The Duellists

Although the band is no longer active, much of the following information is still current and the CD, English Hurdy Gurdy Music, is still available.
The Duellists, a trio of Nigel Eaton, Cliff Stapleton & Chris Walshaw, play newly written dance music inspired from, and rooted in, the English and French traditions. With bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies, they provide driving dance music and bewitching rhythms underpinned by the exciting and primitive combination of melody and drones.

Nigel Eaton originally played piano and 'cello, moving to the hurdy-gurdy when his father, Christopher Eaton, started to make them in 1981. In 1985 he joined the groups Blowzabella and Ancient Beatbox with whom he has toured extensively in Britain, Europe and South America and recorded six albums. He also appears on numerous records with artists ranging from Robert Plant, Scott Walker and Marc Almond to The Philharmonia and The New London Consort, and soundtracks for films such as Aliens and The Name of the Rose. Nigel has recently returned from a year long world tour with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) and is currently one half of Whirling Pope Joan with Julie Murphy.

From his years with Blowzabella and The Drones, Cliff Stapleton, will be known to many as a fine hurdy-gurdy player. Since leaving them Cliff has established himself in the world of theatre and puppet theatre as a composer and musician. He currently works with Banyan Theatre Company and recently appeared in their production of Baba Yaga Bony Legs at the Leicester Haymarket. However, his inventive tune writing (the pen that brought you 'Man in a Brown Hat') and musicianship are not lost to the roots music lovers, for he can also be seen playing with Chris Wood and Andy Cutting in the Waltzer.

Chris Walshaw, on the pipes, has a long history of playing in dance bands including Edinburgh's Ceilidh Collective and Culture Shock and has occasionally guested with Chris Wood, Andy Cutting and Cliff in the Waltzer. In addition he has worked with Jean-Pierre Rasle on productions of his show Cornemusiques for both Radio 3 and on stage at St Chartier and the Purcell Room. Currently he also plays with the dynamic English ceilidh band Stocai.

Together they make up The Duellists. Most of their material is newly written - much of it by themselves - and they are available for dances, concerts and bagpipe and hurdy-gurdy workshops.


The Duellists : CD


In 1997 The Duellists released a CD entitled English Hurdy-Gurdy Music on Panic ATC Records (PATCCD 20397 DU). With fifteen pieces, all written by the trio, the recording includes guest musician Ian Luff, on bass and cittern, underpinning the powerful melodies and complex rhythmic interplay of the hurdy-gurdies.

The full track listing for the CD is:
1. Starters (Eaton)/Alfriston (Walshaw)
2. Miserden (Walshaw)/Indigo (Stapleton)
3. The Duellists (Eaton)
4. Doyenne (Stapleton)
5. Capriole (Stapleton)/Drystone (Walshaw)
6. Kate at the Gate (Eaton)
7. Magog/Monkey Puzzle (Walshaw)
8. Bluesaussis/Biscuit Shuffle (Stapleton)
9. Baba Yaga's Cat (Stapleton)
10. Poolside (Stapleton)

... enormously subtle and satisfying music ... Folk Roots

Some reviews

How to get your copy

The CD is still available (2014) for £11.00 + £1.50 P&P - UK orders only - from Panic ATC (The Duellists), Great Owl Barn, Church Lane, West Farleigh, Maidstone, Kent ME15 0DT; cheques payable to Chris Walshaw. Contact me for overseas orders or to pay via PayPal.

For overseas orders, please contact me by email.