Who are we?
We're Caroline and Dan Hollingshurst. We've been playing music together as Folkus Pocus since 2002, although we met a few years earlier at Cardiff University, where we both studied music. We began playing professionally for a series of dance workshops at Cecil Sharp House in London. Over time we began working with an increasing number of callers and before too long clubs and festivals started to book us. Now, more than a decade later, we're delighted to be in demand regularly at festivals, weekends, evening dances and other events all over the country. In recent years we've also worked in Belgium, Germany and Holland. You can find out where we'll be playing next on our diary page. We now live in Staffordshire but we often travel up and down the country to get to our events.
We're very proud of ROOTZ, a folk band for 10-18 year old instrumentalists which we set up, under the auspices of Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service, in 2006. The group, most of whom had never played folk music before until they joined, has grown steadily over the past 10 years, playing for barn dances and concerts in Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area. Rootz got through to the final of the National Festival of Music for Youth in Birmingham in July 2012, having successfully competed in the regional heat and repeated this fantastic achievement in the 2015 festival.
Caroline grew up surrounded by folk music and has played for dancing for many years. In 2003 she won first prize in the London Fiddlers' Convention and her bright, clear sound has won her many fans. Caroline is a busy music teacher, employed by both the Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service and Staffordshire's Entrust Music and Performing Arts Service as well as freelance. She teaches children and adults of all ages to play violin, flute and to sing. She runs several 'Songbird' groups for young children in Stoke-on-Trent schools, and co-directs the Stoke-on-Trent City Youth Recorder Ensemble. In July 2013, two of her Songbird choirs reached the final of the National Festival of Music for Youth. The judges said "We cannot take our eyes away from your [choir's] performance, how lucky you are to have such a wonderful conductor, she is so cool...!"
Caroline is also an experienced project manager, fundraiser and arts events manager. Formerly she worked as Education Manager for the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields orchestra in London and prior to that she held the post of National Youth Officer at Making Music. Caroline also enjoys freelance instrumental session work and has been involved with a number of live and recorded projects.
Dan is a qualified primary school teacher, who works mainly for Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service. He teaches music to children aged 3-11 and runs a number of school choirs, as well as the City Youth Choir, for 11-18 year olds, and Rootz, of course. Outside of this full-time role, Dan is the Musical Director of Endon Community Choir, an adult choir which he founded in 2009, and Fulford Community Choir, which began in September 2012. He also teaches piano to both children and adults and is in demand as an accompanist, a function/wedding pianist and as a vocal and instrumental workshop leader.
Dan's introduction to folk music came through meeting Caroline at university. His style is best described as driving but sensitive - a combination of jazzy improvisations and a more lyrical 'classical' touch - an ideal combination for both folk dance music and teaching music. Dan recently completed the Sing For Pleasure Intermediate Conductors Course.