Caroline Riches (Fiddle, hammered dulcimer, vocals)

Caroline's early musical influence came from acapella singing in church and a close-harmony group at school. She was a violinist in the Liverpool Schools String Orchestra and also learned the piano. At university she sang in the college choir, then joined a local Choral Society after moving to Bedford, where she also played the violin and harmonica in a church music band.

One of her more unusual musical experiences was walking through the streets of Bedford playing violin in a Sikh funeral cortege. You never know where music may lead you....... Caroline joined Ragged Staff when it formed in 2008. Taking part in a fiddle masterclass with Peter Knight and attending Irish sessions in local pubs have enhanced her enjoyment of traditional music.

 
   
   

Brian Jeffels (Guitar, mandolin, percussion, accordian)

Brian started as a rock guitarist, went through the 'prog-rock' era, flirted briefly with keyboard-based music, then discovered the acoustic scene and emerged some years later as what he is today: a multi-instrumentalist balladeer and singer- songwriter. His guitar and stringed instrument technique (influenced by those early days) make his arrangements instantly recognisable as his own.

As well as being a solo artist, Brian is a member of The Morrowers, another traditional folk band.

Playing a variety of gigs from festivals to folk clubs , Brian is a familiar face around the sessions and clubs of Bedfordshire and the surrounding counties. His first CD entitled 'For whom the willow weeps', came in 2009 and his follow up “Is this where I come in” was released in 2015. He can also be heard on various other artists' recordings.

Past performances create a fine CV and include Cambridge Folk Festival, Wittfest, Balstock, Potbelly Folk Festival and Merry Tom Folk Festival. Brian has supported artists such as Jez Lowe, Paul Downes, Vikki Swan and Jonny Dyer and John Kirkpatrick.


 
   
   

Ned Lawton (Tin whistle, bodhran, uilleann pipes (given a fair wind), vocals)

Born Oldham, Lancashire and now residing in Silsoe, Bedfordshire. Founder member of Sheffield based folk group Hartshead Pike in the early 70's. Played around the folk clubs in Sheffield, Manchester and then later in Bedfordshire and London. Active in the Luton Irish music scene in the late 70's.

Musically dead for 30 years but reborn with the creation of Ragged Staff. Claim to fame - Cathal McConnell, from the Boys of the Lough, once played Ned's 'c' whistle in the back of a car on the way to his gig in Sheffield. That was enough for Ned to want to strive for greatness. "It's a long journey".

Early influences were Planxty and The Bothy Band.

Ned runs the NAF (Not a Folk) Club at The Star and Garter in Silsoe.

 
   
  Past members      
   
   

Mike Nacey 2011-2015
(Bouzouki, tenor guitar, tambourine)


Mike began performing while at school in Liverpool in the 1960s, singing in the choir and playing violin and glockenspiel in the orchestra. This led quickly on to rock music and the guitar, before settling on bass guitar in a succession of jazz and jazz-tinged bands. His dabblings in folk became more frequent, though, and in the late 90s he unplugged and took up the mandola, forming the Cambridge folk/roots duo 'Lost for Words' with Pete Sawski.

Recent projects include fringe theatre band 'themsounds' (a spin-off from Beds Youth Theatre), occasional collective 'Chunky Sweater', and the album 'Gritstone Serenade' by squeezebox maestro Brian Peters.

 
   
    Joe Dunne 2008-2010
(Guitar, bass guitar, bodhran, vocals)

Childhood summers spent back home in County Wexford, Ireland influenced Joe's love of music. It was always 'on tap' drifting out from bars and the local halls hosting 'big' bands at the weekends. Visits from legendary Irish travelling fiddle player Pecker Dunne left a lasting impression on Joe. A master class from Steafan Hannigan encouraged Joe to take up the bodhran.

During a recent trip to Belfast Joe was honoured to meet and play with that great local band Blackthorn. Other international highlights include a trip to San Francisco where Joe's cousin said he had found him a gig. He later found out this was minding the entrance door.
 
   
    Neil Higgins 2008-2010
(Guitar, banjo, mandolin, mouth organ, vocals, autoharp
)

Born in Sheffield, Neil grew up with the influences of 60s music and in particular the folk boom of the time. Brief flirtations with rock bands never quite worked out and floor spots in folk clubs were the outlet for performances. There he met the late Tony Capstick who became his greatest musical influence.

Using his skills as a toothpick designer to earn a living Neil continued with his music in his spare time never losing that secret yearning for musical stardom. Eventually as middle age approached, he finally saw sense and realising such fame and musical fulfillment would never be his, he joined Ragged Staff.
 
   
   
Martin Banks 2008-2010
(Melodeon, bouzouki, guitar, vocals)

Martin has been involved with the local folk music scene for many years. He was half a duo, Ragged Robin, which played many clubs and festivals around the country. He was also a long-time member of ceilidh dance band, Jack o'Legs, which played for many a good barn dance around the area, as far afield as Hull. Martin performs solo at local folk clubs.

Martin now sings with acapella group 'Old Harry's Crew'.
 
   
   

John Rickatson 2008
(Vocals)

John was a founder member of the band and was lead vocalist on many of the bands songs. With a powerful voice he could easily do justice to any ballad.

His first love was drama and still performs with Silsoe Drama Group.