The Dollymopps


“A delight to listen to…compelling and intelligently crafted… with and edge and a sense of risk taking which makes m
e smile a lot.”

Dollymopps are Virgil & Dor
ana Philpott and Justin Smith. They sing songs
in harmony from the folk tradition of Southern England – and in particular, songs collected from their native Isle of Wight.  They have been singing together since 2005, during which time they have appeared at numerous clubs, venues and events in the South – including the Sidmouth, Broadstairs and Bestival festivals – and drawn favourable comment from folk luminaries – such as Chris Wood, Rod Stradling, Shirley Collins and Heather Wood (of the Young Tradition).

“Transplant The Watersons or The Copper Family to the Isle of Wight and you’ve got the (mostly) unaccompanied style of The Dollymopps. This is cupped hand-to-the-ear three-part harmony singing stripped to its glorious basics.”  (Sing Out! USA)

The group started, out very much, as Copper Family aficionados but subsequently developed an individual sound based upon rare local source material, inventive arrangements and occasional instrumental accompaniment.  Their first CD “Long Songs” was released on their own ‘Rattletrap Records’ label in May 2011.  It featured traditional English folksongs from the collection of Nineteenth-Century Islander, W. H. Long.  The follow up CD “Wight Cockade” was released on the, nationally distributed, ‘WildGoose’ label in the March 2014.  Like the first album it received excellent reviews across the specialist music press and a track was included on fRoots Magazine’s June 2014 Download CD.

“Fierce harmonies, strong, dynamic voices and flawless storytelling… The Dollymopps’ second studio release sees the group continue to herald the beauty and exquisite nature of the folk tradition of the South of England.”  (Bright Young Folk)

In addition to their concert sets, the group offer an illustrated / musical talk on William Henry Long, and have recently been researching the Isle of Wight’s tune heritage with a view to incorporating traditional tune sets into their live show from 2015.

“The Dollymopps are doing a grand job exposing little-known material from the Isle of Wight. Wight Cockade is another excellent example of their pioneering work.”  (R2 – Rock’n’Reel)

Hellfire ClubTo answer a frequently asked question: the ‘Dollymopps’ name comes from Daniel P. Mannix’s highly scholarly (!) 1961 book The Hellfire Club about the life and times of Sir Francis Dashwood and the “mad monks of Medmenham”.

One particular, scene-setting passage about rakish nobility in Eighteenth Century London paints the following picture:

“…dollymopps were respectable girls who occasionally did a little soliciting on the side to pick up pocket money or just for fun… Flower girls who sold flowers in the street were often dollymopps.  So were milliners.  Sometimes they worked out of introducing houses (in which) meetings were arranged by go-betweens… although nothing improper was ever allowed to take place on the premises.”

For “soliciting” read singing, and for “introducing houses” read folk clubs, and you’ve pretty much got the original idea!  After using the name for several years it was discovered that Eighteenth Century slang also allowed for a more ‘graphic’ interpretation of the term dollymopp – but by that time it was too late to change!