Frog on a Bike - Cambridge Ceilidh Band

Meet the Band

Described by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Folk Show presenter Sue Marchant as ”A bit of treasure”, Frog on a Bike are one of Cambridgeshire's most accomplished and popular ceilidh bands. We also have a highly respected reputation on the wider English ceilidh scene

 

Featuring some of the most experienced folk dance musicians in the business, Frog on a Bike's vivacious energy, distinctively big folk-rock sound and driving rhythm is guaranteed to have you up and dancing.

 

Our repertoire is rooted in English folk music, both traditional and contemporary. We also boast two very talented tunesmiths of our own.

 

However, plenty of traditional Scottish, Irish and sometimes even French tunes are usually thrown into the mix just for good measure. We can also muster up a fine bit of harmony for some folk songs too!

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike

To complete our line-up, we draw from a carefully selected complement of friendly, patient and very experienced callers to guide you through each dance.

 

All in all, we strive to play foot-stomping tunes with verve and vigour, whilst having as much fun up on stage as you are on the dance floor.

 

We look forward to entertaining you at your ceilidh, festival, wedding, party, or barn dance. You will not be disappointed that you came along for a ride with Frog on a Bike!

Tom - Melodeons & Concertina

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike - Tom

Tom has been involved in traditional music and dance since the age of ten, when his primary school performed at the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival. He took up the melodeon aged 12 and has played for several Morris sides – currently he is the lead musician for Chiltern Hundreds North West Clog Morris and is a founder member of Rockingham Rapper.


He was a New Roots finalist in 2005 and has driven the Whittlesea Straw Bear several times.


Tom composes many original tunes, most of which we play on a regular basis. One of Tom's tunes, "The Well-Hung Turkey", has been in the repertoire of celebrated ceilidh band Random for many years.

Sarah - Recorders

Sarah has been writing tunes and songs ever since she learned to talk. She sung in four different continents with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain in the 1990s, and also played in the now-defunct folk duo Full Tilt before joining Frog on a Bike.


She is also the lead musician for Rockingham Rapper, and can play Speed the Plough in 17.5 seconds – with an award from Whitby Folk Week to prove it!


Sarah wrote our May Day song "Morning Queen", which you can find on our album 'Velocipede', and her most recent tune "Three Miles to Gamlingay" has just made it into the current repertoire.

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike - Sarah

Tim - Fiddle, Hardanger Fiddle, Mandolins & Band Manager

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike - Tim Sparrow

Tim joined Frog on a Bike in 2014, after 7 years with the Cambridge University Ceilidh Band.


Initially classically trained, Tim has exclusively played folk music for many years, with particular emphasis on the English tradition. Over time, Tim has honed a style that has definite influences from such musicians as Fairport Convention's Chris Leslie and Dave Swarbrick, Bellowhead's Jon Boden, Show of Hand's Phil Bear and Mawkin's James Dalarre to name but a few.

 

Away from the band, Tim is a Violin Maker, Morris dancer and musician for Granta Blue Morris, having also danced and played in the past with Cambridge Morris Men and Old Speckled Hen Morris respectively. He is also an occasional musician for Ely & Littleport Riot Border Morris.

Phil - Bass

Phil has been playing in and around Cambridgeshire since the early 70s, mostly in folk or folk rock bands, duos and trios.


He will have a bash at most stringed instruments (except for fiddle; he leaves that to Tim) plus keyboards and even a Bb tuba !!!


Phil is now retired and when not playing, can be found practicing Tai Chi, gardening or on a riverbank fishing.

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike - Phil

Paul - Drums

Cambridge and Ely Ceilidh Band - Frog on a Bike -  Paul T.J. O'Neill

Paul played his first gig aged just 13, with a band who rehearsed at the appropriately named Rock House Hotel. In 1970, he formed Iron Maiden, who supported many top bands and recorded two albums. However, the band came to an abrupt end in 1976 with the death of guitarist Ian Boulton-Smith. The remaining members gifted the band’s name to a newly-formed band from London, who you may just have heard of!

 

Since then, Paul has played with many bands and as a solo artist. The original Iron Maiden recordings have been re-released under the name The Bolton Iron Maiden, which, along with Paul’s solo recordings, raise money for Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Care. Paul’s latest album, Puppet Master: The Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy, was released in 2021.


After being Frog on a Bike's go to dep drummer for many years, Paul became our incumbent drummer after the retirement of band founder, Den Smith, in 2021.

Paul really is the fire in our engine room and we love just how rock & roll we get with him!

Froggy - The band elder

Froggyafter whom the band is named is an elderly gentlefrog from West Yorkshire.


He is the last of seven 'frogs' from a 1927 Leeds theatre production of Toad of Toad Hall. Made of rag and wood, each frog originally held a flame on a stick which ‘lime lit' the stage.


He was rescued from the abandoned theatre in Leeds and lovingly renovated many years later by band founder Den Smith.


At 94 years old he still refuses to retire from the stage and remains as much a member of the band as the rest of us.

Frog on a Bike Ceilidh Band - Froggy

Frog on a Bike Festival Band

Frog on a Bike Festival Band

Frog on a Bike have been forging quite a reputation on the English folk festival dance scene over the last few years. We have played at festivals such as Ely, Whitby, Towersey, Todmorden and Cambridge in the past too much acclaim.


For most festivals, to give us the bigger and more driving sound that befits a larger festival crowd, we generally field a slightly different line-up to our regular private functions. This takes the form of a six piece band known as the Frog on a Bike Festival Band.


In addition to Paul, Sarah, Tim and Tom we are very proud to work with Edwin Beasant & Heather Sirrel, of The Ironmasters and Pilgrims Way, as our bassist and guitarist for this special festival line-up.

Edwin and Heather became involved with Frog on a Bike when they very ably stepped up to the breach as our stand-in rhythm section for Todmorden Folk Festival 2019. We haven't shaken them off since and just love having them on board as part of our folk festival "big band"!

Edwin - Electric Guitar

Frog on a Bike Festival Ceilidh Band - Edwin Beasant

Edwin is a musician with a varied and possibly dubious background, having been brought up in a Morris Dancing family. Steeped in the traditions of England, he sought further influences, finding inspiration in the continental and trans-Atlantic traditions, as well as through Motown and soul.


A compulsive multi-instrumentalist, Edwin plays many, indeed most things, including some that haven't been invented yet, but is best known as a talented and inventive box player with The Ironmasters, for his stint as the drummer with Jabadaw and as a founder member of Pilgrim’s Way.


A hugely empathetic accompanist, his greatest strength is in instinctively bringing out the best in other people's music with exactly the right textures and rhythms.

Heather - Bass

An inveterate folk-funkmeister, Heather brings her own particular style of groove to the party.


Having once been crushed by an avalanche in the 'J' section of Our Price, a strange blend of Bert Jansch, Jamiroquai, Jethro Tull, The Jacksons and Janice Joplin has influenced her music ever since.


A highly experienced cross-genre player, Heather braves uncharted territory of the lower frequencies for several bands, including Pilgrim’s Way.


When she's not keeping it on the one she also happens to be a dab hand with a soldering iron.

Frog on a Bike Festival Ceilidh Band - Heather Sirrel

Founding Members

Frog on a Bike Ceilidh Band - Den
Frog on a Bike Ceilidh Band - Lyn

In May 2021, we said a fond fairwell and happy retirement to Lyn and Den Smith, who founded Frog on a Bike in the 1990s and were key members for over 30 years.


Den (drums) started his drumming career in the Boys Brigade at the age of 12 and once had a long bodhran solo immortalised on BBC Radio 2's folk show as their introduction to a broadcast from Revesby Folk Day. He also worked as a professional artist and drew the band’s signature cartoon and Velocipede cover artwork.


Lyn (caller) was also Frog on a Bike’s manager and must have organised hundreds of gigs over the years. Along with Den, she was also involved with the running of Spalding folk club. During their annual Tulip Parade, she would persuade tourists to dance in the street while the folk club played tunes on the folk bus.


We wish them both well as they soak up the sun, grow lots vegetables and look after their chickens in the middle of Lincolnshire.