The Demon Barber Championships
On the road again

In October 2005 The Demon Barber Roadshow was invited to Loughborough to work on a new outreach project with Joan Crump - then marketing and events manager for Charnwood Borough Council and director of Loughborough Folk Festival. The project was the first piece of comprehensive outreach work that the Roadshow had been involved in and consisted of a week of workshops in two local schools followed by a performance by the children at the town hall as part of their show at the festival. A performance on the main stage as part of high profile show as key to the project – we wanted the children to be so enthused that they would continue to have an interest in traditional folk arts. The workshops we ran were in English clog, Rapper sword and traditional song (we have since included Cotswold Morris). The project was so successful that we have repeated it 4 more times over the last 2 years providing workshops and performances for Southwell, Shrewsbury and Shepley Folk Festivals along with a return to Loughborough earlier this year. The project will also form the basis for a focus day at this yearis AFO conference in November aimed at promoting outreach work in traditional folk arts.

From the outset we were always keen for the children to continue developing the skills they had learned and as Mountfields Primary in Loughborough was already a hub for after-school clubs we decided to use this as a base for a Rapper club. This was made possible with the financial support of Loughborough Extended Schools, Charnwood Borough Council and weekly contributions from parents. The club began in January 2008 and was run weekly by myself and the school's deputy head Damienne Clarke with the occasional support from Will Hampson from The Kingsmen (and The Demon Barbers) and Peter Killingback from Stone Monkey Rapper. Again, one of our priorities was not only to develop their skills but to give them a platform to show them off!

During this period other rapper related projects were going on. I was running a lunchtime club in Fiona Taylor's school in Barnsley and Bryony Griffith was organising a Demon Barber Roadshow outreach project with Shepley Spring Festival. This extra work meant that in total we had 9 rapper teams all under the age of 11. We set about thinking of ways for these children to not only perform but also to meet with each other. We initially attempted to arrange a day for them at this year's Sword Spectacular in York but soon discovered that trips out of school hours aren't easily arranged at short notice. Being veterans of DERT we realised that friendly competition was as good a way as any to get them together and as the logistics of getting 9 teams to DERT itself were to say the least challenging, we decided to involve the schools alone.

Obviously the most important factor was competitors and we began to look around for teams under the age of 11. We knew of Sally Atkinson's team ‘Larks Hill Sword Squad’ from DERT this year and along with their new fledgling squad, four teams from Barnsley, one from the Shepley Festival project and four from the Loughborugh rapper club... we had a competition. We also needed judges and were really taken back by everyone's enthusiasm for the project. As I have mentioned the main reason for the competition was to inspire the children to continue and we were really keen on getting a demonstration team along to show what can be achieved. We needed the team to be young, and dynamic... enter Matlby Phoenix!

The competition was a great success and we would like to thank everyone for their time and enthusiasm. We are very keen for there to be a competition next year and are currently looking at ways to develop the existing teams along with bringing in new ones. The Demon Barber Roadshow has recently formalised their relationship with Joan Crump who will be taking on the role of Outreach Coordinator.


Overall winners Larks Hill Sword Squad Larks Hill Primary, Pontefract
Buzz factor shield Pit Pony Rapper Shawlands Primary, Barnsley
Stepping shield The Roaring Rappers Shawlands Primary, Barnsley

The winning performance by Larks Hill Sword Squad can be seen at in the Music & Video > Download section

Damien Barber