 0488 642 648

Southern Tasmania:

The Black Swans of Trespass: Traditional and contemporary tunes on five-string electric banjo, fiddle, double bass and drums.  See or  Contact: CC Thornley,, 0455 885 580.

Buttongrass Serenade: bush dancing/Tasmanian. Contact Steve and Marjorie Gadd 03 6266 3446,

David “Oddsocks” Wanless: A danceoholic and a dance caller for many Tasmanian bands and in many dance traditions. He has called dances from Mawson station in Antarctica to the Prince Edward Island in Canada. He calls dances from many traditions including Irish, Scottish, Contra, English, Renaissance, traditional and contemporary Australian (including bush dances), Balkan, Balfolk and his own compositions. Contact or ph 03 6273 2127.  Can organise you a band or be booked with a band.

The Tassie Devil’s Own: Contact Peter Hicks, 03 6239 1320,
Formed to perform the songs from the play about the Irish-heritage Tasmanian bushranger Matthew Brady “The Devil’s Own” feature one of Australia’s premier folk fiddlers Ross Smithard, Annie Parsell, Mat Woolley and Peter Hicks.  Ross has years of experience performing throughout NSW in the popular bush dance band “The Tin Shed Rattlers”.  Annie and Mat perform regularly as Twice Bitten and previously Mat, Annie and Ross performed as part of the To Rags celtic group.  Peter performs rhythm guitar and sings with The Ranters.  The Devil’s Own play can play for a variety of dance styles, including bush dances, contra dances and Irish ceili dances.

Hobart Old Time String Band (HOT String Band): Hillbilly, traditional, American old-time and rootsy music and songs, for listening or for dancing, including bush dancing.
Contact Cathy, 03 6273 2127

Iain Macleod (Scottish accordion player available for Scottish country dances, Scottish ceilidh dances, Irish ceili dances, Irish step dancing, contra dances, Playford dances etc.): 0412 021 237;

Ross Smithard and Up Jumped Trouble (formerly Moonshine Whiskers and the Ragged Pony) (lively old time and contemporary tunes and songs for bush dancing or contra dancing, or songs and tunes for concerts): Ross Smithard, 0428 644 358, 03 6295 1477,

Sarah Lewis: Sarah is an experienced danceoholic who crossed over into the dark arts of calling a few years ago and is in demand with several Tasmanian bands. Contact or ph 0409 218 414.  Can organise you a band or be booked by a band.

Steptoe Bush Band: dances and music from many cultures. Contact Paul Calvert-Smith, 03 6239 1495, 0407 123 410,

Tasmanian Heritage Fiddle Ensemble: Tasmanian music, collected and contemporary. Contact CC Thornley,, 0455 885 580.

Teri Young and the Restless: Bush dancing and songs.  Contact Theresa Young 0474 853 880,  See for Teri’s songs.

Van Diemen’s Angels: Harp, flute, fiddle and accordion ensemble, specialising in Tasmanian and historic music.

VerandahCoots: traditional Australian dancing. Contact Julie Edwards, 0409 360 291, Stuart Graham, 03 6239 1517.

Xenos: inspiring Balkan/Breton music and dancing (Macedonian, Moldavian, Greek, Turkish, …). Contact Rob Bester, 0418 865 498,

Booking a Band

Having a dance is a great way to bring people together, have fun, get some exercise, meet people, smile and laugh a lot and feel the joy of moving to music.  You can have fun with recorded music, but there really is no substitute for live music with your dancing.

If you want to have a dance at your wedding, birthday party, school, community event or just organise a dance for your community, here are some tips.

  1. Start early.  Venues and bands can be booked up so ideally make contact months ahead.  However, if it you don’t have that much time, still ask.
  2. Find a venue.
  3. Book a band, a caller and a sound system and sound engineer.  You can either book these separately, or more usually, ask a band or caller to book all three.  It can be worth contacting several to see who can give you the best time at a price which suits you.
  4. Different bands play different types of music and do different types of dances so choose something to suit your style.
  5. Make a clear agreement with the band/caller about what you are asking them to do and how much they will be paid.  That way no-one will get any nasty surprises.
  6. Bands and callers can often give you advice on various aspects of your event as they’ve done this before.

Learning the Dances

Attending one of the regular or special dance events/groups listed on our Forthcoming Events or Dance Groups and Regular Events pages is a good way to learn whilst having a great time.